Author: Blake Kohn

Blake Kohn is a stay at home mother who spent much of her single and childless years traveling the world with her family, friends, and students. These days, if she could earn frequent flyer miles for trips to Target, she would be in Australia right now. Blake writes at

obama arms

A friend of mine from college today put on her facebook status update, “I’m working on my Obama arms.”

I knew instantly what she meant. Those sculpted, toned, always in a sleeveless dress arms that make me drool and lift 10 more reps when I’m at the gym. I want those arms too.

Earlier this week I read an article by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times that brought up the idea that people thought that Michelle Obama should cover up her arms. Enough already, they said. We’ve seen “thunder and lightening,” she should cover up already. (if you have been living under a rock for the past 3 years, her arms are quite the toned arms, the envy of many!)

Uhhh…what???? Are we not in 2009?

Michelle Obama is a mom, a Harvard graduate, a multi-tasker, the first lady, and the inspiration to millions of women around the world. Why should she cover up her arms? They are just one more reason why I love her. Many people think that her husband Barack is an inspiration to all because he allows many people believe that they too can be president one day. Well…you know what???…I’m not one of those people. I never thought or will think that I can be president.

But I look at Michelle Obama and I think…I can be that mom. A good example, a volunteer, a compassionate and supportive partner, and a hot mama…I can be her.

Michelle…you hear me…don’t you dare fall prey to the critics. Don’t cover up those arms. Just like the education and degrees you have worked so hard for and show with pride. Flash those puppies, wear those sleeveless dresses, and give me inspiration each time I go to the gym.

I’m off in the morning to work on my Obama arms. Are you going to join me?

don’t forget a sense of humor

Traveling with your family can be a test of patience, planning, and practice. It doesn’t matter how far you are going. It could be a 3 hour car ride, or a 20 hour plane ride…it is all stressful and hopefully all worth the effort.

Last week our family headed to Florida for 3 days to visit my in-laws. Not exactly a month long trek to India, but a family vacation nonetheless. It had been a while since the four of us packed up, took a flight, and went away as a family. The economy, our family size, and lack of free time have really put a dent in our “family vacations.”

What I had forgotten in our lapse of traveling is how it takes almost twice as long to pack as it does to travel. Diapers? Warm clothes? Cold clothes? Spare shoes? Bathing suits? It is overwhelming to try to cover all your bases and make sure you have every necessity you could possibly need. Not to mention, with all the extra charges the airlines are heaping on, it could double your cost of the trip if you wanted to bring enough diapers, wipes, socks, hats, swim goggles, floaties (you get the picture) to get you through the trip.

Years ago, pre-kids, my cousin got married in Mexico. It was a wonderful wedding, but one planned by two people who did not have any idea what it would be like to travel with kids to a remote location in Mexico. I have to admit, I didn’t even have a sense that not being able to keep milk cold, wash clothes, or buy fresh fruit could really ruin a vacation. I was still of the era where running out of Corona or Tequila would ruin my vacation.

The sister of the groom, however, knew exactly how hard it would be to travel 8 months pregnant with a 15 month old in tow. I don’t want to take away from the wonderful wedding, but cockroaches in the bathtubs, rusty water, and no food service between the hours of 7pm and 10am could really do a mother in. But it didn’t. She laughed, she smiled, and she honestly enjoyed herself.

So as I was preparing to go to Florida (hardly a remote location) I kept thinking about what was the most essential item to pack. And thank goodness, I remembered it. A sense of humor. Following the sister of the groom’s lead I was able to laugh off the little setbacks that we experienced on our trip. No shoes for the little girl? No problem. Stomach bug for the little boy? We’ll get by. Rainy day in a senior citizen community with nothing to do? We can handle it. Luckily for me, there was no shortage of Corona, Tequila OR a sense of humor on this trip. And a good vacation was had by all.

passport photo

There is something so wonderful about a passport. It is a little reminder of all the places that you have been, the people you have met, the sleep deprivation you were experiencing as customs strangers from around the world look you up and down, make two stamps, and grunt , “Welcome to our beautiful country” to you (at least that is what I tell myself they are saying). But who also doesn’t enjoy a little trip down memory lane when looking at a passport photo. In one my hair was permed (not a good look for me!), one it was long straight and parted down the middle (also, not that flattering), and in my recent one I look so so happy (either because I just got married or because I just had my first milkshake after starving myself for 10 months prior to my wedding…I can’t remember).

But these days, the passport I like to look at the most is my son’s. I can remember the day we got his picture taken like it was yesterday. I walked rather innocently into the photo shop and told the man working there that we needed to get a passport photo for my 3 month old. He smiled, instructed me to take off my jacket, and offered me a cup of coffee. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had just stumbled upon the most patient and diligent passport photo taker in the history of mankind. What I also didn’t realize was the number of directions and stipulations he had to follow in order to get an acceptable photo.

Imagine…you have to get the 3 month old sitting upright, with no contraptions supporting him, with a white background, and with his eyes open. Thank goodness for this man’s patience as well as for his digital camera. I don’t know what people back in the day when you had to pay for each shot taken! After about 30 minutes, one break for breastfeeding, and one dirty diaper, and a small construction area made form a car seat, a white gym towel, and a few phone books, we had our shot. My little bald pumpkin head, eyes open and all.

So now, as we near our little boy’s 5th birthday when we’ll have to take him to get a new photo and a new passport, I look extra long at his 3 month old photo. I smile when the customs officers try to find the child that used to resemble our bald pumpkin, and I take joy in the fact that his little passport is not only filled with stamps, but also filled with memories that he’ll never remember, but we’ll share forever.