It’s the End of the World As We Know It

In a few short hours my daughter will officially turn 16 years old. As I have felt with increasing intensity for the past 15.9 years — time goes by so quickly!

Perhaps as nod to the compressed time I’m feeling, my daughter decided to have a time-travel-themed birthday party. It includes dinosaurs, space travel, swords, 50s-style diner baskets, and medieval goblets. Things you might encounter if you trapesed across time and space collecting random bits.

She and a group of friends have been stuffing themselves full of gummy dinosaurs, Star-shaped fruit, aged cheese and a classic dinner of baked descendant of dinosaur (aka chicken) with assorted side dishes. There’s astronaut ice cream. And banana split birthday cake! They’ll enjoy games and time-travel-themed movies as they discuss the thrills of starting their junior year of high school. And I overheard mention of the wonders and problems of thawing permafrost. Ancient viruses have been released. 

School began about two weeks ago. Like a broken record, I wonder where the time went? 

The summer flew by! 

I feel like it just began. I would like more! 

I grew peppers, tomatoes, and lots of basil in a balcony garden. I may have been visited by a ghost … at least twice. And I did a few things I haven’t done in years. 

This summer my daughter relaxed or studied instead of being carted to or from camps. We hung out, watched a few movies, played fun games including a great assortment of video games and pinball at ReplayFx in Pittsburgh. Talk about a blast from the past.

ReplayFx is a classic video game and pinball festival held at the David L. Lawrence convention center in the heart of Pittsburgh. I got to play hours and days of some of my favorite games, a few of which I haven’t played in forever (or in many cases since the last ReplyFx). And my daughter got to enjoy pinball and games like Centipede, Rampart, and Time Crisis that I played when I was her age or a little older. We even played a new board game. 

I stayed up late. Got up early. And basically ran myself ragged in the most enjoyable way possible. 

We ate Thai, assorted meatballs, fresh seafood, and some of the best tacos ever. We saw friends, family, and parts of Pittsburgh that were new to us like The Strip and Carnegie Mellon University. We stayed at a hotel that was once a federal reserve where we were offered complementary breakfast as well as evening drinks and dinner. There was a pool, a hot tub, and a rooftop terrace with a fantastic view of the sunset behind the city. Can I just stay there? Forever? Okay, no. 

Closer to home, we spent a weekend at the beach where we got to play in the sun, sand, and ocean. Zillions of baby jellyfish swam past us as we marveled at their clear bodies. Too young to sting, we caught a few of the strange critters in our hands and examined them close up. 

We spent time with friends and stuffed ourselves full of yummy food. I was especially happy to visit one of my favorite restaurants, the Hobbit, where we had delicious dip, exquisite entrees, and a dessert called Merry’s Delight. Next we scarfed down crispy Thrashers fries with vinegar — so yummy. Once again, can I just stay there? I would like to.

For all these reasons and more, there are most definitely days I would like a time machine. I could visit my favorite times and spots again and again. But now summer is winding down. High School is spinning up. And my little girl will be sweet 16. Happy birthday! 

We will have all-new good times ahead. 

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Yo, February

You were here and then you … well you are here still. But you’re never here as long as other months, and you’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

I had a big birthday. It was the biggest one yet. Which is the case with all birthdays, but ya know, I felt this one more.

My little family ordered me a birthday cake off Amazon. As you do. Or as they do anyway. Normal people may not. Because, cake.

We have a store with a nice bakery across the street. You can literally walk there in less than ten minutes and most of that is waiting for the stoplight. But instead, my cake was shipped frozen in dry ice. Kind of like shipping steaks only in chocolate form.

It was fulfilled by David’s Cookies and arrived with dry ice warnings. Dry ice is cool! [Really, did I just write that?] So I didn’t mind the dry ice except that nearly all had evaporated by the time the cake arrived. The last swirls of vapor gave my shrink-wrapped confection the mystique of having journeyed through time and space. Which, ya know, it did.

It was a somewhat rich and dense chocolate cake, a texture that probably holds up better for long distance travels. The entire cake including the frosting and “Happy Birthday!” decorations made it through surprisingly well. I have one small piece left, and it isn’t even totally gross. Pretty darn good still.

Cake!

We went out to eat yummy food with yummy dessert. I got two bouquets of orchids because last year when flowers were ordered from Amazon they arrived wilted. Lovely but wilted. The company sent replacements. This year backup orchids were ordered, so I got double. They’re still quite beautiful as I type this! Along with roses for Valentine’s Day, I’ve been awash with flowers. I can’t complain one iota. The roses even sprouted new leaves. I’ve seen roses do that before, and I always find it somewhat magical. That last spark of life trying to find a way.

I got a new computer! But no, I’m not typing on it right now. February’s schedule was pretty much a mad dash.  So I still have some setting up to do.

February and January my daughter stayed after school nearly every day and went back for more on Saturdays after her dance class to work with her team on their robot and preparations for First Robotics. I popped in to help where I could. Robots are cool! But my main job was mom-taxi.

Their first competition weekend is only a few days away. This team worked so hard for so long — not just January and February but since the beginning of the year. The team improved over last year on many levels including being further ahead in the robot building process, so they actually got to test their robot more and work out some problems before the competition.

I hope that all their hard work pays off and that they have a fun and successful competition season! I’m excited to see the robot in action!

This time last year I barely knew what the Robotics club was working on, and I had no idea what competition weekend was. I’d imagined a small robot the size of a toaster and competition to be a few hours on a Saturday. But no. The robot is bigger than a push lawn mower and competition weekend starts on Friday night and ends Sunday evening. It’s like a huge sporting event but with geeky people.

In the midst of this, I’ve been playing in our pinball league, not one but, two nights a week. Because that’s logical. Crazy busy mom with no time, so I’ll just add another thing. But it’s a fun thing!  So I’ve survived so far.

Last weekend was Science Olympiad because, perhaps like her mother, my daughter signed up for more than she probably had time for. So we spent last Saturday at that. I accidentally missed registration for Pinburgh, a pinball tournament. So now I’m on the waitlist. Again. Gah. Serves me right.

And here we are at the tail end of February marching on ahead. Wish us luck. The good kind, please. Thank you.

So This Happened

I’ve been expecting the renewal stickers for the plates on my car. So, after getting home from work and picking up my daughter, I checked the mail even though I had to dash right back out again.

I found no stickers. Instead I found this:

AARP1b

That’s right. It’s my first AARP Membership letter. Just in time to be almost a week early for my birthday.

I am not effing old enough for AARP thankyouverymuch. Do not rush me.

As I gaze at the stark black & white of the envelope, I’m struck by the bold arrows along with “From” and “To” on the outer envelope. Apparently in case I am already senile and easily confused they are going to help me understand that, yes, this is special just for me. Golly, thank you AARP. You even spelled my name wrong.

Inside, I found a form with faux computer pin-feed holes. Because I guess my generation should be able to relate to pin-fed paper. And our eyesight is going, so we shouldn’t notice that those are not actual pin holes, but instead are little gray circles.

Also, included was a bright red sample card and a reminder that I haven’t yet registered for the valuable benefits of being old. I mean, the valuable benefits of AARP Membership even though I am quote “fully eligible” for said benefits.

They lie. I will not be fully eligible until next week. So there.

As if that wasn’t blow enough, I dashed out to our last night of pinball league at a place called Red Zone Grill.

I’m pretty bummed that this location will be closing. While the food was meh. And the floors pretty icky, the people were great, it had pinball, and it was only about 6 miles away from home which meant I could get there in time for league.

There will be a new location, but it’s about 5 miles farther which means I may or may not get there on time. It may require additional juggling. (Which I am getting pretty good at, but I still drop too many balls.) I already found it tricky to get to the old location on time. Traffic may well be the deciding factor.

The good news is that the new location sounds nicer, with better food, and cleaner floors all of which are big pluses in my book.

As the saying goes you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel it. Some days I don’t. I just want to have fun! But my schedule is bonafide crazy right now. I’m not sure how January 2018 came and went so quickly. Combined with other changes it is all giving me an unsettled feeling like I just clumsily dropped a glass, and I’ll need to catch it or it will shatter. I have caught them before. I can do it. But will I?

Until it hits the ground, I plan on having fun practicing the juggle that is life until I either get it right or die trying. Wish me luck.

Happy groundhogs day!

 

AARP2b

Wait List

I drove my daughter to one of her Saturday dance classes yesterday. In doing so, I missed the registration for Pinburgh. (Even though I set up several alert reminders, my brain had gone on auto pilot, and so I didn’t get home soon enough.)

Pinburgh is a pinball tournament that takes place in July of 2017 at the ReplyFX Arcade and Video Game Festival.

Pinburgh tickets went on sale at 11:00 a.m. yesterday and sold out in less than 30 minutes (say what?!). I wasn’t expecting that.

Last year it took a few hours to sell out. The two years prior to that it sold out quicker (but had fewer spots). This year there were 740 slots(!)‚ the most they’ve ever had, so I thought I’d be safe.

I am now on the wait list (which may or may not work out). In previous years the wait list moved quite a bit. I needed to plan this better.

With ticket sales so far in advance of the actual event, there are inevitably folks who cancel because their schedule just doesn’t work for the four-day event. Lots of folks only register because they know it’s register now or not at all. Tickets are not transferrable, so you can’t register and then sell your spot to somebody else.

I’m hoping with more total spots this year, I will be able to score one of them as the wait list moves. But it could go the other way, with more spots taken so quickly, it may mean there is more interest and more folks may actually go.

I’m hoping I’ll be lucky (with tickets and then again in the tournament). It was fun!

 

The Week

It was a busy week. With the election on Tuesday, I got up early to vote. Then, like a lot of people, I didn’t get much sleep that night. I dozed, looked at incoming election results, then woke up. Then dozed a little more. It was very surreal.

Wednesday, I had a meeting at my daughter’s school. So there I was talking with her teachers, and so very tired. Though, I think we were all a little tired. The teachers had very nice things to say about my kiddo, and I’m very proud of her.

Thursday,  before work I took the cat to the vet to get his blood drawn. Then dropped him off at home before I went to the office.

My daughter had Robotics club after school, so I had to pick her up.

The school was having an International Night that evening. Since it started several minutes before I arrived at the school, my daughter was already in line to sample the many tasty foods, and I went inside to see what it was like.

I’m so glad we went in. International night was really cool. Our area has students from so many places. We got to taste foods from around the world.

One of the desserts was called, Casery (maybe also spelled Kesari). It was from India and flavored with cardamom. It was different but yummy!

Then we saw a video the students made and watched part of a talent show the students performed.

Then I had pinball league. I stayed awake enough to play a few good games. Yay!

I came home and tried to blog. I. Was. So. Tired.

I kept typing and falling asleep mid-sentence. And I kept typing the wrong thing. Finally, I managed a couple of tiny sentences and was done.  I had to count that as my NaBlogPoMo.

Friday’s blog post didn’t go much better. I was so tired. But I was a little peppier since we got good news about our little old kitty cat. He’s a lot better. That made me happy.

Today is catch-up day … for many things. Laundry. Groceries. Blogging and writing. Resting. But still driving my daughter to and from places. At least I’m getting a few of these done.

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

NaBloPoMo November 2016

My Feet are Happy

I am currently waiting in Hall D of the Convention Center in Washington DC. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were scheduled to start a Q&A here at Awesome Con over an hour ago. Their photo ops are running late, so Peter and Jenna are still op-ing while most of us non-photo-opers are trying to be patient.

I haven’t been to a con in years. So far, most of my day here at Awesome Con has been spent waiting. I’m not sure how normal that is. First we waited in line for our badges. It moved quickly. Then we waited for StarTalk Live seats. We enjoyed StarTalk but left a little early so we could get in line to get seats to see the Peter Calaldi & Jenna Coleman Q&A.  I left my daughter and her friend in that line while I went on a mission to get us food. Then I waited in the food line. We ate the food in the P&J Q&A line. Lots of lines. Lots of waiting.

I hear the waiting wasn’t so bad the other two days of Awesome Con. That’s good.

Our early-line-waiting paid off as far as seats. We have sweet seats for general admission to the Peter & Jenna Q&A. I’m talking non-VIP seats that are almost as good as many of the pay-extra-for-em VIP seats and even better than some of them.

But we’re still waiting for Peter & Jenna at the Q&A — it’s going on an hour and a half late now. The audience has all new questions at this point.

My daughter and her friend have run off to the Exhibition Hall. They got wristbands to get them back in to the Q&A hall. It’s full. I’m holding seats. While I really wanted to go to the Exhibition Hall, at least I’m not down there spending money and tiring out my feet. That’s something, right?

They announced that Peter and Jenna would be here soon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My daughter and her friend are back with a hat, a bow tie, and a needlework Minecraft chest in tow. Pretty cool.

Still sitting here. I managed a whole blog post! We’ve been promised the Q&A will start soon. Really. Probably really. Hopefully really. Maybe really.

My bottom is planted in my sweet seat. I might eventually have a good view. My feet are happy too.

Yay, it’s starting!

Catch Up Day – Still Not a Food Thing

Urgh! I’m supposed to be writing stuff and somehow hardly anything has gotten done this week. I managed some reading because, with apps on my phone, I can do that just about anywhere in tiny bursts. To some extent I can do that with writing too, but it is slower. Much slower. I only got a bit of writing done. Somehow time in this past week has evaporated like the last wisps of summer sun.

For the past month I’ve been meaning to do my nails and shave my legs.  I don’t get the bug to do my nails very often, but it does show up once in a while. So nearly every day I’ve been thinking, “oh, maybe I can do them today.” Then there’s laundry. Or a cat barfs. Or something else comes up. So that didn’t happen yet. The summer color I’d planned on doing just ain’t gonna happen at this point. I’m looking at you, Autumn.

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my Physical Therapist. I reeeaally should have shaved my legs if I was going to wear shorts there. Did it happen? Nope. If I’d have remembered this little tid-bit of info then I might have worn longer pants instead.

After that I should have, at least, shaved ’em over the weekend to avoid any more mishaps. Still no. Two days ago, I managed to haul my cookies up on an exercise bike again, guess what? I could feel my leg hairs swaying in the wind as I peddled. It’s not even like I can claim “winter legs.” At least I showered. 

Earlier I managed to paint a card for my daughter for her birthday. I’m proud of the card (proud that I finished it befor her birthday was over), and I’m even more proud of her.  I think she is a very cool young teen.



We had my daughter’s birthday party last weekend so it was a busy one. Plus we got her a nice but inexpensive cell phone, and activating it took a lot longer than I was expecting. 

First I’d tried to set her up on Cricket which didn’t work at all. It should have been the correct type of GSM unlocked phone to work there, but I think something is whacky. I’ll probably need go into a Cricket store to get the SIM to work. Like I have time. I can’t even manage to shave my legs.

Walmart Family Mobile plan to the rescue! I didn’t even know this existed until a few weeks ago. I’ll even save $5 a month over Cricket (but with slightly less high-speed data). I hope the coverage works OK, but the website for the service actually makes me feel like somebody put some thought into making it family friendly. More important, it actually worked. Excellent.

I meant to bake maple or caramel apple cupcakes for her birthday party, but that didn’t get  done either. Instead I purchased not-bad-for-store-bought cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate and decorated them with pumpkin spice marshmallows. They were a hit. Especially the marshmallows. I think they’ll be good in coffee or hot chocolate this fall.

We had a lot of fun at my daughter’s Laser Tag Adventure party. She has some great friends! The laser tag games are fun and the location was nice. But they had lots of video game redemption machines there, and some of the kids went a little wild with playing those. Seriously, why does it seem like so much fun for a machine to spit out paper tickets?

You can never get much with the tickets you trade in for “prizes” there or anywhere. Put in 25 cents and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to trade your tickets for a nickle worth of goods. 

My daughter got some Now & Laters — little hard taffy bricks that I’m pretty sure are nothing but an evil ploy of evil dentists. My daughter chose banana flavor. Against my good judgement she convinced my to try one. I promptly pulled a crown off my molar. I should have known better. Taffy is pure sweet evil incarnate, and this is not the first time that that crown has come unglued. It’s a fairly shallow, flat tooth.  At least I didn’t swallow it this time. That happened. And that’s another story for another time.

My mom and stepdad are moving in these next few days. I’m excited for them but also nervous as they’ll live farther away. This will be a big change. I helped with a few things yesterday, and I’m determined to help more this weekend.

I’m also determined to get some writing done, so here’s something. It looks like I’ve actually managed a blog post. I also have a couple of Cherokee Purple tomatoes finally ripening in our balcony garden. What’s not to like? It could be a good weekend.

I’m resetting my goals for the next couple of days. I am setting aside time. Still haven’t done my nails or shaved my legs though.





Summer’s Tail – Kicking and Screaming

It’s still hot like summer, but in many places kids have already gone back to school. Some as early as August 1. Summer is over for them. It’s the tail end for us, and I want to grab on to these last few weeks kicking and screaming as I lick the last bit of salt off my fingers before summer goes away again. My daughter can’t wait for school to start back up. She’s excited to experience her new classes and see more of her friends. I still have unfinished plans and goals and more tomatoes to grow!

We did some fun things this summer. We took a trip to Pittsburgh where I participated in Pinburgh, a pinball tournament. Pinburgh has been around a few years, but this year it was held at a huge new classic video game festival called Replay FX. I brought my daughter because, hello, video games and pinball! And they had other kids’ activities like a velcro wall, giant inflatable obstacle course, and slides. For a video game festival my daughter actually got a lot of exercise!

While Pittsburgh may not bring to mind the typical image of summer vacation paradise, there was much fun and our hotel room had extra niceties that kept us saying, “wow, cool!” This made for a fairly complete vacationy experience.

Our room had a motion sensor foot light (like a night light at the floor that turned on when we stepped out of bed), pull-down individual book lights on each headboard, and in the evening, when we returned exhausted from a full day of game play and activities, the hotel supplied milk and cookies (free of charge for kids 12 and under). It was great!

We had another very mini vacation this past Friday night when we slept over at the National Museum of American History as a Smithsonian Sleepover. Last summer we did this at the Natural History Museum and loved it. There are scads of activities and crafts centered around various exhibitions in the museum. Then folks get to roll out their sleeping bags and camp out under a whale or antique machinery as museum lights are dimmed. Continental breakfast is served in the morning. And it is all so way cool!

Next year my daughter will be too old to do either of these sleepovers (there’s an age limit), and we’re super glad to have done them. I’ve always loved the Natural History Museum with animals and minerals, but I forgot how much fun the American History Museum can be. I feel like we made the kind of memories that can last a lifetime, and I think (I hope) my daughter feels that way too.

Earlier this summer my daughter had camp, so most weeks I had to drop her off in the morning and then run out on my lunch hour to pick her up and drop her off either at home or somewhere else like another camp (from which I’d have to pick her up again later). Most of the camps have been wonderful! She’s learned more music and dance and even cooking.

For me, one or two days of driving at lunchtime isn’t a problem, but week after week gets tiring. Exhausting even. I need some down time, or I start to shut down. On top of it, I fell and injured my knee last March (for crying out loud) and it has been slowly healing. At the beginning of summer it was much better but still painful on a regular basis. Pain is exhausting. (I have much more empathy for folks who live with chronic pain.) I’ve been trying to fit physical therapy exercises into my daily schedule to help my knee heal. Here at the end of summer I finally feel like I can squat to take care of our balcony plants without groaning in pain at the same time.  Long and short of it, instead of writing and blogging more this summer I remained rather unproductive.

These last few morsels of summer I have no plans of driving anywhere at lunchtime — at least nothing major. I may still run occasional shopping errands or drop my daughter off at a friends house and such. But mainly I plan to eat lunch.  I plan to write.

I’ve set goals for myself.  I want more summer fun. Maybe a quick trip to the beach! Maybe tubing. Definitely more swimming. I want more tomatoes to grow! More peppers! I want to write regularly and am setting daily and weekly goals. Really, I want more summer!

Back to Life: Return of the Blob

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for July 29, 2014, is Back to Life. It asks:

After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again?

After especially long and exhausting activities, the one thing I do to feel alive again is to be a blob. Ironic that being so unhuman can make me feel human again. I wish I could say it was jogging, yoga, a long walk outside, or some other healthy thing. Exercise is a good thing, but I would say regular exercise is better to help prevent me from feeling totally drained than to help me bounce back once there.

When I need to recharge I just plain need down time. I like to stretch too, though, especially after physical challenges like a long car ride. So maybe that makes me a stretchy blob. Kind of like slime! Stretch and bend. I might even stick to something like the couch. But otherwise I do not want to do much of anything. I don’t have to be blobby for that long, but how long partly depends on how drained I am in the first place. Likewise if I have a little charge left in me, I may add a bit of reading, writing, drawing, playing a game, or watching a movie. Is there a movie called Return of the Blob? Blobby-ness helps me to return. I just have to make sure I avoid the quicksand and get moving again before long …

Now? Later! — Not Just Candy from the 70s.

The prompt for July 14 was: Now? Later! It asks:

We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

In a way, everything I do feels like a form of procrastination. If I’m doing the laundry, it means I’m not doing something else like cleaning the sink in the bathroom. So I’m thinking there’s a very fine line between procrastination and prioritization.

There is, perhaps, a two-stage litmus tests for this difference. First, does the object of my attention actually need to get done? And second, does it need to get done now?

If I’m doing something that needs to get done, then it’s probably more an issue of prioritization. Laundry needs to get done. But if I should really be doing something else at this very moment, then it also becomes a form of procrastination. Doing the laundry but there are dishes I should get done before I make my daughter’s lunch which needs to happen now. So basically I procrastinate all the time and call it prioritization. I seem to get more stuff done this way.

Pretty much any time I’m writing, I’m procrastinating on some level, because there’s always something else that needs to get done. That’s both procrastination and prioritization. If I make writing a priority, then am I still procrastinating?

Maybe procrastination becomes a matter of degrees. How badly am I procrastinating? Laundry is a sort of single-level procrastination. It needs to get done, but probably not five minutes before we’re supposed to leave the house.

Then there’s double-level procrastination. That’s stuff that I don’t need to do, and I definitely don’t need to be doing it now. Because all it does is steal time from all the other things that need to get done.

For me, the two things that I name as my biggest vices are Carcassonne and Candy Crush (it’s not just candy from the 70s). Neither one of these needs to get done, but they happen. Oh, I try to multitask to minimize the amount of precious time it’s sucking from my life. Play a little Candy Crush in the bathroom anybody? (Sorry if that’s too much information.) Bathroom time needs to happen. Why not multitask? Sometimes my brain really does need a break from all the “must do” things and Carcassonne and Candy Crush offer that in a colorful, satisfying, calorie-free way. I can’t do laundry or dishes in the bathroom. I might as well play a game. So wait, isn’t that a form of single-level procrastination? It doesn’t really need to get done, but if I’m going to do it, that’s a good time. It all seems logical to me until the family yells, “hay, are you playing Carcassonne in there?”

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