Category Archives: kennywood

Still Alive…Barely

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How In the hell did it get to be mid-September already? This month has been flying by, and I can’t seem to catch my breath. My birthday was the 1st, and starting that day, I have been working crazy long hours to get a project done. There’s nothing quite like spending the evening of your birthday working until 2:00 am. The only worse birthday is when you have to work late AND your husband forgets. Oh yeah.

The project finally finished up on Friday and I was all set to have a weekend filled with naps, but we all know that didn’t happen – the kids keep me running.

Friday, we went to our high school’s first home game to see the boy march with the band. Our school in small so they let 7th grade and up participate in marching band. Of course, being a lowly seventh grader, he has to bide his time before getting a chance on the coveted snare and is currently paying his dues on the cymbals. I have no doubt he will get what he wants next year, though, seeing as how he is constantly drumming. On one hand? Yay for practicing. On the other? Loud! Drums!

Regardless, I was very proud of him:

Also – for anyone thinking that the marching band is dorky or nerdy: He loves it. He is having a shitload of fun, going a ton of fun places, hanging with his friends, learning a lot, and probably the biggest thing he loves about the band: Girls. There are lots of cute girls in the band. Older, cute girls. And they’re texting him and hugging him and giving him cutesy nicknames. He’s in heaven.

(Oh – and the first one of you that makes the “band camp” joke gets a pox on your house. That’s my baby we’re talking about)

Oh, and speaking of being proud (and also a little late) – a couple weeks ago, the girl sang Over the Rainbow on stage in front of about 600 people. Dressed as Dorothy. I seriously need to get her involved in some sort of theater program because this kid loves performing. She’s not shy, she isn’t afraid of an audience, and lord knows she’s dramatic. I am clueless about these things, though, so if you know of a local program, let me know.

Anyway, behold the cuteness:

So back to this weekend. After the game Friday night, we had to get to bed early because the boy had to be back in town with the band at 7:30 am to play at our local “great race” 5k. Rapunzel picked him up and dropped him off for me so I didn’t have to drag my lazy fat ass off the couch the girl out in the cold, drizzly morning. I gave him money so he could treat Rapunzel’s son to McDonald’s afterward, which would kill two birds with one stone – fueling up two growing boys and prolonging my fat ass couch time the girl’s sleep.

But then he called me to tell me that instead of playing with the band, he used the money I gave him to register for the race and would be running. So now, I had to drag my lazy ass out wake up the girl and get down there to a) see it in person, and b) take photos. Because I gotta tell you, my kid is not exactly a runner. Before we hung up, he asked me if I would be running, too.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! HOHOOOOHEEEheeeheh. Hm.

Let me just interrupt myself for a public service announcement. I don’t run. Even when I was in great shape and an athlete, I didn’t run. So now? Running? Noooooooooo.

So here’s the public service part:

If you ever see me running? RUN.

Don’t stop and look, don’t ask questions, don’t think about it – just run. If I am running, there is a reason, and it’s one you don’t want to face –I assure you.

You’re welcome.

Anyway – he didn’t break any land speed records, but he finished, which is something given his genetic predisposition added to the fact that not only was he not wearing running clothes, but he was wearing marching band shoes. Clunky, boxy band shoes. Look how thrilled he looks:

The girl and I then went to the finish line, where she spent exactly 16 minutes being excited and waiting for her brother to “win the race.” Then she lost interest and went to the playground instead:

That night the boy had yet another band function, which we missed because we had a 40th birthday party to go to. Once again, Rapunzel was awesome and picked him up.

Sunday morning, the kids and I met up with Rapunzel, her son and another friend and headed to Kennywood. It was a great day for it – low crowds and short lines and great weather. Except for lunch time when we baked in the glaring sun while waiting for Potato Patch fries. That part sucked.

Oh, and also Noah’s Ark. Seriously, What the Fuck, Kennywood? They ruined Noah’s Ark. It was the longest line we waited in all day. I could have gone on my favorite ride – the Pitfall – 6 times in the time it took to get on Noah’s Ark. You locals surely will remember the Noah’s Ark of yore – it was a walk on – never a line. Now – BIG, LONG LINE. Instead of walking in, you have to go on in small groups because there is an “elevator” room (which, come ON Kennywood – this is no Haunted Mansion). So you stand there and wait and wait and fidget and listen to the kids whine for an hour before you get on. And it sucks. And the ride is stupid now. Not that it was ever NOT stupid, but at least it used to make sense – it was Noah’s Ark – you saw animal on an ark. Duh. (and walked in through the whale’s mouth, but at least the Jonah – Noah connection made a little sense). Now, you go into a mine elevator or something. Then you walk through an area with glass floors and skeletons beneath you. Then you get to a section with Noah and the animals, then you head into a room with funhouse mirrors and lights (oh, how I wanted a photo of myself in the “skinny” mirror), and then finally, you’re on some kind of leaky submarine. What in the name of Jacques Cousteau does any of this have to do with Noah’s Ark? Fuck if I know.

Although, admittedly, Noah’s Ark did give us the best laugh of the day. When you get to the glass floor section, there are “beams” and circles made of concrete, so it looks like there is no floor beneath you. The huge guy in front of us thought you had to walk on those and was balancing and half falling and contorting himself to stay on so he didn’t fall in. Then, the even better part – this section is in a square, with a door in one wall to continue to the next section. It looks like this:

So, the first time, we are following the guy in front and we are so busy watching him balance on the beams, that we miss the door. So we go around and realize we went in a circle. The last people in our group are just getting through, so we let them go, and we are laughing and talking (out loud) about how we went in a circle. We let the line go by and then we start around the circle again, this time going through the door to move on. But balancing guy and all the people behind us continue to go around the circle! When you get to the funhouse room they stop you until the whole group catches up before they let you in the submarine room. We waited five minutes until they caught up. Apparently, the entire group spent five whole minutes going around that same tiny circle before the figured it out. It was awesome.

I have no photos of the boy from Kennywood, which is sad, but he was either a) not with us, or b) being a shit:

Finally, last night, amidst the chaos of scout ceremonies and baton practices and dinner and baths and ban meetings, I discovered that my ATM card has gone missing. Awesome. Oh – and I discovered it as I was buying stuff for our trip this weekend, so I had to have the woman hold the stuff so I could come back. So way too late, I was driving back to the mall to get it. And I wrote a check and handed over my license and the girl says, “Did you know your license is expired?” Yay me. I’m getting on a plane in 3 days. I told mr b about it this morning, saying that I I hope I can get my new one quickly enough and I can’t believe I missed the expiration and don’t they usually send something and he replies, “They did send something. I put it up in the cabinet.” Blink. Blink. Are you kidding me? He never told me it was there and then basically hid it! He’s awesome.

Tell ‘Em Bela!

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OK, so let’s get this out of the way first – I want to punch Olympic Gymnastics in the face. The whole damned thing is pissing me of this year. I don’t presume to know everything about gymnastics or gymnastics judging, but 12 years in the sport has taught me enough to know that there is some serious bullshit going on. First off, we have the too young gymnast from China. I mean – a couple of them look a bit young to me, but He Kexin is a joke. I don’t give a fuck what documents china produced for her. And the IOC or FIG, or whomever, is full of shit if they think we’re buying that they’re buying it. The girl competed in a meet last year that required her to be younger. So she was either illegal there or illegal here. The laws of physics pretty much make it clear. So even if she was cheating there and is legal here – she’s a cheater, and China’s a cheater, and the fucking IOC is a cheater for looking the other way.

Next up – the judging. What the Fuck??? I don’t want to go so far as to say the judges are biased, but COME ON! The scoring has been so lopsidedly in favor of the Chinese over the US that it’s hard not to be a bit suspicious. I’m sorry, but when a girls who are falling and making mistakes worthy of major (.5, etc) deductions are beating girls who were near perfect or only had minor deductions, something is not right.

And the new scoring system. Not only does it alienate fans by being completely confusing and taking away the old “gold star” of the perfect 10, but the gymnasts and coaches themselves don’t even seem to really understand it. And the confusion, along with the nature of the system itself open the doors for a great deal of fuckery. Subjective sports walk a line to begin with, but this is worse. Fuckery, I say.

And what the holy hell is with the “no ties” rule? If there is a tie, there is a tie. The tiebreaker procedure is a joke. They may as well just flip a fucking silver yuan and call it a day.

And this isn’t just sour grapes – I’d feel the same way regardless of the country getting screwed – it’s not a vendetta against China – their divers are so far above the US, it’s not even funny. And those Chinese gymnast are great. But there is some fuckery going on.

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Anyway. If I’m sounding crabby, it’s because I am. Mr. b has been sitting in front of his computer dicking around on napster for hours. And it’s not that it bothers me that he’s doing it, it’s the fucking music that I hate. And the fact that he feels the need to play it at full volume. He’s a music snob. He can’t seem to accept that there are certain types of music that I don’t like. He thinks it’s not a matter of taste, but a matter of choice. He likes Jazz. I hate it. I mean HAAAAAAAAATE. And he feels that it is music for the smart or classy or educated or some other such nonsense. I, on the other hand, think that I would rather listen to a hardcore rap about putting a cap in a bitch than listen to 5 seconds of cool jazz or fusion or anything of the sort. But he thinks if he keeps trying to push it on me, I’ll somehow like it – like I’ll wake up and say, Ahhhh…I get it. But it’s not that I don’t get it. It’s that I don’t like it. Instead, all his pushing does is make me think about hitting him in the head with the white hot poker that I want to shove into my ears to get away from the fucking NOISE!

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So we went to Kennywood on Thursday and – as predicted – the weather sucked balls. Just as we were about to pack it in, though (after hanging out in the pouring rain for quite a while), it cleared up and got sunny. So, a lot of the crowds had taken off and it turned out to be a decent night. Minus a couple incidents.

We were letting the boys go on some rides alone. They would get on the ride and call us as son as they were getting off so they could meet us again. And once, they took off without the phone. So when they got off the ride, they panicked. They did the right thing and found an officer, who in turn called me. Of course I felt like the world’s worst mother. Then a couple hours later, they ran into a group of three friend while getting on a ride (as an aside – WTF is with three? Why would you take three kids to an amusement park? That’s a recipe for disaster). Anyway, they ran into these three friends – one boy and two girls – and the boy asked my boy’s friend to ride with him. So he did, and the girls rode together and guess who got left out? If it had just been the one ride, no big deal. But the two kids got on an earlier train and didn’t wait for the boy. So he was alone and his friend had the cell phone. So we spent the next hour trying to find him, with me panicking. I found out that he was with the two girls, so I realized that he wasn’t totally alone, which made me feel better, but I was pissed that he got ditched. I don’t think his friend meant to do it maliciously, but the fact is –you dance with the one who brung ya. If their asses had been in the same seat, it wouldn’t have happened. After that stress, there was no more going off alone for them, needless to say. And once I knew he was safe, all I could think was thank god I didn’t get another call from the Kennywood Police.

I woke up Friday exhausted and sore. I’m not sure when riding roller coasters became exercise, but apparently it is, because my body hurt. Part of it was from riding the Thunderbolt with a stranger and her being on the “squish side”, so I was holding on and bracing myself to keep from smashing her flat.

The girl loved it this year. She has been pretty intimidated in years past, but this year, she wanted to ride almost everything. Which bodes well for Disney this year (45 days – woo!). She was waiting for one kiddie ride that I didn’t want to ride on and I was glad she wanted to go by herself. But I started to feel bad because all the other mothers were going on. So I got in line with her. When we got on and strapped in, she noticed another (older) kid riding alone and kicked my ass off the ride. And I was happy. Because look at what the other mothers looked like on Tiny Barfarama (Jen – I know you know what I am talking about):

I only got to ride the Pitfall once, but otherwise, it was a good day.

Oh – also – I broke my toe on Saturday. It was not a good day.

More photos:

The Turtle:

Kiddie Swings:

The boy and his hat, which makes me want to kill myself:

Handsome:

Getting her face painted:

My poor toe:

And now, to wash that ugliness out of your mind – something seriously beautiful:

Anniversary

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Tomorrow is our community day at Kennywood, and of course there is rain in the forecast. It has rained on our community day every year since the beginning of time. I’m hoping it stays away completely or at least is quick. It’s too hard to reschedule when I have 5 kids to worry about (not all mine, of course), and I’ve called off work and the tickets are purchased. I’ll take ponchos and as long as we can get a chance to ride everything (my SIL is coming, so I will get a chance to ride the Pitfall once or twice (or 600 times), and we get our fries with cheese or gravy and I get my corn dog and a square ice cream (suck it Florine), and I play the one game that I am good at (that roll the bowling ball one) and win everyone a prize, I’ll be happy.

Community day is held around the same time every year and in the past few years, I find myself getting a little anxious around this time. I usually just brush it off as anticipation and nostalgia, but I realized today that while Kennywood holds so many happy memories for me, it also represents one not so happy one.

Four years ago, I was at Kennywood he I got the call that mr b had had his accident. I will never forget the feeling of being so happy, riding and playing and eating (in the rain, of course) and then going immediately into a nightmare. When I got the call, I wasn’t even sure if he was going to survive – they don’t give you too much over the phone. What I would find out later was that he had fallen 25 feet and shattered his feet – every single bone. His heel bones were in so many – and so small – pieces that there was nothing to repair. His feet were swollen to the size of watermelons. I called my mom to meet me and get the kids and I rushed off to the hospital. It was a day that started off great and then turned in to months of worry and fear and grief.

Mr b recovered, of course, but not completely and not without a lot of pain. He spent time in a nursing home, while I tried to hold things down at home with a 7 year old and an infant, all the while trying to hold it together. I rushed from home to daycare to work to the nursing home (often stopping for decent food so mr b wound’s have to eat the home food), then to pick up the kids, then home, then had to deal with homework and diapers and dinner and baths. I took the kids to see me b as often as I could. I barely stayed afloat emotionally. I remember breaking down one day while I took the garbage out in the pouring rain. It had to be done right then and I had no choice. I was already on the verge and then I looked up to see my fuckhead neighbors watching me, and it was too much. I sat down in the rain in my good work clothes and cried, while the kids were inside, clueless.

I thought it would be easier when mr b finally came home, but I was wrong. Because now, in addition to doing everything, I had to learn how to give him shots. And how to fight with doctors offices and insurance companies. And how to work a borrowed wheelchair van and lift and restraints. And once his feet didn’t need to be constantly elevated, how to maneuver a wheelchair in and out of the trunk of our car without hurting myself. And how to clean wounds and hospital beds and portable toilets.

I learned how very few places are truly wheelchair accessible. I learned how humiliating it is for a grown man to be turned away, or to be carried or to patronized. I learned that there are a lot of assholes who borrow grandma’s wheelchair tag to get a close spot at Macy’s.

I tried to hide my worries about money, since mr b was already feeling so bad, but man, did I worry. He got workers comp, but it was only a fraction of his salary. And the biggest problem was that he had taken a job at a lower wage than he wanted because he really needed it and because there was a ton of overtime. So we were getting not only a fraction of his salary, but a fraction of about 65% of his salary. And we were just in the process of getting out of the hole that having a business created when he took the job. It was rough. And we didn’t know what was to become of his career. It was clear that he would never be a carpenter again. He had a degree and a good bit of experience to fall back on, but he had always defined himself by his job (something I was always telling him he shouldn’t do), so it was a hard thing for him to deal with.

We struggled financially. We struggled physically – him because of his injuries (which were massive – the worst that the surgeons had ever seen and largely inoperable) and the eventual learning to walk again and me just simply from doing all the heavy lifting (both literally and figuratively). We struggled emotionally. He was already depressed and now he was depressed and angry. I was suffering from PPD and now I was depressed and angry. But somehow, we made it – we didn’t really have a choice. We had two kids to take care of and during that time, we learned to lean on each other more than ever.

In some sick way, I miss that time a little – not the pain and misery, but the way we appreciated each other and grew together. So I don’t mind the little reminder once a year – it would serve me well to remember that I could have lost him and would serve him well to remember how I supported him. He will always walk with a pronounced limp, and sometimes I drop behind him a little so I can take it in and realize what we have overcome and remind myself that we can get through anything that comes our way.

So if you’re in an amusement park tomorrow and see a limping man with his wife walking a few feet behind you’ll know who they are.