Should I Stay or Should I Go (to bed)?

New Year’s Eve activities have drastically changed in my lifetime.  As a kid, my sister, my friend and I would sit in the living room, drinking copious amounts of Shasta soda and switching channels between Three Stooges reruns and MTV.  In college, I worked at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve, making the best of helping others enjoy their evening. Years later, we spent the evening at friends’ houses.  Currently, we walk across the street to our wonderful neighbors’ house.  We get Liam home long before midnight.  I love this current plan; we get to go out and be social, but also get to put on PJs and park on the couch by 9:30.

No matter where I found myself on New Year’s Eve, my mom called just after midnight to wish me a Happy New Year.  My mom passed away when Liam was only four months old.  Liam’s first year had many bittersweet moments.  All of Liam’s first moments were also first moments without my mom.  For the first few years after Liam was born, we lamely fell asleep before midnight. It wasn’t until Liam was almost six that we managed to stay awake to watch the ball drop. Even though I lost my mom five years earlier, it was the first year that my mom didn’t call me at midnight to wish me a Happy New Year. Almost immediately after being beyond excited that we were finally able to stay awake, a wave of sadness washed over me.  My mom didn’t call.  Yes, she had been gone five years, but the realization that this was my first New Year’s Eve without my mom hit me hard.

Last year, I went to bed around 10:30, turning off my phone completely in case anyone decided to text at midnight.  I did not want to be awake at the start of the new year.

New Year’s Eve is less than a week away.  We’re going to order our Chinese takeout a few days ahead of time.  I’ve decided on an appetizer to bring to our neighbors’ house.  I need to make a big decision: should I try to stay awake until midnight?

Every year that goes by, I get a little better at learning to exist without my mom.  I often wonder what it would be like having she here with Liam, what kind of relationship would they have?  We created traditions with Liam.  We tell him about his nana.  He has a few of her weird food quirks.  He prefers white chocolate over milk chocolate and would be perfectly happy with the only type of cake available was spice cake. He knows that she tried really hard to make sure she got to meet him.

In the next few days, I need to decide if I am going to head to bed at the first sign of being tired or am I going to face another New Year without my mom. While going to bed early softened the pain of missing my mom, I left Mike on the couch alone.  I have so many things to look forward to next year, it may be time to face another year with my mom.

Gratuitous Year-End Review

Gather round, folks, it’s time for me to summarize the highlights of the year!

I think I’ve grown more this year than I have in a decade!  My forties may be my time!


Okay, I’m going to be superficial and say that seeing  Hamilton was one of my biggest highlights.  I’m still amazed that Mike and I were able to see Hamilton at all, nevermind having third-row seats!  Hamilton got me through some challenging times; I am thankful we were able to make the trek to Broadway to see it.  While we were waiting for the play to begin, we were able to go to the top of the Empire State Building.  Mike and I thought it would be a brilliant idea to avoid the elevator lines and take the stairs from the 82 to 88th-floor observation decks; we quickly learned that was a terrible idea!


Becoming a runner was my most significant achievement of the year!  I can’t say enough good things about  Beginning Runner Group.  Their support throughout the process of running a 5K was the key to my success!  If it weren’t for this program, I would still be saying, “Someday, I’ll teach myself how to run.”  Wednesday night, I finally conquered the giant, seemingly endless hill on Rochambeau, accomplishing my last running goal of the year! Next year, I am signed up for not one, but two half-marathons.  While I have no interest in ever completing a full marathon, I am nervous and excited to meet these goals next year!

Making great friends and finding my people was one of my favorite parts of 2017.  Here, I wrote about being very lonely after Liam was born.  It took me a while as a mother to find great friends.  I now have a wonderful, supportive group of friends who encourage me, laugh with me, and push me to better myself.


Thankful for friends who embrace silliness!


Seven has been my favorite age!  I love everything, well,  most things about having a seven-year-old!  Sometimes, it seems he ages a year in a week.  Other times, I see glimpses of my baby boy hiding in this ginormous kid.  Liam is kind, thoughtful, and curious.  I love this journey, but look forward to seeing the adult he grows up to be.

How did he grow so much in one year?

I should admit that, in spite of all of my working out, I only lost a half pound this year.  However, I lost ten inches, proving that the scale is not always the best way to measure progress.  While I hope to tone up a bit next year and lose a bit of my tummy, in this post, I was able to finally realize that working out is not just about losing fat and trying to cancel out food consumed.  More than anything, I am looking forward to getting stronger and faster next year!.

Liam is thriving at school!  We were so happy with his daycare center that we kept him there through kindergarten. Last year, we started him in a new school for first grade.  He was so nervous about learning a new building and making new friends.  While I didn’t tell him, I had the same fears!  We both had to learn new policies and politics and make new friends.   I am happy to report that lightning struck twice!  Liam loves school, his teachers, and his new friends.  He loves staying at their after-school program and participating in after-school activities.  In addition to Liam making great friends, Mike and I managed to befriend a great group of people! We are truly blessed to be part of a school that makes you feel like a family!



Random Happy Thoughts

I’m thankful that I decided to share my writing, even though it sometimes makes me nervous to hit the “Publish” button knowing that people will be reading my thoughts.  I once compared sharing writing to trying on bath suiting publicly; all of your flaws are visible for all to see.  However, I’ve received such a positive response, letting me know that maybe I do have something to say or offer to the world

Yesterday, I ran to the mall to return a pair of boots.  Searching for a replacement for my six-year-old riding boots is the epitome of a first-world problem.  I thought I had a pair to fit my calves, only to discover they were far too tall and hit the back of my calves when I walked.  The customer at the register was an older woman, apparently confused about the sale flyer and asking numerous questions about items throughout the store.  I was slightly annoyed because I paying for Liam’s afterschool care and waiting for ten minutes to return the boots.  While the lady behind me sighed loudly due to the wait, the cashier happily answered all of the questions.  At this moment, my attitude changed.  Instead of being annoyed at the delay, I was pleased to see a woman with so much patience helping someone purchase Christmas gifts.  After (finally) making my return, I found a manager to report the heartwarming account of exceptional customer service.

I love Liam’s second-grade teacher! She is the perfect mixture of kind and strict.  She had Liam redo his homework because he put it in his backpack instead of his folder.  When he added his lunchbox and hat, it crumbled and ripped his paper.  He came home grumbling that he already did it and it wasn’t fair.  It led to a short conversation about responsibility and taking pride in his work.  I love that, in addition to academics, she is teaching him essential life skills.  She is reinforcing life skills that will make school easier for Liam as he gets older.   Words cannot describe how happy I am that she is his second-grade teacher!

My school loops students through the grades.  Because of this arrangement, I am able to teach my students throughout their high school years.  We develop relationships and don’t have to spend the first half of year trying figuring each other out.  I know how they work and what makes them successful. After three years of using the Summit Learning Platform, everything seems to really click.  They’re growing and becoming self-directed learners.  They’re flourishing during Socratic Seminars.  When we first held Socratic Seminars, they were awkward, with students simply asking and answering prepared questions.  Now, they’re using I Am Malala as a starting point for engaging conversations, such as whether the United States should be invading other countries, even in the name of stopping the Taliban.  While discussing the inequalities of women in Pakistan, students connected the book to the wage gap, Harvey Weinstein, and the sexual abuse scandals currently in the news.  I love that my students demonstrate the ability to think critically, not just regurgitate facts.

Harvest Kitchen Corner Store and Cafe opened next to my school.  They sell a variety of locally made foods, including the best applesauce you’ll ever eat!  During the summer, my husband requests trips to our local farmer’s market just to stock up on the sauce.  The program provides job-training to youths involved in the Juvenile Corrections Services.  The products are a delicious way to support the local community.  I was able to pick up a few stocking stuffers and great a cup of mint tea on a chilly Friday morning.

Liam often dances in the kitchen.  Our Echo is there, so he asks it to play music and “rocks out!”  He was dancing to Imagine Dragons when it became quiet.  Any mother knows that silence is not always golden.  When I checked on him, he was sitting on the kitchen floor with his notebook in his lap.  He told me he was writing a story.  Liam has so much of Mike in him; it made me happy to see a little bit of me shine through!

(The kitchen floor is old.  Believe me when I tell you it is clean, just worn!)

The F Word(s)

Years ago, I overcame an eating disorder.  I don’t often talk about it because it is a past part of my life that I choose to keep to myself.  In the heart of treatment, I often felt embarrassed to admit my bulimia, not because of the stigma associated with an eating disorder or mental illness, but rather because I was afraid people would think I was too fat to suffer from an eating disorder.  I was average size, not one of the stick-thin images connected to eating disorders.

Twenty plus years later, the same nerves come back when I mention working out.  I do not have the body of a runner or athlete.  While I have a good amount of muscle, it is protected by a nice layer of fluff.  My body is soft and curvy.  Parts of it continue to move after I’ve stopped.  In racing photos, I’m aware of the top stomach roll that peaks over the top of my running pants.  I’ve learned to love Body Guide when running in shorts during warm weather.

There were several reasons I really began focusing on working out and taking care of my body.

  1. I was turning 41; my dad had a heart attack at this age.  I remember how terrified and helpless I felt and didn’t ever want Liam to experience that.  (My dad is fine now; it was a wake-up call for him to take better care of himself.)
  2. I am a role model.  Liam watches everything I do.  We were aware that he inherited our sweet tooth and want him to be active and eat healthy foods.
  3. I’ve been gaining and losing the same ten pounds since before I had Liam.  I watch my diet on SparkPeople, measuring and counting everything I eat, get to a point where I don’t cringe when getting on the scale, then go back to eating how I used to.  I don’t eat terribly, I just could always be better.

My goal weight has changed dramatically in my adult life.  I remember being devastated when I got into the 140’s.  I remember being devastated when I moved up to a size ten (double digits! gasp!)  Now, I am content being a consistent size twelve.

My goals for working out no longer have anything to do with weight or size.  Yes, it would be nice to shrink a little, but that is no longer the endgame.  I want to break 100 pounds in my bench press; I’m only five pounds away from doing that.  I want to PR in the thirty-five-minute range at a 5K next year. I want to complete my second half-marathon in under three hours.  Someday, that elusive pull-up will become a reality. None of these goals have anything to do with a number on the scale or a number on a tag in my jeans.

So close to that 35-minute bracket!

Every Saturday morning, I take my measurements.  I track my weight, muscle and fat percentages, and measurements.  Since January, I have gained one pound.  However, I have lost 14.5 inches overall.  While giving me my information, my bathroom scale also provides BMI.  Most weeks, it kindly informs me that my height and weight calculations put me in the obese category.   I’m thankful that I had the foresight to track progress in ways beyond the scale.  I can see my body change and tighten.

Guess what, I weigh five pounds more in this picture than I did in the second picture!


My journey is no longer about avoiding being fat or being able to outrun weekly nachos with my coworkers.  It’s about being strong.  It’s about doing things I previously couldn’t.  It’s about being a role model for a son who proudly says that his mama runs races and lifts weights.  He and I run together; he proclaims that he “runs like a gazelle.”  He watches me struggle and try to improve, teaching him that he won’t get things the first time; he needs to work hard to achieve things.  The joy he shows when he able to do something at ninja class for the first time is amazing!  He rides that pride for days!

Maybe, as I up my running to prepare for the halfs, those last ten pounds will melt away.  If they don’t, I will still be happy with my accomplishments.  This journey is no longer about fat and food; it’s something much bigger!

It’s My Shavasana and I’ll Think if I Want To!

I felt like I hadn’t been to yoga in forever.  A variety of reasons, such as our trip to Maine for Thanksgiving and Mike’s trip to New Orleans for work, left me missing too many yoga sessions.

Yoga is not like riding a bike.  Since I started running and lifting heavy, I noticed that I am much stiffer these days.   After two weeks off, I was stiff, barely able to touch my toes.  It felt so good to stretch and push my body.

Yoga was the first physical activity as an adult that I loved.  I loved it for many reasons:

  1. There is constant room for growth beyond repeating the exercise with a heavier weight or finishing a few seconds faster.  Growth in yoga is real and motivating to continue practicing! Mastering a pose that previously eluded you is one of the best feelings ever!
  2. It was the first exercise as an adult that I was good at from the moment I started.  Even though I will never be the smallest person in a class, I am usually one of the stronger and more flexible people practicing.  Let’s face it; no one likes doing something they’re not good at.
  3. I connected with amazing people! I love my yoga squad!  They are some of the most important people in my life.  Seriously, outside of family and coworkers, how many people do you see twice a week on purpose?  We share fears and vent when needed.  Most importantly, I laugh with them, often smiling and giggling to myself after class when I think about someone that was said.

There is one part of yoga that I cannot seem to complete correctly: Shavasana.  I just can’t turn off my mind.  During this time, I stew over the fact that I am not good at this.  How can I ever be a “real yogi” if I can’t complete the simplest pose?

One of my friends is able to fall asleep during Shavasana, often snoring loudly to our amusement.  I can’t even shut off my mind, yet she can go to sleep?!  While thinking about how awful I am at Shavasana, I often think of other things I need to do or am terrible at completing.  I mentally run through my to-do list.  I wonder if Liam will be awake when I get home.  I think of previous embarrassments and relive them in my mind.

Last night, I laid back for a few minutes of worry and contemplation.  This time, I focused on an ear-worm that had been in my head for days.  Liam’s teacher assigns homework via a website called  Spelling City.  Every time I hear this, I think of the old Barenaked Ladies song “Hello City.”  This song has been in my head for days and found its way into my Shavasana.  However, “Hello City” was just what I needed to shut off my mind for a few minutes.

After a decade of trying to master what should be the easiest part of yoga, I’ve come to terms with the facts that I will probably never find zen during Shavasana.  However, I know I find my calm and peace in other ways, during my walks with Liam and Mike, listening to an interest story on NPR, devouring a book, and while I am running.  I don’t need to force zen; I just need to allow it into my space.

One Half-Marathon is Terrifying; Let’s Sign Up for Another!

On Black Friday, I signed up for a half-marathon.  Since then, I have been reading training plans and trying not to panic.  Since I run two to three times a week, experts assume I can prepare for the half in twelve weeks, completing two shorter runs during the week and one longer run on the weekends, increasing my distance gradually.  Since the half marathon is June 8, I should be able to really focus on training beginning in April and be fine by race day.

When I run on my own, I usually stay at a twelve-minute pace.  When running a race, I’ve been aiming to finish at an eleven-minute pace.  Incorporating extra time for extra distance, I was hoping to complete the half in three hours. However, Jeff Galloway, the expert on walk/run training, suggests that your goal for your first half marathon should be to finish at all.  After completing your first, then you can think about setting time goals.  Pinterest provided a convenient guide for converting race times into other distances.  Based on my recent 5K times, I should be able to finish the half in under three hours.

The Newport Half Marathon is October 8, four months after the first half-marathon.  This race gives me plenty of time to recover from the first one and prepare for the second one.  I am going to sign up for this one before prices increase in January and before I chicken out and change my mind.

Parenting and teaching give me a soft spot for growth.  I love seeing growth!  Nothing validates hard work quite like seeing improvement.  I really think that giving myself an extra opportunity to complete a half and reflect on achieving that three-hour goal will keep me motivated.  While I am terrified of completing even one half-marathon, I love the idea of facing my fears and finishing one, reflecting on the experience, and coming back stronger for a second one.

Slowly, and Then All at Once

John Green wrote this line to describe how a character falls asleep.  It came to my mind yesterday while watching Liam.  He seemed to grow a few years in the course of a day.

We saw our first snow this weekend.  Getting Liam ready to play in the snow is usually a huge pain the neck.  Yesterday, he got himself dressed completely on his own.  He needed help with his boots, which he managed to outgrow in record time.  He was able to borrow a pair of mine.  Once we were outside, he began helping us shovel rather than playing. Watching his clear the driveway, it seemed like just yesterday that he was barely able to make his way over the pavement while he tried to clear off his Cozy Coupe.

It was a big day for Liam because he finally moved out of his five-point booster.  He made it to almost eight before he moved to a booster that uses the car’s seatbelt.  I am fanatical about car seats; Liam has always been in the safest car seat we can afford.  He stayed in his five-point booster longer than most of his friends, a source of much whining in our car.  He was very happy to make the transition out of his “baby seat.”


He’s been waiting for this moment for a long time!


While Mike watched the Eagles game, Liam and I wrapped gifts.  While I was asking him to write out his gift tags, he also insisted on wrapping his own gifts, refusing to even let me hold down edges of wrapping paper.

Every day, I watch Liam grow a little bit.  He asked me if we can listen to the “news” in the car. (Yup, my seven-year-old prefers NPR.) He starts conversations asking to discuss preferences of Elvis over the Beatles.  “Elvis is the king for a reason.”  Yesterday, he asked why people need to pay a lot of money for medicine.  “Why should we have to pay for Tylenol?  Does the government want people to die?  Isn’t it easier to just give people Tylenol when they are in pain? What about kids who are sick?  What if their parents can’t afford medicine?  You always tell me I am lucky because we have the money for the things we need.  What about the kids whose parents don’t have money?”  (“Dude, you just perfectly summed up one of the biggest debates in American politics right now.”)  I know he is constantly evolving, but yesterday hit me in all the feels.  He is turning into a young man.  My baby is still in there, but gets deeper and deeper down.  As I tucked him in last night, he wore his Ninja Turtle PJs, hugged his beloved stuffed bunny, and gave me nose rub kisses, I was happy that glimpses of the little boy remain.  I can’t wait to see the man this boy grows up to be.

Run if You Can, Otherwise Walk

This weekend, we are going to set up our Christmas tree and bring out the decorations.  Mike and I are not anticipating taking out Outlaw’s stocking.  Even four months after losing him, we miss him daily.  One of the biggest things I miss is our walks.  We walked Outtie twice a day.  Liam and I took him on his morning walks.  My favorite things about those walks were the twenty minutes of uninterrupted conversation.  I do not consider myself a bad parent or wife, but how often do we honestly get that much time with our child or spouse to just talk?  Too often, we find ourselves making lunches or putting away dishes or some other form of multitasking.

This week, Liam and I began going for walks in the morning on our own.  I love having the time to talk to him!  I love getting a glimpse of how he sees the world.  He stopped to pick up and show me a giant leaf, then put it back on the ground so “someone else can enjoy it.”  Today, he enjoyed his new gloves that he picked out at Target last night, talking about the skeleton fingers on them and wishing for a cold Halloween so he can wear them then.  I love these small little conversations.  We never solve the world’s problems, but I hope that Liam has fond memories of these walks.


If we are unable to walk in the morning, we walk in the evening, sometimes taking Mike with us.  Evening walks, while challenging to ensure being seen in the early darkness, are enjoyable with the manageable chill and many Christmas displays.  Our neighborhood is quite festive; most houses usually decorate for the holidays.  We love going for walks through the neighborhood and admiring lights.

While I know that the colder weather is going to make it much more difficult to get out and run, I’m content getting in my walks.  Yesterday, I parked my car at Liam’s school and managed a quick run before walking in to pick him up after school.  As much as I love the Boulevard, it was nice to have a change of scenery.   I live close to the airport; on Thursdays, the Army’s C-120s practice touch and goes.  The sun felt exceptionally warm, reminding me that the warmer days in New England are numbered.

One “perk” of living near the airport is knowing the schedule of certain planes and being able to identify them in the air by sound alone! 
Enjoying the warm sun on a chilly day!


Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Holy Cow!  Running in the cold is like learning to run all over again!  After each run in the colder weather, my nose runs faster than any other part of my body.  My lungs ache for hours after the run.  I bought an infinity scarf, hoping that keeping my chest and neck warm would help the lungs.  No such luck.

Yesterday was the last race of the season, the Downtown Jungle 5K.  Mike and Liam joined me.  I was glad they were able to get a glimpse into my running fun and meet a few of my running buddies.  Liam decided at the last minute to run the children’s race.  It was a disaster!  He claims he “broke an ab” and walked for most of the race, finishing 49 of 53.  What did make me happy was that he kept going.  Even when it was difficult and he didn’t feel great, he didn’t cry and he finished the race.


Thankful that Meghan captured this picture of Liam finishing the race in spite of his “broken ab”


My race started off great!  My first mile was one of my fastest ever: 11:04!  I was hoping to carry this throughout the race and get a PR for Christmas.  During my second mile, I had to walk/run, completing it in 12:41.  If finished the race at 37:51, 58 seconds shy of a PR.

Even without  PR, I had a great time!  I loved seeing running friends and catching up with old friends.  The races are always exceptionally well organized.  I love running through Providence.  When I am able to look at it from different viewpoints, it is easy to understand why people come to visit and fall in love with the city.

That made me think about what I want to achieve next year.  Right now, I have three main goals:

  1. Finish a 5k in under 35 minutes
  2. Finish a 5k in the top 50% of the runners
  3. Finish the half-marathon (That’s it, just finish it.  I’d like to finish in under three hours, but I will be happy simply finishing.)
  4. Get a decent picture at the finish fine.  I need to remember the smile!