List #268: Our House is a Very Fine House

It's been a  busy spring around here. A lot of birthdays to celebrate, occasions to attend, work has stepped into high gear, and we bought a house.

This our home now. Tucked behind some great, big evergreens and a backyard with enough room to play. A porch to read and grill on, and big windows to watch the rain. 

Before we got the keys in hand, our house really only owned by one family for over 50 years. Built in the 1930s, with a few additions along the way, it's where we are now chasing a toddler around and spending (not-so) lazy mornings together. It needs some tender love and care, obviously. Her bones are solid but old.

But you could say we are a bit in love. 

Here's what's been happening in the first few weeks of living here:
  • We lost a cat.
  • Then found a cat.
  • Two refrigerators have been installed.
  • Bamboo has started to really take root.
  • Patio furniture was built. 
  • An umbrella was assembled.
  • Hot dogs have been grilled.
  • Balls have been tossed over the porch.
  • And fetched.
  • Holidays have been celebrated
  • Birthday gifts exchanged.
  • A dining room set was inherited.
  • Floors have been scrubbed.
  • Walks have been taken.
  • Walls painted.
  • Beds have been broken in.
  • Cable has been cut.
  • Lots of Gordon Ramsey has been watched.
  • Books are being read.
  • Laundry (in a new machine) washed.
  • Early bedtimes continue.
Just in case you were wondering what was happening over here. This is pretty much it. 


List #267: Reaons I Dislike April

There are a lot of good things that happen in April. Mostly some of the people I love the most were born this month. And I always enjoy celebrating the birthdays of loved ones. But I'm coming clean with a dirty little secret, I hate April. In fact, it might just be my least favorite month. 

April is the worst, here's why.

  • April Showers. 
  • Trying to remember to pack an umbrella nearly every day of the week.
  • Always feeling sticky and damp.
  • There are no good hair days in April.
  • Long days and long nights filled with a lot of responsibility. 
  • Never feeling comfortable after shedding winter layers.
  • Not having the money to spend on an entire new wardrobe.
  • No big trips happen in April.
  • Sinuses. 
  • Allergies.
  • Cats going bonkers at nesting mourning doves outside bedroom and office windows.
  • Breaking in flats.
  • Blisters.
  • Growing tired of hot drinks in the morning.
  • Cold mornings that still require hot drinks.
Perhaps I'm just being a curmudgeon. But I'm going on record; spring is my least favorite season. It's moody and unpredictable. I'm over you April, I want the May flowers.


List #266: Things I Think About Before Getting up on an Early April Morning

I tend to wake up before my alarm goes off in the morning. And since I am the first one in our household to rise and take a shower and since the boyfriend works from home and since we typically go to bed at the same time, it's really one of the only parts of the day where I am alone with my thoughts. You can get a lot of thinking done between hitting the snooze bar a few times and stepping out of the shower.

  • What day is it today?
  • Why in the world does the cat take up more of the bed every single day.
  • Oh, the toddler is the cutest (on those mornings he manages to make his way into our bed for extended sleep)
  • Don't forget to do work-related things x, y and z. 
  • What should I bring for lunch today.
  • You know, if you got up just a smidgen earlier you could get a workout in.
  • I really hope the cat doesn't wake up the toddler.
  • You know, if you got up just a smidgen earlier you could read a chapter of your book.
  • Ugh. I don't want to wear what I ironed last night.
  • Do you think I could get on Jeopardy!
  • Oh, the yinzers that call in to morning radio shows are special.
  • Why aren't I on an honest-to-goodness spring break?
  • "Unbreakable! They alive, damn it!"
  • Assorted Taylor Swift lyrics.
  • There are so many things to get done.
  • Our house is entirely too cluttered.
  • I really want to get back to crafting more.
  • How many weeks until a vacation is near?
  • I want to go on a shopping spree.
  • Listen to the quiet.
  • What was the boyfriend mumbling in his sleep? I want to tell him when he wakes up.
  • Should I shave my legs today?
  • I wonder what we'll get into this weekend.
  • I wish I could go hang out with my Mom today.
  • I should email X today.
  • I should text X today.
  • When is the boyfriend traveling again?
  • I really should write more letters.
  • Oh, I think I hear the toddler starting to wake up.
  • I better hurry up.
  • Ugh, why does the cat need to be petted as soon as I get out of the shower.
  • Today better be a good day.
I'm really all over the place in the morning. It's the hardest time of day for me and just recently have I started to feel that we're really acing mornings...relatively speaking. Now that the toddler is getting older and doesn't full on meltdown when one of us leaves the room, it's not as stressful as it once was. But even getting up as early as I do has been an adjustment for this night owl. I don't know if I'll ever not be a whirl of emotion and though in the morning, but just having this little bit of time in-between the alarms and turning off the shower helps my mind rest, just a tiny tiny bit.

What about you, dear readers? What runs through your mind in the morning. 


List #265: Val the Writer

For the past few years, the one and only amazing Pittsburgh Blogger Alex from Everybody Loves You...has rallied the troops to put together one big blog swap. Just in time for April Fools Shenanigans. And this year's blog swap is bigger and better than ever! 40 bloggers are swapping their regular writing haunts and venturing over to different lands today for some fun. I'm writing over on Everybody Loves You...about what kind of fun you get into when you share custody of a toddler. And fittingly, the talented Val of Small Town Dad is writing about working from home as the guest post on Librarian's Lists & Letters.

Meet Small Town Dad from Beaver, PA

Val is a freelance writer who works from home. He's a super dad of two adorable children who loves his town, his typewriters, and his books. So you know, he's write up a librarian's alley. I'm in awe of how well can balance his life because mine feels like I'm jumping from one muddy puddle to the next.

Working From Home—A Love/Hate Relationship

I’ve had 15 jobs since graduating from college back in 1997. (That’s right, 15.) They told me you could do anything with an English major. And, boy, they weren’t kidding.

From hocking storm doors for a big-box retailer, to bussing tables for a flair-flaunting restaurant chain, to shipping truckloads of fireproof brick cross-country to line the interior of industrial cement kilns (I’m not kidding), I’ve done just about everything. And hated every single minute of it.

Through it all I’ve always maintained two goals that I wanted to reach before turning 40:
  1. Make a million dollars
  2. Work for myself
Since I’m sitting here writing this blog post and not off drinking margaritas on some secluded tropical island, you can probably guess I fell a little short of Goal No. 1. I did, however, achieve Goal No. 2 last June, when I set out on my own to become a stay-at-home-dad/freelance writer. And, I am happy to say, so far things are going rather well.

I haven’t lost my house yet.

Working from home is awesome! Sometimes. Other times, not so much. That said, the following lists detail some of the best and worst things about being a solo-preneur. Enjoy!

10 Things I Love About Working For Myself
  • The coffee is always perfect (because I make it).
  • Showering is optional.
  • Afternoon naps are mandatory.
  • I get to hear things like my son singing “Uptown Funk” while going #2 (true story).
  • No emergency meetings (or any kind of meeting, for that matter).
  • Four-hour workday (if that).
  • Working (ahem) while watching “American Pickers”.
  • No fear of the dreaded boss “pop-in”.
  • Daily afternoon walk break to pick up my daughter from school.
  • A 30-second commute.

10 Things I Hate About Working For Myself
  • Distractions abound (my kids, the dishes, my kids, the laundry, my kids, etc.).
  • There’s never any leftover office birthday cake.
  • I have to actually pay for my own office supplies.
  • The constant fear of a Nerf gun sneak attack.
  • No Christmas bonus.
  • The lack of water-cooler gossip.
  • You only get paid if you actually work.
  • I am my own I.T. Department.
  • Custodial, too.
  • Quite honestly, the benefits stink.

If you're interested in exploring the other 40! blogs you can can find them all linked below. It might take you more than just a lunch hour to read them all, but hopefully you'll discover something new! Many thanks again to Alex for putting this all together. Happy April Fool's Day!


List #264: The (Not So) GreatThings About Being in a Relationship

The boyfriend and I will be together two years come June. We've been living together for well over a year now. And we do raise a toddler together. Its safe to say we know each other pretty well. Love and quirks and everything in-between.

He's my love. And he really truly is a saint. He puts up with my weird neuroses, my desire to just pinch him at any given time, and my inability to sleep with even the tiniest bit of light shining. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not entirely grateful that our roads in life led us to meet nearly two years ago.

But all that being said, oh there are some tough times when you're in a serious relationship.

Here are mine:

  • Sharing a bed when all you really want to do is starfish wide in the middle.
  • Giving up and letting someone watch a movie that you came into in the middle.
  • Listening to someone chew. Loudly.
  • Seeing tissues that don't it to the garbage can.
  • Ignoring mugs of tea that pile up on tables and desks.
  • Getting up extra early so your loved one can take the later shower.
  • Sharing a bathroom.
  • Trying to fall asleep when someone has a light on in the room.
  • Adjusting thermostats for different body temperatures.
  • Meeting in the middle of Night Owl and Early Bird.
  • Understanding that you're the only one who will clean the litter box (the cat came with me).
  • Growing piles of laundry.
  • Conceding music selections.
  • Losing closet space and numbers of drawers to store all your regular amounts of stuff.
  • Sifting through more mail than you ever thought possible.
  • Having far less time to watch mindless television because you can't make your significant other watch hours of Teen Mom
Now for every one of the bullets on this list, it's more than likely that the boyfriend could match (or agree with) one for me. Seriously I am no picnic and I'm well aware.

But the little things are there. They are leftover crumbs from previous relationships, personal sensitivities, or just things you didn't really think about when you copied keys and unboxed your life in someone else's. It's just what happens when you're living with someone you love. 

I do plan on writing the (truly) great things about being in a relationship. And yes, the list will genuinely longer. But it's Monday and Mondays are for griping. Please feel free to share your own relationship gripes in the comments. 


List #262: A Weekend in New York City

I'my very fortunate to have a bunch of vacations days that need to be used. I'm also very fortunate to have a best friend that lives in Manhattan and is willing to put up with my in her apartment for a few days. So mix those things together, plus a tax refund, and it was easy to see that I'd usher in spring with a weekend getaway.

It was a wonderful weekend that was more heavy on the friendship than it was on sightseeing and traipsing around different neighborhoods and boros. And quite honestly, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I don't get as much girl time as I used to these days. And my friend in NYC is one of my oldest and best.

So here's to air mattresses, beer mugs and subway rides. A list of things you do in NYC with one best friend and a limited budget. Oh, and a snowstorm that laid inches in the city in just a few hours.

  • Rolling a blue suitcase straight into Hooters. 
  • Basketball. Lots of basketball.
  • New Girl best-of viewings.
  • Unbreakable! They're alive, damn it! It's a miracle!
  • Browsing history through museums.
  • Being completely confused by more modern museums.
  • Starbucks. 
  • Pizza.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Brunch.
  • Encouraging the youth of America.
  • Being on the the market for a lamp.
  • So many Greek dips.
  • Souvlaki.
  • Retsina.
  • Greek music.
  • Eurovision.
  • Window shopping.
  • Manicures.
  • Flirting with bartenders.
  • Eyeing up waiters.
  • Overhearing sidewalk conversations.
  • Hipster bars.
  • Will Forte's long-lost son.
  • Sliding on snowy sidewalks.
  • Shake Shack.
This is probably the prettiest photo I've ever taken. 

I have been spending a lot of nights alone the last few weeks, so getting some stress-free time away with one of the people I love the most was just what I needed. Now, I wish the feeling would have lasted a little while longer for both her and me, but oh well...we've already started planning a trip for our 35th birthday. 


List #261: When the Boys Are Away

It's been a rough two months at my house. The boyfriend has been traveling a lot for work and this week he began what is nearly a two week stint away from the homestead. In fact, because I'm taking a little mini-break and heading out of town to see a best friend, the boyfriend and I will see each other for less than 24 hours in the course of then next 10 days. Plus, when the boyfriend is traveling I don't actually get to the little guy either. It's not an ideal situation.

But! There is a silver lining. Most importantly I'll get to take a mental break from work and life and visit with one of my best friends for a long weekend. We have plans for Greek food and 90s dance parties. Basically all of that is awesome.

And even though the house is quiet and a little lonely, it some ways it's refreshing to have a few nights by myself.

With the boys gone, here is how I spend my evenings.

  • Doing laundry. And since our washer is actually broken, I have to set a timer to manually change each setting.
  • Eating tacos on the couch.
  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher.
  • Procrastinating packing.
  • Watching back-to-back episodes of Hindsight. Seriously, watch this show.
  • Reading long books.
  • Letting candles burn for too long.
  • Falling asleep on the couch.
  • Talking on the phone to my mom.
  • Folding laundry.
  • Watching too much HGTV. 
  • Playing too many games on my phone.
  • Dealing with a needy cat who sits on me way too much.
So yeah, super exciting stuff going on here. But really, I'll be away soon. Drinking a few more drinks than one should and riding subways all day long. One should always vacation in March. 


List #260: Things I Should Win an Oscar For

When I was in high school I dreamed of growing up and winning an Academy Award. I had grand ideas of my life somehow ending up in Los Angeles, wearing gorgeous designer dresses on red carpets, and giving the most perfect off-the-cuff winners speech. I would have held that gold statue high up in the air, showing off my sculpted arms, and have diamonds dripping from my ears and fingers.

Yeah. None that happened. The idea of living in Los Angeles actually sounds terrifying. I haven't acted in anything since I played the Mad Hatter in a sorority skit. And I actually really don't even like diamonds.

So since I have no chance of winning an actual Oscar, here's what I think the Academy should honor me for. You know, just in case they start giving out awards to ordinary people who blog from their couch in Pittsburgh.

I should at least be nominated for the following bests:

  • Wearing of multiple tights when it's 0 degrees outside.
  • Doing your own hair and make up in a house with one bathroom and one roaming and feisty toddler.
  • Online shopper.
  • Ability to get salt marks all over ones shoes and tights.
  • Showering in the dark.
  • Recommending books you haven't heard about yet.
  • Not watching movies.
  • Disliking James Patterson.
  • Forgetting where you put your glasses.
  • Forgetting where you put your keys.
  • Forgetting where you left your phone.
  • Playing games on your phone and then getting bored with them after two weeks.
  • Thinking chipped ham really is the best lunch meat.
  • Loving peppermint tea.
  • Falling asleep with a heating pad.
  • Having a crush on Captain America, the character.
  • Being so very much like Leslie Knope.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Drinking water out of Tervis mugs.
  • Snacking on sweet tarts.
  • Taking an extraordinarily long time to knit a scarf for oneself.
  • Watching every episode of Parks and Recreation at least 5 times at this point.
What about your awards, dear readers? Let me know what you'd likely win for! 


List #259: Where I Was While I Was Away

I know. It's been a long while since I last blogged. In the last year and a half so many things in my life have morphed and changed that often I don't quite know what to share and how to share it. It's why you haven't heard too much about my life, the Boyfriend, and the (now) Toddler. It's all a balancing game of how much is too much and what's appropriate and what I'm comfortable with. And sometimes, I really just don't know how I feel on any given day.

But I'm ready to get my blogging game back on track. I've been journaling a little since I've been gone and I've learned one thing about myself:  I am my better self when I'm writing my thoughts. And I think sometimes I'm even better when I'm sharing them.

So to start off, I'll catch you up on where I've been while I was away:

  • Oakland
  • Downtown
  • My library
  • Other libraries
  • Sitting on the right side of a bus
  • Sitting on the left side of a bus
  • Walking through Schenley Park
  • Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh
  • Phipps Conservatory
  • Charleston, WV
  • On the side of the highway in WV for 3 hours
  • Sunset Beach, NC
  • Eating Thanksgiving dinner on a beach
  • Reading on a porch
  • Watching television on the couch
  • Sitting on the floor playing with a Toddler
  • My family's house
  • His family's house
  • Extended families' houses
  • Putting up and taking down Christmas lights
  • Under lots of blankets
  • Sitting in a movie theater
  • Restaurants. Restaurants. Restaurants. 
  • Laughing with friends at parties
  • Target.
  • Lowe's
  • Giant Eagle
  • In bed dreaming 
  • In bed having nightmares
  • Sitting in my new desk chair
  • The Benedum Center 
  • The Strip District
  • The North Shore
  • Casinos
  • A wedding
  • A bridal shower
  • Not Pawnee, Indiana
So dear readers, where have you been lately?