Here is What No One Tells You About Bad Parents!

When you are a speaker and you say something that halts the conversation in the room, arms cross chests and every single eye in the room is on you, it’s official “you have stepped in it”.

Purpose of Play

Last week I had the pleasure of facilitating a full day workshop for childcare providers.  The topic “Purpose of Play” lends itself to a whole host of fun discussions, particularly when the host location is a children’s museum.

Fast forward to the afternoon discussion of choice by the providers “communicating with parents”.  Four hours into this workshop and we are now quite familiar with each other and I found the teachers’ wanting to vent on how they are treated by parents (not all parents of course, but enough).

Having worked in education myself from “cradle to college” I tiptoed around their conversations and outbursts but unfortunately things were beginning to deteriorate.  I decided to take a risk and announced what I truly believe, “there are no bad parents”.  You could hear a pin drop.  I quickly flipped through my now 10-year-old presentation to get to this slide (I padded my workshop with some extra Powerpoints because it is very hard to judge 6 hours of presentation time!)


Finally sound, they nodded and laughed in agreement, but then, I hit them with this slide.


Bad Parents

I now had their undivided attention and they were waiting, even the loudest in the room hung on my next words.  So, I took a deep breath and let them have it, just kidding, I told them what I really think, no back-up, no statistics to defend or refute, just me and all I have experienced with parents and as a parent over the last few decades.

“The “bad parents” you work with that are the most difficult, irresponsible and seemingly uncaring of their own children are not. They are many things: unhappy, insecure, overwhelmed, angry, and when they are lashing out at you, accusing you, blaming you, criticizing you, it is not because they are bad parents.  They may not know how to parent, they may not have planned to be parents, they may not even be capable of choices that put the child first, but they are parents and I have yet to meet a bad parent.”

Do You Remember the Moment?

To better illustrate my point, I asked, the parents in the room, do you remember the moment? Whether you are the biological, grand, step, foster, adoptive or are otherwise caring for a child, do you remember the moment you became a parent?  I shared my moment with them.

“My oldest child was born with the umbilical cord triple wrapped around her neck and she was immediately “tossed” to the NICU team that had arrived in my delivery room.  A scary beginning no doubt but a very happy result, she is fine. 

The day after she was born I went to the nursery to look for her and I did not see her bassinet with the other babies.  As I scanned the room, I found her being held, naked, by a doctor with his arms outstretched obviously observing something about my child.  My daughter however was screaming and if I could have, I would have smashed through that viewing glass and ripped her out of the doctor’s arms.  My urge to protect her was visceral. Later I would reflect on that moment and realize that it was my moment, the miracle, the completely irrational and all-encompassing love of another human being, I was a parent.”

WE Judge

When we judge, and I know we do, remember every “parent” is some child’s miracle.  We certainly may not like the adult, their actions, their decisions, their erroneous thoughts, their inability to help themselves, please remember that despite all of that, this parent is that child’s miracle.

every_parent_ miracle_ child

For the teacher’s the work involves modeling, instructing, listening, and staying strong for what they know is in the best interest of the child.

For the rest of us, we see parents struggle every day, whether it is in the grocery store or on-line via nasty social media comments.

We don’t have to judge, we can help in that miracle.

Every Day in May


Every Day In May – How to Play!  Everyone Wins – Really!

The rules are simple.  Choose something that you can do Every Day in May that will have you living better.  You can do something new, you can stop doing something old, you can move, eat, read, even think about something Every Day in May!  That’s it!  Post your challenge with friends and family!  Honor code rules prevail, if you miss a day you are out!

(For Seinfeld fans, just posting “I’m Out!” will suffice!)

A little History….

Every Day in May was born more than 20 years ago at a table in the faculty room of a middle school.  An attempt for a group of teachers to get more exercise, we vowed to move Every Day in May!  Over the years, we became more and more creative with our Every Day in May Resolutions.  Many of us have played every year for decades.  Every year, every place I have worked and now through social media, Every Day in May lives on.  Join us, it’s fun and you will be living better!every_day_in_may

Why it Works?

Two things are at play here:

1) A little healthy peer pressure

2) There are 31 days in May (at least 10 more than the necessary twenty times it takes to build a habit!)

The first two weeks are the toughest, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy your resolution becomes. Truthfully some years have been great while others, as my kids would say, have been “an epic fail”.  It’s okay, it was always fun while it lasted.

It’s Fun!

We are months past New Year’s Resolutions and Spring is a perfect time for rejuvenation!  Re-post this challenge for your friends and family and get them to join in!  This is also a great office or school classroom activity! Post everyone’s challenge on the break room wall and wait to see who is still left standing at the end of May. Definitely a “more the merrier” activity.  No prizes necessary however always an option.  I find bragging rights and camaraderie win on this one!

Here is a sample of past Every Day in May challenges:  (We keep them G rated as kids can play this too!)

  •  eat two servings of vegetables
  •  call a friend or family member
  • get exercise
  • do not smoke
  •  perform a random act of kindness
  •  play for an hour with my children
  •  not swear at the copier
  • be inordinately kind to a stranger
  •  read the Bible
  •  treat myself to coffee, a long walk, meditation
  •  stop my inner critic comments
  •  save money
  • donate two items from my house
  • buy someone a cup of coffee

You get the idea… nothing is too grand, too small, or too insignificant to play!  Living Better… the only mistake is not to begin!

Ready to play?  I would love to hear what you are up to Every Day in May on my Facebook page add the hashtag #EveryDayinMay2018

or Tweet with #EveryDayinMay2018 and tell us what you are doing every day in May.


One Holiday Gift for Your Entire List!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone but you still have plenty of holiday gifts to buy.  What if there is one holiday gift for your entire list? Give the gift of travel and adventure. Whether it’s a family time in the great outdoors or plans for an overseas excursion, the gift of travel will not disappoint. Not convinced?  Here are three reasons why travel and experiences are the 21st century gifts of choice.

1.  Travel makes you smarter.


2.  Your Millennial will thank you.


3.  Memories are better than things.


Travel Makes You Smarter

Travel out of your everyday surroundings and routines and your mind will inevitably kick in to overdrive to synthesize and understand the new sights, sounds and smells you encounter thereby improving your brain’s neuroplasticity.  Whether you are regenerating an older brain or stimulating a younger mind, there is no way that you can travel and not return smarter than when you left. Research on the effects of travel by leading institutions such as Cornell University, the American Psychological Association and the United States Travel Association state that travel not only increases  a person’s creative abilities but also improves health benefits such as stress reduction and better interpersonal relationships.


Your Millennial Will Thank You

Millennials are taking the travel world by storm currently the  largest living generation edging out baby boomers by 400,000 (according to the Pew Research Center) you probably have more than one on your holiday list. Millennials put more emphasis on experiences, especially travel, than any previous generation. Half of all Millennials have accumulated at least $40,000 in student debt according to a study by Harvard University. Clearly the gift of travel or an experience would be appreciated by the well-educated, free spirited, work from anywhere, twenty-something on your list.


Memories Are Better Than Things

Travel provides an inter-generational experience that can be shared with loved ones and remembered for a lifetime. Toys, technology, and seasonal tidings cannot compare with the excitement and anticipation of a trip or adventure.

“Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). We argue that waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions. Four studies demonstrate that people derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good.” Psychological Science, 2014, Volume 25, Issue 10

Giving the gift of travel can be as exotic as an overseas safari or as simple as a stay-cation adventure in your local city. To make travel gifts simpler to give consider using gift cards, event tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals or plane/train tickets. Travel books, luggage, travel necessities, native foods, event calendars or museum membership cards can all be tied into your gift of adventure.

Have no fear the best gifts are at your fingertips and more importantly they will keep on giving.  Now that you have chosen all of the technology, fashions, housewares and necessities for your family, why not start a new tradition of giving the gift of  travel and adventure.  Giving the gift of travel and adventure is not only inter-generational in appeal but it can be cost effective too!  See the list below for ideas you can buy today and share this fun graphic to see what your friends and family might like.



Of course we are partial to rail travel!  To learn more about train travel in the United States, please visit



Thanksgiving is Snoopy and Little Birdie… since 1973


My unconventional Snoopy centerpiece reflects two very important aspects of our family’s Thanksgiving celebration:

One, the stuffed bird is as close as I get to cooking on Thanksgiving!


Little Birdie

And two,  a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a must watch! I have been watching Snoopy fight with that lawn chair and play ping-pong while singing Little Birdie since 1973!


So you can see that my love of Thanksgiving is centered around my ability to sit and watch television while someone else prepares a really good meal.  Go Thanksgiving!

Here is a short list of the other things that make Thanksgiving great, what is on your Thanksgiving tradition list?

Thanksgiving Favorites: 

The Kids Table (even though I am an adult)

A morning road race that erases all guilt from over-indulging for the rest of the day!

 Having homemade Chex mix, green bean casserole, stuffing, and apple pie.

Waiting for the one and only television showing of Snoopy on a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – even though I own the DVD!

What are your Thanksgiving favorites?

Happy Thanksgiving to your Family from mine!

May you hum a few bars of “Little Birdie” throughout your Thanksgiving Day!

Three Months From Today Is Christmas – I have the best gift ever!



Three Months Until Christmas!

I  know, it’s unbelievable but Christmas does show up year after year after year. Three months from today it will be here again but wait I have the best gift ever! How do I know this, well I asked my kids and with the exception of the year we got the Wii Game Console, this has been the best gift ever.

Train Travel for Families

The big gift for my family has always been travel and adventure.  Whether it was a family membership to an amusement park or museum  or the time we surprised them with a trip to Disney, travel and adventure have always fulfilled the “big” Christmas present we all strive to find.  Additionally it gave our family  a future date in time that we were committed to  spend together, a win-win!

Involving our children in the planning of our adventure was equally fun and educational.  Get out your maps and your TripAdvisor lists of things to do!  If you aren’t truly convinced yet, you can also justify your expenditure on a family vacation by reading how important it is to  your children’s planning and organizational skills read more here:


Of all the trips we took large and small, I can safely say they were highlights of our Christmas mornings.  Some brought by Santa with a carefully crafted letter, others given as clues until the present’s destination was revealed.  This Fall I will begin a series of book signings, radio, television and news media interviews regarding our new book Beyond the Rails, USA Cross-Country Train Travel and I realized that our first trip in 2014 began as a Christmas present.  Today, four trips later, I can tell you that for families (including inter-generational travel) a trip across country by train is a bucket list must.  Read more  about planning a trip here:

Train Travel for College Students

Another great group of people to benefit from this type of travel gift is college students. A rail pass is $459  (a copy of the book makes a nice touch) and many students have time off in January between semesters.  Whether they use it over winter break or the summer, it is a fun, safe, way for groups of friends to have a trip of a lifetime. I have  interviewed many college age students and they love this idea, however most students  know nothing about Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass.   A nice holiday gift surprise perhaps?


(Photo of   college students  (2 from New Zealand) stranded by the tram at the  The Getty  in Los Angeles!  

As a parent of soon to be three college students I think I  speak for all of us when I say,

“The best part of this cross-country trip is that NO ONE IS DRIVING! – Got to love a train!”

Just some food for thought on this three months until Christmas beautiful day in September. If you have questions about train travel please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Please share this post with your favorite families and college students!

Cheers, LB

Across the USA by Train and BACK and MORE for $459

Type the words “train travel  in the USA” and you are sure to see the viral post of traveler David Low and his $213 train ride across the United States. What most people fail to do is read his entire post to see that he used  Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass and spent over $400 to cross the United States by train.  Let’s be real, most of us who cross the country by train do need to return to where we started, so in this case you really do need to budget a minimum of $426.

If I were to make a reservation with Amtrak today,  you will see that I can travel from Boston (my home station) to Emeryville, CA (as close to San Francisco as you can get) for $232.00.  Round trip would be $464.  


amtrak one way Boston to California



Every time I see  posts about cross-country train travel  and the volume of comments that follow on how much people would love to  take this kind of trip I just want to scream…. “Buy a RAIL PASS you won’t regret it!”  The absolute best deal is the rail pass because with the 15 day pass, currently priced at $459  it allows you to get ON and OFF EIGHT TIMES!  For an additional fraction of the cost of your simple round trip ticket you can choose to visit up to eight different destinations.



Crossing the United States by train is phenomenal  no matter which way you choose to do it, but with a little planning why not stop in some of Amtrak’s over 500 destinations!  Need  some advice, visit our website .

Photo Courtesy of Amtrak Media Relations, Chicago, Illinois



Time for the shameless plug, if you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of train travel, our 4 trips of over 21,000 miles turned into a fun to read informative book to help you plan your trip of a life time!  Available in print (makes a great gift…together with a rail pass would be an awesome present for your favorite traveler) and digitally via Amazon.

The book contains anecdotes, check lists, dozens of pictures of the interior of the train, what to pack, how to plan a trip  and over 20 destinations with not to be missed itineraries.


Thank you for reading, as always I am happy to answer any questions you might have about planning your trip just give me a shout!  Oh and if you like the book, I would love it if you leave a review!

Cheers, Lisa

Do you remember the Amtrak song from the 1980’s?


Amtrak Song!

Do you remember the Amtrak song from the eighties?  Hint: It beings with the words, “There’s something about….” Did that help you?  If you got it without help, comment “I got this” below.  If you didn’t get it no worries, click the link, WARNING, it will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

Thank you to Happenings Q&A Radio WLIP  AM 1050 Kenosha for opening our radio interview with the Amtrak commercial from my childhood.  Courtesy of the late Richie Havens, please enjoy the full interview here:

Future Posts Start with Beyond the Rails: “Destination”

Over the past 2.5 years of our train travel, we have had the pleasure of visiting so many interesting, historic,  fun, and amazing places. We could not have done so without the generous support of local Chambers of Commerce and Convention and Visitor Bureaus.  In some cases we received generous discounts and admission tickets from individual vendors.

We have carefully chosen each location and the venues we enjoyed to be published in Volume I of our book Beyond the Rails.  If we felt that an activity, hotel or restaurant, or destination was not worthy of our “Daytripper Recommendation” we simply did not include it in our reviews.


Interspersed with our normal LB Living Better posts please enjoy our Beyond the Rails posts, the destination will be in the title so you don’t have to open any that you are not interested in reading!


Beyond the Rails “Travel Talks and Book Signings”

As much as I would love for you to buy our new book on cross-country train travel, I would much rather talk about travel!  Do you have a group, business, or non-profit looking for a fund raiser? I am happy to discuss workshops, book signings, raffles and book purchase donations for your organization, just send me an email.  Click here for a list of travel related presentations!

I am especially excited to introduce my new cross-over workshop!  This is the workshop that perfectly melds my passion for all things organizational and efficient with my living better lifestyle and yes, the two go hand in hand!


Could your employees use a corporate reset? Is vacation time accruing at alarming rates? Constant connectivity is wreaking havoc on worker’s personal and professional aspirations. This workshop is researched based however it is presented with humorous, real life, relevance. Invite Lisa’s  two plus decades of organizational expertise, coupled with her passion for travel and adventure to inspire your group, your staff, your colleagues to be living better… the only mistake is not to begin!


Beyond the Rails Book Order Information

Beyond the Rails is available on-line in print or digital format through amazon  and at our favorite home town bookstore Titcombs Bookshop in East Sandwich, MA.




Last but not least, I hope you are enjoying your summer and I look forward to “talking train travel” with you this Fall and beyond!

This is NOT what you want to hear today!

bear_montana_ bear_whistle_travel

This is NOT what you want to hear today.

I know this because I did the math (okay I counted with my fingers and toes) and I don’t want to hear this either, but here it goes.

Today is the first day of summer! Woohoo!  There are however only 75 days left until Labor Day!  I know, right? I was shocked too, so I recounted just to make sure. To emphasize  not only my  dismay, my teenage son just looked over my shoulder and said “Really, there is only 75 days until Labor Day?”

75 days labor day

At the risk of raining on anyone’s parade, my only reason for pointing out this horrid fact is,  YOU DON”T HAVE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU THINK!  We are all caught up in today, the first day of summer, the energy, the end of school, the weather, the summer unfolding in front of us, #firstdayofsummer. The reality is though, as soon as we blink, it will be August!

Summer Bucket List

So today is the day to make a plan, a list, a declaration will work,  just think about what you are  going to do with your 75 days? If you like a planning tool, please click here for a copy of our  printable “Summer Bucket List 2017” .   (Oh, and if you are like the lady a few years’ back who commented that it was too morbid to use a bucket list for summer activities, please spare me, I like the bucket, it’s summer, it works!)


You can make a mental list, jot something down on a napkin, call your boss and take off Fridays for the summer, just don’t wait, because 75 days is really not as long as anyone thinks, especially today, this first day of summer!

Some Good Stuff

photo courtesy of Highland Street Foundation


Another great place to spend some time in the summer or to check out their museum discount passes is your local library! And at the risk of stating the obvious, reading is  a great summer activity for kids!

Speaking of reading, if you would like to think about a bigger trip in your future, take a look at our new book on cross-country train travel by visiting the website at:  or click on the book! If you were one of the over 500 people who participated in the free book promotion, your five-star  review (insert smiley face) would be greatly appreciated!  (Click here to go straight to the review page and scroll to the bottom to click on review – thank you!)



Whatever your plans are for your 75 days, I hope you have a healthy and happy summer! Cheers, Lisa


Enjoy our Radio Interview and Last Day for FREE Digital Download!

Enjoy my radio interview today with Dan and Stephanie from WCOD Cape Cod. Too much fun so early in the morning. Video from our four trips and the pictures are just a sample of what is in the book!

 Click here for  your FREE digital copy (available through June 5th, 2017).


Today is the last day for free downloads of our new book Beyond the Rails!  If you like book please leave a review!

To learn more about train travel or to schedule a fundraiser for your school or organization, please send us an email .


I’ve Always Wanted To Do That!

When I tell people my new book is about train travel, the number one response to follow is “I’ve Always Wanted to Do That!”   So, why aren’t you going? Okay, I know the obvious answers: time and money, we may never have enough of either one.  But really, why aren’t you going?  If I told you it remains one of the best things this family of five has ever done would that convince you?

If I show you what train travel looks like, would that help?


If I told you our first train trip was truly a happy accident, would that help convince you?   I asked myself  way back in 2014, why not take a train?  You see the cost of airline tickets was outrageous, nearly $700 a piece and I needed five seats. There goes the vacation budget I said to myself. There must be a better way to get to California from Boston.

Drive you say?  Well, not in 2014, when the average gas price for the summer was $3.50 – $3.66 per gallon.

Photo credit to AAA Newsroom


Would it help if I told you that you can visit over 500 destinations with a USA Rail Pass?

How about if I showed you some life on the train pics? While these pictures are just the tip of the iceberg you can see in the middle picture one of the best features of Superliner Trains (most trains west of the Mississippi) is the beautiful observation car. You will watch an incredible movie out the windows of the train and develop a new and very relaxing habit “staring out a window”.



Is the planning overwhelming? We are working on that, stay tuned!  In fact sign-up for our newsletter and you will be the first to know when our “planning app” is ready!


When you hear the words cross-country train travel and your response is “I’ve always wanted to do that!” Then allow me to help you get a few steps closer to the trip you have always wanted to take.  Today through June 5, 2017 I  am offering digital copies of my new book Beyond the Rails, USA Cross-Country Train Travel for free. If you have always wanted to go cross-country by train then please take advantage of our four cross-country trips, 21,000 miles of experience and the twenty plus destinations we chose for our adventures!


I hope this helps, I hope your “I’ve always wanted to do that” changes to we traveled cross-country by train and it was truly a trip of a lifetime. As always please comment or connect with me if you have questions.  If you enjoyed the book I would be grateful for your review on the Amazon website.  Cheers! Lisa

P.S.  Please do share this FREE TRAIN TRAVEL BOOK PROMOTION with whomever you choose!




June 2, 2017 is National Donut Day!   Free donuts are everywhere! Who can compete with FREE DONUTS? Not us,  so here is a sample of the donuts we found on our train trips!

Ordering a donut and a coffee today? Why not download a FREE TRAIN TRAVEL BOOK and enjoy two treats at once!

 In New England, perhaps a stop at Dunkin Donuts is on your list!  Free Donut details here!

photo courtesy of Dunkin Donuts


We had the pleasure of visiting Charlottesville, VA and consuming the most incredible cheeseburger donut from the Donut Connection!


For our West Coast Friends how about a stop at Twisted and Glazed in Paso Robles, CA?  So good! Thanks to our Twisted and Glazed Friends for sharing this interesting piece of donut history!   Did you know donuts were served by the Salvation  Army during  the war? Read more on their Facebook page!

photo courtesy of twisted and glazed facebook post


Two of the three donut shops listed in this post we would never have known about if not for cross-country adventures. Beyond the Rails, USA Cross- Country Train Travel, find out why we think train travel is Raildiggity!   Download your free copy June 1-3, 2017 and get started planning your trip of a lifetime!




First Three Are Free – Get Your Digital Copy in June!

Dear Friends.

The first three are free in June!  Beyond the Rails, my new book on cross-country train travel, is free for digital copies the first three days of June! Please enjoy and send me your feedback or questions. If you really enjoyed the book I would love it if you would leave a review!


If you are local or visiting Cape Cod be sure and pick up a copy at my favorite local book store, Titcombs in East Sandwich!  We just held a delightful book signing and I got to pose with the statue, this makes everything official. If you know of a group that would like to learn more about train travel please let me know. I am happy to schedule a book signing and even work with you to make it a fundraiser! (Potential workshop topics are listed on the cross-country train travel website.)



Beyond the Rails was also recently featured in the Cape Cod Times Book Section! Whoever said the press release is dead is actually dead wrong!  Having already written a press release when I discovered this google researched fact about press releases, I decided to send one anyways to my local newspaper.  Truth be told I did not see this in the newspaper but rather received a congratulatory Facebook post from a friend. I had to dig through the recycling, moving a couple of pizza boxes, and behold there is the newspaper with my book smack in the middle of the page of the book section. Hurrah!

So don’t forget, June 1st , 2nd and 3rd, hop on over to the new website at and order your digital copy for FREE! Don’t be shy, I want you to have it!  Please let me know what you think and if I can help you plan your trip don’t hesitate to contact me!





Five Important Rules Teenagers Need to Know About Work!

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes your teenager’s first venture into the world of work. Whether it is an unpaid internship in a local office, bagging groceries or scooping ice cream, your teenager is now employed!  In most cases, a surprising fact will arise, our teenagers will work harder, better and faster in their new job than they have ever worked around the house. However, the world of work is very different from school, or sports or even chores so it wouldn’t hurt to remind them of these five important rules:


1) EARLY is On Time

Interviews with several local managers from large supermarkets to small coffee shops and all of them lament one fact that no one shows up on time. Being late is a pet peeve of nearly every manager I spoke with and often they themselves end up covering shifts for employees that are late.  A simple fix, aim to arrive 10 minutes early and two important things will happen. One, you  will be noticed for being early and those brownie points will go a  long way for the day that you are unavoidably late. Two, if your manager has had to step in and work for someone, they will not soon forget who they are covering for, nor will they forget the employee who came to their rescue, YOU!


2) Teenagers Are Being PAID to WORK

No matter what job you are in there is inevitably going to be some down time. If you have finished your work or you don’t happen to have any customers because it is raining, go ask for more work. Your supervisor will not mind being asked  “is there anything else I can do for you?”  Goofing around with your fellow bored workmates and/or shooting the breeze with friends who happened to stop by is never welcome by management for more than let’s say 30 seconds. As a teenager, your position is most likely paid by the hour, so any time you are not working (or wasting time) is costing the business money. Always think like you own the place and make your decisions from there.

3)  The Phone STIGMA

Let’s face it we are still in the infancy of working out the cultural norms of cell phone use and it most certainly can have an impact on your teenager’s employment status. Some businesses will not allow phones to be out during working hours, simple enough, so make sure you set it to silent and keep your phone in your locker, car, employee break room or wherever it will be out of sight. HINT: If this is a rule where you work, then you can bet someone has the proverbial hair across their you know what about cell phones. Best not to poke that  bear.

If there are no rules about cell phone use than keep these simple ones in mind. If you are supposed to be working than you should not be checking your phone. If you are with a customer, then you should definitely not pull out your phone.  (I was in the market yesterday checking out my groceries and I had to wait for the clerk to finish texting before she started my order, just wow!) Also, if your boss/supervisor/manager or anyone who looks important is in your area of employment, whether they are there to talk to you or not, don’t get on the phone.


4) Always Something to CLEAN

This one links back to number two in a way because if you are being paid to work and the work is “done” and the manager or supervisor is busy, it never, never, never, never, never, never hurts to CLEAN! Wipe down anything: counters, windows, grab a mop and spiff up the floor, organize the papers/junk drawer at your counter, water the plants, alphabetize something, put away stock, dust, etc. I think you get the point on this one, it is not hard to attempt to look busy even when you aren’t.


5) Manners Are EVERYTHING!

Dust off that smile no matter what mood you are in, because the reality is no one wants to see anything less. You will encounter difficult people, both customers and supervisors but you will never go wrong being polite. Drown people in please, thank you and other pleasantries even if they don’t deserve them. You represent your boss and the business where you work so everything you say and do matters. You can’t go wrong by being polite, friendly and apologetic, especially when you mess up!


Photos Courtesy of Ryan McGuire Photography

Planning Train Trip #4 and Reminiscing About What Can Go Wrong!

It’s hard to believe that a little more than two years ago, I had never been on a train in the United States.  Now we have more than 15,000 miles under our belts and we are planning our fourth trip.  It will be our first winter trip and as always I would love to hear your suggestions. Below is a picture of the schedule that we will be taking straight across the middle of the country. We have saved the best for last, I hear the scenery from California Zephyr is exquisite.


I would love to hear your suggestions on where we should disembark, what we should do and even where we might stay.  Please also enjoy a repost of the anxious questions we stressed about on our earlier trips!

“I’m All That and a Bag of Chips”

I first learned the phrase “All that and a bag of chips” from one of my lovely middle school students, many years ago.  It made me laugh back then and today I use it every time I think, “I have it all together, but deep down I know I’ve got a long way to go!”

cropped-img_032111.jpgOne trip under my belt and I am a cocky, experienced, train traveler.  Yup, a pure bag of chips.  Looking back to the pre-trip posts of last year brings the worry and panic right back.  The 2014 list included issues that we have resolved this year… here are the 2015 Answers:

How much is this going to cost?  Not as much as you thought… pleasant surprise

Will we really be able to sleep on a train? Yes and no, pick the right seat, bring ear plugs and be sufficiently tired from the days activities.  Sit with your smallest child!

Is train travel safe? Even though recent events would suggest otherwise, I felt completely safe on board, far less tense than driving and very comfortable letting my children wander and meet new people.

Can we survive the togetherness of a family of five with teenagers? A resounding yes, moving about the train is a huge bonus, and let’s be real we all had our moments, but most have been forgotten at this point and I don’t think any of them went viral.

What happens if we get stranded or find ourselves lost in a new city?  This did not happen but it’s always a concern especially if you are trying to catch an early train… those nights I slept worse in the hotel than on the train!

It’s summer, will the heat be unbearable? Nope, lucked out here too!  The elevation in Flagstaff made it actually chilly in the evening, who knew?  Texas and Louisiana this year are giving me pause however….

Should we just fly out to CA as originally planned? ABSOLUTELY NOT!  We had a great amount of time in California and I wouldn’t trade the experience of getting there for a first class plane ticket.

Where are we going to stay?  This is a tough one and the motivation for our new book “Beyond the Rails”.  Where to stay and what to do takes a bit of planning and thinking about carrying everything with you all of the time!

How will we manage without a car? Renting a car in two cities was a nice change of pace.  This year we will be going the whole trip without a car, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Will this be the adventure of a lifetime for my family that I hope it is? All the worry, all of the planning, all of the angst were more than worth it because “Yes” this was an adventure of a lifetime that I would recommend without reservation to anyone who ever considered “seeing” the United States.  For the adults and children our understanding of our country has been completely redefined and our perspective forever changed.

And then this happened…

Though I have one trip under my belt I do know that I am destined  for a pre-trip melt down. I’m hoping I may have had it already when I fell and sprained my ankle a few days ago.  (Update:  Off crutches, using air cast and my ankle is quite the kaleidoscope of bruising colors!)ankle_injury_running

The countdown is on, we leave in five days.  Nothing is packed, and our itinerary is still in the making, I have at least three dozen errands to do, but I got this, “I’m all that and a bag of chips!”

Summer Bucket List 2017 Printable



Summer Bucket List 2017~It’s hard to believe that I have been making Summer Bucket Lists for more than a decade now.  A simple exercise for children and adults, I have to say I treasure the old lists as much as I do our old family photos.  Each list is a funny, sentimental, diary-like glimpse into our family’s past.  The mini-golf they wanted to play, the friends they hoped to visit, the end of the school year ice cream sundaes are intertwined with books, movies and favorite games.  Flipping through our old lists I noticed the “summer we will NOT paint the house”, apparently the summer before we spent an inordinate amount of time painting!

Now that my children our teenagers we still spend time “planning” our summer vacation.  We have to factor the complications of work schedules, sports commitments, even a college orientation into making a memorable summer. Whether or not you check off all of your summer boxes, the planning is as always half the fun.

For more summer fun ideas, read more about our “tech free summer” as well as the benefits “planning” has in teaching your child organizational skills. Summer can be fun and educational too!

See below to print off your summer bucket list and enjoy! Large quantity printing of this list by schools, groups, and non-profits is allowed.  I only ask that you do not try to alter the list and that you keep the copyright credentials intact at the bottom of the page.  Thanks!  Also, please let me know you are dispersing it, I am always happy to hear how and where it is being used!

Summer 2017 Bucket List page


Train Travel Talk ~ April 11, 2016


**** Train Travel Talk is rescheduled for April 11, 2016! ****

book talk SWCWho knew that the first day of Spring would bring a snow storm to Cape Cod??  I am thankful that the Sandwich Women’s Club wanted to reschedule this Train Travel Book Talk as soon as possible!

Hope you can make it!  Ideas for travel and adventure of all kinds but most specifically what it’s like to take a train.  We (my family) have had the most incredible adventures and we cannot wait to set out on our third long distance trip!

In the picture is the time table from Amtrak and the colored pencils and calendar I use to figure out the trip.  To read more about those pencils and the craziness of planning this trip check out some of our original blog posts!  I have plenty of insider secrets to share and especially the unique sights and opportunities that await you in cities across the country.

All Aboard!


March 21st Inaugural Book Talk in Sandwich!

March 21st is the Inaugural book talk for my new, yet to be published book, Beyond the Rails~ USA Cross Country Train Travel.

Free and open to the public, please join us at the beautiful Daniel Webster Inn for fun and conversation.  Leave inspired to plan a trip of a lifetime!

Bring your questions!

“You do you, Mom”

“You do you, Mom.”  I’ve grown to love this snarky little comment my teenager drops every time I’m doing, saying or being something that is either inherently embarrassing, ridiculous or just a giant waste of time in my child’s mind.

She says it with a smirk that suggests she knows me well enough to know that I am most likely going to carry on with my grand announcement whether it is to add hot sauce to the new dish in the crock pot or my latest pipe dream to buy a fixer upper in do you

The reality is I honestly like the phrase. “You do you, Mom” has enough sass and provokes enough of my defiant side to produce results.  I will do me, thank you very much and as a matter of fact I will do it quite well.

You are the only one who can do you. We know this profound tidbit of advice, but do we really use it? I realize that I don’t always “do me” that well.  Sometimes I crash right into my own insecurities and put together what I think others will like, will accept, will deem professional, appropriate and the list goes on…

This brings me to the story of my media kit and the “you do you, Mom” comment of the day.  Since I wasn’t quite sure what a media kit entails, I spent some money on templates/instructions and for the most part I think they do the trick.

However, when I started to read over the important essentials like you would find on my resume or on your college application, my mind wandered and I became well, bored.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe I am boring but my credentials are simply facts that kind of miss the boat of who I am.

“You do you, Mom”, she said, as I explained why I was taking a picture of a picture in my college yearbook. “Did you know” I said, “one of the few pictures of me in my college yearbook is me riding on a camel?”  I’m going to add this to the media kit on my website.

So, in addition to the formal credentials I added at the top of the page a list:

The more important things to know about me are (in no particular order):

I love my family and most importantly my kids…they are the reason I am living better… always.

In the world of cats and dogs ~ I choose dog every time!

I am a sucker for a flash mob, touching videos, hallmark commercials and great inspirational quotes.

I am an avid, aging, athlete however I still love everything about sports.

I am happiest when I am busy and juggling many things.

I am a DIY home improvement enthusiast and wannabe gardener.

I despise just about everything to do with cooking, I hate when people eat all of my hard work.

My sense of humor is my best attribute and I especially love to laugh so hard I cry.  (Practical jokes are my forte!)

I love writing and I actually really enjoy public speaking. (Writing a book is  much harder than I anticipated!)

I LOVE to travel … around the world and down the street!  Stay tuned for my new book on train travel!

If I had a life motto, it would probably be “We can do this!”

In my college yearbook there is a picture of me riding a camel.

I love to meet people through my work, writing, website, and social media… so, Hello!


If life has taught me anything, it is this, if you are doing you, you are quite possible doing alright. No one can be a better you than you.

In case you are doing you for a resume, check out this article from Forbes particularly the part about listing your personal interests.

Forbes Six Secrets of Great Resumes

What is the best picture of you in your college yearbook?

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