June 28 2012
Filed Under: Modern Mom Series
Michelle is the kind of person that lights up a room. Her time as Miss Massachusetts may lend to that mega-watt glow she gives off, but in our humble opinion, it might have more to do with her amazing smile and charm. She’s simply contagious.
As president of United Way Greater New Bedford, Michelle is very busy on the local scene, and her commitment to her community is truly inspiring. Add to that, a sweet little boy named Maxson, and it’s easy to see why she takes the Modern Mom title.
What does a typical day in the life of Michelle consist of?
Most days I’m up at 6:15am. Maxson is in daycare 2 days a weeks, and the other days, we have my mom or our babysitter take care of him in our home. There’s a huge difference on daycare days though, when we all need to get out the door, dressed, fed and to work on time. On a daycare day, Jason usually feeds Max breakfast while I prepare his lunch box. It’s a team effort!
Eating dinner every night as a family is a priority for me – 6:30pm sharp! I cook most weeknights. I try to get 2 meals out of most, reinventing the recipe the second day… Broiled fish with veggies and sweet potato one night, becomes fish tacos with all the fixings on the next. I can make 20 minute meals… Rachel Ray has nothing on me! I try to work out after work three times a week. On those days, I try to make a crockpot or leftover dinner. I’m a huge fan of the crockpot. It’s funny, because in the Portuguese culture, people don’t use a crockpot unless it’s to keep something warm at a party… However, my mother-in-law (not Portuguese BTW!) gave me a crockpot after we got married and I was hooked. And a couple of years ago, my mom got me a super duper fancy crockpot, and I love it! I use it at least once a week.
7:30 is bath time. Jason and I do the entire bath and bed routine together. We literally strip Maxson down, roll up whatever we have on, sleeves, pants, and we all get in the big jacuzzi tub together. Then story time for 10-15 minutes and Max is in bed shortly after 8. Jason and I catch up on computer stuff, shows on DVR… we are usually in bed by 11. Often times, I’m falling asleep on the couch before that while watching TV.
Being a mother is a tough job in itself, how on Earth do you find the balance between your home life and your career? It’s a constant challenge, but I’m fortunate to have a great support system. My mom is a huge help. I also have a very reliable babysitter who my son adores. I put my son on a schedule early on and its been extremely helpful to our family and anyone who helps take care of him. It provides a consistent routine for Max and we all work around it. We’ve even kept to the schedule on family vacations. Some people thought I was nuts, but it works for us. And Max is an easy going kid… I’ve also been fortunate that he’s a great napper. Up until recently, he was consistently napping from 1-4pm on days he was at home. That’s helpful on the weekends to get stuff done around the house or run out for a pedicure.
For me personally, I strongly believe in Acupuncture and go every 4-5 weeks. It helps me deal with stress and tension. I’ve also work out a few times a week and its nice to have that “me” time again. I love my iPhone, but I’m holding out on hooking up my work email to it. I work hard, but I don’t want my work to consume my life or intrude on family time. As it is, on most nights once Max is in bed, I’m logged onto my work computer trying to catch up.
My hubby and I have at least one date night a month. We also try to plan one vacation a year, and a weekend here or there – just the two of us. Travel is an important part of our relationship, and we still try to make time for just us.
We noticed your collection of cookbooks, what is one of your favorite go-to-meals during a hectic week?
Yes, I love to cook and love collecting cookbooks! My mom has a huge collection too.
I remember heckling her for buying cookbooks constantly, and now I do the same thing! I have many regular go-to recipes for the work week. My mother-in-law passed this one down to me and it’s super yummy: Pour ranch dressing onto Haddock, bake for 15 minutes at 375, then take it out, sprinkle french fried onions and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes, the result is a super yummy, fairly healthy dinner. I’ve even made it for guests. I remember my friend asking me for the recipe thinking I had slaved over making a gourmet cream sauce… not! She couldn’t believe it when I told her. Once baked, it doesn’t taste like ranch dressing… I don’t even like ranch dressing, and I devour this.
Another go-to recipe: I throw tomato sauce, sliced peppers, cannellini beans, and chicken sausages in the crockpot… whoever gets home first boils the pasta and it’s ready to serve.
Who is your style icon?
Absolutely, without a doubt, Jackie O! I love her timeless, elegant and classic style. I look at pictures of her from decades ago, and would wear any and all of it today.
What do you love most about your work with the United Way?
I love the balance of United Way. We are a non profit, but we are also a funder; we serve as a liaison between the corporate and non-profit sector, and I enjoy interacting with both regularly. I enjoy being part of the big picture, and helping to improve the community. This area has so many great people who want New Bedford to achieve great things. It’s inspiring and humbling to be part of that.
Outside of work, what are some of your other interests?
Traveling, cooking, fine dining with hubby, shopping, spending time with family, wine & food pairing, Pinterest.
What has been your favorite mom moments so far?
Hearing Maxson say “I love you” for the first time and every time since. That sweet little voice saying those three special words melt my heart every time! There are so many “awww moments.” Almost daily, there is a favorite moment. So often there is quick look, an expression or a statement and I want to bottle it up and keep it forever. Max loves to do everything his daddy does… he tries putting on ties, he wants to help his daddy water the plants, put the trash down. It’s so cute seeing him right by Jason’s side with some of the most mundane things.
What is your favorite Max and Mom activity?
Dancing! Max loves to sing and dance, and I love to pick him up and twirl him around while singing his favorite tunes together. He loves it and squeals in delight. It’s the best.
If you could describe your family in three words, what would they be?
Awesome, loved and well-fed! (hopefully, that can count as one word)
Do you have any advice for our readers on how to stay sane amidst the challenges of motherhood?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or take someone up on it when they offer to help. Follow your instincts. I’m the last of all my married friends to have a child, and I’ve asked for and received a lot of advice… most of it very helpful. However, every child is different and so is every family. You should do what works best for you, your child and your family as a whole. Don’t neglect yourself or your significant other. You’ll be better, healthier parents for it!
Skincare: I get a facial every 5 weeks and have since I was 15. I’m obsessed with Clinque’s ”All About Eyes” Eye Cream. I’ve used it religiously two times a day since I was a teenager! I use Bliss Fabulous Face Lotion w/ SPF for day.
Makeup: Bare Escentuals Powder Foundation (I will never use cream or liquid foundation again, this stuff is awesome!)
Stila Eye Shadow in Kitten (all over my eye for most work days; for a night out, it’s the best highlighter for below the brow)
Laura Mercier Tight Cake Eye Liner (I don’t use pencils and love this powdered eye liner)
Benefit’s “They’re real Mascara” (gives serious length and thickness to my naturally wimpy lashes)
My new obsession is Trish McEvoy’s Correct and Brighten Concealer Pen. Lord knows since becoming a mom, my dark circles have worsened, this stuff does a good job of brightening that area up! Amen.
Drink: My husband’s Pomegranate Martini. For a non alcoholic beverage, I recently bought an infusion water pitcher. I love making “spa water” at home. Pineapple and basil is my favorite combo so far.
Local Eatery: Ella’s Woodburning Oven in Wareham, MA
Our vacation spot: Hawaii or Europe
photography by Adam Hillier
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