My Summer Working at the Log Jammer

I spent two summers during college working at Kennywood Park – the first was spent in Kiddie Land and the second at the Log Jammer. It was the summer of 1993. The Log Jammer was classified as a major ride which means that the staff stays at that ride all day instead of rotating between a group of rides. So the crew that worked at the Log Jammer spent a lot of time together – 12 hours a day at the park and we also partied together after hours. Juliana once told me that working at the Log Jammer was the coolest job ever.

Today is the final day of operation of the Log Jammer so here are some of my memories of that summer (or at least as best as I remember that summer from 24 years ago).

1 – There were several different work areas at this ride. At the ride entrance for checking height and collecting tickets (yes, I worked there so long ago you could still pay general admission and buy tickets for rides) and in the station there were two sides and each had staff at the loading brake and the exit brake. My favorite assignments were out on the ride itself: at the top of the spillway and at the top of the big hill. Top of the spillway was the easiest job – sit in a chair and make sure no one was getting into trouble and if the ride broke down, it was a key evacuation point. The first place I always volunteered for was the tower. The person in the tower controlled the ride – dispatching each log from the station. It is probably one of the quietest places in the park and I spent a lot of hours in that tower pushing buttons and watching riders splash down the hill. On slow nights the two people working out on the ride could talk to each other via the  phone that connected the two spaces, otherwise it was a solitary place.

2 – There were not many firework nights back in the early 90’s but the Log Jammer was the best place to work on those nights. The ride closed early but the staff had to stay to prepare the ride for fireworks. They were shot off over the Jog Jammer pavilion area so that entire section of the park was closed for fireworks. We had to hose down the wooden railings and roof of the ride and remove some of the logs from the flume. Since we were the only people allowed in the closed off space we had prime viewing of the fireworks. We would choose a picnic table and lie on it and watch the fireworks straight over head; the paper for the fireworks would land around us.

3 – One day in the middle of the summer, the ride was closed for clean-up. The entire crew worked and we removed each log from the ride and washed it – they were some disgusting ride vehicles – and removed a lot of lost change. We were able to go to lunch as a group that day. We walked out of the back entrance and crossed the road and ate at Ponderosa (another thing that isn’t there anymore).

4 – We swam in the log flume on at least once of those occasions that the ride was closed. I’m quite sure this was unauthorized activity and that water was not cleanest.

The landscape of Kennywood will be different next summer and it will be odd to walk past the Racer and see something other than the Log Jammer.

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The Pose

It’s one of those things that I just hadn’t noticed until I did and now I see it everywhere. On the way to the beach this summer I posted a picture of the three kids in front of a BBQ restaurant that we discovered on our trip last year. And then I posted a picture from the same spot from the previous year and someone mentioned that Juliana was posed the same – with her left arm across her body holding her right arm. She poses like that all of the time and I had never noticed – sometimes her arm is just above her wrist and other times it is at her elbow, but it’s always the same arm. Here are the year/year pictures and some other examples.

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So it’s a regular thing even on the first day of school. Of course once we discovered it, this picture had to happen. And there is no need to mention how grown-up she is…

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The First Concert That Was Just For Her

I love concerts and I have taken Juliana along to several over the past few years, but this was the first concert we went to that was purely for her – 19-yr old singers are a little young for me. The Shawn Mendes tickets were a complete surprise – I purchased them last fall and wrapped them for Christmas.

Juliana is difficult to surprise for Christmas and most of the things that she asked for were small – earrings, books, art supplies, headphones, and a wax warmer. I wrapped the concert tickets with the wax for the wax warmer and tucked that box behind everything else. It was the last present that she opened and she expected it to be the wax. She slowly looked at the wax and then noticed the envelope – her reaction is priceless.

The concert was last week and I had not mentally prepared myself for the volume of tweens and teens as well as the continual high pitched screaming. The screaming was so loud and you will be shocked to know that Juliana had no voice the next morning. This was the first concert we’ve attended that there was a crowd of parents waiting outside the arena after the show to pick-up their children.

It may not have been my favorite concert, but I’m still glad I got to watch her enjoy the show!

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Continually Shifting and Always There

I wrote this a few weeks ago. I was out for a jog on a Sunday morning and all of these thoughts filled my head and I couldn’t stop crying. Generally when I write something emotional I sit on it for a bit before I hit publish to make sure it wasn’t a momentary blip.

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If there is one constant in the world of a working mom, it’s that the balance is always shifting. From the first time that someone introduced me as Juliana’s mom – there was an internal struggle of yes! I am someone’s mom followed by – but wait, I have a name – I’m still my own person, right?

I will forever be grateful for the years that I worked from a home office. I saw my children first thing in the morning and as soon as they got home.  For many of those years, I walked one block with them to preschool/daycare and I was minutes away from them all day. During the years of constant ear infections it was a dream to be so close.

Over the past few years I have managed to put the kids on the bus to school most mornings. I have gotten up and ready for work and then encouraged children to wake up and get ready for school. Once they were on the bus I would get in my car and spend the next 50-60 minutes driving to work. Scott or one of my parents would be there in the afternoon when they got home. Juliana still complains when I am dressed for work in the morning because she knows I won’t be home after school.

As we were winding down the school year, we were operating on auto-drive. Everyone out the door, wave goodbye as the bus drove away, walk downstairs, get in the van and start my commute.

It was a routine morning on one of the final school days and I had just gotten on the turnpike when my phone dinged with a text. I glanced at my watch and saw a text from Juliana that Ruslan had puked on the bus. Scott had an appointment that couldn’t be changed so I called my dad who was fortunately working from home that day but currently wasn’t there. So I called my mom who was able to go get Ruslan from school and drop him off with my dad before she went to work. By the time the bus arrived at school and the nurse called me, my mom was on her way, and by the time I pulled into the parking lot at work she had picked him up and I went about my work day. How did stuff like this get coordinated before cell phones…

Last year I met a woman who in conversation asked me if I would be interested in trying something new and then said maybe I still needed time to get out of the intense mom years and carve out time for myself. Those words stuck with me and I have had several reactions:

  • The intense years end? My kids will eventually demand less of my time?
  • Time for myself sounds awesome!
  • Won’t I feel guilty?
  • Do I want them to need me less? Won’t that make me sad?

We are in the midst of summer which is anything but routine in our household. The kids go to a variety of camps so we are constantly coordinating drop-offs and pick-ups and working around different times each week. I have been able to put them on the bus to day camp and drop them off at a few other camps, but I haven’t been around much when they got home this summer.

I was home early one day last week so I was there when the bus dropped them off from camp. Ruslan came in the house crying that his eye hurt. I quickly determined that he had been swimming without goggles and the chlorine was bothering his eye. I suggested eye drops and he eventually agreed that it might help but wouldn’t let me put them in. After several minutes of him being upset but not letting me use the drops, I finally suggested that “maybe Daddy should do it” and much to my surprise he said yes. He sat and let Scott put the drops in and then happily ran off and I went into another room and cried because I felt like he didn’t need me. And I still can’t get that moment out of my head. I want the kids to be happy and well cared for when I can’t be here, but I still wish I could always be the one that is available. It’s hard.

Of course I want them to grow up to be self-reliant adults but in my heart I still want to be there holding their hand every step of the way. Growing up is hard for everyone.

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On the day that I wrote this and on two other occasions since then, Ruslan has been unable to fall asleep without me. So I guess they still need their Mama sometimes.

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Happy Father’s Day

This is the 7th year of pictures with the DAD letters. All of the previous pictures were taken in the front yard of our house – the first year’s pictures were taken right after we moved in to this house. This year we changed things up and took the letters on the road with us to Erie. Before visiting my Grandma we stopped at the Lake and took some pictures on the beach. Happy Father’s Day from the Three Weasels who are looking much too grown up this year. Especially if you look back at some of the early years {2011, 2013}.

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The Big Scary Monster

The house was quiet and everyone was in bed for the night. I went back downstairs to fill my water bottle and Juliana suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway (no idea how the kids manage to be so quiet late at night).

She was huddled in a blanket and it was wrapped all the . . . → Read More: The Big Scary Monster

Why We Marched

I didn’t intend to write about the Women’s March – the March wasn’t about me. But then someone questioned my integrity and parenting so maybe I do need to talk about why we participated because apparently not everyone takes the opportunity to educate themselves before making judgements.

I posted a picture of Juliana at . . . → Read More: Why We Marched

Christmas Goodies 2016 Version

After several years of making some of the same treats for Christmas (some of the favorites are posted here), I decided to make some new random treats along with some tried and true recipes.

I made Snickerdoodles from the classic Betty Crocker Cooky Book – these are a well loved family favorite with green . . . → Read More: Christmas Goodies 2016 Version

October Went Falling Away

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October is one of my favorite months – I love fall. It’s Juliana’s birthday month. The heat of the summer is replaced by cooler temperatures. It’s a lovely time of year.

But it’s also one of the busiest months of the year for our family. School is cruising along with early mornings, homework and . . . → Read More: October Went Falling Away

Thyroid Cancer and What That Means for Me

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I wrote about my thyroid surgery at the beginning of June and haven’t talked about it much since. A lot has happened since then and we finally have all of the answers that we will have for now.

It’s a long story…so here’s the short version. In the words of my surgeon – cancer . . . → Read More: Thyroid Cancer and What That Means for Me