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Showing posts from 2012

Not really a year in review (with my memory, I'd forget too much)

For some people, 2012 was really awful. For others, 2012 brought many blessings. For me, 2012 was pretty good and mostly uneventful; there is not any one particular things that stands out for me.

I had a short-term job for almost three months. But, much like my last steady/regular job, it seems like almost a lifetime ago. I also did some freelance work for the company where I used to work, and at times, I kind of felt as if I still worked there. And of course there was subbing. I won't even venture a guess as to what 2013 has in store for me job-wise. I am, however, pretty worried about my impending 2012 tax bill. Our run of getting a nice chunk of change back and putting it toward home improvement is over, at least for this year. I just hope we (I) don't owe too much money...

I ran, swam, and did Zumba, but did not set the world on fire in any of those areas. Of course, I ran in the Race for Pace 5k and earned a third place medal (albeit several weeks after the fact), so tha…

A coin has two sides (or something like that)

Did you every notice how bad weather and holidays tend to bring out the worst in people? Sure, many come together in various, and sometimes positive, ways during those occurrences, but there are times when ugliness rears its head.

Yesterday, western Pennsylvania was hit with some fast-falling snow, which happened to land on some ice. The roads, from the pictures and videos I saw and the comments I read on Facebook, were quite dicey in most areas. Considering this weather had been forecast for several days and this is PA in late December, not the deep South, the roads should have been in better shape. But on the other hand, you can pretreat all you want; when freezing rain comes down and there are a ton of cars on the road, it is unrealistic to expect smooth-sailing. But to read and listen to the number of complaints, it was clear that many (including the hubby) fell into the former camp.

Admittedly, I was annoyed with the road conditions. Our taxes have gone up as has our house assess…

Santa Baby

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, safe, relatively stress-free, and peaceful Christmas as well as all of those adjectives for 2013, plus some prosperity for good measure.

I am getting ready to watch some Christmas specials with the kid. Once she is asleep, I will be wrapping her presents (nothing like waiting until the last minute). Then I will be heading to midnight mass, which actually starts at midnight at our church, where my voice (and the weather, for that matter) will hopefully hold out after last night's Christmas concert.

I will leave you with something I thought I would never get: a picture of my kid and Santa. It took 10 Christmases, and it will probably be her last one believing in the red-clothed guy. Just in the nick of time. Get it?! :-)

Merry Christmas!



My thoughts

I have been trying to come up with something to say about the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday. But even though I can normally "write" a coherent, meaningful post in my head, this topic has not allowed my brain to do that; my thoughts are all over the place. Even worse, this tragedy came about 12 hours after the mother of one of J's classmates died, so I was already sad. So I am pretty much just going to do a free-write, and we'll see what happens.

One of my first reactions when I read about the shooting was the schools are supposed to be a safe place. If you read my last post, which I wrote about an hour before I heard about the shootings, I said school was the one place that I did not worry about when leaving my kid. You know what, after my initial shock and sadness, I still feel that way.

I have also written about how I sometimes think about how easy it would be for a deranged person to walk into the church where I attend daily mass. What …

This isn't how it is supposed to happen

Last evening, the mother of one of J's classmates passed away. This woman had been sick for quite some time (really her daughter's entire life), and her health had recently taken a turn for the worse. However, when I had spoken to her last week and the week before, she sounded pretty good, even optimistic. To help makes things easier for the family, I was planning to take her daughter and J swimming today, and we were going to finalize the plans yesterday. Unfortunately, because this woman had gotten so sick over the past few days, my conversation with her on my birthday was the last we will ever have. Sigh.

In my opinion (and the opinion of many others) the worst thing that can happen to someone is to lose her child/ren. But a young kid should not have to lose one of her parents either. To a kid, that is the worst thing that can happen. I remember one time as a child my brothers and I were supposed to spend the weekend at my grandmother's, about an hour away, and I refuse…

As I enter my 41st year of life

I am 41 today. Pretty uneventful age compared to the big 4-0. But I am fine with that. I try to be thankful and grateful that have gotten to live 40 years already. Here's hoping I get well over another 40.

As I reflect on the first 40, I feel pretty good. I had a great childhood, full of many wonderful memories, mostly focused on spending time with my family. I went to Europe in high school, and thanks to my disdain for travel, I am okay that I will probably never return.

I had a great college experience at Penn State, where I made many friends, fell in love with hockey, and furthered my devotion to football. Oh, and I got a pretty good education. I also sang "Ave Maria" at midnight mass just after I finished my degree, which was a nice way to enter "adulthood" (that coincided with a broken heart, but I am focusing on the positive).

In my 20s I had a lot of fun hanging out, volunteering, working out, and that sort of thing. I also got my first (and second) &quo…

This could go a couple of different ways

Some of the kids in J's class have an "Elf on the Shelf." For the uninformed, an elf show up at children's houses around Thanksgiving. This guy or gal "lands" someplace and "watches" the kids to see how they act. Then at night, while the kids are sleeping, said elf "flies" back to Santa to give the big guy an update. The elf returns the next day, in another place in the house, and the Big Brother saga starts again.

I wanted no part of this. Mostly because half the time the Tooth Fairy forgets to leave money or the Easter Bunny accidentally neglects to hide the eggs (because she is so tired from the 2.5-hour Easter vigil). But perhaps even more so because it is just one more "lie" I am telling J. And if there is one the thing my kid pretty much never does it is lie. So I can only imagine how our conversation will go once she finds out the cold, hard truth. Worth noting, is I often quote lines from the Virginia letter; I like to …

Too much stuff

As the Christmas season is fully upon us (no denying it now that Turkey Day is out of the way), I am faced with dilemma of not only what to buy for others but also what to tell people to buy for me. A big part of me wishes we could completely take presents out of the equation and focus on what the season is really about (or what it should be, for us Christians). But that won't happen. And besides, I do obtain some joy in buying for others, though that good feeling mostly lies in my shopping for the giving tree at church, where I can feel reasonably secure that whoever is getting my gift wants and needs what I have bought.

But most of the rest of us? Do we really need anything? I have lamented about my being under-employed for years and how we sometimes struggle. But I know that compared to so many others, my family and I have it good. We have a roof over our heads, cars that run, closets and drawers full of clothes, food in our kitchen, a new oven to cook that food in, an HD TV (t…

For the sports fan

Today the hubby and I spent a few hours at the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Burgh. I was last there sometime between 10 and 15 years ago, and I don't remember the place as being even half the size. Before we were even about halfway finished, my feet and legs hurt!

Hubby and I went mostly for Gridiron Glory, which is where we began our tour. Unfortunately, even though only a certain number of tickets are sold for that exhibit per time slot, it was crazy crowded with people, making it difficult to see everything (I so wanted to check out the instant replay booth, but did not feel like waiting in a four-person-deep line). Regardless, the exhibit was pretty cool. I learned a few things, most of which I forget because, as has been clearly documented, my memory is like a sieve. I liked that you could touch footballs, wear shoulder pads, see how big some football players arms were, and relive many great moments. Not surprisingly, I found the Steeler-related memorabilia and an…

I'm still here, but...

I have been insanely busy the past couple of weeks. A big part of it has been dealing with my father, who lives several states away but drove up here three weeks ago for hip surgery (he's still here). Someday I will write about some of what has gone on, most of it not good due to a variety of factors. But it is a safe bet a lot of it will stay in my mind (or at least off this blog).

In any event, I do miss blogging. I miss updating you about what is going on (my kid won a contest, my kid started piano lessons, my volunteering in the after-school program has been an interesting experience, I am working on a project). I also miss having a sounding board and getting advice (family angst, two-faced people make me go grr, etc.).

But for now, I have to get back to working on that project (yeah, work!). Here's hoping I can be done and in bed before 10 p.m. because I have another full day ahead and several more after that.

Talk to ya later, peeps!

But sometimes I still like to be front and center

My last post about fading into the background is absolutely true for the vast majority of the time. Every once in awhile, however, the "old" me shows herself. Yesterday and today are two examples.

Story 1: Facie the Competitor

Some guy at the pool yesterday: You have been swimming a really long time. You must be tired after all those laps.
Me (slightly annoyed): No, I have done only 10 (which took me about 12 minutes, which is not a long time).
I swim more laps and notice the guy looking at me as I am swimming towards him.
The guy: Do you want to race me?
Me (after my jaw drops): I might swim a lot of laps, but I am not fast. I then swim away, wondering if I had traveled back in time and am at some junior high camp. I continue to swim my laps and actually consider racing him. After all, I used to be quite competitive. And I just finished about 24 laps and still have energy for more. He is of average build, closer to thin, but he keeps taking breaks after a few laps. So I am t…

I like to fade into the background

Years ago, pretty much before I had a kid and it became all about her, I embraced being the center of attention, musically speaking. In high school, I was in the musicals and plays, eventually working my way up to the leading role my senior year (Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes"). I was also in the chorus, and had a few solos here and there. And the first half of my senior year I pretty much was the alto section since most everyone else could not get the harmonies or was too shy to sing out (I jumped ship to the sopranos the last half of the year because I wanted the "easy" part).

In college I used to sing in the dorm showers, and Mariah Carey's "Vanishing" got me a tryout with a local band thanks to someone in the dorm hearing me sing. My senior year, four of us worked on an education project in which we all shared our musical talents with the class (I sang something from my favorite show, "Jesus Christ Superstar"). And after 13 years of si…

Things that make me go hmm (and infuriate me)

I have a few thoughts on my noodle today, things I just don't get.

Older kids and public restrooms
Yesterday, as I was walking out of the stall in a hospital restroom, I saw a boy who appeared to be 9- or 10-years old at the sink with a woman. I tried not to stare, and if I had been feeling better, I may have made some off-handed comment. I really, really wanted to know the woman's reasoning behind bringing a boy that old into a woman's restroom. What does she think would happen if she allowed him to go into the men's restroom while she waited outside? Most boys I know don't even wash their hands, so he probably would have been in there for only two or three minutes...

Hospitals and communications
I spent about 10 hours at the hospital today, probably about 6 hours more than I needed to. I hung out with my dad until he went into surgery around 9:40 a.m.. The woman in the waiting room told me he would probably be done in 1 to 1.5 hours, the doctor would talk to me aft…

Brain, where are you?

Last week I posted about how I thought I should still be able to run as fast as I did a few years ago; I just cannot seem to accept that I am getting older and things don't work as well/fast as they used to. But my bigger concern is just how forgetful and absent-minded I have become over the past few years. Isn't 40 a little young to be losing your mind?!

Case in point: As I was putting away groceries from the seventh circle of hell today (i.e., Walmart), I did not see my grapefruit juice carton that I had had juice from this morning in the fridge. I looked to see if I had left it on the table. I checked in the cupboard, as I have been known to put milk and juice in once or twice. I also looked to see if I put it on the baker's rack with the cereal. I even checked the garbage, even though I was quite certain the carton was still about a third full. But that juice was nowhere to be found.

About 30 minutes later, hubby comes into the kitchen as I was unloading the dishwasher…

The much shorter version

I spent chunks of time today writing a post on this morning's Race for Pace. I would add more details and then take something way. Ultimately, I ended up boring myself, which means I would probably put most of you to sleep. So here is an abbreviated post, in a list.

It was probably about 35-degrees at race time, but sunny (it was 29 degrees when I got there 45 minutes earlier).My attire of a long-sleeved t-shirt, a windbreaker, yoga pants, socks as gloves, and a knee brace (one of those flexible-stretchy things) from early this century turned out to be the right wardrobe.I was relatively pain-free the entire time (knee brace was a good call); even my feet hurt very little (though during the first mile, two of my toes were numb from the cold!)I started off strong, kept a pretty steady pace, struggled a bit near the end up the last hill, but "kicked it in" as best as I could the last tenth of a mile.Having my friend Diane there cheering me on really helped. As I was strugg…

I am not old! Right?

On Saturday, God willin' and the creek don't rise, I will be running in my first 5K in two years. I started slacking off on my running last year, pretty much all the way through the beginning of this school year. But when school started back up this year, I rededicated myself to running at least once a week, and I have done that, for the most part.

So I decided to turn this running into something that "counts" at least once this year. And since I have done the Race for Pace before, and it is only a few miles from my house, it seemed like a good race to do.

New for me this year is the age group I will be in: 40 to 44, which apparently qualifies me as a master. Huh?! What the what? Whatcha you talkin' 'bout Willis?!

To me, 40 is not old to be a runner. I see runners of all ages. Granted there are many more younger than older runners, but just looking at the results from last year's race, I noticed that 42 out of 135 males and 32 out of 100 females were 40 a…

I may have to break up with Kohl's

Over the years, Kohl's has been one of my favorite department stores. The biggest reason? It is a stand-alone store and not in a mall. Have I mentioned how much I hate malls? And shopping in general, for that matter?

Back in August, I found a nice hooded navy cardigan for J that I thought would be great for school and that she actually liked (the non-hooded version she was much less impressed with). Unfortunately, the medium (8 to 10) size barely fit her, and there was no large. But Kohl's has this neat little kiosk in its store that allows you to order the size or color of an item that is not in the store, and said item will be shipped to your house for free. And for charge customers, it could not be easier to do. You just pop your Kohl's card in, and your info is already there; you just have to touch your way to the item you want.

I ordered the large (12 to 14) hooded navy cardigan at the kiosk in about two minutes flat, and was almost excited when it arrived at my house …

I wish there was a way to make this work

In Thursday's edition of the P-G, there was this article about a former borough manager who had stolen money from Braddock, a financially strapped community just outside the city limits. This woman has been repaying her debt very little by little (in about 1.5 years' time, she has paid $30 out of the $170k) because she has had trouble finding suitable employment, thanks to her felony conviction. That dilemma was quite timely for me as just over a week ago I posted a blog about giving people (criminals) second chances. In that post, I wondered if someone had redeemed himself, should he get another chance? And I had questioned, mostly seriously, if someone could not go on to get a job after prison, then what was the point of getting out of prison.

But this woman's owing so much and paying so little was not what really struck a cord with me. Rather it was this sentence: "If she can't pay Braddock back in dollars, she should pay it in community service," Mr. Fette…

Why do they stand up there and say that when they are just lying?

That extra-long title is courtesy of my nine-year-old and was something she uttered during "Say Yes to the Dress" on Friday evening. I watch very little reality TV, but I make an exception for this show because I like to look at the dresses. And sometimes, the stories are heart-warming.

Typically at the end of the show, a snippet of a wedding is aired. In this particular show, a woman who was confined to a wheelchair was exchanging vows with her fiance. After the two of them finished, J made her comment. I asked her what she meant as I must have been on the computer while the TV was on, and she explained that because so many people just get divorced, why do they even say "as long as we both shall live"?

That is tough one, kid.

I tried with what I thought was a sound explanation: Most of the people who get married truly believe they will be together the rest of their lives, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. But if you don't think that you will be toget…

Crime and Punishment

So there was a hostage situation in the Burgh today. You can read the details here (I have not read the entire article yet). As it dragged on and before it thankfully ended peacefully, I started to think, as I have many times in crime-related situations, can you ever really "come back" from a serious crime?

I know someone who is a drug addict (once an addict, always an addict, and know that I say this without malice or condescension). This person has been in and out of jail more times than I know, starting if not before he was 18, then not many years after. Most charges were drug-related. At least one was for assault or something of that nature. And one or more were related to theft. After a particularly long stint in jail (one to two years; I forget as it has been about four or five years since), this person came out a better man. A changed man. I believed in him and that he finally had overcome this soul-crushing addiction, something he either did not want to or could not …

Are we helping or hindering?

Fourth grade, so far, has gone well for J (knock on wood, fingers crossed, thank you, God). My much more laid-back approach and the reasonable amount of homework are mostly responsible for this (so far) less stressful year. J, for the most part, does her homework without my begging or yelling. And she has been much more responsible. If she says she has no homework or knows the material for a test, I give her the benefit of the doubt. Hubby is not a fan of my mostly hands-off approach, but considering she is a motivated student who makes mostly A's, I say why not give her the chance on her own.

But, of course, eventually, a snag occurs. Three weeks into this school year, J forgot a workbook. Bri was rather disappointed. I, on the other hand, thought it was impressive she made it that long. Considering that by this time last year, she had forgotten books and/or her folder or planner at least three times, I call this progress! Regardless, J was quite upset with herself and worried ab…

What I ACTUALLY did on 9/11

On Monday, I wrote about how I was going to try to limit my 9/11 exposure. In case it was not clear, my intent was not to diminish the day or pretend it did not happen. I can guarantee I will never forget. Rather, I was concerned that perhaps I spend too much time rehashing the events and crying about them. Is it really healthy to re-watch a plane crashing into the WTC for what is probably the 100th time for me?

But, as I suspected, I did watch more TV than I wanted.

Here is how the 24-ish hours unfolded for me. Not that most of you (or probably any) care, but here goes.

Monday night, I watched snippets of a few programs on the H2 and either the History or the Smithsonian channel. One program, which centered on people who escaped, I had seen before. The other, which I cannot remember, might have been new to me. I was so tired from staying up for the Steelers game the night before, that I was asleep by 9:30, so my about one hour of 9/11 rehashing seemed pretty respectable. Before J wen…

When will I stop reliving it?

Even though tomorrow will mark the 11-year (11 years!) anniversary of 9/11, so many memories from that day are as fresh and raw as they were when the events happened. Almost every year in this blog, I talk about 9/11, typically rehashing where I was and what I was doing. But now that more than a decade has passed, I am wondering if it makes sense for me to keep going through it.

Typically, I watch an overabundance of 9/11-related programming. I caught the end of one such show over the weekend, and I am proud (for lack of a better word) that I did not watch the show that followed. I also have some plans tomorrow to keep myself from ODing on shows, though I am sure I will catch a few minutes or more here and there.

Most of the time, I don't think about 9/11, which puts me in good company with most Americans, I suppose. At other times, however, I cannot suppress it.

Last month I drove my mom and two nephews to the airport from two counties away. The flight was scheduled to leave arou…

Shouldn't we help the kids?

Last evening, I attended a meeting for an after-school program in my area. A local church hosts just under two dozen kids, from K through 4th grade, for about three hours an afternoon/evening, one day a week. These kids will get a snack, help with homework, some recreation, arts and crafts, and dinner. All for $.50 per week.

Some of these kids don't have much of a home life. And a number struggle with school. For some kids, this will be their only "home-cooked" meal of the week. For these reasons, I think the program is absolutely wonderful, and I commend the church (not mine or my religion) for putting it on.

I am not sure how this will go for me, my kid (who has to go with me and does not want to), the other kids, or the other volunteers. But considering that many of the volunteers I met last night have done this for years, they must believe in the program and want to make a difference.

And so do I.

As I continue to question what I should be doing with my life, even th…

A week of repairs

I am sitting here waiting for the oven repair guy (or gal) to show up. Earlier this year, our oven, which looked brand new when we bought the house 10.5 years ago but was probably several years old, would randomly shut off during baking. Fortunately, if we turned it back on, it was fine, so we chose to ride it out. Then, a few weeks later, it would not light/start (whatever happens with a gas oven). So hubby scheduled a repair and mentioned only that the oven would no longer light/turn on. The repair guy fixed that, but within a day or two, the oven would shut off again. Since hubby failed to mention the randomly turning off issue, we knew we would have to pay for another appointment, so we, once again, ignored the problem. Unfortunately, it has gotten worse, and the oven hardly stays on now. And that is why I am waiting for the repair person and hoping beyond hope it won't set us back more than $150. Wall ovens are not cheap to replace!

But wait, there's more. Back in July, m…

One week down

J survived her first week of fourth grade at her kind-of-new school (two other schools merged with hers). And I survived a week of lunch duty, which I can now smile about.

Change is hard for most of us (I am looking right at you, self!). And when many people have to do something completely different, with dozens upon dozens of new faces, in a place they are not used to, well, you should not expect sunshine and lollipops. At least not every day.

After my first day of lunch duty this week, I wanted to cry. It was chaotic at times. There are 140 more students than there were last year, and of those students, probably 160 are new to me. So I cannot call many of them by name to get their attention or correct them. In the case of the last lunch (there are three), I have no idea who is in what grade since they can sit wherever they want, which means I often don't know if the correct kids are heading out to recess (we call them a grade at a time).

Throughout this week, I saw some kids sit…