Sunday, May 14, 2017

150 Days Continued: Volume Six

May 7, 2017 -- Day 36:

Auntie ran the Pittsburgh Marathon. In roughly the same amount of time that it took her to do that, I was able to sleep in, have leisurely coffee, get dressed, walk to the T station, ride downtown, stroll the city with Steve until we found the finish line, and then watch the runners for over an hour until she finished. I admit that her doing this is a huge, monumental achievement, the likes of which you will never see me even attempt in this lifetime. (Also true? I had more fun and hurt less.)

While I spent time there, Franco and Scott headed to a local nature preserve. They had a super time in the cool morning air, and have vowed to include me next time around.

                                                       Who says it isn't easy being green?

Once Auntie, Steve, and I returned home, where we met the boys, we all headed to BRGR for lunch. I am proud of Auntie's accomplishment, and glad that we were able to celebrate such a time with her.

Also, as impressive and amazing the race atmosphere, I still am not about the running. I am, however, all about burgers and beer after someone else does the running. I feel that's more than fair.

May 8, 2017 -- Day 37:

Poor Franco felt all stuffed up and sniffly. We played games and watched cartoons and took a nap. Then, we all felt completely sick about the Pens game, but tried to remain positive.

It failed, as they played possibly the worst game of the playoffs so far and forced a dreaded Game 7. Apparently, not all of these adventures are going to be awesome. Awesome.

May 9, 2017 -- Day 38:

Now, this is going to come out of left field and shock the stuffing out of you all. Today, against all odds, we went to Target. (I warned you. I sincerely hope you were sitting down.) Franco and I were preparing for our upcoming beach trip to Alabama's Gulf Shores, so we needed provisions. (Read: new clothes.)

While perusing the aisles, Franco informed me that he heard Mother's Day is upcoming, and he needed to buy me a present. I told him that is sweet, but unnecessary. He insisted, and told me that he would look around the store with me and, if he saw something perfect, he would let me know and maybe he could give it to me.

Well, boy howdy, does that kid know the way straight to my heart.

                             Is there a more perfect Mother's Day gift than Ryan Gosling in a musical?

I'm not trying to toot my own horn here or anything (I totally am) but someone is raising that kid up right.

We also did buy some new clothes. And, as per usual, Franco did this.

                                     You're my best friend....beause I see you all. The. Time.

May 10, 2017 -- Day 39:

Skating. Franco did a fabulous job in his lesson, and then decided to skate another thirty or so minutes with his friend and classmate, McKenna. (Just like The American Girl Doll. And the gymnastics movie based on The American Girl Doll. That Franco and I watch all the time on Netflix. You know, where Steve Sanders from 90210 plays her dad? That one.)

On the way home, we bought a new game at a consignment store, and I managed to convince Franco to finally "trim" his hair. And he did "trim" it. (Not "cut." Don't say "cut.") We came home to snack, then headed to gymnastics. Franco took his obligatory nap. (Maybe I did too. I will neither confirm nor deny.)

We then went to the library for Chess Club. The library offers it once a month, and this is the first time we have been able to attend. It turned out to be highly informative, and Franco learned a whole lot to improve his game. I learned a little bit more than I knew before, which brings my grand knowledge about chess to.....more than nothing. (Clearly, we have ol' Scotty P. to thank for this whole chess thing. Unless you count my love for the movie "Searching For Bobby Fischer." Which I personally do not.) It is truly a neat thing to be a part of, and Franco met some older kids who have quite a grasp on the game. He even hung around long enough while playing with them to make a lot of moves before he lost. He wants to keep learning and going to the club, and so I think it's a win.

On the drive back home, I literally felt like I might throw up. Franco told me, "Just don't throw up in this car." Sage advice. It was all due to the impending Game 7 hockey game. If I weren't crazy, I guess I would be nothing at all.

We watched downstairs in the game room/basement. I stood up and/or jumped for the entire thing. Franco found a seat on the steps. He then had to keep that position for the whole game. He kept adding accoutrements to the steps, until it literally became a safety hazard. (Which, naturally, we made him keep exactly the same, since we were winning at that point. Just watch your step?)

Photo taken right before he added coasters, Penguins programs, a stick and puck, and used beer caps to the collection. Whatever works, we say. Just don't fall down and hurt yourself because we are not taking you to the ER. No matter what. Until the game is over, anyhow.                    

Somehow, and to our great joy and relief, the Pens played literally (and I am not being a tad dramatic whatsoever) the best game EVER against the Crying Crapitals. And sent Ovechkin packing for the postseason. Wheeeeeeew. When I look back, it sure was fun. In the moment, fun is not exactly the word I might choose. But, here we go to the Eastern Conference finals!

May 11, 2017 -- Day 40:

Scott had to go back to tooth class for the whole weekend. Franco and I gathered stuff for our upcoming trip. When Scott returned home in the evening, he told us he had to not only attend this class, but study in the evenings for tooth tests. It sounded super, but, reluctantly, I decided to pass on this round of fun. Let's leave tooth studying to the master, shall we?

Franco and I instead decided to give him some quiet time and headed to Famous Footwear (where I got new Vans and a sweet pair of Steve Madden wedges) and Burlington (not Coat Factory.) And Kohl's. And maybe Fine Wine and Spirits. Who knows.

We played games and puzzles once home, and eventually Scott joined us for a few rounds of Crazy Eights to get his mind right for his test the next day. Doesn't everyone?

May 12, 2017 -- Day 41:

Scott went back to tooth class. Unfortunately, I woke up afflicted with an awful head cold which just didn't let up. In the evening, Franco and I sojourned to Fat Head's for dinner. I tried to knock back my pounding head with tasty food and beers. It did not cure me, but it didn't hurt either. So.

When we got home, Scotty studied, and Franco and I lazily lazed about. Not a bad Friday at all.

May 13, 2017 -- Day 42:

Scott's official vacation starts Monday, and we had planned our trip to the Gulf Shores to visit Grandpa Mark and Susan's new beach house. And goof off. But, Scott called from his tooth class to say the trip is off. Grandpa Mark is in the hospital, and so we can't meet up after all. Franco broke down in dismay. Luckily, we had already planned a built-in adventure for today, and Scott promised something fun for his vacation time, so all is well. (And Grandpa Mark is going to be fine, so that is a relief.)

Daniel Tiger is at the PA Trolley Museum in Washington. Franco and I have talked about this for quite some time and, despite my nasty cold, we headed out for a day of fun.

                                                           Who doesn't love Daniel?

The whole place was a blast. We rode a Philadelphia trolley to the trolley museum, where we saw Daniel, and then rode a Pittsburgh trolley back to the main building. There were games for the kids, crafts, snacks, and a gift shop. Franco's love for all things Daniel and trains and trolleys made him geek out for real, which made me really happy all the way around.

After, we were so super ready for the first game between the Pens and the Sens. Franco and I even scoured the shelves of Giant Eagle for some Bryan Rust root beer, and right at the end of our hunt, Franco's eagle eye spotted what I swear was the last bottle in the store! We set Franco up on his step, I set about drinking a massive quantity of beer (it can't hurt) and --

We watched as the Pens completely blew it in overtime. Oh, well. It's only Game One. That's what I tell myself, anyhow.

May 14, 2017 -- Day 43:

Even though Mother's Day is a made-up Hallmark holiday of sap, it still sucks to be sick. Scott spent the morning in his class, and returned to tell us he passed his tests and can begin his vacation! To which I replied, "Great. I'm going to lie down."

And I did. Franco and his dad managed to play some baseball outside, and build his Playmobil city. He and I watched some movies on the iPad and ate pizza together in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the head cold zapped the rest of my energy, so adventures today were not extreme. But, we enjoyed one another's company. Franco told me, " I could not have a better mom than you, and you could not have a better kid than me. And, so, you are lucky for that."

Ummm. All true...I guess? Happy Mother's Day indeed.

(Edited to add: He is 100% right. Obviously.)

***To Be Continued....

150 Days Going Strong Continued: Volume Five

April 28, 2017 -- Day 27:

We drove to Gram and Pap's to hang out and decided to have dinner at "The Mariner" in Kittanning. This is one of our collective favorite places to eat together, and everytime we do this, we all have a super fun time. This turned out to be no exception.

April 29, 2017 -- Day 28:

We basically waited all day for the Penguins to continue their winning ways. Franco and I did a few errands in the meantime. (i.e. We went to Target. I am beginning to think we should receive a sponsorship. It might be fun to count how many adventures in these 150 days include Target. Alternatively, that could be construed as just sad.)

We were not let down, and I never even had to pick Franco up once to ensure a victory. Winning.

April 30, 2017 -- Day 29: 

Our little family spent a gorgeous day at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Franco has waited almost a year to see Dippy the Dinosaur, and all the rest of the dinosaurs. Also, the dinosaurs. We had a lovely time on an absolutely perfect Sunday afternoon.

And we're digging....

After a thoroughly educational and fun experience, we headed for dinner at Fat Head's. Franco fell deeply in love with the black and yellow chicken wing sauce, and I felt much the same about the Hefeweizen. The sun shone, the breeze blew, and, even though we were in the Southside, we saw no one get arrested. Perfection.

May 1, 2017 -- Day 30:

The first thirty days down! I think we are all incredibly fond of this new experiment, except maybe Scotty P., who may or may not even realize this little experiment is a thing. I'd ask him, but where's the fun in that?

Franco and I decided to hang out at home, clean up, and then head out to Target. (SEE??!!)  
We made tacos and settled in to watch the Penguins clean up the Capitals in this series, making it virtually impossible for a comeback....

Only to be rudely reminded that we are talking about a Pittsburgh sports team addicted to drama. And the stinking Capitals. We lost the game and, in so doing, many of us in this house lost our minds. All in all, this day's greatest adventure may have been curtailing the already filthy language to its usual totally filthy levels. A feat not to be downplayed, to be sure.

May 2, 2017 -- Day 31:

Because of the move last year, my natural gym routine became woefully interrupted. Then, I just made a conscious decision to be rather lazy all the way around. Now, the time has come and I must remedy this situation. 

Franco and I jaunted right up to LA Fitness because of the all-important (and oh-so-coveted) Kiddo Klub. We wasted no time taking full advantage of this decision. Franco bounced right into Kiddo Klub as I did to a Zumba class. He left so incredibly happy, and thanked me for allowing him to play again in a gym environment with all the other kids. I just left sore in places I had forgotten all about.

May 3, 2017 -- Day 32:

Franco showed up for skating lessons, only to find out that ice maintenance at the rink would not allow for it. So, he and a few of his buddies settled on an hour at the playground instead. Which just about made his day. We went home, ate lunch, and headed back out for gymnastics.

Then, a well-deserved nap. Maybe for both of us. Afterward, Franco was able to play with his beloved Riley from next door, and they made the most of a spring evening in the backyard. I took old Sweet-Sweet Emma for a long walk around the neighborhood, which she handled quite well, and which helped me deal with my hockey-related stress levels.

We ordered Nick's pizza and, even though we dreaded it, we watched the Penguins. And it actually renewed all hope. They rebounded nicely, and we capped a truly good day with a truly great win.

Also, Franco made this masterpiece. And placed it on his dad's head:

                                                   Why? Because he's Franco, that's why!

May 4, 2017 -- Day 33:

May the Fourth be with you! Franco and I went to the library for the Star Wars-themed pajama story time. (It starts at 6:30 in the evening. A lot of kids wear pajamas, which is encouraged. Because they are likely on normal schedules where 6:30 PM is closer to their bed times than their nap times.) 

We had a lot of fun. When it finished, Franco attempted to teach me chess. 

                                            Bobby Fischer -- where is he? I don't know, I don't know....

Bless that child for trying, though it's totally hopeless. I'm a lost cause. He ended up playing both sides of the board himself.

May 5, 2017 -- Day 34:

Kindergarten Orientation Day! Franco felt appropriately nervous, but it faded as soon as he entered the classroom and saw some blocks. He sat right down and told us to go on. So, Scott and I left him there for his hour-long pretend class and headed upstairs for the parents' portion of the program. 

Although it did not occur to me at the time, later Scott said he had serious Big Little Lies flashbacks. And in hindsight, I don't disagree. The school is lovely, all the mothers and staff members are perfectly coiffed, the principal is young and polished, the PTA mom is peppy and hip. So. Yeah. (No one mentioned an Elivs and Audrey themed trivia night. Yet.) We are excited for Franco to begin his new journey at Markham Elementary, and feel good about all the things he can accomplish.

                            A flower in a cute little pot for Franco, courtesy of kindergarten. 
                            Hair style apparently courtesy of The Beatles, circa 1964.

Later in the afternoon, Scott and Franco rode up to Gram and Pap's for something or another to do with the dirty rotten camper. I stayed home to do my nails. (Yes I did. And I have no regrets.)

That evening, Franco and I checked out the Mt. Lebanon high school production of The Pajama Game. The high school is impressive, as was the talent on stage. We really had a great evening and the drama department deserves a full standing ovation for a job well done. Bravo.

Also, Franco took his first picture in the high school, and I told him I would put it in his senior yearbook. I reiterate: his potential knows no bounds.

May 6, 2017 -- Day 35:

It rained. ALL DAY. We ate lunch at Eat 'n Park, then strolled Giant Eagle for fruit and hockey game snacks, and then popped into the beer distributor. (After re-reading that sentence, it occurred to me that this may be the most Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon ever.)

We sat around most of the day and waited for the puck drop. Then, we went to bed bitterly disappointed and sad. The end.

**To Be Continued.....

Friday, April 28, 2017

150 Days of Awesome: Volume Four

April 17, 2017 -- Day Sixteen:

Gram and Pap spent the night, so once Pap awoke (around noon -- his normal time) we ate lunch at Eat 'n Park, and then headed to Burlington (Not Coat Factory) to peruse the vast, endless expanse of stuff nobody really needs. Franco found a remote control car on sale, so of course Franco took it home. (Don't look at me. I didn't buy it.) He did tell Gram she would not have any money left over after the weekend because she will have spent all of it on toys. Pretty prophetic, that one.

Sadly, Gram and Pap went home that evening. And Franco fell asleep roughly ten minutes after they pulled out of the driveway. Then, we ordered Nick's Pizza and chilled.

April 18, 2017 -- Day Seventeen:

Effing Tax Day. The greatest adventure had to be one great experiment of how well "someone's" Lexapro worked to combat "someone's" pernicious anxiety. (Verdict: Fair.)

Later in the evening, Franco gave me a tutorial on every one of his remote control cars, new and old. He deemed it necessary as a precursor to our Remote Control Car Race 2017, to take place later in the week. Then, the Penguins lost their playoff game, forcing a Game Five. This day is not going down as the greatest adventure ever.

Effing Tax Day.

April 19, 2017 -- Day Eighteen:

Ice skating and gymnastics day. Franco did really well at each lesson, and he had fun doing so. Afterward, we stopped by Target. Because of course we did. Among the actual items we needed, we found DVD's on sale and came home with Spy Kids 1, 2, and 3 in a multi-pack. (Which means Franco went one entire day without a new item. Good for us.) Then, he watched Spy Kids 1, 2, and 3 and ate a chocolate donut.

Later that night, we commenced Remote Control Car Race 2017 and Franco won six rounds to my three. A rematch is TBA.

April 20, 2017 -- Day Nineteen:

We dodged a nasty downpour to run into and out of the library. We borrowed a new Star Wars Wii game and Despicable Me 2. The rest of the day, Franco waited for his dad to get off work so we could drive to Gram and Pap's for the weekend. To bide his time, he mastered his new game. And asked me when his dad would be home already.

Once at Gram and Pap's, we celebrated the Pens' win and simultaneous clinch of Round One. Whew.

April 21, 2017 -- Day Twenty:

A weekend at Gram and Pap's means a slew of activities. Franco arrives with a mental agenda, and a pox upon us all if he does not meet said agenda. He and Pap played Gabe and Garrett outside in the car (normal) and we taught him new games (normal) and he stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to party (normal.)

April 22, 2017 -- Day Twenty-One:

We all took a sojourn to eat at the awesome restaurant Country Junction in the Amish country of Smicksburg. For dessert, Franco and I tried the most delicious thing ever to be invented: a pumpkin gob. To quote Gram, "Oh, my word." Too delicious.

After stuffing our faces, we walked over to one of the Amish stores to peruse the wares. Much to our surprise, Franco and I found something for which we have searched far and wide for many eons:

                                Not kidding. Not even a little bit. Baby corns are our everything.

(I did mention that not all adventures would be earth-shattering, correct? This might qualify as one such example.)

We returned to watch baseball and enjoy our last night at Gram and Pap's home-away-from-home-which-used-to-actually-be-my-home.

April 23, 2017 -- Day Twenty-Two:

Scott had to drive the mother-bleeping camper to Washington PA to be inspected and who knows what else. We met him there and, once back in the 'Burgh, watched the Buccos on TV.

In the afternoon, Franco and I strolled to the Galleria mall to look around. Then, we took a long walk around the neighborhood. We decided to figure out which house on Ordale Avenue, which runs parallel to Washington Road, shares our yard. We had fun walking the street and peeking through the trees to find our home from its back. (Answer: 95 Ordale Avenue. You can rest easy tonight. You're welcome.) Along our way, we giggled as much as we exercised.

It kind of was the best.

April 24, 2017 -- Day Twenty-Three:

Today, we had the privilege to drive to Washington PA and give our PA license plate to the Mercedes dealer, so the camper could be inspected and who knows what else. Franco looked like this:

                                                Rainy days and Mondays can't get me down...

On our way home, we stopped by Five Below and TJ Maxx. But, the rain made us lazy, and so we just headed home to goof off the rest of the day.

April 25, 2017 -- Day Twenty-Four:

So, I decided (unilaterally, mind you, and without being prompted by anything other than my insanity) to rearrange Franco's room. I don't know why I do this to myself, but here we are. I roped Franco into helping me lug all his toys out of his room and then cart containers up and down from the basement, until we were both sweaty and messy and sincerely as far away from organization as we could get. Thank heavens Ol' Scotty P. isn't as OCD about coming home to an uncluttered environment as I am because if I had walked into the madness we had created, I would have lost my damn mind.

Anyhow, the project which I thought might take an afternoon had clearly morphed into a week-long adventure. Yippee.

As a bonus, though, we did get to use the extra bedroom (AKA Gram and Pap's room) until we can find Franco's bed again under the immense pile of nonsense....

April 26, 2017 -- Day Twenty-Five:

Skating and gymnastics awesomeness, obviously. Franco had two extremely great, fun lessons, and left both proud of himself and exhausted.

Afterward, we headed to the rec center to buy our pool passes for the summer, which is bittersweet when you used to do this instead:

Just remember how much cheaper it is not to have a beautiful pool in your backyard. Tell yourself that. Again and again. It's not really working, is it? I didn't think so.

The Lebo pool does have two waterslides and a rock climbing wall, though, so there is that.

Once done, Franco played on the playground for a while before we went home to lament our still disorganized state of affairs which is Franco's room. Ugh.

April 27, 2017 -- Day Twenty-Six:

Have I mentioned that our house is torn apart? I did? Oh, well, then, I guess you know what we did today!

And then......the Penguins' first game of the second round, against none other than the dreaded Washington Capitals. Uncle Dr. Chad texted Scott beforehand that "Ovechkin is a dirty little bitch" and then added "but Franco probably already told you that." (Touche.)

We all held our collective breath through much of that one. Yikes. But, somehow, Bonino-Bonino-BONINOOOOOOOOOOO came through at the end! It just so happened that I had put a 50-pound Franco on my hip (to quell some anxiety) right before that third goal, and so clearly had to keep him there for the rest of the game. Because logic. We are toying with the logistics of how I can hold him throughout all the rest of the games in the series. We will do what we have to do, believe you me, if that's what it takes.

Scott texted Uncle Dr. Chad to tell him that Franco screamed an absolutely filthy, expletive-laden cheer (which he spelled into the text, but which I will leave to your imagination) about that AWESOME game, to which Chad replied, "Wash that kid's mouth out with soap. My kids are in bed."

Permissive parenting? Check. Penguins' victory? Check. We're all winners.

**To Be Continued....

Sunday, April 23, 2017

150 Days of Adventure, etc.: Volume Three

The whirlwind of last weekend kicked our collective patoots. We are only now recovered. Here is the recap:

Friday, April 14, 2017 -- Day Thirteen:

We spent nearly all day in anticipation for the puck drop. Auntie and Uncle Steve arrived at our home, and we all headed downtown on the T. We stopped by a hotel tailgate for a beer/ginger ale, and then headed into PPG Paints Arena.

                                       Get in the fast lane, Grandma! The bingo game's ready to roll!

We were all too ready for as awesome a game as Game 1, so I naturally prepared myself to be bitterly disappointed. Because that's how I do. Ol' Scotty P. went full-on financial amnesiac and purchased us great seats, pretending like we could actually afford it a few days before tax day. (He's either a prince charming or straight-up lunatic, depending on my state of sobriety when I make the call. And only I make the call.)

He did a great job. We are now sufficiently spoiled.

                                                 Warmups. With Fleury in the cage. Perfect.

The Pens played an amazing and exciting game, Sid and the kids showed up and showed off, and we won, making the series 2 games to none. All in all, we had the most fabulous time. Franco added to his cheer of, "Keep on suckin' suckers! We're unstoppable!" by pointing to the Penguins logo on his chest and screaming, "See this? This is professional hockey!" I don't even know where he got that. It sounds professional wrestle-y, and I most certainly NOT wrestle-y, professional or otherwise.  But, we're keeping it. Feel free to pay homage yourselves.

Afterwards, Franco stared at the scoreboard reading Pens 4 -- Jackets 1 and proclaimed, "I could just stare at that score all night long."

                                                                 Same, Buddy. Same.

The walk through the city to the T station was filled with cheers and the buzz of champions. After a very eventful ride home on the T, where we had to listen to some joker complain about teenagers using the F-word ("Heavens to Betsy!!"), we made it home to revel accordingly.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 -- Day Fourteen:

Everyone took naps. (Although Franco resisted until 7:00 PM. Most kids call that bedtime. We clearly have no structure. Carry on.) Then, we put out our baskets, laid out a lovely carrot, and dyed eggs in anticipation for the guest of honor. Franco stayed up well past 1:00 AM because his excitement would allow nothing otherwise. (Also, see his aforementioned "nap" time.)

                    I can't be 100% sure it is not technically Easter Sunday at the snap of this photo.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 -- Day Fifteen:

Easter Sunday! Franco woke up to find that, indeed, the Easter Bunny had come to bestow upon him a ridiculous amount of candy, a remote-control Mickey and the Roaster Racers car, and The Good Dinosaur on Blu-Ray, for which he was especially grateful because, as he stated, "My mum's too cheap to buy that because it's never on sale." (All true.)

The only rule on Easter Sunday is there are no rules and you can eat candy all day long, if that's your thing, as long as you drink some milk along with it.

                                                             Don't mind if I do.....

Later that morning, Franco and I went upstairs to take a rest before our next big holiday outing that afternoon.....

                                 I've been waiting since "Ring of Keys" on the Tony Awards!

We got dressed up to meet Gram and Pap for dinner downtown and all sauntered over to see Fun Home at Heinz Hall. Franco critiqued at the end, "Well, that was a heckuva show!" His favorite parts were when the little kids hid in the coffin, the dance number under the disco ball, and when the set got "fancy." (He also found it remarkable that Gram took off her coat AND fleece during the show.) The night did feel pretty overwhelming.

We had a grand evening, only marred by the knowledge that Game 3 of the Pens' first-round series happened simultaneously. Thank goodness for DVR.

Once home from a wonderful, heartfelt musical performance, we all settled in to watch the game. It took a while -- and especially took us a while, since we were on a substantial delay -- but the Pens pulled it out in overtime, and thus another holiday centered around a Pittsburgh sporting event went our way. Thank heavens.

***Around this point in time, it crossed my mind that this little "project" of mine, which I made up and participate in purely on a voluntary basis, could be a tad ambitious. Too late now because of the blog. If I had only kept my big mouth shut. Story of my life.

To be continued.....


Thursday, April 20, 2017

150 Days of Adventure Yada, Yada, Yada: Volume Two

Adventures still going strong! Sometimes we might be exhaused. However, we persist.

Friday, April 7, 2017 -- Day Six:

Ol' Scotty P. had to take a tooth class downtown, so Franco and I had the whole day to ourselves. We did this:

                                                             And it was awesome!!

Afterward, we spent the rest of our Chuck E. Cheese tokens and bought a cotton candy.


Saturday, April 8, 2017 -- Day Seven:

Another day to ourselves because teeth. Auntie, Uncle Steve, and some of their friends (on their way to the ballgame) invited us to lunch on the North Shore, so we obliged. We rode the T (and played our traditional game of "I Spy") to the Carnegie Science Center for a few hours of playtime.

                                                        Future engineer? Obviously.

That afternoon, we took a sunshine walk along the river to meet at Bettis' Grille. We ate, drank beer (or, conversely, Shirley Temples) and reveled in the Pirates' opening weekend energy.

When we parted ways, Franco and I walked over to a Pittsburgh sports store and bought the book Good Night Pittsburgh as a companion to Good Night New Orleans. Our two favorite cities together at last!

Franco slept on the T on the way home. Once there, we watched baseball and played and relaxed. The Pirates won. We all did.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 -- Day Eight:

At the end of the morning tooth session, we all headed out for a collective life goal:

                                                         Beauty and the Beast. Splendid.

We laughed, sang along, Scotty P. definitely cried, and we soaked up a lovely afternoon. On the way home, we stopped by BRGR for burgers in the cool evening breeze. Not bad for a Sunday.

Monday, April 10, 2017 -- Day Nine:

Franco and I made a Peep Diorama a few weeks ago, and the library held the second annual
"Peep-le's Choice Awards" this night!

                                                We made this. We had fun. We did not win.

But everyone got a Peep-shaped smelly soap and a certificate anyhow. Luckily, Franco is not James Harrison's son and I allowed him to take home his "prize." Appropriately, we "won" this:

                                 Franco's excitement at our "Best Dog!" superlative continues.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 -- Day Ten:

Unfortunately for literally everyone, we had to spend a good deal of this day on tax stuff. It made some of us anxious, and others just bored. But, Franco and I did manage to take a side trip to Toys 'R Us to stroll around in awe of all the stuff out there we could buy if we did not have such a large tax bill. (Joking. Kind of.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 -- Day Eleven:

On Wednesdays, Franco takes an ice skating lesson in the morning and heads to gymnastics in the afternooon. It is quite grueling, and also a good built-in adventure. He enjoyed both activities, and afterward, took a well-deserved nap.

After work, Scott had to go to sprawlingly un-appealing Cranberry township for a meeting. Once Franco awoke, he and I made tuna melts and talked about our day. Luckily, Scott emerged unscathed from the northern concrete abyss. Once home, we all watched the Penguins playoff beatdown of Columbus together, as a family. As it should be.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 -- Day Twelve:

I am not even joking that I received two texts at precisely the same moment (12:44 PM) from separate folks.

Scott: "Check your email, surprise"

Rebeccah: "will you guys be around friday/tomorrow? Steve managed to score pens tickets....."

Suffice it to say, Scott forgot all about any financial tax burdens and bought playoff tickets for Game 2! And we obviouisly were to have house guests as well! Later in the day, Franco and I had lunch at Panera, shopped for groceries, and put in all the important weekend requests to the main bunny.

                                                                Chillin' with the EB.    

The following weekend ended up to be a whirlwind.
To be continued.......


Friday, April 7, 2017

150 Days of Adventure, Give or Take a Few Days: Volume One

W. Franco Stark Poling is officially registered for kindergarten. So, we have approximately 150 days to get him mentally prepared for the structure of a half-day curriculum. We practice letters and numbers when we get around to it, we play-act scenarios about which he may be anxious, we talk about social skills and being in a classroom, and we stress -- daily -- that he absolutely has to clean up his dirty, filthy trash mouth. More or less, we are going to need those 150 days.

Most importantly, and onto the fun point, we have vowed to have at least one adventure a day for the next 150 days. This is the last haul before his life changes forever. He and I have determined to soak up the memories. There are no rules for what the adventure may entail, who may participate, or how lavish or simple the event.

I realized that, while we embarked on this plan, we did not tell anyone or post it on social media. Which means, it may or may not be real. Pics or it didn't happen, right? So, I have decided to share, for you. Also, kind of, for us. Here goes....

Sunday, April 2nd -- Day One:

Scott, Franco, and I attended the Penguins hockey game at PPG Paints Arena. It was Franco's first live Penguins' game, and just so happened to be against the Carolina Hurricanes. That opponent is not cooincidental. We did not just stumble into a possible beatdown of a team which hails from our old homestead. (Because Scott and I attended a playoff game in Raleigh and were heckled and we wanted sweet revenge on our home turf. But, we only saw, like, three whole Canes fans in attendance and just felt bad.)

Anyhow, the Pens made it super exciting and we had a blast. Franco screamed, "Keep on suckin' suckers! We are unstoppable!" every time we scored, and I swear that he made that up on his own, despite the conspicuous lack of cuss words. The Pens won, and we left perfectly elated.

Monday, April 3rd -- Day Two:

We went all the way up the road to Barnes & Noble so Franco could play on the train table, and I could finally get my hands on The Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin' Dixie Outta the Dark. ('Cuz I am a damn Yankee through and through, but I love me some Trae, Drew, and Corey. Them fellas hit for me in a big, big way.)

Tuesday, April 4th -- Day Three:

Franco and I have become addicted to the public library. Or, more technically accurate, I have successfully indoctrinated Franco into my addiction. The library has historically been one of my happiest places, and this library takes first place honors for most awesome. Every Tuesday, the children's library hosts "Crafternoons" where kids hear an art-related story and then make something related to the tale. (Did I mention how much I adore this place??)

This day, they heard Klimt and His Cat about Gustav Klimt's work, and then they all made a work so inspired.

Wednesday, April 5th -- Day Four:

Scott texted me from work to say, and I quote: N Vermin the Mess.

Followed by: Wanna see Bin Jovi tonight?

Ol' Scotty P., master of the English language. Anyway, I understood the first to mean, "Nevermind the medicine." And the second to mean, "Hell yes I want to see Bon Jovi tonight! I mentioned this for months, but you said 'No' because Richie Sambora is not with them, and I said, 'Well it's not my problem he can't get off his drunk ass.'"

So, we last-minute decided to go to the Bon Jovi concert in Pittsburgh. And we do not regret it.

We did not, however, decide to let Franco know that without Bon Jovi's New Jersey album and a copious amount of Bud Light, his parents would likely never have gotten together and he would not exist. (What can I say? I have always been one classy lady.)

Thursday, April 6th -- Day Five:

Franco woke up sniffly and congested, so we took it easy. We then headed out to Chuck E. Cheese in the afternoon. After careful consideration, we parceled 15 tokens from our stash. Once those were depleted, he I decided to throw caution to the wind, grabbed another 20 tokens, and we tore. It. Up. Afterward, we hit Trader Joe's for some samples, a pretzel roll, and some blood orange soda.

A better alternative to a rainy, blistery Pittsburgh Thursday simply does not exist.

*****To be continued.......

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

High Tolerance

I've read that this election, or rather its outcome, has caused some people to drink more than usual. Well, the joke's on all of you, suckers! Because I've been drinking like this for the better part of 20 years, and I'm super well prepared!

I went to WVU for undergrad AND law school, lived in Morgantown for 14 years, am a die hard Steelers fan, and come from Czech and German heritage. One might say I was born ready. On top of that, I spent countless hours honing my craft. My list of drinking achievements is long, if not entirely distinguished. Tolerance is not my problem here.

Unless, of course, you want to talk about intolerance. Because that kind of really is my problem. All my life, I have listened to racism and bigotry. (Thankfully, not from my wonderful parents, who taught me to stand up and speak out when confronted with hate, and who subsequently may have had thoughts that I took the speaking out part a bit too far. Thanks mom and dad!'re welcome?)

Some of this speech was outright, some of it couched in euphemisms and double-talk, all of it hateful and disturbing. In high school, I used to leave the classroom when the teachers refused to shut down my classmates' slurs and my loud assertions to do so caused a commotion. There was a couch outside the office, and I would just go sit there until class ended. Quiet. Angry. And alone.

Because, I guess, it seemed easier to remove me from the equation rather than the hateful rhetoric? It got to the point where I would just stand up and say, "I'm going to the couch now" and leave without any real acknowledgment from anyone. This did not happen daily. But it happened more than once. And that is too many times.

Since then, I may have tempered my outbursts (at times) to blend in. I bit my tongue so often in so many situations to keep the status quo. But, I heard and remembered and made mental notes of how others talked. Of how many off-handed racist comments I heard. And from whom. When I did choose my battles, I kept a tally of how often I was shut down, condescended to, waved off. And by whom.

As a typical young person, filled to the brim with righteous idealism, I assumed that as the years passed and I became a "real grown-up" this would all shift into balance. The cream would rise to the top, the bigotry would fall to the wayside where it belonged, the smart people would win, and everyone would understand how hurtful and stupid and wrong it is to hate.

Years have passed, I don't know what a "real grown-up" is or how to become one, and the balance certainly has shifted. Just not exactly the way I pictured it would. In some moments, I feel a little like I did on that old couch. Quiet. Angry. And alone.

But most days, I am that loud-mouthed teenager causing a ruckus. Only now, I will not be forced to leave the room. There has to be a time when it is not me who is shushed for speaking up against the hate. There has to be a time when bigotry is simply not tolerated. Ever. When no excuse is tolerated as a reason to discriminate against legions of human beings. When no matter what, we find our voices and we stand up and we demand that it be stopped. For once and for all.

No matter how prepared I felt, I still have work to do. My high tolerance does indeed have its limits, at tailgates and in real life. But I'm not on the couch anymore. I'm still angry. But I know damn well that I'm not alone.

And you know damn well that I am. Not. Quiet.

About Me

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Steph's days are complete with little Franco/Mr. Buddy Pants, Pittsburgh Steelers football, Penguins hockey, all things WVU, cold beverages, new handbags, shoe-shopping, pups, and lots and lots of movies. And, of course, her glorious, nutty family.