Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's becoming too common

For the second Sunday in three, during the "Prayers of the Faithful" at mass, we prayed for victims of something. Two weeks ago, it was the Paris attack. Today it was for the shooting in San Bernadino. Each time, I find my eyes welling with tears.

When will it stop? Pretty sure not in my lifetime, unfortunately.

As with so many other arguments, I get both sides of the gun debate. But at this point, shouldn't we at least try to have stricter gun control? A gun can kill. I don't think it should be a big deal if someone has to wait in line for a couple of hours, take some tests (like a driver's license), and have their background looked into. As I write this, I think it is pretty clear that I have no idea what is involved in getting a gun. I realize my suggestion would make buying a gun at a gun show a little challenging and maybe impossible, but whatever we are doing now is not working.

I also don't understand (and I have said this before, in this very blog) why people need to have assault weapons. If you want a handgun or a rifle for protection or because you like to hunt, fine. But why does some regular Joe or regular Jane need a semiautomatic weapon? Again, I realize I don't know much about guns, and maybe someone will come here and explain to me the different types and why I might want one of those guns.

I admit, I am scared of guns. I have no desire to hold one. I most definitely do not want to use one. And no one will ever get me to their side of the argument that says "if one person would have had a gun on his person, he could have shot the mass shooter." Maybe that regular Joe could have stopped a shooter in that situation, but innocent people could also be shot by the regular Joe. The police could shoot the regular Joe, not realizing he is trying to stop the shooter. There are so many variables. Advocating for teachers in classrooms and students on campus to carry concealed weapons is so scary a thought to me. But, at the same time, I am pretty sure that every week I am in the presence of someone who is legally packing heat, and, so far, nothing has happened.

Someone said this so much better than I can or will. But the larger problem is that something is so wrong with someone who shoots multiple people, particularly in a more public setting. I can understand (though I am certain I would never do it) someone who shoots someone else in anger. But to actually plan for an attack, carry it out, and keep shooting (or stabbing) multiple people? There is something so broken in that person. That is scary. How do we solve that?

Friday, November 20, 2015

The well-written post (in my head)

I wrote a pretty good post in my head the other day. I have been going back and forth about the whole ISIS-Syrian refugee thing, and I thought I had finally landed in one place. But that gem went right out of my head, as do so many other thoughts, sadly.

So I am just going to bullet point things as they come to my mind, in no particular order.
  • My grandmother was Syrian (my dad was adopted); she came here with her parents when she was 2. I grew up with many Syrian relatives, though at the time I did not think of them in terms of their ethnicity. I also very much like what is considered a Mediterranean takeout place in my hood. The owner is Syrian. I like to pretend I am hanging out with my long-gone great aunts and uncles when I am there. I just wish he made kibbeh the same way Grandma did. I can't seem to find that anywhere. Sorry, but not sorry, but I can't hate Syrians (or anyone). 
  • I have a good friend who is Muslim. I won't hate those people either (or anyone).
  • I do, however, get that people are scared of terrorists bombing, shooting, etc. Some days I worry. Most days I don't. I have become quite desensitized thanks to my spending way too much time on FB and reading too many posts.
  • And I can also get people who are skeptical of people who fall under the above category. I try not to be that way. But when I drive home in the evenings through Homewood, one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, I get a little nervous when I see people who "look suspicious" (which is often anyone other than a woman or child). And if I see a guy with a pit bull, I definitely worry (which is sad because our dog Sadie was a pit bull).
  • I don't think people should denigrate those who are afraid. The fear seems legitimate. As long as it does not cross into hatred.
  • I am for some type of screening for refugees. I don't think you should let anyone come into your country. 
  • That said, I fully realize that just because you screen someone that does not mean that person won't do bad things. But that also does not mean we should not try. I feel a similar way about gun control. It seems that the "bad guys" often seem to slip through the cracks (often by stealing weapons). But I still think we need to make it tough to get a gun. 
  • I read a post today about the screening process. If I find it, I will link it. Not easy at all. 
  • My heart breaks when I read stories about refugees who have suffered horrifically in their home countries and on their way out (e.g., HONY). It is hard not to feel compassion. I don't want to turn those people away.
  • But I also understand the people who complain that so many people here, including vets, are homeless. It is hard to justify letting more people in when we have many right here, right now who are sleeping on the streets or, at the very least, are well below the poverty line.
  • I am pro-life in every sense of the word. I don't support abortion, the death penalty, or killing in wars. But I understand people who do support any and all of those things. There are legitimate arguments. I can, at the very least, accept that a terrorist might have to die. You cannot negotiate with those people. It is the collateral damage that bothers me. Immensely.
I don't think there is any easy answer for any of these. But I do wish that people in general would stop being so negative and cutting down the other side. How does that help? And I also wish for compassion and kindness. Those things can really go a long way. I would rather show kindness and compassion to others, even if it turns out that a few of those people did not deserve it. That seems so much better than hating and treating others with contempt, especially when so few people deserve that.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Time

Lately, I feel as if time is flying by. Going at warp speed. Days, weeks, sometimes even months seem to come and go. I am reminded of what an acquaintance said to me at a PSU event a couple of years ago about having a child: "The first 12 years don't go so fast. But the next 12 years fly by." Those were not his exact words, and I don't recall the number of years he was referring to. But his point was that once your kid is a teen (or thereabouts), watch out.

I have really noticed it the past year. I sometimes look at my kid, who is now almost 5'3" and in 7th grade, and I wonder how she became this preteen. Where is the little girl who begged me to play Barbies and babies with her all the time? Where is the girl whom I had to check her homework every night? Where is the girl that I had to help dress, give a bath to, brush her hair, etc. Where is my little preschooler who would say, "This is my best friend mommy"?

Now, I apparently know next to nothing. J certainly reminds of how I "must be deaf" pretty often. I am no longer her go-to person when she is not sure what to wear. The vast majority of the time she would rather play on her ipad and text her friends.

I get why people have several kids. I still regret, pretty much weekly, that I had just one. But it is becoming more and more obvious why people keep procreating. When I saw young kids in Home Depot today building something for the kid's workshop, I thought, my child will never do that again. I had to walk away, I was so sad.

My child will never be excited for Santa or the Easter Bunny the way she was for so many year.

This year was the first year we did not go the pumpkin patch. I hate it!

Time, please slow down. And if you wanted to dial back a few years, that would be fine by me.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

My happy place

My friend Mel wrote a post that resonated with me. I must take a trip back over there and comment on it. Because I so get it. I am a fretter (and, spell-check, I don't care if you don't think that is a word). I worry. I ponder. I worry some more. I often wait for the other shoe to drop, as she said.

But even though sometimes anxiety gets the best of me, I still continue to be a fairly optimistic person. I try to see the bright side. I count my blessings often. I take pleasure in little things, and I take pleasure in meaningless things. But whatever puts a smile on your face, so long as it is not a detriment to yourself and others, well, it can't be all that bad.

As I have posted about a handful of times, Phipps is my happy place. As I have also said a number of times, it was the best $75 I spent almost two years ago, and was again one of the best uses of $75 this past January (or maybe December) when I renewed.

I purchased a dual membership, which has allowed me to take several coworkers, my mom, my daughter, and a few friends. I tend to go about once every other month; I should go every month, considering I can walk there from work in about 12 minutes, have time to do a quick spin, and still get back to work having spent only a lunch hour.

My mom was in town for a quick visit this weekend. I took her to the Fall Flower Show, and it was, as usual, beautiful. Calming. Lovely. Tranquil. Awe-inspiring. Vibrant. It is my happy place.

The show runs for only another couple of weeks, but it is a nice one. I took about 20 pictures, and posted some below. I will probably go back one more time before the show ends. If you can't make it, enjoy these.

The East Room is my favorite room; nothing spectacular here; just nice

The water displays are one of my favorites in the Victoria Room

Just a cool-looking plant in one of the rooms



The Broderie Room (I wish you could walk among the paths)

The Desert Room is the least interesting to me, but that day I noticed, for the first time, a Joshua Tree

Rooftop Edible Garden

Sunken Gardens


Serpentine Room

Serpentine Room



Saturday, October 10, 2015

This will not be a draft!

For not the first, second, or third time, I have started a blog post and never finished it. In fact, since I have started this blog, I have begun 42 blog posts that I never completed. Probably half of them were pretty well formed, but either I could not pull the trigger (I felt I was sharing too much) or I just could not bring myself to finish it, for various reasons, including time, forgetfulness, or boredom with the subject.

This will not be draft 43!

As I have lamented here a couple of times in the past few years, I miss writing a regular blog post. It was therapeutic to get things out there, because I am fond of myself (mostly), I like sharing my opinion, and it was (or will be) great for my less-than-stellar memory. But I just don't have too many worthwhile things to say anymore. Mostly because I lead a pretty boring life. But also because I vacillate about too many things, which comes from being a liberal republican, if there is such a thing.

A few things have been weighing on my mind, and I don't have the energy or organized thought process to devote any length to them, so I will just bullet-point them and throw together a few sentences about each.

  • I have followed Humans of New York for a few months now. I think it is very heart-wrenching to think about what some of these people have gone through. I don't know what the answer is to help these people, and, yes, some refugees (or maybe just the people spilling into other countries) may be "bad" people. But if you read their stories, if you have any compassion, I don't know how it cannot affect you and, quite frankly, make you sad about the state of the world.
  • I have a lot of anxiety about where my kid is going to go to high school. We now have less than two years to figure it out, and it scares me. Our own school district is not an option. Unless something short of a bag of money falls into our laps, Catholic high school is not an option either ($12,500 per year is insane, IMO). Selling our house and not losing money seems unlikely, and with both of our tenuous job situations, I don't think we can go that route. So I worry.
  •  Most of the time, I just don't get people. I realize we are all not meant to get along with everyone; we gel with different people, due mostly to interests, values, and personalities. But as naive as it sounds, I don't know why there has to be so much negativity, unfriendliness, self-absorption, and just a lack of compassion or empathy. I try to get along with everyone. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try not to waste my energy on hate, anger, and resentment. And I am successful a lot (not all!) of the time. I wish more people could see the merits in that. You know, because life is short. And, as Don Henley sang, "If you keep carrying all the anger, it will eat you up inside."
That is all.
 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Nursing mothers? Chain yo-selves to your babies!

I rarely comment on news articles on Facebook. Mostly, I just don't want my name to be out there (hello, Google search). Partly, I just don't want to get into it with people. But yesterday, the P-G published an article about moms wanting a facility for nursing mothers at Heinz Field. And I simply could not stop myself from commenting. (But only once. At least so far.)

I was surprised (though I am not sure why) many of the comments were in the vein of "be a parent and stay home" or "you women want everything." Apparently most commenters did not bother to read the article, which was about nursing mothers who want to breastfeed or pump. Honestly, I don't think it is terribly appropriate to take a baby to a Steelers game. People can get wild and loud. Profanities abound, and sometimes rough behavior ensues. But if that is what someone wants to do, I certainly won't criticize them. At least not on FB.

But I was nursing mom for about a year. When J was about 2.5 months old, I went to a Steelers game. Prior to her birth, I attended the vast majority of the games, as my family was season ticket holders. But once I had a child, my priorities changed (as well as my bank account), and there went my regular attendance. In any event, right around the time I went back to work (which meant I would be without my nursing baby for almost 10 hours a day), I decided I was ready to go to a game. In case you do not know much about nursing, let me enlighten you: When you first nurse a child, you cannot go more than a few hours without either nursing your baby, or pumping. Knowing this, I took my portable pump with me to Heinz Field and off I went.

When I had to open my coat and empty my pockets, I had to tell the security guy that I had a breast pump. That kind of freaked the guy out, and I was given the green light to go in without the guy more than glancing at my apparatus. Once I made it inside, I must have asked someone where I could pump when it was time (I don't remember this), and at some point during the game, I was in a private bathroom (I don't remember exactly where this was either, but I am thinking it was a first-aid station based on the article, although it could have been a private handicapped restroom). When I was done pumping, I dumped the milk, because I just did not have a place to store it.

According to some jagoffs (a number of them women, no less), I should have stayed at home. Yes, because once you have a child, you should never be allowed to leave the house. Not sure how one goes back to work that way, but okay. Others wondered why the women could not go a couple of hours. Apparently those people have never been to a Steelers game.

You don't leave your house 15 minutes before the game starts and arrive home 10 minutes after the clock expires (unless you live in walking distance of the stadium and arrive late or leave early). There is a little thing called traffic, followed by another annoyance of parking, which is then proceeded by walking to the stadium, and finally long lines at the gate, due in no small part to being searched at the gate. Then you have the actual game, which is about 3 hours. When that is done, throw in the the time it takes to exit the stadium, find your way back to your car (which could be a couple miles away), and then head back into traffic. For a typical 1 p.m. (non-tailgating) game, I leave my house around 11:30, and I get home around 5 p.m., thanks to the aforementioned time-takers. Show me the nursing mother of a few-month-old baby who can go 5.5 hours without pumping, and I will be amazed.

Some commenters asked why a woman would not just pump or nurse at her seat. I went to a game in November. I had a thick coat on, which just is not conducive to pumping (or nursing). And as uncomfortable as some people are about various, natural things, I am sure I would have freaked some people out if I whipped out my breast, attached it to a pump, and then starting pumping (which, again, would be quite challenging with several layers).

If you have been to a women's restroom at a Steelers game, you know they are crowded. I am sure there would be mutiny if a woman went into a stall for 10 minutes to pump (longer if you have a travel pump and can do only one breast at a time). Plus, those places are gross. Even if you dump out the milk, those stalls are cramped, and there is typically pee everywhere. It just does not work.

So, I don't think it is unreasonable for women to want a place to pump or nurse. I doubt there would be dozens of women clamoring for this at any given game. And maybe doing what I did is the answer (perhaps people did not think to ask). But to criticize women for wanting (no, needing) to pump? C'mon, people. Get a grip!



Friday, August 28, 2015

Moving On

If you follow pro-football, and especially if you follow the Steelers, you know all about the brouhaha surrounding the Steelers' signing of Michael Vick. People have threatened to boycott the games and burn their jerseys. I have no doubt some have and some will. Animal Rescue League, an organization that I financially support yearly, really made a statement when they pulled out of having their gala at Heinz Field, after first having removed all Steelers-related auction items from the event.

I get why they did it, though, to be fair, the Steelers don't own Heinz Field. And there are plenty of other players on the team who seem to be decent. But as for the rest of us? Well, for sure we can all choose to support or not support a team for whatever reason. But personally, I think some people are taking it a bit too far.

Michael Vick did a terrible thing. [He pled guilty to bankrolling a dog fighting enterprise and participating in every aspect of it, including killing dogs that refused to fight. He was sentenced to two years in prison, and eventually declared bankruptcy.] I think very little of him for that. No, I think nothing of people who are involved in dog fighting or animal abuse in any way, shape, or form. I would never want to be friends with that kind of person. If I were single, I would never date someone like that. Just as I would never date or want to associate with someone who had abused women or children.

But here's the thing: Michael Vick went to prison. He made (some) restitution. He has done speaking engagements against dog fighting. He has donated money to animal charities. He is trying to move on from the very terrible things he did. He is or at least was good at football. He was suspended. And now he is not (and has not been for several years). So don't buy his jersey. Don't cheer for him if you don't want to. But can't the man go on to make a living and live his life? Do the rest of the Steelers have to suffer because of what he did (and I realize probably none of the Steelers are "suffering" because of this)?

Again, what he did was awful. Inexcusable. One of the worse things you can do (next to doing the same thing to humans). My beloved Sadie was a pit bull mix who had scars on her face. Not sure if she was abused by a person or got into fights with dogs, but either way, I feel very strongly about pit bulls and dog fighting.

But if we forever crucify people who have done their time, then why even let them out of prison or make a living? Let's just keep everyone locked up forever. The 18-year-old black kid who shoplifted and beat up a store owner? Nope, sorry, no second chances for you. Even if you go to prison and repent. Forget it. You should not be able to hold a job. People should boo you whenever you walk by. The 24-year-old white woman who abused drugs for years, including selling them to teenagers, some of who probably OD'd? Well, you may have been clean for a few years and have gotten your life back on track by speaking to youth, but, no, we should forever scorn and hate you. Because no one can change. No one deserves forgiveness. No one should ever be able to move on from anything. Right?!

I know I am comparing apples to oranges, but, hey, both are fruit! The point is, is that people deserve second chances. Sometimes even third chances, particularly if you have done your time. And I have never been down with punishing or hating an entire team, college, town, etc., for the acts of one or a few. It makes so little sense. Even PETA had this to say: “As long as he’s throwing a football and not electrocuting a dog, PETA is pleased he is focused on his game.”

If I go to a Steelers game, I won't cheer Vick. But I can assure you I won't boo him. And I sure won't stop being a fan.

Moving on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It was a good weekend.

This weekend, I got about 8 hours of sleep two nights in a row. That surpassed the number of nights I got 8 hours of sleep the previous 20 days. I have not slept well this month of August. Between work stress and my mom moving, and throwing in anxiety about my kid starting 7th grade and worrying about various things around that, sleep is elusive.

But I don't want to dwell on that. I want to just acknowledge the weekend for what it was. It was busy at times.

But it was a good weekend.

I slept.

I had some Blue Moons. I liked the cinnamon one; I was not fond of the spiced chai one.

I cut three weeks' worth of coupons.

I cleaned the bathtub well (every 2-3 weeks, I give it a deep scrubbing/cleaning; the other weeks it gets a perfunctory wipe-off).

I went through my credit card receipts.

I watched some TV with the kid.

I slept.

I spent some time with the hubby, just hanging out.

I walked the dog, and I ran the dog.

I lifted weights.

I went with J to a friend's house (the mom wanted to meet me, which I support; J has another good friend whom I have driven somewhere twice, and I have yet to meet the mom, which I find odd).

I finished school supply shopping (I think). I got a great deal on a sketch pad, which made up for my making a trip to Kmart yesterday thinking the filler paper was $.25 (that started today).

We had the hub's mom over to celebrate J's birthday, and we had a DQ Blizzard cake (chocolate chip cookie dough).

I slept.

I did some laundry (not fun, but necessary).

I "balanced" my checkbook (i.e., I used to online banking to write down everything I forgot about into my checkbook).

I talked to both brothers and my mother this weekend. And so far I am doing okay with my mom being so far away.

I had a delicious dinner (shrimp, garden peppers over pasta that hubby made).

And I slept.

I have a feeling most of what I wrote above would not have matter so much had I not finally gotten the sleep I so needed. But, as my post title says, it was a good weekend. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Yep, Verizon has officially made my blood boil! [with an update that makes me hate Verizon slightly less]

On Thursday evening, the first day of "The Verizon Plan," the kid and I walked into a local Verizon store ready to make my soon-to-be 7th grader a smartphone owner. A woman greeted us, and I proceeded to tell her exactly what we wanted:
  • the new plan for two smartphones for $20 each monthly
  • one new smartphone for my kid, a Galaxy Core Prime, which I wanted to pay for outright
  • 1 gig of shared data for $30 monthly
Nicole mentioned a cool phone case she had, and I told her we would look at it, but we had already found something on Amazon we liked. Then she went to the back to get the stuff.

After a few minutes, Nicole returned with the phone, a case, and a cover, and explained the plan she recommended, which contained 3 gig. I said that I had yet to use 1 gig in any given month, and my child would be using wifi only at home, so there was no need to spend the additional money ($30 versus $45, not including the 20% off the bigger plan with my Pitt discount). She then mentioned the $7/month phone payment plan, and I told her, again, we would be paying for the phone outright. She kind of looked at me as if I were crazy, but I said it was a gift for my kid, and I just wanted to pay for it now. [FYI: The payment plan is not a bad deal; there is no interest for those 24 months.] The case/cover she brought out was about $40, so we declined, knowing the fancy one J wanted was about $6 on Amazon, and highly rated.

Once she started checking us out, I said to Nicole that I did not think I would still get my 20 percent monthly Pitt discount, since our plan was only $30 (I read it had to be $35), but she said that I still would. So that was great news. And not even 10 minutes later, we were out of there.

Unfortunately, later that evening, I logged into Verizon, and discovered two highly irritating things:
  1. There was a $40 activiation fee that Nicole failed to mention.
  2. I was not, in fact, going to get that 20 percent discount.
The next day I called Verizon Wireless to complain. I told the woman I spoke with that there is nothing on Verizon's site about the fee on the FAQs, at least where you would expect it. I also said that CNN Money wrote an online article saying there was no activation fee. I then told her it is sad that I knew more than the salesperson regarding the discount. The woman was quite apologetic, and she ended up knocking off $15 from the fee. I felt better, but I still was not happy.

Later that day, J received a text from the Verizon store wanting to be sure we were 100 percent satisfied. I texted back, explaining we were absolutely not satisfied, and explained why. Today, J received a text back, and Nicole called my phone a short time later. She also was apologetic for not knowing about the activiation fee or that I could not get the discount. She said we were there the first day of the plan, and they were still learning about it. She then said she had good news. She could up me to the 3 gig plan, and I would pay only $1 more a month. I was still pretty sure I would not need the extra 2 gigs, but for $1, I said sure. I also said I would be happier if I did not have to pay the fee. But she did not offer me any discounts.

About 30 minutes later, I logged back into Verizon, and discovered that my new 3 gig plan was $36 (45 less 20 percent). $36 is not $1 more than $30 I was paying for 1 gig. I was so incensed. So I called Nicole back, and left a curt message, saying just that. A short while later, she texted me back saying she would switch my plan back.

She offered no apology whatsoever. Sigh.

I always thought Verizon had decent customer service, despite what others said. I now have a completely different picture of Verizon.

I would highly discourage anyone from switching to Verizon. I am going to check out AT&T. If they have a similar plan, I may bail. But if I have to pay an activation fee there, I guess I will stick with Verizon, though I will continue to loathe them.

I also intend to call Verizon on Monday to complain again.

Not cool, Verizon. Not cool at all. How sad is it when a customer knows more about your plans than you do, and it is even sadder when one of your people errs not once, but twice, and nothing is done.

UPDATE: As soon as I finished this blog post, I received an email linking me to a Verizon satisfaction survey. Verizon could not have had worse timing with that. You better believe I nailed them, and in great detail. Within an hour or so, I received a call from the store manager and then a text about an hour after that. He said he was completely unaware of what happened. He apologized, and he agreed to drop the $40 fee. Equally as important, he said he talked to Nicole. I would feel bad if she got in trouble, but after her second screw up, that cannot go unnoticed. He asked if there was anything else he could do. I had half a mind to say, "How about an iPhone 5S for half off," but honestly if this never happens again to anyone else, then that is worth something. I certainly won't get back my hours of complaining, blogging, checking Verizon's site, filling out the scathing survey, and talking to various people. But I do feel a lot better. I still don't love Verizon, but I am willing to forgive them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Decisions, decisions

J will be 12 in just over a week. We decided now was a good time to get her a cell phone. The vast majority of kids in her class have a phone; some have had one for years. J never needed one until this past school year, when she joined the drama club, which sometimes resulted in play practices being cancelled, added, or ending early or late. During those occasions, she had to borrow someone else's phone, which was not so convenient, to text the hubby, who, like many of us, hates to answer his phone for a number he does not recognize.

What solidified the decision was last month, when J spent a week at a Carnegie Museum day camp. I signed her up as a self-sign out, which meant, as the name suggests, that she could sign herself out each day, rather than wait for me. I had no intention of her actually doing that, but I figured if I ever ran late getting there (I was a 5-minute drive or a 9-minute walk), then I could just meet her at the entrance. Unfortunately, her very first day there, 6.5 hours after I left an extremely nervous child, I got stuck outside of the parking lot on my way to pick her up. There was a malfunction in the gate, and I did not get to a parking space until 10 minutes after sign-out. I was panicking like crazy the entire time, wondering if she would be sitting by herself somewhere. When I finally got out of my car, she was, in fact, standing alone, but, fortunately, she was quite cheerful. Still, the thought of my baby being outside in the city alone was quite unsettling. I very much regretted that she did not have a phone at that point.

So I have spent quite a few hours in the past week researching options. Having been with Verizon for most of the past 20 years, I have not really looked into anything else in a long time (lazy!). But when you are about to incur an additional monthly expense, and neither your nor your hubby's pay is going up, well, you should put some thought into it.

What I have found is that you can expect to pay around $30 to $40 per month for unlimited text and talk and some data. In many cases, it pays to have multiple people on the plan. I really, stupidly, thought I could add J onto my Verizon plan and pay only another $15 to $20 per months, but, alas, that is not the case. I get a 20 percent discount through work, but that is now on the data, not the phone lines, and data is the thing I don't need a lot of. In fact, after over 2 years on my current plan, I have yet to hit 1 gig in any month. J understands this phone is to be used for texing and talking primarily; data will only be used when she is home using the wifi. So getting a plan with a lot of data is just wasting money.

Fortunately, because I am indecisive and throw out many things to my FB friends, I took that route to ask for people's wireless experiences. A friend posted that Verizon is changing its plans this coming Thursday. That was surprising to me, as I had just read last week that they were going to a non-contract model. But this new plan/deal is actually pretty good. For $50 a month, a person can have unlimited text and talk plus a gig of data ($20 for the phone and $30 or the data). You can add another phone for another $20. Right now, I pay about $67 (with my discount) plus taxes to get 450 minutes of talking (and unlimited mobile-to-mobile), 250 texts, and 2 gigs of data. If I go with this plan, I will pay just $3 more to add my kid (but I lose a gig of data). I don't get the discount on data since I would be going with the smallest plan, but, still, you can't really beat that. I will, however, have to buy J a phone, so there is that additional expense. But one I feel okay about.

However, as I said on FB, I would not be surprised to find out that I really can't do this; the article the friend forwarded to me said, "Current customers can keep their existing plan or move to the new plan, with some restrictions." Hopefully the V-chat transcript I printed out from today will be the "proof" I need when I walk into the store later this week and a salesperson tries to tell me I can't do this.

Stay tuned. Here's hoping my next post sings Verizon's praises.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Déjà vu

I have pretty much never written about work. At least not in detail. Not this job. Not my last job; well, until I was let go. And then I wrote about it afterwards. I still think my good-bye email to the office was one of my best pieces of writing to date.

Things at work have been slow. That is pretty typical for the summer. And we work pretty hard throughout the year, so it is not altogether unpleasant to be slow (though I prefer to be busy), particularly when we get out .5 to 1.5 hours early most Fridays. But things were becoming unnervingly slow. We did not have many contracts on the horizon. Then we heard about people (the people whose work we do) leaving. First it was one person. Then another. When we got to the fourth and fifth, I was downright panicking.

And then last week, we were told about a mandatory, full company meeting on Monday (yesterday). I did not like the sound of that. Not one bit. I felt very uneasy the entire weekend. The only reason I was not in a full-on panic was because I spent most of the weekend helping my mother pack up her things so she can move back to TX this week. Again. That makes me sad, and it will become another post someday soon. But fortunately dealing with that helped keep my mind off work and the feeling of impending doom.

On my way to work on Monday, I heard Green Day's "Time of Your Life." I heard that same song on my last day at my last job (the one I was laid off from). I almost threw up in the car at that point.

When I got to work, my stomach felt no better. Five of us who are pretty friendly at work spent the 2.5 hours until the meeting speculating. Then the meeting came. It ended up not being what I expected. It was mostly worse, but no one was let go on the spot, so there was that! I won't go into details, partly because some of it is unsettled/unofficial and partly because I just don't do that on here. But throughout the very uncomfortable meeting, my friends/coworkers and I exchanged various looks, ranging from panic, fear, and annoyance.

When the meeting was over, five of us headed to lunch, convinced we were not going to be employed for too much longer. Lunch was kind of a blur. Many cuss words were flying. I was responsible for 2/3 of them, I am sure. We tried to figure who of us would stay and who would go and what we would do. A few of us decided we had to talk to the boss. We hated to jump to conclusions, but the imminent ending of our jobs seemed soon.

I emailed the boss as soon as I returned, and she said she could see me right away. I told her I needed to understand what was going to happen. I said I liked working there, that I think I did a really good job, that it was a good fit, that I worked hard, etc., but I needed an idea of what the near future would hold. Much to my surprise, she said my job was safe through the end of the fiscal year (about 10.5 months away) and hopefully longer. She could not guarantee anything (who can), but she seemed confident that my days were not numbered (well, at least not in days and weeks, anyway). I asked her a few more thing and she gave me mostly reassuring answers. But the big takeaway is that I still have a job. Just 15 minutes prior to that meeting, I figured I was heading back to teaching (subbing) come the start of school.

Unfortunately, not all of my coworkers were so lucky. A good friend's job is ending at the end of the month. So is the job of another. A few people have not shared what their fate is.

I was worried since I was the last one hired for my position (there are five of us who do what I do). But since I work on my team solo, unlike the other four people, that ended up being a great advantage. I never would have thought it would come to that. But I am glad and relieved. And, I also like to think it is because someone (or someones) recognizes what I bring to the job. I know when I told the fellow I work with that I was staying, she was about as happy as I was. It is nice to be appreciated.

I don't know what the future holds. I can't say where I will be in a year. I may not even be at the same place in six months. But I can be cautiously optimistic. I sure would love not to have to pay for my kid's college...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I like it here in the land of sunshine and lollipops

When you have a baby, you are (usually) convinced it can never get more challenging than it seems at the beginning. The sleepless nights. The worries that something is wrong with your kid. The anxiety that she will stop breathing in the middle of the night. I certainly felt that way the first few months or even years with J.

At some point, though, even when things continued to become challenging in different ways, somewhere deep down I knew things were going to get a lot harder. I knew that eventually my little kid would grow up and have bigger issues. After all, my mom was fond of saying, "Little kids, little problems; bigger kids, bigger problems."

As my baby grew into a preteen, there was the stress of grades. Too much homework. Trouble with girls ignoring her. The disappointment of a boy not liking her. Now that she is entering 7th grade, I know that in addition to those challenges, all the "big" scary things are not too far away.

Recently on FB, I wrote about how I was surprised a family comedy from the mid '90s showed 7th graders thinking that other 7th graders had sex (they did not actually). A few friends told me that, yes, it does happen (and I am sure they were laughing at how naive I am). Knowing my child as well as I do, I think I can safely say it won't happen to her that young. But I am also not fool enough to think I can feel this safe for years on end. After all, I saw some 8th graders making out at the school dance a couple of months ago. Lord knows what else goes on!

The same with drinking and drugs. I am 99 percent sure that when I was in Catholic school (through 8th grade) only one person drank. It just never occurred to most of us. I think the same is true for most of the kids in J's class. But, again, I am sure some kids in the school do drink. And I know the kids who start 7th grade sure as hell won't be the same kids leaving 7th grade.

Then there is my biggest fear of all: drugs. I have a 30-something cousin who has been off and on drugs for 20 years. I have seen him strung out. I have seen circles under his eyes that were so black, that I can never get the picture out of my head (10 years later). I have read about him in the paper. I have seen him connected to tubes and machines in intensive care. I have heard a nurse tell me that his heart stopped and he did chest compressions to save him (spoiler alert: paddles are not really/so much used like you see on TV). But I have also seen him fight his way back to sobriety. I am writing here, for the very first time, that I don't have a lot of faith that he will ultimately win. I put his chances of "complete recover" at about 5 to 10 percent. But not 0 percent. 

I like to think that J, who has never seen said cousin at his worst, but knows a little about what has happened to him, will keep his life in her thoughts the first time someone offers her a drug. Even marijuana (which is still not legal in PA, and certainly not legal for a minor). But who among us does not know someone who complained bitterly as a child about her parent smoking who now smokes a half pack a day?

I know I have a little time to enjoy the innocence. A lot of parent lost that when their children were much younger.

So I am going to continue embracing the land of sunshine and lollipops for as long as I can. I am going to be glad my child has never kissed a boy (though sad for her that she has never had a "boyfriend" by grade school standards). I am going to thank the Lord and my lucky stars that drinking at this young age seems ludicrous to her. I am going to be glad that she is not on FB and Instagram (though at almost 12 and with most of her classmates having been on there for years, I might give in to the latter.). And I am going to try to be less annoyed when she gets mad at me when I cuss, because it reminds me of how innocent she still is.

Because before too long, those bigger-kid, much bigger problems will probably surface with a vengeance.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A lot of times I suck at living in the moment.

Well, maybe my title is not entirely accurate. I mean, I can find joy in little things. I don't need to be part of something that is big and spectacular. But yet I sometimes (maybe closer to often) find myself becoming sad because those little moments are going to end, and I focus more on the loss (and trying to capture the moments).

A few hours ago, we returned home from a week at OC MD. When we went last year, we stayed only four nights, and I honestly thought we would not be back for years. But one year later, there we were, and staying longer to boot.

Yet during the last couple of days, which would be more days than we had last year, I found myself almost panicking. I felt as if I had to grab a hold of the final days and fill them with as much beach and ocean as I could. I kept worrying that we were not doing enough things or that I was going to regret doing nothing.

Thursday was the first bad weather day we had. Before the storm came, I managed to get a run in on the beach around 8 a.m. (something that is on my mental list of must-do things). But within an hour, rain came like crazy and kept going for hours. A little after 1 p.m., when the rain had finally stopped, I decided to head out into the gray skies. I did not care that weather.com said there was a 100 percent chance of rain at 2 p.m. I was going crazy in the house just watching TV.

I first headed to get a milkshake (I had gone several days without sweets at that point; it was amazing I was not going through some kind of withdrawal). Then I sloshed through some flooded streets (where I, of course, took pictures), and I found myself at a park. I spent some time wandering around that and taking a bunch of pictures of the waterways and ducks, before I eventually headed back to the place. By then weather.com decided there was now only a 20 percent chance of rain, and by the time I got home, the rain seemed to be gone for the day. I managed to beg my child, who by that time was almost sick of the beach, to go to the ocean with me (our place was on the bayside and about a 7-minute walk to the ocean). We ended up being only 2 of about 10 people there. It was quite chilly, very overcast, and we lasted only about 15 minutes. But I just had to make it to the beach. And I just had to take some pictures.

The next day, even though I had gone running the previous day, I figured I would get another one in, this time, by the bay. Soon after that, a friend from college/high school came down, and we spent about 3.5 hours at the beach. I was getting burnt and hot, but knowing that was our last full day, I soldiered on. We ate a late lunch at a restaurant on the bay, where I had a crab cake sandwich (two more things I could "check off" from my must-do list) and where I preceded to get more burnt. Then she and her son dropped me back to our place, and I hung out with my family. Where I proceeded to go stir crazy watching TV for almost two hours.

I once again managed to convince the kid to go back to beach, because this was our last night. It turned out to be a good decision. We ended up catching the end of a beach wedding, where, of course, I cried for two complete strangers. Then we walked around the edge of the ocean, I took a bunch of pictures, and after an hour, I sadly walked away, continuing to snap just one more picture. Which turned into way more than one. Of course.

I cannot fully explain why I get this way. Maybe I was this way last year, fully believing that I would not get back to the beach for years. Then again, maybe I was just so grateful to be on our first vacation in 5 years, that I was actually able to enjoy it.

I am happy/relieved to say that after listening to the people above us party until 3 a.m. last night/this morning, I was ready to come home. And the thought of sleeping in my own bed, and not the world's most lumpy mattress and squeaky bed, makes me happy.

While I was writing this post, I downloaded the 200-plus pics I took this past week. Some of the best "moments" follow.

I think I am okay now. :-)

My first glimpse of the ocean, last Saturday

Bloody Mary with crab

Crab soup
The kid looking at the ocean one evening
The sun setting on the bay (I do remember regretting not seeing this last year, so I made sure to do it the second night)
The lagoon/bay during my run around Northside Park

Just a cool pic of the foamy ocean

J and I at the top of a lifeguard chair/stand the last night
Our last minute in the water Friday night (I was trying to capture our pedicures, but, man, do my feet look pale and rather hideous

The final beach/ocean pic I took, as we headed back to our condo

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I hate cars (Part 125)

If I did a search on "car" or "cars," I am sure that would turn up a lot of posts. I can't seem to go more than six to eight months without having to put money into my car(s). And in the last 10 months, I have spent around $1,500 among tires, a couple of oil changes, an inspection, brakes and rotors, an AC quick fix (not what I really need for it to actually be repaired), and some oil pan or plug. Looking on the bright side, if I had a new/not-yet-paid-off car, I would have spent more on car payments during that time. But still.

I tend to go through a set of brakes and rotors every two years. In fact, every other June/July for the past six years, I have replaced my front set. You might be wondering what in the h-e-double hockey sticks I am doing. I kind of am too. But I guess when you speed up to a stop sign and then slam on your brakes, along with sitting in rush hour traffic in general twice a day, five days a week, well, that can do it. Plus I recently discovered Waze, a navigational/traffic app, and I tend to be on streets that I have not been on, which results in a lot of sudden turns. [Side note, I love Waze. Some days, I want to make out with Waze. I have cut 5-7 minutes off my 35-40 minute commute.]

Somewhat ironically, I just paid off the hubby's truck. Technically, it will be paid off by 6/26. But I felt so good when I made that electronic payment on Monday. That feeling quickly dissipated when my mechanic informed me of the rotor-brake thing. If only I had won my church's raffle. Of course, I say that every year.

I really think in the next six to eight months I will get a new car. I am not sure I will get that much for my Vue, since Saturn no longer exists, but I don't want to keep putting money into this car. But since I have put so much into it in the last 10 months, I would like to keep it for a bit. But it never hurts to start my research.

Here's hoping Silver (what I sometimes call my Vue) gets us to the beach and back, all nice and cool, in the next couple of weeks. If not, I guess my car shopping will start a little sooner.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Each t-shirt tells a story.

This evening I was trying to find a t-shirt to take to my mom's. I have a deep drawerful of shirts that I wear when I want to go extremely casual, as most of them are old, and at least a third are ill-fitting. 

Since I can barely close the drawer, and I had no idea of half of what is buried there, I decided to take everything out and see what I had. Surprisingly, I had remembered almost all of them, and many brought back memories, which is unfortunate as it makes it tough to give them up.

Here are some of their stories: 


This is probably my oldest tee. Twenty-two years ago this past February, I stayed awake and on my feet for 48 hours (plus about 10 more before and after) for Penn State's Dance Marathon. I am proud of that feat and being a part of something that helps so many pediatric cancer patients. The hallucinations I could have done without. Regardless, I wear this tee some years during THON weekend.


Depeche Mode was the first concert at the Civic Arena I went to without my parents. A couple hours prior to the show, my then-boyfriend and I were waiting at a McD's for our friends from Penn State, who had our tickets. They got lost, and never showed up, so we headed to the Arena, and walked around for quite some time until we found them (this was before cell phones). It was a good show; DM was one of the few groups I have seen several times (I am not a big concert goer). How can I get rid of this?!


 I think I bought this shirt at a resale/record store, either towards the end of college or a year out. I still remember being there with my friend Beer, who was bummed he had not seen it first. NIN is one of the other groups I have seen a few times. I have not worn this in years, but it represents a wilder time in my life (as well as a time when I wore a lot of black).


I bought this shirt at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, sometime in the early 90s. I loved tie dye (still kind of do), and even though it is big on me, I just can't part with it. I vow to wear it this summer!


I ran my first Great Race in 2001. It was a few weeks after 9/11, and patriotism was high. I ran with a tiny flag; some people ran all 6.2 miles with a giant flag. It was a great experience. I last ran it 13 years ago, and I hope to do it again, but the 5K version. 


For several years, I walked the 10 miles for the MS Walk, in honor of my now-late aunt who had MS. The walk took us all over Pittsburgh, which was really cool. The year of this shirt, I did the shorter 5 miles, as I was pretty sure the 10 miles would be too much thanks to having a baby eight months earlier and no longer being in awesome shape. Unfortunately, I have not done the walk since (and they no longer do 10 miles). I can probably part with it.


I have run the Race for Pace more than any other 5K (four times, I think). The year of this shirt, 2012, I had taken a couple years off from racing, and in this particular race, I ended up in 3rd place in my age group, for which I was recognized after the fact in a little ceremony with my friend Diane. I sadly have not seen Diane since. 


I bought this tee at Kohl's a week or two after the Pens won the Cup in 2009. I can still remember how soft the shirt felt. In fact, when I picked it up for the pic, I was surprised it was still a little soft. Unfortunately, many wearings of this shirt has worn it out (not to mention the unsightly deodorant stains). But I just can't give it up until I can replace it with another Stanley Cup shirt. I had my ones from the '90s for almost two decades. Let's hope I don't repeat that for this shirt!


Finally, I give you this shirt. For several years while I was underemployed, I went to this coffee shop at least once a month. A lot of the same people came week after week, and it was just nice to chill out there, drink my cappuccino and read the P-G. The shirt is not particularly comfortable or great fitting, but I actually still wear it from time to time because I have not only uttered "I'll sleep when I'm dead" various times, but also Vince closed the place about two years ago, so I keep it as a memento.

Note that for this post, I did not include any of my "nice" Steelers, Pens, Pirates, Penn State, or Pitt shirts. Sadly (or not), I have more than two dozen of those altogether.

But those shirts above? They tell a story. I bet some of yours do too.

Monday, June 1, 2015

THIS will give me the motivation

Because I have over 300 "friends" on Facebook (at least half of whom are not really friends at all) and only a handful of readers here, I tend to be more open in this space. Today will continue that trend.

If you know me well (or even if you don't know me at all), I can tell you that for the most part, I feel pretty good about myself, both physically and as a person in general. I think it started soon after I had a child, and really solidified once I hit 40. I just have been able to accept who I am, know that I don't have to be perfect to be a good person, and pretty much am okay with my body, even though it is not as thin and tight as I would like it to be.

Unfortunately, in the last six or so months, I gained a few pounds. Going to Baltimore almost a month ago and eating non-stop for several days and hardly moving put me a few more pounds ahead, and I am now the heaviest I have been for only the third time in my life. Unfortunately, because I walk a lot and I started to run again, I still feel decent about myself, so I was lacking the motivation to stop eating all the time.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday late afternoon, as I was getting dressed for my kid's performance at school, the hubby walked in to me in my underwear. And he said this: "I'm glad I am not the only fat guy in this house."

What?!

Are you freaking kidding me?!

What married man says that?!

He tried to back-peddle, saying I was the only person he wanted, he still found me sexy, etc. As if that would somehow make that awful comment be okay. In fact, before he found his way to that sort of compliment, he made another idiotic comment like, "Well, you are not a guy." Thanks for that!

I did not ask him how I looked (I know that is generally a no-win situation for a man), so there was no need for him to share his opinion. And I realize (oversharing again) that the underwear I was wearing kind of pushes things up. But still, dude, keep it to yourself!

The good news is that I had one beer at dinner yesterday instead of two. That evening, I broke out the free weights to do some arm work. And today I actually did not eat every 1.5 to 2 hours at work, as I do most days. [Coworkers often wonder aloud why I am not huge. I am fortunate to have a fast metabolism, but, eventually, it does catch up with me a little.]

I don't want to care about a number on the scale, because I don't. Too much. But when I couple that number that I don't want to be with the slight love handles I know have, well, I do care. So you can take this to the bank: When I go to the beach in a few weeks, I will be thinner.

I know I needed to get back on track; I was going in the wrong direction. Even the thought of being in a bathing suit was not enough to get me to stop stuffing food in my face. So here's to righting a wrong, even if it's delivery was, well, wrong.

Wish me luck. And you don't even have to wish the hubby luck. I am a forgiving person. :-)

But I sure don't forget...


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Random Ramblings

I have a handful of thought in my head (and by a handful, I think I mean about 30). So rather than try to pick one topic, I am going to bullet point some. Let's see how many "some" actually ends up being...

  • When the Penguins are done with hockey, so am I. I am not even sure who is still playing and if we are down to the final teams. I think the Rangers are or were in it. But that is all I know. I really like hockey, but as a true Pens fan who watches pretty much every single game, starting in October, once the Pens are done, I typically have had enough.
  • Let the record show that I rarely complained this winter. So many people talked about how hard/bad the winter was. I did not see it that way. I am guessing that is because I drove to work this winter, unlike last winter, when I found myself waiting for the bus in frigid temps quite a bit. Even 5 or 6 minutes in windchills at -5 or even 0 degrees tends to bring you down. So this winter was like a picnic in comparison. In fact, I said at least a half dozen times that I wanted that one nice (as in 8 to 10 inches) snowstorm; we never got more than 6 inches at a time.
  • Not surprisingly, I don't love the heat. Temps in the 70s are great. Temps in the low 80s when the humidity is low are also good. Beyond that? I tend to complain. Sorry.
  • I can't stand when people act holier than though or complain about others when they themselves are guilty of similar things. I honestly thought the Duggars, unlike Jon and Kate Plus 8, were a decent family. They were way too conservative for me, and I did not agree with their views of having children (i.e., not using birth control), their courtship "rules," and the wives' place, but they just seemed like good people. My view has completely changed after it has come out that one of the sons molested some young girls, including his sisters. Sigh.
  • I believe in having fun when you can. That is why last week, I convinced two coworkers to  moonwalk past another coworker's desk with me, flash-mob style. It was not rehearsed or well thought out, and two of us did run into each other. But it was fun. So much so, that I convinced the coworker that we "flash mobbed" to join the three of us to flash mob a fourth coworker to "Uptown Funk" the next day. I, not surprisingly got into it a little too much. 
  • Even though I still regret having one child (and I think about it at least once a week), I have found a (slight) way to (almost) make peace with it. Our new dog, Bailey, is pretty crazy. She is full of energy and comes at us (mostly me) full speed and jumps on us quite forcefully. As a result, I am often bruised and scratched. And I have told her no fewer than 50 times that "You are nothing like Sadie" or "Why can't you be more like Sadie" or "I love you but I don't like you like I liked Sadie." Although I really don't think I would compare a second child to the first (or vice-versa) in that negative of a way, if I tell myself I would, well, then I can feel that much more okay about having just one kid. :-)
  • There are good people in this world. I know this. I have always know this. But sometimes when I get down and see so much bad and negativity, I can almost forget that. Fortunately, the little things that people do remind me of this. And these things remind me that I need to continue to do the right thing (knowing that I am not perfect and will sometimes fail). Doing the right thing or even just a little "good" thing may not matter to 100 or even 10 people. But even if it matters to just one person (and even if that person is only I), well, that is something.

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...