Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Beat the Summer Heat

It is hard to believe that Memorial Day has already come and gone. It seems like only yesterday I was complaining about how much I hated the months of January, February and March and couldn't wait for the Summer to be here.

As the temperature rises, I can't hold back the childlike glee that is inside that looks forward to the extended hours of daylight, warm breezes cruising on by and especially the thought of little day trips here and there. But, as I continue to read about the recession, and see that all of our extra money is being poured into our new home, I start to feel a little sadness about summer 2009.

Ever since I have been born, I have been going to Kennywood each summer. (It comes with the territory when your father worked there for many years when he was in high school.) I couldn't wait to ride the first ride of the season, and inhale the sweet smells of motor oil and Potato Patch Fries. We would go at least once, maybe even twice a season.

So in my anticipation of our annual trip, I decided to visit Kennywood's website and see what new things they have in store. As I was surfing around I saw how much tickets are this year: $33.99. What the heck! Did they mysteriously double the amount of rides and attractions so that it would justify charging this much? As I scrolled over the rides and shows section of the website, I saw that only one new ride was added to replace one that they had taken out last year.

Now for the sake of doing easy math let's just say that tickets cost $34. For my husband and I to go it would cost $68 for tickets. Parking would be about $15 so now we are up to $83 before we even enter the park. Well if you expect to get some of those tasty fries and a drink for two people it will cost about $30 which will now make it $113. I always like to take my chances and play a few games (the ping pong pool and I are still at war) you can easily spend another $30. So for a couple to go to Kennywood, park, eat and play a few games it will cost you $143! I won't even figure out the cost for a family of four! And Kennywood has some nerve calling themselves a great American amusement park.

So unless we get free tickets to Kennywood, which might happen, we will not be going this year. So will end another Summer tradition.

Another thing I like to do in the Summer is maybe go to a concert. Well, I do have to say that no one that I really want to see will be traveling to our area. Kev has threatened to take me to see Bob Dylan in Washington, PA. I told him that Simon and Garfunkle was about as mellow as I can handle, and I don't think that I can sit through listening to a man who sounds like he has a box or rocks in his mouth.

But, what I am most sad about, and it is going to completely make me sound like a spoiled brat, is that we will not be able to make it to Disney World this year.

Since our honeymoon, we have decided to try and make it to Disney each year around our anniversary. If we would save up money during the year, and make a few cutbacks we could do it. But, since we bought the house and have to make renovations, we aren't going to be going this year. But, to help "ease our pain" my parents have offered to take us on their vacation this year to wonderful Branson, Mo! Yes, you heard right. The playground for senior citizens. The land of early bird specials, Tony Orlando and hip replacements! I think I might have to make a separate entry about the wonders of Branson.

But, as we do approach the Summer, I do take comfort that we will find ways to make it fun, and little trips to make it exciting.

Hey, anything beats sub-zero degree temperature!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I really didn't want to

I swear I really didn't want to. I told myself that I would be strong no matter what. But, yesterday as the clock started hedging closer and closer to 9 p.m. I found my strength starting to weaken. And by 9 p.m. I had finally given into the beast that is "Jon and Kate Plus 8."

Kevin and I used to watch the show all the time. Almost like we were in the Gosselin cult. We couldn't wait to see what new animal cutie Aaden was going to pretend to be, or what older sister Maddy would pout about this week. Our DVR was pretty much a treasure trove of episodes of Jon and Kate.

But, as the seasons started to progress, we found ourselves wanting to tune in less and less. We loved to watch the family deal with everyday simple adventures like going out to pick pumpkins at a nearby farm, or visiting the dentist and we really enjoyed watching the whole brood take a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo. But, when they started to get free trips to Utah, California, Hawaii and everywhere in between, we started to lose interest. No longer was this just a simple family trying to get by with eight children, it was just a promotional tool and money making scheme.

What put the proverbial nail in the coffin for us, is when Jon and Kate started hocking a V-Cast educational video game system during their show. Talk about product placement!

From then on we were done except for an occasional short visit as we were flipping through the channels, or looking at photos online of their huge new mansion. We were done. Our DVR was cleaned out, and our season pass cancelled.

I thought that might be the end of Jon and Kate and their cuties for us. But, then the firestorm started. Allegations about Jon's unfaithfulness, and then Kate's unfaithfulness. Woes of their troubles in their marriage were being splattered over every tabloid and magazine in the check-out aisle.

Since I had invested so much time in this family I wanted to know what was going on. When I heard about Jon's wild nights out at a bar in a college town I was shocked. Part of me could see why he would do this, because Kate is hard to handle at times, but he has to think about the eight children that he is a father to. With Kate running around doing book signings and promotional things for the show, I can understand how he might get lonely, but don't you think that eight children might keep you busy?

All during the media frenzy, Jon kept on saying that he wanted his privacy and just wanted to be able to go out and be a normal person. Well, I am sorry but when you sign up to have every move of you and your family broadcasted on a major television station, and when you get between $25,000 to $75,000 an episode, you give up your freedom. I do agree that sometimes the paparazzi do go a little far, and that the children shouldn't be followed all the time, but it is the sad truth that is reality television.

What is also sad, is watching Jon and Kate interact, and I use that term loosely, during the season premier episode.

When Kev and I used to watch it, we used to see a few glimmers of similarities in Jon and Kate's relationship that are in ours. The playful banter, Kate's anal organization, Jon's flippant and calm attitude when things got stressful. We would laugh and nudge each other during the episode.

Now, I don't want to see any part of ourselves in them. They have taken their marriage and turned it a very said play in which both actors really don't want to be there. Their interviews are now taped separately instead of together. Kate sits in the middle of the couch surrounded by pillows, while Jon assumes his regular seat on the left hand side of the couch, almost as if he is saving a spot for Kate.

It seems like the children are almost blissfully unaware by all that is swirling around them. During the sextuplets 5th birthday party, Alexis, I think it was her, goes over and talks to her dad. She tells him that her friend, who is a boy, came to the party. Jon goes and jokes to her that she isn't hugging or kissing him, is she? Alexis looks at him in all seriousness and says that she only hugs and kisses are parents. She then goes and gives him a great big hug, and you can tell how much Jon has missed his family. When they release from the hug, Alexis says to her dad that she misses him and that she wishes he wouldn't go away any more. Jon says to her that dad sometimes has to go away for work. She then walks off. It breaks your heart!

Toward the end of the episode, both Jon and Kate were together in an interview. Both keeping a distance between the other one. Their attitudes almost made it seem that the inevitable was going to happen, and clips of next week's episode of Kate and her daughter Cara traveling to California alone to relax while Jon stays home with the kids makes it seem like we are already watching Jon plus 8 or Kate plus 8. It is really sad to watch.

But, as everyone makes a great hoopla about Jon and Kate, we mustn't forget that these are real lives of real people. When the show is done taping for the day, the cold shoulders, grimacing smiles and glares of unresolved dislike don't go away. They just continue to fester.

It is my hopes and prayers that the children survive unscathed by all of this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This Old House

On Monday we closed on the house. It was a very exciting and scary time. Nice to know that we now own our own house, but still a little scary to know that we are putting out such a large sum of money.

Since then, Kev and I did a little bit of work on the place. He changed all of doorknobs, I cleaned off one of the ceilings and we both started to rip off some the trim in the bedroom so we could start to paint.

Well our Electrician came yesterday and did work on the house. I was impressed when Kev and I went to the house later to check out the progress and he pretty much had the whole house rewired.

But, I wasn't prepared for the shock of what our contractor did yesterday. I had to take some photos!

Here is our house with our cabinets sitting outside. Now, in our neck of the woods, this is kind of a typical sight.

And you wouldn't be surprised to find an old range sitting on a back porch either.

Just as a refresher, this is what the kitchen looked like before.

And here is that same kitchen now. They removed all of the cabinets, counter top, plaster walls, flooring, ceiling and...........

..........the wall between the living room and the kitchen.

Who knows what they will have done today when we go over this evening.