Visit from Friends, Touch A Truck (5/18/13) and Kennywood (5/19/13)

I am a little bit behind in posting about things that are awesome. This is largely due to being somewhat busy at work. We had a few people leave recently, and we’ve hired new people, and between training them and keeping up with the day to day stuff, the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit in front of a computer. I mean, I’ll play Words with Friends or whatever, but I don’t actually want to type anything.

Elizabeth blogged about these events from several weeks ago here and here. But I wanted to talk about our adventure-filled weekend a few weeks ago because of how full of awesome it was.

Catherine and her kids came to visit us on Friday. I took a vacation day that day so we were actually, you know, ready to receive visitors. We mostly just hung out on Friday. We made like seven pizzas, I don’t even remember, but everyone ate a lot of pizza.

Saturday morning we went to Touch A Truck. This is a cool event where there are just basically a lot of trucks in a parking lot along with the truck drivers and kids can climb in the trucks and pretend to drive and what not. If you yourself are not between the ages of 2-7, this may not sound especially awesome, but there’s a particular demographic that very much enjoys this type of thing. Elena is very interested in cars so she enjoyed this event. I am not a truck person, but I was there with some great friends so I enjoyed this event. All in all, it was a good morning (even if it was a little hot by the end of it).

Jack, Luke and Elena

Jack, Luke and Elena

Rachel and Elena

Rachel and Elena

Ice cream break!

Ice cream break!

The next day (the very next day!) we went to local amusement park Kennywood with Elizabeth and Rachel. We took part in a one mile walk through the park to benefit Easter Seals, and then we got to ride rides. Elena LOVES riding rides! This is her third year at Kennywood (the first year we took her when she was 18 months we didn’t really get to do much with her, but last year she really enjoyed it too). It was great for her to be able to ride with Rachel. They had a blast together.

Elephant Ride!

Elephant Ride!

This poor little girl was put on the Kid Whip by her parents against her will. She cried the whole time.

This poor little girl was put on the Kid Whip by her parents against her will. She cried the whole time.

Merry Go Round

Merry Go Round

Upcoming posts will include my thoughts on the new Arrested Development (currently we have 3 episodes left) and a recap of Stacey’s wedding, which is this weekend. Right now, however, there is ice cream calling my name.

Pens Playoff Game!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to go to a Pittsburgh Penguins playoff game! I’ve only been to two games at the new Consol Energy Center, and I’ve never been to a Pens playoff game at all, so I was very excited.

This is how I got the tickets. I had just been to a work happy hour and I was checking my Facebook when I saw that Colleen (one of my marathon-relay-hockey-lady friends) had posted that she had a spare ticket for the game and needed to find someone to go with her. She had already asked a few people but they had plans. Who has plans that trump a Pens hockey game? Not me! (Actually that’s a lie. I often have plans that would trump a Pens hockey game. I just didn’t happen to have any such plans on Friday.)

So off I went to the game. We stopped at Las Velas for dinner before the game. I inhaled my food so I didn’t take a picture of the yummy fish tacos I had, but here is a picture of the chips.

Pre Game Eats

Pre Game Eats

Here is my ticket!

Golden Ticket

Golden Ticket

We walked from Market Square to Consol, which is probably at least a 1/2 mile uphill, but rather make the walk than park near the arena (as my friend Regina who lives across the street from the arena would agree – you don’t want to be driving up there).

Towel giveaway when we got there. For those who are not locals and/or Pens fans, the Pens announcers tend to have some interesting/entertaining/based in no reality catch phrases when they’re calling the games, and this is one of them.*

Towel giveaway

Towel giveaway

Plus, you know, everyone likes a towel to wave around, right?

Colleen obtained the seats from our mutual friends Keith and Shelby. I used to be on Keith’s “do you want to buy my tickets” list but I got booted (probably for not buying any tickets for like three years). Colleen gets a few sets every year.

View from our seats

View from our seats

Colleen and Sandy

Colleen and Sandy

So of course the game was AWESOME. The score was 6-2, James Neal had a hat trick so everyone threw hats on the rink (that young man is the Real Deal), and it was the last game of the series with Ottawa so we got to see the teams go through the handshake line that is tradition at the end of every playoff series. Particularly the last 5-10 minutes of the third period, the crowd was just absolutely into the game and it was really exciting to be there and to be a part of the experience. I was a little sad to see how badly my boy Gonchar played for Ottawa. But I don’t care about anyone else on the other team. Haha.

I’m particularly proud of myself that there was a Dunkin Donuts stand right near our seats and I didn’t buy any donuts! Who even am I?

Meanwhile, Elena and Rachel were having a sleepover. Elena went to bed at like 5:30 on Saturday and Rachel took a 4-hour nap so we suspect that they were up pretty late talking about boys and doing shots.

Preparing for a night of debauchery

Preparing for a night of debauchery

All in all, a fun evening! Thanks Colleen!

*I should confess that I don’t really know the history of this particular catch phrase. I Googled it and it appears to have been generated by Phil Bourque a few months ago. If I am completely off base with this statement I trust someone will (kindly) provide the correct information.

Exercising while pregnant

As you may have guessed from the nature of my posts, I’ve done quite a bit of thinking and reading about the various benefits and issues presented with respect to exercising while pregnant. Here are my main thoughts.

1. First of all, of course, you have to do what’s right for you and do it in conjunction with speaking with your doctor. Many people choose not to do anything at all for whatever reason, and that’s not something I would judge. A few years ago I read an article about a woman who went into labor while running a marathon. This is great for her, but I’d say this is an extreme, and people should not go around thinking that this is for everybody!

2. Anything you can get yourself to do is awesome. In talking to other pregnant ladies I’d say the most common exercise routine is yoga and walking.

3. There are not a lot of studies on whether or not you should play hockey specifically while pregnant because, duh, a lot of women don’t play hockey at all, let alone when they are pregnant. Nevertheless I was able to locate sufficient literature to support a decision to play through the first trimester. Unfortunately I located this during the second trimester of my last pregnancy, so it didn’t benefit me then, but I was very happy to keep playing this time. When I hit about week 13, the combination of my growing belly and the fact that I couldn’t really keep up with the game led me to stop just about right on time. My primary tip here is not to rely on sources like BabyCenter or What to Expect to figure out what you should do in the way of exercise. They’re going to speak to the general population, and they have to be careful because the general population is stupid.

4. As you know I ran the marathon relay a few weeks ago. I’ve been running since then, but I’m finding that it now takes me a ridiculous amount of recovery time (like, I’m exhausted for two days after running three miles) so I think I may be done with running. I’m going to try spinning again one of these days – I haven’t made it over there in a few weeks because I was focused on being sure I could run the relay, and then I’ve been resting from being exhausted since then. But the last time I went there was a 33 week pregnant lady (she’s probably had her baby by now!) and she said it felt really good to just do something, even though she couldn’t run any more. I figure the rest of my pregnancy I’ll do a combination of biking and these new Tracy Anderson DVDs I got, which I’ve been enjoying because they are challenging but don’t take three days of recovery after doing them.

So those are my thoughts on exercising while pregnant for me. I did all this thinking and planning because I knew I would be bouncing off the walls if I couldn’t work out, and yoga and walking didn’t cut it for me last time. (I hope this speeds up the post-pregnancy recovery and weight loss period, because I really want to get back to playing hockey again.)

Rollerskating

I know that both Elizabeth and Erin will post about our Saturday adventures, and since I have never been on an adventure with both of these fantastic writers, the pressure is on. I’ve decided that the only way to deal with this is to be the FIRST one of the three of us to post about it. So while they are crafting their golden nuggets of wisdom, I will do my typical stream-of-consciousness spewing about ridiculousness.

Erin and Elizabeth apparently came up with a plan to go rollerskating together this past Saturday through the magic of the internets. I know both of them in real life and they’ve met each other before, but never hung out before, so they both thought I should come. The fact that I’m 21 weeks pregnant is apparently irrelevant. (Rightly so – I mean, I ran in the damn marathon last week so I’m hardly sitting around eating bon bons.) However I am not a particularly strong skater, and Saturday is typically my Elena Day because Ben works, so I was not exactly sure how this was going to go.

There was a period when I thought Ben was going to be off and could stay home with Elena. Hooray! That didn’t work out. Then there was a period when I thought my dad could come over and keep an eye on her. Hooray! But that didn’t work out either. Elena had previously expressed an interest in rollerskating but that doesn’t mean much when you’re three – she also is very interested in riding the school bus, jump rope, pouring her own syrup, and running in a 5K. Nevertheless I decided to take her with me. As with all adventures with a three year old, you just kind of have to say to yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen” and provided the answer is not “a fiery death,” you just have to go with it.

We went for pancakes in the morning, so we were properly fueled up for skating.

fueling up

fueling up

Because I’m an idiot, I decided to tell Elena about rollerskating two hours before rollerskating opened. If she could have gotten in the car and driven us there immediately she would have. But we managed to wait it out. Also I forgot socks, but Elizabeth brought some for us.

Erin’s post will likely focus on the fact that she was “unaccompanied” as in “without life partner Henry” so in order to support her I took this picture of her properly parenting her child by assisting him with his skates instead of making him do it himself and/or asking a stranger for help. Go, Erin!

parenting

parenting

I decided to skate too. Partially this was because you’re not allowed on the rink if you don’t have skates on and I didn’t want to leave Elena stranded. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been the best choice for everyone, but I decided that given the crowd (light), my current physical condition (good, considering), and my anticipated speed (slow) I would be fine. (I totally chugged a 40 out of a paper bag while I was skating at the same time.) And it turned out my skating skills were pretty much the same as they would have been if I weren’t pregnant, so I felt pretty good about myself.

And it turned out Elena LOVED skating. We tried both the over-shoe skates and the boot skates for her – she couldn’t really stand in the latter, but the former were a bit too slow for her until she got a skate gate and just took off. She was determined, and it seemed like she was starting to learn skill, and it worked out just fine.

In this picture, you can see a blurry shape to the left. That’s Erin, cruising past us. Erin is quite good at skating. I mean, I didn’t see her hold her foot over her head or anything but she certainly, literally, ran circles around us.

slow skating

slow skating

Every time Elena fell near Erin’s son, who’s 7, he got all concerned about her, but she was actually fine with falling. It was cute how worried he was though. She sort of idolizes him, but she didn’t have much time for that yesterday because she was Determined to Skate.

I found out that they have a junior Roller Derby for girls 10-17 and since I can’t really skate I may be stage-mothering Elena into joining roller derby in a couple of years.

a natural

a natural

The skating rink itself was straight out of the 1970s, which made it quite authentic and enjoyable. I enjoyed stopping myself on the carpeted walls. I think everyone had a good time, except maybe Elizabeth’s husband Mike, who was apparently still somewhat traumatized by a disasterous-sounding roller rink birthday party of his youth that was caught on tape. (I keep imagining it like the George Michael Bluth light saber adventure from Arrested Development that shows up at every family video viewing.)

Elena skated for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I didn’t feel bad at all letting her watch TV for basically the rest of the day.

All in all it was a pretty fantastic way to spend an afternoon and everyone had a good time. I’m looking forward to reading Erin’s and Elizabeth’s take on it!

Holiday

As I get older, I find myself feeling more indifferent about holidays because no holiday is for everybody. (The obvious exception is my favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, the day on which everyone becomes Irish.) I don’t know if “indifferent” is the right word. “Concerned about celebrating” perhaps? “Sensitive to the pitfalls of”? I’ve been thinking about these things in light of Mother’s Day today, and because I’ve been worried about a few friends who have gone through some difficult times mothering-wise in the past year. I was worried Mother’s Day would be painful for them. And it probably is. But in looking at Facebook this morning, it was lovely to see so many people celebrating their mothers and their children, living and dead, and it made me feel more hopeful for those people who maybe are having a tough time of it.

So here’s a picture of Elena, me, and my mother, although NEVER TELL MY MOTHER I PUT A PICTURE OF HER ON THE INTERNET OR SHE WILL DISOWN ME. Today is Mother’s Day and I am thankful for my mother always, and my grandmothers who loved me unconditionally, and my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law who are fantastic people, and for my two cats and one dog, and for my Elena and my forthcoming newbaby.

Student Loans

Because I am not independently wealthy and because I attended law school in the 2000s, I have some student loans. Generally I just accept this as a fact of life – I wish I didn’t have to pay, obviously, but I’m lucky in that I can afford the payments, so I make them with minimal complaint.

I got a call the other day from the student loan people, and at first I just assumed I’d forgotten to schedule my payment. Since Ben is a mail carrier we try to pay most of our bills by mail, but a few years ago I ran into what I ultimately suspect is an issue with the Harrisburg post office wherein I would mail my payment in a timely fashion and it would take upwards of three weeks to get to this loan servicer, necessitating DAILY calls to me AND to my mom, who cosigned the loans, inquiring when I was planning to pay. So now I pay that bill online.

It turns out that my payment amount went up by approximately $30 between the time I had scheduled my payment and the time the payment came due. So the fact that my payment was $30 short necessitated a call to me AND to my mom, inquiring when I was planning to pay. At first I was just going to pay the additional amount when my next payment was due but I realized that would put me AND my mom on the daily call schedule, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Jumping right on the bandwagon for this meme...

Jumping right on the bandwagon for this meme.

So I paid the $30 extra, scheduled my next payment, and gave them a piece of my mind about how they shouldn’t be threatening to garnish my wages and send me to collections for $30 that was literally 10 days overdue.

I wish I had the option of paying them off and taking my business elsewhere, but that is not a financial option at this point. The other student loan people I have (for I have two loans, lucky me) are totally nice and send me little reminder letters like “we know you’re busy but you forgot to pay us this month, idiot, so please go ahead and send us a check now.” That’s reasonable. This garbage is ridiculous.

Marathon Relay!

This past Sunday I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay.

Last year I did the 1/2 marathon at the urging of my friend and coworker Angie. Running a 1/2 marathon was not and is not something I ever felt a particular need to accomplish, but since 2009 when the Pittsburgh Marathon started back up after a break of some years, I was starting to get medal envy, so I figured why not.

“Why not” for me is because a long distance run like 13.1 is NOT for me. Once my training runs got past about 6 miles, I dreaded doing them. My feet got all hurty (later to be attributed to bad shoes and also a bunion), it was really time consuming, I had to get sitters to come so I could do the runs, etc. etc. I finished the 1/2 marathon with a decent time (something ilke 2:28) and vowed never to do a half again. Despite Stacey continually badgering me to sign up for another one.

But at least I figured this all out!

So I like the event, but I didn’t want to run the bigger races. I decided to see if some of my hockey ladies would be interested in running the relay. Turns out they were! We had more than one team but sort of less than two teams, and two prospective team members had to endure relay-ending shoulder surgery and a torn meniscus, so we had to do a bit of scrounging around to find the last few people to run. But we did it! Two teams, two relays.

Initially we had thought we’d do a lot of training runs together, but the problem with running with people who play hockey is that they’re always busy playing hockey, so we didn’t do as many as we would have liked. However, we had a Facebook page and we posted a lot on the page, so that was fun. Plus we saw each other at hockey (or at least, everyone who was not too pregnant to play hockey saw each other) so we could talk about running there as well. We also did a few other races together, or together-ish since we run different speeds, before the big event. I did most of my training with Angie last year and this group mentality with respect to running is so useful and motivational.

I signed myself up for the fourth leg, which is from approximately miles 15-21 (6.1 total). This is a good distance for me – it’s challenging but it doesn’t make me want to weep tears of blood. It’s also a good route because it’s flat, after the 1/2 marathoners have peeled off so less congested, and through some awesome neighborhoods where people who lived there, like, brought out water that they had provided themselves and handed it out.

Here’s my view waiting to start.

Waiting to start at relay exchange 3

Waiting to start at relay exchange 3

The run was somewhat tough, since it was later in the morning and was hot, and I haven’t been running quite that distance recently. I had to walk more than I would normally be comfortable with, and my time was slow. But, I’m 20 weeks pregnant, so getting 6.1 in is a bit of an accomplishment regardless, I think! My time was 1:13:something. I was a little dehydrated afterward but not too badly.

Medal!

Medal!

Overall I’m happy I did it, I had a great experience, our teams were fun, and I would definitely do it again. And I would definitely do leg 4 again. And it shouldn’t be too difficult to beat my time from this year since I will not be pregnant next year! That will be fun. I’ll be all, “suck it, last year’s time!!!”

Ben ran the half marathon. He should post separately about this.

Wheeling WV zip code!

Wheeling WV zip code!