Rant!

I wanted to start posting earlier, but I was distracted by the Google Doodle witch in honor of Halloween. I wonder how many hours of productivity are lost annually by Google Doodles.

You might just want to stop reading right here. This is a very rant-y post and not very festive.

It’s almost the end of the week, and I’m about tapped out. Hulk came home super late last night, and took the early train out to the office this morning. I thought he would be working from home today and we would be able to take Squish trick-or-treating together as a family tonight. Silly me, why do I, a mere mortal, make such lofty and unrealistic goals like spending the holiday together as a family? He has to stay late tonight so I’m on my own to Squish-wrangle again. Looks like we’ll be heading to the mall since I really don’t want to haul Squish to the other side of the city on my own. But we’ll see what my mood is tonight, and how wiped I’ll be.

(Caution: rant ahead)

Also, we’re going to take a mommy moment here, because this is on my mind and has been bugging me. When Hulk gets home from work, he heads to his office and works some more, maybe stopping out at the table for dinner and chasing the cranky toddler out when he wanders in looking for something to do. When I get home from work, while having a screaming, cranky, attention-starved toddler hanging on my legs I have to cook dinner, do laundry, pick up toys, vacuum dog hair from the carpet, put the still screaming and cranky toddler to bed, set out all of my gear for the next morning, and then try to squeeze in a few minutes of work or reading before I pass out.

In the morning, I’m up at 5:30 to work out, walk the dog, make breakfast, get me cleaned up, get the toddler cleaned up, and catch up on other little chores that didn’t get done last night – take out trash, unload dishwasher, sweep up broken glass/dumped out container of spices/whatever else Squish decided to throw on the ground and destroy. Yesterday the dirty diaper bag caught on the door handle as I was taking it out and dirty diapers started pouring out all over the place. That’s what I want to be doing when I have a train to catch in five minutes.

I’m irritated. I want to spend more time on my career, but when I’m home I feel pressured to be at home. I can’t work from home. I don’t put as many hours in at the office as others do because 1) there’s no way I can possibly make it out the door before 8am. It just doesn’t happen. and 2) if I don’t get home and feed Squish and start on the chores and housework, no one else will do it and I come home to an extremely hungry toddler with a dinner that’s mere ingredients yet and a never ending list of crap to do when all I really want to do is chill out on the couch with Netflix or a good book.

So as I do, I’m trying to look for solutions. Streamline my tasks, do some value stream mapping, and identify the non-value-add tasks that I can probably eliminate. This morning, I needed to get to work early since I’m taking off early to trick-or-treat with Squish. So I cut out my workout to make more time. Then I spent nearly 40 minutes in the kitchen making breakfast and lunch for today … for me. We had tons of veggies that were going to go to waste if I didn’t make good use of them now so I was chopping, finding containers, finding containers that were dirty, washing containers, storing chopped veggies in the containers, burning the eggs, listening to Squish cry in his crib because he was up from all the noise and it was too early to get him up (I try to wait until 7), then running around trying to clean up my mess because I feel bad leaving the babysitter with a huge mess first thing in the morning. All I can think about is, “this wouldn’t happen if we would just eat some damn cereal and call it good.” Stupid paleo. We’ve been straying far from the paleo eats the last few months, mostly for budget reasons. But I’m starting to value how convenient crap food is. It’s not healthy, but it gets bellies full without me stressing out so much about how much time I don’t have to do this.

Also, I’m realizing how small our apartment is. Why does it take me so long to throw breakfast down? The other morning while I was doing my ususal morning breakfast-and-lunch-pack-extravaganza I realized how the small space was really clogging up production. I was constantly tripping over myself, moving the thing I just set there, accidentally setting stuff on the stove on the burner that was just used and therefore very hot, etc. It probably takes me so long to do anything because I have minimal space and resources. I have one big bowl for mixing. So if I’m making eggs for breakfast and a chopped salad for lunch, I have to wash the bowl in between operations. If I find another bowl to use for the salad, now I have two dirty bowls taking up precious counter space. So I’m thinking it’s time to move to a bigger place.

Anyway, back to the mommy moment thing. I’m an engineer. I mostly work with dudes. It just comes with the territory. But they all put in, like, 10-hour days. And why? Probably because their wives cover the house and kid stuff. Like my own husband, they come home at the end of an exhausting work day, give the family a quick hug, then retreat to their offices for more work. I can’t do that. Well, maybe I can, but I haven’t figured out how yet without completely neglecting household operations and childcare. Is this going to hurt my career? Am I setting myself up for less than complete success because I technically work two jobs, the other unpaid? Where I work, women are definitely starting to be recognized as industry big wigs. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, made headlines when she went back to work after having her baby and worked throughout her maternity leave, which was just a few weeks long (this is from my recollection, I don’t have a source). Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook wrote the book “Lean In” about women’s leadership in the workplace and why it has stalled (disclosure: I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my to-read list). Surrounded by powerful industry leaders that are women make me want to be a powerful industry leader, too, but I feel held back with my other goals and interests. And responsibilities.

Sorry this has an abrupt end, but I ran out of time for writing today. I’ll probably address this topic again soon, so, sorry for the long rant.

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I Can’t Handle Halloween

So, this is always the part of the week where I start freaking out. Monday is full of bewilderment that it’s not the weekend anymore, so I kind of move through it in a state of denial. Tuesday is usually my, “Okay, let’s do this!” day where I get all amped for the week and create extremely unrealistic to-do lists and goals for the days ahead. Wednesday is when it finally hits me that I did not do a good job of acknowledging the upcoming events and commitments that sounded great a week ago but now I actually have to follow through with them. Take Halloween. It’s the same day every year. I’ve known it was coming for weeks, months even. And I had done some casual research on what we’d do with the Squish now that Gramma’s got his costume all ready. Sneak preview for you:

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Ahh! Too much cute.

Anyway, after checking around I found that our building might not be very trick-or-treaty. Most of the tenants are singles or couples with no kids, and there are a lot of corporate housing rentals that may or may not be vacant. The few families I do know that I talked to all go somewhere else for Halloween, like Berkeley. I am not taking Bart to go trick or treating, I’m just not. I’m worried enough about getting home with daylight to spare so I’m not adding public transit to the list of Things That Can Go Wrong.

I searched for community events, like a “Boo at the Zoo” sort of deal at the local parks and stuff. Turns out all of the festivities took place while we were in Omaha this weekend. I started getting sorta bummed and a little panicky yesterday when I realized that I had no idea where we could take Squish in his new costume. I mean, we could probably just dress him in it and go somewhere for dinner. He’s not going to remember his second Halloween, after all. But darn it, we didn’t go trick or treating last year because it was raining and he couldn’t walk yet, so I am very insistent that he gets at least one piece of candy in his little bucket on principle alone.

I sent out pleas for brainstorming help on Facebook and Twitter, and my aunt had a suggestion that I had considered but didn’t really research – local malls usually do trick-or-treating at certain stores. Duh, the Westfield is just a couple blocks away, and they ARE hosting trick-or-treating to kids in costume! Woot, problem solved!

Anyway, this is a very long and rambly post about my lack of knowledge of the children’s event world. I think things will get a little better once Squish starts school and I have other parents to clue me in on how things work in kiddie land, like how Halloween is actually now celebrated the weekend before the event, and so on. I’m sure there are other nuances to how you do things for kids vs. adults that I’m going to run into. It’s hard being the only parent you really know.

To make up for the long-winded post, here’s Squish and Duke last year’s Halloween, taking inventory of their loot.

A Present to Me, from Me

Happy Tuesday! Since yesterday’s post was such a tome, I’ll keep today’s quick and simple with the eats and runnin’s. Annnnd, it’s Treat Yourself Tuesday, brought to you by Becky at Olives ‘n’ Wine! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to link up, so it’s good to be back 🙂 Squish is still […]

Stomping Grounds

Saturday I was in my hometown of Elkhorn, which is (I guess now) a neighborhood in the west side of Omaha. It used to be an independent town but was annexed by Omaha several years ago. We were there for the funeral services for Hulk’s grandmother who had passed away last week. After the services, I had to run 8 miles on Saturday so I thought I would use it as an opportunity to check out my old stomping grounds.

There are two things I really miss about Nebraska. One is the sunsets. I don’t know if it’s the air or the plains or what, but sunsets in Nebraska are always spectacular. The other thing I miss is fall. I loved fall growing up. I loved the weather, the crunchy leaves, and the distinct smell in the air that hints of winter on its way. I hate winter, but I love fall.

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And the skies get so, so blue in October.

I started out along a little bike path past the city park we used to play.

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I wanted to take Squish there to play for a little nostalgic, generational indulgence but we didn’t have the time.

Then I turned and headed to “my” side of town. Hulk and I grew up on opposite sides of the main highway through town but didn’t meet until high school. The Qwik Shop gas station/convenience store on the corner was sort of the halfway point between our houses. When I was old enough, my mom would let me walk there with a friend to buy candy. I would stretch the couple bucks she gave me as much as possible and try everything.

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The trees look so big now coming up to my old neighborhood.

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I grew up on Pearl Circle, but with the Omaha annexation the city changed all of the street names to align with the Omaha streets. Now it’s Blinny Circle.

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Again, the trees on my old street look huge.

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And the house where I grew up. Not much has changed. The front garden is gone, and it looked like where we had an above-ground pool is now a playground. It’s kind of a wonky picture, because people were giving me strange looks at this lady running and stopping to take pictures with her phone every two blocks.

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They decorated the yard with mini ghosts and pumpkins for Halloween. Adorable!

Then I ran around the neighborhood to where the neighborhood used to end and cornfields began. Our ‘hood was surrounded by cornfields back in the day, and the farmer would clear a path between the houses and my elementary school so we kids could walk there without having to take the street. The path used to run through here, through these houses.

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And this used to be cornfield.

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And this.

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This post really should be titled, “This Used to be Cornfields”.

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Anyway, here is my old elementary school, Hillrise.

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Hey Amanda, you don’t have to worry anymore about where you’re supposed to stand. They now have the grades marked on the wall on where the kids are to wait in the morning for the classrooms to open.

This playground was built at the end of my 5th grade year. They did a ribbon cutting ceremony and all of the graduating 5th graders received a piece of the ribbon. I think I still have mine. And it was probably a good thing that the kids playing on the playground were unsupervised when I took the picture or there might be some weirded out parents alarmed by the lady running and taking pictures with her phone every two blocks.

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After touring my own little ‘hood I headed back over to Hulk’s side of town. He grew up in the “old” part of Elkhorn where the town was originally founded. There are a lot of cool old buildings and historic stuff from back in the day.

I ran by the community pool. This is where we took swimming lessons as kids, spent a lot of time here in the summer, and I mustered a poor, half-hearted attempt at swim team for two summers since Hulk was on a competitive team all through high school. There used to be a high dive, but it looks like it’s been replaced with a super awesome water slide.

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Oh, and I forgot that they have to winterize here. It’s a thing. I was sorely disappointed when the first drinking fountain at the park I came across was already shut down for the winter. So I ran the whole time with no water.

Then I cut through downtown to a bike path that took me further west out of the town. There’s the water tower!

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It was a bit of a slow pace for me, but after being on a plane for 7-ish hours the day before and having a crappy training week I was just happy I put 8 miles on. I did walk a bit the last half mile or so.

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After my run, I came back to the house to find a Squish meltdown in progress. After the super busy morning with services and family, I assumed he’d just had enough, but the usual tricks weren’t working for him and he was completely inconsolable. Then his grandma took his temp and found he had a fever. Of course he did. So I got to take a sick, tired, cranky toddler with me back to California.

We had a layover of a couple of hours in Dallas/Ft. Worth, so we had a quick dinner and played in a kid’s play center we found. Then the flight was delayed an hour. Then another hour. Then a half hour. By the time we finally boarded, Squish and I had been in DFW for six hours.

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Squish was totally over DFW by this point.

Apparently the cause was heavy fog and winds in SFO, and it affected pretty much all air travel in the US. It’s one of those things that if I had known we’d be there for six hours I would have planned our time a bit differently – had a “real” meal at a sit-down restaurant, spent more time in the play zone, would have let Squish nap in the airport since I was trying to keep him up so he’d nap on the plane, etc. But, whatever. We made it home eventually, and the pilot did a rockstar job at landing in the heavy SF winds. That was a crazy bumpy landing. Squish slept through it all, and I was amazed at how many times he’d nearly be bumped out of my arms, startle, then clunk back asleep.

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This week will be all about getting Squish better, and making sure Hulk and I don’t get sick on top of it. Plus, it’s my birthday week (woot!) so I’ll be planning that, too. Mostly by harassing people for presents. I like presents.

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Geeze, I look like a hobbit in this one. But I’m a hobbit with a gold iPhone 5S, so I don’t care.

My train has been super delayed, so this is a super long post. You can thank Caltrain.

Are you still close to your hometown, or is it long gone like mine? What sort of things do you like to do when you visit old stomping grounds?

My Own Advice

Last night, I took a dose of my own self-care adventure advice, and instead of cranking out the billion self-imposed things on my to-do list I took a night off.

Backing up, I had leftover beef hash with a little rice for lunch. The hash had ground beef, onion, squash, zucchini, and bell pepper. I also had some carrots and olives but never got around to eating them.

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When I got home from work I was extremely grateful that dinner was already made a la leftover ground beef hash. Our au pair offered to walk Duke for me so I could get Squish and I fed.

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I threw in some leftover butternut squash to the hash so it wasn’t like I ate the EXACT same thing three meals in a row.

Then Squish and I packed up and walked down to the library at Mission Bay. It’s not a huge branch, but it’s within walking distance through non-sketch and non-hilly neighborhoods and they have a small children’s area with toys and games. Squish pounces on the games to give me time for a quick browse for the two of us. I picked up some new board books for Squish and a couple indulgent novels for myself: “The Red Queen” by Philippa Gregory and “Crossed” by Ally Condie.

Front Cover(source) and  (source)

I was super excited to find the whole “Matched” trilogy at the library! I have “Matched” on my kindle but couldn’t bring myself to spend another $25 on the rest of the trilogy. I’m a bit cheap when it comes to my fluff reads. Now that I have my library card, a whole world of fluffy YA literature is now in my reach!

After we got home from the library, I put Squish to bed with some mild protest and left the dishes in the sink so I could curl in bed with a glass of wine and my new books. I also decided to sleep without an alarm and when I wake up, I wake up. I found myself wide awake at 5am from a weird dream but decided that it was too early to wake up in the name of self-care. So I dozed until 6:30 and paid for it by being late for everything.

Random breakfast that I ate maybe 3 bites of before forgetting it on the counter:

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Yogurt, apples, and cinnamon.

At least I’m well-rested. And my legs really hurt. I so need a massage for my poor hammies. 😦 I haven’t done anything since Sunday’s run (well, except for sprinting on my bike commute) and I’m starting to feel antsy. I have to go to the airport stupid early tomorrow so I might be able to convince myself to work out tonight. Or I might just go to bed early again because of the 3:30 am wake-up call tomorrow. Boo, grown-up decisions.

Anyway, have a happy Thursday and a happy weekend. I will probably not get an opportunity to post tomorrow, so I’ll see you Monday!

The Train of Life

Hey, kids.

Well, this train o’ life just keeps on rolling (can you tell I’m commuting right now?). We received some sad news this week. Hulk’s grandmother passed away after a year-long battle with lung cancer. She was a remarkable, inspirational lady and will be missed. Everyone in the family is headed to Omaha this weekend for the services. Although I’m glad Squish will be able to visit his grandparents, it’s a bummer of a reason for the trip.

Hulk’s been out of town this week, and I’m finding myself just through-the-bones tired. Even though I could probably use a workout, I’ve been sleeping in every morning and still zombie-ing it through the day. If it wasn’t for my grueling 6-mile-a-day bike commute I would be doing nothing. Which is probably my problem. Maybe tonight I can get a light run in after Squish goes down.

In my rush to catch my train yesterday morning, I completely forgot breakfast and didn’t even realize it until I was sitting at work with a grumbly tummy. I grabbed a Kashi protein bar to hold me over to lunch, which I commended myself on packing before I forgot it for a change.

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Spinach salad with hb eggs, tuna in olive oil, cucumber, and carrots.

I realized that with Hulk out of town my evenings have to be completely on pointe and organized. As soon as I walk through the door Squish wants dinner NOW. So I absolutely threw together a flurry of a beef has with a cranky, hangry toddler on my hip in about 10 minutes. I even chopped the squash with one hand. Total mommy award for this one.

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Ground beef, onion, and squash on a bed of spinach.

Once Squish went to bed I cooked another batch for lunch/dinner today. Now all I have to do when I get home tonight is throw it in the microwave and dinner is served!

Since we have to clean out the fridge before leaving this weekend I found the last of the leftover oatmeal and cooked apples Mom had made when she visited this weekend. I topped it with a dollop of yogurt and some cinnamon for a festive flair.

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And coffee. Always coffee. Hulk had roasted a batch of beans before he left, but he grossly underestimated how much coffee my mother and I can go through when left to our own devices. I had to make an emergency run to Peet’s to pick up some more beans yesterday morning. I should really learn how to use the coffee roaster, but every time I try a batch on my own I either end up with barely roasted beans or I set them on fire. Both are not good.

Squish was a good helper getting mommy’s bike ready for the road. I noticed that he isn’t much taller than my bike pump. How intimidating would that be to pump a tire with a pump taller than you? The world must be crazy big in the perspective of a toddler.

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With my fatigue, the family news, and still adjusting to this new normal of a schedule, I realized yesterday that I really need to focus on taking care of myself. It’s going to be a crazy next couple of weeks with all the travel and adjustments. The last thing I need is to get sick. So last night and for the rest of the week I’m focusing on getting sleep, eating clean, and lots of water. Hopefully this will get me through and out of the sleepy slump I’m in.

Well, I’m off to catch up on your blogs and get set up for another crazy busy day. Have a happy hump day! It is Wednesday, isn’t it?

13 Miles and Eat All the Things

Good morning, everyone! Sorry I was MIA yesterday. The day just flew by and before I knew it, I was in my jammies. So we now have a lot of catching up to do. 🙂

Sunday I accomplished a 13 mile run. There we go, that is now out of the way.

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Pre-run I fueled with two nuked eggs with some cheese and a banana. Silly Duke, you don’t even like bananas.

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Since the Nike Women’s Marathon was running right along my usual route, I took advantage of the crowd control and headed out after I thought the bulk of the race was past. It was pretty foggy and cool, so in other words perfect running weather! The moon was setting right over Coit tower. Which of course meant it looked more spectacular in person than on iPhone camera.

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I ran mostly along the sidewalks next to the end of the race until I ran out of sidewalk then carefully made my way through the crowd. The plan was to run alongside the course until I needed to turn around, then figure out how to head back. Easier said than done.

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Oh, did you know there were giant sand sculptures in the Sports Basement parking lot? Me, neither.

Anyway, I managed to stay out of everyone’s way until we headed up the hill through the Presidio towards the Golden Gate Bridge. I found myself totally stuck in the racers walking up the hill, and frantically tried to get out and around the crowd. I feel a little guilty poaching the course, but I try to stay out of everyone’s way and I bring my own food/water, so the only thing I’m taking is the advantage of a closed course. Anyway, it was a wall of people and I felt bad taking up space.

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So as soon as the trail to the bridge split from the road I headed up to the bridge overlook. I sure picked a beautiful day to run out to the bridge.

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Then I perused the trails for a while. I HAD to try the trail that goes through the little tunnel.

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Then I found the bay again and went through Crissy Field and the Marina back to the Embarcadero.

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And then I ate a bunch.

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Immediate post-run two eggs and a rice cake with almond butter and coconut, a REAL Coke (thanks, Mom!) and a cookie, fish sticks and Annie’s mac-and-cheese (I started eating that before I remembered to take a picture). Oh yeah, my mom did the food run for the post-run goodies 🙂

And then there was Cheesecake Factory.

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Squish helped me with my s’mores cheesecake.

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Mom, Squish and I met up with Amanda and her boyfriend for dinner there. I had never been to the Cheesecake Factory and seized the opportunity. I had the salmon and salad for dinner prior to my cheesecake indiscretion, but I was distracted with Squish-wrangling and hunger to remember to take the picture.

And that is the story about how I ran off 1300 calories and ate 2000 to make up for it.

Self-Care and Permission

It’s standing room only in the train today, so I’m blogging with one hand holding up my bike. They should give out a blog award for this.

I love blogging. I love reading blogs. And I love all of you in the blogging community. This morning, my Bloglovin’ feed hit quadruple digits. And I realized that there is no way I can keep up with everyone. I thought I could use my commute time better, but it had been much more unpredictable than I thought.

I’ve been feeling more badly about this than I probably should or need to. I think of the bloggers I follow as my friends, and missing nearly a week’s worth of posts is like missing a phone call or email.

But in respect for my self-care adventure, I gave myself permission to hit the “read all” button in my feed and reorganize my blog roll a bit. At first I felt horribly guilty. Then I realized that I’m only one person, I’m juggling a lot, and sometimes you have to hit “All Read” and walk away.

What things in your life that are piling up can you hit “Read All”on?

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And a city shot. Just ’cause.

Fried with Pittsburgh Recap

Omygosh, you guys. I am so fried. And I am sort of over mobile blogging. I will relish the next opportunity to blog from a real keyboard and not my iPhone.

I am just arriving home from my adventures, ready to finish out the week and make ready for our guests. We have a revolving door happening again with people coming and going, so it will not be a dull weekend. I want to take Monday off so I can spend more time with my Mom who is visiting this weekend, but with me just starting my job and our crazy project schedule I’m not sure if it’s wise. What would you do? I haven’t taken a vacation day in almost a year, since my last job was a contract position with no vacation pay. But I don’t really want to just skip off right after starting either. Boo, adult decisions!

In other news, Pittsburgh was fabulous. I love visiting cities for the first time. My meetings yesterday got out a bit early so I had time to wander the river walk before dinner with my coworkers.

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I stayed just off of downtown, across from PNC Park where the Pittsburgh Pirates play.

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I also saw the duck. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself being so close and not seeing the duck. I really don’t know what it’s about, other than its a traveling art project of sorts where this 40′ tall rubber ducky just appears in a prominent city. So … Yeah. Quack.

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Since I was around coworkers for most meals I felt weird photographing my food. But I did sneak a shot at one place we are at for dinner called Seviche. It was a Cuban/Peruvian seafood and tapas place. I gorged on delicious ceviche preparations with ahi tuna and salmon, with a delicious orange-fennel salad with mint.

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I love raw fish. That is so weird, but it’s true.

I also spent a ton of time hanging out in my Jammies in the hotel room, relishing in the fact that the only person I had to take care of was myself.

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One relaxed mommy, even though it was a business trip.

I’m about to my stop, so have a great night, and I hope to see you all on my way to work tomorrow!