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Counting minutes, not moments

I wish I could subscribe to the quality, not quantity theory, but for whatever reason, I don't. I'd like to blame it on Catholic guilt, because that is convenient. I could also blame it on some people who make me feel guilty, but I suppose I can choose not to feel guilty. But there are few people who make me feel as guilty as I make myself at times. Regardless of whose "fault" it is, I would be nice and healthy if I could care more about what I am doing and living in that moment and care less about counting every single minute and worrying it is not enough.

I had a nice Christmas break, and it is not even over yet. I managed to spend a good bit of time with my older brother and his family, which is nice because they live about nine driving hours away. I also got in extra time with my mom, hanging out with her briefly just a week before Christmas, spending two nights a few days later, and then spending time with her and the bro/family the latter part of this week. Las…

Peace on earth

I wish all of you a very, merry Christmas. May your days be merry and bright. And most of all peaceful.


Peace on the earth. Goodwill to all.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (or Luck Be a Lady)

Remember how I complained that I used to be lucky, but then my luck kind of ran out? And then I wrote a follow-up post almost a year later, sharing how I did win a great prize, a photo shoot?

Since then, I have entered probably several dozen contests, including a trip to the zoo in which two lucky winners were selected. Only three people signed up for that contest (it was on a blog), and I happened not to be one of the two. Sheesh. I also tried to win one of the many PG prizes over the summer, spending probably $5 in postage. No luck there either.

But then, a few weeks ago, I entered a contest to win tickets to the Nutcracker. My odds were pretty good; I think only 13 people entered. And to further increase my odds, I entered the same contest on an affiliate site, where about as many people signed up.

I saw the Nutcracker when I was a kid, and I don't remember liking it all that much. But it was something I wanted to take J to, since she likes dancing, and I was pretty sure it h…

Score one for technology!

I have not hidden the fact that I think a lot of technology is ruining us. People become so dependent on their smart phones, iPads, laptops, GPS devices, etc., that they forget about human connection and even doing things the "old-fashioned way" at times. And sometimes people who are always wired (well, wireless is more like it) don't realize that not all of us are. For example, if you send an email a couple of hours before a meeting/practice/event/test change, you cannot assume everyone will read said email in enough time. There are some of us who still have our stupid phones, so unless we are sitting in front of a computer 16 hours a day (and sometimes that is not even enough), we are bound to miss things like that.

But, of course, technology can be wonderful. I am glad I have a cell phone, even if it is stupid. When my relatives, traveling from two counties away, arrived late to meet me at the Steelers game, I knew what was going on thanks to my phone. And texting all…

Picture perfect

Every year at this time, I find myself scrambling to get everything done. Yet I don't bake, I tend to have fewer than 15 presents to wrap, and I work only sporadically. So what is my excuse for being so behind?!

My biggest labor of love during the month of December is creating an online photo album for both my and Brian's moms. It is an arduous process. I go through the hundreds of digital photos I have taken and saved the past year, upload them to a site, and place them in a suitable layout for each page of the album. Since more than half of the pictures I take come from my crappy, stupid phone, I have to make sure they are small enough to look decent. And it never fails that as soon as I think I am nearly finished, I realize I forgot to include a really great picture in one of the layouts, which means I have to redo the page to fit more pictures or I have to part with a picture I really liked.

Despite the time this takes, it is a gift for me as much as it is for our moms (an…

40 and fabulous!

I like to celebrate a birth weekend or a three-day birth anniversary whenever I can. Why limit yourself to just one day out of 365?!

So, of course, in advance of today, the big 4-0, I decided to start my celebrating on Saturday. It started off on a small scale. I took Jordan to the Home Depot for one of those kids' workshops. With no hammering and a few screws, it was right up my alley. And, I was able to lift and carry the full propane tank back to the car, so clearly I am not over the hill! We followed that up with a quick trip to Kohl's, where I treated myself to a new wallet. Even waiting in a 20-person-deep line could not dampen my spirits, what with my happily telling the two people in front of me and one behind me that I was turning 40 on Monday.

Yesterday was the real highlight. With my Steelers Santa cap and Hines Ward jersey on and my Terrible Towel in pocket, I headed downtown, where I got to park for free! I had a nice walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and ov…

Random ramblings

I have a handful (well, maybe two handfuls) of things on my noodle, starting with a memorable Thanksgiving, so let's get right to it!

Not sure which I will remember more about Thanksgiving day, my adult cousin's obscene t-shirt that he refused to remove for me or my three-year-old nephew trying to hit Jordan with a two-pound weight, but missing her and instead nailing his older brother in the head, which resulted in a trip to the ER. Good times!I wish my brothers and their families lived closer. I tend to be all about quantity since I typically see them only two or three times a year, and it gets crazy with so many people, including seven kids ages eight and under, in one small place. In one week I will be 40. I still think I am okay with that. Ask me again next week at this time.Some people are idiots. I realize I did not say anything new there, but Black Friday tends to bring out the biggest morons and jag-offs in full force. Ugh.Speaking of jag-offs, while in Indiana (the to…

Thankfulness

May your travels be safe, your food be yummy, your family fights be limited (or, better yet, non-existent), and may you find at least one thing to be thankful for.

I have many blessings, which I will try to remember over these next few days, particularly while sitting in traffic, being annoyed by a family member, or moaning about how much I have overeaten. I need to remember that I have a car to drive, family to visit, and food to eat. Yes, I am indeed blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, and can I just say that I am also thankful that Sidney Crosby is back on the ice and that I won tickets to see the Nutcracker. Almost makes me forget about my dead TV. :-)

Something long ago forgotten (and I still wish it were)

A few days after the Penn State story broke, I was reminded of something in high school, something I have probably not thought about in over or at least close to 20 years. Something quite honestly I would rather forget. But even my sorry memory still works every now and again.

When I was a senior in high school, a friend of mine told me her stepfather was molesting her.

When this memory came back to me, I immediately felt guilty. I questioned why I did not tell a teacher or my parents. Was it fear? Was I thinking I was somehow protecting my friend by keeping quiet? I honestly don't recall if she asked me not to tell anyone, though I am guessing probably. This friend was close to a teacher, whom I seem to recall she told. It seems likely I thought that since he knew, I did not need to get anyone else involved. I also remember that my friend was seeing a therapist, so maybe at the time I figured what else could I do. But if I have learned anything from the sordid Penn State story, y…

And while we're on the subject...

I still very strongly dislike Westinghouse, and that is not going to change any time soon. I am hopeful, if only slightly, that I will be able to post an update at some point that states I am getting something from Westinghouse. If you don't see that update, well, then you know Westinghouse, like many other businesses, cares only about money, not about quality products or customer satisfaction. So, yes, I am pretty sure you won't be reading anything else positive about my TV situation.

But I am already on to another customer service-related post. Remember how last month I blogged about my annual appointment, and I threw in a comment about how I once again had to pay a specialist copay? I called my insurance company a week later to question this, and the CSR informed me that this year I should have paid nothing, thanks to the health care reform, which, admittedly, I don't know all the ins and outs of. The CSR said that last year I probably could have gone copay-free; the ti…

They just don't make things like they used to.

About 14 months ago, as I blogged about, my neighborhood had yet another power surge, which resulted in my trusty, but not exactly spry, 26" TV (among many other things) meeting its demise. I was willing to go back to our even older 19" TV, which we had kept in our storage shed, but Brian insisted it was time for a new TV, hoping that Duquesne Light would help cover the cost.
We found one we liked,a Westinghouse 32" LED HDTV, and it worked just fine until two nights ago, when all of a sudden the screen turned green and everything froze. I tried turning the TV off and on, and I unplugged it, but the TV would not come back on. Brian tested the power supply, which was fine. We tested it again the next day, but still no life.
Of course, our TV is no longer under warranty, and apparently not a lot of companies fix Westinghouse TVs. Right now, I am waiting for two companies to call me back (does no one answer the phone anymore?!); one may not even service that brand. I called W…

It makes me sad

I still have so many thoughts swarming around my head regarding the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal, but I cannot take the time to write them all down. And there is no way anyone would want to read paragraph after paragraph even if I could.

So let me briefly (for me) sum up my thoughts as of right now.

The whole situation is sad. So incredibly sad for the kids, but sad for others too. Sad for the people who thought they were doing the right thing but may not have been. Sad for the people who should have done more and probably knew it. Sad for the reputation of a great school. Sad for coach who did so much for a university. Sad for the fans. Sad for the students. Sad for the community. Sad for sports. Sad for parents. Just sad.

I know that Joe Paterno needed to no longer be the coach. I had hoped he would have stepped down on his own, but he did not. I know PSU's cutting ties with him is the right thing to do, but that does not mean that it is not sad. I hate that this is how Joe…

So much "For the Glory"

Before I launch into my thoughts about the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant (until 1999) football coach Jerry Sandusky and the apparent cover up (at least ignoring) of Sandusky's sexual abuse of youth, let me say that unlike many alumni, I cannot personally be embarrassed by something involving my alma mater when I had nothing to do with what happened. I am still Penn State proud, though a little less for sure.

Now on to the story...

The 23-page attorney general report on Sandusky in graphic detail recounts how a respected man sexually abused eight youth over the years and next to nothing was done to either stop it or keep it from happening again. It is pretty sickening. Throw in a dozen other news stories, blogs, and comments from various people and you find your head spinning as you try to figure out what really happened.

Here are some of my thoughts:

I understand it was a report and not a trial, but the stories of eight youth as well as the eye witness accoun…

Sometimes I miss that girl

When I was in high school, I was in the school chorus as well as in every play and musical. My senior year, I got the lead for the spring musical; I was Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, a musical I had never heard of with a leading lady who had a masculine-sounding name, in my opinion.

Since then I have sung in a handful of weddings as well as a few funerals. I have been in my church choir since 2001. At my last full-time job, I would often break into song. And I have been known to start singing at the pool whenever Jordan and I are the only people there (good acoustics).

Yet for all that singing and performing, I cannot bring myself to sing a solo at church or, more topically, sing for our music ministry's Cabaret Night next weekend (Are you interested in going?!!).

I kind of want to sing for this event. In fact, just this morning in the car, I found myself singing two songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, which is my favorite musical (technically a rock opera). When I tried out for

Can I get a little credit for a shorter Part II?

If you took the time to read my last blog post, then thanks. It was a long one. For that reason, I am going to summarize my latest thoughts, which come on the heels of my meeting with the teacher, in the next two sentences to spare you from reading the four paragraphs that follow: I am about 95 percent sure my child is telling the truth for all the reasons I stated in the last post. However, 5 percent of me still cannot understand/believe that two different girls would make up things about my child.

I know I should probably just drop it. Move on. But as I said to Jordan, if I knew that someone said that I did something which I did not, then I would want to confront that person. I know I am not eight, but why is my kid not more bothered that another girl is supposedly making up things about her?

Jordan said she does not want to talk to the girl because she is afraid the girl will then tell the teacher that Jordan is bothering her or threatening her. Valid points, I realize. But the &qu…

Sigh

This is another of those posts that may end up being two parts. It will be lengthy. Can't forget lengthy.

Earlier this week I received an email from my kid's teacher saying she wanted to discuss some behavioral issues. Even though the teacher said it was nothing "earth-shattering," I worried for several days until we finally talked. Here is my best attempt at recounting what is going on.

My kid, following the heels of negative comments that a couple of other kids made, told a girl that she had no friends. Jordan said the girl made a similar comment back to her, and Jordan insists she then told the girl she was just kidding. This story came from Jordan; the teacher told me that she did not know the details since it happened during another class.

The teacher was able to tell me this: After that incident, this girl told the teacher that Jordan hit her with a hula hoop and told the girl if she told on her, Jordan would say the girl hit her first. The girl also said that…

The most wonderful time of the year

I love fall. I love the cooler air. The beautiful leaves. The flavors of fall. Oh, how I love thee, pumpkin. Let me count the ways: coffee, creamer, ice cream, cookies, roll, cake, pie, gobs (or bobbs, as I noticed Giant Eagle called them), seeds, soup, bread. I am surely missing some. Yesterday alone, I had pumpkin creamer in my coffee, pumpkin bobbs (I think I can get down with that), and pumpkin roll.

Fall also means the pumpkin patch. For the past four years, my mom, Jordan, and I have gone to Reeger's in Indiana County. I look forward to it every October, and I am never disappointed, though I must admit nothing has topped our first corn maze experience.

We typically start off at said corn maze, and each year Jordan becomes more and more competitive (hmm, wonder where that comes from), racing to get to the next clue/riddle. This was the muddiest year ever, but still fun.


Jordan loves, loves, loves, animals, so we have to spend at least 10 minutes in the smelly barn as she doe…

The teacher versus the parent

For those of you whom I have not talked to outside of this blog since the end of August, let me start off this post by saying that third grade is difficult. I am only half joking when I say I want to start a support group.

I kind of want to end the post here, because if I say everything I want to, this post could rival most of my other ramblings. But you know I won't.

The problem is the teacher in me wants and expects my child to do well and understand most everything. The teacher in me thinks that my kid should listen to every word her teacher says and remember them all. Well, at least the words that involve when assignments are due, which books are needed, and what is being covered on tests.

But the parent in me realizes that my kid is only eight, and she has had little preparation for the rigors of third grade.

When you have three different Simple Solutions books, all white, is it so unrealistic to expect you might accidentally bring the math one home instead of the English?

W…

If you provide pizza, I will come.

I was really trying to think of a catchy yet appropriately descriptive title for this post, but, alas, I did not really succeed. But here goes the post anyway.

You may recall that back in July, I attended a townhall for Raja, who is running for Allegheny County Executive. I came away impressed by what he said and convinced he was the right guy, and not just because there was free food involved.

Last evening, for the first time ever, I volunteered for a campaign (Raja's, in case you could not tell where this was going). I and three others from a local Republican group made phone calls for almost two and a half hours to people who were registered Republicans (at least they were at one point in time).

The whole operation seemed pretty slick. Let me explain how it works.
Each call is automatically dialed simply by your pressing the "next call" button.You have a "script" you can read from, modifying what you say as needed.If someone answers the phone, you identify yo…

Something(s) good out of something dreaded

It is hard to believe another year has passed since the day that probably 99 percent of the women out there dread. Oh, how I loathe my annual exam, but I am happy to report that two things happened to make it not so awful this year.

Through the apparently thin walls, I could hear the heartbeat of an unborn baby.

I have no idea what that instrument is called (the one that allows you to hear the heartbeat of an in-utero baby), but as I heard that sound from so long ago, my eyes immediately watered. The memories of that whoosh-whoosh-whoosh noise, from over eight years ago, came flooding back, and I was immediately reminded of the first time I heard Jordan's heart beating from inside by stomach. At the time, I had no idea what the sound was, and I had to ask the nurse if that was my baby's heartbeat. She said yes, and my eyes welled with tears.

I also remember the next time, when it took awhile for the instrument to pick up Jordan's heartbeat. I was supposed to get a sonogram…

She was too young.

Yesterday I found out a high school classmate had died. Because there were only about 115 in the class of '89, I knew everyone. In fact, I knew almost the entire high school, either by name or by face.

Crissy and I never hung out together, but we were always friendly and shared some of the same friends. She was in the marching band, and I was a flag twirler, so during the football season we saw each other more regularly. I don't think we ever had any classes together, and to the best of my recollection, we were never in the same homeroom.

But I knew her. She was nice. She was athletic. I seem to recall she was good at softball. We were "friends" on Facebook, so I know that she was an EMS, had a few dogs, loved the outdoors, and had recently moved.

I just now looked on her Facebook page and saw that she last commented on one of my posts on June 7. I made a comment about how I had graduated from high school that day 22 years ago, but at least I was not 40. Crissy wrot…

I am...

A blog I visit from time to time recently had a post about free-writing. Well, that was the part of the post that most intrigued me: Kristen explained how she responded to a simple prompt of "I" and went on to write about herself uncensored for five minutes. As my 40th birthday looms ahead (just over two months), I decided to try this free-write myself.

So here goes nothing, off the cuff, from the heart.

I...

I worry a lot, about more things than I should.

I love my kid and my husband more than anything else. I love my kid more than my husband, and I know I probably should not.

I like football and hockey, to watch. I am a Steelers fan first and a Penn State fan second. Once I had a kid, I decided it was okay not to watch too many PSU games, but I do my best to watch all the Steelers games.

I don't think you should leave sporting events early unless you have an emergency or some pressing concern; whether it is a blowout or a close game, I want to see it all, get my money's…

If this is how 8 is, God help me at 13.

One of these days I may write a heartfelt, detailed blog post about the angst I am having with my eight-year-old child. But this is not one of these days. Instead, I wanted to share a few recent things.

Third grade is difficult. I cannot believe the amount of homework Jordan brings home most days. On a good night, she has about an hour; several times now she has had three-plus hours. Seems a bit excessive to me. On the bright side, she has pretty much gotten to the point where she remembers to bring the correct books home, which is a challenge considering most classes have a hardback book, a workbook, and a Simple Solutions book. I feel bad that my poor kid's backpack often weighs more than 25 percent of her body weight (yes, I have weighed it).Jordan came home from school today with a flier for a Magic Treehouse book club and an American Girls book club, each of which will meet once a month during lunch. Jordan told me that most of the girls in her class are going to be in the Ame…

I gotta be me!

Earlier this week I had a 3.5-plus-hour interview. with six different people (separately), which far surpasses my previous interview record.

Up until I met with person number 6, I was able to think on my feet and answer whatever question or scenario put before me with relative ease. I felt pretty confident during the interviews. And I felt comfortable enough that I even joked with one person that I was hoping she was not going to ask me what I would do with a brick, as I had read online about someone being asked that very thing.

Based on what a few people said, it appeared that my confidence and outgoing personality were tipping the scales in my favor (since I was, quite frankly, lacking some of the qualifications). In fact, one person told me that the other interviewee he talked to, despite being more qualified, seemed timid; another person said I could be taught what was necessary, but personality, which he indicated was a good fit, could not be changed.

As I was reflecting back …

Summer in review

This summer I made it a point to try to take at least one pic of Jordan whenever we went somewhere, which most often was a park. I wanted to capture all the great, fun things we did this summer, knowing that it was probably going to be my last summer not working for quite some time.

So here goes.

I have expressed my love of Frick Park, particularly Blue Slide Park, in other posts; it really is one of our favorites. And this summer marked the first one I did not feel the need to follow J around like a little puppy dog. I actually let her run around and explore, though, admittedly, I would panic if more than three minutes went by and I had not seen her. In the pics above, J is at the end of the blue slide, and then hanging several feet above concrete (which scared the crap out of me).



We also visited another section of Frick Park, the area on the corner of Braddock and Forbes, a few times. There is not as much to do as Blue Slide, but we go there to mix things up a bit. In the photos abov…

10 years

Every year I've had this blog, I've written a 9/11 post around that day. This year is no exception, though I have a slightly different angle.

After having watched a lot of 9/11 programs the past week, I was struck by some things I had forgotten about or had never considered to begin with.

As tragic as the great loss of life was, it could have been exponentially worse. I cannot say for certain how many people worked in the WTC buildings, but according to replays of coverage from that day, it was anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000. Yet thanks to the time of day and the heroic efforts of many, the casualties were under 3,000. That is something to be grateful for.

Ten year ago, I remember people complaining the Bush waited too long to speak to the nation. However, according to the some of the replays, Bush spoke soon after the second plane hit the WTC, but before the third plane hit the Pentagon. That does not seem like a long time. But then again, maybe I am not remembering peop…

My brain hurts!

Last week, I spent three days subbing for the math teacher, who, God bless her, teaches seven different math classes a day, ranging from pretty simple fifth grade math to basic geometry and algebra.

In high school, I was good at math. I took Algebra I, II, and III; trig; and geometry, and had straight A's save for one nine weeks of geometry. I quit calculus after one day because I had seen too many people in my school wreck their GPA for that apparently difficult class. Since I was planning to teach English, I did not see the point. Once I got to college, I needed only two math classes, one of which was a great stat class. After that, I figured I would never need math again (you know, calculators and all). But, alas, I figured incorrectly.

In the fall of 1994, I was hired to teach the English classes at a business college. Because they needed to fill a period of my schedule, I ended up teaching a business math class my first quarter there. One might think with my math skills, te…

On second thought, there are probably five parts.

Well, my brake-car conundrum did not turn out as I had expected. Not surprisingly, the gurgling sound my car was making pretty much stopped after I made the appointment with my mechanic, which is precisely what happened the last time my car was making funny noises. But since I needed an oil change anyway, and my new brakes do squeal, I went ahead with my appointment.

According to a guy at my mechanic's, my brakes are fine. He said a "different" material was used on the brakes, and I am probably just not used to the sound. Although I feel good (well, better) knowing that there does not appear to be a problem with my brakes, I don't feel great knowing that I can most likely expect to hear these various sounds again. One would think with the money I spent on my brakes in June, I could expect them to be noise-free. One (i.e., I), however, would be wrong.

Worth noting is my mechanic did not charge me to try to figure out what was the wrong this time, although let me tell …

This is probably part 3 of 4

About 2.5 months ago, I wrote about my brake rip-off at Monro. Unfortunately for me, I neglected to do a follow-up post. If I had, I would have told you that I filled out an online survey about 10 days later, completely bashing my experience. The very next day, I received a call from J, the guy at the local Monro, who tried to explain himself. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say he did nothing to convince me to come back.

Around this time, my car started to make funny noises, some of which sounded like knocking. I took it to my usual mechanic, who simply tightened my caliper mounting bracket. When I asked what this was about, my mechanic asked if I had recently had brakes put on. Grr. Apparently, had my mechanic not made this fix, my brakes could have eventually fallen off. Lovely.

I called Monro that afternoon to tell J what happened. He told me if I brought the bill in, he would pay for it. Or I could have two free oil changes. I, stupidly, opted for the oi…

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

Yesterday in the 5 o'clock hour, I was happily braiding Jordan's hair. After a few minutes, we heard what sounded like firecrackers. I normally call them fireworks, but because of the popping sound I heard, I am going with firecrackers. I commented to Jordan that I wondered what sort of holiday I had forgotten about, as I could not imagine why some idiots would be setting off fireworks at the end of August. I yelled to Brian, who was making dinner in the kitchen (yes, I am very lucky my hubby cooks), if he had heard the fireworks.

He came into the room, looked at me seriously, and said those were not fireworks.

Sigh.

And, lo and behold, about 20 or so minutes later, Brian got an update on his super-smart phone that said a teenager had been shot outside of the local McDonald's. The same McDonald's I had just taken Jordan to last week. The one where we eat outside at the Play Place whenever it is nice. The one we go to at least once every other month.

Between the 18-year…

Going on 13

Jordan turned eight on Saturday. At some point, I will probably break down and write a post about my failing as a parent. But today is not that day; I want to keep it light!

Jordan's big thing on her birthday was getting her ears pierced. I do not have my ears pierced. My parents told me I had to wait until I was 12 or 13, which really made me sad at the time, as every other girl in my class had her ears pierced. However, I eventually got over that, and when I finally was old enough, I pretty much lost interest. Plus I cannot stand pain. (In my defense, I birthed my kid without drugs. That pain was awful, but yet I still fear pain and avoid it at all costs, which explains why I am 20-some years overdue for a tetanus shot. Also worth noting that I cried during my sonogram. Yes, I am strange.)

Jordan talked about getting her ears pierced back when she was four or five, but Bri and I thought she should wait until she was a little older. We did not have an exact age in mind, but I kn…

Standing up for what is right

An Indiana County (where I grew up) photographer has pretty much gone viral with the way she stood up to some high school bullies. This woman, Jen McKendrick, came across some online bullying on Facebook. When she realized that some of the bullies had scheduled their senior portraits with her, Jen took a stand and emailed the kids and their parents to tell them that she could not be their photographer because of what they did. As Jen says it, she did not want to spend several hours with people who are ugly on the inside.

Here is a link to her blog, which explains what happens in her own words. WTAE Channel 4 in Pittsburgh also featured her in a brief clip yesterday. I "liked" her Jen McKen page yesterday on Facebook, where she now has over 6,60010,500 12,500 17,000 19,000 followers, up from over 2,000 when the story first came out (I am guessing she had a few hundred, perhaps close to a thousand, followers before all this happened). It was from that FB page I learned that sh…