Baby, You Were Born to Run

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

When Cassidy and I had been married a few months and had made the decision to move back east to be closer to our families, we plotted out a 2.5 week, spiraling road trip across the United States to eventually wind up in western Massachusetts.

We factored in our dog’s comfort and safety for every minute of that trip.

When Cassidy and I were celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary, we went away for the first time sans kids – leaving them with my mom in our house, but taking our dog with us for fun and moose-filled adventures in the rainy woods of Vermont.

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

We have always been dog people, and we always will be, and I can’t imagine not raising my kids right alongside our dog and our cat. And who knows? Maybe there will be another puppy or dog in our future. Furry friends are part of our family. I was happy to learn recently that at Radisson RED, furry friends are part of the family too! With their pet-friendly policy, you don’t ever have to sacrifice style and comfort in order to have your dog go on your hotel adventures right with you.

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

When I was a kid, we would go to Myrtle Beach, SC or Ocean City, MD for two weeks at a time every July! Oh, how I missed my dog, Chelsea during our trips. As an adult, we have our dog, Athena, stay with Cassidy’s parents when we’re flying anywhere. When it’s a road trip? Our girl comes with us! From NJ to NYC, to Boston and Cape Cod, to the cold and moose-filled woods of Vermont, I love looking behind the passenger seat and seeing two cute kids and a cute pup looking back at me.

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

For most dogs, like Athena and our old husky – Stormy – there’s nothing like the feel of the wind and the open road.

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

I know that feeling well, and I LOVE Radisson RED’s pet policy. Not only that, they’re having a contest right now and all it takes is posting a dog travel photo on Instagram, using the hashtags #BAXTERTRAVELS and #CONTEST. I took a look at some of the submissions here and I was in awe of the cuteness and splendor. This contest will run from February 10th to February 24th, so enter while you can! You can win one of two red, nylon Fatboy dog beds! Who doesn’t need a good dog bed?

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

Here are five awesome tips for traveling to hotels with pets:

Enter the Radisson RED #BAXTERTRAVELS #CONTEST for a chance to win one of 2 red nylon Fatboy beds! Radisson RED's pet-friendly policy

1 – Preemptive research is key. That’s why I research hotel pet policies, and look into parks, hikes, and other dog-friendly activities near the hotel. Talk to the staff and get a better feel of just how welcome they make dogs feel.

2 – Go for a long walk once you reach your destination. A well-exercised dog is a happier dog, and it gives the dog (and you) the chance to get a real feel for the hotel and/or town, city, state, etc.

3 – Enter the hotel room first, and have your dog do a sit stay. Don’t give your dog control of the new situation. Unpack a bit, go to the bathroom, look around, and leave your scent in the room. When you are ready, have your dog settle in.

4 – Explore! Be extra vigilant with what’s around, especially concerning items your dog could ingest. While your home is probably dog-proof for your particular dog(s), it may not be that way in even the most pet-friendly of places!

5 – Choose the right room, and make a comfortable space for your dog. Generally, I request a room on the ground floor – in terms of carrying extra luggage for my dog, and avoiding stairs. It’s also convenient to take the dog out. In addition, Elevators can cause stress. Request a room with a fridge, especially if you use fresh food for your dog. Consider crating your dog for when you leave her behind in the room. Dogs generally feel comfortable and LESS stressed in their crates. If you don’t normally use one, maybe do some practice runs before your stay!

Read more about Radisson RED’s pet policy, and enter the contest HERE.

From Your Daddy In Heaven

Valentine’s Day, guys. You can see it, right? I kinda love it.

People complain that Easter is the new Christmas, and we shouldn’t go overboard with kids. That’s me with Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is my Christmas, even though I love Christmas. You can have favorite aspects of holidays. Halloween has the best atmosphere, and Christmas has the most spirit. Valentine’s Day is the prettiest and most chocolatey, but Easter has the BEST candy. St. Patrick’s Day has corned beef hash and Lucky Charms, and is during an exciting time of year! Almost spring!

When you’re nearly done with THIS:

And of course, there are the meanings, and how we make our own. My family isn’t religious, but we’re kinda spiritual. Scarlet is seven and said she doesn’t believe in God, only because she thinks humans mostly get the job done. She DOES believe in fairies and tooth fairies and garden fairies and even Valentine fairies. She knows, though, that I give her Valentine’s Day gifts.

And if you’re shocked that a seven-year-old doesn’t believe in God, well, that’s just Scarlet. If pressed, she’ll give you reasons she DOES believe in a God, or Gods, but not one who judges, condemns, and lets turmoil happen. She’s SEVEN. I didn’t put those ideas in her head. My religious philosophy can be described better HERE. I wrote it six years ago, but I assume it’s true. I never reread my writing because it makes me itchy so I’ll trust that you’ll tell me if it says anything good?

The reason I love Valentine’s Day is truly an epic, movie-esque, not-quite-happy, really-downright-sad reason, but boy, did it propel a series of not sad Valentine’s Days. I don’t need the works. I don’t need a single thing. I can tell you about valentines in school – getting three carnation “Love-Grams” sent to my desk in high school (from my sister and two gay friends but that’s neither here nor there). I can tell you about my first college boyfriend and his stuffed bear and three pound bag of M&Ms that I couldn’t even look at, because I had the honest-to-goodness FLU. There are many stories to tell, but it starts with this one.

My father had passed away in July. Before he had died suddenly, he had been put on a waitlist for Cabbage Patch Dolls – specifically the ones called “Preemies.” They don’t make them like that anymore! The Valentine’s Day after he died, I was four and Lindsay was six. This was several months later, and my mom got the call from Child World ON VALENTINE’S DAY (or maybe the day before) that the two Cabbage Patch dolls he had ordered were ready for her to pick up, after all this time.

My mom was the room mother for Lindsay’s classroom and had organized a Valentine’s Day game, but instead Lindsay got really sick and missed the party. We were home later on Valentine’s Day and Lindsay was napping – burning up with a high fever. She woke up and my mom gave us valentine gifts. I remember fuzzy red monkeys that had arms you could clip on things. We got homemade valentines and then the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. Lindsay could read then, and my mom put cards on the boxes that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, from your daddy in heaven.” It certainly felt cosmic then. It still does.

Sometimes I can open my heart a little bit, and then a bit more, and get back there again.

I’m a mom now and while my kids know I make a huge deal out of Valentine’s Day, they don’t know why yet.

That’s ok. They will someday.

Speaking of great dads and Valentine’s Day, this guy really stepped up for us as our dad. 30+ years strong now:

Also, speaking of great dads and Valentine’s Day, I saw a silly Valentine’s Day meme floating around Facebook, and decided to grab it, scrawl quick answers on it – if I’m capable (barely am) and share it on my blog. Feel free to share on yours!

Who’s older? Cassidy is by eight years.

How long have you been together? 10 years now!

Married? 8.5 years.

More sarcastic? Oh god, me. Not proudly.

Who makes the most mess? I think we all do in different ways.

Who has more tattoos? A tie because neither of us have any.

Better singer? No clue? I have great pitch but I don’t try. He does.

Hogs the remote? Him.

Who was interested first? Well, that was pretty mutual and a long story. I said, “I love you” first, though.

Better driver? He’s more confident, but I have a good record in terms of tickets and safety.

Spends the most? Him, but on important things.

Smarter? Both in different ways.

Most common sense? Him. I tend to float away sometimes. I’m not ditzy, but I operate on a different plane.

Whose siblings do you see the most? Probably mine.

Do you have any children together? TWO cute ones.

Did you go to the same school? Definitely not.

Who is the most sensitive? Him? Me? A tie? Him?

Who hogs the bed? This same kid, who is wearing my underwear in this picture:

Where do you eat out at the most? Probably Outlook Farm.

Who wakes up earlier? He does!

Who has the craziest exes? I think we both have a half dozen or dozen wonderful exes, and then maybe a few crazy apples?

Who has the worst temper? Tie.

Who does the cooking? Both. Neither. He’s better at it. I do it well when someone pays me to do it? Not a perfect system.

Who is more social? Me.

Who is the neat freak? Him more.

Who is the most stubborn? I am. I refuse to budge on that.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled? ALASKA! And by Alaska, I mean Endor.

Who has the bigger family? We both have big, blended families with lots of gorgeous cousins.

Do you get flowers often? Yes! He’s quite the gardener.

Who does the laundry? We do our own, and share the kids’ laundry.

Who’s better with the computers? Probably a tie at this point. Different strengths.

Who drives when you are together? He mostly does, and gets restless as a passenger.

Who picks where you go to dinner? I’d say both.

Who wears the pants in the relationship? Stupid question. I wear the leggings, though.

Who eats more sweets? One would think me, but he can eat a bag of gummy bears in one sitting, and it once took me three weeks to polish off just one bag. I think I have more interest in sweets, but he has more volume capacity.

Where was your first date? There was an airport, nausea from riding the monorail for too long, a kiss on the beach, a middle of the night trip to New England, dinner dates, breakfast dates, fireworks, and a moose. I think Friendly’s was first, though.

And you never forget your first.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and to all a lot of chocolate!