My Own “Ride or Die” Group

I just finished reading Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes. After being accused by her sister of never saying yes to anything, she agreed to every invitation and opportunity she received. During this year, she played with her kids every time they asked, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and The Mindy Project, and gave several keynote speeches.  While sharing her experiences, I  wanted to be best friends with her.  In one of the later chapters, she discusses losing two close friends over this year. Her other friends informed her that they were never really “friends” and seemed to be upset over her transformation. Shonda (because we are on a first name basis now) categorized her closest friends as her “ride or die” friends. I immediately decided to steal the term for my own. Since entering adulthood, I’ve lost several old friends. Some were toxic and needed to be cut, others just lost touch and, when space became too great, drifted apart.

The result of my many offers to perform flower girl duties at my friend’s wedding. I still giggle when I think about this picture.

I used to mourn the loss of these people quite frequently. As they were replaced by amazing, supportive friends, I realize that some of the breaks were definitely for the best.  The current people in my life are my own “ride or die” group. They showed up even when I claimed I didn’t need them. They check in frequently and remember things that are going on in each others’ lives. We are silly, inappropriate, and supportive. We keep group messages going. After spending time with them, I will remember silly things we said or did and randomly laugh, causing Mike to glace over and humor me by listening to me recap our shenanigans. Sometimes, our sessions actually hold up and are hilarious to others. Usually, these recaps end with Mike shaking his head and smiling.


I’ve said that I had to meet Mike when I was older; twenty-two-year old me would not have appreciated him. The same is true for my friends. I needed friends who expected more of me than they were willing to give, belittled my life choices, and made catty comments about me when they thought I was out of earshot. I needed these people to understand that I hit the friend jackpot as I grew older. My yoga girls, mommy friends, and running buddies slowly became my “ride or die” group.  I thoroughly enjoyed Year of Yes and believe it should be required reading to anyone who has ever doubted themselves. Her ideas about friendship are one of my favorite takeaways. Shonda reminded me how important it is to have a “ride or die” crew. I am eternally grateful for mine!

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.

Expectation vs Reality

This week’s creative writing class is reading Sandra Cisneros’ Eleven, a story about a girl whose eleventh birthday doesn’t go as she hoped. My students and I discuss the concept of expectation versus reality. They shared a few examples of toys and experiences that let them down. The cumulating activity involves rewriting the story through another character’s point of view. It is one of my favorite lessons.

This conversation led me to think about expectation versus reality.  Am I very far off from where I hoped I’d be?

Over the summer, I stopped at Newbury Comics to sell some of the crates full of CDs taking up space in our basement.  For non-locals, Newbury Comics is an insanely cool local chain of record stores. I browsed while waiting for the clerk to sort through my CD collection, remembering all the times I’ve visited this store over the past twenty years. I met Luscious Jackson there just after graduating high school, raced there to purchase REM CDs on Tuesday release days, and discovered all sorts of interesting things through the years. We now take Liam there to buy comic books.  I looked at myself in the reflection of one of the cases, examining the forty-year-old staring back at me. I happened to be wearing cut-off jeans, an Elizabeth and the Catapult T-shirt, and Converse, the under part of my hair freshly died pink. Quickly and inconspicuously snapping a selfie to send to a friend, I couldn’t help but think that seventeen-year-old me would be okay with how I turned out.

Teenaged me would have approved this!

The decision to become an Engish teacher was made in seventh grade. Nothing sounded better than being paid to read and write all day.  Obviously, thirteen-year-old me was very naive about teaching, thinking lessons would magically come to me, only to be delivered flawlessly. Anyone who has ever taught knows that, sometimes, even the best lessons fall flat. I’d like to think that this is what I expected. I have nights attached to my computer, long days of constantly being “on,” and constant concerns about how to better help my students achieve. I’d like to think that I am fair and my students know how much I care about them. Recently, a graduating student stopped by to say goodbye. She thanked me for pushing her, even when she didn’t want to be pushed. I love seeing my students accomplish things they doubted they could complete. Those A-Ha! moments are all we need to help keep us going. When I imagined being an English teacher, I’d like to think this is what I had in mind!

Teaching the Summit Learning Platform last summer

Parenting is another story. Mike and I were so naive about this as well. I swore that my future child would never sleep in our bed or wear all tacky character clothing. Then, said child was born. He was prone to ear infections, often waking up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. Once he had tubes put in his ears, he continued to wake at 4:00 every morning. By the time we got him back to sleep in his crib, it was 5, allowing Mike only fifteen minutes of sleep before his alarm went off.  Liam began coming to our bed around four o’clock each morning. The consensus was that sleep with a toddler in the bed was better than no sleep at all. For the first few years, it was easy to avoid character apparel. Eventually, he discovered shirts with Thomas, Lightning McQueen, and Dusty Crophopper. Eventually, it did not matter. Seeing the joy on his face when he received his first pair of light up Thomas sneakers made me understand why parents buy these ridiculous shoes.




Like many new mothers, I never anticipated how exhausting parenting can be. Yes, I love being a mother and would not change it for anything in the world. However, my mind never gets to turn off. It is constant thinking, considering, and worrying.

Did I get the Box Top off of the granola bars before putting it in the recycling bin?

Do we have extra tubes of toothpaste in the basement or should I buy more while they’re on sale?

Did I spend enough time with Liam today? Like, real time, talking, playing, and interacting?

Does Liam know is addition and subtraction families well enough? He’s going to start memorizing multiplication soon; he’s got to have addition and subtraction down before learning the more difficult material.

When was the last time I dusted the living room? or scrubbed behind the toilet?

While I wouldn’t change my life for anything, motherhood is a lot of work. Is it more than I imagined? I don’t think so. I do know that my concerns about motherhood before having Liam are definitely not the things I worry about now. I will chalk this up to being part of the adventure.

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!

I Went a Week Without Working Out… and it was Fine

What is that quote about the best-intended plans?

I had every intention of working out each day this week.  I have a routine established:

Monday: Strength Class

Tuesday and Saturday: Yoga

I usually get at least two in each week. However, all bets were off last week. On Tuesday, I had a faculty meeting after school and stomach issues that evening, causing me to miss out on both running and yoga. We got three inches of snow on Wednesday. I had a hair appointment Thursday afternoon. Friday, Liam woke up at 3 am with leg cramps, and I never got back to sleep. I had been keeping a cold at bay with plenty of sleep and Emergen-C; this night of lousy sleep was enough to bring on a full-blown cold. I skipped running Friday afternoon and spent the weekend on the couch. Mike was in Tennessee this weekend, making me unable to go out running even if I wanted to. I planned to do a few Beachbody on Demand workouts over the weekend, but I could not get myself off the couch.

So there you have it: why I didn’t work out for an entire week. While I thought I would be upset with myself and feel terrible, I am actually okay with this. I managed to keep my mild cold from becoming much worse. We watched The Martian.  I introduced Liam to Fuller House. I caught up with friends Sunday morning by helping at a fundraiser and attended a birthday party that afternoon.

Liam was very impressed that I saw the “Full House” houses at Alamo Park!

Because I didn’t work out, I meticulously watched my food intake, still managing to lose two and a half pounds this week.  (Having a cold definitely attributed to that weight loss. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take it this week.)

This is what I learned by taking a week off: I genuinely enjoy working out. I like seeing what my body is capable of doing and how I feel afterward. Working out is a want to, not a have to.  It is no longer a punishment for being idle or for overeating.  While I am happy when I have the time to work out, I no longer need to beat myself up if it just doesn’t happen.

Random Thoughts Thursday (on a Friday)

Today, I received a check from the state’s unclaimed treasury.  My name has been in the database for at least fifteen years. The amount was listed as “under $200.” When it was printed in the paper, relatives would call my mom, telling her they saw my name on the list.  (I don’t know if this sort of thing happens in other states, but it was a huge deal twenty years ago in these parts.) My mom would, in turn, call me, reminding me of my “free money.”  Whenever someone mentioned the list being in the paper, I would wait for Mom’s call. When I first made the list, for me to claim my money, I had to go to the office and fill out paperwork.  Later, I would also need to produce my marriage certificate to prove that I used to be the name in the database and find paperwork showing I once lived at my parent’s house.  I would set the intention to dig through records to find the necessary paperwork but never got around to actually doing it. Like all great information previously available in the newspaper, the database moved online.  Eventually, you could submit the claim via the treasury website, which I did a few months ago.  Today, I received a letter from the treasury department.  After years of my mom nagging me to file the claim, the case is closed.  It is bittersweet, that is one less thing for her to haunt me about.  I feel like I should do something special with the money, all $183 of it. I definitely need to spend it doing something with Mike and Liam.  That’s what Mom would have wanted me to do with it.

I love that Liam shares my weird sense of humor.  He and I can say something random and silly and manage to roll with it far longer than anyone should.  This morning, while trying to get him out of bed, he began singing about the need to stay under the covers.  We spent the entire morning singing a narrative of everything we did, titling our antics, “Friday Morning: the Musical,” sung to the tune of “Elmo the Musical.”

“Staying under the covers now!”

“Brush your teeth in the bathroom!’

“Did you get your socks on?”

Yeah, we are hysterical. Trust me, it was funnier if you were there.

Also, we picked right back up when we came home from school.

When I was sixteen, I began adding piercings up my left ear.   Every week or so, my mother would check my ear for extra piercings.  Luckily, she never committed the number to memory, so she never realized when she counted a new hole. I am thankful that sixteen-year-old me was wise enough to add all of these piercings in a straight line, allowing me to still wear studs up my ear as an adult.  I currently have eight holes in my left ear and four in my right.   I am also thankful that teenaged me was wise enough to rebel through piercing rather than tattoos.  Piercings are easier to change your mind about and remove.  There have been gaps of time when I’ve removed my earrings; no one can see the holes unless I mention it to them. (Oddly enough, my second tattoo, which I had done at age 38, contains REM lyrics in my mom’s handwriting. REM was my favorite band in high school, proving that maybe I could have been trusted to choose permanent body art as a teenager. However, anyone who knew me in high school knows that my fashion choices were not at all timeless.)


Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Yousafzai’s father, liked a Tweet I chared on my school’s Twitter! My students read her book. I took a picture of them during their Socratic Seminar.  I did not tag anyone in the Tweet, yet he managed to find and like it. The books influenced my students, bringing them to discuss women’s rights and other issues affecting the world.  As a teacher, there are few moments greater than when your students demonstrate the ability think critically about an issue. Not only did that happen, someone I greatly admire acknowledged our work!

I’m now finishing my third week of eating dairy-free.  We went out to dinner last Friday and I was able to find something to eat without issue.  My sinuses continue to improve, and my skin hasn’t looked this great since I was pregnant.  My stomach issues have not changed much, forcing me to continue my search for that culprit. I’m happy with my skin and running proves slightly easier (because I am breathing better), convincing me to stick with the dairy-free diet.

I love that being a teacher provides so many new beginnings.  For example, I get two starts to a “new year,” one in January and another in September.  A few weeks into January, a new semester begins.  I love the notion of beginnings.  They’re so hopeful.  At each of these beginnings, I assess and create goals.  Every September comes with the promise of keeping a sleep schedule, meal planning on Sundays, and keeping the house mildly tidy during the week.  (This year, I’ve actually maintained these routines!) January promises to stop eating the terrible diet that begins at Halloween and runs through New Year’s Day.  Ten days in the house allows me to clear through closets and various spots to get rid of items we haven’t used during the previous year. When we go back to school that first week of January, the house is at its cleanest.  The new semester brings a clean slate to think about successes, reflect upon my practice, and start anew.  I added a giant chalkboard wall to my classroom.  It contains the steps of the latest project, complete with final products, checkpoints, and due dates along the way. I am hoping that having an outline bringing us through the next two months will keep us on track, avoiding the inevitable panic scramble at the end of the semester.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

We Are on a Break!

I recently decided to break up with cheese.  Well, Mike convinced me to give up cheese for a little while and see how I felt.  I had already decided to give up my small cup of ice cream each night.  (I’m working out like crazy and gaining weight, but that is another story.)

We spent ten days together stuck inside a tiny house hiding from frigid temperatures.  The weekend before Christmas, I made two delicious mac and cheese recipes for different sets of guests.  The first used cheddar cheeses and Sriracha, the other asked for sharp cheeses and pancetta.  I made pulled pork to top the cheddar mac and cheese.  Because I am terrible at math and following recipes, I gathered the ingredients based on their pre-shredded amounts. Once I ran them through my shredder, I had a ridiculous amount of cheese, which led to ridiculous amounts of mac and cheese.

Mike and I spent the following week eating mac and cheese, refusing to spend money going out to eat or grocery shopping when there was a fridge full of perfectly good leftovers. At night, we snacked on meats and cheeses after Liam went to bed.  We were on vacation! We could live it up!

My indulging caught up with me.  I gained five pounds.  This brought my weight right past my “Oh Crap” weight.  (Does anyone else have a weight hierarchy?  I imagine mine like the threat pyramid the government uses. It consists of Yay!, Good/Okay, Watch it Now/Reel It In, and Oh Crap.)

I also noticed that my face, which has been pretty clear, started to look like it belonged to a teenager.  More like, it belonged to an awkward teenager who had both pimples and laugh lines.  My biggest issues involved my stomach.  I won’t get into the details, but Liam and Mike became fearful of sitting near me.

While Mike and I were getting ready for bed, he mentioned the amount of cheese I had been consuming and asked if I had ever considered giving up dairy.

Anyone who knows me knows this would normally be laughed off.  I love cheese!  (By the way, there is a name for someone who loves cheese; we are known as turophiles.) However, I had read quite a few articles about the benefits of eliminating dairy, including improvements to skin, stomach, and sinuses.  My sinuses have been throbbing, causing me pain under my eyes and into my jaw.  Netti pots, Claritin, hot compresses, and nasal sprays are no longer helping.  I was planning to use the ENT referral my primary care doctor gave me at my physical.  I really try to avoid taking medications.  If giving up dairy would help me breath better and be pain-free, it’s worth a shot!

Now comes the difficult part, actually giving up cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.  I use almond milk in my morning smoothies.  I can use that when having cereal and scrambled eggs. I purchased a plant-based butter type spread and soy-based yogurt.

I am now seven days into my breakup with dairy.  So far, it isn’t as bad as I feared.  It might be the placebo effect, but I swear that I am already breathing easier. I can breath deeper than I previously could. During my run Tuesday, I slowed down because my legs were tired, not because of breathing difficulties.  Today, I ran my longest run! However, I know the cheese fit will kick in soon.  While it is a bit too early to say whether it has helped clear my skin, I have noticed no new breakouts in the past few days.

This news is bittersweet.  I am glad that I am experiencing excellent results from giving up dairy.  Honestly, I was hoping that it would not work and I could go back to being my awesome, cheese-loving self.