We Cheer (& Color) the Black & Gold

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Detroit Redwings (BOO) in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. What’s that mean (you know, for my non-sports-loving readers)? It’s an all-or-nothing, do-or-die, winner-takes-all kind of game. (Hockey, people, hockey.) The winner of tonight’s game gets to take home the (sexy) Stanley Cup and retains bragging rights for a full year.

Kind of like how the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Wouldn’t it be nice to have dual-bragging rights… to make up for the occasional fleeting whiff of mediocrity offered up by our (beloved) baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates? (By the way, they’re currently tied for last place in the Central division. Swell.) I think so. As such, we’re kind of geared up for tonight’s game. And by kind of, of course, I mean “totally stoked.” As the game falls after TheBrothers’ bedtime (What? Your kids don’t have a bedtime? Mine do. Hush it.), I figured we would get in the hockey mood ahead of time.

First, we colored the Pittsburgh Penguins logo(ish) on a coloring page found here. See?

LittleBrother's Handy-Work

And, BigBrother got serious about it as well.

BigBrother = Serious About Hockey

(I’d claim that I don’t know why he makes those faces but, well, that would be a lie. Anyone who viewed some pictures that I recently uploaded to Facebook from my junior year of high school musical will see that I’m, uhm, quite the performer. As such, BigBrother seems to have inherited my gene for, uhm, drama. Yes. That’s it.)

And because I have little to no ability when it comes to cookies (minus sprinkles on hearts), I couldn’t fenangle these awesome cookies. (I want a Crosby jersey cookie. Someone send me one.) We will, however, be cutting out some cookies in the shape of a hockey puck (you know… a circle) and baking them after supper tonight. I think (perhaps?) that I have some yellow food coloring to make the icing “gold” for on top of the “hockey puck” circles. I’m banking on the Penguins coming off with a win so that we can take our yellow circles hockey pucks home with us to The Farm in Pennsylvania tomorrow as a form of celebration.

And so, tonight, when the kids go to bed (jealous?), I’ll kick back and cheer on my beloved black and gold… quietly… because kids will be sleeping. FireDad, sadly, will be at the Fire Department. So, it will just be me, the glow of the television and lots of hope. (Sadly, no IC Light or Primanti’s sammich to make it a real Pittsburgh experience.)

And, since I can yell right now, GO PENGUINS!

_
[By the way, I'd like to point out that I'm on Discovery Health's site right now for Baby Week. You can go here to view my smiling face but, if you'd rather cut to the chase, my birth stories are here. And, no, they don't involve hockey (though I'd love to read a birth story that somehow involved hockey... links?!).]

Fears of a Fire Wife

Every third day, FireDad’s alarm goes off at some awful and early hour. He presses snooze too many times and annoys me. Then he showers, gets dressed, gives me a kiss (which I sometimes do not remember when BigBrother wakes me up an hour or so later) and heads out the door to the fire department.

Every third day, I push down the fear that the clicking of the lock on our door will be the last.

I say “push down” because I have learned, the hard way, that dwelling on the fear is not the way to spend every third day. When FireDad first joined his department, I spent that day in a general state of fear. I called his cell phone far too much just to “check in” and see if he was “okay”… or not. I left the scanner on at a high volume and would pause everything to listen if there was a fire call. I once panicked when I heard that he was heading to the hospital, only to find out that he was heading there with a patient in the ambulance. I drove myself crazy every third day.

That process became somewhat unhealthy and hard to maintain when two little dudes were relying on me to be present and non-hysterical. I knew something needed to change. I couldn’t sit, ear glued to the scanner and still be the mom I needed to be. And so, I turned off the scanner. And I started scheduling lots of things to do on the days he was working.

And it worked. Kind of.

I am still aware that my husband is in danger when he heads out the door. When we go to bed the night before his shift day, more so than other nights, I make sure that we fall asleep without any issues between us. (I don’t normally go to bed mad but, well, it’s happened.) Keeping busy with the boys and life does help but, every now and then, my mind gets away from me. It’s usually when we’re out and about in town and a siren sounds. Like the time we were at the bank and watched the trucks round the corner and head off into the distance. It takes all of my willpower not to follow those trucks. And, to be honest, my sons would love to see their daddy in action but, for right now, we talk about what daddy is doing (manning the hose or driving the truck) as we head off to whatever it is we were doing.

He’s only had a minor injury in the four years he has been on his department. But I’ve watched enough fire movies and episodes of Rescue Me (season 5 airs tonight on FX!) that my mind can jump to worse-case-scenario at the drop of a fire helmet. At the same time, I know my husband is a smart man and that his crew members are loyal. But, even keeping busy and knowing what I know, those fears haven’t managed to fully dissipate. Perhaps I need more time.

All of this is brought to light, of course, as three police officers were ambushed in Pittsburgh this past Saturday as we were home visiting friends and family. As we watched the events unfold on the news, I thought of FireDad who was working and stayed back home. No, he’s not a police officer. But as I learned of the officer’s families, I knew the difference in uniform made no difference. A wife and a fiance sent their loved one off to work that morning, pushing the dangers that their men may face to the back of their minds. One officer was off duty and set to be returning home. His wife was likely awaiting his arrival. One was just engaged, a fiancee not fully understanding what she was up against and whose life is now forever changed. Between them, five daughters are now without a father. Like a fire set by an arsonist, these men were unnecessarily taken from their families. The loss of these three men in a city that I love continues to bring tears to my eyes. I have no words that make it all better as I never hope to understand the loss. I can, however, offer my prayers, my shoulder and my thanks for those who gave their lives to protect other people.

So today, as FireDad sits in the fire station about a mile from our home, I’m torn. How busy do I have to keep myself to ignore the dangers that wait? How many times do I call? Do I turn on the scanner today? Do I panic every time I hear a siren, imagining the worst? Or do I just say a prayer that he will be kept safe, let him know that he is loved and go about the business of our family life because normalcy seems safer safer than any alternative?

I don’t think I have another option.

[If you are interested in donating to the families of the fallen officers, the city of Pittsburgh has set up a fund where you can designate to whom/for what you want the money to be used. (For the children, for the mothers/widows, etc.) You can read more here. The FireFamily will be making a donation for the children as I can't imagine my children, at any age, saying goodbye to their daddy.]

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in Pittsburgh

We had a fabulous trip. The good news is that the crowd was not rowdy. In fact, as FireDad and I were discussing it, in our four years of attending the St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities in Pittsburgh, we’ve only witnessed one fight. Pittsburgh news stations are also reporting that there were less arrests and citations this year: 6 physical arrests and 67 citations, down from 100 in 2008. Stay classy, Pittsburgh. (There was, however, a fatal shooting that looks like it will be under investigation for some time. But we never made it to the South Side.)

Personally, we saw some violations ourselves like the older gentleman that walked by with a glass of what I assume was gin and tonic. In a glass from the bar he had probably just left. So, a little theft and open container violation going on with that one. A short time later, a group walked by, pouring drinks into each other’s cups. Also, I can’t say if anyone I saw was actually underage but, well, they all made me feel old. That is all.

The band we saw at the Red Star Tavern was pretty darn awesome. They played music from the 80’s, 90’s and whatever you want to call this decade. I sang and danced and had a few beers (none of the green variety). We had a late, light supper. All in all, we had a great time. Kind of bummed that we missed the parade due to my practice but I think we’ll live.

We have a few pictures to share. This one is for Julie Gong.

Really?

We found that plastered to the bricks in Market Square while walking around on Sunday morning. We were amused. Apparently Mayor Luke felt a little vain this St. Patrick’s Day?

And a nice macro of my Primanti Brothers sammich, consumed on Sunday for lunch.

Mmm

And a nice picture of us with bellies full of Primanti Brothers sammiches.

Full

All in all, it was a great time. We slept wonderfully in the swanky bed in our swanky hotel room. We took our time driving back home. And we felt happy as pie when we picked up the boys. We’re lucky we felt refreshed because last night wasn’t a night that involved a lot of sleep thanks to leftover teething issues, a possible eye infection and a possible ear infection. But a weekend away like this always reminds us that we’re lucky to have the family that we do.

Now when is our family vacation? (Answer: camping in July, beach in August. All seem far away.)

Going Green (and I Don’t Mean Natural)

It is finally upon us: the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. FireDad and I look forward to this weekend all year long. While the rest of the world plays into the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, we merely send each other an e-card and save our dollars for this weekend. Maybe we just prefer the color green to red. Who knows. Anyway, where are we going?

Pittsburgh! Home of the 5th largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. Sadly, we will be missing the parade this year (did you know it is the 5th largest in the country?). And the after-party in Market Square. Why? Well, I have four hours of choreography for our Spring Show on Saturday morning. We won’t hit the road until shortly after 1:00pm. The parade is at 10:00am (and lasts for 3.5 hours) and the last call for the party in Market Square is at 3:30pm. (Of note: there is now a one-dollar fee to get into Market Square this year. Wrist-bands will be given to those over 21. Hopefully this keeps things a bit more… legal.) We’ll likely just head straight to our swanky hotel, enjoy some of the food at the tavern and get ready for our evening out.

While the economic slump may have a large number of people seeing less green, FireDad and I did notice something different this year while shopping for our St. Patrick’s Day wear: more green clothing. When we started this tradition (in 2006), it was almost impossible to find anything green. 2007 and 2008 brought a few more things but only because I was diligent to look for green for months before the big day. This year? Green must be the “it” color. I can’t say that I’m complaining as it is my favorite color. But it really is everywhere. We still went with some internet deals for some of our clothing.

FireDad will be sporting this Lucky Firefighter shirt from Black Helmet (more on them in the near future). On Sunday, he’ll be wearing a mid-sleeve-length raglan t-shirt with green sleeves that he got at That Store That Has Everything from Shirts to Fish that Die Quickly. I have quite a few options. I’ll be hitting the city in my fleece pants and a hoodie tee, both from Victoria’s Secret and both in “kelly” green. (Of note: I got both of those on super sale, not for the prices they are currently listed.) In the evening, I’ll be changing into my new favorite green turleneck, also of the kelly/grass green variety, with some nice pants and probably these socks from last year. I also got some shoes with green on them… because I’m nothing if not thorough. On Sunday, I’ll be wearing a green sweater that I got on clearance ($14!) at Victoria’s Secret, no longer listed on site. We had a great time shopping for our clothing picks this year (and, in fact, bought some of them on Valentine’s Day… we’re awesome). What have we worn in years past? (I have no pictures of “us” in 2006. Fail.)

2007 2008

Ignore FireDad’s face. He thinks he is funny.

The best news is that, as of right now, they’re still predicting a balmy 51 degrees for tomorrow. In years past, it’s been… ridiculously cold. We’re normally bundled up pretty well to head outside. Perhaps we won’t need to wear umpteen layers. Then again, it’s Pittsburgh. A random snow storm could blow through and dump eighteen inches on our unsuspecting green heads. Perhaps we’ll also be able to visit more than one restaurant/bar in the evening instead of deciding it is too cold to head back out and find a new place. Then again, if you can find somewhere to sit, leaving for another place is a bad idea.

Notice I have said nothing about the children. That’s right. This is an adult weekend. We don’t drag our stroller into Market Square where fights break out and beer is spilled. No. The boys will be spending the weekend with their Nana and Aunt Nettie. They will have a great time (also dressed in green shirts, mind you). And we, as parents, will return refreshed and ready to tackle teething (sigh) and BigBrother’s frustration with not being able to read by himself (help!). It’s a win for everyone.

Especially since FireDad and I will get to eat some Primanti’s on Sunday afternoon before heading back to Ohio. Win indeed.

Any other bloggers going to be descending on the city? Ahem, Julie Gong or Burgh Baby’s Mama?

Edited to add thanks to the Today Show: I just downloaded an album by Celtic Woman for the drive. Amazing.

Pittsburgh’s Going to the Super Bowl!

I cried. I’ll admit it. I cried. A friend of mine just called me a doofus but, come on, I bleed black and gold. The game was hard fought. The Ravens put up a good fight. But, in the end, the Steelers pulled it off. We’re going to Super Bowl XLIII! That’s 43, by the way.

When the game started, I began editing this photo of LittleBrother. I took it this afternoon when I picked him up at his grandparent’s house. He was happy and sporting his Roethlisberger jersey. I played with some textures and came up with this gem. I told myself I would only post it if we won as the texture is rather celebratory and if we had lost, well, it wouldn’t have felt right.

I can’t begin to explain my excitement. Our excitement. I am so glad to have married an Ohio man who happens to love the Steelers almost as much as I do. And now? We’ll be heading to The Farm on February 1, 2009 to celebrate with my (crazy, Steeler-loving) family in style. I didn’t get to go to The Super Duper Super Bowl Party at The Farm last time around because I was working for our local NBC affiliate. This year? We’re celebrating on home territory.

But I think BigBrother has to graduated to his size 4T Polamalu jersey because his Roethlisberger one is, shall we say,  snug around the middle. And my Mom is on the hunt back in Pittsburgh-land for a size 2T Willie Parker jersey because he’s almost too long for his onesie Roethlisberger pictured above (only two of the three snaps were done). FireDad and I will be clad in Steelers gear as much as possible between now and the big game. In fact, I’m sending BigBrother to school in a jersey on Tuesday. It’s nice to rub it in the face of Browns and Bengals fans a little bit.

I keep trying to form words to explain what we’re feeling. But I’ll save them all up for the big win. You know what I’m talking about. And, no, I’m not going to verbalize that just yet. It’s just like not talking about a perfect game. I’m just going to wear my gear and this smile from ear to ear until the time comes.

Until then, do two things for me: 1) give me good Super Bowl recipes and 2) go enter my Super Bowl Prize Pack giveaway! Pittsburgh fans: 1) make the best food and 2) deserve to win (but the drawing is still random, I promise).


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