In Memoriam

As I climbed in the car to drive home from Washington, DC, my husband called. His mother had very unexpectedly passed away. And after my shock gave way, I cried nearly the whole drive home, knowing that we were going to have to explain to our 4 year old little girl that her Grandma, whom she adored, was gone forever. By “adored,” I don’t just mean “she loved Grandma.” I mean Grandma is literally her absolute favorite person in the whole wide world. She wakes up every morning and begs to go to Grandma’s house. This girl loves Grandma. And Grandma loves her back. She’s got her own bed and own toys and own everything at Grandma’s house. Grandma doesn’t just babysit, Grandma calls us and says “I want that baby for the weekend.” They are absolutely the best of friends.


My relationship with my mother in law was a complicated one, but we had reached such a good place in the last year or two. We weren’t the type to really be buddy buddy, but we did spend time together sometimes, and enjoyed splitting the cooking duties for the various holidays. She liked reading this blog. When I hopped on her computer yesterday to share the funeral information on her facebook account, it was touching to see that she had a link to this page right on her desktop. Most of all, we had gotten to such a good place with respect to my little girl. Grandma spoiled her, absolutely spoiled her, which I wasn’t thrilled with, but I was OK with them spending weekends together, without the watchful eye of mama, and they could eat all the cookies and paint their nails and go to Chuck E Cheese, and revel in their own little rebellions.

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been a hard week. Baby Beez kind of understands what’s going on. She’s been informing lots of shop clerks and random strangers that “My Grandma died,” which is very awkward. We’ve had lots of advice and support and followed all of it, but it is still hard. Mr. Beez and his dad have the heartbreak of worrying over Baby Beez’ grief, with the crushing load of losing their mother and wife on top of that. We’ve all had to confront an emptiness that we did not expect and were not equipped for.

Baby Beez is four. Everyone keeps telling me she will remember her Grandma. I think she will. But I’m afraid her appreciation for the depth of their relationship will fade over time. It breaks me up, thinking Grandma might just be someone in smiling photos. I want her to remember how much she loved her Grandma. How for her, Grandma could make absolutely everything OK (especially when mean mom told her she had to eat all the healthy food before she could have cookies). I didn’t see Grandma as competition or some kind of cheat to the everyday rules. She was Baby Beez’ escape to 24/7 FUN. I was so glad they had that together.

Tomorrow is the viewing and Thursday the funeral. If you know my husband, please give him a hug or send him an email. He needs that love right now.


Finally, a day where I feel like I’ve got it somewhat under control

Finally, a day where I feel like I’ve got it somewhat under control

Since I have the tendency to share every word I think and every tiny thing I do with the entire internets, I not-infrequently find myself in a situation where a friend is about to embark into the wild world of working-parentdom, and they sweetly assume that since I have not had a public meltdown in the last four years, I have some little bit of wisdom to impart about how to “balance” work and life.

Here’s the wisdom: I have no idea what I’m doing. None of us do. There is no “balance,” there is only triage, and just barely enough time to get the most demanding emergency under control before moving on to the next one. I fly by the seat of my pants. I do the best I can, but I usually have too much exhaustion and too little patience.


Today, though. Today was OK.

Mr. Beez and I both work jobs where our time is not entirely our own, meaning that we can’t make it to every class party or even know for sure whether we’ll be available or not on a particular day. Baby Beez is at an age where sometimes she cares and badly wants us there, sometimes she couldn’t care less. So I try to keep an ear open and follow her lead. If she doesn’t say she wants me to be at something, I don’t worry much about it. But if she says she want me to be there, I do try to make it happen.

Today was the class trip to the pumpkin patch. She’s been talking about the trip all week, about how she’s going to RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS and get to pick a pumpkin and, did I mention, RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS. She never mentioned any interest in me coming with her, so I did not pay much mind. What do you need mom for, when you get to RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS?

This morning, I trudged through the brutal morning tasks of making the lunches and feeding the pets and dressing the child and dressing myself and doing my hair and makeup and getting in the car. Although my morning was to be spent working at my desk, I had a hearing scheduled for the afternoon, so I was in a suit.

As we rolled down the hill to her school, a tiny voice peeped from the backseat, “Mommy, will you come to the farm with me?” She was so earnest, I couldn’t say no. I didn’t have time to go back for another outfit, so I went to the farm in my business clothes. I got hay dust on my pants and mud on my shoes. But she was so glad I was there as she snuggled up in my lap on the hayride. And even if I looked a little shabby when I got back to the office, it was worth it.



As with many 4 year olds, often the idea of an outing with Baby Beez is far more appealing than the outing itself. I will imagine us exploring museum exhibits or singing together at a kid’s music performance, but the reality ends up full of whining, covered in boogers, and with me desperate to unload the kid and go hide on a couch with a book. Today, though, it was all in sync. She was happy, I was happy, she found a lumpy-bumpy pumpkin in the patch just like she wanted.



We had a sweet morning together. Today, it worked out ok.



October feelin’

Welcome to October! I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been very busy, using up all my brain and my words during the day. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been more interested than reading words than writing them lately. Maybe it’s just because we haven’t been out to too many new restaurants lately, so that usually abundant stream of inspiration is not so abundant right now. But even though I’m not writing as much, I’m still here, I’m still reading, I’m still kicking. And here are some things on my mind tonight:

Page Dairy Mart’s last day for the season is scheduled for October 24. Sad. Even though the chocolate chip cookie sundae is di-vine (featuring Nancy B’s cookies), my favorite and go to is coffee soft serve with hot fudge and whipped cream. I need to stop on down there to get one last treat before they’re gone for the cold months.

Page Dairy mart Chocolate Chip Sundae

American Horror Story starts again tonight! It’s the only show that I regularly watch. My favorite season was season 1, but this whole circus thing looks especially creepy. I like to think I like scary things, but in real life I’m a giant crybaby and get too scared. American Horror Story tends to be just the right level of scary for me (meaning it tries to be scary, but isn’t really scary). Relatedly, my husband has banned me from ever watching a Paranormal Activity movie ever again, because he’s not a fan of being up all night while I cry over nightmares.


My birthday is next month. If all yinz guys wanna bake me a cookie table, I won’t complain. Also, I think the fact that 99% of the pictures I pin on Pinterest are baked goods is not helping me any with my (failing) efforts at losing weight.

I’ll be going on a mini solo trip this weekend to Washington DC to run the Army 10 Miler. I’m going to basically have an afternoon ALL TO MYSELF. I’ve already booked a trip to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and I think I’m going to go see Gone Girl (yes, because I drive 3 hours to go to see a movie that I could see at a movie theater 2 miles from my house) and go to bed early, because I am a WILD woman. But when you’re running 10 miles around the Pentagon the next day, hiking all over to sight see isn’t the wisest idea anyway.


Autumn clothes are my absolute favorite. Sweaters and cowl necks and boot socks and all things lovely and warm. Things I want want want:


Want want.

I just downloaded Hollow City, which is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and am very excited about reading it. Spooky!

Hollow City


Run for your liiiiiife with @JJHensleyAuthor ‘s Resolve

Run for your liiiiiife with @JJHensleyAuthor ‘s Resolve

At last year’s Podcamp Pittsburgh, one of my favorite session was a presentation by local authors. One of the speakers was JJ Hensley, and right at that moment, I added his novel Resolve to my “To Read” list. I was excited and honored when he sent me an email a few weeks ago, requesting that I review his book! As a blogger, I frequently get requests to review this or review that (and, as you’ll see from my Note on Reviews above, I generally decline), but there’s something special about an author personally reaching out to you and saying, “I made this, I’d like to know what you think.”


Hensley combines three favorite topics of mine– Pittsburgh, crime writing and running– into a fun, light read. Resolve follows (fictional) Three Rivers University professor Cyprus Keller as he tries to unravel the mystery of the murders happening all around him, all seemingly pointing to his guilt. The story unfolds as he runs the Pittsburgh marathon, which both provides a clever structure to the story, and gives the reader a unique overview of our city.


Resolve works well as a light read. The tone is very conversational, and anything that falls into police lingo/practice, Hensley spells out for you. The characters are fun and it’s the kind of book that it’s enjoyable to watch unfold. It’s hard to write about a crime novel without giving things away, but suffice it to say that it ends in a somewhat unexpected but satisfying way.

My one gripe with the story is that when Keller runs through the Homewood neighborhood during the marathon, he describes it as desolate, crime ridden and depressed. Homewood’s a tough neighborhood, but let me tell you, Homewood loves the marathon. I ran that stretch of the relay last year, and there were churches and families and community groups out cheering and blasting music. I got SO MANY high fives from kids. It was one of the best stretches of the run. It was a little disappointing to see Homewood represented in that negative way, when the marathon is one of the events where the neighborhood really shines.

Resolve was a timely read for me, as registration opened on the Pittsburgh Marathon this past week, and I’m all signed up for the Half Marathon. WILL I SEE YOU OUT ON THE COURSE?  Can you tell I’m excited? Resolve is a great book to get you all excited for the run, or even just to feed your enthusiasm for our city.

Also, Hensley’s newest book, Measure Twice, was just released. Measure Twice looks to be another perfect read for crime novelist enthusiasts of this fair city:

Pittsburgh Homicide Detective Jackson Channing is struggling to break free from an addiction. His alcoholism may have cost him his marriage and now threatens to sweep away his sanity.

​ When the body of a city official is discovered in a public location, the entire city of Pittsburgh bears witness to a form of evil that is difficult to comprehend. Channing learns the killer is patient, methodical, and precise. In order to stop the killing, Channing will have to pull his life together and come to terms with a secret that is tearing him apart.

(PS- I declined the offer of a copy of Resolve for this review, and just checked it out from the library instead. So the general marketing disclosures aren’t even applicable here.)


Race Day Playlist #Army10Miler

Race Day Playlist #Army10Miler

The Army 10 Miler is a little over a week away! I’m getting super excited. I’ve never been to the Pentagon before, and I’m super excited to get to run this exciting race around it. I’m bib number I’m running in honor of my brother, Matthew, who is deploying to Qatar this month. He’s a kid that had a shaky run through high school, but he’s put on his big-boy undies and now is a distinguished soldier, shooting big guns at airplanes. He’s much braver than I’ll ever be. HOOAH!

This week of training has been a tough one. The nights have been creeping in a little earlier, and although sometimes I’ll do a night run on Grandview Ave, I’m really not a huge fan of running in the dark. I’ve been running on the treadmill a lot this week, which is better than nothing, but doesn’t give you the challenges of hills and is also mind-numbingly boring. At least I’m running on something…but I really am looking forward to getting a nice long run in outdoors on Sunday.

In celebration of the upcoming race, here are some race day music essentials. It’s certainly not enough to fill up 10 miles, but it’ll get you started.

Starting Line– to get yourself PUMPED!

Timber by Ke$ha and Pitbull. OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO START THIS RACE.


First Mile– Ride that enthusiasm, but keep the energy reigned in, so you don’t burn out in the first half!

Black Widow by Iggy Azelea. If this song came out 10 years earlier, it would have been the anthem of my law school years. So many bad decisions. So much crazy and I didn’t even realize it. So much embarrassment all these years later, but whatever. It makes a great song.

Hit ‘em Up Style by Blu Cantrell. HEY LADIES

Hard Out Here by Lily Allen. Yesss.

Tempo– Keepin it steady in the long miles of the middle of the race.

Oh No! By Marina and the Diamonds. So much fun!

Change Clothes by Jay Z. So necessary, Ma.

Never Let Me Down by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Ivy. I may be Jewish, but sometimes some PRAISE JESUS music is just what you need. TAKE ‘EM TO CHURCH

LAST MILE– You’re tired and so close! Need that extra little burst to carry you through strong to the end!

Sunday Morning by No Doubt– No song makes me wish harder that I had even the tiniest little shred of musical talent. Those DRUMS!

Boom Clap by Charlii XCX. I am SUCH a sucker for this one. I just can’t not love it, and wanna pick up the pace. THE BEAT GOES ON AND ON AND ON AND ON ON

Lose Control by Missy Elliot ft. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop. Just when you need that last little push, MUSIC MAKE YOU LOSE CONTROL!

Share your race day essentials in the comments!! And wish me luck next week!