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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.”

jjhensley

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

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.)

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A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Rosh Hashanah as much as I do this year. Fall has come early, and boy is it gorgeous. The air is crisp, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and I’m ready for s’mores! Baby Beez being big enough to really start “getting” holidays has added a lot to it. She has been learning about Rosh Hashanah in Sunday School and has had a lot of fun blowing the shofar and talking about apples and honey. She even brought a Rosh Hashanah book into school today to share with her friends.

We will be spending Rosh Hashanah mostly in services (adult services then kid services). However, we will be kicking the whole thing off the way any proper New Year should be welcomed– with a party!

NYE in the Park

This Wednesday evening, Mr. Beez will be joining our friends for the 3rd Annual New Years Eve in the Park! It’s a non-traditional celebration, featuring apples, honey, cider & beer. Rabbi Symons will be giving a TED style talk about the spirituality of foods. We will welcome in the New Year in the company of friends old and new!

Mr. Beez and I hope that you will join us. Tickets are $25 each and you can purchase them at the door or you can CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS! Adults only, please!

See you Wednesday!!

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There she is, #MissAmerica

When a party’s a spinoff party, you know it’s gonna be good.

A few years ago, Sandy invited me to a Miss America party. The women who planned it had been throwing the party for many years, and decided they didn’t want to hold it anymore. After a year without pageant mockery, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told Sandy we must must must throw a Miss America party ourselves! So we did!

The basic idea: All ladies party. Champagne a flowing. Since the pageant itself is on a Sunday night and we all work jobs where a Sunday night party is not a good idea, we DVR’d it, and threw the party the Saturday following the pageant. Each attendee signs up for a state, and builds a costume (whether pageant or state-themed is up to her). Each attendee brings a dish. There is a talent show. There are prizes. There is a crowning of Miss America. It is marvelous. And it was.

We started the evening with a marvelous red carpet. I was the reigning Miss America, and my job duties included looking faaaaabulous (look at that BIG HAIR) and crowning the winner!

Miss America

h/t to Rent the Runway for the faaaaabulous duds. Have you heard lately how much I love RTR? Now you have. Love it.

Our lovely guests began arriving, and with them, their lovely dishes. I didn’t think of this at the outset, but everyone made state-themed food! And it was amazing! Some things were the “official” adopted foods of the state, others were just very popular local dishes. My personal fav. of the night was the cheese with guava jelly rep’ing Puerto Rico. So good!

Miss America foods

Our emcee for the evening, Alex, did a great job of shepherding the festivities. We started things off with a little parade in the living room, each Miss announcing her state and the special features of her attire.

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Miss Missouri with the St. Louis Arch on her head, and Miss Idaho, covered in her state’s signature jewels!

Next up was the TALENT portion! We only had 4 or 5 participants, but this is the first year with this crowd, so that’s not bad for a start! Next year, I’m hoping we’ll have lots and lots and lots. I broke the talent show ice by lip synch ventriloquy to “Part of Your World” from the Little mermaid. Baby Beez spent most of the evening downstairs with daddy, watching Star Wars, but we did let her come up to enjoy the talent show. And enjoy it she did!

Miss Ohio's talent got nothin' on mine

Miss Ohio’s talent got nothin’ on mine


Miss Vermont did a stirring spoken word rendition of Whoomp! There it is!

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Then, after watching round after round of semifinalists getting the axe, it was time to crown the winner! Miss New York took home the crown, marking a 3 year reign for The Empire State.

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The group photo! Look at all these lovely ladies!!

Miss AmericaIt was so nice to be greeted with tons of facebook messages, text messages and emails about how much fun everyone had! The party simply killed it, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

As a sidenote, I won the best prize of the night, of literally having the best husband everrrrrr. The day of the party, he cleaned the whole house for me (while I ran around picking up last minute party essentials), even though he wasn’t even invited! he grabbed some snacks and some champagne and spent the evening in the playroom with Baby Beez, and didn’t complain in the least. And then, this is the sweetest part, after the party was over, I collapsed in bed because all that cleaning could wait til tomorrow. He, instead, stayed up and cleaned EVERYTHING up. And didn’t even yell at me about it (and doesn’t even seem to be mad!) He said he was happy I had a good party. Happy wife, happy life I suppose? In any event, I am #spoiledspoiledspoiled. #BestHusbandEverrrr

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Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

This weekend has been a laid back couple of days spent with good friends, good food, magazines and chores. It has been a relaxing, but welcome, contrast to last weekend’s party party weekend. I’m always up for a good party, but need to balance out party time with a good nap, cup of coffee and stack of Nat. Geo Travelers.

I have found myself in a conflicted predicament over the last several years, namely: I am firmly opposed to horse racing, but staunchly in favor of fancy hats. As a result, Kentucky Derby parties have tempted me with their promise of exotic headwear, but are ultimately not the right event for me, because of the event itself. Enter the ideal event for both gorgeous headwear and happy ponies: Family House’s annual Polo Match!

FH Polo 2014

My glamorous friends Laura and Katharine invited me to join them for the polo match, and we had FUN beyond my wildest dreams! I did have a bit of a crisis in securing proper headwear. Every fascinator I saw (and fell in love with) would set me back $100-200, and I hesitated to spend that much on a statement piece that, due to being unique and memorable, I might only get to wear once. Laura swooped in to the rescue and let me borrow one of her lovely fascinators, and all was well in the world (relatedly, my mom was also in England at the same time, and I messaged her, and she managed to pick up a lovely and reasonably-priced fascinator for me at Marks and Spencer …so I am all set for next year!)

FH Polo 2014

We had a fun morning of fancy-lady tailgating, complete with champagne and little sandwiches. (PS- my dress is from my new obsession: Rent the Runway. Please invite me to more fancy things so that I can rent fancy dresses. Also because you like me.)

FH Polo 2014

FH Polo 2014

I don’t know a thing about polo, but the announcer was very beginner-friendly and explained things as they happened. Also there was a very tempting silent auction, an opportunity to go out on the field and meet the hunting hounds, and a divot stomp! I must say that I was sad that I had to depart a little early for a second event, because this was such a unique and fun outing.

Next up for my party party Saturday was the Steel City Big Pour. Of all the charity events in Pittsburgh, this is one is always mine and Mr. Beez’ favorite. It has everything we love: Lots of good beer, lots of good food, lots of friends but is NOT overwhelmingly crowded. Tickets are very hard to get, and sell out within the first minute of so of going online. There is an option to buy early (with making an extra donation to Construction Junction), which is the route we took this year to make sure to get in.  I cannot express enough how much a over-crowded event can kill the fun for Mr. Beez and I, and the thing that makes this event the best for us is that they sell plenty of tickets, but the crowd is limited such that you only have to wait in line a moment or two at each station, and you’re not packed in like sardines.

CJ Big Pour 2014

Each year that we’ve gone, it has gotten better and better. The event has taken on a decidedly local focus, with basically every local brewery you could think of participating. We had the opportunity to try some places I’ve heard good things about, but have not yet made it to, such as Grist House Brewing, the Brew Gentlemen Beer Company and Milkman Brewing. There were also some well-established not-so-local breweries there, such as Left Hand Brewing, Southern Tier Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery.

CJ Big Pour 2014

CJ Big Pour 2014

Of course, our local favs were out in full force, including Full Pint, Fat Heads, Church Brew Works, North Country Brewing and of course, my personal absolute fav., Voodoo Brewery:

CJ Big Pour 2014

The food featured some of our local favs, as well, such as mini tacos from Verde, pizza slices from Pizza Boat, poutine from Park Bruges, and tots from the Pub Chip Shop (which left me with an overwhelming tot craving ALL WEEK LONG. I finally appeased it today with an amazing boxty brunch from Piper’s Pub).

You're messing up my shot.

You’re messing up my shot.

In short, in addition to benefiting a really awesome reuse organization, the Big Pour stands out not because it’s an event with a lot of food and drink, but because it’s a fun event with the best beer and best pub food to be found in Pittsburgh. The best best best. Both events of my Party Party Weekend were a smashing success. Now that I’ve spent this weekend resting up, I’m ready to tear it up again next weekend!