Tuesday, September 29, 2015

30 Before 30 - Part 1

i think it was around age eleven that i first wrote down a bucket list of sorts, including such varied accomplishments as visiting Antarctica, getting my hair highlighted, and getting a tattoo. (you can probably guess which of these things i've actually managed to do.) but when i turned 29 last September, i didn't have any particular goals in mind for the year. leave it to Jon to start working on a 30 Before 30 list in April, just five months before my big 3-0. not to be outdone, i created my own list and managed to complete all but two items on it. this has truly been one of the most fun and fulfilling summers of my life as i raced the clock to visit new places, try new restaurants, learn new skills and, in short, do all those things i always say i've been meaning to do. in coming up with my list, i tried to think about my own short term and long term personal goals, and also about what i would do if i were a tourist in my own city. and as for the two things that just didn't happen ... well, they're the first items on my 31 Before 31 list! here's to 2016! 

i'm splitting this up into four parts so it doesn't become the Longest Post in the History of the World. in order of completion, here are the first seven on the list! 

1) Go to Antney's - 5/9/2015



this ice cream place is a quarter mile from our house and we had never ventured to try it. i can't believe we waited so long! the ice cream and sorbet are made in-house, and they feature fun flavors like sangria, shoofly pie, Mexican chocolate, German chocolate cake, and chocolate raspberry (clearly i paid the most attention to the chocolate flavors). the texture is velvety, similar to Coldstone Creamery, but even better in my opinion. they also sell Pup Cups, so Kaiser was in his element with his first taste of ice cream, ever. 

2) Get a gel manicure - 5/9/2015

Amy and Blair and i had a lady date to VIP III Nails & Lounge in Robinson. prior to this, i'd only had a professional manicure twice in my life -- for my wedding and for Kelli's wedding -- because i wash my hands so much at work that it just isn't worth it. but i was totally amazed at how well the gel manicure stood up to all my daily activities (including taking care of a toddler!). i ended up taking the polish off about 4 weeks later because my nails had grown out so much that it looked ridiculous, but it still hadn't chipped. 

3) Watch Titanic - 6/5/2015



yep, it was on the list. and i have to admit that i actually really liked it! probably because my expectations were soooooo very low. but i really enjoyed the cinematography and the historical references. due to the notorious "Jack, i'm flying!" scene, my assumption was that the whole movie would be overly sentimental and cheesy, and i was pleasantly surprised to find that their love story was eclipsed by themes of courage, women's rights, self-sacrifice, and ingenuity. and the scene where the musicians play "Nearer, My God, To Thee" on the sinking bow of the ship had me bawling (shocker). 

4) Try coconut oil in coffee - 6/11/2015

various versions of this have been floating around Pinterest for years, most notably "bulletproof coffee" which includes emulsified butter. this combination is purported to give you a slow and steady energy boost rather than the rapid peak and dip you get from caffeine alone. since i happen to have an entire jar of organic coconut oil in the kitchen, i figured i'd try it. as per the Internet gurus, i blended 2 teaspoons of oil into my cup of coffee, very thoroughly so that it was creamy throughout. the first few sips were okay, but i just could not get past the oily mouthfeel, and it turns out i really don't like coconut flavor mixed with coffee (don't like pumpkin or blueberry coffee either). i'll stick to half-and-half, or my beloved Irish cream syrup. 

5) Go to the Outer Banks - 6/20/2015




this was kind of cheating because we had had this vacation planned prior to me starting this list, but it is true that i have been wanting to go to Pittsburgh's favourite vacation spot. Nick's family has spent their summer vacations here for years, and this was the first time since we've been married that we were able to go along. we stayed with them in an adorable beach house in Avon named the Sea Lady (and if that name doesn't hold scope for the imagination, i don't know what would). the drive there and back was rather traumatizing with an 18-month-old who fought sleep in the car and started screaming at random intervals, but once we got there it was just lovely. many hours spent relaxing by our private pool, in the hot tub, and actually at the beach. we ate fresh caught seafood, played mini golf, saw an award-winning production called The Lost Colony in a beautiful outdoor theater, and rode jet skis! 




6) Go to Phipps Conservatory - 7/16/2015




i am really, truly sad that i waited so long to visit Phipps. this beautiful botanical garden is located in the heart of Oakland, near the University of Pittsburgh, and it has quickly become my happy place. after we visited the first time, i promptly bought a membership because i knew we'd be back (and we have been -- four times so far!). each room has a different theme, from fruit trees to ferns to orchids to the butterfly garden to cacti to the formal English garden to the unbelievably huge lilypads that can hold a person's weight. interspersed among the plants are beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures. and Greta was totally enthralled by their children's discovery garden, where kids are encouraged to touch and smell the flowers, use the provided magnifying glasses to investigate leaves and bugs, build forts with branches, and water the gardens with adorable watering cans shaped like frogs. they also have weekly storytimes on Wednesday and Thursday. we've been told that the Christmas display is unbelievably beautiful, and i can't wait to see it! 


7) Donate blood - 7/18/2015



it's not the first time i've donated blood, but i came across this idea when i was perusing the internet for ideas, and once i saw it, i felt obligated to include it ... like what kind of a person would i be if i decided, "well, scratch that, i'm going to go visit another museum instead of donating blood". plus, every time i order a blood transfusion for one of our hospitalized patients, i'm reminded that it's only through donations that we even have this blood available to give those who need it. i was surprised by how easy it was to find a donation spot through the Central Blood Bank! there are several centers to my house, and most of them had extended evening or weekend hours. 

{part two here!}


Sunday, September 6, 2015

day of rest

i'm sure the day is coming when Greta will lie to me about something ... or scream that i'm a mean mommy ... or sneak off to do something verboten. but today, i'm soaking up the sweetness of toddlerhood. 

the fact that she spontaneously kneeled during the Eucharistic prayer this morning (when usually she sits on the kneeler or stands right next to me), and how she looked up at me with a huge smile to make sure i noticed her. 

the moment she exclaimed, "Jesus!" during the homily. 

her dramatic narration as she  pushed the Power button on the TV: "uh oh! what issss it? what happened? oh no!"

her alternating requests for me to sing "Jesus" and "gor-ly" on our drive home from the grocery store this afternoon ("Jesus Loves Me" and the "Glory To Thee" text to the Thomas Tallis canon), and the undeniable plea for "more sahn! more sahn!" (more song). 

oh, sweet girl. i hope you never stop singing.