Sunday, May 24, 2015

Worry

Lately, I have had some anxiety. I have been waking up within an hour of when I fall asleep (partially because my bladder has its own timetable). And then I lie awake, worrying about various things. Mostly I worry that I am failing as a parent. I worry that I allow my child to be disrespectful to me more than she should. I worry that I am not forcing my shy child to do more things. And I worry that the few things I am pushing her to do will make her resent me. I worry that she gets stressed about school. I worry that she is bothered because she does not have a lot of friends. I worry because I don't know why that is.

I worry that we will be stuck in our house in our bad school district, a place where we would not send our child to high school when she graduates in two years (two years!). Then I worry that our somewhat introverted child will have to go to cyber school. Because there is just no way that we could afford to send her to Catholic high school, for which tuition is currently over $12,000. In two years, I am certain it will hit $13,000. I worry that if we do move, that I won't know her new friends and they won't be "good" people. I so worry about drugs and other scary things.

I worry about losing my job. I worry about my husband losing his job.

I worry about that next big expensive thing. I have to get my car looked at before we go on vacation next month. I am nearly certain that will result in a big bill. I worry about our old roof. We can't keep putting that off. I worry about several other things, some impending and others completely unknown.

I worry that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I work for a university which will pay 90 percent of my tuition (and all of my child's tuition when the time comes, presuming I am still at the U). And yet I have not a clue for what I should go back to school. I am 43. Why is it that I have not figured it out yet?!

I worry that I did not learn enough in school. And what I did learn, many of it I forget. I worry about being forgetful, and I I worry that I am not smart enough.

I worry that my husband and I argue too much about silly things. We both seem to have to always be right. I worry that we are not better champions for each other. And I hate that my kid has to see that.

I worry that my husband does not take care of himself. He is overweight, does not exercise regularly (yard work and snow shoveling are better than nothing, I suppose), and he refuses to go to the doctor. I worry that he does not care more.

I worry that although I do exercise regularly, I eat more than I should and not as well as I should. And I also worry about my knees going because I run sometimes.

I worry that my mother does not have many years left (she is in her mid 70s). I hate that realistically we don't have decades left together. So I worry that I don't spend as much time with her as I want to. But going back to work FT makes it challenging to see her as often as I did when I was hardly working. I also worry about what happens if either of my parents get sick.

I worry that I don't see my siblings enough. A few times a year means we are missing out. But I worry about the money and time it will take to get me to those places to see them (and I worry about flying and driving far).

I worry about what is going on the world. There seems to be too much violence and hate and intolerance and apathy. I worry about others' priorities (even as I worry about some of my own).

I worry that I care about what some people think of me, when it should not matter. And I worry that I care too little about what others think of me, when I probably should.

I worry about our poorly behaved, extremely active, and overly rough dog. As much as I/we love her, we kind of regret adopting her. But I worry about taking her back to the shelter. We would be the third family who rejected. I worry that the third time would not be the charm.

I worry that I have just over-shared. But the worry is there all the same. 

I worry.

I just worry.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm sure this will get me into trouble!

As I contemplated writing this post, I could hear my mother saying, "Stop putting everything on Facebook" or "Your whole life does not have to be on Facebook." I don't put everything on FB. I typically do post something nearly every day. Mostly, I post pictures of things (Phipps gets a posting pretty much every month since I am there that often). I also try to include whenever I get together with a friend (after asking them if it is okay if I post the picture), and my family. I don't post nearly the number of pics of my kid as I used to, mostly because she hates my taking her picture (the dog hardly sits still, so forget that). I also complain about something and/or make some topical comment on average once a week. I guess thanks to the Pens' early, but not surprising, exit, there won't be any hockey posts for awhile (though I had really cut back on those this season).

Most notably, I rarely post things about my kid's school, other than I end up complaining about a snow day or delay once or twice a winter. I am FB friends with a couple dozen parents, so I would not want to say something negative or that can be misconstrued, particularly because I don't consider myself more than acquaintances with those people (and some of those FB connections are not even that).

I really wanted to post the picture I am about to on FB, but, for the reasons I stated above, I did not. I don't think parents come around these parts anymore (a couple of years ago, at least one did, although not because I had ever told anyone about the blog). But if they do, well, so be it.

I think the note I am posting below is funny, and honestly sounds like something that I might have gotten when I went to Catholic school 30 years ago, except we never had dances.

So, without further adieu, I give you the note that came home, which made me chuckle.


A few things:
  • Another note came home about the 6th-8th grade dance, which listed a set of rules for the kids to follow, including a bullet point that the dance was semi-formal and that girls should to refer to the "girl" note (which is above) that came home. That comment instantly took me back to 4th grade when letters came home to girls' parents telling them of the movie on menstruation the girls would be seeing. Our teacher at the time told us not to talk about it. I think I even got in trouble for doing so because I was so naive.
  • I don't pretend to be a fashion icon, so maybe I have this wrong, but I did not realize showing a bra strap was that bad. Obviously you should strive not to (I think), but if a girl's dress allows a sliver of a strap to be shown, should she have to wear the scarlet letter B?! And didn't clear straps go out years ago?! I fear this may have more to do with the boys than anything else...
  • And speaking of the strap, that has caused me some grief. I bought the kid a white-gold Easter dress (liturgically correct!), with thick (about an inch) straps. She wants to wear said dress to the dance. Unfortunately, the straps (which, again, are much thicker than any bra strap) are angled in a way that no bra angles, so a little bit of the bra straps are exposed. For Easter, it was a non-issue because the kid wore a creamy-sheer jacket over it. But I know there is no way she will wear that thing to the dance. So we had to find a strapless bra today. I won't go into details of that fun-filled 30 minutes. But let's just say, by fun, I mean I wanted to bang my head against the wall.
  • Can you really require a girl to wear a bra (not sure what an "undergarment" is)? Yes, some need to. But there are some small girls in that school that may not even own one. I was so skinny and little that I did not wear a bra on a regular basis until I got to high school. The good, ol' days... [If this is about the sheerness of a dress, I'm afraid sometimes a bra or "undergarment" is not enough. But you can't exactly ask girls to wear a padded bra to remedy that.]
  • I will say I am completely on board with the dress not being too short rule. Honestly, I cannot believe how short the skirts of some girls are (or at least were; for a couple of years I did weekly lunch duty, and I have seen skirts that exposed inches of thighs while said girls wore ankle socks in 30-degree recess weather).
In any event, I just cannot help picturing random middle-school-aged girls hanging out on the street corner in their short, short skirts with their bra straps showing. I mean is this what is happening that caused that letter?! (And, in case any parents come here, no, I really don't think girls in the school are doing that.) Then again, thanks to s coworker's gif, I can now also picture Madonna dancing around in one of her bra numbers, although I think it is a safe bet "Like a Prayer" won't be played at the dance...

If nothing else, Mom, I want credit for not sharing this on FB. (Not that my mom comes here or there.)

:-)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My happy place

Phipps spring flower show came to an end almost a week ago. As usual, it was beautiful, calming, and delightful. I wish I could come up with better adjectives, but that's all I have right now.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Ah, spring!











Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I forget the great title I had for this post!

I had a pretty good title for this post, but it escapes me, probably because I actually wrote two different posts for what this will end up being. Which is loooong.

I was in NC from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning. And man, did we fit a lot into those few days.

It started off pretty smoothly. Because flying stresses me out and we had to go through two tunnels, J and I left the house, 30 miles away, about 2.75 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. Even though it took us just under 40 minutes to get there, I still felt nervous, so I decided not to wait for the airport van/shuttle that takes you from a shelter in extended parking to the beginning of the airport. I was afraid the next one might not come for 30 minutes (I did not walk up to a shelter to actually confirm this). After dragging several bags for over 10 minutes, I regretted that decision. Fortunately, we made it through security pretty quickly, although clearly the novices we are at flying, we had a full water bottle. Fortunately again, the security guy did me a favor and dumped the water out so I could keep the J's beloved water bottle.

Once we got to the terminal (is that the right word?), we ran into my mother and nephew, who were already supposed to be on a plane to somewhere (they fly standby because my little brother is a pilot, and they sometimes have to take two flights to get somewhere). They did not make it on that flight, and Mom was without a working phone to plan when and where she would go next. So she asked me for my phone. I did not give it up willingly or cheerfully. But eventually I did say good bye to my beloved appendage. Since I had not confirmed exactly where my older brother was picking me up once I got to Raleigh, I was somewhat unsettled by this, but I figured we would work it out.

We eventually made our way onto the plane, which, as usual, started off with my ears tearing up. Fear always sets in for me. But because J said she was worried about the plane crashing, that actually helped to calm me (I did not let her see me teary). I told her chances were so slim that anything would happen, and although I could not make any promises, I was pretty sure we would be fine. Clearly we were, because I am writing this. :-). Worth noting is I could not help but think if our plane was crashing or hijacked, I would not be able to call the hub to say our final good byes, since I was sans phone. That bothered me. Yes, I know that makes me slightly warped.

We arrived on time, my older bro did not (which is pretty typical), and we fairly quickly made it to his place. After spending about 20 minutes decompressing, my bro and his youngest and I set out for a walk on various trails and through many neighborhoods. Two hours later, we were finally back! Within an hour of that, my bro dropped J and me off to see a college friend I had not seen in 21 years as well as her family. We had a nice evening together; it was hard to believe it had been that long.

The next day, J and her three cousins went to a morning soccer camp while bro and I watched. J was not happy. Every water break, she told me how much she hated it, me, her life, etc. Good times! Eventually she settled into tolerating it, and I even saw her smile and hustle a few times. Still, I just don't see her wanting to play the sport.

We had pizza for lunch, attended a long Good Friday service, and before long, my little bro's four kids and wife, along with my mother (and phone!), arrived (Mom and the one nephew had to fly to TX, where lil bro and family live, and fly out the next day). Craziness and chaos ensued and pretty much stayed that way for the next 48 hours! About the only time it was quiet was when the kids were on electronics.

Saturday after a couple of errands, most of us went to the Hurricanes game. My older bro had taken me to one about 14 years ago (I think), but since it had been about seven or eight years since my last game (Pens), I was excited. I proudly wore a Pens tee, but was all in to root for the Hurricanes and particularly happy to root against Philly!

Our seats were pretty good, club (2nd) level, complete with a server. I had J and my two nieces, my mom was down lower with three nephews, and older bro and wife were in a suite. J was particularly excited to see her (former) favorite player, Jordan Staal, get a goal and an assist. Unfortunately, we left after the second period to get to an egg hunt, which was nice, though J is a little old for that.

Here are a few shots, taken with the crappy iPhone 4.

I appreciate that PNC is in the name, much like it is in/at PNC Park.
I have no idea if the Pens do anything like this, but there were also a bouncy house.
This one was taken without my zooming. It is a shame how empty the stands were about 15 minutes before puck drop.

I zoomed in on this pic, hence the poor quality.

Had to get the pic of Jordan Staal after he scored a goal!

That evening all 14 of us (little bro finally arrived) ate in a courtyard/outdoor play area of a burger place. We pretty much froze, but the kids were entertained with various games, including Connect Four and giant Jenga. See pic below. Sadly all that fresh air and activity did not help those eight kids go to sleep at a reasonable hour or without various chaos. 


This picture brought such a smile to my face; the kids were so cute running around in a circle holding hands.


The next day, a mere seven hours later, the kids patiently waited until all the grown ups woke up to find their Easter baskets. There was more chaos. Eventually, we made it to mass, there was playing outside after, and after Mom and I took a walk, we sat down to dinner.

The TX group realized they would not be able to fly out the next day, so they and my mom rented a car (for which little bro and I waited about an hour), and around 9:30 that evening drove a couple hours to Charlotte, so they could fly out from there early Monday. It was hard to say good bye.

The chaos left with them, and somehow the quiet was deafening. I finally got a good night's sleep, but when I woke up, I knew our trip was just about over. After a leisurely breakfast, older bro drove me and J to the airport about 1.25 hours before our flight was to leave (we are very different in that respect!), and we said our good byes. Fortunately, I had sunglasses on, to mask those tears.

Before long, we got on the plane, and just over an hour later, we were back in the Burgh. As per usual, as soon as we got near the Burgh, I was overcome with a mixture of relief and Pittsburgh pride. I got a couple of cool shots. This was my best, since it captures the heart of the city while framing part of the pic with a plane wing. (The muddy Allegheny River is odd to me.)


All in all, it was a great trip. It had been years since we were all together. Maybe even before little bro's youngest was born (he is almost three now). It was well worth the money for flight tickets, and I am sure I will eventually catch up on sleep after getting about the 25 hours over four nights. I am not sure when we will all be together next, but I am pretty sure I won't be flying anytime soon for that to happen...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just another reason why I don't fly...

I hate traveling, both long car rides and any length of a plane ride. I am fairly certain I have mentioned that here, back in the height of my blogging days. Time, money, inconvenience, and, most of all, fear are the reasons. Unfortunately, my family is not close by. One brother is in TX, a plane ride away, and the other brother is in NC, a nine-plus-hour drive away. So, when a brother invites us for a holiday or other gathering, I rarely say yes (it helps that they do come to this area several times a year).

About a month ago, my NC brother suggested the three of us and our families along with Mom get together over Easter to celebrate Mom's upcoming 75th birthday in NC. Of course, my first selfish thought was that either I was going to have to suffer through a long drive in my crappy car, or I was going to have to shell out money for some plane tickets. I could not use work as an excuse, as I did last year when one of them invited me (I did not have enough vacation time at that point). But since Mom will be 75 only once, and I have blown off the last couple of family gathers, I decided to bite the bullet and buy plane tickets for me and J (I am not sure our car would make it that far, sadly). The hubby will be at home with our insane dog.

I watched flights online for a few days, and stressed about if I was waiting too long or not long enough. When the prices went up a few bucks, I panicked and bought our tickets. They weren't cheap, but we weren't spending four figures, so I decided to be okay with it. I had already (mostly) gotten over my bitterness about our little income tax return, so I figured I might as well spend that money on these tickets. 

Since our trip is now just four days away, I was considering what to pack. Then, I wondered if we would have to pay for baggage. I assumed you got one suitcase per ticket. Well, you know what they say when you assume. Apparently, US Airways charges $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, which I find to be insane. I am not sure how I can fit five days worth of clothes for two people in one suitcase, but you can bet I will sure as heck try. SIL, it looks as if I will be doing laundry at your house!

I realize there is not much I can do about, and I probably should have read things more carefully (I could have sworn that when I picked my carrier, I read US Airways did not charge for the first bag, but clearly I was mistaken). But you can bet I will not be flying again anytime soon.

Here's hoping it goes well!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Yes, mamms!

When I turned 35, my ob-gyn gave me a prescription to have a mammogram done. I ignored it, not for any one good reason. When I came back for my exam the next year, I sheepishly told her I would need another prescription since I neglected to have my mammogram done during that past year. Doc informed me the guidelines had changed, and I would not need to get it done until 40 now. I felt downright smug I had procrastinated.

A couple weeks shy of 41, I finally went. While there, I announced to the technician that it was my first time. She told me that they should give out stickers. I agreed. Regardless, the imaging did not take too long, and although it was not pleasant, it was not as bad as I had envisioned.

About two weeks ago, a friend posted about her mammogram experience. That served as a reminder that my mammogram was overdue; it had been more than two years. So I called the next day, and was actually able to get in, in just a few hours (the hospital is an 11-minute walk from my office). For some reason, this time seemed to be more awkward/painful/unpleasant than my first (I would not have thought a boob could have been stretched out so much, only to be somewhat flattened). But it was over quickly. I was told to call in two weeks to get my results.

Two days later, I got a follow-up call while at work, telling me that I would need to come back for additional testing. The woman on the phone assured me that it did not necessarily mean anything was wrong; they just needed to take more pictures. At first, I was not panicked; my mom has gone through this type of thing many times. Each time she would get worked up, and each time it turned out to be fine. But as soon as the woman on the phone told me that I would need to allow for 1.5 hours and that a radiologist would be present, panic ensued. I immediately started crying. Fortunately, I was sick, and my eyes had been watering and I had been blowing my nose a bit anyway, so no one really noticed anything.

After about an hour, I finally calmed down. I reasoned that because the woman said I should come back within four to six weeks, rather than ASAP, it probably was not a big deal. I managed to get through the next week feeling (mostly) pretty positive. 

Within a few days, I received a letter letting me know that the Breast Density Notification Act required that I be notified of my breast density. I discovered my mamms were heterogeneously dense. I was even able to chuckle about it. 

But two nights ago, the night before my appointment, I could not help feeling a little scared and tearing up. The thought of my only child being motherless kept playing out in my mind. It was almost too much to take. I also pictured myself showing up to some work and social functions in colorful bandanas to hide my balding head. I had gone there. In fact, I would not commit to going to a work conference in Baltimore in May because I was not sure how I would be. Many tears and fits later, I finally fell asleep.

I woke up yesterday, the day of my noonish appointment, to a crapload of snow. School was cancelled, so I was staying home with the kid, and the roads were a mess. But there was no way I was going to cancel the appointment. I had to know.

So I went, leaving myself plenty of time. When I got there, I was ushered to the dressing room pretty quickly. Then I went on to the gown waiting area. It was extremely crowded, and there was one seat. I made a joke about it being a popular place, and some woman said people came for the free coffee. A few of us laughed. I then said to the ladies nearest to me, “Come here often?” One lady said she tried not to. That helped break some of the tension, I think.

Unfortunately, I was in that area for almost 40 minutes. Too much time to worry. During this period, I heard a worker call a woman into a room. The worker’s beginning words, which now escape me, sounded serious. Sigh.

I eventually was brought back to another area, only to have to wait another 10 minutes. I continued to feel uneasy.

I finally was ushered into a room. My technician was the same, nice woman I had the previous week. This time was equally as unpleasant, but shorter, since only one of my mamms had an issue. When it was over, the woman said for me to wait outside and a doctor would talk to me.

Wait. That is all I could do is wait. Worse, my phone lost its internet connection, so I had no distraction, as I had read the one People magazine that was there. Sadly, I listened to a couple of ladies way down the hall talk about biopsies. Sigh.

Finally, after about 10 or 15 minutes, a woman called my name. My heart started to pound as I got up. Then she said such wonderful words: “You are free to go.” It tears me up just to type this. The woman handed me a paper that said my results were fine/negative and that they would see me back next year.

I walked back to the dressing room feeling inexplicably not only as if a weight had been lifted from me, but also as if I had been punched in the stomach. When I got back to the gown area and changed, I promptly burst into tears. Tears of relief, stress, I don’t know what else. Briefly, I felt for the woman who was talking about the biopsy. Mostly, I felt a little shaky.

During my walk back to my car, I walked as slowly as I can recall. I just felt drained.

But my heterogeneously dense mamms and I are okay. I hope you and yours are too. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Taxes, you hurt me real(ly) bad(ly).

As far as income tax refunds go, I know most financial planners will tell you that your goal should be to get nothing back, because otherwise the government is keeping your money. I agree with that sentiment for people who have credit card debt. It does seem silly not to not pay down more of that debt each month. But my feelings have changed (and changed again) over the years. 

About seven or eight years ago, I thought the hubby and I were getting too much money back in our tax refund. I decided I would rather have a larger paycheck and then be able to put more money into savings. So I changed my withholdings (or whatever that is called) from 0 or 1 to 3, plus I even had extra taken out each month. I figured/hoped we would end up with well under 1k in a refund, and I was cool with that.

But the funny thing was that for many years, we never got anywhere close to that small of a refund. Some years we did well enough that we were able to do some home improvements (windows one year, tub surround another year, and a new AC and furnace after that). Our best year was my second year of being unemployed. This dropped us to a lower tax bracket, and because we had gotten new widows that same year, we ended up getting a really nice chunk of change back.

Oddly enough (to me) was a couple of years ago, when I had earned a decent (but less than the rate of poverty) amount of money freelancing. I had not paid any federal taxes on it, so I was penalized in my tax return, but we still ended up with a nice-sized federal return. Honestly, I thought we would owe or get only a few hundred dollars back. I was shocked!

Last year, we ended up with more money, though I had expected even more than that since I had done no freelancing. I figured this year we would end up with about the same.

I was wrong.

It turns out, we have now re-entered what I consider the silliest tax bracket. We went from the 15 percent tax bracket to the giant leap of the 25 percent bracket, because last year was my first full year of employment. We are barely at the low (income) end of this tax bracket. I am 99 percent sure we will never earn enough to make it to the next bracket of 28 percent. Nonetheless, a married couple can make about 3.5 times what the hubby and I are making and yet pay only 3 percent more in taxes than we do. Sigh. And to be clear, I am not saying that the more money you make, the more you should be taxed. I am more of a flat or fair tax kind of gal. This is kind of driving that point home.

I can't help but be disappointed. I was counting on a decent refund that would allow me to pay off the hub's truck (yes, I have clearly come back to wanting a large refund). Looks as if that won't be happening anytime soon.

I have tried to make myself feel better by reminding myself that we are finally making roughly what we made before I was laid off. But that just ends up making me sad, because 1) it took us six years to get back to that point, 2) I now work full time (I was working only 4 days per week before I was laid off), and 3) we somehow ended up with so much less of a refund than what we had gotten back then. Don't get it.

But the worrier in me knows as tenuous as my husband's job is, we may very well end up back in the 15 percent bracket next year. So I am just going to shut up. And maybe treat the family to a nice dinner with our return. You know, while we still can.

:-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In defense of the pit bull

As regular blog readers know (and at this point, I think there might just be two of you), my family said goodbye to our beloved pit bull mix Sadie, a few months ago.

Since then, three months and almost two weeks later, I still miss her. I can honestly say that I probably have not gone more than a week without tearing up. But, to be fair, I cry over silly things.

When we adopted Sadie, we were not sure we were going to have kids, so the fact that Sadie was partially a pit bull did not concern me. And, honestly, when I first saw her, I did not know that was her dominant breed. But once we knew I was pregnant with J, I started to worry. Back then, there was not social media, but there was still the internet, so I did occasionally read about pit bull maulings.

I very clearly remember my first day home alone with J. She was a week old, and my mom, who had been staying with us, and my husband both headed back to work. I was freaking out to begin with, just being a new mother. But having a dog constantly jump on me while I was holding the baby made it even worse. And all the visions of what a pit bull could do were going through my mind.

Eventually, things calmed down, and I would let Sadie near baby J. But never alone. I repeat: Never alone. In fact, I am guessing that J was not alone with Sadie until she was at least 6, and probably even older. It really only was in the last few years, the two would snuggle on the couch, and J is 11 1/2 now. But the reality is that I rarely left my kid unattended regardless. Proof of this is when she was 5 1/2, and I was in the shower on my day off. J cut head her head, which resulted in a trip to Children's. I remember very clearly the husband asking why I had left her alone. And I remember, almost as clearly, my saying that I was in the shower, and what did he expect. But that was pretty much the only time she was out of my sight at that age. A little sad.

But to my point: Once again, I read about another pit bull attacking and killing a small child. This girl was 2. It is very tragic, and my heart breaks for the family. But, and this won't be popular with some people (luckily few people come here!), the parents have to take some responsibility. You should NEVER leave a child that young alone with a dog. Period. Even if that dog is a cocker spaniel, and even if that dog is your beloved family pet (they were at a friend's house).

Part of me thinks we were lucky that Sadie never did anything to Jordan. Another part of me knows that I have my overprotective parenting to thank for that. There is no possible way that J would have ever been alone with Sadie so young for that to have happened. But there is also this important factor: Not all pit bulls are bad. In fact, most family pit bulls are pretty good dogs: I know our Sadie sure was. I have come across people walking their pit bulls near some of the parks J and I have gone to, and I have not hesitated to ask to pet them. (But I am not going to lie: When I drive through a questionable neighborhood on my way home, one known for a high percentage of homicides, and I see men walking pit bulls, I would not want to ask to pet them, even though that is kind of contradicting what I am saying).

Pit bull ownership is not for everyone. But I would have adopted another pit bull after Sadie, had not so many people have been afraid of the breed. In fact, my older brother and his wife just did not feel comfortable coming to our house because of Sadie. I respected that, even though I knew they had nothing to worry about. But of course you never do know.

I leave you with this quote, which the Western PA Humane Society posted on its Facebook page. They said it better than I could have.
The Western PA Humane Society would like the express our sincerest condolences to the family who lost their 2-year-old daughter last evening after a tragic accident with a dog that belonged to a family member. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time as they mourn her passing.
While we understand that there are dangerous dogs in the world, we would like to take a moment to remind the community that each dog is an individual – no matter their size, age, or breed. What does that mean? We think our friends at Animal Farm Foundation say it the best. “We owe it to all dogs to see them for who they really are, free of prejudice, stereotypes, and assumptions that are based on a known pedigree, a breed label guess, or physical appearance.” We hope that when hearing media reports of this tragic event, the public will remember that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a dog by it’s breed. See the dog for who he/she really is; a beloved family member, a snuggle buddy, a fuzzy shoulder to cry on, a therapist with fur or just an overall best pal.
 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The hope and reminder of spring

Other than a couple of days here and there, I am convinced that snow has been on the ground for several months here in the Burgh. I am sure some statistician or weather person would tell me otherwise, but to me, it just seems as if we have had snow for a long time. However, I chose to live here; I could have moved slightly south, which was my intention about 22 years ago, so I try not to complain too much about it. And really, compared to many people around these parts, I rant very little about the weather (well, cold temps and snow, that is).

I just can't see myself living in a place where it never snows, and I particularly have no desire to live where it is hot and humid for many months. I appreciate the changing of the seasons. There is just something about the various colors and stages of growth we see throughout the year.

Sure, this time of year there is a lot of gray. Trees are bare. When you actually see the grass, most of it is brown. But a trip to Phipps, one of my favorite places, reminds me that spring is not too far away. I might not appreciate the spring and summer if it weren't for the (sometimes depressing) season we are in now. It gives me something to look forward to. And I can appreciate how beautiful snow can look.

So I leave you with a few photos of my hope springing eternally (or something like that). Stay warm and dry!

I forget what this flower is called, but it seems perfect for February.

My iPhone does not do this justice, but this was the first time I had seen mist coming off the water in this exhibit.

Hybrid azalea


During the winter show, there is a tree in the middle of the water. This was the first time I have seen this view and could appreciate the water and what is behind it.

Broderie Room

East Room (my favorite place)





Friday, February 13, 2015

On the bright side of education

So I see it has been over a month since I last blogged. As per usual, I wrote a couple of posts in my head. I am pretty sure I did not write a post after having a mini panic attack a few weeks ago. I woke up early a few Mondays ago and just started to fret about so many things. I was alternating between sobbing and something else. At one point, I was not even sure I could breath. I was quite upset. But strangely that feels like a lifetime ago, fortunately (you can't keep an optimistic down for too long, I guess).

I blame part of my blogging absence on the state of the world. There is just so much bad news. So many sad, frustrating, and/or anger-inducing stories out there. Particularly, there is too much violence and hatred. Sometimes within miles of where I live (see Monroeville Mall shooting).

But I wanted to share something that caused me to smile. Something that gives me hope.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman I went to grade school with posted on Facebook that she received a phone call from one of the teachers of her 16-year-old son. To praise him! The teacher told this woman that not only was her son doing well in class, but he was a joy to have in class due to his manners. How great for her, her husband, her son, and even the teacher. I know firsthand how much easier/nicer it is to tell a parent her child is doing well.

Then a couple of days ago, this same woman posted a picture of a letter addressed to her son from a different teacher who had equally high praise for the son.This teacher said that he saw him being inquisitive and caring about understanding how things work. Honestly, the letter almost brought tears to my eyes.

I have not seen this woman in about 30 years. I, probably obviously, don't know her son. But how great is it that teachers can take the time to praise the positive. Teachers get a lot of grief, and sometimes it is justified. But I think we should acknowledge the teachers who take the time to do this sort of thing. And, as important, let's here it for the kids who get the high praise. And behind those kids are good parents the vast majority of the time.

I took to FB this morning, to see if this was some kind of anomaly. It turns out, it actually does happen to some people. More than a dozen friends posted that they had received a call, email, or letter from a teacher acknowledging their child. A couple of teacher friends said they try (or have tried) to do it (I am not willing to give my HS French teacher as much credit since his were in the form of computerized progress reports).

That's all I have tonight. But it's enough.