Friday, May 27, 2011


VBS (Zane)
Basketball day-camp (Harper)
Boy Scout day-camp (Zane)
Rock Band 1 (Harper)
Art day-camp (Zane)
R.O.C.K activities (Harper)
Warrior Dash (George)
Beachbody Summit in LA (Joline)
Lost in Yonkers for two weekends (family effort)
Manitoqua week camp (Harper)
RUCKUS race (Joline)
Laser tag (per the kids request)
Drive-in movies
$1.00 movies (Wizard of Oz on the big screen)
Broadway (in the planning stages)
Ocean City, Md
Summer "home-school" (yep, Mom is already gathering material)

There will also be fire-fly catching, ice-cream truck tracking, deck-building, fishing, and lessons in tying one's shoes (Zane-boy).

We're ready. Bring it on.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Current Read: The Penderwicks

This book is simply delicious.

I really don't know any other way to describe it.

Add to the experience that we've been joined for our reading jaunts by Harper and Zane's honorary older sister - our delightful neighbor, (a writer herself), and you should just be down-right jealous.

Get this book. Gather the children. And feast.

It has been delightful story to read aloud. The characters are fantastic and I've enjoyed the challenge of making sure each sister sounds and acts differently than the others. After years of being forbidden from actually using voices for the characters, I was only recently (within the last two years) given the "thumbs up" to do so.  This ban was due to an unfortunate incident years ago when I scared the pj's off of Harper during a reading of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Seems this Mom was just too believable as the White Witch.


We will most definitely plan on continuing the series after adventuring through this first book!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pittsburgh Playhouse: Thumb's Up!

Date night.

Only, he doesn't like me to call it a "date" any longer.

But, he can't read this entire post, so he doesn't know won't hurt him.

Date night with Zane.

It was amazing.

I first found out about the Pittsburgh Playhouse through Groupon of all sites. For other than the show I'm currently rehearsing, and the professional touring companies coming through the city, (Billy Elliott is on its way!), I have been completely out of the theater loop.

Pittsburgh Playhouse may be just want the doctor ordered.

"Peter and the Wolf" has been a favorite of Zanes for years. He loves listening to "beautiful music" at night and has been lulling off to Patrick Stewart's soothing narration of the timeless story for several years now. When the chance to see an adaptation of the story live on stage showed up in my email box, I purchased.

The theater was easy to reach (except for a few close calls in the car as I navigated the craziness that is the city of Pittsburgh), parking is accessible and cheap at the hospital next door (only $4), tickets are surprisingly inexpensive for Playhouse Jr. productions ($7), and the theater itself? Awesome. 10 out of 10.

The lobby had a display of the costume, set, and lighting design for the current show and the next show, "Diary of Anne Frank" (yep, I already have plans to attend with Harper). The cafe is warm and friendly, and offers wonderfully priced items to sit and munch or sip before the show. The roaming actors prior to curtain was a HIT- especially because somehow we had first row seats, prime real estate for interaction.

First row.

Each character made their way around to Zane and chatted with him. Oh, to see his face.

Seriously. Theater is so much more magical than a Wii game.

The sets, costumes, blocking, choreography, and length of the show were all perfect for a children's production. And, there were just enough adult jokes (not THAT kind of adult joke) sprinkled in for me.

Afterwards, for $1, you could purchase a black & white cast photo to be signed by each actor.

Zane stood in line patiently. Shyly communicating with the players.

Until he reach her. The one he REALLY wanted to meet.

The Bird. His ultimate, hand's down, FAVORITE character in the production.

She was terrific - he knows his stuff.

He was speechless upon meeting her, so she signed his photo and we moved on. Only, I KNEW he wanted a photo with her and just couldn't work up the courage to ask.

Mama to the rescue.


To know that there is a playhouse of such quality available to my family adds yet another "I'm home" quality to living here in Pittsburgh. And, they don't only offer productions for children. The Playhouse also houses full blown Rep companies and a conservatory.

I'd LOVE to do children's theater of this quality.

Who knows. Maybe, at some point, I'll click the "audition" tab on their website . . . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

Matching Gift

So during the Lemonade Benefit for the Hero Program, I casually threw out over FB that I would love for someone to match the total brought in at the end of the day.

Sure, it would be cool.

I didn't really pursue it.  Just prayed that perhaps someone reading the accounts of the day would feel compelled to give.

Our total was $220.

Then another $5.00 came in.

And another $10.00 today.


I can't not adequately describe how I am feeling.

Thank you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Who Needs a Radius and Ulna, Anyway?

Loot from Beaver Community Yard Sale per Harper and Zane.

As sales came in at our house (they chose to sell a bunch off stuff), Harper and Zane decided to take a bit of their earnings and walk the neighborhood without me (GASP!)

Zane comes walking home at one point along with a personal courier who is holding a large black garbage bag that I was sure contained some sort of  legoy, playmobily, an awful lotta small pieces type of toy. Yep. For $2.00 Zane is now the proud owner of some dinosaur camp. I don't know. I simply found a bin for it and dumped it in for proper storage in the play room.

Then there was the:

Small pottery wheel kit (Harper)
Crystal-Making Kit (Zane)
Spin-Paint (Zane)
Laser-Gun (Zane - no real lasers . . . just cool sounds)

And . . .

(As if we are even entertaining putting Harper on such a thing after the twice broken arm.)

A snowboard.

You heard me.

No, it's not anything to admire. It's a plastic deal.

But, it is, indeed, a snowboard.

And, in true Harper form, she connected her feet and started attempting jumps.

My response?

"Get the crap away from the hill!!!!"

Mom isn't ready to risk anymore broken bones right now.

Best sale/non-purchase of the day?

Zane, not "feeling" the Nerf cross-bow in which he invested a few weeks back, sold it, taking a huge loss. Well, I knew this, but he didn't. And since I didn't pay for the thing - whatever.

And then, at the end of the day, as the children on our street gathered for a Nerf war, I mentioned to one of the older warriors that Zane had sold his weapon that day.

"Oh, he can just have this one. I have several."

Zane now has a *new* Nerf gun. He still wants to invest in one that is green, but the glee he felt being given a Nerf gun from one of the older guys????

Worth the loss he took on the prior sale.

I've now written two posts about today. I couldn't have loved it more.

(And neighbor on the way with a Trader Joe order . . . sigh. Really. Good. Day.)

Best Mother's Day Gift EVER. Seriously.

Sure, I could get a gift card.

Or jewelry.

A spa treatment.

Been there. Done that.

I've NEVER, however, been given THIS.

As a volunteer with the Hero Program, I write press releases, letters, and do some light fundraising. I've learned how to write grants, and I also get the chatter going on the Hero Program FB wall. Words.

Words. Words. Words.

Nothing wrong with those words.

But, just yesterday, I was informed that one of the children supported by the Hero Program is being denied treatments that can greatly increase the length and quality of her life. Insurance paid for only 2 out of the 10 medically recommended treatments for Leah, who, along with her sister, has Dravet Syndrome. The cost of each treatment? $55,000. Yeah, cause we all have cash like that stuffed under mattresses.

This kind of situation revs me up. When medical professionals are in support of treatments, only to have the insurance company deny them, I get mad.

And then, I get moving.

I shared with Harper and Zane about the situation and asked if they would like to help by donating proceeds from a yard sale we were planning

"Let's do a lemonade stand, Mom."

Harper. God love her.

So, she, Zane, and our neighbor, Missy started at 9:00, when it was still chilly, and threatening rain. There wasn't time to make a sign, but we were set with Hero bracelets (want one?) and brochures. As yard sale goers do, many just peeked at what we had to sell, ignored the jumping children holding a sign, and kept on moving.

Harper wanted to give up, "Nobody is paying attention to us."

"Well, figure out another way. Find another way."

That's when the umbrellas came out. A basket filled with Hero bracelets and brochures was packed up, and off they went on foot. To crash other yard sales.

After hoofing it, and bringing in quite a few donations, the sun came out. We decided to change locations, get the lemonade crankin', and picked up two more volunteers.

Briefed on the situation, the extra boys flagged people down and then Harper gave the presentation.

As I continued manning our yard sale down the street, a woman approached me.

"Are you Joline?"


"Thank you. I'm Leah's Mom. I saw your post on the Hero FB wall and my husband and I decided to come over and say hello. We introduced ourselves to your children."

I hugged her. And cried.

What else was there to do????

You gotta know that I've not met ANY children supported by the Hero Program and only 1 other parent, so now, meeting Leah's parents, helped me see that the families are not just words . . . they are flesh.

As the afternoon continued, the group of kids offering to help, increased. A rap was conceived. The Macarena was performed curbside. The final total for donations?

$220 and change.

Anyone wanna match it?

Happy Mother's Day.

I received the joy of watching my kids run and problem-solve the Lemonade Benefit, along with sunshine, and steam-cleaned carpets (thank you, George).

Why would I want anything else?