Square Roots & Solatubes

Mom, Casey and Dad travel to the construction site to figure out, and ultimately place the proposed Solatubes.  You know, tubular daylighting devices (TDDs).  This is in lieu of putting in sky lights.  For our house, conventional skylights present a challenge somewhat, as the combined roof pitch and skylight location causes the “tunnel” portion between the roof and room ceiling to be 10+ feet tall.  It could be done, but is a bit extreme in our opinion.  Therefore, we are going the TDD route instead.

The manufacturer claims that the Solatube will lighten an area approximately 300 sq. ft.  So, exactly how big is the 300 sq. ft.?  Kinda need to know this to help determine tube spacing and locations.  Is it 10 ft. x 10 ft.?,  20 ft. x 20 ft.? 

Dad says, “Hey, Casey, what’s the square root of 300?”  

There’s a three second pause, and out comes, “17.3 ft.” 

“Shit, really?…How did you do that?” 

“Daaad, it’s easy, the square root of 3 is 1.73.”  Dad,  “of course.”

“Dad, I need to Pop!”

He took one look at her shoes and asked, “Are you really going to wear those?” And Jen said, “Daaaaad, I need to Pop!” — AND SHE DID!

JenShoesWe just arrived to attend the First Year Engineering Conference*and met her before her presentation. It was a lively day with more than 500 professional looking Freshman presenting at their allotted time.  A combination of interested parents, smiling upperclassmen hosts, eager presenters, and posters that hung on the walls created the energetic atmosphere. We

  • saw Jen’s winning “best in group” poster,
  • learned that Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes are the topics of interest to many students, across engineering disciplines.
  • ate a plentiful and YUMMY Lunch!
  • enjoyed Jen’s presentation skills
  • watched the roommates’ visually interesting presentation.
  • met the friend group parents and enjoyed a dinner for 12 at Lidia’s Pittsburgh.

The day was one of those days you feel blessed to have!  Can’t wait for another event.

*Each year the entire First-Year Engineering class at the University of Pittsburgh participates in a professional-style conference. Each student and a partner prepare a conference research paper and poster then present their paper to their peers, alumni, family and faculty. This paper is the completion of a year-long writing project.




The Scare

What would you do if you if a text from your adult son, who lives 600+ miles away, woke you up at 6 am asking for his social security number? 

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We asked him to call. And then I called him — no answer.

For 30 minutes I gathered information – I reviewed our shared bank account information, got on facebook and instagram to look for posts and looked to see if I had any phone numbers or passwords for accounts. I was 95% certain he lost his phone and maybe his wallet too.

I started praying for his safety.

After an hour I got a call from his phone. The music was so loud I couldn’t hear well, the person on the phone kept saying, “Mom.” I told him to call when he found a quiet place.Here’s what I thought to do (as my panic grew):

  1. FIND HIS PHONE: I tried to locate the phone with the FIND MY PHONE app. It found the phone for about 30 seconds and it was 3 hours away where he lives. Then, the locator shut off and, then, his itunes password changed, at that very moment.
  2. FREEZE HIS DEBIT CARD: Since I am on his bank account I could do this.
  3. MESSAGE FACEBOOK FRIENDS: I didn’t know who to call, he has been living on his own for 2 years and just changed living arrangements. I messaged 8 of the most recent people that he had posted, focusing on names I had heard him mention.
  4. SUSPEND HIS PHONE and called Verizon to put phone on LOST/STOLEN list, both reversible, in case I was a crazy mom.
  5. EMAIL HIM (this was a mistake): I thought he might have a computer with him and told him all my steps so far,  I still had no idea where he was. I got an email back about an hour later….this email came from his phone.
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  6. SET HIS PHONE TO WIPE when it re-connected to the internet, after that email from the phone, I knew that he was definitely separated from his phone.
  7. CHANGE PASSWORDS on the passwords I could access- itunes, bank account.
  8. GUESS his gmail password and got in and changed it — there I learned that his Credit Card company was suspicious of gas and Wal-Mart charges. That email had been read. – I tried to respond to say those were not Chris charges…but I didn’t know his CC user name and password.
  9. CANCELLED Debit card and then credit card once I got his log in info.
  10. RE-MESSAGE FACEBOOK FRIENDS : Once I knew he was safe,  I contacted all 8 people to let them know he was found.

4 1/2 hours after the 6 am text I got a phone call from my son – he had been robbed, he was ok.  We got his credit card log in information and cancelled the credit card too.

We learned a lot here and will soon post a list of things I want to be ready to do in an emergency.




Every Call is Precious Time

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I’m sending out gratitude into the world — for the opportunities to connect with my adult children in by phone or video.

  • Tonight a Google+ chat about the stresses of homework, the joy of discovery, the challenge of a project and the thought/search into next semester classes.
  • A few days ago a call to share an update:  the search for a place to live when moving to a new place for a first full time job, finding someone with which to share an apartment,  the first day of work scheduled and the plan for the first few weeks after graduation.
  • Snapchats, Facebook, Instagram and Texts — all a view into who they are and who they are becoming.

I appreciate the connection,  I always learn something new, learn something about myself, and my heart expands with love.




The month of May has always been busy for our family and this year May was no exception,  you could even say it was a month on steroids:)

Chris came home from Penn State and we drove to Durham, NC to get Casey home from Duke University, 1050 miles round trip.  Spent a day packing her up too.

Once home I headed to Cincinnati to work with my IdeaConnect Partners then picked up Karim, friend of Chris, on my way to the family cottage in Michigan the next weekend, 600 miles total.

The rest of the family headed to Michigan to our family cottage to install the docks, 700 miles round trip.  We stopped to eat in Greektown at the dusty grape, oops, I mean the Golden Fleece (their Gyro meat is made in-house and to die for, really), and then Chris and I took Karim back to Ohio to his internship and then home 400 miles.

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While home we – painted a room, picnicked, went boating, found property to buy along the river, waterski’d, wakeboarded, sailed the hobie, kids went to cedar point, attended academic awards dinner for Jen, celebrated 2 birthdays, had two different friends of Chris visit for a weekend (diff weekends), sent Chris to New York for his internship and sent Casey to China for her summer studying Chinese (ok that was early June, but really,  all that prep was in May – shots, shopping, packing, etc).  at least 1000 miles, probably more.

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almost 4000 miles, super amounts of FUN, a future life change (now we want to be living on the river), and now an empty house again — well, Jen is home and now with a driving permit — but that is part of June’s story:)

I love MAY!


DSC09601“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” — Chief Seattle


This month the land chose us (Russ and me).  We know we belong to it, the land by the Allegheny River. It is really an amazing story.

Three weeks ago we finally articulated our common wish to live by the water as we entered into empty nest life – a few years out.

Two weeks ago, Russ saw land along the Allegheny River near East Brady that was being developed.  We hadn’t known about it.  He called around until he learned of the developer.

Only one lot was left, no view of the river, but river access.  We decided to see it and met Angie.  We instantly knew she is special.

As we talked with Angie about the land in her development she was excited to tell us that two other lots had come available.

Together they were perfect and claimed us immediately.  I don’t know how to explain it.  We visited 5 days in a row, trying to understand what we felt deep within.


Each visit, each touch, each walk around the trees (oak, maple, sassafrass, birch, cherry and tulip), near the river, and along the property lines roots us deeper.

Now we ask the Universe to support us to claim the land with monetary exchange, because we know we belong to it, but there is the current societal norms to adhere too.

In deepest gratitude for us and the generations that follow us.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” 
— John Muir

Looking forward to Lunch

I recently had the opportunity to substitute at our county Vo-Tech School in a supervisory role for two students.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got to go to the Culinary Arts classroom.

It was Chinese week,  mmmmmm. Food on the menu was General Tso Chicken (one of our family favorites) and Pork Fu Yung.  The part of the class I was with was making General Tso’s.  What Fun!  We collected and measured ingredients, cooked and cleaned up.  I enjoyed talking to the students and their chef/teacher, learning about their passion for cooking and baking. The kids even got to take their food home with them in to-go containers.

You might imagine how I felt – like I was in a candy store. The dry storage was a large room with lots of things,  the bag of chile peppers was like a big pillow there were so many; the walk in coolers had lots of bounty; their were bunches of sauces and vinegars, and condiments.  The stoves were humongous.

The best part — they serve breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Friday.  We are so THERE when you guys get home from college, maybe even a few times!

I brought the recipe home.  We can compare with the recipe Jen makes — should provide good kitchen entertainment for the family:)