Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trying to keep the fading magic from fading

J is in sixth grade. She is of an age when most kids do not believe in Santa. In fact, I would guess in her class pretty much no one does; most kids gave that up in fourth grade, some as late as fifth grade. But J? Well, on my birthday last week, after she found out there was no elf that flew away each night and came back every morning (because she straight-out asked me, and I will not lie), I figured she might have stopped believing in the fat guy in the red suit. But she is my daughter, so I knew there was an even better chance that she figured that just because one thing was not true, that did not necessarily mean the other mythical creatures were not real. [When, sometime between fourth and fifth grade, I found out there was no Santa, I refused to ask my parents about the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Even though I knew they probably were not real either, I decided to hold onto hope and get one more holiday out of it.]

Yesterday, I took J to the Santa breakfast at our church because good friends of ours were going. J loves their toddler and preschooler, and those two pretty much worship her, so J was only too happy to go. She went up with the kids as they sat on Santa's lap, and she stood next to Santa while the two told Santa what they wanted. Later, I told J that I thought Santa was kind of pushy when our friends' little girl said she wanted an Elsa doll, and Santa kept asking her what else she wanted. Then J said to me, "It's not like he's the real Santa"

So that comment leads me to believe that she still is holding out a little glimmer of hope that just because an elf does not go back and forth to the North Pole nightly that does not mean that Santa can't pull off his feat of visiting the houses of millions in one night. I thought about coming clean, and I always said I would never lie to J about it. But unless she directly asks me, I think I will keep quiet. Worth noting is that last year (or maybe it was the year before) she asked if there was a Santa. I replied in my best teacher answer, "What do you think?" J answered that she wanted to believe. And I told her then that she should believe, and that I believe in the magic of Christmas. I threw in something about the "Yes, Virginia" story, and that was that. I did not lie, so I could live with that.

I realize there is a chance that she could talk about it at school, and someone could tease her, and I do not want that to happen. And maybe she does not even believe still.

But I guess I just want to hang on to that last little bit of magic, because I know there are a lot of years in between the wonder and belief you have during childhood until you get to the grown-up version of magic, if you even get there at all.

Here's hoping you can find some magic!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The birthday celebration (dog included)

So I turned Troy Polamalu years old last Friday. If I owned his jersey, I would have worn it, to proudly display my age. :-)

I had a great few days (I try to celebrate for two or three). It started on Thursday with my traditional birthday lunch at Mad Mex with a couple of friends/former coworkers. Mmm, shrimp-mushroom-spinach burrito. 

Friday included wearing of the birthday pin (for the 19th year) and a coworker-made hat (by the coworker who shares my birthday), lunch at Hems with coworkers, early work exit, dinner at Roman Bistro (best of the three meals) with family, Penguins and Pirates shirts as presents, and watching "Girl Meets World" with my kid to end the evening. 

But the biggest part of my birthday weekend was our adopting a dog from the Humane Society!

Since J and I will be off for almost two weeks for Christmas, and the hubby shares about half of those days (plus a few before our break starts), we figured it made sense to get a dog soon. J had fallen in love with Evie, this kind of crazy-looking rat-bull terrier, via the website a week or so prior. And as luck would have it, she was still there on Saturday morning when we finally made it to the shelter. I, on the other hand, was enamored with a black pit bull-lab puppy. Elvis was calm and complacent; Evie was wild and barky. But one look at Elvis's giant paws deterred me. Plus, I know some people were afraid of our pittie mix, which was kind of crazy. 

Anyway, we got Evie, whom we renamed Bailey after a few hours (that was her name at one point, and she responded to it). And life has been crazy ever since! The energy level on this 10ish-month old puppy is, well, crazy. She goes from 0 to 60 in about five seconds, and then right back to calm. Yesterday, she jumped down the last four steps to fetch a ball, and today, she was several feet in the air, spinning around, trying to grab a toy.

The hub has left her downstairs for a few hours while he was out the past couple of days. The toll? A slipper, a dress shoe, the top of a plastic stapler, the lid to a bottle of hand sanitizer, and part of a Scooby hat. Sigh.

Oh, Bailey, what have we gotten ourselves into?! :-)


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Looking on the bright side

I decided a couple of days ago to do a "bright side of December" thing for Facebook. Last year, so many people did 30 days (or however many days there were until Thanksgiving) of thankfulness. No one I knew did that this year, and I realized I kind of missed it. So I figured I, who am often optimistic, would put my own spin on something.

On Monday, I had to get my windshield replaced. This was the second time in five years (almost to the day), and in between I had some cracks/nicks replaced. Having to spend $100 (deductible) on something like that so close to Christmas does not make me happy. But the shop ended up doing it in only 20 minutes, and it cost $80 instead. So I decided to think of it as saving $20, not spending $80. Bright side! Oh, and I no longer have to look at the cracks in my windshield.

Yesterday, even though I left work 10 minutes early, it took me longer than usual to get home. But I decided that morning to put in a CD of my music ministry's Lessons and Carols service we did a couple of years ago. Listening to that in the morning really calmed my usual cranky-because-I-am-in-traffic self down, and it had the same effect on me last evening.

One of the things I like most about the holidays (and I am considering the holidays as beginning on Thanksgiving and ending New Year's Day night, with my birthday in between!) is the music. I am a singer (not a great one, but I can hold my own), and I can plunk a few songs out on the piano. And there is just something about a lot of the Christmas songs, particularly some of the slower ones.

I also very much enjoy lights and decorations. Some of my best (but briefest) childhood holiday memories are of our tree and looking at the decorations of others around our neighborhood. Every evening when I look out our back window and see houses below us with their lights, I can't help but smile.

And I will soon be headed to Phipps to experience their Winter Flower Show. I was so mesmerized by it last year that I joined a week later. I have been there at least eight times since. It was the best $85 I spent this year. I have to imagine even the most anti-holiday, hardened person would be moved by what they see there.

For today's bright side of December, I am thinking it is the fact that I am home taking a sick day. I woke up with an upset stomach and for the second night in a row got about 5 hours of sleep. But being home allowed me to take a long nap this morning, get in a load of laundry, and not put on any makeup or do my hair. Bright side!

Here is hoping you can find a bright side to things. I am pretty sure I am going to have to look long and hard when I get my tires replaced this week. My guess is that my brakes will also need to be replaced and something else will come up when I get my car inspected on Monday. So I better really take this to heart. :-)


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankfulness

As I get ready to head over a river (well, a man-made lake) and through some woods, I wish all of who still happen by these parts a happy thanksgiving. May your day be a good one, and may you not be alone, unless that is what you want. And most of all, I hope you can find at least one thing to be thankful for. I know I get down at times, frustrated by various things. But I am thankful that I can be thankful. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jagoffs are everywhere and perception is reality.

Last night I watched, on live TV, some jagoffs smash the windows of several businesses in Ferguson. I saw even more people steal bottles of liquor. My suspicion is that most of those thugs don't care about Michael Brown or his family. Some of those same criminals would have probably at least vandalized businesses even if the grand jury reached a different conclusion.

So thanks to those idiots (and I really want to use a stronger noun), people are painting the entire town and/or supporters of Brown with the same brush. And perhaps as unfortunate, their actions may discourage peaceful protesters. And most unfortunate, there will be those who say (and have already done so on social media) that the actions of those criminals somehow prove that Michael Brown was a thug and that his killing was justified and/or the officer who killed him did so with reason. 

All of this because some goons committed multiple crimes. And I bet if you asked them if they felt bad for what they did and how it tainted perceptions, most would not care. 

It makes me so sad, how the actions of a few can have such far-reaching effects and so greatly affect perceptions. You go to WVU? You must like to burn couches! You are a Ravens fan? You must think it is okay to hit a woman. You are a Republican? You must hate the poor. You are a Catholic? You must think it is okay that priests molest boys.

Racism and discrimination are still happening. Police brutality still exists. People commit crimes. And sometimes people get it wrong.

Be thankful if you are not on the giving or receiving of end of any of the above.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

I may hate furniture shopping even more than I hate going to Walmart!

Our couch and leather recliner in the den are pretty much destroyed, thanks to Sadie, who never met a piece of furniture or carpet that she did not want to dig at. I never much cared for the couch anyway, and it is almost 13 year old, so we decided to replace both of them.

The hubs had this brilliant idea of getting a sectional with a cup holder feature in between one of the love seats. I am not a fan of those, but I gave in, mostly because he had me sold on the chaise. Yesterday, while J and I were at my mom's, he went to a furniture store, found a set he liked, and emailed me a pic of it, which included a chaise. I liked it okay, so the three of us went to see it today.

I was expecting to be in and out of there within 30 minutes. We went over to the set, and I liked it  better in person (though still did not love it). But once he sat on the chaise for a couple of minutes, the hubs realized it was not as comfortable as he thought. Worse was when you reclined the chaise (which I thought was cool), you were left with a gap in the cushion where the small of your back would be.

So we looked at many other sets and pieces of furniture. J and I found a nice one, with a chaise large enough to fit both of us. I was sold, and even willing to spend more money, until the hubs measured it. Unfortunately, our den is an odd shape and quite small; we basically have 8'x8' to fit furniture. This long chaise would pretty much give us a foot between the end of that and the TV. Maybe. So we examined many other possibilities, and we still could not come to a decision.

I suggested going to another, typically more expensive, store, against everyone else's wishes. Turns out they were right: This store was advertising prices of 50% off. But with that discount, most sectionals were still between $1,500 and 3,000. Which means they were regularly priced between $3,000 and $6,000. Who would pay $3,000 for a loveseat?! (Unless you were wealthy, of course.)

By this time, we had been gone for close to two hours, so we stopped at a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. That was our third and last time at that place, let me tell you. Over 30 minutes into our being there, when our drinks were empty and there was no sign of our lunch arriving, the server apologized for the slow service because of a large party. That info would have been nice from the get-go, or at least 15 minutes earlier. Once we got our meals, he never came back to check on us. And when we got our bill, I almost choked--the guacamole and sour cream I had asked for on the side/as an extra cost $5.50. That was more than half the cost of my lunch. When I gave the server our credit card, I told him that I wish he would have told me the cost of those things when I asked for them, as I never would have gotten them (I did not notice them as an upcharge on the menu; Mad Mex, which I love, charges $1.50 for guacamole; sour cream is free upon request).

Not particularly happy, the three of us tried another furniture store, which was just about as expensive as the second one. So we headed back to store number 1. We decided to get a reclining loveseat with the console/drink holder, and then find a coordinating second love seat. After about 15 or 20 minutes, we thought we knew what we wanted. Then the hubs explained to me that the second loveseat would actually be in front of the "fancy" love seat; the two pieces would not be shaped like an L, as I had envisioned. Thinking about how silly that would look, I said to forget it. Then hubs had another idea: What if we got the reclining loveseat and then just a chair and ottoman perpendicular to that? At this point, close to four hours after we had left home, I did not care if we bought bean bags. So we found a red (!) reclining leather chair with ottoman, that would at least not be in front of the loveseat, and we ordered it and the fancy loveseat.

I don't love either of them. What is worse (for me) is that we can now seat fewer people (two on the loveseat, because it has the console in between, and one person on the chair) as compared to the four or even five we fit on our couch and recliner before. And I would have loved to have spent that money on five other things.

But I just could not stand it anymore. I had to get out of there, and we had spent so much time that I hated to come away with nothing.

Walmart: You are looking better and better.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The little things still get me (but I'm doing okay)

About 72.5 hours removed from saying good bye to my dog and I am getting through it. 

As I have said over and over, I did not think it would be that/this hard. But I did not have much to compare it to.

Waking up Tuesday was pretty bad, just knowing I no longer had Sadie. It was so sad peering down the steps and not seeing her there, either waiting on the other side of the gate or sleeping beyond the gate in the living room. Of course the gate wasn't up either. And there was no dog to take out or feed, yet we still could not leave on time.

I managed to get through work on Tuesday, not without tears a few times. I was glad a coworker suggested lunch out. I cried even then. But by mid-afternoon, I was able to get on Facebook and post a small tribute to my dog. I cried on the way home and several more times that evening. I was dismayed, for some reason, that I left my bedroom door open, when I had felt so sad about not having to close it when I left my room that morning. I swore I heard Sadie a few times; I did look for her once or twice. Most of the evening was a blue. But I did hug my kid really hard a few times. :-)

Yesterday was better; I could actually talk to coworkers. My eyes welled with tears just a few times. Choir was a good diversion. 

This morning, unlike the last two, Sadie was not my first thought; she was my second. Progress. Later in the morning, the Western PA Humane Society, which is where we adopted Sadie (née Shorty) from, posted a pic of a dog who looked a lot like Sadie. That was sad and weird, and for a brief minute I decided that we had to get another pit bull. Soon. I am mostly over that. Mostly.

I think I have gone several waking hours without crying today. Progress!

I feel bad that I practically scoffed at people who seemed so upset at the death of a pet. I get it now. I guess when a dog is part of your life for over 12 years (longer than I've had my kid), it makes sense that you would be greatly affected.

I know I will be okay, although I am sure I will miss Sadie for quite some time. But I know I am not alone.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I did not think it would hurt this much.

Two months ago, I started a blog for/about our dog Sadie, just after we found out she had cancer. I was hopeful writing would be cathartic; I was particularly concerned how J would handle it and thought if nothing else, it would give her a chance to write happy things about our beloved dog.

As with a lot of things, J started out enthusiastically, but in time, she did not have much to say. Plus school got in the way. 

But I managed to write a good bit and post some good pics. I hope to continue it for awhile. 

But just 23.5 hours removed from Sadie's death, I am still devastated. I never would have guessed it would have affected me this way.

Sure, I'm a crier, but as been documented here, I cry for strange things. Not for my own wedding or birth of my child, but for strangers on TV. I definitely cry for tragic events (9/11, in particular), but I also cry when I see certain commercials. I did not cry when my aunt or Bri's grandfather died a few years ago, yet every year when I see Penn State THON canners canning, my eyes well up.

I was sure I would cry when Sadie went, and I have teared up a bit this weekend, particularly Sunday night. But I did not anticipate the gut-wrenching feelings that would ensue once she was gone. I got home last night and cried for almost an hour. It felt as if someone was sitting on my chest. I kept saying her name. It was unimaginable how much I had missed her. I would stop for a few minutes (TV was a good distraction), but start back up. J cried a bit, but God bless her, went back to studying for her math test. 

I spend the night at my mom's about once a month (it used to be every other week), and I would kiss Sadie good bye, but not necessarily miss her (though I always asked the hub about her when J and I would call to say good night). So how could it hurt so much so soon?

Probably 14 or more years ago, a coworker at my last job sent an email titled "Unspeakable Grief." In it she said her dog died. I thought the title was dramatic and profound, but I could not relate. Yet that title was burned into my memory, as I often wondered if I would someday feel a similar way.

So many years later, I know now just how she was feeling. Because I can't really speak about it. I don't want to talk about it. I can write about here, because no one will talk back to me as I write these words. I have yet to answer texts from well-meaning friends. 

And I cannot bring myself to get on Facebook, which is amazing for me. Sunday night I posted a funny pic of Sadie; a friend commented on it, asking how Sadie was doing, and I commented back that she was not well and that we were saying good bye the next day. Friends that happened to read that comment posted a lot of thoughtful and supportive comments, but I could not bring myself to acknowledge them. Maybe when I get into work, I will feel differently.

I so just want to stay home today and feel sorry for myself, but that will do no good. And thankfully I am busy at work, so hopefully that will help. But I dread walking in there. Because my coworkers know what was going to happen. And as soon as the first person says something, I am going to cry. And let me tell you, waterproof mascara apparently does not mean tear-proof. Or maybe you can cry only so much before it fails.

To anyone out there who has lost a pet and felt the heart-crushing loss, I now understand your pain.

And I so very much wish I did not.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Note to self: Know what you are taking your kid to see

I am a big fan of performances. I particularly love musicals. For many years I had a subscription to Pittsburgh Musical Theater (nee Gargaro), but then my husband opened a restaurant, I had to take a 25 percent pay cut, and I had a baby, all within a six-month period, so that ended that.

About five years ago, we discovered Gemini Theater, a wonderful production company that puts on reasonably priced interactive performances geared towards children. We attend a few show every year, but J is kind of old for them. 

Earlier this year, PMT put on Le Miz. I had never seen it but knew a little about it. Some of it was adult-related, but the musical director (my former choir director) assured me those things would go over J's head, so I took her. He was right; the brothel scene was just a dance hall for all she knew. J enjoyed the performance, as did I, though she admitted parts were confusing. 

This summer, PMT had a preview performance for their upcoming season, which included A Chorus Line. I saw that (via the movie) over 20 years ago, and really liked it, but was recalling some of it was not suitable for kids. 

Fast-forward two months, I bought two tickets for me and J, completely forgetting that several parts were not kid-friendly. Sunday afternoon, about 10 minutes into the performance, I finally remembered! Oops!

The cursing made me cringe a little, but I could live with that. The dialogue about wet dreams, erections, and sex, on the other hand, made me wish the show would hurry up and end, which was a shame, because it was so good. 

Then one of the characters started talking about her tits, using that very word. I am pretty sure I stopped breathing at that point, because I remembered one of the songs I had completely forgotten about: "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" which is also known as "Tits and A$$." Looking at the program, I was guessing I had a few minutes before that came on, so I considered just leaving. I don't normally care what others think, but I was convinced at that point that the people on either side of me thought I was an awful parent, and that bothered me as much as J's hearing the sex, boob, and F words.

I apologized to J for the inappropriateness of the musical, and then I asked if she wanted to go, reminding her we did not eat lunch. She said she wanted to stay. So we did.

We got through that, though not without my wishing the floor would swallow us both up. When a character started taking about being a drag queen, it was a welcome relief. Before I knew it, the excellent performance ended, and as we left, I did discover J was not the only kid under 13 there (a number of performers and musicians were in high school). 

In the end, I am not sorry I took my kid. The theater is important to me, as is supporting local arts. And I have certainly sheltered J more than most parents would.

As long as she does not start belting out "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three" when she sings in the shower, I think we will be okay. :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

First place!

So I ran in my first 5k in two years this morning. I ran in the Race for Pace, which is one of my favorites because it is local (10 minutes from where I live) and Pace School does great things for kids with emotional and behavioral disorders.

I initially wanted to finish in under 35 minutes, but once I realized that I ran the race in 28:55 two years ago, I decided I had to do better than 35. Even though back then I ran, swam and did Zumba weekly, and I was two years younger, I refused to settle for something six minutes slower. For the love of FloJo, I am not that old and out of shape.

So I set a new goal of 33 minutes, though I was really, really hoping to do it in 31 minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen: This Supergirl finished in 29:21.

And, best of all, I got first page in my age group, 40-44 (or 40 and Fabulous, as I like to call it).



It turns out there were only three people in my age group, but I was still first! (If I had finished third, I would have been pretty bummed) I finished 67/159 overall. For someone who is apparently middle aged and past her running prime, I am proud of myself.

Supergirl!