When Your Kid Sets the Example

Part of being a parent is the constant worrying about whether or not your kid is doing okay, which is a direct measure of how you are doing okay as a parent. Liam is a great kid. He is kind and thoughtful. He was a trooper during the second half of February break. We spent three days running errands. By Friday, we were both done. To make matters worse, Friday was the day or errand errors.

Happy dog at his check-up Wednesday!


This kid and his giggles get me every time!


We took Banjo for his interview at a dog daycare.  Before adopting him, we booked two trips, so we need to find a place to take care of him while we are gone. The plan was to take him to his interview, once he passed the initial trial period, we were to leave him for three hours. We could then go up the street to get the oil changed on the car.  The problem was, he didn’t pass, causing us to drive back across town, drop him off, then drive back across town to get my oil changed.  (He had a second interview Saturday and passed with flying colors!) After forty minutes of driving, the dealership informs me they were running an hour and a half behind. We went somewhere else to take care of it, frustrated that I drove all that way for an “express” oil change.


It took two trips to the blood center before I could donate. Liam is always happy to eat warm post-donation cookies with me!

After the oil change, I drove to pick up the boots I had dropped off to be re-soled, reheeled, and stitched.  (I cannot find boots to fit my calves so I’ve been fixing these bionic boots for six years now.) My shoes that were promised to be ready by Friday, were not. At this point, I was ready to cry out of frustration. We could have been doing so many better things on this beautiful day. We passed playgrounds, libraries, and other attractions. I put my eight-year-old in the car for errands that, for reasons beyond our control, weren’t following through. We got to the Blood Center when they were not yet opened. At our next errand, replacing Liam’s sneakers, we discovered that the place where I always buy Liam his shoes closed. Yes, I completely understand that these were first world problems. What kicked me the most was the Mama guilt, mostly brought on by Facebook posts of our friends visiting Boston, New York City, and doing all sorts of fun adventures while we failed at task after task. 

Liam still smiling at the end of a terribly unproductive day!


If I were not with Liam, I would have followed my usual routine for handling stress: crying and eating junk food. As we walked back to the car from the shoe repair, two blocks up because we couldn’t find parking, I apologized to Liam multiple times for messing up our last day of vacation. He replied, “It’s okay. I’d rather be here with you.” When I told him how much that remark made me happy, he continued, “You told me I needed to clean my room when we got home. I’d rather run stupid errands than clean my room.” Liam proceeded to perform what he called his “errand fail dance.” While I was ready to cry and get frustrated, Liam found the best of a yucky situation. He managed to have the same effect on me that Mike does when I am upset. I often joke that Liam managed to inherit all of Mike’s best traits and all of my terrible characteristics; I love seeing Liam share Mike’s ability to keep me giggling, even when I wanted to scream. Liam has a gift for always seeing the positive; I hope that talent remains as he becomes an adult.

Valentine’s Day

I love the idea of Valentine’s Day. A day to demonstrate your love for others is great, especially if it involves being cheesy and silly. However, the idea of going out for dinner and buying expensive, overpriced flowers never seemed necessary. Early on, Mike and I adopted a goal of “non-romantic” Valentine’s Day. Through the years, we have gone to Denny’s, visited the Chinese buffet (while using a coupon), ordered pizza, and made breakfast for dinner at home. This year, we are going to make heart-shaped pink pancakes. Liam is very excited to help make the dinner, asking if we can make one for Banjo.

Even though Mike and I don’t exchange gifts, we bought Liam a stuffed dog.  It’s fun to watch Liam get excited about “telling people I love that I love them.” He made Valentines for his classmates and neighborhood friends. He gave me hugs every chance he could this morning.


Liam giving his mama some snuggles in hope of avoiding getting ready for bed.


Liam is a kind child. He thinks of others and tries his best to be a good person. He gives me hugs before bed and at drop-off but is overall is not an affectionate person. His daycare teachers considered Liam hugs a big deal. Even when he is not feeling well, he wants to sit by himself. Only when he is trying to avoid bedtime does he truly snuggle. Even though I can see through his ulterior motives, I take them, especially when he reminds me that he “won’t fit in your lap forever.” (Seriously, he doesn’t even play fairly!) However, his stinginess in physical affection is more than made up for when it comes to verbal affection. He is more than willing to randomly tell me he loves me or something he enjoys about spending time with me or being my kid. He makes cards for no occasion and slips them to me. He proclamations are so honest and forthcoming, they melt my heart.

I let Liam stay at school a little longer so I could go for a run. I did get to see the Patriots plane take off, which was cool after only seeing it on the tarmac. Liam was happy to have time to play with his friends. It was a nice day so they could finally play outside.




Valentine’s Day dinner was a hit! Liam loved his heart-shaped pancakes! After dinner, we took Banjo for a long walk.  Mike’s folks sent all of us, including Banjo, Valentines. Liam sat with Banjo to read him his card, explaining, “This is from my grandparents. They can’t wait to meet you.”

I love our low-key and easy Valentine’s Days. We don’t need grand gestures to show our love; we find ways to show our love every day.

More Random Thoughts

Every so often, the universe lets you know that your adulting skills are on point. Sunday morning, I romantically got up with Liam and Banjo, allowing Mike a rare morning to sleep a little later. When he came downstairs at 8:45 and asked time I got up, I explained that Liam and Banjo let me sleep until 6:35.  When did waking up at 6:35 on a Sunday become sleeping in!?!?That night, I brushed my teeth while Mike let Banjo out one last time. I need to get to bed, I thought, it’s almost 9:00.  Ten years ago, I would have thought nothing about going out at 9:00. Now, just being up that late is bothersome.  Being an adult involves many challenges, but I am usually caught up on sleep and well-rested.

Banjo is adjusting more and more.  He’s such a smart dog.  We have a great routine in the morning. When we go outside for our last play session before putting him in the crate and heading to school, we had to convince him to come inside. Now, he follows us when we walk to the dog, dropping his ball in the spot where we have been putting it. He’s a really good dog, so intuitive and quick to learn. He’s getting better and better on the leash.

My favorite part of having a dog is seeing Liam flourish. Liam is a typical eight-year-old. He’s learning and trying to test boundaries and see what he can accomplish. Having Banjo in our family gives Liam another purpose. He takes pride in taking care of his dog. He imitates Mike’s commands, trying to support training efforts. We often have to remind Liam several times to keep Legos off the floor. Since adopting Banjo, this has not been an issue. “You need to keep your floor clean. Banjo can’t tell the difference between Legos and dog food. We don’t want him to get sick.” Keeping his room clean is no longer about his parents telling him what to do; he has a responsibility to keep his dog safe.

I forgot how much I enjoy our morning walks. It gives us a good chance to really talk. Today, Liam told me all about Math Slicer, a game he purchased this weekend. It is similar to Fruit Ninja, but a math problem appears on the screen. Two possible answers pop up; the object of the game is to “slice” the correct answer. It is comparable to flashcards. We have been practicing addition and subtraction during our walks, quizzing Liam as we walk the neighborhood. Today, Liam spent most of our walk talking about how much he enjoys the game and that he is getting better and better and remembering his addition and subtraction. I appreciate the time to simply talk to Liam and, during our evening walks, Mike. I also enjoy getting out and seeing our neighbors. Having a dog gives us a great excuse to get to know our neighbors.

One of my favorite Fenway pictures from 2007, when we went to Fenway as often as possible!

On one of my first dates with Mike, I took him to Fenway. At this time, he didn’t know much about baseball. That would soon change. Every year since that first date at Fenway, we have made it several Red Sox games each season.  The Red Sox have been a significant part of our lives; we have had a Red Sox themed wedding. This is the first year that we have had no interest in buying tickets. The cost keeps increasing, the team is not getting any better. I am hopeful that Alex Cora will bring some enthusiasm to the team, but we will not attend unless we happen to get tickets from someone. Even though it is a conscious decision, it feels unnatural to not have a game on our calendar.

At our wedding, we asked guests to sign a jersey, which is now framed and hanging in our dining room. 

A few months ago, I wrote about how writing is helping me deal with anxiety. It’s also helping my perspective. I find myself focusing on the positive parts of my days. I’m blessed in the fact that I am pretty fortunate in terms of the life I have. I have a healthy, happy family, a job I enjoy, and an amazing group of friends. Writing and reflecting on this life allows me to focus on the positives, think about the things that are going well, reflect on what I need to improve, and formulate plans for next steps. After years without writing, I’m thankful something pushed me to return to the hobby.

Finding My Running Mojo

Have you seen my motivation? I seem to have lost it. Recently, I went an entire week without working out.  As of this week, I am officially in half-marathon training. However, for the past two weeks, I’ve only managed one run weekly.  There are many reasons for this:

  • The weather has been terrible: bitterly cold, snowy, icy days make it tough to leave the house
  • I’ve been trying to keep a cold at bay. It’s that awful rundown feeling that you are only one bad night of sleep away from getting the full-blown cold. During the past two weekends, I’ve actually spent a good amount of time on the couch, something I never do.
  • Two weeks ago, Mike went away for work, making it impossible for me to get out for runs on the weekend since I had Liam with me.
  • We adopted Banjo last weekend and spent a lot of time getting him used to his new family and home.

Anyway, I have not been running. I’ve completed lots of other workouts involving yoga and strength training (PRed my sumo squat- 2×205!!), but have not made it out running more than once a week.  Banjo and I have been going for long walks. Because I’ve been trying to get him used to walks on a leash, he and I have only gone running once. Sunday morning, when the weather finally gets above take your breath away freezing, I will need to go out and complete five miles to stay on track for the half-marathon training schedule.  I know that once I am out on the road, I will be fine.

Usually, I love running around the airport, but I can’t seem to get my butt out there.


I have been really great about watching my diet and staying active, managing to lose a few more of the weigh I’ve gained since Halloween. Thanks to walking Banjo twice a day, I’ve been kicking but in my FitBit challenges!  It’s taken years, but I have finally stopped treating working out as a punishment for eating too much or a consequence of gaining weight.  I am actually looking forward to getting in that long run this Sunday morning!

Making Banjo Part of the Family

We are all still getting to know each other, learning and establishing routines, and becoming a family of four. Banjo has a lot of energy, definitely requiring more work and guidance than Outtie ever did. It does make us love him more or less; both dogs are just very different experiences.  We are learning each other better each day; it is clear that Banjo is meant to be a part of our family.

Liam loves having a dog again! I think it gives him a purpose.  He used to whine when we ask him to clean his room or pick up toys, but has no problems doing it when he knows that it is crucial for keeping Banjo safe. (Random Legos on a bedroom floor don’t look very different than dog food.) Liam’s mission is to create a suitable nickname for Banjo.  Outlaw became Outtie and, sometimes, “Outtie-budoutie.”  I have no clue how that happened, but it rolled off the tongue.  Liam has quite a few nicknames, Booba, Sport/ Sportpuppy, Booba-dingo, Bug/ Buggie.  We’ve talked about nicknames, why people give them and which of his are his favorites. It also came to be that some nicknames that are mom or dad exclusive. Buggie is from Mama, Sport and Sportpuppy are Dad’s. Liam loves Banjo and he is part of the family; therefore, he must have a nickname.

Over the past few days, Liam has attempted Banjo-wanjo and Banjo-melon.  He’s really trying to make Banjo-melon happen. During yesterday morning’s walk, he explained that only the three of us can call him Banjo-melon.  I love seeing how Liam interprets the ins and outs of how the world works. Because nicknames show affection, Banjo needs one. However, Liam is learning his first awkward lesson about nicknames, that they cannot be forced.


Liam’s attempts to give Banjo a nickname remind me of Peter Klaven’s awkward nickname experiences. 


Each day, we adjust to each other more and more. Banjo has learned to make a whining sound at the door when he needs to go potty.  We put him on the leash, let him do his thing, and reward him with animal crackers when he’s finished. He settles in and takes all the belly rubs we will give him.

Banjo is getting better on the leash each day. Today, he and I went on our first longer adventure. He did a great job! We did interval; he slowed down when I needed and was more than happy to run. I’m really hoping that he can become my running buddy. The weather warmed up this afternoon,  melting the last on the ice and snow on the roads.  He and I can got in 2.24 miles before picking up Liam at school.  Banjo, with all of his energy, is smart, loving, and eager to learn. I’m thankful he is adjusting to being a part of our family.


Five months ago, we lost our almost-six-year-old lab. He had been sick for months. We tried every reasonable possibility before making the difficult decision to let him go.  Losing him proved every bit as difficult as losing a human family member; we all cried for weeks.  I wrote about the pain of losing Outtie while it was still fresh.

Last week, I mentioned receiving an unclaimed property check, something my mom pestered me to investigate for years. It was not a significant check, but enough to think about how to properly spend it. We found a way to spend it that would’ve made my mom proud!

Mike and Liam missed having a dog. Outtie left a massive hole in their hearts. Since Mike and I grew up with dogs, we know how important it is for a boy to have a dog. Our neighbor informed us of a black lab named Banjo who is available through a local rescue. We spoke to the woman in the organization, who told us he is smart and kind but also still has his young dog hyperactivity.  We went to visit Banjo Thursday night. Yes, he is high energy! While he jumps, he doesn’t jump on people. He settled down in a few minutes.  It is clear that he is smart and eager to please.

Saturday, we went to pick up our newest family member. Liam was so excited when we walked to the car that he started crying tears of happiness. While Banjo is high energy, he is smart and eager to please! Within the first afternoon, Mike had him following basic commands: sit, stay, lie down, and wait. While he sits, Mike will throw a ball, and tell Banjo to wait. Banjo will not run after the ball until Mike says, “Banjo, go!” Liam wants to teach him to raise a paw. He can catch toys in the air, but not treats. Banjo needs some work on the leash; he really wants to catch squirrels and, once he sees one, needs redirection to keep from trying to run after them. His foster said that he caught a few while with her.  By this morning’s walk, he was next to me enough to let the leash slack a few times. I am hoping that he and I will eventually become running buddies; with some love and training, I know he will get there!


Getting ready to go home!


I can’t think of a better way to use the money my mom nagged me to track down!