Saturday, April 27, 2013

Read-a-Thon Update: Hour 15


This may go down as one of those infamous well, hell, I tried kinda Read-a-thons.

This ain't good, friends. Not good at all.

First, I overslept. Then, most of the afternoon was spent taking Betty to a dress fitting for a wedding she's in next month, and stopping at a consignment shop across the street to see how much they'd take for an entire bin of  her outgrown clothes. (The answer? $10.50. I pretended to be deliriously happy about that while swearing that next time, I'd just drop them off at Goodwill and save myself the freakin' hassle.)

Not to mention internally swearing about the TIME I WAS WASTING. I mean, didn't they know that TODAY was the READ-A-THON and I needed to read ALL THE BOOKS???!

And then my Read-a-thon spreadsheet vanished, so I can kind of only estimate the amount of time I've read. (I did manage to read for a bit this morning and this afternoon.Thank GOD.)

And then Betty needed my assistance for downloading some iTunes songs.

Which is what we were doing for the past half hour.

(The Husband is usually VERY accommodating of my Read-a-Thon days, mind you. It's just that he is recovering from a particularly nasty stomach virus and thus the food preparations and whatnot fell to me, diverting my attention from the day at hand.)

Meanwhile, at 10 p.m., IN HOUR 15 OF THE READ-A-THON, this pile of books is still SITTING here, MOCKING ME.


From top to bottom, here's what I had on deck for this Read-a-thon:

My Kindle (on which I am currently 65% of the way through Little Women)
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots, by Jessica Soffer 
Joe Jones, by Anne Lamott
The Singer's Gun, by Emily St. John Mandel 
Not pictured is The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, which I listened to in the car on the way to the dress fitting.

HOUR 15 UPDATE: 
Total Pages Read (so far): 54 pages

Total Time Read: 3 hours 

Total Audiobook Time: 1 hour 

Everyone in this house is in bed now, so it's GAME. ON. PEOPLE.

I HAVE HAD A FROZEN CHOCOLATE BANANA MOCHA.

FROM SHEETZ.

I am ready to rock the books.

It's Hour 15.

Let's get this party started.

Who's with me?




I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Produce Sale



There are two grocery stores in close proximity to me, plus a Costco. One of the grocery stores has a reputation in this area for being somewhat expensive, and as I've been scrutinizing our food bills lately, I've come to agree. (I didn't think they were out of line compared to what I was used to paying in Delaware, but whatever.) Recently, that same supermarket ended a popular rewards program which has caused considerable PR backlash; as a result, I've been shopping more frequently at a cheaper store which also happens to be closer to my house.

For its second anniversary in this location, this store celebrated by having what it called a "two-day sale" on Thursday and Friday. I took a look at the circular, expecting to find a lot of processed crap that we don't eat.

I was pleasantly surprised.

A lot of the sale items were fruits and vegetables, at ridiculously low prices. We're talking bags of potatoes for 67 cents and almost everything else not much more than 98 cents each.

Here's what I got:


3.5 lbs. of stem tomatoes
8 oz. white mushrooms
5 Braeburn apples
2 bags of small russet potatoes (3 lbs. each)
3 zucchini
3 lbs. of strawberries
2 bags of lettuce
2 bags of baby carrots
2 seedless cucumbers
1 lb. green beans
half of a watermelon

I paid just $22.62 for all this, which I thought was quite a bargain.

Usually with sales like this you don't find fresh produce on sale, so as a vegetarian (and occasional vegan) I was very appreciative of this. The produce section was also the busiest, which was very encouraging. (Of course, this store also had a lot of meat on sale - this is Pittsburgh, after all - and people were equally as excited about that. But since I don't eat meat, I can't comment on the prices on that. They seemed reasonable, though.)

I don't have a meal plan for all this, but I am thinking we may snack on the fruit and make simple meals like a pasta salad, green bean and chickpea salad, and pita pocket sandwiches with the rest. Regardless of what I make, it's a nice taste of spring before the farmers' markets start opening up.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.



I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day Means When You're Unemployed



Exactly nine years ago this week, I was in Toronto's Pearson International Airport sitting next to the co-creator of Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

We were returning from the same global women's conference, one that would change how I viewed myself, my profession, and the world. At 35, I had just been appointed the first-ever executive director (and first and only paid staff member) of a women and girls foundation. A part-time position, my new job was the perfect balance for my desire (and, yes, need) to work and the need to be Mom to our then-2 year old twins. I remember feeling intoxicated with this work and in love with this fundraising career of mine.

As we waited to board our planes, the energy of the conference remained. I complimented Marie on her keynote speech. We talked politics, about Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day, about my toddlers. To her, I was probably just another person in an airport but I remember feeling heady, proud, and professional.

Nine years later, Toronto seems like a lifetime ago.

Something that happened to a different person.

I was different then.

I am even more changed now.

* * *
At least once a week, my 11 year old daughter asks about Take Your Daughter to Work Day.

(In her world, her brother is left at the door.)

She talks about this incessantly. About the projects she'll be working on. About the people she'll be meeting with. About what desk she'll sit at and of course, where she'll go for lunch.

I used to be part of these conversations.

I'm not anymore.

* * *
It has been almost a year since I was laid off.

After the foundation job that took me to Toronto, I took a position as a fundraiser for a domestic violence organization. Stayed there five years. We moved for my husband's job during that time, which increased my commute by 2 hours a day. I stayed, mainly because I loved the work and the people and because I was fortunate to have a supportive boss who allowed me to create a flexible schedule and work one day a week at home. I will always, always be grateful for that.

But at some point, dumping $125 down your car's gas tank each week isn't sustainable (public transit and car pooling wasn't an option) and I took a nonprofit job with a child abuse agency much closer to home. My role was to write grants and to increase awareness for the organization, and the result was the best fundraising year they'd ever had.

And a year later my husband was tapped for a better position - six hours away. Here in Pittsburgh. Where we knew nobody and the job hunt would start again. From scratch.

During a recession.

* * *
I didn't mind the $20,000 pay cut.

It was a job when hundreds of thousands of people didn't have one.

It wasn't perfect, but I was going to do my best at this, and I truly believed I did.

But sometimes your best isn't good enough for people who want the impossible.

And sometimes you aren't the right fit for people who expect perfection.

And sometimes you don't ask the right questions when you don't realize you're being lied to.

Regrets? Yeah, you could say I have more than a few.

But I also have some words of advice from a mentor from a long-ago internship, someone who believed in me and who still does, who once told me for very different reasons that we make the best choices we can based on the information we have at the time. That's the best we can do.

It has become my mantra.

* * *
At dinner the other night, the kids announced they had to interview someone in their family about their job.

What if nobody in their family has a job, I thought.

They both called dibs on Daddy. The assignment was "Math in the Real World" and how that grown-up used math in his or her every day job. They started peppering The Husband with questions while I silently cleared the table.

"You're not angry that we picked Dad, are you, Mom?" Boo said. "Because, you know, you kind of don't have a job."

"I'm not angry, baby," I said. "Not about that."

* * *
We live in a country of haves and have-nots.

Those who have dealt with long-term unemployment and those who have not.

Those who have not known this life leave know-it-all comments on blog posts like this and tell people like me to stop mooching off of the taxpayers and to just go get a job already at Wal-Mart and that I really must not be trying hard enough and that there's no excuse and maybe I'd have a job if I didn't blog so damn much and have I thought about going back to school to learn a trade and have I tried nonprofit XYZ because you know, those nonprofits they are ALWAYS looking for fundraisers, they're always hitting people up for money, ha, ha, ha, and there are so many of them here in Pittsburgh (I know, I've either sent my resume to or interviewed personally with 27 of them) and oh, by the way, congratulations because this is what you voted for when you cast your ballot for Obama because Romney would have fixed this mess and given you a job by now.

Or they'll say that it is just a matter of time, that I'll find something, that I need to meet more people here, that  it's all about personal connections. And then the personal connections really do make that call or send an email and the result is the same because a dozen other personal connections have pulled the same strings, with bigger favors attached.

Those who have known what long-term unemployment is like or who are living this life with me, well, you understand that I am lying when I say that it doesn't matter whether I can Take My Daughter or Son to Work today, right?

That it doesn't hurt when your child comes off the bus and tells you that half her class was at their parents' workplace today?

You understand what I mean when I say that this fear goes deep, that you worry at what point does a parent's long-term unemployment become something imprinted on their psyche, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe you see the anger, too, from your child who calls your former employer names and tells you that you were too good for them anyway.

And that you swear you can see yourself diminish more every day in your child's eyes and that even though you know they will understand when they get older, that seems like such a long, long time from now and you would do anything in the world to stop that from happening.

* * *
My daughter is still talking about how many of her friends weren't in school today because of Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. ("A lot of people were absent," she reported.)

(The Husband was home sick so he was out of commission.)

I tell her again about how I met the woman who co-created Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. How we sat together in the Toronto airport. I sound like an aging football jock, talking about my glory days when I used to raise thousands of dollars for women and families.

It's not much, but it's all I have this year. I see the disappointment and I tell myself that Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day doesn't matter, but it does because so many kids are in the same situation of having a parent caught up in long-term unemployment. So many, many families are like ours, or worse.

And that disappointment is what gives you the motivation to continue on, to slam refresh again on the job search board; to contact yet another colleague from 1995 on LinkedIn; to go to that networking event and the one next week and the one the week after that; to not take it personally when the place that you had two interviews with never calls you back; to pitch that editor with your freelance article; to cold-email that guy on LinkedIn who said he needed a content writer in hopes that maybe he'll be the first client for your freelance business; to ask that friend if they know anyone at a nonprofit who might need a grantwriter; to downsize and dumb down your 20 years of experience on your resume, removing anything that makes you look overqualified; to try and do whatever it takes to keep your head above water and to keep going on.

It's what fuels your belief in this city of steel that has reinvented itself time and time and still time again, that makes you inspired by its bridges, and that makes you hold on to the hope that while this may be just one day, better days will come shining through.








I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hey,You. Need a Book for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon?


Yes, my lovelies, it is once again time for that wondrous biannual event: Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

Regular readers of the blog know that I love participating in this, and that I've done so for several years now.  Basically, it is just as the name implies. You read for 24 hours. You're allowed to take breaks, even naps. You're allowed to eat. (That's absolutely encouraged.) You can read for charity, like some of us used to do in elementary school. There are mini-challenges and cheerleaders and prizes and all kinds of fun that you can read about on the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon website here. (That will give you the start time for your particular time zone.) Here in Pittsburgh, the party will be getting started on Saturday, April 27 at 8 a.m. (Although I may not be able to resist starting on Friday.)

For me, some read-a-thons have gone better than others (in terms of how many books I've read) but it's all about creating a sense of community, honoring the memory of Dewey (a beloved book blogger who started the event in ...2008, I think? but who has since passed away), and most importantly, coming together virtually to share our joy of reading and our love of books.

Here's the thing about Read-a-thon books. Everyone is different, but my most successful Read-a-thons have been when I've selected fairly quick, easy books as my literary companions. I love to say that I've completed 1, 2, 3 or even more books by the end of the event. For that to happen, speaking for myself, they need to be relatively quick reads. (As it is, my husband is amazingly accommodating of my blogging/read-a-thon nuttiness, but life still goes on.)

So, if this is your first Read-a-thon, or if you're stuck for some book ideas, here are some books I've read (not necessarily during Read-a-thons, but sometimes so) that would be good choices for this event. The links take you to my reviews so you can read more.

If you like literary fiction of the prize winning type...
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes (163 pages)
Tinkers, by Paul Harding (191 pages)

If you like your literary fiction more on the mysterious, what-the-hell is she thinking side
Bad Marie, by Marcy Dermansky (212 pages)

If you like Southern literature and don't mind an Oprah's Book Club selection ...
Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons (126 pages)


If you want to laugh and cry at the same time ...
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (318 pages ... it won't feel like that, honestly.)

If you want some awesome pictures with your story ...
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (348 pages. Same as above. It really won't feel like 348 pages.) 

If you want some magical realism and escapism ....
Anything by Sarah Addison Allen (see my review of The Girl Who Chased the Moon and The Sugar Queen)

If you like your YA fiction with no vampires and more poetic prose ...
Anything by Beth Kephart (see my reviews of The Heart is Not a Size,  House of Dance, Nothing But Ghosts, Small Damages



If you're in the mood for a memoir...
Lift, by Kelly Corrigan (my review is of the audio version)
or Open Heart, by Elie Wiesel (79 pages)


I'm still working on my list of books that I'm planning to read this time around. Hopefully I'll have that post up tomorrow or Friday. Until then, happy Read-a-thon planning! Can't wait! 


I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you! 

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pittsburgh Nonprofit Entrepreneuring Youth Helps Ignite Students' Dreams

Pittsburgh has been getting all kinds of accolades recently for being a hotbed for entrepreneurs.

Now, if you're a Pittsburgh-area middle school or high school student with a great business idea and aspirations of soon being your own boss, one nonprofit wants you to envision yourself among them.


Entrepreneuring Youth (known as E Youth) is helping young people learn about business creation and experience ownership. By partnering with educators, parents, and youth work professionals, they use entrepreneurial learning to help students create opportunities, build abilities and gain confidence.

And it's right here in our city, giving students opportunities to think about a future that they may have otherwise believed to be out of reach. I'm happy to help promote this worthy cause because when I first moved to Pittsburgh, E Youth President Jerry Cozewith was one of the first people I met. We sat next to each other at a Pittsburgh Technology Council conference, and Jerry was extremely gracious, helpful, and supportive to me as I began to find my way professionally.

A few weeks ago, my new friend John (he of the esteemed Pittsburgh blog Ya Jagoff!) asked me to consider writing a blog post about E Youth's Ignite Possibilities event. I couldn't say no. (Plus, you kind of don't say no to the guy who writes Ya Jagoff. I mean, rilly.) 

At E Youth's Ignite Possibilities business expo, scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, June 6 at The Rivers Club, Downtown, some of the area's brightest middle school and high school students will have the chance to showcase their business ideas and plans to Pittsburgh's civic leaders and business people. It's all part of the George W. Tippins Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Tippins Foundation and named in honor of one of Pittsburgh’s most successful entrepreneurs, inventors and financiers. (That would be George W. Tippins.)

Most importantly, says my friend Jerry Cozewith, it's about what the possibility of owning a business can represent to someone exploring what they want to do in life and the skills needed to get there.

"The Ignite Possibilities event serves as a celebration of youthful entrepreneurship and the positive life lessons it fosters," he said. "Each year our attendance grows as more adults learn about the initiative and spirit of self-motivation being cultivated among our young people."

"Constructive competition is an integral component of E Youth's innovative programs," Cozewith continued.  "The competitions provide entrepreneurship students a unique opportunity to hone their marketing, presentation and communication skills, network with local business leaders who serve as competition judges and coaches, and compete for seed capital grants to support their business or academic goals."

During the pre-event reception, several young business owners will receive seed capital awards to launch or grow their business. The first-place finisher will earn a trip, sponsored by E Youth, to a national competition conducted by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)  in New York City later this year. Last year, that distinction went to brothers Jesse and Josiah Council, ages 14 & 15, co-founders of J&J's Soothing Cream. They finished as national runners up, earning $5,000 to invest in their education and their business growth.

You can learn more about Entrepreneuring Youth by visiting www.eyouthamerica.org. The Igniting Possibilities event is free, but registration is needed. To register:
http://www.showclix.com/event/IgnitePossibilities2013







I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

'mr, president, how many kids will ask their mothers tonight, am i safe?"

Boo, at the top of the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, PA on Mt. Washington.
He's holding up a sign that says "America is Awesome! Peace on Earth!"
"I want everyone to be able to see it," he said.
Taken by me on March 30, 2013 

My boy is very much a news and politics junkie.

Yeah, that old saying about the apple not falling far from the tree?

Absolutely true.

Members of Congress and the Senate are household names around our kitchen table, and at 11 years old, Boo is pretty well-versed in the issues of the day.

He's always been this way - he knew the Presidents when he was two years old - but December 14, 2012 took this passion to a whole new level.

Sandy Hook made the politics personal.

He wrote letters to President Obama, outlining his concerns about gun control and ideas on what to do.

He asked us questions and interviewed family members on their stance on the issue. He was, and still is, genuinely curious.

Deep down, I could tell there was something more. On the outside, he was trying to be grown up, the Congressman he wants to be when he is older. (He studies political commercials on YouTube and has filmed  footage for his own run for office.)

But then at night, there would be the questions.

Did I lock the door leading to the back deck? Could I go and double check the tricky lock on the front door? What about the windows - his room was safe, right, because it was the highest off the ground?

I told him that our job, Daddy's and mine, was to do the very best we could to keep him safe and that included locking our doors. We got out of bed, double-checked them together. He seemed satisfied and soon, the door-checking and the questions stopped.

The political advocacy did not.

For the past two months, on Sundays, my budding politician has been filming with his videocam his version of a Sunday morning talk show. He talks current events, issues in local and national news, complete with Internet clips and him dressed in suit and tie.  He holds court for 30 minutes on the topics of the day - most often gun control.

For 20 minutes or a half hour, he'll go on a tear about gun control - why it's necessary to protect kids like him and why we need to make America safe. His arguments are reasonable, passionate, calm.

They have stopped me in my tracks.

"Mr. President," he asked, on his most recent episode. "How many kids will ask their mothers tonight, 'AM. I. SAFE?'"


Boo would love nothing more than to be the next Kid President with these video segments of his and believe me, it would have been easy to upload them to Facebook and send them on their way around the world.

But.

But for as much as I am addicted to social media, I know that it has a dark side too, that this is a volatile issue.


My boy's words, his depth of caring, his passion, they all haunt me tonight. He cares about this issue, so so much. He is afraid and tonight, when we were talking about the Senate vote today, I was at a loss for words.

Suddenly, I knew what I had to tell him, in the middle of this terrible, sad week.

That he was safe, yes, absolutely. Always. Even if I don't always believe it myself.

"I want you to know something, Boo," I said, as I tucked him into bed. "I may not say it too often, but I am so very proud of you for using your voice to speak up about gun control and for trying to make a difference for other people."

"Okay."

"It matters, baby. You're trying to help people. Don't ever think that doesn't matter."






I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you! copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Book Review: Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, a memoir by Kelle Hampton

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected
by Kelle Hampton 
William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
2013 (paperback) 
304 pages 

When Kelle Hampton became pregnant with her second child, she expected life to be perfect. After all, it already was: she had a beautiful little girl, a wonderful husband, a thriving photography career, and a close-knit group of friends. There was no reason to believe that all this wouldn't continue, blissfully ever after.

But as soon as baby Nella was placed in her arms, Kelle knew something was wrong.

"I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down syndrome and nobody else knew. I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone who would tell me she didn't have it. I held her and looked at her like she wasn't my baby and tried to take it in. And all I can remember of these moments is her face. I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over ... she locked eyes with mine and stared ... bore holes into my soul. 

Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me." (pg. 6) 

Bloom is Kelle Hampton's memoir of her incredibly emotional first hours, days, and months as Nella's mother. Instead of basking in the joy of having a perfect-in-her-own-way newborn, Kelle found herself in a very dark, very frightening place where she struggled to accept this child who was different than she had expected.

(Accept may not be the exact word. As Kelle writes, "I don't think acceptance is just a course you can check off when you're finished, never to return to it again. You continually arrive at a greater place of understanding through each challenge, experiencing many moments when you feel broken along the way: This is hard. I don't know how to do this. I need help. I'm not strong enough for this. I've had those moments outside of Down syndrome, and I fully expect there will be more in the coming years, both with Nella's challenges and with life struggles in general. Because of those moments, I understand that the brokenness and confusion and inner disarray are all gifts, allowing you to discover yourself and grasp your connection to the world. When you feel you've arrived at your lowest point, think again. It's really just the starting line for your highest point - the greatest understanding, the most strength, the deepest confidence." pg. 281)

Make no mistake, Bloom is not always such a feel-good, introspective, motivational book. There's a lot here that is emotionally difficult to read. Kelle owns her struggle, fully and completely, and she gives it to her readers in every heartwrenching detail, even when it would be easier to edit out the parts that others would keep private.
"A week before she was born, I had used a gift certificate my friends had pooled together to buy an over-the-top pink silk baby book that I paid extra to have "Nella Cordelia" elegantly embroidered across the top. And, I am sorry to say, I had a moment of disappointment after my sweet girl entered the world in which I actually thought, I guess I can't use that baby book anymore. I am ashamed to admit that, for a moment, I felt I had used up a beautiful name on a baby I hadn't intended to be the recipient or that I suddenly didn't want to send out a birth announcement when weeks earlier I obsessed over a flat or folded card. This saddens me now. But it was in this beautiful mess of my former self that true potential dwelled - potential to be molded and shaped by a grand defining moment. And where there is potential ... there is greatness." (pg. 140) 
Wow.

I felt I had used up a beautiful name on a baby I hadn't intended to be the recipient ....

Honesty doesn't get more real than that, folks.

Kelle has been criticized on her blog and in some reviews of her book about her lifestyle and her reactions (such as those mentioned above) after Nella was born. All I have to say about that is this: We can be an incredibly judgmental society and we mothers are often hardest on each other. I have no interest in responding with nothing less than compassion. Even among those of us who are parents of children with special needs, our experiences are never, ever identical. (Kind of like, well, parents of any children, really.) Our journeys and our growth are uniquely our own. As we in the autism community are fond of saying, if you've met one child with autism (or Asperger's), then you've met one child with autism (or Asperger's).

I think that extends to us as parents, too. Over the course of Nella's first year of life, Kelle goes through a range of emotions - from the initial overwhelming sadness to adjusting to their new life to the beginning stages of healing. Sometimes from the vantage point of time it is easier to forget just how painful and sad and scary those days and hours were - or are.
"Healing is a bit like watching a flower bloom. You don't really know when it's going to happen, and despite the fact that you might be sitting there in front of barren ground attempting to will a bare stem to blossom, it doesn't happen on command. No, it is gradual. Like time-lapse photography. And as you are sitting, waiting, pleading for growth, you eventually begin to forget that you are waiting until suddenly, days later, you look and behold ... a bloom." (pg. 57)
As part of her healing, Kelle begins to share her story and photographs through her blog, Enjoying the Small Things, and finally, to embrace the wider Down syndrome community not just as Nella's, but as her own and her entire extended family, by growing and doing things she never imagined.
"Confidence doesn't always come in surges. Sometimes - lots of times - it brews unbeknownst to us, building during the time we feel the least confident - through the tears, the questioning, the self-doubt, the begging God to make it better. Confidence, like contentment, is earned, paved stone by stone until you finally turn back and realize it has all been pieced together to create something strong. Confidence is a process." (pg. 171)  
Just as there are difficult parts in Bloom, watching Kelle's journey unfold is also breathtakingly beautiful - made so by her words, yes, but especially so through the gorgeous photographs she includes. (As much as I love my Kindle, this is definitely a book to be read in print for the pictures.) They add a bit to the perfection mystique, sure, but they're important for several other reasons. They illustrate - more than words can ever say - the message that Nella is someone to be proud of, not hidden ... and above all else, a beautiful little girl who is without a single doubt absolutely, completely 100% perfect.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me a copy of Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

See what other bloggers on the book tour thought of Bloom: 


Tuesday, April 2nd: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, April 3rd: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, April 4th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, April 8th: 5 Minutes for Mom
Tuesday, April 9th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Wednesday, April 10th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, April 11th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, April 15th: The Well-Read Wife
Tuesday, April 16th: Mrs. Q: Book Addict
Wednesday, April 17th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Friday, April 19th: Momma Jorje
Saturday, April 20th: Words of His Heart
Saturday, April 20th: Simeon’s Trail
Sunday, April 21st: Unringing the bell
Monday, April 22nd: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, April 23rd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, April 25th: Suko’s Notebook





I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Sunday Salon: Friendships. in Books and in Real-Life


We are incredibly lucky to have some of the best friends imaginable. Two out of three of them just drove 350 miles today so they could spend the day hangin' with The Husband at the Pittsburgh Pirates game this afternoon. They're the type of guys - friends since elementary school, all of them - who think nothing of doing  crazy things like this, and they've done this twice now, since The Cancer struck last fall.

Friends like these are the kind who get us through some of the most difficult times of our lives. Kelle Hampton knows this, too, and it's her memoir Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected that I'll be trying to finish up today while the boys are at the game.

When her daughter Nella was born with Down syndrome, it was Kelle's close-knit network of friends and family that got her through the emotional rollercoaster of the first few days which she chronicles through words and gorgeous photographs in Bloom. I'm on the TLC Book Tour for this one on Wednesday, so be sure to check back then for my full review.

After Bloom, I have two books on deck for my freelance reviewing gig with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Not sure if I'm at liberty to mention what they are just yet, but one is a contemporary novel that I've seen mention on several blogs and the other is a memoir that is quite new to me and looks rather intriguing.)

I also owe a poetry post about Pittsburgh Memoranda by Haniel Long. I was supposed to be part of Savvy Verse and Wit's National Poetry Month Blog Tour, but I waited too long to write my post and was sidelined by a migraine yesterday. (For those who expressed concern, it's a little better today, thanks to a batch of Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup I made last night. This soup was AMAZING. I made it vegan by using no-egg noodles and it held up really well for lunch today, too.)

I'm also still making my way through Little Women on my Kindle for March's read-along (it might be next March by the time I finish this) and in the car, Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor and I are still Traveling with Pomegranates. 

Hope your travels - either in book form or real - are good ones this Sunday, with a good friend or two by your side.


I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Carry On, Warrior:Thoughts on Life Unarmed, by Glennon Doyle Melton


Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed
by Glennon Doyle Melton 
Scribner
2013
268 pages 
ARC copy 

In the parenting sandbox that has become the Internet, one can usually find two types of people.

There are those who, through their websites and blogs, paint a picture of a life so saccharine perfect that you need to leave the room for some air.

(None of you or your blogs fall into this category, of course.)

And then there are people who are all raw emotion - and then some. Through their words, we come to know these individuals better than we know our own friends and relatives-  and sometimes that's a good thing. Their bravery allows them to bare their souls as they tell the unvarnished truth about their lives.

In her new book, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, Glennon Doyle Melton falls into the latter camp - for the most part. (More on that in a bit.)  As the cover proclaims, she's the founder of Momastery.com, an immensely popular blog, website, and Facebook page (she has over 73,000 likes!) that I am obviously the last person in the world to find out about.

As she writes in this collection of essays from her blog (as well as new material), Glennon is the type of person who sits down next to another sippy-cup clutching mom in the park and immediately reveals that she's a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, among other things.

Glennon's philosophy is that when women remove all the pretense and the barriers, when we strip away the illusion that we have our shit together in our perfect lives, when we take away the layers of protection that we women are so good at creating in real life (and online), that's when life gets really good and interesting.

Well, that it does.

We know Glennon pretty well by the end of Carry On, Warrior, as there isn't too much she leaves hidden - including that of the lives of several of her family members. But she's also funny as hell and tells much of this motherhood gig like it is. As an example, one of her gone-viral essays, "Don't Carpe Diem", was sent to me as a sample of those in the book when I was considering this for review. (I was sold immediately.)

I can't quote from this (or another favorite essay, "Out to Lunch," about visiting her husband Craig's office with their toddler son) because my copy of Carry On, Warrior is an advanced reader's copy (ARC) and changes may have been made to the final text.

Glennon is at her best in these and other "keepin' it real" examples. At other times, I felt that she strayed a bit from this premise. It's clear from the essays selected within the book that, because of her past experience, faith is a very important component to her present life. (Fans of Anne Lamott's will find common ground here, and Glennon seems very aware of the comparison.) Glennon is very open about her relationship with God and her beliefs as a Christian. I can certainly understand and respect that, but for readers who don't share the same faith, several of the essays that have this strong focus could seem slightly off-putting and perhaps even contradictory, seeming to support the notion of perfectionism that is denounced in earlier pages.

Overall, Carry On, Warrior succeeds as an outreach avenue in Glennon Doyle Melton's ministry that she practices on her blog, complementing her mantra to "practice living bigger, bolder and truer on this earth, where we remember what we already know: we can do hard things, love wins, and we belong to each other." This collection of essays will endear her even more to her legion of fans and surely lead her to new ones.

If Carry On, Warrior:Thoughts on Life Unarmed sounds like a book you're interested in reading, you're in luck! The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy to a lucky reader. Just leave me a comment here or on The Betty and Boo Chronicles Facebook page. (You probably have to follow the Facebook page first, if you haven't already.) 

I'll pick a winner next Monday, April 15. (Something to look forward to besides taxes here in the United States.) 

Still need convincing? See what other bloggers on the TLC Book Tour had to say about Carry On, Warrior


Thank you, as always, to TLC Book Tours for including me on this book tour. I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review and was not otherwise compensated.



Monday, April 8, 2013

today in daffodils

Daffodils in our front yard, as seen today at 8:15 a.m.


...and then at 3:30 p.m. 




I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Sunday Salon: March Reading Wrap-Up


This Sunday finds me craving some real, honest-to-God reading time.

You know the kind I mean. Long, uninterrupted hours of reading where you find yourself falling into a book, unable to come up for air or even breathe.



March was a busier than usual month - a trip back to Philly two weekends ago, friends in town last weekend  - and looking at my Goodreads page, you'd think that this was the kind of reading I've been doing. I supposedly have a ridiculous number of five books in process now, which is kind of close to the truth, I'm finishing up Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (she of Momastery.com) for a TLC Book Tour stop on Wednesday; I have Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor going in the car (started on the Philly trip), and I am only halfway through Little Women on my Kindle for Florinda's and Jill's March read-along, which ENDED last month.

Still, even with all of that, March was definitely not my best reading month. (February, the year's SHORTEST month, was better with a record-breaking NINE books read.) In March? I read two books.

Two!

Actually, it was three, but I can't really tell you much about the third yet.

Allow me to explain.

In March, there was The Orchardist, the wonderful debut novel by Amanda Coplin, which I've already talked about nonstop. (You can find my complete review here.) Suffice it to say, I loved it. This is a novel that you could (and should) lose yourself in for days. It's magnificent.

Then, there was also my friend Melissa Luznicky Garrett's young adult novel, The Spirit Keeper. This is a paranormal teen romance, admittedly not my usual preferred genre. But I liked this one a lot, more than I expected.

As a child, Sarah Redbird loses her mother and grandmother in a house fire, the circumstances of which remain hidden and mysterious to her throughout her life. Now 17 years old and living with her aunt and uncle - and wondering about her father who she never knew - Sarah discovers much more about the fire, her family, and her Native American heritage than she ever imagined. It all starts when a new family, the Hunts, move into the house across the street - and their son Adrian finds his way into Sarah's heart.

I would have read this eventually (I had already purchased it, so it was on my virtual Kindle TBR pile) but I had another reason. I'm now doing freelance writing and editing and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to edit Melissa's latest book, The Prophecy, the upcoming sequel to The Spirit Keeper. 

I need to clear the decks of some of this backlog soon (I'm really looking forward to the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon at the end of this month!) because, as I announced on Friday, I'm now going to be doing literary fiction book reviews for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a freelance basis!  I am beyond thrilled about this and have some exciting books in the lineup for the spring and early summer months.

This week's forecast finally seems to have some spring temperatures. Maybe I'll be able to sit out on the deck and clear out the winter reading cobwebs after all.



I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Friday, April 5, 2013

breaking news of the bookish kind

outside the Carnegie Museums
Pittsburgh, PA
taken by me, September 2012
I've been given the green light to break some news in this space here - but first, some background of sorts.

Pittsburgh is the kind of big small town where people are, for the most part, very approachable. Maybe it's our proximity to the Midwest, maybe it's something that hearkens back to this city's gritty steel past, but there is something ingrained in this town that makes folks naturally inclined to be helpful, to give someone new a chance.

(I happen to think it's all that, plus a symbolic byproduct of being surrounded by all these bridges.)

As a transplant here, I've had a bit of a tough go of it, professionally-speaking. Unemployment and a now almost year-long job-hunt has changed me completely, permanently. Reinventing oneself sounds easy on paper; in reality, it's damn harder than I ever imagined.

Fortunately, when someone in Pittsburgh knocks you down, three more usually extend a hand or an opportunity to help you back up.

On Tuesday, I happened to be in the right place (Twitter) at the right time (in the morning) when I spotted a tweet from Tony Norman, columnist and associate editor (and now, books editor) for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. We had met in October at Podcamp Pittsburgh through my friend Sue Kerr. Unbelievably, Tony had heard of my very blog.

So I emailed on Tuesday, then I found myself with Tony today talking books, and local politics, and about my 11 year old son's ambitions to be Pittsburgh's next mayor (hey, we sort of have precedent in such matters), and (who the hell knew?) our shared native hometown of Philly.

The result of all that?

I'm now among the Post-Gazette's freelance book reviewers. I'll be reviewing literary fiction and my first review should be within the next month or so.

I know, right? Needless to say, I'm beyond thrilled. Sure, it's a nice notch in this writer/editor/blogger/consultant/whatever else comes along life of mine, but know this: not only does the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette give ink to books (a rarity among metropolitan newspapers) but Tony also seems committed to local writers. His weekly books column includes local books (including self-published works) that have been published in the past year. Yes, you read that right, folks.

I'll say it again, for it bears repeating: a major metropolitan newspaper whose book editor gives print time to all books, the big bestsellers and your neighbor's e-book alike.

Because that's how we do things here in the 'Burgh.


I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

the good cancer, the husband, and roger ebert

Cactus, taken by me August 2011
at the Phipps, Pittsburgh, PA 

Even the doctors called it the best kind of cancer you could get.

That's the common perception about papillary thyroid cancer, the kind that The Husband had.

Has, as we were reminded today, with the news of the death of beloved movie critic Roger Ebert. Because it doesn't really leave you, you know. That goddamn radiation is still within, even now, still eating away at the thyroid tissue.

We hope.

As we came to believe during the months of MRIs and biopsies and body scans and low iodine diets and radioactive isolation, the words best and cancer had no place being in the same sentence.

Sure, the treatment protocol for The Husband wasn't the same as that of other cancers. There wasn't any chemotherapy, no hair loss. The radiation was different. But that didn't mean it didn't have its own emotional toll on the patient and the family (no one should ever, ever have to tell their child that their parent has cancer) or side effects - or significant risks.

Although thyroid cancer has a 99% cure rate, even I can do enough math to figure out there was that other 1%. There was, always in the midst, the 1% chance of eventually dying from this. Very slim, of course. Extremely rare.

I spent a lot of time during The Husband's cancer treatment thinking about the people in the 1%.

Today we learned that Roger Ebert was among them, that he lost his battle against what started as papillary thyroid cancer, the same kind that has taken up residence in our house over the past few months.

The Husband's Facebook status tonight:
"As Roger Ebert's case demonstrates, just because "you got the good cancer", papillary thyroid cancer can still kill - even after treatment. Besides loving him and thinking he was brilliant and sad over his loss, his death is a firm reminder that I haven't beaten this "good cancer" yet. RIP Roger."

Rest in peace, Roger.


copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

live like you were dying

One of my favorite photos ever of Betty, taken by me in June 2011
during our family vacation in Strathmere, NJ. 

Let me clear up something right from the get-go, for any relatives or potential employers googling my name who are reading this:

I'm not dying.

At least, not to my knowledge and not in the sense that one thinks of when one proclaims that they're dying.

What I am doing is celebrating another birthday today.

Mine.

And it's a big one.

Not big in the kind of birthday with a 0 at the end of one's chronological age. Not big in the kind of birthday surrounded by surprise parties or mid-life crises.

But one that I have been conscious of since I turned sweet 16, a birthday that bided its time in the distance, taking a step closer with every passing year. Most of the time, I hardly noticed the creeping numbers as I was busy with other things - college, early marriage, infertility treatments, houses, jobs.

When the kids arrived, the numbers came closer. They stood on the edge of the lawn and the driveway, making their presence known. When I turned 40, they knocked on the front door like a pair of proselytizers while I pretended I wasn't home.

When you lose a parent as a child, time seems to stop at that age that the parent's life did - because, in a sense, it did. It goes on, of course. Of course it does. Graduations, weddings, births ... they all happen. But the parent is memorialized in the child's mind as being forever the age that he or she was at the time of the passing.

When I was a teenager, my dad died suddenly, unexpectedly. He was 44. As most things do when you're 16, that seemed (well, okay, I admit it now) kinda old.

It's only been in the last decade or so - and especially in the last few months with The Husband having thyroid cancer at 43, and now on my birthday today as I turn into a pumpkin at 44 - that I've come to realize how very young my father was. How much living he had left to do. How much he missed and still is missed.

But I've also come to believe and realize that, as much as we sometimes push and prod and wish otherwise, these life mysteries are not exclusively ours for the questioning.

On my dad's 44th birthday, he had 4 months left to live. Four goddamn months. None of us had a clue. There was no cancer waiting to strike, no accident down the street, no being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Had he known, I doubt he would have lived his life any differently; he would have still gone to work at the Center City Philadelphia engineering firm every single day; he still would have fertilized the lawn; he still would have gotten up at 3 a.m. to don a volunteer fireman's uniform; he still would have agreed to be an usher at church.

He wasn't about grandiose gestures or about carpe diem. He lived his simple life. He just was.

What there wasn't on his 44th birthday was dread, no fatalism. Had we known, had things been different, maybe his outlook would have been different. We speculate, of course, as you do.

So, being the same age now as he was then, I could greet this birthday with a sense of doom, counting down the weeks and months of this 44th year until the precise day when I am officially older than my dad. (Believe me, I've calculated the exact day it will happen.)  It would be easy to do in the face of the year gone by, the unemployment and the cancer in its wake.

Or?

I could choose to live this 44th year like I was dying.

He said
"I was in my early forties
With a lot of life before me
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days
Looking at the x-rays
Talkin' 'bout the options
And talkin' 'bout sweet time"
I asked him
"When it sank in 
That this might really be the real end
How's it hit you
When you get that kind of news?
Man, what'd you do?"

He said
"I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying"

He said
"I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn't
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin'
Wasn't such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I'd do if I could do it all again
And then

I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu
And I loved deeper 
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you've got eternity
To think about
What you'd do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?

Skydiving
I went Rocky mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flying"
And he said
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying"

"Live Like You Were Dying" ~ sung by Tim McGraw



I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

photo and blog post copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Springtime Outings with the Beez Family (A Pittsburgh Bloggers Guest Post from BeezusKiddo)



Today, as part of some April Fools shenanigans with othePittsburgh Bloggers, nobody is where they are supposed to be. Meaning that, today I'm featuring a guest post from my new friend Elizabeth Collura who is an attorney, wife, mom, and one of my favorite local bloggers. 

Elizabeth's blog, the awesomely-named BeezusKiddo, has been one of my favorites since we moved here to Pittsburgh because she, Mr. Beez, and Baby Beez seem to do ALL THE AMAZING THINGS in this city. I've gotten so many great ideas from her blog. (And for my bookish friends, if you were thinking that the Beezus part refers to the Beverly Cleary character, you would be right.) 

And now, without further ado, please welcome Elizabeth from BeezusKiddo


Springtime Outings with the Beez Family

The weather man tells me that this week there is finally hope of Spring returning! Perhaps this frightful winter weather won’t be permanent after all!


Life being what it is, with errands and laundry and what not, it’s hard to find time to just relax.  But with the hopes of spring around the corner, I’m itching for some adventures.  If I had a whole day to spend just chillin out maxin relaxin all cool, this is how I’d spend it:


We’d start our day out with a hearty breakfast.  Pancakes at the Dor-Stop? Yes, please!




Next we’d head into Oakland. The first order of business would be a visit to the Carnegie Library. Baby Beez could read and play in the kids area, while I read a magazine and Mr. Beez surfs the internet.  No visit is complete without checking out an armful of bedtime stories, and a stack of Dora and Elmo videos too.



After the library, a visit to Schenley Plaza would be in order.  In the summertime, they offer monthly family day events where carousel rides are free, and there are activities like face painting, balloon animals and caricatures.  We are also big fans of the frequent free concerts and theater performances in the Plaza.  Even when there isn’t a special event going on, the charming carousel is well worth a spin.



After all this, it would be time for Baby Beez and Mr. Beez to take a nap.  If I knew what was good for me, I’d take a nap too…but I just can’t help myself. So I’d head out to the Allegheny River for some quality kayak and podcast time.



And after everyone is well rested and I’ve cleaned the river water smell of myself, we would trek back to the North Shore to take in our beloved Buccos.



We’d each be treated to our favorite snacks: French fries for Baby Beez and Mr. Beez, and Quaker Steak BBQ wings for me.



Hopefully the Pirates will score some runs and we can see the fireworks.  We know those Bucco’s well enough to have well-practiced loss scowls.



But maybe this year? Right? I think it’s time for a winning season! Happy opening day, yinz!

OK, yinz see what I mean? I'm exhausted just reading that! I've never been to the Dor-Stop nor the main branch of the Carnegie Library. I had no idea that there was a carousel in Schenley Park, and maybe if I get myself to a Pirates game this year their record will change. (Hope springs eternal, right?) Four great Pittsburgh ideas in one post. Thanks so much, Elizabeth!  As part of the April Fools Pittsburgh Bloggers event, I'm guest-posting about what to do when "You've Lost That Blogging Feeling" over at Will Reynolds Young's blog. 

Photo Credits: Top photo taken by me, March 30, 2013, Pittsburgh as seen from the top of the Duquesne Incline. All other photos by Elizabeth Collura. 

Links to other participating Pittsburgh Bloggers and their posts are here: 
Making Rainbows for The Steel Trap
The Steel Trap for A Librarian’s Lists & Letters
A Librarian’s Lists & Letters for Prettyburgh
Prettyburgh for Oh Honestly, Erin
Oh Honestly, Erin for everybody loves you
everybody loves you… for The Great Scott! Blog
The Great Scott! Blog for jelly jars
jelly jars for Glitzburgh
Glitzburgh for Pittsburgh Hot Plate
Pittsburgh Hot Plate for fooding with Emily
fooding with Emily for ‘lil Burgers
‘lil Burgers for Red Pen Mama
Red Pen Mama for Crank Crank Revolution
Crank Crank Revolution for Yinz R Readin
Yinz R Readin for Beezus Kiddo
Beezus Kiddo for the betty and boo chronicles (obviously ....)
the betty and boo chronicles for Will Reynolds Young
Will Reynolds Young for Tall Tales from a Small Town
Tall Tales from a Small Town for Ya Jagoff
Ya Jagoff for Sean’s Ramblings
Sean’s Ramblings for Love The Burgh
Love The Burgh for Primped in Pittsburgh
Primped in Pittsburgh for Making Rainbows