Wouldst sir or madam desire some lower-level Pens/Flyers tickets?

We are buzzing along here quite nicely, raising funds for Make Room for Kids so that we can give some much-needed gaming to sick children in the dialysis, infusion, and cancer units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, as well as to update the gaming we’ve already provided for a bunch of other units at the hospital.

As I write this, we’re only $1,250 from the halfway mark.

As I promised you, MORE GIVEAWAYS …

Let’s recap what we already have to give away to celebrate this phase of Make Room For Kids! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DONATE TO WIN. Anyone who donates via the “Donate” button under the thermometer on the left side there is automatically entered to win, and anyone who comments on the original post here is also entered to win, so make sure you comment with a real email address that I can reach you at should you win. However, I sure would appreciate any amount you could throw in the pot to help the sick kids. 

Pirates Home Opener tickets

Let me repeat that — PIRATES HOME OPENER TICKETS.

And now I can tell you where those tickets are: section 116, Row Z, seats 1/2

Which puts you right here about:

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You almost can’t handle it. But there’s more!

The Penguins Foundation/Mario Lemieux Foundation Charity Gift Bag that I bought with my own money because I love you all very much and I want you to have these things:

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Yes, that’s a Bortuzzo-autographed puck. Bortuzzo who was just traded away today. Let’s call it a collector’s item. Also four fantastic bobbleheads, a Rick Tocchet-autographed puck and lots of other cool items.

But wait! There’s more!

– The Penguins are giving me a prize-pack to give away that includes …

  • Two lower-level tickets to the April 1 Pens/Flyers game at the CONSOL (Section 120 Row S)
  • A Kris Letang game-used hockey stick
  • An autographed Hornqvist jersey
  • And a Sidney Crosby-autographed 8 x 10 photo

And that’s not all!

– This INSANE 24 x 36 metal print from Pittsburgh photographer Dave DiCello. Look at it. You can own it!

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But wait! There’s more!

– And finally, I’m still waiting to hear back from the Pirates. I think they’re hiding from me. I will be relentless and hopefully succeed in getting a gift bag from them too.

There’s also one other option for giving! Until Friday of this week, the incredibly generous Dave DiCello is donating 100% of his photography profits to Make Room For Kids. Go here to purchase some gifts for yourself or your loved ones and know that you’re also helping sick kids at the same time.

Or go here to comment.

Or click on that Donate button up there and spread some goodwill and positive karma.

Group hug for sick kids.





UPPITY. HEARTLESS. WENCH.

Well, it’s a good day when it starts out with me being called awesome names like UPPITY HEARTLESS WENCH, which I believe is Shakespeare, no?

Forsooth.

Yeah, I pissed off a bunch of people again. This time because I wrote a slightly humorous piece in support of the Mt. Lebanon deer cull plan because I don’t see what’s so awful about trying to control the population of deer and offering the meat up to the food banks.

I mean, these protestors DO know where their steaks come from, right? And their chicken? I mean, IT’S GOT THE WORD CHICKEN RIGHT IN IT. It’s an animal. That was killed.

Bawk.

Anyway, their general reaction to my piece was this:

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If you want to get pissed off at me and call me names too, then go read what I wrote about the overreaction of some residents, one who called the cull “cruel fascism” perpetrated by “elite elitist people.”

A snippet:

Mt. Lebanon in particular is being overrun by deer, with increasing encounters and accidents, so the community’s leaders decided to do something about it. They are implementing a plan to reduce the local deer population. Because they don’t want to call it “OPERATION BAMBI EXECUTION,” they’ve simply called it a “deer cull.” Sounds lovely and not at all bloody and deathy. 

Guys, look. I know I joke, but I am not an animal hater. I am a pigeon hater and a cat TOLERATOR. I don’t kill animals for sport and I honestly never could. That’s just me.  If you’re a hunter, fine. You do you. Meat is delicious.

But I understand the damage deer can do, especially if their population isn’t controlled in residential and highly populous areas, and if we can control the deer population and provide the meat to local food banks, I see that as a win-win.

I’m just being logical — or an UPPITY HEARTLESS WENCH.

Which is my new rapper name.

Go read and leave me nasty comments. I can take it.

Oh, and donate to sick kids! Please? PLEASE?! PLEASSEEEEEEE?!

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Make Room for Kids 2015 and a HOME OPENER GIVEAWAY

A doctor utters the word dialysis to an adult, and the trepidation sets in.

Hours upon hours sitting in a chair getting treatment for a life-threatening illness. Four hours or more at a time. Up to three days a week.

Oh, you have a life you need to live? That’s too bad. This is your new life for a while.

Say the word dialysis to a child, and they don’t know.

At first.

But soon, they’ll know, just like cancer kids learn to say the name of their 24-letter cancer type.

Sit still in this chair for HOURS ON END. With a NEEDLE IN YOUR BODY.

Want to see what it’s like? I found this video. Try not to cry at this bubbly little girl who very matter-of-factly tells you what it’s like …

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How would you like to tell your little child they have to experience that? For weeks, months, or maybe years?

I can’t fathom it. I had trouble informing my son there was a chance he would need a scoliosis back brace (he didn’t). I had trouble informing my little girl she might need to wear hearing aids one day (probably not).

Telling them they would undergo dialysis treatments? Nope. Then actually watching them go THROUGH IT? Nope nope nope.

Well, Burghers, this year with Make Room for Kids, we are going to show the dialysis patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh some love. And like the billboard on Route 30 says, we are going to use love to turn them from patients, back into children.

We are going to give them lots of entertainment options to take their minds off of treatment while they are sitting in the dialysis chairs at CHP. We’re going to give them gaming, movies, and more. They will not be bored or focusing on their treatment. They will be distracted, smiling, forgetting.

We’re also going to be taking care of the nearby infusion unit, where, again, children must remain still while undergoing HOURS-LONG TREATMENTS. They need tablets, games, and more.

And we aren’t going to stop there. We are going to do some needed maintenance on other units we’ve already outfitted. Replace some broken XBOXs. Give them new games and controllers. We’ll be paying special attention to the epilepsy unit and we will be outfitting four additional patient rooms in the cancer unit.

Our goal is also to take care of those we’ve already taken care of. Keep their games and movies fresh.

It’s ambitious.

And I need your help. Microsoft’s regional employees, along with a corporate match, are doing their part to donate a good chunk of funds, but you and I? We have to take care of the other chunk.

A $10,000 chunk. Every penny will go directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation and we’ll use it to buy what we need for our April installation at the hospital.

But I’m going to reward you. You don’t need to see a dorky picture of me; you’ve seen me at my worst.

But perhaps you might want to win …

– The Penguins Charity Gift bag I bought WITH MY OWN COLD HARD CASH. It should be arriving any day and I’ll let you know all the good stuff I get in it. It will all be yours.

– I’m begging the Pirates for a gift bag as well. I will have news on that shortly.

– The grand prize. One lucky winner will get TWO TICKETS TO THE PIRATES HOME OPENER WUT. I’m serious. The Home Opener. SQUEEEEEE.

Do you have to donate to win? No. Because that would run afoul of lottery laws. You can simply comment on this post to win, but if you have one single extra dollar to donate in love to these sick children, please use the donate button up there on the left under the thermometer. All donors to the drive are automatically entered into the drawing for the three prizes, and their email addresses will be combined with those who simply comment below to win, into one big prize-eligible pool.

I will award the prizes the MOMENT we hit $10,000.

Please help me help these kids and come April, you’re going to be so happy you did.

Group hug!





Could you be mine?

So my mother says to me she says, “You better write something on your blog soon or your readers are going to forget you exist.”

And I says to her I says, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, I DO EXIST!”

Part of being this person called “PittGirl” is getting invited to stuff. Lots of stuff. Fun stuff. Boring stuff. Fancy stuff. Casual stuff. Shows, talks, press conferences.

Part of being an introvert is saying no, graciously and kindly, to most of the stuff I get invited to.

I’m just not good at people. I’m good at faking being good at people, especially with a few glasses of liquid courage in me.

But when the Heinz History Center invited me to the unveiling of the new Mister Rogers permanent exhibit, in which the actual sets from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would be on display on the 4th floor of the center, I didn’t say yes, I literally emailed them back and I wrote, “Um? HELL YES.”

Because I’m fun like that and I figure PR people always get boring emails back all, “Yes, sirs, I wouldst be delightest to attend your function presently, forsooth.”

Then there’s my email, “HELL YEAH!”

I digress. Naturally.

But me? Mister Rogers? Like ——><——- that.

I’ve written about it before, about my love for Fred Rogers. As a child, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was my show. If I recall correctly, it came on after Sesame Street. As an adult, I’ve read books and watched documentaries about his life, about his “deep and simple is better than shallow and complex” philosophy. About his “BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT” philosophy, which is one I really struggle with, as an introvert. It’s hard to be present when you just want to run away from all the people. I’m working on it.

So yesterday, I walked into that exhibit, and man, the feelings. The feelings the feelings the FEELINGS.

This tree:

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This bench:

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This castle:

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And it was emotional and I didn’t know why until the drive home when it was like, EPIPHANY.

Why Fred Rogers was my homeboy.

Because as a child with a severe hearing disability, before closed captioning was on every TV, before I was old enough to even read closed captioning, I didn’t watch much TV. I can’t read cartoon characters’ lips when all they’re doing is opening and closing and not forming any shape that resembles a phonetic sound. Sesame Street puppets? No lips to read. I associated the characters with sounds. Cookie Monster: OMNOMNOMNOM. I’d laugh. Snuffleupagus? WUHWUHWUH. Big Bird? [nasally nasals]. The Count? MWAH-HAHAHAHA! Super Grover? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Sesame Street was a frenetic mishmash of sounds that my brain used to create a story that probably didn’t really go with the story I was actually being told. But when you can’t understand the words, you create your own story. To this day, I still do it if I’m watching a show or movie without captioning. I use the pictures to write my own story. It’s fun and it takes some frustration out of not being able to understand what is being said.

But then there came Mister Rogers. Quietly, with no background din for me to try to listen through. Speaking so so so slowly and deliberately that a little girl with hearing loss could understand exactly what he was saying to her while teaching her important things about batteries, music, art, dancing, life, and crayons.

Sure, I had to make up the stories when the puppets came on, and I honestly don’t want to know what things that demon Lady Elaine was saying, but I understood every word Mister Rogers said to me, and that’s why I gravitated toward him, his show, his life lessons, his work, his everything. And I never realized it until yesterday, at the age of 40.

So, thank you, Fred Rogers, for letting us mostly-deaf kids have something to listen to without getting frustrated because we had no clue what that green guy in the garbage can is so damn grouchy about this time.

As for you, Burghers, go to the History Center and check out these iconic REAL sets from the show. Go feel the feels you’ll feel.

And buy one of these awesome sweater-changing mugs while you’re there!

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While I have you here, some stuff I wrote:

Amelia Earhart once crash-landed in Pittsburgh and then said some pretty awesome things.

It’s time for Pittsburgh to let go of the past, just a bit. Let it go, Elsa.





How Pittsburgh Owned 2014

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So you says to your friend the other day, you says, “That bitch never writes anymore.”

Oh, I write. I promise you. Every day I write.

Like I says to my husband the other day, I says, “If I didn’t write, I’d shrivel up and die.”

I just haven’t had time to write much HERE. In this space. But such is the evolution of my life as a writer, mother, wife, restaurant owner, forty-year-old.

I’ve written so much. I compiled my Burghy gift guide and forgot to share it here. I LITERALLY ACTUALLY FACTUALLY HISTORICALLY solved the mystery of why we buy milk, bread, and toilet paper before snowstorms … and forgot to share it here.

I even wrote a gift to you.

To all of Pittsburgh.

I spent about seven hours working on this gift to you. Reliving 2014 for you. Going back through the year, all the news stories, the viral stories, so that I could remind you that Pittsburgh, your city, had a very good year. So you don’t forget, or grow complacent, or become blasé about a city that refuses to slow down, give in, give up, regress.

You can read that gift here in my annual Ten Reasons Why Pittsburgh Owned 2014. 

Take a guess what just three of them might be, let alone ten, and then go read all of them. You too will be surprised about how much you’ve forgotten about 2014. Pittsburgh doesn’t need the giant rubber duck or the yarn bridge to still make a lasting, noticeable mark on the world … and 2014 proved that.

We have a great home, guys. Give it a hug any way you can find to do so. Even if it’s just standing at the Point and taking a long deep appreciative breath.

Group hug, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.