Moving Along

Less than 2 months ago, my family and I were headed to Pittsburgh in the midst of a polar vortex to scout the city and consider it as a potential new home. I recall being in the car with a lot of skepticism and even I thought that the chances were slim that we’d move out here. The company I was interviewing with (and now currently employed by) arranged a tour of Pittsburgh and as we drove around all over the city and surrounding suburbs, we fell in love. The final interviews went really well and we decided to make the move, it was a total surprise to us, but we knew huge change was in store…fast forward to present…Jaclyn and the kids drove out to see me this weekend. The objective was to look for the town we want to make home, plus we had an open house at our existing home, so it was best for us to all be in Pittsburgh.


It is unbelievable how much progress we’ve made in that short period of time since we first came to Pittsburgh in early January. Jaclyn has managed to get our existing home: painted, rewired, cleaned, cemented the sidewalk, found a realtor, did modest carpentry, packed up, and even fixed up the yard after the massive ice storm knocked down several huge branches.


Additionally, Jac secured a realtor in Pittsburgh and has made significant progress in narrowing down potential neighborhoods south of the city. For those of you who are curious, we’re looking at Upper Saint Clair and Peters Township. Both have fabulous schools, nice neighborhoods, close to Pittsburgh and my work, but the taxes are much less in Peters Township. There are plenty of nice options available and we have no concerns that we’ll find a great home once we are prepared to buy. 


Our existing home is still on the market and we need to sell it before we can buy a new one. We’ve had about 5-6 showings with modest to little interest to date. We’re going to be flexible on price and see what we can do from a marketing prospective to improve traffic.


We had a great time in Pittsburgh this weekend. The kids didn’t want to leave, it was the first time that they were actually sad to leave me, they’re usually pretty independent, but this long distance commuting it starting to take a toll. The good news is, we’ve (essentially Jaclyn) have made amazing progress and every day we get one day closer to being united again. 


My job is going great, I feel like my role is already expanding and I’m working from early morning to late at night to make my mark. 


The first day of Spring is 24 days away, it can’t come soon enough!



Pittsburgh Postcard

I have made it back to Pittsburgh again, let’s night’s snowstorm was much more manageable to drive through, but the weekly exercise of driving hundreds of miles in pounding snow is wearing thin. The commute itself has become a breeze, when there’s no snow or ice to contend with, I just put it on cruise control and enjoy the radio through my phone apps. I’ve broken the trip down into 5 legs, which makes it easy to digest. If you’re coming from Philadelphia, this is how it breaks down:

1. Escape from Philadelphia. It truly feels like you’re escaping, the traffic, the weaving in and out, the behaviors of fellow drivers is certainly more combative. You’re escape is complete once you hit exits for Reading.

2. Blue Mountains & Tunnels. Continuing on 76 West, past Hershey, and Gettysburg, right after passing the Shippensburg exit, you enter a portion of the road which gets pretty curvy (as turnpikes go) and then you drive through 2 long tunnels cutting through mountains. It’s a beautiful portion of the Pennsylvania with the Blue Mountains all over the horizon.  

3. Speed Traps & Mobile Homes. This section of the trip takes you to Altoona. There are a couple sections where the road climbs up to magnificent heights, you look out the passenger side window and see towns sprawled out way below you. Then the grade declines and you’re now coasting down the open road on a 4 lane highway with no cars around you, you’re more than halfway there and you’re foot gets a little heavy with the downhill momentum. Halfway down the hill on the right is a giant carved out area for police officers to bust people going beyond the speed limit on a giant open downhill road that’s as straight as an arrow. You push on looking for the beacon of Altoona.

4. Let’s get off 76 West! You’re final leg of the trip on 76 West takes you pass two places I’m anxious to see. The first is Johnstown, PA where the legendary flood occurred. The second is the Flight 93 Memorial. Each time I drive by, I think, I really need to get out here and check this out. I think I’ll bring the kids as both have amazing stories and lessons. You start seeing billboards advertising Pittsburgh, it must be close now. You now look for signs advertising 70 West.

5. The last leg, 70 West. Your last leg might be a little different, but I am traveling to a small apartment in the city’s southern suburbs. My favorite part of this leg (besides it being the last) is crossing the Monongahela River on a big steel bridge. It does not matter what time of day or if the river is filled with ice, you see big boats pushing dozens of barges through it. I still have no idea what they are taking via barge and where they are going, but it seems to be a vital mode of transportation. The last leg is much more climatic if you’re traveling into the heart of the city, because after traveling for hours in barren forest, you poke through one last tunnel and the city is laid out in front of you like a postcard, the bridges, buildings, stadiums, it is framed up so nicely for your enjoyment.


Our current home has 2 showings this week, let’s hope we can make a deal and get this thing sold so I can stop making this commute every weekend! 


Every week I drive to Pittsburgh on a Sunday night, a freak weather event takes place and makes the 5 hour drive treacherous. 2 out of the past 3 times, roads were closed forcing me to take a harrowing detour through the Appalachians. Last night was no different, weather forecasts predicted a simple dusting, but as I pressed down the Turnpike, I encountered a full fledged storm and the roads weren’t plowed, a pickup spun around and landed harmlessly in an emergency pull off area. The 18 degree temperature continuously froze the snow that melted from my windshield and formed blocks of ice around the wipers, rendering them ineffective. Every rest stop required a pull off to shake the ice free to restore visibility.


As I pulled into my apartment’s parking lot at 11:30PM last night, I thought that maybe the Gods were sending a signal, maybe this is their warning “DO NOT GO TO PITTSBURGH!”, we will make your commute challenging, we will create ice storms that litter your home with broken branches to slow your home sale, we will take away your power so you cannot have the necessary work on your home completed in time for a quick sale.


But the more I thought about it, I realized all my favorite achievements have been accomplished in the face of great challenge. Looking back, I do not get mad at the Gods for getting laid off from the ad agency, in fact, it really helped me get to where I am. 


I apologize if I wrote about this event before, but it always stuck with me, I was at Buckingham Elementary School and we were preparing for a big Christmas Choir performance for our parents. For those of you that don’t know, I am a horrible singer and I cannot remember song lyrics if my life depended on it. So you can imagine, I was having a horrible time standing on the stage amongst my peers in the cafeteria, I just stared at my feet and looked miserable. A teacher pulled me aside and said, “Why aren’t you singing? You need to sing.” I said that I didn’t feel like singing and continued to stare at my shoes. At that point I was sent to an administrator and the person (I think her name was Mrs. Matt) asked why I wasn’t singing and I said, “I’m having a bad day.” And here’s what she said and it has always stuck with me: “Everyone has bad days, it is how you handle them that determines your character.”


So, I am pleased to report that we’re handling this adversity with determination. We’re taking these “bad” days in stride and are working towards something we’re going to love and something we’ll be proud of. I want everyone to mark their calendars, July 4th is on a Friday, so you’ll have a long weekend. July 5th, the Phillies play the Pirates in Pittsburgh, why don’t you come out and join us that weekend and we’ll watch the game, have a big party, and celebrate the fact that February is long gone!


At 4AM we were awakened by a loud crash somewhere around the house. I jumped out of bed and immediately checked on the kids (Toby stayed sound asleep), the kids were fine. I figured it was a kid rolling out of bed and spilling onto the floor, but now that was ruled out. I headed down the hallway and applied all my military knowledge of eliminating the enemy (garnered from extensive TV & video game experience), I gently pushed doors open with my toes, looped into my office and scanned the room, ALL CLEAR.


I pushed further down the hallway, opened the kids bathroom door and peeked behind the shower curtain, nothing. I go downstairs, flip on some lights, I am now the aggressor, this intruder is going to get a beat down. Nothing is doing, I stop in the kitchen to grab the largest knife possible and clutch it in the attack position (which is different then holding a knife in cutting vegetables position, try it home!). Now I have to descend into the darkness of the downstairs rec room and laundry room, this is definitely where he is. I flip on my lights, check behind the couch, kick open the laundry room door, and nothing is doing.


I head up into the attic and nothing is happening, but then it happens again, a huge thunderous crack and things falling all over the place. I look outside and tree branches are falling off trees due to the snow and ice. Last night we received a lot of ice and all branches are drooping way down and every 5 minutes I hear a loud crack and crash. My neighbors fence just had a tree crash through it and it looks like their minivan got hit too (separate tree limbs).


I don’t want to jinx it, but so far we have escaped the peril of falling trees, but we have a long day ahead of us. Our power flickered already, but the magic of PECO has kept us illuminated.


My commute back and forth to Pittsburgh has been going well, the ride seems to get shorter each time. I have now downloaded apps of my favorite radio stations, plug my iPod into the stereo and listen to the station through the app for the entire car ride, this is great because I don’t have to keep changing stations because of losing reception. Right now I am really enjoying 91.3 WYEP in Pittsburgh, it is sort of like 88.5 XPEN, but leans more to the rock side. 


Here’s an article that says that the Pittsburgh Pirates tickets are baseball’s best value: