Missing Pittsburgh

One of the perks of my job is that when I am working on the weekend it is typically hosting a sporting event or a concert for clients.  Last weekend I was lucky enough to take some clients to a Penguins game.

It was a nice excuse to visit home.  So we packed up the kids and headed out on Saturday morning.  My mom agreed to watch the kids for the evening so we could have a night out.  After visiting with my mom and my sister for a few hours, we headed into town.

We stayed at the Renaissance downtown.  It is a beautiful hotel.

The lobby

We checked into our room and luckily we ended up on the side that overlooks the river.

We killed a few hours by walking around the city and then headed over the game. We were in the suite, which was awesome.  How many times have you been at a hockey game while eating sushi, squid salad and drinking a glass of wine?

This was our view:

It was a great game, even though Crosby  wasn’t playing.  We won and spreadsheet guy and I had a great time.

We walked back to our hotel and I saw something I HAD to take a picture of.

seriously?  Love it.  For anyone not familiar, check this out.  Dahntahn is how most people in Pittsburgh pronounce Downtown.  It is weird, but since I left Pittsburgh, hearing anyone with a strong Pittsburgh accent is oddly comforting to me.

We got back to the hotel and I took more pictures.

It’s a little blurry, but that is the best I could do through my hotel window.

When we woke up the next morning, spreadsheet guy walked down to get me some coffee and I sat and looked out the windows.  I really miss Pittsburgh.

PNC Park

After driving through the strip district for a while, (and trying to find ONE person who didn’t have their Steeler garb on – we failed) we headed back to my mom’s to get the kids and meet up for brunch.  The first place we went had a 40 minute wait.  We were all way to hungry to wait that long, so we left. We had an amazing brunch buffet and the kids got to color some pictures that they hung up for a scarecrow coloring contest.

The first restaurant was in an outdoor shopping area.  When we were there we noticed they were having a Halloween event.  They had a pumpkin patch for kids to pick a pumpkin and decorate, a petting zoo, a fire truck the kids could sit in and a pony they could ride.  So after we finished brunch, we headed back.

Silly girl was so excited to ride a pony.

My buddy was not interested.  His reason?  Those things smell BAD.  Stay tough, bud.

It was a nice visit.  We ended up getting home later than we had planned on Sunday, but it was worth it.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Pittsburgh.

Scary Christmas

I don’t know what kind of scary ass Christmas cartoons my daughter is watching, but I found this on the computer desk. Hoo Hoo Hoo indeed.

Running the wrong way

My husband and I had a bet for a few months that he could not run a mile in 8 minutes.  I don’t know how it originated, but he made the statement, I scoffed, and a bet was born.  Now, my husband is not a runner, nor is he into any kind of exercise.  He plays hockey (on roller blades) once a week and that is it.  Most of the time he ends up skating for a minute or two and then clutching the net trying to catch his breath.  So you can see why I thought there was no way he could run a mile in under 8 minutes.

We mentioned the bet to our friends one day and they egged us on until we set a date for him to run.  So last week we finally made our way down to the high school track to prove who was right.  Our friends were there with their son, and silly girl and my buddy got ready to run with us. I set the timer on my iphone and spreadsheet guy took off.

My friend and I were running as well and we looked at each other and said there was no way he could maintain that pace.  We were right.  He made it around the track completing his first lap quickly, but then had to walk.  At this point I was walking as well.  I had to walk with silly girl who was upset because the boys took off and teased her that she was last.  So I watched spreadsheet guy walk for a while and then start running again.  At this point I was sure I would win this bet.

Did I mention he NEVER runs?

He went back and forth, running and walking.  He had about a minute and a half left and one lap to do.  My friend was yelling the remaining time.  Her husband took off running, caught up with spreadsheet guy and started telling him he could do it and at the end (with about 30 seconds left) told him to sprint.

He made it.  I was  pissed.  I run every day and actually eat right and do other exercise and he just hops on the track and runs a mile in under 8 minutes?  What the hell?   I tried to argue that it didn’t count because he didn’t run the whole time.  He walked and sprinted.  So technically he didn’t run an 8 minute mile. But our friends agreed he did it, so I just ended up looking bitter.  Which I was.

Luckily, my buddy had soccer practice, so there wasn’t much time for him to gloat. They had to leave as soon as he was done running.  This gave me time to try to stop being such a jerk and just accept that he did it.  I was proud of him, but I  couldn’t swallow my pride enough to tell him until later that night.

I headed to a running store with my friend and silly girl to get fitted for running shoes.  I had never been fitted and after I ran 10 miles the previous weekend my foot was killing me.  I wanted to make sure I was wearing the right kind of shoe.  My friend is getting ready to do a couch to 5k and wanted to get fitted for shoes as well.

When we got there, they had us run for them so they could observe our stride and how we landed on our feet.  Well, my friend who never runs apparently has a perfect stride.  I, on the other hand am a mess.

First, I ran for the employee that was helping me.  He told me my stride is too long and I am landing on my heels.  I am also pronating on my left foot.  Then he asked another employee to watch me run.  She said the same things, and then the employee helping me said “…and? ” .  She looked at him and said “let’s not overwhelm her”.  What?!   OMG.   I stood there, in shock.  My friend was cracking up.   Second time that day I felt like an idiot.  First my husband wins the bet by running a mile in 7:45, and then I am told I am an awful runner.

Anyway, I am normally wear New Balance running shoes, but I was fitted in a pair of Brooks.  I like them so far.  Hopefully they can help me develop into someone who looks like a runner and not like the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons running down the street.

Been gone a while

So, yeah.  I haven’t written in a while.  I know all three of the people who read this were very disappointed.  Things have just been so busy.  I have been trying to figure out how to balance it all. 

I am not sure if I need to work out a better schedule in order to make sure I get everything done, but I kind of feel like I am running in quicksand.   Working full-time,  raising two 6 year olds, and trying to keep a house running have become increasingly difficult.   Now that the kids have homework every night on top of their activities, our nights are chaotic to say the least. 

The kids are only in first grade.  I can check their homework in 5 minutes.   Easy, right? Then I  sit and read with each of them most nights.  They have reading logs they keep for school, and I need to make sure they reading enough books.   If they don’t read enough, they don’t get their “prize” at the end of the month. 

Congratulations! You won a certificate for a night on the toilet. I mean a personal pan pizza!

They are each in soccer and my daughter has gymnastics one night a week.  That’s it.  We don’t have them in a million different things, we are just trying to let them experience different activities.  I  have the added guilt brought on by the fact that a lot of my children’s classmates mothers stay at home.  This means they are at the school volunteering on a pretty regular basis. 

I try to explain to my kids that I simply cannot be at the school for reading from 1:15-2:00 every Monday and Wednesday, or there during the day to help with the student store, but I don’t think they quite get it yet.  My daughter was upset last week because I wasn’t there to see her at the school’s “fun run”.  She said she was the only one without a parent present.  I’m certain this is not true, but I’m also pretty sure it felt that way to her.  So, even though we paid $70 for each of them to get a t-shirt and participate in the fund-raiser, in her eyes, we didn’t do anything. 

So on top of working/disappointing my children, I am  trying to run or do some sort of exercise every night after work.  Not only do I try to run to keep in shape, but I need it mentally.  I am pretty tightly wound, and I need the release.  I am also signed up to run a half marathon with my brother-in-law. 

I need this shirt

I would like to be able to finish without throwing up or passing out – especially since I am running it at “home” and of course in my mind everyone will be watching me.  Forget the thousands of other people running, all eyes will be on yours truly.

 

The problem is now my release is causing me more stress.  I have been  getting my workouts/runs in after work.  But then I have to check homework, make dinner,  try to get some cleaning in, spend time with my kids and my husband, pack lunches/snacks for the kids, and pack my lunch for the next day. 

Me, at the end of the day

 So, is there a better time for me to run so I have the entire evening to get everything done?  Maybe I should just sacrifice some sleep and switch back to my morning runs?  I did that for a long time, and I managed to get my runs in, but I was so tired by the end of the week and I  looked haggard.  Not to mention my appetite was crazy all morning and I would end up eating a lot of snacks to hold me over until lunch. 

Good run this morning. I’m hungry again

source

 Maybe my standards are too high?  I want the house clean and tidy, I want nice meals with my family each night and I want to look like this when I go to work:

Silly girl. You can’t afford this suit.

Instead, the house gets cleaned on a “dirty enough to embarrass me” schedule, I am making my kids tacos and tater tots at least once a week and I look like this when I go to work:

 

what's going on with my eyebrow? I have no idea

 Please try not to be jealous of my awesome iPhone photo taking skills.  Maybe one day you will master the art of making a light grey suit look pink.  Oh, and did I mention I work in Health Insurance? Yeah.  I get to tell people how much more they are going to pay each year.  Now you are even more jealous, huh?   
 

I should be happy about the fact that I have a job, I have healthy, happy kids and these are the things I stress about.  I know that, but I just wonder how everyone else does it.  What do you “let go” of?  What is the compromise that helps people feel like they are keeping up?  How do you let go of the guilt?  Or do most people feel this way? 

What would you do?

I am typically the kind of person who follows the rules.  OK, I pretty much ALWAYS follow the rules.  I can’t help it.   I have always been this way.   I get annoyed when people drive the wrong way in a parking lot, go in an out-door, or do things that make it clear they do not feel rules apply to them.  So last night I ran into a little problem.  I was driving silly girl home from gymnastics and we were almost home when I drove up a ramp after exiting the highway and stopped at a red light.  I needed to make a left turn, so I put my turn signal on and waited.

And waited.

Yep, I'm still red

And waited.

Yeah, now I'm just messing with you

It had been NINE minutes.  NINE.  I was on the phone with my sister (hands free) and she was laughing at me.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  At this point a line was forming behind me on the ramp.  I travel this route constantly and I never sat at that light that long before.  Plus, there was still a decent amount of traffic zooming by across the road in front of me.   The girl behind me actually got OUT of her car, ran across the road and pushed the button for a green light.  Nothing.  Cars started cutting across the ramp to get to the right turn lane and just going that way.

My sister was telling me to just go, but it wasn’t really safe.  Plus, my daughter was in the car and I didn’t want her to think it was OK to go on red.  I tried flashing my headlights at the sensor, but nothing happened.

It was past the point of being ridiculous.  I had to get silly girl home to get her ready for bed and it was after 8:00.  So, once there was no traffic on the road in front of me, and I quadruple checked for safety, I went.  I never did see the light change.  I HATED having to do that, but other than just hanging out on the ramp all night, I didn’t really see an option.

How long would you wait before you just went?

Things have been busy around here

Let’s see, we have been celebrating birthdays

It's cute how you always hope I won't get food on my shirt, mom

Spent a day car shopping, bribing the kids with cookies and muffins from Panera

What is this pose called?

That's a little better

 

Got rid of our car

Last picture in front of the old girl

 

Bought a new car.

Went to a baseball game.

Guest appearance by Energy Boy

Went to the park, saw a dog with one eye.

Went to some soccer games

Silly girl had to get glasses

We had a smores party in the backyard with live entertainment

We take requests, as long as they are artists from radio Disney

 

And our basement is officially open for business

I think this is what has been keeping me the busiest.  Since we put furniture down there and it has been raining non-stop, our house has been like grand central station.  Apparently our house is now THE house to hang out at.

I would like to think it is because I am so cool, and all the kids want to hang out here to try to learn how to be so awesome.

I just want you to know, if you ever need anything, don't be shy, OK? There are NO rules in the house. I'm not like a *regular* mom, I'm a *cool* mom

(From “Mean Girls” and if you don’t know that, stop reading and go watch it NOW)

Yeah, not quite.

Fine.   I will admit that the reason they are here is because the basement is a pretty cool place for the kids to hang out.  We have a flat screen tv down there hooked up to a Wii, so they can play games and watch cartoons on netflix.

We also have a table set up for crafts, which my daughter and her friends love. Tonight they made trick or treat bags.  They are cute.  Too bad they will probably tear after one or two pieces of candy.  The point is I had time to exercise and they had fun.

There is also a cd player down there which my daughter and her friends make sure is blasting Selena Gomez, or All Star Weekend or whatever else they listen to.

There is a vintage bubble hockey machine.  The boys love it.  Between those things and all of the other toys down there, sometimes we have every kid on the street down in our basement.

That was kind of our goal.  I figured if we had a great place for them to hang out, we would always know where the kids were.  I also want to make sure I know my children’s friends.  So, 99% of the time, it’s great.  But there is part of me that is a little anxious when there are a bunch of kids down there.  Sometimes they are loud, and sometimes it looks like a tornado went through the basement and I have to force them to clean up.

Oh well.  I guess I will just enjoy pretending we are the “cool” house for a while.

What is this?

I know I haven’t written in a while.  Lots to talk about.  In the mean time, I will leave you with this.

I wish I could say this is the first note my daughter has gotten like this:

But it isn’t.

I think I am going to be in big trouble. No matter how much I tell people how high maintenance she is, boys continue to write her love notes.

Nice try mom

Lunch Lady Land

Today I went over to the elementary school and had lunch with my kids.  I should do this whenever I am having a bad day.  Not only were my kids excited to see me, but all of their friends were waving and saying hello.  I felt like a celebrity.

Nobody is ever THAT excited to see me.  Except maybe my parent’s dog.  But that is just because dogs don’t really know any better.  They are excited to see everyone.

I haven't seen you in two months! Or two hours, I don't know the difference.

I also got to feel more useful than I do all day at work.  Two of the children sitting at our table asked me to open something for them.  I was way too excited about it.  While we were there I was thinking maybe I should have become a teacher.  I love kids.  I taught at a dance school when I was in high school and loved it.  Then I remembered how hard it is for me to get to work on time.  I think they would frown upon teachers showing up “as soon as they could”.  Especially if it is because nothing fit right that morning and I had to dig through the entire contents of my closet (that ended up on my bed) to find the outfit I originally had on.  And then I had to redo my makeup because I got both upset that nothing fit “right” and angry that my husband kept saying everything looked “fine” and I ended up sweating/crying it off.  Not that anything like that happens very often.

Anyway, after lunch one of the lunch ladies walked over and started talking to me about how kids today just don’t listen.   I saw her reprimand a few kids for talking after they blew the whistle that means “quiet”.  She told one kid that he had to go sit on the stage for talking and he “better get it together”.   At first I thought that was a little harsh, then I remembered my lunch lady from elementary school.  She was MEAN.  We had to line up and the line had to be straight.  This was very important to her.  So important in fact, that she would walk down the line with her hands together, arms stretched out in front of her, one inch from the first kid’s shoulder.  If she hit you with her hands, you were in trouble.  It was insane.  I also remember her yelling a lot.  So I guess some things never change.

Paleo update

So, guess what diet doesn’t work well for people who don’t really like meat?  That would be Paleo.  Yes, I am a genius. Why I thought this would work for me, I do not know.  I was doing well for a while, but after a few weeks I was completely burnt out on salads and chicken sausage.  Just thinking of eating another salad with tuna on top made me sad.  

I am still avoiding processed food as much as possible.  But, I happily ate a veggie burger this past weekend.   I like them so much more than real burgers.   I am much happier having more options and eating bread here and there. 

I also added some weight training back into the rotation.  I was starting to find reasons not to run.  I was getting bored with it and I think part of the reason for the boredom was that I was no longer seeing results.  My body was used to my running routine. 

Yeah, I know.  I am going to share anyway.  I started doing Jillian Michaels “No more trouble zones”.  

This workout kicked my butt the first time I did it.  It hurt to sit down for two days.

No sitting! That is what made your butt the size it is today.

It is a 40 minute workout and by the end, I am so sweaty it is disgusting.   I may have to invest in a sweatband for my head to keep all of the sweat out of my eyes.

You aren't cool enough to pull this off

Not those headbands.  Today, they actually make cute ones for working out/running. 

Source

I may have to order a few. 

I need a goal to work towards though.  With the half marathon over 8 months away, I am lacking motivation.  That is probably why I just went out to lunch and ordered a Pittsburgh steak salad.

 

Steak, french fries, melted cheese, and LOTS of ranch dressing.  I think I just undid all of the work I did last night. 

I may have to skip dinner tonight.  Or just have cereal.  Ugh, I need a nap. 

 

Oh, that sounds good.  Sign me up.

Happy Birthday to me

Today is my birthday. 

Although it doesn’t really feel like it.  Maybe that is because I feel like I have been celebrating since my surprise party last weekend.  I have had a LOT of cake over the past week and a half.  I am very lucky to have people who care enough about me to buy me cake and sing me songs. 

Oh good, more cake.

I have co-workers who think they are hilarious and congratulated me on turning 40, or 45 or higher.  I was also told it is all down hill from here and I will start to fall apart soon.  My husband told me this morning that one-third of my life is over. Thanks.  I’m not neurotic enough, so reminding me that I am closer to death is a great way to celebrate my 35th birthday. 

Thanks for the birthday wishes

I don’t normally make new year’s resolutions, I make birthday resolutions.  I feel like a birthday is a good time to try to make some changes and try to do things that make you a better person.  Most of mine this year have to do with not being such a high-strung crazy person. 

 

1. Let more things go. 

MUCH easier said than done.  But I tend to worry about EVERYTHING and I am really trying not do get myself all worked up over things.  I do not have control over everything, and I am only one person.   Even if my perfectionist brain thinks the world will end if I don’t have the house looking like a picture out of a magazine, it will not.  Spending time laying on the couch with the kids is more important than cleaning the house.  The mess will be waiting for me later when they don’t feel like snuggling.  Plus, they aren’t going to want to snuggle forever, so I need to take advantage of these moments.

 

2. Don’t take it personally

She looked at me weird

I am a sensitive person.  Well, just sensitive may be an understatement.  Let’s put it this way, when I was in third grade, we had to do a project where everyone in the class drew a picture of themselves. Our classmates glued  a piece of paper with an adjective written on it to the picture.  Everyone wrote “sensitive” on mine.  Which means the kids probably went home, when their parents asked them to describe me to  help them decide which adjective to use and they probably said “she cries all of the time”.  Oh, and I cried because everyone wrote “sensitive” and I thought it was a bad thing.    So, yeah.  I am going to try a bit harder not to personalize everything. 

 

3. Don’t worry so much about what people think. 

Check my bling

I have gotten better about this as I have gotten older, but I know I have a little further to go.  I think I have mentioned this before, but going to the elementary school for my children sometimes sends me back to my awkward, anxiety filled days of worrying about not fitting in, and not being good enough.  I was even bullied a bit when I was in school.  I was an easy target.  I was extremely shy, I wouldn’t fight back and everything made me cry.  Now, most of the time I could not care less  about what other people think.  I know who I am.  I know what I am good at, what I need to work on and what I will never be good at (for example, singing).   If you decide you don’t like me before you know me, your loss.  I am a good friend.  If you don’t want to be my friend because I don’t come from money or because I don’t live in the “right” neighborhood, then thank you.  I don’t want to be friends with you either.   If you judge people by their possessions instead of their character then I feel bad for you.

Sorry, we can't talk to you

 

4. Start weight training again  

This sucks

I stopped weight training when I quit my gym back in December.  I just wasn’t finding time to get there with the kids activities and paying for a membership I wasn’t using didn’t really make sense.  I was taking BodyPump once a week.  Even though it was only once a week, I can tell a difference since I quit.  I need to tone up again.  The only thing that has been holding me back is the lingering pain from my surgery.  It gets a little more noticeable after I run.  I did some push ups and some planks last week and it really hurt the next few days.  I guess I just need to accept the fact that it is going to hurt for a while. 

Finally, the main thing I would like to do this year is learn how to be more in the moment.  Stop every once in a while and take it in.  I am always moving forward, working towards he next thing.  I think it is time to slow down a bit and enjoy what I have worked for so far. 

So this year I will nap a little more. 

And cut loose a little more.

 

After all, I only have 2/3rds of my life left.  I need to make it count.