New Door!

You know you're old when you get really excited about a new front door.  But this door has been a work in a progress for a really long time.  We had been searching and researching for weeks, finally made a decision, then all of a sudden the price skyrocketed because it had to be a custom size, so then it was back to the drawing board.

(Ready for door photo overload?)

You might remember that this is what our current door looks like.

And this was initially the door that we really wanted.

But our fiscally conservative nature told us otherwise.  You can buy my love.  Or rather, you can make me not love you by costing me money.

We decided to skip the wood grain and go with a flat door that we would need to paint ourselves.  It saved us a couple hundred dollars and DH felt like it would be easy enough to paint.  We also got price quotes for three different vendors and different glass styles, which actually affects the cost way more than I ever knew.  I liked the "center arch" look that we chose above, but when we realized that it was a more expensive design, I was immediately over it.  We also went to a few places other than Home Depot, but they didn't even attempt to pretend that they could be competitive with Home Depots prices. So much for supporting the little guy.

There was one door in particular that was clearly less expensive than the other two that we were now considering, and we couldn't figure out why.  Was it not as good?  Or it is just that this particular company is more affordable?  We almost went with one of the more expensive options simply because it "must be better, right?", but on the way to Home Depot that day I declared, "Let's get this one," pointing to the less expensive of the three, and DH seemed to be relieved that someone had finally made a choice and he fully agreed.

I now present to you, our new door. 

Definitely not as fancy as the wood grain door - which I still admit to loving - but for $1000, I can live with the looks of this one.  After all, it doesn't look bad, it just isn't the original one that I picked out.

We also replaced the horrible old screen door with one that has a retractable screen in the upper half.  This means that we can still get a ton of light in the summer, let in the breeze, not have to worry about Murphy possible scratching through a lower screen AND we don't have to store or change the glass and screen panels every single time a season changes. 

This door also lets in a TON more light than our old door.  The old door was solid in the middle and the sidelights were just clear glass, so the people before us had these nasty, dusty curtains on them, which we just left because we didn't have anything better.   

Old door from the inside: 

And new door from the inside:

In fact, it lets in so much light now that we get this crazy pattern of light in the morning when the sun is shining (not that there's been much of that lately.) 

It still needs to be painted (any ideas for paint colors? Should we do an actual color? Or just paint it white? I can't decide!) and we think that we need to caulk underneath the baseboard since there is a lot of air coming in from there, but both are things that DH can easily do himself.   

We're thrilled to finally be able to check this one off of the to-do list.  Done and done. 

1-1-11 - My symptoms so far

Written on 1/1/2011 (Two months ago! So, obviously much has changed since then!) 

It's New Year's Day!  1-1-11. A great day to reflect on new beginnings and changes for the upcoming year, which are certainly going to be significant.

We have our first doctor's appointment on Tuesday and one of the things that I need to think about are a list of symptoms that I've been experiencing as well as any questions that I might have.

My symptoms have been intriguing to me, but before I even begin, let me say that I know I should be thankful.

Thus far at least, I have not had any morning sickness (knock on wood.)  That's right, NO MORNING SICKNESS!  I capitalized that because a lot of people can't believe it.  The first question everyone asks is "how are you feeling?"  What they really mean is "Have you been throwing up?"  They don't want to hear about your other weird, quirky symptoms, which I will detail below. 

Anyway, no morning sickness.  I have occasionally felt queasy, particularly when in the car (and particularly when traveling on some back-country farm roads in southern York County that rival roller coasters in their ups and downs.)  I also gag pretty much every time I brush my teeth and attempt to brush my tongue.  I LOVE brushing my tongue, so I keep doing it, even though I wretch every single time.  No vomit though so for now I think I'm going to keep doing it.

My first and most intense symptom is one that is a little embarrassing to talk about, but it's so pervasive and sometimes all I can think about so I'm going to say it anyway - extremely tender breasts.   They hurt soooo bad.  I've taken to sleeping in a sports bra every night and exercising - when I get around to it - is oh-so painful.  But it's manageable so far and hopefully it will go away soon.  If the alternative is vomiting, I would definitely rather have a tender chest for sure.

Moving on.  Cramps - let's talk about them.  I know that a lot of women get them on a monthly basis.  When I was on birth control I had pretty much pain-free periods and could barely relate to women who were complaining about cramps.

Karma is a bitch.

Although they're not horrible every single day, when they are happening I can't think about anything else.  They are so uncomfortable that they occupy every cell in my brain.  In particular, the cramps in my back are most severe.  They're so low that no massage could ever help and the fact that they're usually in the front at the same time just makes it worse.  Since I'm not allowed to take any sort of pain relief the cramps are by far my least favorite and most uncomfortable symptom.  I hear that it's my uterus growing and that someone women are more in tune with that feeling than others.  Whatever the case may be, I hope they go away soon.

Other less irritating symptoms include that hit-you-like-a-train tiredness that is oh-so-common in the early stages of pregnancy.  I'm going going going strong and then BAM, need to sleep.  Of course, once I'm in bed I fall asleep quickly but two hours later wake up because my skin itches all over, or because I have to go to the bathroom.  I'm not sure if this is a pregnancy symptom or simply because it's winter and dry skin is more prominent.

And finally: 
1. Cold - I feel cold ALL the time; sometimes I'm so cold I can't do anything but curl up into a ball and shiver
2. Acne - Breakouts on both my face and chest are super annoying and feel so 1995
3. Oily hair - I seriously have to wash my hair every single day now; if I skip one day it's like I doused my locks in olive oil. For a girl who hates to shower (me) this sucks big time.  Assuming a sedentary weekend, I would sometimes shower on Friday before work and then pass on the washing until Monday when I had to go out into the world and see people again.  I would look a little greasy by that point, but even three days of no showering back then isn't even close to the greasiness that I'm feeling now after a single day.

The pregnancy books go on and on about morning sickness and since I can't really relate, I've already pretty much stopped reading them.  Most of my other symptoms (except the chest tenderness) aren't really mentioned specifically, but basically it seems like they write off anything that isn't "normal" for you as a "pregnancy symptom."   All in all, I think that my symptoms are pretty manageable (I mean, no symptoms would be better, but....) and I'm just really glad that I'm not throwing up.

12-27-10 - I am way too sober for this

The holidays are quite possibly the worst time to find out that you're in the early weeks of pregnancy.  You're traveling, visiting family and everyone wants you to eat and drink with them.  The eating part is fine but with our families, drinking is an essential part of the holiday season.

I thought I would be off the hook for at least a few hours on Christmas but my family starting handing out the mimosas before noon!  I politely declined and got a look, but no questions.  Then we started exchanging gifts and one of the first things that I opened was a bottle of my favorite liquor - Hawaiian Blue Maui.  Mmm... totally my weakness and guilty pleasure.  I took that opportunity to thank my sister for the gift, but then announced that I wouldn't be able to drink it for awhile since I was pregnant.

Everyone was surprised (I think) and my mom seemed especially happy.  It was nice to get that out of the way.

Now we're at DH's mom's house, and the brother's and their significant others are all together.  The drinking has been stepped up a notch, and even with my sparkling grape juice I am waaaaay too sober for this.  There comes a point, when people are drinking and you are not, where the conversation suddenly takes a turn.  The drinkers suddenly can't stop talking and everything is funny but my reality remains the same, and I feel like they're idiots for laughing at such stupid stuff.  Is this how sober people feel all the time??? If so, I think I would start distancing myself from the drinkers pretty immediately.

So now I'm laying on our air mattress, starving, because no one told me that the pizza had arrived, and now it's gone.  I'm so sad and upset and angry that I don't want to eat anything - I just want to go to sleep and for this day to be over.  I hate that I seem like the moody pregnant girl, but this is seriously hard to deal with. I'm trying to read but the noise of raucous laughter and bottle clinking from the other side of my wall makes that impossible.

My reality has changed in such huge ways that I'm having a hard time dealing, and this night is the first where I am sad and almost resentful.  I know that feeling will go away and I know that this will get easier, but right now it's hard and I can't seem to hold back the tears....

12-23-10 - Baby's first ski trip

Written on 12/23/10

We had already planned and paid for a ski trip well in advance of me finding out this news, and there was no way that I was going to miss it.  Although I understand that this is a major life change, I wasn't mentally ready for making major life changes right then.

So I did a little internet research and decided that it was totally safe to go skiing.  The main concern is falling, and this is mostly only a concern after the first trimester, when there is actually something there that you could fall on.  Right now there's really just a ball of cells.  This early on the only real concern would be if I broke a bone and had to get x-rays.

I love staying in hotels and I LOVE sleeping in king sized beds.  I wish we could fit a king sized bed in our master bedroom - it's like having my own zip code to sleep in.

Anyway, suddenly we weren't totally sure how to spend our evening once we checked in at 7 Springs.  Originally we were going to pass the time drinking at the Foggy Goggle or having drinks from a cooler and watching the skiers from the balcony window with the couch pushed in front of it.  But all of a sudden I couldn't drink, and at this early stage in the game, it was still very very hard to remind myself that I could no longer have alcohol.  This was the first of many nights where I was very sad that I couldn't drink.

Fortunately there was a Penguin's game AND a Steeler's game on that night, and we decided to still go to the bar to watch the game.  It would be a good test run to see if I could still "hang" around alcohol even though I couldn't partake.  Before we left, we decided to take a "before" picture of my belly, since I hadn't done that yet.

This is at 5 weeks and a day or two.  I think I had just consumed about a liter of water, so I was definitely pretty full.

Then we went to watch the game.  We had a great table where the Steeler's game was on to our left and the Pen's game to our right.  It was sports stimulation overload but I was successfully distracted and not too sad about the fact that I couldn't drink.

The next day we skied, and even though I had nothing to worry about, I found myself skiing rather poorly.  I'm not sure what it was, but I seemed to be more hesitant than usual to get any amount of real speed and that put a lot of strain on my legs.  I still had a great time but I wish I wouldn't have been so overly cautious as I am definitely sore from it still a few days later.

Overall though, baby's first ski trip was a definite success!  I can't wait to see a little Hartman on skis!

12-23-10 - Anti-climatic

Written on 12/23/10

That's what DH wants me to call this post.  It's about the way that I told him that I was pregnant.

You see, I was bursting with this information for the entire day at work.  Then, I found out that he was going to go to the bar with some co-workers after his work day was over.  Of course he wanted me to come, but I wasn't very interested for obvious reasons.  I wanted him to come home!

So, I went home, played with Murph, made myself dinner and kept responding to text messages from him begging me to come out.  I kept putting him off.  You see, this all happened shortly after I told DH that I often need to be asked twice if he really wants me to do something and I say no the first time. For some reason I always say no the first time.  Automatically.  It's a stupid habit, but I know it exists. So he was being persistent, just as I asked him to be. But this time I wasn't giving in.

So eventually he came home.  And he was like, "Let's go back out!! Pleeeease!?!?!?"

And I gave him a hug, and said something along the lines of: I don't really want to go out, you see, because I'm pregnant.

No fanfare or anything because how was I supposed to have fanfare when he was jumping off of the walls with excitement about wanting to go to the bar?

So, I didn't do a very good job of making this announcement.  He's already reminded me of this fact numerous times since yesterday, so I'm already planning on how I'm going to tell him if there's ever a baby number 2.  Perhaps have some "buns" warming in the oven?

12-22-10 - Reality Check

Written on 12/22/10

Reality check - I really am pregnant!  Today was the day that I had decided I would take "the test" since it would be a full week past my regular cycle date.

I did this once before back in October, and it came out negative, so I wasn't really expecting too much.  But within 15 seconds, that blue plus sign appeared and I could not believe it.  Seriously could not believe it.

Do you watch "How I Met Your Mother?"  If so, you might remember the episode "False Positive" where Lily and Marshall took a pregnancy test and it came back positive.  The episode was focused around the concept that when you tell your friends good "news" that they immediately congratulate you and then they start thinking about themselves.  I immediately started thinking about what other people would think - would they be excited for us? (Of course they would be, at least on the outside.)  But would they also be annoyed? We have so many things coming up in the next year.. will this interfere with our other plans?

Anyway, all of that aside, I really am excited.  This is a big change, but we're ready for it.

In many ways, the timing could not be worse for finding this out.  Right before the holidays.  Right before I will see every single member of both of our families.  Right before the time of year when there is alcohol everywhere you look, tons of parties with fruity drinks and beers.  How in the world am I going to lie my way out of this one?  The problem with being someone who likes to partake in drinks is that everyone expects you to partake in a drink every time they see you.  Otherwise, they'll accuse you of being pregnant.  I know - it's happened to me many times.

But it's too early to tell people! Only 5 weeks along as of right now!  AND, I still haven't told DH yet!

Curse you, weather people

Tonight I had to drive home in some of the worst weather conditions that I have ever faced.  Fortunately it was President's day, so there were already fewer drivers on the road than a normal day.  Had that not been the case, I may have never made it home.  As it was, it still took me over two hours to get home.

Visibility was total crap - it was a white out.  Traffic was virtually at a standstill which meant that plows and salt trucks couldn't get through.  It also meant that there wasn't enough friction being caused by the heat and movement of tires to actually cause any of the snow to melt.   When I finally made it 279, there were a number of cars in the left hand lane just stuck - spinning their tires on what was basically ice.  I wanted to help, but I was also so afraid of not being able to get started again myself, so there was no way that I was going to stop. 

Once I got off of the highway, I couldn't really tell where the lane markers were.  At a traffic light located in the middle of a small hill I almost couldn't get started when the light turned green, and I have all-wheel drive. 

On my road I was behind an older car who clearly had a seasoned, confident driver behind the wheel, and he was moving along quite nicely.  I kept my distance and was cautious for anything that might derail him.  Still I could barely see where I was going.  As you approach my driveway, you are about half way a fairly significant hill.  It was here that the car in front of me starting spinning out.  He was all over both of the lanes but was still maintain speed and fortunately there wasn't any traffic coming.  I had to slow down to allow proper room between myself and him and was once again afraid that I wouldn't be able to get started again.  Finally he was passed my driveway.  Initially I had planned to go further up the hill to the development to turn around to get some speed to get up my driveway but I couldn't take the risk of getting stuck.  So I veered to the right and then swung a hard left into my driveway.

It was terrifying.  My tires spun like crazy and my low traction light was on the entire time, but I made it up the driveway. I was so tense the entire two hours that my body ached when I finally got home and allowed myself to relax. 

As I was getting out of my car, I could hear other cars that had been behind me spinning their tires.  I came inside and took this picture.

A backlog of cars trying to get up the hill, because one of the cars further up couldn't make it.  We felt bad and thought about helping, but by this point I was so hungry that I was near tears and there was no way I was going to go outside again without food in my stomach.

Anyway, allow me to (sort of) change the subject.

A lot of people have been cursing the Groundhog on Facebook and Twitter for predicting an early spring, with a spring tease even thrown in there, only to hit us with more snow. 

I would like to serve as the Groundhog's defense against these lunatics. First of all, Phil is a groundhog! (And a really cute one at that.) Poor thing doesn't even have opposable thumbs.  If he did, he could at least use all of that weather-predicting technology that he has so readily available.  Oh wait.  He doesn't have weather predicting technology equipment.  But you know who does???  Weather people!  And yet, with all of their technology AND their opposable thumbs they still can't manage to warn us of a massive snow storm 24 hours in advance. 

Failures, all of them.  Enormous, massive weather predicting failures. 

This storm should not have caught us by surprise.  There is 6 inches of snow out there in my driveway right now.  Yesterday, they were just saying "rain/snow showers" and no accumulation mentioned.  If weather people had any credibility in my eyes, it is now lost.  (By the way, they lost their credibility with me a long time ago.)  There is no excuse for not being able to warn people of this.  Some of us could have left work early to beat the horrible traffic.  Some of us wouldn't have had to risk our lives on some of the worst roads in long-term memory, especially since some of us really aren't comfortable driving in snow. 

Some of us are really disappointed in you, weather people.

8-24-10 - The Talk

Written on 8/24/10

Well, if I am posting this, it's probably because I recently announced the pending arrival of the newest Hartman.  Yay us!  Woo hoo!

But in all seriousness, I wanted to write posts about our decision to start trying and the whirlwind of emotions associated with making such a huge decision.

So here we go.....

The realization that I am almost thirty hit me like a ton of bricks this year.  I never feared 30 - I still don't - but it did change my perspective about a lot of things.  As far as I can tell, one morning I woke up and decided that I was ready to start thinking about having children.

I believe in the biological clock, I said to myself.  And mine has started ticking.

I originally broached the subject with DH back in the spring - April, maybe May.  He seemed open to the subject and yet simultaneously wildly uncomfortable.  I think in his heart he knew that it was something that he should discuss with me but was probably caught off guard by my question, "When do you think you want to have kids?"

We had never really talked about it before.  Only in vague terms.  Sure, I want to have kids someday.  Two, maybe three.  But no serious conversations.  No specifics as to when or how we would decide when would be the right time for us.  I suppose that for some it's just something that you decide and then do, but for us, we were waiting until it felt right.  For the ever allusive "right time."  But there isn't really ever a right time - I realize that now - and I think I started to gradually realized that in early 2010.  Yes, it sounds ideal to put off having kids until all of your debts are paid off, until you own your house, until you have money saved up for their future educations.  But if we decided to do that, I think we would be well into our late-thirties before we were even close to being at that point.  And when I asked myself if I was ok with waiting that long, the answer was a resounding no.

So a few months later, early August, in fact.  I brought up the topic again with DH, over dinner.  I eased into the topic, I think talking loosely about the pregnancy of one of my co-workers, who was expecting her second.   He seemed more ready this time, less afraid of the topic.  I told him my feelings - I felt ready, and although it didn't need to happen right now, I was no longer interested in talking about this in terms of  "years down the road," but instead "maybe this year? Next year?"

I am afraid of infertility, of it taking months and months and months and maybe even years or perhaps even never and then wondering "what if we had started trying when we were younger."  DH, on the other hand, was more worried about the fact that to him, the prospect of trying to have a child probably meant a baby in nine months.  It could be that fast, yes, but for most people it's not quite that quick.  Always on the computer, he started googling some conception-type questions and was surprised to learn the statistics - a woman only has about a 25% chance of getting pregnant at any given time, that the average time it took to conceive a child was six months.  And so on.

We talked for awhile and DH came around.  I wasn't looking for an immediate response, but just a simple "I am open to considering this."  But to my surprise, he was fully on board.

And so our story beings....

The NEW Hartman

I knew that the time would come when I could no longer call myself the "new Hartman."  And that time has finally come.

Because there's going to be an even newer Hartman soon!

That's right! Baby Hartman arrives in August! Can you believe it??? Because I sure can't!!!

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here, and that's partially due to the fact that it's winter, and that I hate winter, and that is absolutely nothing going on.  But it's also because I've been spending most of my blogging time writing about our little secret, which is obviously not a secret anymore.  I have at least 2 dozen posts written, starting back in December when we first found out, and over the next couple of weeks I will be releasing those posts until we get caught up to present day.  Needless to say, things will be picking up on this blog now, so I hope you're ready for pregnancy stories and rants! 

We're excited and I can't wait to share more!

Not Quite Kristi Yamaguchi

This past Saturday afternoon DH and I headed downtown for an ice skating birthday party.  It has been years - literally, years - since I have last ice skated.  Definitely at least 3, maybe upwards of 5 or 6.  I can't really remember.  Let's just say it's been it's a long time.

Anyway, ice skating - when you first step out onto the ice - is quite scary, and I had forgotten that little fact.  You're wearing shoes with blades.  And you're on ice, which is not exactly known for it's impact absorbing properties.  Falling on ice hurts.  Fortunately I didn't experience that first hand.

 Our ice skating excursion was to the PPG rink in downtown Pittsburgh.  The rink's size is certainly nothing to write home about - it's little a donut of ice with a tree in the middle.  You can't do anything but go around in a relatively small circle in one direction. But for someone who was getting back on the horse - or the skates - for the first time in awhile, I didn't resent the small size until I was just about ready to be done skating anyway.

For all of its size shortcomings, the PPG rink is in an amazing setting. It was a beautiful afternoon with the sun shining and blue skies and those glass and steel buildings really made for a breathtaking backdrop.  These pictures may be cliche - everyone who's been there probably has them - but that does not take away from their splendor at all.

Now that I've whet my appetite for ice skating, I'm dying to go back to the North Park ice rink where I last skated many years ago.  It's SO much bigger and so much less crowded and I think I could really get to work on developing my Kristi Yamaguchi-like skills.

P.S. - Ice skating must be really good for your butt.  My butt hurt soooo much the next day, not in an "ouch I fell and my butt hurts" kind of way but in that "Oooh I used some butt muscles that I haven't used in a long time and it feels awesome" kind of way.  Another reason to go ice skating again.   I'm not sure that I've ever used the word butt so many times in one paragraph before in my life.


I'm willing to bet that there are few people out there who are as excited about the recent (and upcoming) weather warm-up as I am.  I have already talked about how much I hate the winter, and even DH has been feeling the SAD (seasonal affective disorder.)  We've even had some semi-serious conversations about moving to a warmer climate, but when it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure we're not going anywhere. 

This past weekend was the first taste of "the warm-up."  Yesterday the temperatures were in the upper 40's and all of the snow finally melted on our driveway.  It was also the first migraine that I've had in a while.

Do you remember science projects from grade school?  I once did a project on barometers.  I made two different types of barometers and had a real barometer as well and used them to measure changes in the atmospheric pressure.  Some were more accurate than others, but I remember at the time being amazed that I could actually observe these devices reflecting changes in pressure when I myself was too unobservant to notice them.

Being unobservant to atmospheric pressure is no longer the case.  Now, it seems that whenever the weather changes, I get a migraine.  It's particularly bad when the weather goes from cold to warm, instead of the other way around.  Some people feel weather changes in their joints, and as someone who had a relatively major knee surgery, you'd think I'd notice it there instead of my head.  In fact I think I'd rather feel it in my knee.  But for some reason my brain hates changes in the weather, and I suffer dearly. 

It makes me appreciate the warm weather just a little less, and when I'm in the throes of a migraine I might even be heard saying something crazy like, "I just want cold weather again!"  Don't worry, it's not true.  I love the warm weather and I really do love spring.  But after last spring, when I had the worst migraines I have ever experienced, and after this most recent one - when it's not even spring yet! - I am definitely concerned about what the upcoming months have in store for me. 

For now, I feel like I should put together some makeshift barometers again and see which predictor model is more accurate - one of my homespun devices, or my poor little head. 

The Snuggie

I have longed joked about getting Murphy a Snuggie.  DH would roll his eyes at me and firmly say, "No." 

But then one day when I was on the phone with my mom, she announced that she had purchased a Snuggie for Murphy on a whim, because it was on sale.  I told DH, and he gave the requisite eye roll, but he knew he lost that war - the Snuggie was already purchased and I did my part by not being the one to buy it!

So imagine my surprise when we both agreed that the Snuggie was pretty darn cute.  Murph seemed to love it, or - at the very least - didn't hate it, which is basically love in dog speak, right?  The day we receive it in the mail he wore it the entire evening.

First he played with his alien toy in it.  Then he curled up in in the towels that we keep next to the door for drying him off.  We're pretty sure he thinks we just set up make-shift beds for him near every door.

Then he jumped up onto our bed to sleep, proving that the Snuggie does not hinder his jumping ability at all.

Later than night, as we were getting ready for bed, we noticed that he had already crawled into his crate with his Snuggie on.  He was all curled up and ready to go to sleep and even though I tried to coax him out for a minute or two so that I could remove the Snuggie, he had no interest in moving.

I guess I can't really blame him.  I mean, I'm always freezing in this house, and that poor dog doesn't even get to layer on the clothes like I do!  He was probably thrilled at opportunity to get to wear a blanket around the house.  In fact, the next morning I was running late from work and didn't remember to take it off of him then either, so he spent the entire next day with it on.  It didn't come off until that evening, when it was raining and he came in from outside completely soaked.  The cool thing? I took off the Snuggie and didn't even need to dry him off - his fur was totally dry.  Awesome.

So, whether his daddy likes it or not (and I think he does), Murphy is a Snuggie doggie.

Happy Birthday to me

Last Thursday I turned 30 years old. I decided not to make a big deal out of it, since it didn't feel like a big deal at all to me.  I know that a lot of people think that 30 is a huge milestone birthday.  Some even fear it, leaving their 20s far behind.  But for whatever reason I was neither nervous or excited about turning 30.  It was just going to happen and I'm ok with that.

We went out to eat at Mad Mex the night before and the next day DH bought me a mini-almond torte cake to eat for dessert. It was a low key, subtle celebration.

If you're my friend on Facebook or you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I was somewhat overwhelmed on the day of my birthday this year. I received more birthday wishes on Facebook and Twitter than ever before, and even more birthday cards.  Thanks to everyone for the well wishes - I don't want anyone to think that my ambivalence towards the 30th anniversary of my birth means that I'm ungrateful.  But I'm certainly not dwelling on age - it's only a number, and definitely not a state of mind. My state of mind is "young at heart," proven by my desire to go to the South Side for the Super Bowl when all of my - older - co-workers looked at me like I was crazy and said things like "Why would you want to go there? It's going to be crazy."

I have no regrets about the way that I celebrated my birthday, and I'm already looking forward to the next one.

Thanks again, everyone!

Well, that sucked

So, let's start out by just stating the obvious - the Steeler's lost.  And if you ask me, that sucks.

Picture of smiling faces taken BEFORE the Steeler's lost

Of course, I'm not really sure that they deserved to win.  It wasn't their best game ever, and they made a lot of stupid mistakes that cost them the win. You can't make stupid mistakes when you're in the Super Bowl.  All of the fumbles, the sacks, the turnovers - just plain stupid.  But like any true fans might, we truly believe the entire time that they could win it - would win it - right down to the last two minutes, until they missed that 4th down pass with just over a minute remaining. Then we left.

We went to a party at Mullen's in the South Side for the Super Bowl.  We had to pay a $10 cover, which simply got us in the door.  The party was a friend of a friend of a friend's wife (or something like that) sort of deal, so we didn't really know anyone but were happy to have a home base.  We lucked out and were able to get a table, which was really nice, since we got there around 4 p.m. and didn't leave until after 10:30.  I hate standing for long periods of time so having a place to sit was essential for me.  The vibe was great, and there were a great number of really drunk people, particularly large football-player-sized men.  I kept my distance, and I think that sporting events are one of the only times where there's a line for the men's bathroom and not for the women's.

In preparation for possible craziness, the Pittsburgh police closed East Carson street and prohibited parking along Carson and up side streets one block on both sides.  We were lucky enough to be walking by when the tow truck caravan arrived, and it was really a crazy site to see.

Of course, the craziness didn't happen.  Do you think that the police were relieved?  Since that meant no craziness? Or do you think they were sad, since that meant no Steeler's win and they were probably Pittsburgh Police?

Either way, we walked out of the bar after the game and the streets were pretty much empty.  Not filled with cheering, celebrating people like they should have been (if they had won.)  I know there was worry that if we lost people would be belligerent and angry and try to cause mayhem by doing things like setting couches on fire, but that didn't appear to be the case, at least where we were.

Even though the streets were closed, everyone stayed on the sidewalks.  As we walked near the Birmingham Bridge we passed the police, SWAT, and military barricades that had been set up.   There were at least 8 police officers on enormous, beautiful Clydesdale horses, all standing in a line.  We even got to see the LRAD device which they used during the G20 riots last year, which puts off crazy noises and dispersal messages (which they obviously did not have to use.)  They were clearly prepared for the worst, and I guess in the "public safety" sense, the best case scenario happened.

Can you see the horses back there? On the other side of the street from the cop car?

People were sad.  Some were stunned into silence.  Others were still positive and hopeful, saying things like, "It's ok, we'll get it next year." Or "It just wasn't meant to be." But no one really seemed to be angry.

And really, how could they be?  The Steeler's are one of the best teams in NFL history.  We've been to the Super Bowl THREE TIMES in the last SIX YEARS!!! That's unheard of!!!  What other city can say that about their team!!? Of course, not winning means that you're the first loser, but if you're the first loser of the Super Bowl, is that really such a bad thing!?!?  Only two teams get to go to the Super Bowl, and our team has been there 50% of the time in the past 6 years.  That's actually remarkable.  Pittsburgh - a football town at heart - got to host two playoff games at Heinz field this year.  We got to wear our jerseys and tailgate and watch our team on TV into the month of February this year!!!!  February people!!!  Only one other city gets to say that!

Yes it's sad that the Steelers lost.  But what a game!!! What a team!!! How awesome is it to say "I'm from Pittsburgh" right now??  I'm over that game. We didn't win - so what. Moving on. We'll get them next year!

I'm going to end this with a video, taken at the bar.  It's pretty poor quality, from a point and shoot digital camera, but you'll get the gist of it.  THIS is why people do things like go to the South Side on Super Bowl Sunday even though we live in the suburban wilderness.  THIS is why we dress up in black and gold and this is why people drive all the way from Baltimore to be in Pittsburgh for this game.  To be a part of something big.  Bigger than ourselves.  To hug people we don't even know and not care in the least, because we all want to the same thing. To experience to gamut of emotions from extreme excitement - shown here - to extreme sadness and loss.  That's what sports teams can do to us, and I think it's an amazing thing.

Thanks, Steelers.

Here we go!

In honor of my recent birthday, the Steelers have decided to go to the Super Bowl.  We have decided to venture to the South Side for the festivities although we may regret it later tonight when we're trying to battle traffic to get home tonight.

In any case, Murphy is all ready to go! Let's go Steelers!

The Groundhog

I know I'm a few days late on this one, but better late than never, right?

I don't put a lot of faith in the weather predicting abilities of Punxatawney Phil. Sure, he's cute beyond belief and I just want to squeeze him whenever I see him, but a weather man he is not.

But in an effort to "look on the bright side" of this horribly cold, snowy, depressing winter, I decided on Tuesday - after hearing that Phil did NOT see his shadow! Yay! - to buy into the little critter for at least this one year.  After all, he said that there would be an early spring!!!

Then yesterday when I was driving into work I was blinded - literally could not see where I was driving at all - by the intensely bright shining sun.  Yes the temperatures were still pretty chilly, but it wasn't snowing or sleeting and the sun was out.  It seemed like Phil might be on to something.

Please don't let me down, little guy!

A dozen ways to skin a turkey

Or at least a dozen ways to use turkey leftovers!

On Sunday night I cooked an 18 pound turkey for dinner.  We had always planned on eating the turkey on this particular day, but thankfully some friends came over to help as well.  I'm not sure that 2 lone people have any business trying to finish off an 18 pound turkey on their own.

 Isn't that a good looking bird?

I should be - but still am - amazed at how much meat was on that bird, and I've been thinking about how many meals we're going to get out of this turkey.  Here's where we're at so far.

5 meals - Sunday night, full Thanksgiving style dinner
2 meals - Lunch on Monday; I had turkey and stuffing, DH had turkey and mashed potatoes
2 meals - Lunch on Tuesday, I had a hot turkey sandwich on ciabatta (yum!) and DH had turkey and mashed potatoes again
2 meals- Dinner on Tuesday; turkey burritos
2 meals - Lunch for both of us on Wednesday; leftover turkey burritos

That's 13 meals right there! (A baker's dozen, if you will.)  And we still have a ton of turkey left.  I'm thinking we'll get at least 6 more total meals out of it.  I for one am definitely interested in doing the hot turkey on ciabatta again, although we also talked about making California turkey clubs or turkey chili.  And of course there's always the old stand by - turkey salad sandwich.

I also made the tastiest rolls and best gravy ever.

The rolls are frozen dough balls that you can only get around the holidays.  We stocked up so that we'd have some around when we wanted them.  You have to let them rise for 5 hours, which means a lot of planning ahead, but it's so worth it.

The gravy is all of the liquids from the turkey bag pulled out with a baster (minus all of the turkey scraps that always fall off), two packets of turkey gravy seasoning and a little bit of gravy flour mixed with cold water.  It was seriously the best gravy I have ever made, and I love gravy.  It had the perfect turkey flavor, wasn't too salty, and the consistency was perfect. 

I've always found that cooking big meals like Thanksgiving isn't really that hard if you plan ahead appropriately, but I really must say - I am getting good at this!