Welcome Home.

I walked into my house Tuesday night and was greeted by Anna with a warm hug and dogs licking my face. Then I ran upstairs to see if Jack was still awake. The smile on his face lit up his room. Going away is great, but coming home is even better. Usually.


Three days in Mexico with good friends and the warm sun, and I was relaxed and happy. It wasn’t until the morning that reality set in. Big time.

Dan is in Asia on business, so I arrived home to being a single parent this week. No worries – I was just in sunny Mexico – how can I complain? I was a little tired from vacationing, but nine hours of sleep and I woke up in the morning recharged and ready to get stuff done. I had my list of to-dos, breakfast for the kids organized and I walked upstairs to start our morning routine. I opened the door to Jack’s room and the first wave of reality hit me. Poop.

It wasn’t Jack. It was poor Keegan that had covered the floor with liquid gifts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough hands or minutes to add dog-clean-up-duty to my morning, so I quickly grabbed my boy, shut the door and continued with our routine  – shower, teeth, yell at Anna to get downstairs, clothes, medicine, breakfast, hydration, leg braces.

I kept Keegan close to us as we went through the morning motions and he seemed happy and comfortable. My Mexican attitude kept me calm. I managed to get the kids out the door and by 9:00 am I had cleaned up the poop, mopped the floor, and had started the laundry. I was ready to start fresh. No problema.

I made a healthy breakfast and sat down. It wasn’t until I had the first bite of my toast that I realized there was something wrong with me. Did I hurt my mouth? It didn’t feel right. Then I put my hand to my jaw and felt that it was swollen. I ran to the bathroom mirror and saw that my cheek and jaw was so swollen that I couldn’t see the ear on my right side. And it was growing.

I was forced to throw my entire day aside and raced to Urgent Care.

Apparently your salivary gland duct can actually get blocked. Often times it’s connected to an infection, but not in my case  (I’m just lucky).  It looks like the mumps, but only one side is affected so it’s extra startling to look at me. And, the pressure on my teeth, my ear and my head are intense. I go to another doctor today to find out when/if/how to treat this. Until then I will try to remember the sun on my shoulders and stay away from the mirror. Tan chipmunk is my current look.







I am trying really hard to keep a good attitude, but if one more thing gets added to my plate or my face, I may have a full blown nervous breakdown.

Love, Jess

P.S. Keegan seems much better. He did have one more episode, but has been good now for about 20 hours – although he is currently mad at me for only feeding him rice for his last two meals.



Dan, the man


Happy Father Day!

Here’s a truth. I fell off the “Perfect Parent Pedestal” years ago. Jack and Anna discovered early in their lives that I am human. They adore me and respect me (most of the time), but they are fully aware that I am full of faults.

Dan still lives high up on a pedestal. He walks into a room, and both of his children light up. Anna’s in awe of her father’s knack for languages and amazed each night watching him play Jeopardy. There is very little he doesn’t know. And Jack – to Jack, Dan is a superhero. He is the person who takes him on adventures and doesn’t complain when there is a necessary bathroom stop.

Sometimes I’m a little jealous of Dan, but here’s another truth – he has earned his role as a superhero. Most men would cower at the challenges our family has faced. Most men would focus all of their attention on their careers or a bottle. Not Dan. Although he’s had a successful career, his priority has always been his family and his proudest accomplishment has been his children.

Even now, as life has things scattered a bit, Dan comes home and doesn’t miss a beat. Before he has a chance to take off his jacket, we all fight over “first hug” as Dan dives right into “How’d finals go?”, “Any news about Jack’s new class?”, “How many more days until Block Island?”.

Next time you see Dan, ask him about his kids. Listen to him talk about his beautiful Bananz (aka Anna), who rocks it as much on the field as in the classroom. Listen to him talk about Booger Brown (aka Jack) and his bravery and strength. Better yet, come to Clinton Avenue and listen to Dan talk to Anna about history and then listen to him sing loudly as he bathes his teenage son. You will walk away (in tears) knowing that Dan is truly an amazing father and we are one LUCKY family.

Love you Dan. And, special love being sent to Nonno and PopPop – our two other favorite Dads!!

Love, Jess


FYI 10 more days until Block Island.

Lucky 21!


You are all thinking the same thing – How old were we? No lines on our faces or worries in our eyes. In such a hurry to settle down and get started as adults. We were looking forward to adventures and children and making a home. We’ve enjoyed all those things. Not exactly as we’d planned them, but have managed to enjoy them all the same.

21 years.

Not many couples can say they’ve made it 21 years, and even fewer can say that they’ve enjoyed MOST OF those days. Thank you Dan for all of your love and support and respect. I am still that lucky girl you see in the photo who is looking forward to adventures and children (not more, just the ones we’ve already made) and making a home (wherever our next chapter takes us). Just don’t put your glasses on, and I even look about the same.

Love, Jess

a contagious mood, wet socks and a birthday


The other night Dan and I had a moment.

Jack needed to be shaved. This is something that I don’t see – or I see, but I don’t care much about. As long as Jack is clean and clothed, I don’t worry about shaggy hair or a stubbly face. If anything, I feel like it makes him look like his typical peers. What 17-year-old boy is always clean shaven? I also don’t “see” the need, because I don’t want to.

Shaving Jack is a two person job. One person needs to hold him. Not gently cradle his arms, but forcefully pin him down, as he thrashes around like he’s being assaulted. The other person holds the electric razor, and does their best to hit all the necessary spots without doing too much damage. It’s a nightmare that I prefer to avoid.

Unlike me, Dan likes his son to be perfectly coiffed. Luckily, this means he usually takes the initiative, and does his best to recruit partners and leave me out of the rotation. Unfortunately, Sunday night Dan had run out of options and brought the razor into the kitchen as I was finishing the dishes, “Jess, it’s time.”

I’m not always as amicable as I make it sound on this blog. I have my moments. Sure, I helped shave Jack, but I did it with a long face and a bad attitude. Then I felt obligated to discuss why I shouldn’t be responsible for any razor activity, “I do most of the showering and diapering around her. Shaving is just something I shouldn’t need to do. You had all weekend to find someone to help. And, when was the last time anyone else walked the dogs (not sure why I had to throw this in)? This is NOT FAIR!”

There is nothing more contagious than a bad mood.

By the time we were done shaving, Jack’s mischievous grin had faded and Dan cleaned up the loose stubble without a word. NOT FAIR. That’s all I had to say to have each of us silently making a mental list of all the unfair crap that we need to deal with on a daily basis. We went upstairs to finish our nightly routine, feeling frustrated and sorry for ourselves.

Dan sat Jack on the potty, and we started getting ready for bed, both of us too upset to even look at each other. I threw on my PJs as Dan went into our bathroom to brush his teeth, “I’ll put Jack to bed.” I said as I trudged down the hall to get him off the toilet.

I walked into the bathroom and my socks knew before I did, “Guess who went pee in the potty! Or, not all the way in, but ALMOST.”

“Way to go JackO!” Dan hollered out from our room. I could hear the smile in his tone.

A little pee, and the mood was broken. Our family is complicated, but it’s okay — we just need a lot of extra socks.


I put Jack down and crawled into bed next to Dan (after changing my socks). I gave him a huge hug. I am so lucky that he’s my partner in all this.

Today is Dan’s 50th Birthday! I know these big milestones arrive with mixed emotions, but I hope as he goes through the day, he realizes that he means the WORLD to us here at 26 Clinton Ave. He’s Anna’s hero, my best friend and Jack’s barber (and best friend and hero).

Love, Jess


Is there even a word in spanish for FUNK?

images-6How can my mood NOT improve?

My mood lately has been inconsistent. One minute I’m smiling through my day and then something will hit me – hard. It’s not that I’m buried in a full blown depression (buried in piles of laundry maybe), it’s just that I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

Once I was able to acknowledge the funk, I started working out ways to make life a little less complicated. I’m trying to avoid situations that might trigger my sour moods, I’m trying to make better choices (less wine, more kale – some days I’m better than others), and I am allowing myself to let go of some of the less-than-glamorous aspects of my life. Being a good parent doesn’t need to mean changing every diaper.

Dan and I have made time alone together a priority ever since life changed. We are determined that we will stay in the 10-20% , and being able to focus on each other for a few days (especially out of our element) helps. We are blessed that we have the means to travel and generous people who are willing to help, but I recommend that all couples try it, no matter your circumstances – even just a trip to the local Holiday Inn can allow you to reconnect;)

So, with the goal of reconnecting and to help me feel less overwhelmed about life, Dan and I planned a trip to Tulum, Mexico. We are celebrating 20 years of marriage (it was in June – it took us a while to pull the trigger). We had fun picking the perfect spot and my parents quickly offered to help out with the kids. Then, it was time to sit down and start planning being away for five days.

Ironic that a trip planned to help us relax, further proves how complicated our lives are.

My parents are very capable people. Not only did they successfully raised three children, but my mother is a PHD and has worked with The Red Cross for more years than I can count and my father is brilliant and has such a connection with Jack, that Jack starts laughing as soon as my father enters the door. It should be easy to just hand over the house keys, and let my parents dive in.

Only it’s not.

Although my folks have helped us out before, it’s been a while and the kids are at a different stage. They are teenagers. Jack is complicated and 17. It’s not just the medication and the diapers. Bathing and changing him can be a challenge – he’s strong and about as helpful as a stubborn cat. Anna is a sophomore in high school, with a busy schedule and an active social life social life. And, we have two dogs  – one goes by the name “Bad Dog”. Nothing is patricianly difficult, it’s just a lot of moving parts. Although we have our wonderful team of Jack helpers on board, it’s a lot to oversee.

I always leave a list with important information when we go out of town and this time, it’s managed to grow into a five page document. As soon as I think it’s done, I think of some other random detail about life at 26 Clinton Ave. I keep trying to walk away from it, but it keeps sucking me back.

We leave tomorrow (NOW TODAY!!) for Tulum, Mexico, which by all accounts is paradise. Five days alone with Dan on the beach is just what I need. And, as soon as our flight takes off, I’m sure I will relax, but until then I will continue to add to the never-ending list.

Thank you Nonno and Mymom for filling our shoes this week and sorry for the long list of crazy. There are really only three things that you need to remember – Jack needs his medication, Anna curfew is 11:00 and NOOOO people food for the dogs;)

Adios Amigos!!




I need to keep an eye on Dan

My husband is a cheater. I really think he has been hiding this from me for at least a week. I noticed the little smirk on his face every time I mentioned it, but he kept telling me that I was crazy and just needed to work a little harder.

Then this morning, while he was in the shower, I checked his cell phone. I found the app and I hit “sync”. I had my proof and I stormed into the bathroom, “What did you DO last night Dan?”

He peeked out from the glass shower door with a funny expression, “Jess, I was home before 11:00. You were sound asleep.”

“If you were asleep before mid-night how did you already get 1550 steps today!”

Generally, I am not very competitive. I’ve had my Fitbit for two years and I’m usually more than content reaching my 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles). It means I’ve walked the dogs enough to keep them healthy and moved my body enough to fit in my mom jeans. Occasionally, I do except a “challenge” (where you compete with other Fitbiters), but only with people who are 10,000 steps a day folks – I don’t really want a “challenge”, just enough motivation to walk extra mile or two.

Last week I found Anna’s rarely used Fitbit and told Dan he should give it a shot. He gets frustrated by his lack of time to exercise during the week. I thought tracking his steps might be interesting to see how much he’s really moving during the day. I also wanted him to see what an active wife he has — no bonbons and relaxing for me;-)

I downloaded the phone app, set up the Fitbit and showed Dan how to use it. “And, I set us up for a challenge. Won’t it be fun?!”

Last week he beat me by five miles. It nearly killed me, but I rationalized that his commute was good for a couple of miles a day and he had a ton of meetings last week. The weather had cooperated enough for him to walk from meeting to meeting. THAT would never happen again.

This week I set up my schedule so that I could walk two times a day. I added some other “friends” to the challenge and was ready to show everyone that Jesse is the Walking Queen. No luck. No matter how many steps I took, Dan was ahead of me. I asked him repeatably if he’d check to see if his Fitbit was working and he made me feel like I was being silly.

This morning after our confrontation in the bathroom, Dan started getting dressed. He was teasing me about being paranoid, and I was starting to feel rather foolish. Then I looked down at his phone and realized that he had just earned 79 steps by putting on his tie.

I don’t just want to be Jack and Anna’s mom, Dan’s wife, an art teacher, a writer, a pharmacist, a driver, a model (don’t laugh — long story) — I WANT TO BE THE WALKING QUEEN (at least at 26 Clinton Ave. – my other “friends” are beating me too)!! I made Dan switch arms to see if we can get on an even playing field. We are going away this weekend and I’m going to keep a keen eye on my man. No funny business Dan!

Love, Jess