All The News That’s Fit To Print

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks around here. Vacation reentry almost did me in but I got through it and so did everyone else. We now have 3 more days of April and I might be jinxing myself by saying this but *whispers* so far, so good. (NO WHAMMIES!)

For me, things on the work front are going really well. I had my first day of work where I was really flying solo and it felt so good. There is a lot to do and lots I need to catch up with because things have been very loosey-goosey before now. But shit is inching ever closer to a line (as opposed to splattered on all four walls).

After a decade at home, it is amazingly fulfilling to me that I can go do a job, use my brain, and benefit someone’s business in a real and tangible way. Like, I had forgotton how good it feels. It’s a completely different thing from the satisfaction of taking care of a family and home. I think this is going to be a huge boost for me – not just financially but mentally as well.

So yeah, I like my job.

Liam has decided to take a break from Tae-Kwon Do. He’s been feeling very stressed with school – more than I realized and I feel so bad for that. He just had too much on his plate between TKD, band, chorus, school, etc, etc. He was strung out. So we took TKD off his plate. We set up some ways to help support him better with schoolwork. We had a talk about how the PPSAs are bullshit, they mean nothing, and we didn’t care how he did on them. In fact, we’ll probably opt him out next year. They cause him anxiety and he doesn’t need that.

Jamie continues to be his usual mercurial self. He’s starting to be able to read a bit but he’s not too confident with it yet. To be honest, I think he’s scared to make mistakes and that keeps him from attempting things sometimes. He just doesn’t ever want to be wrong. But! He’s made a speech breakthrough and it’s a BIG one. That pesky ‘k’ sound is suddenly coming out correctly more and more often on a spontaneous basis. He’s even correcting himself before I even have a chance to prompt him. I’m so damn proud of him. He’s been working on that sound since he was TWO. FOUR YEARS. And he’s getting it. He’s also starting to get ‘g’ but it’s not showing up as frequently as ‘k’ yet.

Scot is doing OK. Work has been stressful and spring storms have kicked his migraines into high gear. He’s had two rounds of Botox for the migraines with a third upcoming in June. If #3 doesn’t truly lessen the severity/frequency then we’ll be done with Botox treatment. I had such high hopes for it to work for him – he’s a good candidate! – but I have my doubts that round 3 will be a miracle cure.

Speaking of medical things – we FINALLY paid off all the medical debt we had from the Great Organ Removal Festival of 2014. It took us a full year to get it all paid off but it’s DONE. It’s such a weight off our shoulders as it was a huge drain on our already very strained budget. So, I am glad to have that done. However, that said, I have to say that we are very lucky. Over the course of 3 years, it took 2 job losses, 2 surgeries, a broken arm, and 4 hospitalizations for our budget to come to a point where we were truly in the red. Any one of those things could have been the tipping point for many, many families. We are so lucky that the combination wasn’t enough to break us.

Last but not least, I’m about start on the first of my final 3 classes for school. I have the book in hand, the courses have finally migrated and been put up for purchase, I’ve gotten access, and I’m ready to go. My original timeline of being done by June is out the window. No way, no how. But I’m taking these last three courses one at a time instead of in a group (for a lot of reasons) so I think I’ll be able to get through them a little more smoothly. Reimbursement Methodologies is first up – which dovetails nicely with my job.

All in all, life is very good. I’m tired and I’m still trying to figure out how to cram in all the things I need to do into the time I have. Despite that, I feel like I’m emerging from a protracted hibernation to a springtime full of possibilities.

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Houston, We Have A Problem

And that problem is that I had to leave Houston after four glorious days of vacation.

This past weekend I got a long awaited and even longer anticipated solo vacation. I left my family at home, hopped on a plane, and spent 4 days with with my best friend and her husband who live in Houston, Texas. This was part of my Christmas gift from Scot and BOY HOWDY, I needed it. It’s been four years since I had a vacation like this.

So, I hauled my ass out of bed at 4 am on a Friday morning so I could catch my flights to Texas. I was ticketed to fly Pittsburgh—>Boston—>Houston. Nothing like going east to go west. As I’m downstairs putting make up on my face and getting ready to leave for the airport, my phone rings. At 4:15 am. Who the hell is CALLING me?! It was a number I didn’t know but I answered it anyway.

“This call is an automated message for passenger Cari. Your USAirways flight from Pittsburgh to Boston has been…cancelled!” Click. The automated voice sounded excessively cheerful about this message to boot. Well, I started to panic. I was supposed to be switching airlines in Boston and if I couldn’t GET to Boston what the hell was I going to do?!

I called USAir and started talking with a rep about my problem and how we could fix it. We hemmed and hawed over this flight or that until we found something halfway workable. But one way or another, I was going to miss my connection in Boston and because I was switching airlines, I would have to call United to deal with that half of the mess. So, the rep went back into the ticket to start the rebooking process and said “Oh. I wonder who did that? You’ve been rebooked, all the way to Houston.”

Hallelujah. It turns out that the good folks at Pittsburgh airport automatically rebooked me through to my final destination. I left later (by about 30 min) but arrived in Houston earlier (by about an hour). I flew through Charlotte instead and did it all on USAir. By the time I logged on to the USAir website to check if I could get new boarding passes, the ticket change had gone through and I was able to get everything I needed. Crisis averted.

Also, it turns out that my original flight was cancelled due to lack of flight crew. Apparently the thunderstorms we had the night before must have stranded our scheduled crew somewhere other than Pittsburgh. Whoops.

Somewhere over the Eastern US.

Somewhere over the Eastern US.

And so I arrived in Houston around 11 am on a rainy Friday morning. I didn’t give two hoots about the rain, I was just happy to see my friends.

Friday was pretty low key. I had gotten up at a ridiculous hour and was not super energetic. So, Trista and I sat around talking and catching up while Dan was at work. I played with one of their kitties, Sappho, albeit from afar as I am VERY allergic. (Thank God for modern medicine or I would have been an allergy ridden mess the whole time.)

Catloaf with catnip ball. A Study.

Catloaf with catnip ball. A Study.

That night, they introduced me to Rob Thomas’ new show “iZombie.” Veronica Mars fans, rejoice! Rob Thomas is back and the new show is funny and great. And totally not gross and gory. As someone who is not really into the whole zombie phenomenon, I really liked the show. It’s on the CW – watch it!

Saturday we decided to head out for some fun. We started by hitting an indie bookstore called Murder By The Book – obviously a mystery/espionage themed bookstore. It was a great place to browse and I found a couple of books to buy. Next up on my “to be read” list!

After that we went to Karbach Brewing Company to drink beer and take the brewery tour. I tried three different beers – a saison (Barn Burner), a heffeweizen (Weisse Versa), and a blonde (Love Street). They were all *really* good. I think I liked the Love Street best, though. Trista and Dan tried a bunch of the darker stout types that Karbach makes. They were also very good – I tried them! – but were not my style. Generally, porters are as dark as I go.

But we had a great time drinking beer, shooting the shit, and seeing the brewery.

There were dogs EVERYWHERE at the brewery. This GSD was a perfect gentleman.

There were dogs EVERYWHERE at the brewery. This GSD was a perfect gentleman.

We decided on Thai food for lunch (yes, we drank before lunch. Texas knows how to drink!) and after we ate headed home to watch Johnny Dangerously. I discovered that Trista had never seen it and well, THAT couldn’t stand. After that it was nap time. That did NOT suck. NO SIR.

After waking and another delicious home cooked meal from Trista, Dan broke out Ticket to Ride and I *finally* got to play the game. So much fun! I also got my ass seriously kicked. Trista managed to make a 47-car long train which won her the longest train award. She basically wiped the floor with Dan and me.

Sunday Trista and Dan decided to introduce me to the ways in which Texas makes golf an actual enjoyable endeavor. They took me to Top Golf. Imagine a three story driving range. Now, instead of just whacking balls at vague yard lines, imagine that you have giant circular targets in the field below you. You whack the ball and try to get into the targets. You get points for every yard you make. With GPS tracked balls and a bunch of technology, all this is possible. Next, instead of a bare concrete pad, imagine the box facilities at a stadium. Couches. Tables. Waiters. Food. Booze. This, my friends, is Top Golf. And it did not suck. It took the walking out of golf, added booze and food, and turned it into FUN.

It was at Top Golf that I discovered my hidden super power.

I have never played golf. I caddied for my Dad a time or two. I’ve watched him. But I’ve never picked up clubs myself. Well, I picked up a club, stuck a ball on the tee and proceeded to whack it halfway across the driving range. I only got better with practice.

Needless to say, I wiped the floor with Trista and Dan.

But just hanging out, eating, drinking, and making fun of ourselves was the real fun. Trust me, I flubbed more than a few drives.

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Daniel at the tee.

After that? More naps! Oh naps, how I love thee.

Earlier that day, I’d discovered that Trista and Dan have never seen Penny Dreadful. Another thing that could not be allowed to stand. I mean, Dan WRITES horror for god’s sake! So after naps, I introduced them to Penny Dreadful. They liked it. Woot!

Also, I am neglecting to mention that Trista made roast duck for dinner and holy BALLS, that was delicious.

Then it was early to bed for I had to be early to rise the next morning. This flight was direct to Pittsburgh and hadn’t been cancelled so I thought “hey! I’m golden!”

Yeah, I wasn’t golden. The plane got held at the gate for passengers trying to make the connection from a previous flight. So we sat. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 40 minutes.

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This was my view for way too long.

Finally they said we could leave the gate. I never saw an extra passenger get on so we waited all that time for NADA. And by the time we were allowed to leave, this is the line we had to wait through:

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And there were more behind us:

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We eventually got off the ground though – 1 hr and 40 minutes LATE by then. We got into Pittsburgh about an hour late and then I raced home since Scot was solo parenting Jamie whilst working from home.

It was a great time and just what I needed. Nothing big, nothing fancy, nothing too taxing. Plenty of time for naps. All the relaxing ever. Good friends, good food, and great fun. I could not have asked for more.