17 08 2010

Sandcastle Water Park – Pittsburgh

Cost: $29.99 for Adults ($23.99 after 3pm) ; $19.99 riders under 48″ ($18.99 after 3pm) – you can also get discounted tickets ($23.99 adults) at Giant Eagle

Hours: Most weekdays, 11am-6pm. Weekends

Since I’ve never been to Sandcastle, and have lived here my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE, my friends Burghseyewife and Shellrenee treated me to a day at Sandcastle in return for watching the two boys one night while they get to go out. Uh…. Who wins here? Them, me or the boys? We’re still confused.

I stayed over at the BEV Lounge with everyone so that we could get up early and be there when the park opened.

I used some super duper ninja moves on the boys to make them quiet and watch one another’s movies, aka “if you don’t quiet down and watch ‘this’ movie, I won’t go to Sandcastle tomorrow.” That got them down & out pretty quick.

I’ve only been to the Sandbar at Sandcastle. At night. And it was strange. Like stranger-danger strange. I went once and never desired to (nor do I today) go back.

But we had a BLAST!! It really wasn’t crowded, surprisingly, and the wait time in line wasn’t terrible.

Unfortunately, I cannot link to each slide individually, so go here. And find what I’m talkin’ about.

We did not do the big body slides. No way you’re getting me up that high on stairs and balconies anymore. But we did go on the Boardwalk Blasters, which was fun.

We all loved, no, LOVED, the Blue Tubaluba.  It was crazy. It’s an enclosed slide for the most part. Dark. Sometimes very dark…. Then you pop out into light and get hit with a small waterfall…. Then go back to dark. And you’re slipping and sliding everywhere!!!

I went down once or twice alone, then once each with each of the boys. I got yelled at by the boys to not yell while I went into the dark. Sorry, boys.

I have no idea which one we went on first. It was either Thunder Run or Tubers Tower.  I just know I felt like the tube I was on was going to fly off the edge of the slide thingy and send me to my death. I am not kidding.

All of the tube slides were super fun… And, I’ll be honest, I really did love riding the double tubes with the boys. And I’m very happy I got to them with both boys.

We did try the wave pool, but it was too crowded and we didn’t bother to wait for the waves.

The food is decently priced. I had a cheeseburger, fries & drink for $8. And an ice cream cone that was $2.

Overall Grade: B. (Because after walking around all day on cement and that composite deck material is really painful. That and the overall price to get in.) I’d definitely go back again next summer if I can.


North Shore Water Steps

17 08 2010

North Shore Water Steps – North Side

Cost: Free!

Hours: No set hours, but I’d assume “daylight”

So on Sunday, I met Burghseyewife, Shellrenee and the boys at the North Shore Water Steps, part of the North Shore Riverfront Park. The plan was to meet there, go to the BEV Lounge and then, on Monday we were going to Sandcastle.

Of course, I’d never been to the North Shore Water Steps… Of course! Just walked by on the way to Pirate or Steelers games.

None of the adults got entirely into the water. But I’m apparently obsessed with getting my hair wet (it’s super refreshing, y’all) and stuck my head under one of the little rock waterfalls. Approximately 3,000 times. And the boys seemed to have a great time.

We then walked down towards the Carnegie Science Center, in hopes of seeing the submarine. We had a snack at the Riverview Cafe (which has no view of the river, FYI) and then walked onto the sub. And we were approximately 4 minutes before closing. Also, FYI – admission is $5 and you can just go to the sub and pay the $5.

So we walked back to the cars, and went back to the BEV Lounge to retire for the night.

North Shore Water Steps Overall Grade: B (it’s not bad, but it’s shallow, and it really is fun to walk around and dunk your head under the tiny waterfalls.)

Birthday Card…

12 08 2010

Today I picked up the mail (strangely at 11:45am, rather than the usual 4-5pm, which makes me think my neighbor did what he sometimes does… pick up the mail – yesterday- and take it with him on his walk through the neighborhood… no really. I’ve seen him carrying our building’s mail around the ‘hood. uh…. and then he brings it back to the building and sorts it out for us. I live in a strange place, y’all…)


The card Lili said she sent to me arrived. She’s such a sweetie. The card from her and NE was so nice. And she sent me $. I’ll beat the crap outta her later for that, since we agreed two years ago at no giftys for birthdays since we’re two days apart – and used to send one another the same dang thing – Target gift cards…) Also, I love my sister, and we both love Target. Deal with it.

And I’m apparently not used to having Little C around, because I totally forgot that I’d be getting a card for my birthday from my niece. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME???

But, after I looked at Lili & NE’s card, and saw something else in the envelope, I pulled out this….

Be jealous. (Who am I kidding, I’m jealous of myself right now after getting this.)

XOXO, you guys!!!! I have a feeling Lili held Little C up to the cards and let her pick one. I bet it was the party hat that made her pick it. And the flowers. 🙂

But then I opened it up. And cried my face off in my car:

That is Little C saying Happy Birthday, Aunt Claire!!!

And all those colors mean, I love you and I miss you!!! Party on!!!!

And, you guys, she not only left her *mark* on the inside cover, the card sentiment, but also:

I'm taking this to mean, I love you so much, and get your butt down here so I can hug and kiss you... But I could be wrong... (I think I'm right...)

That’s the back of the card, kids. I checked the front again, to see if she left a “mark” there as well, but no. Lili must have only given her the other 3 sides of the card…

Good grief, I love that little squirt! I’m the luckiest Aunt on the planet – my baby lady has MAD CRAYOLA skillz, yo!!!!!

Oh, and today’s Sesame Street video? Big Bird, Snuffalupagus and Elmo. D: Dance. (I’d do walk to Florida right NOW to see Little C dance the moves they have…. OMG.)


Wave Pool.

12 08 2010

Hard to believe, but I had never been to a wave pool before. Until today.

Settler’s Cabin Wave Pool – Oakdale

Cost: $5 for adults; $4 ages 13-17; $3 ages 6-12; $1 ages 0-5

Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:30am – 7:30pm

I had no idea what to expect from a wave pool. Apparently I live under a rock or something.

The wave pool is, in one word, AWESOME.

We lucked out again and went on an overcast day so it wasn’t very busy. It did start pouring at one point, and we had to leave the pool and hang out by the locker areas. But eventually it cleared up and it was a beautiful day. The rain also made most of the people who were there leave, so when we were allowed back in the pool, it was even less crowded than before. (Seriously, there were maybe 25 people there.)

The wave pool looks just like a regular pool, but then this horn sounds and the waves start. OMG, it is FUN!

They also rent the inner tubes at the wave pool. $4. It is so wonderful to float on a tube while the waves are going. Ahhhh…

There is no baby pool, and I didn’t see very many small children. I would imagine that the waves would knock little ones over – they knocked me over in the shallow end two or three times.

There is also a separate diving pool with four springboards and a three or four level platform. (And no, I didn’t go on the platform. Just watching kids on the 10m level made me anxious.)

There is a concession stand, with similar things as there were at North Park (both are Allegheny County Parks Department pools.)

Overall Grade: A

Up next in the pool review sessions? SANDCASTLE!!! And no, I’ve never been there before.

Island? Not so much…

11 08 2010

Sometimes, the number of “Friends” I have on Facebook, or people who follow me or I follow on Twitter catches my eye. (I know some people hate those number things, but I notice it, offhand, sometimes.)

And I pause for a moment…

Do I REALLY know that many people? How in the world do I know that many people?

Do that many people really care what I have to say or how I feel? Really, some of them don’t. But a lot of them do….

Wow. Just WOW.

The number of people who said they’d pray for or send NE and Lili good thoughts for his surgery? Stunning.

The number of happy birthday wishes I received on Saturday? Unbelievable.

The ladies I know who trust me to look after their kids? (Including today, when @TwinMamaTeb let me take her baby lady in the big kids pool? One of the best times, EVER! Her kids? Rock. She’s lucky I didn’t try to take them home… Her boy did try to NOT. LET. GO. Also, heart melt.) And the other times people have done that? I’m honored by it. Really.

I know, I sound all mushy and feely and whatever.

I’ve always been the girl who takes care of herself. (thank you, rugby. I can tackle when I have to!) I’ll walk/drive anywhere on my own. I’m not afraid of much at all…

Singledom? Sucks.

And, not having a job is the worst thing ever.

Plus, my family isn’t here. And I miss them so much. No, SO ASKDFL(IEWOP;DCN MUCH. I sort of always felt like my own little island here in Pittsburgh. All by myself.

I was kinda okay with that. For years. Many, many years…

But when I see my friends, and after Saturday night and then remember all of those prayers and birthday wishes? My heart soars! And I realize how blessed I am to have another “family” here in Pittsburgh.

I am truly grateful for the people I know here in Pittsburgh. And as such, you should click on the link below, so that Cookie Monster can tell you what I want to tell you all.

Howdy doo!

Me love you.

Pool time.

10 08 2010

So, earlier in the summer I started meeting Burghseyewife at the pool in the afternoons. Recently, we decided to try out some other pools. And since we Tweet about it all the time, someone said we should write reviews. We laughed it off, but after today’s debacle, I decided I should do this. Also, I was out of ideas for a blog post. So, here we go.

Moore Park – Brookline

Cost: $4 ages 16 and over; $3 ages 3-15

Hours: Monday – Friday 1pm – 7:45pm; Saturday & Sunday 1pm – 5:45pm

This is the pool we go to the most. Occasionally accompanied by Shellrenee and varying numbers of children. For $4, it’s a good deal. There are three small slides (which can hurt when someone my size goes down them) and a roped off deep end. They also have lap swimming from 5-6pm.

The only drawbacks to this pool is that there is no grass to sit on. Just a cement patio type thing. Also, there is no concession stand, but you can bring in whatever you want – we saw a family bring in buckets of KFC one day. There is also no separate baby pool, but the shallow end is not very deep and little kids seem to be just fine up there.

Overall Grade: B (mostly for the lack of grass and tiny slide)

Avonworth Community Pool – Avonworth

Cost: $6 for adults; $5 for kids over age 2; $3 after 5pm; $2 for Wed. 8-10pm

Hours: Monday – Saturday. 11:30am – 7:30pm; Sunday 11:30am – 7pm; also open Wednesday from 8-10pm.

We met some Twitter friends here the other day. Besides being a tad on the expensive side for a few hours at the pool and being a bit far away for Burghseyewife and I, it’s a good pool. There is a decent sized slide and there is a diving board. There is also a separate, fenced in baby pool that the little kids with us seemed to love.

They also have a concession stand, and the prices were not bad. But we also found out that some things are “smaller” than at other pools with concessions – more individual sized as opposed to food the size of your head (ex: warm pretzels & funnel cake).

Really the only drawback besides having our friends in the gated baby pool area while we were seated by the slide (which does NOT matter, really) was the grass. It was super dry and had all kinds of rocks & pebbles in it and was so painful to walk on.

Overall Grade: C (mostly for the cost, distance and the stupid rocky grass)

North Park Pool – North Hills

Cost: $5 for adults; $4 ages 13-17; $3 ages 6-12; $1 ages 0-5

Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:30am – 7:30pm

This pool is enormous. I went and tried to swim laps one night. Yeah, I nearly passed out halfway across. I made it across, rested for a long time, and then back, and said “forget this lap thing!”

I love this pool because it has multiple roped off areas, including multiple lap lanes. Occasionally those are reserved for a swim team practice, but not often. (I’ve been here a few times – weekdays and weekends)

There is a separate baby pool, with one of those mushroom fountain things in the middle. All the kids that we went with last week seemed to love the baby pool.

This pool also has a really awesome slide. Really. We loved it. ALL of 8 of us that went last week.

There is also a concession stand, and the food that comes out of it is the size of your head. Burghseyewife’s kid got chicken fingers & fries. Three giant chicken fingers and an entire paper basket of fries. Three of us tore into that food and made a small dent. Small. Prices aren’t bad.

The bonus here is that they also have inner tubes you can rent. Big yellow ones. They are $5 to rent, but you get $1 back when you return it.

I really can’t think of much that is wrong with this pool. It helped that we were there early on an overcast day and the pool was empty. And it only started getting a tiny bit busy when we were all getting ready to leave.

I know, I grew up in the North Hills area – just down the road for a while – but I had never gone to this pool until this summer. So I’m not biased from going there my whole life.

Overall Grade: A

Dormont Pool – Dormont

Cost: $5.50 ages 19-64; $4 ages 3-18 and 65+

Hours: Daily: noon – 8pm

I think we’ve all heard the amazing things about the Dormont Pool. They closed it, and the community rallied around it and it’s now open again. And it’s also enormous. But I will never go to this pool again.

The problems began when we walked towards the pool. Burghseyewife’s son, N, and I walked directly from where we set up camp to the pool. We were immediately stopped by the nearest lifeguard who asked if N had passed his deep test. Huh? N, being a good kid, said, “No, not here.” And we were told he had to pass the deep test.

(Point of Information: I’ve gone swimming with N approximately ellebentybillion times this summer. I’ve never – not even in Avonworth’s 12ft deep diving area – worried about his swimming to me or his mom. NEVER. And we all know I LOVE kids and worry about my small friends all the time.)

Okay, fine, so we moved to the “shallow end” – which, I have to add, is as deep as where we tried to enter the “deep end.”

We made our way to the slide, which at this pool is in the MIDDLE of the pool. Kinda neat. We get to the top, and N is measured by this post, that I swear is somewhere near 5′ tall. And N is too short. So again, he’s asked if he passed the deep test. He says no, so back down the stairs we go to find Burghseyewife and get this test sorted out.

So we go to First Aid and ask for the test. The “test” is that he has to swim across the pool and back. And he can rest on the other side. Not a problem. Except that he MUST, I repeat MUST swim freestyle and his arms must leave the water entirely. Huh?

What happened to treading water to within an inch of your life? That’s what we did when I was a kid. (A zillion years ago, I know.)

Are we testing to join a swim team? No? Didn’t think so.

So N gave it a try. Personally, I thought he wasn’t doing too bad. Yes he swam off course… who doesn’t do that if you aren’t a competitive swimmer? Or if you’re used to swimming laps along a lane (lane wasn’t roped off, btw.) But if you’re EIGHT years old? Understandable. The lifeguard jumped in about 1/3 of the way across. And told him to come back tomorrow and try again. Not likely.

I totally get WHY they wanted a swim test. But I don’t think I could have swam across that pool and back without getting off the lane since it wasn’t marked, or nearly dying mid-pool! (It’s about the same width as North Park, and you read how that worked out for me…)

The other issues I have was that the floor of the pool was gross. Dirty. Sand, dirt, rocks etc. And very uneven. I know a pool of that size is ridiculous to care for. I get it. But all the hype I heard, and the overzealous lifeguards made it just not fun.

They do have a concession stand, and the prices aren’t bad – I had a “Combo” of a hot dog, large fries (not very large) and a Coke. $4.50. Good deal, I think, especially since they had Coke. In CANS. I love my pop in cans vs. fountain or bottles. (I’m a pop freak. I know.)

There is also no separate baby pool, but the good thing about this pool is there is no “ledge” to get in/out. The whole thing, except the end of the deep end, slopes. There is also one of those mushroom fountain thingies, and a nifty looking volleyball net inflatable thing.

Overall Grade: F (I’m sorry. I wanted to like this pool. Really. But it was a terrible experience compared to the other 3 pools I’ve visited.)

29 Again.

8 08 2010

Wow. Last night was awesome!! So many great friends came out. Including some people I didn’t think were going to show up, so that was an extra special surprise!

Thanks to Shadow & Gwenix for bringing me two (yes! two!) bottles of my Mokah, and to ThomBTH for the bag of goodies he brought for Birthday Girl and I.

Also, thanks to RebelliousFlaw for her delicious cupcakes and MeetJenn for the Car Bomb Cupcakes.

I thankfully managed to not drink very much – I think I was the most sober person walking out of there. Haha!!I also managed to avoid having to hear the Happy Birthday song. Whew.

I hope everyone had a great time. I think they did, considering that we turned the front half of the bar into a dance floor… Awesome!

And, even better, the Operation Do-Goodery collection was AMAZING. I can’t even tell you yet everything that we collected – I took most of the day off from stuff & being online and such. But that will be a fun post for later in the week.

Thanks, everyone, for making this birthday amazing! I have some of the best friends, ever.