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2013 with the Beez Family

2013 with the Beez Family

As much as I whine and moan and complain, I have to admit that 2013 was a pretty stellar year.  If 2014 is half as good as 2013 was, I’ll be in great shape.  Some highlights:

In January I went to trial college at the University of Virginia. It was an intense program, and you have to be a special kind of crazy to use up precious non-billable weekday time on an intense trial course, but it was so worth it.  January also brought a very fun Restaurant Week Food Blogger’s Dinner,, a sweet, relaxing and inspirational Women’s Retreat with Temple Sinai, and a rockin’ evening of raising funds for Haitian Families First followed by an amazing Grace Potter & the Nocturnals concert.

In February we toured a local winery, I discovered the blissful wonder of Bluebird Kitchen’s Chicken Salad Sandwich, and got to try my hand at glassblowing.

In March, we flew to California to celebrate the 80th birthday of a very special little lady– my Grandma! It was also a special opportunity to spend time with my Grandpa, who had been battling cancer for a few years, and ultimately passed away in September.  Grandma’s birthday party was a surprise, and it was so wonderful to see her so happy and celebrate together.

March was full of trial preparation (followed by 2 trials, both of which resulted in wins for my clients!).  I also published an article in the Legal Intelligencer, and published a total of 5 articles in legal publications in 2013.  We also went to a bunch of theater performances in March, including the SWAN Day celebration, celebrating women in arts.  Sandy and I were interviewed as part of SWAN Day, and even inspired a songwriter to write a song about the wonders and terrors of the first day of school. (For the record, Sandy and I met on the first day of law school. Christine and I also met on the first day of college. It seems I have a thing with meeting a friend on the first day and deciding they are my FRIEND FOREVER!)

April was still trial time, but I did sneak out for an evening with the Wallflowers and Eric Clapton.

In May, Me, Mr. Beez, Sandy & Elena and Erin & Chooch all descended upon the Neville Rollerdrome to tear it UP on wheels, and let’s not forget the fun we had at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival,  Junior League’s Touch a Truck and KENNYWOOD!  That month, my brother and his family also went through the horror of their home burning down.  Friends and family stepped up to help them like you would not believe, even my blog readers (who have never met my brother or his family) were sending them gift cards and supplies in support. The event was terrible, but the help they received was so heartwarming.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

June brought an unbelievably fun trip to Austin, TX, in which I attended BlogHer Food and ATE ALL THE FOODS IN TEXAS. I also spent a weekend in the Laurel Highlands hiking beautiful trails and indulging in spa treatments (and sipping a cocktail or two) at the Bar Association’s annual Bench Bar conference.

July brought lots and lots of travel. We took a big family cruise through the Caribbean, and I was even nice to everyone (most of the time), and at the end of the month, I spent a weekend in Bucks County at the hands-down best foodie event ever– the Big Summer Potluck.

In August, my mom and I traveled to Prague together, and she loved it just as much as I thought she would. We enjoyed the beautiful architecture, saw lots of neat theater performances, and had tons of delicious treats. Also in August, we had the opportunity to see the blooming corpse flower, Romero, at Phipps Conservatory. It was stinky, but amazing.

September brought the sadness of my Grandpa’s passing, and I traveled to California for his memorial service in October. September was also Baby Beez’s 3rd birthday, which we celebrated with a little outing on the Gateway Clipper, and I took a few moments to think about what a special girl she is and will become.

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In October I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh for the first time, and loved hanging out with fellow blog/social media nerds in Pittsburgh. I also enjoyed lovely Halloween-themed outings with Baby Beez and our friends to Trax Farms and ZooBoo at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We also did a day-long LOTR movie marathon. I expected it to be fun, but we had SUCH a blast. I can’t wait for our next movie marathon (and I *just* got myself the Harry Potter 8 movie set…)

Despite being undertrained, I powered through the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler in November. It was hard, but I felt good and strong too. I’m already signed up for another 10 miler next spring.  November also brought Baby Beez’s transition into a big girl bed and her decision to ditch diapers. And of course I can’t forget that the PA Conference for Women was also in November, absolutely overflowing with high-achieving career women, sharing their insight and inspiring me to work hard and achieve big.

And now we are in December, bringing this year to a close.  In December I was thrilled by the announcement that I was promoted to Senior Attorney with Clark Hill Thorp Reed (yes, even with lots of fun events going on, I’m also billing a whole lot of hours. The short answer: I have a very complicated calendar).  I also was thrilled to take a Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class with my friend Christine. We also had a fun visit from Mama Nay Nay and Poppy Sam, where Baby Beez got to spend lots of quality time with them.

And here we are, wrapping up 2013. Boy was this a busy year. I knew we had tons of adventures, but it didn’t strike me just how much we were zooming hither and yon until I put it all together in one post.  In 2014 we plan to slow it down.  We’ll be doing considerably less traveling, and do plan to take advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Pittsburgh and neighboring towns.  As Baby Beez gets bigger (and tirelessly reminds everyone who will listen that she is BIG, and not a BABY) she becomes progressively more opinionated about activities, and it’s more fun to do things together with her that she really enjoys.  And I’ll tell you this, she loves going to the movies, and so do Mr. Beez and I, so there are probably plenty of cinema visits in store for 2014.

Here’s

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A Winter Stroll and S’Mores with @VentureOutdoors

A Winter Stroll and S’Mores with @VentureOutdoors

I wrote this post last night, not realizing how timely it would ultimately be, given that this morning saw the season’s first snow.  I’m not much for spending time out in the cold, but the sparkling snow along the street sure was a pretty sight.  Hope you are bundled up with a hot chocolate and enjoying this turn of the seasons.

When asked by my west-coast relatives how I bear Pennsylvania’s bitter winter cold, or worse the suffocating humidity of summer, the answer is simple: I stay indoors. Artificially comfortable is my style. But sometimes the desire to explore nature outweighs my expectations of comfort, and I venture outdoors (here, with Venture Outdoors) for an adventure in nature.

Riverview Park

Riverview Park

Although it will be a while before Baby Beez can join me on the 5k course, she’s old enough for a short hike. I’m not the tea party and Barbies type, and I love that as she gets older, there are more activities we can do together on terms that are appealing to both toddlers and old grumpy ladies like me. This weekend’s activity: a family hike through Riverview Park, plus s’mores! When I told Baby Beez that we would be getting together with Elena and Sandy, Baby Beez was thrilled. Any activity is even better when friends are involved!

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Autumn in Pennsylvania does not disappoint. In the last few weeks, the horizon has been painted with the reds, oranges and yellows of the changing leaves.  Today on a drive across state, I’ve realized that we’re on the tail end of this glorious season.  There are still some leaves to fall, but by now the ground is heavy with foliage and many of the trees are bare.

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After about 30 or 40 minutes of walking (and plenty of stops) we made it to a park shelter with a roaring fire.  We enjoyed the warmth of the fire on this chilly day, toasted marshmallows on twigs, and indulged in a sweet treat.

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I carried Baby Beez on the short trek back to our vehicles. She was a little tired when we started out, and boy was she ever exhausted when we made it back.  I got a pretty good arm and back workout from hauling that sacka-potatoes throughout the park.  Although I’m very well acquainted with Frick Park and Schenley Park, I had never before been to Riverview Park, and this little outing was a lovely introduction.  I love how quiet and tucked away it is, with so many paths for jogging and corners to explore.

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This little one couldn’t even keep her eyes open for a photo op!

What activities have caught your interest as the seasons have turned colder?

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Spooooky Pittsburgh Happenings– Haunted Pittsburgh Tour! .@vstpgh #LovePgh

Spooooky Pittsburgh Happenings– Haunted Pittsburgh Tour! .@vstpgh #LovePgh

The weather is perfectly appropriate for my Halloween mood.  However, I have this fantastic neon-orange skull scarf that I bough in Prague, but I don’t think I can wear it again until December. Wearing it now means I will look like a holiday-crazed kindergarten teacher, not an edgy fashionista. So in the closet it goes.

I love Halloween happenings.  I love going to the pumpkin patch and sipping hot apple cider or (better yet) mulled wine.  Baby Beez is on a field trip this morning to the pumpkin patch.  I’m a little nervous about all the kids venturing out like this, but I keep reminding myself that they take the kids out for walks and small outings all the time, so everything will be fine at the pumpkin patch. This didn’t stop me from giving Baby Beez TWO lectures about how she needs to listen to her teachers, hold hands, and stay with her friends.

Baby Beez' first visit to the pumpkin patch

Baby Beez’ first visit to the pumpkin patch


I’m excited that we have plans to go to Zoo Boo next weekend.  We went when Baby Beez was just over a year old, and she liked it, but I think she’s really going to have fun now that she’s more of a kid and less of just a lump-on-a-log baby.

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I love the fun of picking out costumes and getting dressed up and of course, CANDY! I wish I loved haunted houses, but truthfully, the guy wielding the chainsaw terrifies me. When Baby Beez is bigger we may do a daytime non-scary haunted house tour (and I’ll blame it on her age), but until then, I’m steering clear of haunted places.

As the weather gets cooler, outside activities are growing sparse. If you want to fill your Halloween with real ghost stories instead of creep-os in Michael Meyers masks, your best bet is Haunted Pittsburgh tours.  My friends Erin and Mark ventured on one of these outings a few weeks ago.  They run Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm from the City-County building, but when October ends, so do they.

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The tour winds through downtown, and shares the lesser-known spooooky history of this fair city.  Many of the stories are from the age of the robber barons, so they are more fascinating than scary.  Although there is much talk of ghosts and tragedy, the tour is appropriate for most ages.

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I loved that our tour guide was totally into it. It’s not the easiest task to sell a 100 year old ghost story to a smirking bunch of 30somethings, but he was incredibly charismatic. His enthusiasm gave the tour that extra oomph of awesome.  Although I usually like to take first-timers in Pittsburgh on a ducky tour, this tour is perfect for your visitors who are here on their second (or more) time around.  It’s also a fantastic outing for residents, because you learn so much more about the structures you are already familiar with.  In fact, most of the participants on the tour were locals. The tour is about 90 minutes long, which is perfectly timed for you to end the evening by stopping off at Papa J’s for a drink, and maybe an otherworldly visit!

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Baby Beez’s Simple Birthday Celebration with @GatewayClipper

Baby Beez’s Simple Birthday Celebration with @GatewayClipper

Baby Beez turns 3 on Thursday.  For her first and second birthdays, she had fairly traditional parties: lots of friends, lots of family members, lots of kids, lots of sugar, lots of chaos.  Now that she’s turning 3, our family doesn’t expect a whole shabang like they did her first birthday.  Most of her little friends go to daycare with her, and they’re going to be celebrating her birthday on Friday with cupcakes, so she’s already having a party that we don’t even have to plan.

For her birthday this year, we decided to keep it simple– a little boat ride on the Gateway Clipper (she loves boats, trains, buses, all kinds of methods of transportation).  We invited her grandparents of course and a few close friends.  Of particular importance was the attendance of Elena of Orange Chair Blog renown.  She and Baby Beez are about 8 months apart, and even though they’ve always been forced friends, they genuinely are great buddies.  A plus: Elena is pretty mellow and Baby Beez looks up to her, so Baby Beez is sometimes on better behavior when Elena is around.

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The cruise we selected was the Ice Cream Sundae cruise.  It is a 2 hour boat ride with ice cream sundaes and a little magic show.  Unfortunately for you, dear readers, today’s cruise was the last of the season.  But it will be back next summer! And for most sailings on that cruise, kids are only $1.  The boat was stuffed to the gills with kids, and the usual chaos and stress that goes with a boat full of kids, but also there’s a lack of stress when we’re surrounded by kids, because we don’t have to worry about little ones conforming to adult behavior expectations.  This is a really long way of saying that the boat outing was a great fit for this little one’s birthday.

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Baby Beez had one specific request for her birthday: A “Spiderman Girl” cake.  I fretted over this request.  I know what Spiderman is, but I had no idea what “Spiderman Girl” meant.  And since she’s a toddler, Baby Beez couldn’t very well articulate her thoughts. I asked her if “Spiderman Girl” meant that she had a different colored costume than Spiderman? Or maybe she wore a bow? Baby Beez had no idea what I was talking about and just kept saying “Spiderman Girl! Spiderman Girl!”

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By Friday I was running short on time to order a confection, and still hadn’t figured out what she wanted.  Also, since we were only feeding a handful of people, I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a cake.  Finally I just drove myself down to the local Giant Eagle and ordered their standard Spiderman cake.  She’s only turning 3, how much of a difference could this cake make? Who the heck knows what “Spiderman Girl” is anyway?!  Well as luck would have it…Baby Beez set eyes on the standard no-frills Spiderman cake and squealed “SPIDERMAN GIRL!”  Success! And whatever she meant, which I still don’t quite know, it made me very happy, because obviously it means that “girl” doesn’t have to mean pink and purple, “Girl” can be any color, and that made my little feminist heart happy.

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Everyone seemed to have a lovely time on our outing.  Baby Beez is very happy with her presents, which included a Jake & The Neverland Pirates Captain Hook set (she’s spent the evening stabbing me with her sword and waving around the hook hand), butterfly wings (she often is either a butterfly or tiger or dragon), a bike with a baby seat for her baby doll, a Spiderman doll with suction-cup hands, and a number of costumes (Lightening McQueen, Sully and actually a Spiderman Girl dress) so she can play dress-up.

When Baby Beez is big enough and can articulate that she wants a birthday party, sure she can have one. But for her expectations and our time constraints this year, a small outing was just perfect.  We had all the essential elements: friends, cake, balloons and Spiderman.  Happy Birthday little miss!

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