Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where the Kids Are

The day after we got back from Niagara Falls, The Boy started middle school.  Middle School.  I can't even.

How does this stuff happen?

Anyway.  Middle school… so far so good.  We're working on some organizational issues, but otherwise everything seems to be going well.  His teachers like him, he participates in class and gets his work done.  He's just not always great about turning it in.  He decided to continue playing trumpet, and I'm secretly happy about that.  He's not the next Miles Davis or anything, and it's one more thing that he has to do (and practice doesn't always happen), but I just…think it's good for him to keep playing music.  And the trumpet actually seems to suit him pretty well.  It's a nice fit.  I have visions of him playing in a jazz group in college or something.  I don't know.  I'm probably crazy.

He also just finished up cross country.  He had a blast.  The coach was laid back, his team mates seemed like a nice group of kids, and he was happy with how he finished up the season.  He finished the two mile course at 15:41- about a full minute better than when he started the season.  He's already looking forward to next year.

A week after he started middle school, The Girl started preschool.  Which she loves.

I actually just had a conference with her teacher this week.  She's doing great, gets along with everyone, loves the art table, and is working on writing her name.  So, totally awesome on that front.  She's also been doing ballet, which she loves, and doing soccer which, eh, not so much. 

Honestly, I'd had no intention of signing her up for soccer.  Her brother has done it for years through an organization that she's not eligible for until next fall.  And then right after school started, she looked at me and said, 'Why do boys get to do soccer and girls don't?'  gah.  I signed her up for soccer classes in the burbs and I've been driving her out there every week.  It seems that she was possibly expecting to go to the soccer field where her brother usually goes.  So that was different.  And then the coaches are all these young guys, and a couple of them don't seem to quite get where preschoolers are coming from, or how to even just reign them in.  Anyway, she's not enjoying soccer as much as I thought she would.  We'll try again next fall.  

Overall though, the kids are doing pretty well, settling into their new schools and trying new things.  It's been busy, but hey, it's just that time of year.  And Halloween & the holidays are just around the corner.  I'm exhausted already.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trip to the Falls

So, it's been two months!  But I feel I would be remiss if I didn't put together a quick post about our trip to Niagara Falls at the end of August.  Man.  We all really needed a quick little vacation.

So that's what we got.  We headed north of the border and took The Kids to Canada for a long weekend.  We were full on tourists from Thursday-Sunday.  And it was awesome.  

We rode the Sky Wheel, went on a Hornblower Cruise, and went to the top of Skylon Tower.  

We ate breakfast in a Flying Saucer.  We saw fireworks above the falls and did Journey Behind the Falls.  

We watched Elvis sing at Fallsview Landing and took a bus ride up Niagara Parkway where we saw the Niagara Clock.  

We went to Clifton Hill to play putt-putt and buy souvenirs.  The Girl still talks about seeing 'Katy Perry' in Canada (she's singing outside a Clifton Hill wax museum).  The Boy ate a Beaver Tail.  

Everyone had a great time.  The Falls, of course, were just amazing.  The Boy was psyched to be in another country.  The Girl loved eating breakfast in a spaceship.  And we were all happy to get away for a bit.  I'm glad we did.  It's been a busy fall.  But that's for another post, eh?

Monday, August 18, 2014


I had really been looking forward to this summer.  With The Boy moving on to middle school, a lot of my previous obligations are finished.  At least until The Girl is ready to start elementary school and a couple of other activities that she's too young for yet.  Anyway, this was going to be a fun summer.  I had no planning to do for an upcoming school year or soccer season.  All I had to do was figure out ways to keep The Kids busy.  I booked a few camps for The Boy.  I spent time looking into different things for us to do around town.  We got passports.  I started to plan out of town trips.

Two out of three fell through.

I had no idea until this summer how much I relied upon going to see my father in Tampa and my mother in Baltimore.  Four to five days in each town- in addition to you know, visiting relatives- gives us a nice break from Pittsburgh.  It's a great town, but you don't get a chance to miss it if you never leave.  My father thought he'd be traveling for work so we canceled that trip.  My grandmother has had a lot of problems this summer, so my mother has been dealing with that.  Obviously, a bad time to visit.

Not getting away turned this summer into an excess of time yawning before me.  I couldn't keep up.  Our mornings grew lazier.  Screen time got away from me and the kids had too much of it.  The Boy at least had camps.  Those were the weeks when I had hoped to schedule playdates for The Girl and I did.  But a couple of her friends had schedules that didn't match up with ours and so we couldn't fill all the days with friends and fun.  When did she become so social?  She missed her friends and found it entirely unfair that her brother had his friends over way more often than she had hers.

I was disappointed in myself for not being more creative with our time.  Not just doing things in town but also maybe day trips?  I thought of a few possibilities at the very end of the summer and was annoyed that I hadn't thought of them sooner.  Here I thought I had done such a good job of researching summer fun, but we just couldn't make it all happen.

Of course we've had fun this summer.  Because it's summer after all. Several trips to Sandcastle, Kennywood, museums, pools, parks, and ice cream parlors.  We saw lots of friends and The Boy enjoyed his camps.  Really, it's just that I knew that we'd have more time this summer than we'd had previously and I wanted to make the most of it.  I wanted to do special things with my kids.

So with one weekend left, we'll be doing the most special thing we've done all summer.  We're taking the kids to Niagara Falls for a couple of days.  Which is why we got the passports.  Anyway, we're all looking forward to it like crazy.  We can't wait to get out of town.  Pittsburgh, here's to missing you for a few days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Joy of Fifth Grade

So, as I mentioned in my last post, it was a crazy spring.  Spring around here is always crazy, but this one was worse then usual.

The Boy finished 5th grade this spring, his last year at his elementary school.  This meant two things.  First, there were a ton of things for the 5th graders to do.  And, second, he wanted to do all of them.  Which is great.  I love that he is a kid who wants to be so involved, and that he is interested in so many different things.  A good friend of mine told me when The Boy was three that he had joie de vivre.  He did and he does and I hope he never loses it.  But oof.  It made for a busy spring.

Student council, sports, music, and of course academics.  These all took up a lot of time, not just his, but mine as well.  And, by default- because she goes everywhere that I go- it also took up The Girl's time.  Which she was frankly sick of by the end of May.  My mother came in for The Boy's spring concert.  She was surprised that The Girl was dragging her feet to get ready to go and see the performance, and she asked her, 'Don't you want to go and see your brother play trumpet?'.  The Girl looked her right in the eye and very clearly, very distinctly, said NO.  I couldn't blame her.  She was sick of her brother getting all the attention.

Probably the most intense activity that The Boy participated in was the Dancing Classrooms competition.  All 5th graders in participating Pittsburgh city schools (about 20 of them) have to take ballroom dancing lessons.  After about a month of practices they perform for their families.  Once that performance is over six boys and six girls are chosen to represent at the semi-finals and then, hopefully the finals.  The Boy not only made the team.  He was also the team captain.  Lots of after school practices, costume chaos, and general nervousness followed.  In brief, The Boy's school went on to the finals, they didn't win, but they did place.  And then we all exhaled.

The end of the year was still plenty busy- other activities were wrapping up, there was the 5th grade field trip, and of course, graduation.  I had a lot of mixed emotions. It doesn't seem possible that The Boy is growing up and moving on to middle school.  It doesn't seem so long ago that I was looking at the 5th graders and thinking that my kindergartner could never possibly be as big as they were.  Yet here he is and he's almost as tall as me.  Then, there's The Girl who still has two years of preschool ahead of her, after which we do the elementary school thing all over again.  And that will be comforting and odd and exhausting all at once. The cycle of things to come.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Where Does the Time Go: Birthday Edition

Every year I feel like neglect this space a little more.  A shame really, since there are many times when I feel like I should really be over here writing.  But I just can't seem to get my act together. 

Anyway, this year, which I've been muddling through, is no exception.  It's been a busy year.  This spring was so insane, a lot of that due to the fact that The Boy was involved in a. lot. of stuff.  His schedule in April and May was over the top.  It was all good stuff, it was just... we're going to have to find a way to keep it under control when he starts middle school this fall.

But I'll get to all that in another post.  I'm going to try to play a little catch up over the next few posts, and in order to do that properly I have to go back to when this blog was really starting to gather weeds and that would have to be February.  The Girl and The Husband both have birthdays that month, and every year it's sort of the beginning of my spring unravelling.  It's on the heels of The Boy's birthday (January) and the holidays, and I must just start to give up.  Or something.

The Girl turned three in February, which at once seems impossible because wasn't she a baby three short years ago?  And it simultaneously feels like of course she is because she was a baby a million years ago.  It seems like she's been this amazing little person who talks and runs and creates for such a long time.  I can hardly remember her not being here.

I had toyed with the idea of throwing a big party for her- The Boy had his first big party at three.  But we were in a playgroup when he was three and knew a bunch of kids really well and it seemed like the thing to do.  We know fewer kids The Girl's age because the poor thing is always getting dragged after her brother and his friends.  She has friends, just not so many that I felt like throwing a party and inviting everyone.

So, what we did instead was we had a few small celebrations.  The Friday before her birthday we went to Phipps Conservatory with a friend from the neighborhood.  They were having an event called Swans In the Garden.  Ballerinas from the PBT came and performed vignettes from the upcoming Swan Lake show.  Afterward everyone could come up and meet the ballerinas, and well, of course that was just the best.

Then the girls came back to our house and ate huge pink cupcakes.  The end.

OK.  Not really the end.  We had a cupcake playdate with another friend.  And then my in-laws came to town for a birthday lunch featuring sandwiches and… more cupcakes.

The Girl's birthday was actually on Super Bowl Sunday this year.  And while we weren't feeling particularly excited about either of the teams, we did have some good friend's over to watch the game.  And eat cake.  Because my in-laws are not dessert people, I hate to make homemade cake for them when they come in for The Kids' birthdays.  But our friends?  Appreciate a good homemade cake.

This year The Girl asked for a strawberry cake.  I found a great recipe here.  The cake was a hit.  The Girl had four smallish celebrations for turning three.  That's a lot of excuses to eat cake and get presents in less than a week's time.

Two weeks later we were back out and about for The Husband's birthday.  This time he and I went out and left The Kids at home with the sister-in-law.  We went here, which was ridiculously delicious, and we had a marvelous grown up time.  And then I went home full of food and drink and was exhausted from all the celebrating and that is really the end.  


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting Through Wednesdays This Winter

Spring thaw is here people.  I can feel it.  I don't care that it's in the 30's in Pittsburgh today.  Every few days we've gotten a burst of warmer weather, or sunshine, or both, and it's doing wonders for my brain, body, and mood.  Not that I'm not still cranky and irritable.  But I'm less so than I have been.

But let's not talk of my moodiness and self doubt today!  I did enough of that at the end of last month.

No, today I want to mention a couple of things that got me through Wednesdays this past winter.  More specifically, a few ladies.  I'll start with Ask Polly.  Although, to be fair, she's been a favorite of mine since she started on The Awl- maybe a year or two ago?  She's an advice columnist and she's awesome.  She gives you the kind of advice that you wish your friends would give you.  Or maybe you don't wish for that, but you know it's probably what you need to hear from them.  There are times I read her column and think, it would be so great if we were friends so that we could go out for drinks, and then she could set me straight when I'm in need of it.  Sort of like a fun voice of reason in my life.  I read her column every Wednesday without fail.  Usually right before bed.  Because it's so much easier to fall asleep thinking about other people's issues than anything I'm currently dealing with.  (If you haven't read her before, and you start with this past Wednesday's column?  You may want to dig deeper.  This was the first time she's written anything that large numbers of people seem to disagree with.)

The other thing that made my Wednesdays happy this winter was Broad City.  I can't begin to tell you how much I love this show.  I love it so hard and it's so fucking great.  To be fair, my husband doesn't love it as much as I do- although he does like it- so maybe this one's not for everyone either.  But it is for me, and it made my Wednesday nights highly enjoyable and something to look forward to over the past months.  I think it's hilarious and I really like Abbi and Ilana and a lot of the other characters.  I think the me in my 20s (so long ago!) had at least a bit in common with Abbi.  Although, I'm thankful to say, my roommate never dated anyone has horrible as Bevers.  (Her ex-boyfriend was rather nice, actually.  And I liked him better than the guy she ended up marrying.)  Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest giving it a try.  The season finale is this week, but I'm sure you can catch up on On Demand or Hulu, or whatever.

And that is how I spent my Wednesday nights these past couple of months.  Broad City & wine at 10:30, followed by going to bed and reading Ask Polly before drifting off to sleep.  Honestly, kind of awesome.  And way better than some of the other weeknights.  Leaving you with one of my favorite Broad City scenes from this past season.  Enjoy.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Guilt. An Outpouring.

I've been wallowing in guilt these last couple of weeks.  Fun!  Here are a few things that I've been guilt ridden about lately...

Being a terrible mother.

Being a terrible wife.  Or a selfish one?  I'm not sure.  Maybe a bit of both.

Not going to the gym regularly.

Staying up too late.

Being diplomatic.  Because sometimes people want you to be stronger at running interference.  Or something.  I don't know.  Why can't we all just act like adults and get shit done?  People are goddamn confusing.

My house should be cleaner.

And the clean clothes have sat in the dryer too long this week.  Really.

Not always having the patience to deal with the boundary testing of my 3 year old.

Not sending thank you cards in a timely manner.

Being a terrible listener when I know better because I'm usually a good one.  I don't know where my mind is these days.

I should really be eating better.

Not sending photos.  I suck at that.  And I have so many photos to send.  Some are way overdue.

And just not keeping in touch with people in general.  I used to be better at that too.

Wanting more time alone.

Being diplomatic.  Because sometimes, people act way more hurt by what you say than, let's be honest, they probably are.  And then you have to go back and stroke egos and then they still drag their feet anyway and don't do what they keep saying they will do.  People are fucking frustrating.

Not being able to let some stuff go.

Not always having the energy to deal with the emotional roller coaster that is an 11 year old.

OK.  Not always having the energy to just generally be the parent I want to be.

Not being more organized.

Feeling as though I may be constantly disappointing people.

Going out with friends and drinking too much when my family goes away for an overnight ski trip and I promise myself that I'm going to be so, so productive while they're gone.  And then I wake up the next day with a raging headache and it takes me hours to actually get my act together.

Talking too much.

Feeling burned out with some of my volunteer work.

Being annoyed with relatives.

Staying just a little too long.

Being quite irritated with parents I don't know who say things at birthday parties like, 'I mean, I don't pay $17,000 a year in tuition to have my kid's teacher tell me she's at the bottom of her kindergarten class.'

Being judgey.

There are things on my front porch that desperately need to be put away.  But it's just so cold.  

Feeling irrationally annoyed with crowds.

Not writing here.