Today is the last day for WBRU, our local college radio station.  Everyone on Facebook is acting like it is the end of the world.  Honestly, radio is no longer the way I listen to music.  Ten years ago, I invested in an iPod and spent hours downloading music and creating playlists.  The internet further changed my listening habits with the creation of Pandora and Spotify. Once I had a Spotify Premium account, I increased my data plan on my phone and streamed music all the time.  For the past two years, I’ve relied on my Amazon Echo to fill my home with music.  If someone recommended a band or artist to me, I could find them easily online.  I’ve discovered some of my favorite bands this way.

Radio took a backseat to how music filled my life.  In the car, I listen to CDs, books on CD borrowed from the library, and NPR.  (Even Liam asks me to leave it on the “news.”)  I rarely listen to the radio.  During my commute, I would sometimes turn on the radio and scan stations for a traffic report if I found myself crawling up 95.  Now, I have an iPhone that can inform me where the problem is, how long it will take to get through it, and suggests alternative routes.  Radio can’t do that.

BRU was a huge part of my formative years.  I turned to them to teach me music worth listening to: REM, Pearl Jam, They Might Be Giants.  As a teenager, I would call them over and over to request songs and artists, assuming that would never realize it was the same person calling four times in an hour to request the same Presidents of the United States song.  I heard songs I loved and had to wait until the end of the music block in hopes that the DJ would reveal the title and artist.  No Shazam back then.  It took months to learn the title of “How Soon is Now?”  The radio station shaped what I heard and who I became.  We went to their events.  We tuned in, eager to buy whatever music they were selling.


A picture of myself with two of my closest friends in high school.  I keep this in my class as a reminder that I used to be a teenager myself. I am the one on the left, sporting a unibrow and a Chili Peppers T-shirt. 

Fast forward twenty-five years.  We’ve come a long way since trying to find 95.5 on a tune-in radio, moving the antenna and hoping to get the signal as I moved around my shared bedroom in Burrillville.  And now we are upset that they’re shutting down.  We’re acting like the boy we all had a crush on who strung us along then got upset when we started dating someone else.


Unfortunately, we forgot about radio. We subscribe to satellite and streaming services.  (In college, I remember the morning DJs on the drive to class talking about XM Radio, explaining that people would pay for radio the way they pay for cable TV.  At the time, we all thought it was a ridiculous idea.)  On the occasions it’s on, I remember its joy when they play a forgotten favorite. From now on, I will have to rely on following the right people on Spotify to surprise me with classic songs.  Or, I will have to continue my current habits of Spotify, books on CD, and NPR.


Taking a break from Hamilton the Revolution to enjoy the last few days of BRU



Just Like That, It’s Over

Getting my classroom ready for the new year is one of Liam’s favorite activities.  He loves coming to my school and helping me get ready for “my kids.”  Yesterday was our big setup.  Every year, I add to my classroom.  The couch is new this year. To say I love my classroom is an understatement.  Being blessed with a huge space, I am determined to fill it up and make up warm and inviting as well as conducive to learning.

This left Liam and me with one day to ourselves.  Friday is our annual trip to the Boston Museum of Science that we take after my husband gets out of work.  Today was our last day with just the two of us.  I must’ve asked him five times to decide what he wanted to do, expecting requests visit the beach, zoo, or other fun activity.  Instead, he asked to go to the library and finish up their summer reading program.

“What else do you want to do?”

“Uh, go to The Nook?  It’s my favorite morning place.”

“Anything else?”

“Can we ride our bikes to the beach?”

And there was our plan for his perfect last day with his mama.

And it was a perfect day.  We both earned our last prizes from the library’s summer reading program.  We walked through Main St and stopped at Liam’s favorite coffee shop.  I even bought him one of their shirts.  We rode our bikes to a little public access beach less than a mile from our house.  Seriously, how lucky are we to have a small, undiscovered beach so close to us?  We dug holes and played with hermit crabs and snails.  On the way home, we stopped at a convenience store to buy an ice cream sandwich, which we shared at a park across the street.


I cannot say enough good things about our local library and their summer reading program!


He prefers the bottom of the muffin and gives me the crunchy top pieces.  Best muffin sharer ever!



Often, I finish summer wondering if I’ve done enough with him.  Did we read enough?  Did I find enough ways to make him use his mind?  Did I play with him enough?  Did we visit enough playgrounds?  Did I surf on my phone too much? Did I use the reciprocal benefits of our Museum of Science membership enough? Days like today remind me that this is not what summer is about to Liam.  My kid is happy drinking juice and sharing a muffin with me at a coffee shop.  He is happiest when I get in our small, inflatable pool and splash with him.  I hope that Liam grows into an adult who is still happy with such simple pleasures.  I hope that he is happy going for walks and simply being with people he loves.  While I hope he remembers our bigger day trips and adventures, knowing that he seeks out simple times with me and my husband lets me know that we are doing something right.


Making the Last Week Count!

When I was twelve, I had the most amazing English teacher.  He was funny.  He kept his college ID on the wall to remind us that he used to be young.  He got to know each of his students.  He incorporated independent reading and writer’s workshops into his grammar lessons.  And the grammar lessons!  He wrote a book titled Mr. Ecc’s Guide to Pretty Good Grammer.  The lessons in it included our names in the sentences!  He made seventh graders love grammar work! Because he knew I loved the Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins, he recommended the Little House books, which I would have otherwise overlooked.  When I entered his class, I knew that I wanted to be an English teacher when I grew up.  How lucky am to not only know at a young age what I wanted to do with my life, I actually made it happen?

I honestly love the being a teacher.  The fact that I spend my days reading and writing is better than anything I can imagine!  When my son was born, I also learned to love having time off with him.  It’s the best of both worlds; I get a rewarding career that I genuinely love and I get two months home with my son.

I can honestly say that this has been my favorite summer with Liam.  He and I have great conversations.  We joke, sing, and make up games on the fly.  We go for walks and engage in great talks.  He is so good at starting and maintaining conversations.  Traveling with him is so much easier than it was a few years ago.  When he asked to go to a local amusement park, I was able to put my phone, cash, and keys in my pockets and go.  We have gone on all sorts of adventures: a week at the beach house, camping trips, hikes, s’mores on the fire, visiting local landmarks.  As a reward for reading, the local library gave him a book of passes to local attractions.  Our goal is to use them all.  Here are a few of our favorite trips using library passes:

Audubon Society

The Breakers

Save the Bay Aquarium

The last week of summer is always bittersweet.  My first projects are planned.  The icebreakers and first-week activities are ready to go.  I am excited to go in this week and set up my classroom.  I love the idea of new beginnings and a new year!  It also means the end of lazy days in the backyard and adventures.  I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have this time with Liam.

My plan for this week is to jam as many activities as possible.  I will spend a day at school setting up.  (Liam LOVES setting up my classroom with me!)  We haven’t made it to the Boston Museum of Science, so we will do that Friday with Mike.  I am excited for one last beach day, a few playground visits, and some end of summer adventures.  He and I are both excited to start the new year.

I Am a Badass (?)

Last year was the first year I set a reading goal on my Goodreads account.  I fell one book short of my fifteen book goal.  While I didn’t set a formal goal this year, I wanted to increase my reading and decrease the amount of time spent surfing on my phone.  I’ve done this in several ways.  We created a reading nook upstairs.  It is Liam’s favorite place to read.  We make trips to the library and hit library book sales to ensure that we always have plenty of books.  I started carrying my Kindle in my purse.  When I am waiting somewhere, I would read a few pages rather than scrolling Facebook.

My latest book is You Are a Badass, by Jennifer  Sincero.  A good friend recommended it while calming me down the day I wimped out of the obstacle skills class.  I ordered it that afternoon.  I read it in chunks, loving her quotes and practical advice.  My husband was so patient on the train ride to New York when I interrupted his book every few minutes to read a line.

My biggest takeaway from the book is the need to set specific goals.  While I set goals in my mind, I don’t make them concrete and known.  As Sincero notes,  this does not make it a goal.  With this in mind, Michael and I set our goals for the upcoming school year. I have been working with him on perseverance.  This was a great opportunity to remind him it learning is a process and it often takes several times to succeed.



  • Learn times tables
  • Make first communion
  • Go another school year without having to see the principal’s office
  • Earns A’s and B’s in all of my classes
  • Complete Cannonball Alley at ninja skills class
  • Finish reading Harry Potter


My Goals:

  • Stay at least one project ahead of my planning at school
  • Run three miles in 36 minutes
  • Plan a trip to New York City so Michael can see the Statue of Liberty
  • Hold a handstand for 30 seconds
  • Include a date night with Mike once a week, even if it is an at home date watching Big Bang Theory reruns on the couch
  • Read twenty books in 2017



I Made My Own Running Buddy!

My mom was never a healthy person.  This lead to her leaving this earth far earlier than she should have, at the age of 58.  Liam was only four months old when she died.  One of the lessons I took from her death and the void is left behind is the need to me to be healthy.  I need to do everything I can to live longer than my own mother.

Diet and exercise are my biggest struggles.  My “all or nothing” mentality is my other enemy.  Four years ago, I lost my baby weight, almost getting down to my wedding weight.  I did this by running on our treadmill three to four times a week and counting every calorie, keeping myself at about 1,200 calories daily.  Yes, I measured out two tablespoons of hummus and counted forty Goldfish Crackers.  This wasn’t sustainable, and the weight crept back.  Over the past few years, I have made great strides to get out of my comfort zone, both personally and professionally.

Over the past few years, I have made great strides to get out of my comfort zone, both personally and professionally.   My big recent leap is joining BRG.  When it finished, we made the decision to participate in weekly runs at the store.  I knew I needed more to maintain the progress I worked hard to achieve.  I tried running on my own, but it is difficult during the summer when Liam and I are home all day.  We tried going out with Liam on his bike while I ran along.  He was too fast, and I am too slow.

Liam is obsessed with his Ninja Skills classes.  We decided to sign up for a Color Run obstacle race.   He’s walked 5Ks with my husband and me.  We frequently hike and go for long walks.  I knew I needed to get him ready for the three miles of running. We headed to the Rocky Point Walking Path and decided to do the path in walk/jog intervals.  We’ve done it a few times.  He loves it!

Race day came.  While I was thankful for a cooler day, it down poured and stormed, forcing the path to be evacuated. We were able to complete about a third of the race.  Liam ran the entire way.  While his self-doubt needed to be addressed a few times, he tried every obstacle we encountered.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a mother.  Never could I imagine that my child would become my workout buddy.  We practice yoga, run, and climb on playgrounds together.  I am so thankful that I am instilling a love of activity in him.  Hopefully, this love will carry him through adulthood.

My Hamilton Experience

After months of recommendations, I finally checked out the Hamilton soundtrack.  I remember the first time I listened to it during April vacation, waiting for our basement furniture to be delivered.  Even though it was background music as I completed a bunch of other tasks, I kept stopping to check the names of songs and listen to lyrics more closely.  Before long, I was listening to Hamilton while jogging on the treadmill, slowing my pace (even more than usual) to repeat verses or to look up the authenticity of facts.  (It turns out the Martha Washington did name a cat after him!)   I continued to listen to Hamilton during my “runs,” pushing myself to maintain pace for an entire song.

Fast forward a few months.  I decided to work as a facilitator for a week in California, teaching a new cohort a learning platform my school adopted the previous school year.  I was nervous for numerous reasons.  I was going to be away from my family and on the other side of the country by myself.  I was nervous about teaching other teachers.  (Impostor syndrome was alive and well that week.)  Each night, after teaching a group of teachers and administrators all day, I would head over to the walking path across the street from my hotel and try my best to run.  Hamilton was my soundtrack.  Each night, while setting goals to run to certain landmarks, I memorized the lyrics to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play.  While I should’ve taken this time to explore San Francisco and neighboring Burlingame, I instead spent my evenings walking along the bay and watching airplanes.  (My favorite path here overlooks Narragansett Bay and is about a mile from the airport.  Yes, I flew 3,000 miles to do exactly what I do at home.)

Hamilton represented a time in which I truly stepped out of my comfort zone, both personally and professionally.  When I hear certain lyrics, I can remember exactly where I was on the running path when I understood them for the first time.  I remember singing the lyrics loudly, not caring who heard me because I was far away from everyone I knew.

The following spring, I joined the Beginner’s Running Group.  Again, I was out of my comfort zone.  By this time, the Hamilton Mixtape was released.  I listened to it throughout my training, taking solace during those first four-minute intervals that
“I only had to run through one song.”  Looking back, I can see my progress.  As someone who can run for three miles without stopping, I love remembering when four minutes intimidated me.  I listened to the Mixtape during the final 5k and met my goal time.

Again, Hamilton got me through a time in which I stepped out of my comfort zone.  It got me through two times in my life in which I was struggling to do something to better myself.  With my husband’s blessing, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase tickets. (It was a lot of money to spend without at least a heads up.) I had tickets to a matinee almost a year away.  We reserved train tickets to make it easier to get to the city without worrying about traffic and parking.

The day finally arrived!  We had to be at the train station before seven.  Because we had a few hours before the show, we visited the Empire State Building.  My husband had never been to the top.  It was fun to be touristy.  The view from the top was amazing!

Finally, it was time for the show.  We had to wait outside in the drizzling rain while I worried that something would go wrong.  Did I mention we had third-row seats?  The tickets gods were truly watching over me!  The show was better than I could have imagined.  Usually at a show, either a theatrical or concert show, I wish for the moment for the show to me a memory.  Hamilton was different; it flew by and I was so sad when it was over.

For the past week, my husband and I will stop conversations for random Hamilton observations:”Aaron Burr started off a little stiff, but I warmed up to him.”

“Aaron Burr started off a little stiff, but I warmed up to him.”

“I liked this George Washington better than the original.  He played it darker.”

“Did you notice that Lafayette lost his French accent a few times when he was rapping?  It must be so difficult to do both characters.”

“It’s funny that Hamilton had a beard here.  The play mentions that he couldn’t grow facial hair.”

“One of the ensemble players kept staring me down while dancing.  It took a few times before I realized I was his driste.”

These interruptions are completely acceptable in any conversation.

It was a long, but amazing day.  I still can’t believe I was able to watch this play that has been the soundtrack to me changing my life in many ways.  This past year reminds me that I can change things that need to be changed.  For anything major to change, I need to step outside of my comfort zone.  I need to take risks and challenge myself.