Sunday, June 14, 2015

Thrill of a Lifetime

This June I roused The Overlord out of bed and into the shower. She asked if I was taking her to the store to pick up groceries. I told her no. Then she asked if I was taking her to the park. I hesitated. Yes, we were going to the park, but not the type of park she was thinking of.

"Kind of," was my reply. The park we were going to would have swings....

and slides and rides that rocked and could be played upon. I told her we were going to the amusement park.

To be more precise, we went to Kennywood Park out in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Yet for most people heading out, they just say that the park is in Pittsburgh. We arrived when the gates opened at 11am as the admission lines were already long.

I choose this day to go because all the weather reports said that the temperatures would be hovering around 69 degrees and it would be cloudy -- the perfect weather where the humidity would be low, there would be a nice wind, and our skins wouldn't get baked by the sun while standing in line for the rides.

Unfortunately, the weather surprised everyone. It only reached 56 degrees. So it was a bit colder than expected. Yet this didn't stop the number of people there. And nobody looked like they were having a bad time because of the weather. The only difference was that the water rides would get neglected a bit more today.

For several days I had been planning out which rides to go on based on The Overlord's age and height. From her last pediatrician's appointment, she ranged about 36". So I knew KiddieLand rides would see the most action from us. Yet I also didn't want to argue with the line attendants regarding the bigger rides she could board with an adult. So the first stop was the height station where I found out The Overlord has grown since February. The attendant there marked her for 39"with the stamp on the back of the hand and that bumped us up to go on some more of the bigger rides. 

The very first ride, The Overlord's inaugural ride, was the Jackrabbit roller coaster. It is a wooden ride and one of the last roller coasters in the country that has a double "camel back" drop, which is two humps as the coaster drops 70 feet down. The Overlord boarded the car and hugged me the entire ride as we screamed into the wind.

She loved it. She also loved riding the Paratrooper.

These were the first two rides we went to on the park and the last two rides we went on when leaving. While first starting out, she would give me the death grip because it was something new and exciting. So there was still that initial fear to conquer. On one of the rides, a young child cried because he was scared. I wasn't sure how The Overlord would react for her first time. She quickly overcame her first initial fear and jumped at going on the rides by herself.

The only time she cried was when she got impatient about getting off the Orbiter ride herself and couldn't get the belt unbuckled. She didn't want to wait for the ride attendant.

Yet otherwise, The Overlord had a great time. So great that she didn't want to sit down and eat anything for lunch.

We hit every ride in Kiddieland except for the Steel City Choppers (in case you want to see what the amusement park has to offer and are wondering what rides we enjoyed.) For roller coasters and thrill rides, we went on the Jackrabbit and the Pirate ship ride. We skipped the water rides.

We did go on the Classic & Dark rides as we visited the Auto Race, Kangaroo, Merry-Go-Round (the big one, not the one in Kiddieland), Turtle, Whip, and the Paddleboats (which is a separate price for the ride and you have to do the pumping of the boat as you steer around the lake trying to avoid running over the ducks).

The only mishap I had was riding the Lil' Phantom ride where I lost my cell phone although I did get it back (obviously since I'm posting these photos). I had made it a point to skip lugging around any purse or backpack to Kennywood. They do offer lockers ($5 and $10 return key deposit). But I didn't want to deal with having a large bag that I would need to drop off into the bag holder every time I boarded a ride. All I needed was my cell phone and money. So I carried a very small pocket book that could fit into my pants pocket. My hands were free for the day while I still had all the essentials to pay for food and check my email for work assignments (and I got slammed with work while at the park, but it could wait until later).

All in all, it was an enjoyable time. We never waited longer than 10 minutes -- if that -- to get on a ride. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to take The Overlord to the park before the end of the school year. We will probably head back there in the late summer/early fall when the kids go back to school and there are again less people at the park.

Oh, and if you took note of the small speck in the top left-hand corner of the last photo, that is not a bird or bug flying into the camera shot. That is a ride called the Skycoaster where people are strapped into a harness as they swing in the air over the pond that has the paddleboats. One of the few rides at the park that I can guarantee that I will never go on even if The Overlord is 7 feet tall.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happenings Around And About

I haven't posted here since December. That's quite a bit of time. Yet there were many things happening during those months that have kept me away. Doctor's appointments... apartment searches... pony rides....

Let's do a recap post to get this blog up to it's present state.

Spring has sprung and with it many changes, although other things have stayed the same. The Overlord is still her rambunctious self and celebrated a birthday during the intervening months. To do something a bit different, we had a cupcake birthday.

We have also enjoyed several different events throughout the year. The Carneige Museum of Natural History hosted plenty of "free" days. So we were able to visit the dinosaurs and go on a dinosaur dig.

We also had a chance to see Sesame Street Live where Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Grover took the stage. I have to admit that it was Count von Count that took the show and rocked the house with his dance number.

In addition to this show, we also had the chance to go to the Shrine Circus again. The tickets I had originally purchased had to be exchanged at the box office because the show organizers eliminated them. But the new seats allowed us to see all the action. And The Overlord had a chance to go on a pony ride.

Lastly, we moved to a different apartment. Technically, it is only a street over from where we used to live. But the rent was getting a bit too high at our previous spot. One of the perks is that we have a porch, as the Overlord sometimes spends her mornings taking photos of the morning birds having their breakfast.

Now if I could just get her to eat her own, I (and probably the disturbed birds) would be happy.

And that is about it for what has happened during the past few months. Tons of places to visit, work to do, and moving boxes to unpack (had a great set of movers from Steel City Movers -- thanks guys!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Have More Holiday Cheer For Your Fellow People

 Something interesting happened today.

I went down to the store to pick up a pack of butter.

Well, it was actually margarine. I call all margarine butter and all butter butter and... anyway. I was picking up the butter in the little Italian store down the street. No. I didn't pick up any pasta. A person can walk into an Italian store and just pick up butter. I needed it to make an almond pound cake, which was delicious by the way....

Anyhow, there was a guy standing in line behind me. The Overlord was sitting in her stroller. One of the legs was bent on the stroller as I cocked my head down to look. He looked down at The Overlord and mentioned how quiet she is. I agreed and said it was a good thing because she is always quiet in the store.

In less than a minute, the guy unleashed his life story. How he was going to be a grandfather soon (congratulations). On how they hoped this baby would come because the daughter had a miscarriage before (so sorry). How he never sees the other grandkids because they live in Virginia (well, maybe the holidays will bring you together). How he is blamed for all the wrong happening in their lives and not seeing the grandkids because of this daughter's divorce even though he was homeless for awhile (Oh, okay).

When I looked at him at one point, he had a weird expression on his face -- something like a cross between satisfaction and bitterness.

During the holidays, there will always be people who just need to vent about the bad stuff happening in their lives. Just listen quietly and be supportive, even if they are strangers, family or close friends. Letting them unleash the frustration can be a very satisfying gift for them, and it will only take a minute of your time to listen.

A little understanding goes a long way, and I hope something good starts happening in his life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just Keep On Keeping On.... And Complete The Surveys

Life has its ups and downs. It is how we deal with the downs that make us unique, spur us to greater things, or sets us up to bigger failures the likes of which we have never seen.

That wasn't very encouraging, was it?

What I meant to say is that there will be things in our lives that cause us the temporary bump in the road. Yet losing perspective and thinking that this bump is the "End of the World" when it is just a stumble along the path is what hampers us from succeeding at what we want to do.

Take, for instance, the Overlord's pediatrician appointments.

I loved the first pediatrician we had. A wonderful woman with a great sense of humor and she listened to what I had to say. So when she left that practice and suggested a replacement in the same office, I wasn't worried about getting a lower level of service.


The first time I was to meet the new pediatrician, I waited nearly 3 hours. At one point, the nurse came in, surprised, and asked if the doctor had come in to see us. Obviously not, or we would have left by then. Duh.

The next appointment was the fire alarm one. Another hour appointment turned into several hours as we all stood outside waiting for the fire trucks to show up.

Now, for some people, they would rant and rave and cry and scream and throw fits until security tossed them out of the building. I didn't do any of those things. I quietly came home and waited for the pediatrician office survey to be sent to my email address. In that survey, I spoke up my concerns.

After that survey, the quality of service increased. Instead of waiting an hour, I only waited 15 minutes. The doctor listened to what I had to say. It was marvelous. It was fantastic. And I said as much in the following surveys.

So the time finally came when the surveys stopped. Perhaps they had enough information about the practice. Whatever the case may be, I haven't received a new one.

So did the quality of service decrease? Yes, it would seem so. The last appointment we went to he didn't listen to me. He was preoccupied. He even went so far as to give my daughter a book to read, which would have been great if it wasn't in Spanish.

I have a whole year until I see the doctor again. And the next appointment will allow me to decide if  I should stick with this pediatrician or switch to someone else. We experienced a few bumps in the road, had a few low points, had a few high points, and even was set up to a big failure with her pediatrician.

But I'll keep moving on. I won't stay with someone I don't like, because it wastes my time and his. It is not the END OF THE WORLD. It is just a minor inconvenience we will have to overcome.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Sandy Day

Give a child a grain of sand, and they will joyously toss it around until it gets into their eyes. Give a child a bucket of sand, and they will throw tantrums and scream their heart out if you try to take it away from them.

Yes, I just made that up. But it does illustrate that children love to play with sand even if they aren't at the beach. The Overlord had the opportunity to play with sand today at the EQT Regatta at Point State Park.

Okay, so that isn't sand. This is a picture of the geese and ducks along the river waiting for someone to toss a spare piece of bread or crackers out to them. It does show that we were right down by the water.


And this picture shows The Gateway Clipper boat making its way up the water. I've been on those boats several times and it is a very relaxing way to take a boat ride.

Finally! The Overlord playing in the sand. She had a ball, but it was HOT. It was suppose to be partly cloudy with a chance of rain. The rain never came and the clouds didn't show up until we were about to leave. Also, the wind showed up. If you have ever been by the river or sandy beach when the wind shows up, it is very strong with no trees, buildings or bushes to block its path. And it picked up the sand  like it was... uh... sand to blow it into our eyes.

While the sand on the beach wasn't wet/compacted enough to make into grand masterpieces, The Overlord still had fun. She also threw a tantrum as we were about to leave. But kids will be kids. And we did leave some of The Overlord's masterpieces by the river.

 Okay, I would like to claim The Overlord made this with the bucket and shovel. But no. This was made by Colcom as it is the reenactment of the Battle of Fort McHenry. If that doesn't sound familiar, start singing the Star-Spangled Banner. This sand sculpture was based on that poem that is now our national anthem.

 It took three photos just to capture the entire sand sculpture and I still didn't get the whole thing in. This sculpture is HUGE! Those people in the sculpture are almost life-size that you could grab one of their rifles and drag the injured soldiers away.

And so this captures our trip to the EQT Regatta. Sandy fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Day At The Point

If you aren't from around here, then you have no idea where this picture is taken at. Locals call it "The Point." Visitors call it Point State Park. Other people call it where the three rivers meet, or rather the Allegheny and Monongahela meets to form the Ohio River. And then there are still a few who  may call it the place where people swim in dirty fountain water.

The Overlord did NOT swim in the dirty fountain water. But there were other kids romping in it. If you want to compare how dirty it is, then look at the photo below.

If you are wondering what is with all the water photos, let me explain. We are not at a water park. We are, in fact, at the Three Rivers Art Festival which was held at The Point. This annual event allows those with an artistic bent to come hock their wares, sing on stages and sell overpriced food.

 Of course, there has to be something interesting for the kids. Here at the Heinz Cultural Trust section of the park, they had a small marina activity where kids could push boats around the fountain. At the creativity center further into the park, there were tons of kid-related activities. They could throw bean bags and win prizes, make dolls out of recycled materials, make worry dolls, hula hoop, skip rope and get their face painted. The Overlord has a butterfly painted on her arm with small gems glued onto the suns.

There was also several stages with bands playing. And they were awesome. While  you may think this band is playing classical music with their trombones, they are actually playing hip pop music.

This photo is taken closer to The Point. You can see Heinz Stadium where the Pittsburgh Steelers play and part of the Science Center on the left side across the river.

I suppose I can't go to an arts festival without showing some of the art. This outdoor art exhibit is under the bridge leading to The Point. Yes, it is a bunch of tee shirts hanging on displays sitting in water. No, I haven't the slightest clue on how this is considered art. Yes, there are all types of logos on the shirts, even a few AC/DC ones. Perhaps it's supposed to symbolize our culture drowning in the corporate-controlled waters. I don't know.

And last but never least, Jaq got another balloon art piece. A hat. It is currently taped to another door so it doesn't pop. We had a very exciting time, and The Overlord may even be featured in an art exhibit in the near future. But I don't want to say anything until that actually happens.

I will mention that we almost didn't get home. There was something else being held downtown as bus transportation was being diverted. Many of the streets were closed and there were rainbow banners set up.... Okay, I just Googled it and found out it was a "Pride in the Street" event and a Chaka Khan concert. Wow, what a busy Saturday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fizz, Boom

It might sound like I am about to talk about a major soft drink, but instead I am about to talk about the Carnegie Library Extravaganza that was held last Sunday that was called" Fizz, Boom -- Read Your Way Into Summer" This extravaganza was open to the public as it encouraged people of all ages to come spend the day learning and engaging in activities.
The extravaganza was separated into several tents scattered outside the Carnegie Library in Oakland (I later found out after the event that there were also activities inside the library). There was music from Radio Disney, The Obama Academy Steel Band and other musicians playing on stage. It was also an opportunity for vendors to hock their businesses although everything was free except the food from the food trucks. The Overlord even got an airbrushed temporary tattoo of a butterfly on her leg. They had everything there.

We tried to visit most of the booths, yet only made it through half on the one side of the library. The Overlord was able to plant seeds in a pot (they are starting to sprout now so we will be able to see what type of plants they are.) She was also able to build sculptures out of things found in nature, make a paper book worm, make a bookmark, paint her own cookie (thanks to Eat N' Park) and go down the massive slide above. Yes. The Overlord went down that huge thing by herself. And she climbed up it holding onto ropes. What a little trooper!

We also rode on the trolley by Molley's Trolleys. This is an actual trolley that they converted into a street vehicle. They played songs such as Mister Roger's Neighborhood, The Sound of Music and other kid-happy musicals and shows. Then we waited an hour for a balloon figure. And it was worth it. They were making spiders, octopuses (octopi?), rainbows, pirate hats and swords, and the flower bracelet that The Overlord is wearing on her wrist.

The Carnegie Library Extravaganza was a very large event with tons of people there. We listened to storybook readings and took home a free storybook. I can't think of a better event to go to when supporting the local library and getting kids interested in books. I can't wait to go again with The Overlord next year.

The only downside was the rain. It rained about two minutes after we arrived, stopped for about half an hour and then poured again for a few minutes. After that last shower, it was sunny for the rest of the time. I had the umbrella there, but must have left it on the bench somewhere. Oh well. There were holes in the top of it so I guess it was time to retire it and buy a new one.


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