Monday, April 22, 2013

Photos of Earth in Honor of Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day, here are some of my favorite photos that Greg has taken of our beautiful Earth.

Happy Earth Day!  Throw some bags in your car for your groceries and shopping, drink your tap water and use a water bottle, and plan a picnic or a take a walk outside... it's beautiful out there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Should I Do With This Bowl?

I have a bowl.  What should I do with this bowl?

I could hide behind this bowl!

I could hide my food under this bowl!

I could pretend I'm going to DROP this bowl....
Haha, where's my food?  This never gets old.
No, really, it never gets old.
What bowl?  I can't see anything.  Is there still a bowl?
All right... I guess... as a last resort.... I could eat out of this bowl.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Response to the Boston Marathon Tragedy: "Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"

"Be the change you wish to see in the world," Mahatma Ghandi said.  If everyone who is saddened by the horrible tragedy that occurred yesterday finds even one way to act for positive change in our world, think of the difference we could make. 

This is not what I wanted to be writing about for my 100th blog post.  It seems like only days ago that I was writing about the Newtown school shootings, and now, tragedy so close to home.

I don't have much to say, but I am feeling a great deal.  Gratitude for the safety of my family, especially my husband, who finished the Boston Marathon before the bombings and was only blocks away from the explosions.  Sorrow and horror for the families of those who were not so lucky.  Outrage, frustration, and the fear and sadness that comes whenever we are reminded of our own mortality and that of those we love.

There are families whose lives were forever changed yesterday.  For those of us who are so lucky to have our loved ones safe, I hope that we can be change instead.

I know that people will light candles, and hold vigils, and commit random acts of kindness as a means of healing and moving forward.  I hope we all find sources of healing.

I would actually urge people to consider an alternative to the popular pay it forward, random acts of kindness.  I would rather see purposeful acts towards change.  It is a fine thing to buy someone behind you a cup of coffee, but perhaps a better thing to donate money or time to a homeless shelter and help someone truly in need.  I can light a candle and offer a moment of silence, but I would rather make an appointment to donate blood.  (There's no reason not to do both.)

Events like this can make us feel powerless.  I cannot give Martin Richard or the other victims their lives back.  But I actually do have the power to save a life. 
  • I made an appointment to donate blood 
  • I am not going to answer my cell phone or text (which is illegal in MA) while I am driving. 
  • I have registered at to be a bone marrow donor if I'm a match (make sure you understand the level of commitment and talk to your family if you're considering joining)
  • I'm a registered organ donor

Yesterday was such a dichotomy - an incredible event, of 27,000 runners running an insane distance of 26.2 miles, cheered on by spectators, accomplishing incredible speeds and feats of athleticism, and many of them overcoming incredible obstacles in order to do so.  All of them had trained hard, and long, and run many, many miles leading up to this wonderful celebration of human spirit.

On the other hand, there was a horrible tragedy that cost lives and injuries and brought this amazing event to a screeching halt.

Watching the event, and the response to the event, I had all these conflicting feelings of whether the world is a wonderful or horrible place, whether people are amazing and incredible or cruel and unthinkably evil.

The good news: tens of thousands more people were there because they were celebrating something beautiful and amazing than because they wished to hurt someone.

I had an outpouring of support and concern in the aftermath of the tragedy as friends texted me, family called me, and three of my neighbors knocked on our door to find out if Greg and our family was o.k.  Our National Guard and our Police Officers and other first responders are hard at work making sure we're safe.   Other cities have offered Boston support, and people all over the country and the world are speaking about this tragedy and offering their assistance.

People are good, people care, people want the world to be a better place, a place where these things don't happen.

I don't know how we can prevent future tragedies, but I do have a lot of ideas for how we can make the world a better place.  We can all, in our own way, find something that we can do in remembrance and in commemoration of this tragedy, that will change the world for the better.

Find your way to make this world better.  What are your resources?  What causes speak to you most?  I am young and healthy, but don't have much time to volunteer because I'm a stay at home mom of two young children.  I can donate blood, I can be patient when I'm driving.  I can donate to the Heifer project and help a mother trying to feed her children.  I can join the bone marrow registry and maybe save a cancer patient.  I can recycle, I can be more careful to buy only what I need, I can drive safely, I can treat waitstaff and people in the service industry with respect, I can talk to my children about being kind to everyone.

What can you do?

I snapped this photo of Greg to send to worried family members just after he'd gotten off the commuter rail from Boston.  It was only after I viewed it on the computer that I realized you could still see my tears of relief on his shirt.  He finished before the explosions and was blocks away - I wish everyone had been so lucky.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Monday! (Ode to the 5k)

4/15/13: My thoughts are with all Boston runners, spectators and families.  Greg finished before the explosions, and he is o.k.  I will leave my original blog post for marathon Monday below, in hopes that all of us keep on running.

It's Boston Marathon Day!  Greg's running this year and I'm excited, nervous, excited, nervous, excited!  There's a lot of work that leads up into one incredible run, and I want the experience to be worth the preparation for him.  He's a great runner, the weather is promising, and all I hope is that he has a great time and is happy with his time at the end of this crazy, epic race.

The boys and I went with him to pick up his race packet in Boston on Saturday, and I have never been so overwhelmed by crazy crowds and the number of intense runners there are out there.  When I think about running just over 26 miles, it sounds so ludicrous, so ridiculous, that I can't imagine ANYONE could do that.  Or would do that.  Let alone 30,000 people, and my husband among them.

Sometimes I feel like there are only two groups of people out there, non-runners who are impressed even by how much I am running, and "real" runners, who are out there running the Boston Marathon today.

Where are all the people like me who are in between?!  Sometimes, when I have a few minutes, I like to pop over to and check out the community message boards where I can remind myself that there ARE a lot of people like me.  People who run because they like how it makes them feel, who want to get faster and run longer but who aren't preparing for a marathon... ever.  People who enjoy road races even though they're never planning to win one, and they're not going to try.

You marathon runners out there... you are awesome.

I love running.  Running is great.  And one of the tricks of sticking with running, is being honest with yourself about your own purpose for running.  Why do you run?  What parts of running make you happiest?  How can you get the most satisfaction from running and feel great about your accomplishments?  For most of us, that means being inspired by all these amazing marathon runners out there today, rather than demoralized or down upon our own accomplishments.  And I don't mean inspired to start training for our own marathon, I mean inspired because these are people who have found something they love so much that they've trained to do it for 26.2 miles.

As a beginning runner who lives with one of these crazy people, I have to remember that his path might be longer than my path, but that doesn't mean I should stick to the couch.

So if you're also standing on the sidelines, thinking to yourself "oh my gosh, I could never do that", here's what I'd say:

If you think you could never do that because you never WANT to run 3-5 hours without stopping, then I think you are a very rational person and you can come hang out next to me and cheer.  We can secretly laugh about how insane these people are and make fun of how they look in their compression socks.

If you think you could never do that because you just don't think you could even though you secretly really want to... well, I think you should look at some of the runners who are doing it against some pretty impressive odds and consider being inspired.  Because there will be people over the age of 70 finishing, and people who weigh over 200 pounds finishing, and even some people with no legs finishing.  So if you want it, and you're willing to work for it and be patient enough to train for the months and maybe years that it takes, you probably can do it.

But I recommend you grab yourself a cup of coffee, clap like crazy while people run by, and stick to the shorter races with me.

And in that light, I would like to present my Ode to the 5k, in the form of t-shirt slogans.

3.1 - Long Enough to Feel Good, Often Enough to Look Good

3.1 - Why Give Up Your Saturday Mornings?

3.1 - I'm Efficient.

3.1 - If It's Not A "Challenge", Run Faster

3.1 - Not Everyone's Crazy

3.1 - Run Fun :)

3.1 - You Could Be Doing This Eight Weeks From Now


Happy Running!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lecture Review: Working with Temperament, Debbie Weinstock-Savoy, Ph.D.

You're watching HGTV, and they're doing a backyard show.  A beaver, monkey, dolphin, and owl are standing on an empty lot discussing landscaping ideas.

Dolphin: This will be great!  We can have a gazebo, the neighbors can come over, maybe we can do a color theme for the flowers, focus on blues and purples....

Beaver: You'll need to plan the flowering plants so you have blooms in each season, and we should probably check the soil types before you consider planting anything, I'll make a list and draw up some diagrams...

Monkey: This is awesome, I can't wait to get started!  I'm going to go check out the gardening store, look at the plants, maybe pick out a couple to start with!  And I'll try out some of the furniture while I'm over there!

Owl: Are there any charts around here that show which plants grow the best in New England conditions?  What's the overall idea here, are you trying to have an outdoor dining space or a garden area or what?  

Ok, so maybe this is unrealistic, being that owls are nocturnal and the rest of these animals don't share a natural habitat.  What I'm really talking about is temperament.

Will sat quietly in his booster seat and made cards and crafted for over half an hour... Beaver?

One of the benefits of the local mother's group I'm part of is a great lecture series on parenting topics, the most recent of which was Debbie Weinstock-Savoy speaking about children's temperaments and how understanding our children's predispositions can help us as parents.

The lecture took the popular Myers Brigg's personality test, which identifies people's natural tendencies in four different areas, and created four groupings that can help us understand how people learn and interact.

You can read about Myer's Briggs at

If you're familiar with Myers Briggs, here's a brief review of the four identifiers:

At the end of a long day, how do you get your energy back? 
Introvert (re-energizes by being alone) vs. Extrovert (re-energizes by being around people)

How do you prefer receiving information?
Sensing (hands on, detail oriented) or Intuiting (observation, big picture, ideas and theories)

How do you make decisions?
Thinking (the facts, objective) or Feeling (relationships, how a decision affects people around you)

Do you prefer schedules and structure or new experiences and spontaneity?
Judging (structure and closure) or Perceiving (new experiences, spontaneous)

The four categories Debbie Weinstock-Savoy discussed:

Based on David Kiersey's categories, Dr. Savoy talked about four personality categories.

Two types of "sensors" who prefer things hands on and are detail oriented rather than abstract or big picture:

Beaver (SJ): The beaver is a detail oriented, sensory learner who prefers structure and closure over new experiences and spontaneity.  They make lists, they focus on tasks, they don't like it when people break the rules, they like plans.  They're so driven to accomplish things that they may need to make it a specific point to have fun.  (This is the Kiersey "Guardian")

Monkey (SP): The monkey is a hands on, sensory learner who loves new experiences and spontaneity and fun.  They're high energy, they love things to be new and exciting, and they are not necessarily well served by a classroom environment.  They'd rather do than memorize, and they can get bored without enough variety and excitement. They'd rather jump into a project and start playing around with materials than sit and plan.  Their work better be fun, or they're not doing it.  (This is the Kiersey "Artisan")

Two types of "Intuiters" who are big picture thinkers who learn from observations and ideas:

Dolphin (NF):  Creative, big picture thinkers who make decisions based on relationships and the impact something will have on those around them.  Relationships are really important to them, they're often idealistic and thinking about the potential of any situation, and they're naturally empathetic. (This is the Kiersey "Idealist")

Owl (NT): Observant, big picture thinkers who make decisions based on objective facts rather than relationships.  They're independent minded, love ideas and a good debate, sometimes have trouble relating to people because they prioritize facts over relationships and can be irritated by people who don't understand their point of view. (This is the Kiersey "Rational")

My experience:

Having taken the Myers Briggs test, I know that I'm halfway between a Beaver and an Owl (I test borderline in the receipt of information category, being halfway between preferring details and preferring patterns and ideas, with a slight preference into the Owl or big picture category). 

Looking at the strengths and vulnerabilities of those personalities makes me laugh, because they're right on with my own experiences.  I get nervous and upset when rules are broken.  I like structure and plans, and am not great at being spontaneous.  I love feeling productive and am task oriented and focused.  All Beaver qualities.  I make decisions based on objective facts like an Owl - even in raising my own children, I love to have research backed information based on a firm foundation of childhood psychology before I go ahead with my gut instinct anyway.  When we were looking for a family car for me to drive, I read consumer report after consumer report, made a decision, and was irritated when Greg wanted me to test drive something else, because darn it, I had the facts and I'd already made my decision.  This might sound insane to you, unless you're also an Owl, but it's very true to my personality type.

How I find this most helpful:

Even if you haven't taken the Myers Briggs, if you do some reading about temperament and personality types, you probably have some good guesses about how you or your child likes to learn and how you make your decisions.  Looking at these "types" is a great way to do some self-reflection about your own strengths and weaknesses, and how you can work with those to better interact with the world. 

As a Beaver/Owl combination, I tend to stick to the rules, be very objective and fact oriented, and make decisions based on truth or research.  This meant that when I was an RA in college, I was a great resource for my students when it came to details like scheduling, navigating the campus, and learning about University resources.  It also meant that for every rule violation, I looked up the policy and implemented it rather than thinking about relationships and what would best benefit my residents and our relationship.  My Owl side thought that teaching high school history would be fun, because I love nothing more than sitting around discussing ideas and talking about history.  Too bad that's not what teaching is about... maybe I should leave it to the Dolphins!

I know I need plans and get upset when plans change, that's helpful for me to know and for my family to know.  I know that I tend to make decisions based on objective facts rather than always thinking of how those decisions affect people, that's a good thing for me to be aware of so I can compensate for it.  I know that I will fold laundry and clean closets until I'm blue in the face unless I make myself stop and sit down for some "me" time.

Looking at personality types can be a fun conversation to have with your spouse, so you can have a good laugh about how when you decide to landscape the yard, you have all these ideas and a big vision of how it'll look, while they're entirely focused on soil types and exactly what needs to happen to get it done. 

As a friend:

One of my best friends growing up is a CLASSIC monkey, I mean, so stereotypical Monkey that it makes me laugh thinking about it.  I loved spending time with her, she always had the best ideas for how to have fun.  We would make pancakes with weird ingredients, have awesome adventures, make the coolest crafts I never would have thought of, she was fantastic.  She was always up for a good time and was somehow so much more fun than I was that I was always kind of amazed she was willing to hang out with me. 

That being said, we could NOT work on school projects together - I needed to have a plan, she wanted to dive right in.  I wanted to know exactly what our purpose was and the end result would look like before we started, she thought that was impossible because the process is the most important part of learning and if you know the end result before you start, you're not learning because you learn from doing it.  Owl vs. Monkey... not great compatibility on a school project!  But boy was she the best friend a girl could have.

As a parent:

It's way too early to tell with Andrew (14 months old) but I am wondering if Will might be a beaver.  He's very focused, very hands on (of course he's a toddler, and most of them want to hold and touch whatever you've got), and will sit for ages and work on crafts.  He definitely likes his routines and to know what's happening, I try to tell him every day when he comes down for breakfast what our plans are and what we're doing.

I think it's always good to be thinking about your child's preferences, whether or not it's within this framework, and trying to make things easier for them.  You don't have to do a Myers Briggs test for your five year old to know that they love hands on stuff and are super energetic and wish they could play outside all day (monkey?).  Or maybe they're incredibly imaginative, make up lots of stories, and are very sensitive to whether their teacher likes them and how many friends they have (dolphin?).  You know your kid - this is just a great way to get the conversations started, and help us think about what comes naturally or hard to us and our kids and how we can better compensate for it.

Some parenting examples Dr. Savoy gave during the lecture:

A mother of a dolphin altered their bedtime routine to include coming up with a dream that the mother and daughter would meet in while they were asleep.  This appealed greatly to the dolphin's very creative and imaginative side, as well as their emphasis on relationships.

An extroverted mother of an introvert got a notebook that her daughter could write in when she wanted to tell her mother something, and the mother would write back, so that the daughter had the processing time and alone time an introvert needs but could still communicate with and have a great relationship with her mother.

Parents of monkeys may want to think about how they can provide plenty of time for exuberant play in outdoor spaces or places where there are lots of fun materials to play with.  Turn work into play, make things fun, mix things up a lot.

If you have an owl child who is an independent thinker and doesn't do something unless they understand the reason for it, explain why sometimes going with the flow will benefit them - one parent had a child who was frustrated that their teacher wanted them to use punctuation when CLEARLY the ideas in the paper were the important part and all that should be graded.  (This sounds like me freshman year when I decided which homework assignments I thought were worth doing and only did those.)  The parents explained that since it was clearly too important to the teacher, maybe it'd be better to use the punctuation so that the teacher could focus on these important ideas the child had.

If you have a beaver child, give them a heads up of what you're planning for the day and if you think there's a chance plans might change, maybe let them know that, too.  "We're going to the park this afternoon to meet with your friends, but if it rains, we might have to go to the library instead."

Some resources Dr. Savoy suggested:

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type and Become A Better Parent by Paul Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger

It looks as though Dr. Savoy is in the process of building her own website at

She is part of the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology:

Probably a beaver.

First 5K with the Double Stroller!

My view from the start of the race!

I did it!  I ran my first 5k pushing the double stroller.  46 pounds of toddler plus the weight of the stroller, for 3.1 miles, with an elevation gain of 126 feet.  (This is very important when you're pushing a double stroller... flat is ok, downhill is great, uphill is brutal!)

It was awesome fun.  I've never had strangers cheer for me like I did out with the double stroller and both kids!  It was a small race, 101 people, and the four strollers who ran all started in the back, so I didn't feel like I was in anyone's way.

It was fun because I felt like I had a disclaimer, so as long as I was working hard and having fun, I wasn't as worried about finishing at a certain time.  Obviously pushing two kids in the stroller was going to affect my time, so I just ran as hard as I could and enjoyed being out in the fresh air and sunshine.

Fun moments:

Trying to talk to Will as he pointed out every police car escorting the race and every dog walking by

Jogging by someone and having them yell out to me that I was their hero

Jogging by someone and hearing them say "I just got PASSED by a DOUBLE STROLLER!!!"  (I hope they were inspired and not demoralized)

Rounding a corner (so it wouldn't be clear who was behind me) and hearing a volunteer cheer me on and say I only had a half mile left, then hearing a police officer say to that volunteer "So, that's the end of the runners, right?"  Hah.  I agree, officer, you would think I would be last, but no, I have run hard and long and made progress and there are beginning runners here who are where I used to be, and it's awesome.  (At that point I had passed over thirty runners from my position in the rear, and I finished the race in just under 32 minutes, 10:15 average pace, 57th out of 101 people).

I was the only mom pushing a stroller in the race, the other three strollers were all powered by pretty impressive looking dads.  It made me feel pretty powerful and fun to have that many people look at me like I was crazy.

Will says he'd do it again.  Andrew slept the whole time and got pretty upset when the stroller stopped, so I think he's up for another race, but maybe a longer one ;)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The only way to run faster is to run faster. Drat.

I've done research.  Greg even bought me a book called "Run Less, Run Faster" for Christmas.  But I'm starting to realize that the only way to run faster is to run faster. 

I'm at that awkward point in my running where I'm transitioning from beginner to novice.  Being a beginner was actually kind of fun.  When I was doing the Couch to 5k program, there were only two speeds: walking and jogging.  The only goal was to jog for 60 seconds, or 90 seconds, or, *gasp* five minutes.  I was making progress so rapidly, and it was so exciting.

Now I feel like I've hit a dead end.  I'm running ten miles a week at a snail's pace (10:20 ish) and not getting any faster.  That's because I never bother to run faster.  I'm scared.  I'm afraid that if I run faster, I'm going to end up walking home, and probably not getting a shower in before my babysitter has to leave. 

No more.  I am going to run longer AND faster, and I'm going to do this by running longer and faster.  (Does this sound deep, at all?  No?  Darn.)

Anyway... here are some thoughts on running motivation, where I've gone right and wrong, and where I'm going from here.

The More or Faster dichotomy:

The old mistake: In the fall, I was running sporadically, pushing myself to the max, and ending up with fewer, faster miles at the end of the week.  In the spring, with my first 10k on the horizon, I decided to aim for running at least 10 miles a week.  In order to meet that goal, I decided to jog nice and slow and just focus on adding up the miles.  But then I was frustrated that I wasn't running any faster.  All these extra miles, and no progress!  I think that's why the "Run Less, Run Faster" book suggests an interval run, a tempo run, and a long run each week.  So you can focus on speed for a few workouts, and then endurance by taking it easy for longer one run a week.  This is smart.  Of course, the workout charts are for people who have already been running fifteen miles a week for at least three months, so I decided not to follow this until I'd upped my mileage a little. 

The new plan: I'm going to try to run an interval run once a week where I alternate between half a mile at a difficult pace and half a mile at an easy pace for two miles after a one mile warmup, and then do a three mile run at an intermediate pace, and a four - six mile run at a slow pace once a week.

Motivation Tips:

Keep track of your running on a calendar.  Keep track of whichever elements you're working on the most, whether it's miles or speed. 

Set realistic goals so you can achieve them and feel good when you do.

Set a number of runs a week or a number of miles a week, or a pace to hit for at least one run for your week, and keep track of that.  Or maybe all three.

If you're really having trouble:

Let yourself walk during your run, but only if you're walking in the opposite direction of home. 

Watch an awesome action movie if you're running on a treadmill.  (The Bourne movies are great, car chase scenes make me run faster.  Running while Matt Damon is running on the beach... highlight of my week.)

Go for out and back runs rather than circular runs, because once you're a couple miles away from home, you might as well keep jogging or it's going to be a long time before you get back!

Sign up for a race.  I like to just prepare hard and then "see what I can do" rather than setting a time goal, but either way, the accountability of a race looming is great motivation.

My upcoming races:

I am running a race THIS SUNDAY with the double jogging stroller!  I am so nervous.  I want so badly to do well, but I have been running so slow, and I will be pushing fifty pounds of baby, toddler, and stroller, something I'm not used to because it's the very beginning of warm weather season.  I am trying to think postively about how funny they'll think it is to be running a race, and that it's my very first race with them so there's no where to go but up from here!  (Please let there be a few walkers so I don't come in last.)

**UPDATE** Here's how the race went!

My first 10k is in June!  I am excited.  Really excited.  Super excited.  Greg is running also.  He runs really fast.  That's good because I want him clapping for me when I get towards the finish. 

My thoughts for you:

Run fun!

Will they sleep through Sunday's race?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy April Fool's Day!

I like April Fool's Day because of the potential to make people laugh, and I like the excuse for a little mischief.

Happy April Fool's Day!

Last spring, we saw some pink flamingos on sale at a nearby garden store.  We laughed because we figured the reason they're on sale is that we're not in an area where pink flamingos are that popular.  Then we thought about how funny it would be to get them and put them out and see what our neighbors said... so we bought two packages on sale, put them in the shed until April 1st, and pulled them out early this morning and stuck them in our front snow bank!  I'm pretty sure the neighbor walking by who saw me putting them out at seven a.m. on April 1st with a baby strapped to my back figured out the joke, but boy is it fun picturing the commuters walking by and seeing them there in the snow!

I also decided it'd be funny if I wore an old race number on my run this morning - I figure other runners will do a double take when just one person runs by with a bib number on! 

If I were really brave and funny, here's what I'd yell to other runners while I'm out:

"Are they gaining on me?!"

"I'm first!!!  I'm first!!!"


I'll probably just run by and let them wonder ;)