Is There a Doctor in the House?

Last Friday, I was diagnosed with “swimmer’s ear” before we headed to the woods, and I’ve been using antibiotic ear drops since then. This, of course, was after I had been laid low with my very own middle ear infection and pinkeye.

I went to MedExpress for all these diagnoses. When my other ear started hurting last night, I turned to Dr. Twitter, wondering if I should waste another hour or so at MedExpress or just go ahead and start using the drops in that ear too. I went with using drops in both ears.

I realize, as a nominal adult, that I should have an actual Primary Care Physician (PCP) to phone up for these types of things, but here I am at 43 with no regular doctor. For that matter, I don’t have a regular dentist (I did, for a brief time there, have a dentist. He redid my front tooth. Two years ago. I think I went back once after that… maybe twice. But he’s out of the way, so I stopped going), and, er, I should find a lady-parts doctor sometime in the very near future too.

I don’t get regular physicals. In my 30s, I went to the Midwife Center for my gynecological care, and my annual exams with the midwives stood in for annual physicals. As I am not having babies any more, I figure I can switch to another midwife practice or a traditional gynecologist closer to hand. But I haven’t yet.

I haven’t had a pap smear since after M was born. I have yet to have a mammogram. And, as I mentioned, I haven’t seen a dentist in well over a year. The only health care provider I see on the regular is my chiropractor.

I am better about regularly getting my bikini line waxed than getting my teeth cleaned. My priorities may be askew.

While going to the doctor is never fun, I don’t dislike it. Except for the dentist. I do hate going to the dentist. I would accept a prescription for Xanax just to get me through regular dental visits. The poking, the scraping, the bleeding. The pain. No, thank you.

And yet, again, as a nominal adult, I realize I should be caring for myself better than this. It’s pure laziness on my part. Laziness and resentment. I don’t want to take the time out of my schedule to find a doctor/dentist, call a doctor/dentist to make an appointment, and keep said appointment with a doctor/dentist. It would have to be during the weekday. I’d have to take personal (paid) time! Bah.

My chiropractor, aside from being absolutely fab, is about 10 minutes away from my office. I can go on my lunch half-hour. And I never, ever feel the desire to pop a Xanax before an appointment with her. She’s like a combination massage therapist and psychologist.

Oh, the other health care provider I see regularly is my eye doctor. I go annually, as required. The office I go to has evening and Saturday hours… and is at a mall. So. I’m not all terrible.

However, I am aware that this reluctance and resentment to see other types of health care providers borders on the irresponsible. I have no problem taking time for my children’s doctors and dentist appointments. I don’t even mind the prospect of unpaid time off for post-surgery recovery for Kate and Michael.

But take an hour at the beginning of the day to see a physical for an annual check up? Go get my teeth polished? I’d just rather not bother.

I’m sure this will be problematic at some point.

Am I alone? How do I make myself engage in some self care that’s not of the spa variety? Oh, if only my aesthetician could check my vitals while she gave me a pedicure!

Random Thoughts: The Weekend in the Woods Edition

1. When we go to the woods with all our friends and their families, each family takes a meal or pairs up with another family to take a meal. The RPM family usually takes a breakfast so that Dan can show off his mad pancake making skillz, but this year we decided to volunteer for Saturday lunch. In the course of things, the family who was going to take Friday dinner had to switch, so I offered to do that instead.

Switching to Friday dinner was a happy stroke of luck. I had already decided that we were doing soup and sandwiches for Saturday, and I was disinclined to change the menu. We’d be showing up at 5 p.m., and others would be rolling in between 5 and 7 p.m. or later, and it just seemed silly to make changes in our plans. So: beef vegetable soup (which won rave reviews — or at least one; thanks, Brian!) and lentil soup (which definitely was received well), a deli tray, and whole grain bread and croissants, plus condiments. Easy peasy.

Here’s the awesome thing about Friday night dinner: aside from making sure the children ate at mealtimes the rest of the weekend, we weren’t responsible for feeding people after Friday night. It was kind of a nice break. Score one for leisure time!

2. I really have to give all my Cook Forest friends tons of credit for the patient and affectionate way all the children are treated, including my Kate, who loves everyone boundlessly and without boundaries, physical or otherwise.

I didn’t hear “I’m bored” once. I heard no fighting, although one night there was some ridiculousness about who liked whom (boy-girl like). My girls forgot they had DSes; they didn’t ask for them once. I know Flora had a couple of emotional moments (fishing was “disappointing” — I had to explain it wasn’t called “catching fish” for a reason; it took a bit to convince the other children to play glowstick tag one evening). The dog owners were happy to share walking duties with my girls, which was very sweet. On Sunday, the group went for a hike and took our three children so Dan and I could clean up and pack up as we were due in Monroeville at 2 p.m. (Thanks, everybody!)

3. Dan took M for a canoe ride on the Clarion River. Solo. (M kept calling it a canoe boat.) They had a picnic and everything! Maybe I’ll get him to tell the story here (Dan, not M). They had a good time, and I know my husband is going to treasure it for years to come.

4. I took a nap! I haven’t napped at Cook Forest in years! Everyone was hanging at the cabin (except M and Dan, who were on a canoe boat), and I just went into our room after lunch, popped in my ear plugs, and passed out for about 30 minutes. Erin (aka High Priestess of Boogie, my genius friend) had put together a treasure hunt for the children, and they raced about between two of our cabins looking for clues.

I needed a nap. Friday night we didn’t sleep well. The bed was extra, extra firm. It was my-arms-are-numb-from-the-elbows down firm. Saturday night we slept better, only by dint of being utterly exhausted, even with a nap.

5. We were in a spot with no cell phone reception and no WiFi, so I didn’t carry my phone much. Because I didn’t carry my phone much, I didn’t take pictures. Fortunately, my friends shared some images on Facebook (you can check some out on my page).

6. Also because we didn’t have WiFi, I used my Kindle exclusively to read ebooks. I finished Killing Ruby Rose, which while a fairly entertaining mystery, was atrociously written, and read This One’s for Me, by Maria Semple (who also wrote Where’d You Go Bernadette?), in its entirety. I really love Semple’s utterly flawed, completely wacko characters. Aside from a glaring medical error at the end of the book (I’m almost positive you can’t be on a ventilator and conscious*), it was a fun read. If you’re looking for a beach read this summer, This One’s for Me will fit the bill nicely.

All-in-all, it was a nearly perfect weekend. Friday was rainy, but Saturday and Sunday were sunny and dry, if a bit on the chilly side. The food was excellent (Annie, I need the recipe for that baked enchilada), the children were well-behaved, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.

I can’t wait for next year!

ETA: I am incorrect; one can be on a ventilator and conscious. It’s not pleasant, and one can’t talk when intubated, but being conscious and on a ventilator was not the error I thought it was. I stand corrected (h/t @katrinaravioli).

The To-Do List in My Head versus Leisure Time

I read a line the other day that hit me where I live: “My son has my cortex.”

This is how I feel, not just about M, but about the whole division of my labor. I don’t know if it’s a working-outside-the-home thing, or a mom/parent thing, or just a forbidden-word “busy” person thing.

I am at my desk about 40 hours a week. I usually even eat lunch at my desk. While I am sitting at my desk, I have a constant list of stuff in my head: the bills that need to be paid this week; the menu plan and shopping list for the week; blog posts I want to write; the stuff I have to do to get out of town this weekend. (Pack and clean, pack and clean. Oh, and make more soup.)

So while I am physically at my desk for up to 40 hours a week, and commuting about an hour a day (30 minutes to and from), my head is not 100% given over to the work I do. Or not 100% of the time.

My head is full of background noise. I don’t know how to make it stop. How do I make it stop?


Which brings me to the idea of leisure time.

First off, I will cop to the fact that I’m not doing too badly in this area. On a daily basis, I take about 20 to 30 minutes to read. That’s my daily leisure time. My commute to and from work would be counted by time-use researchers (yes, such a job exists) as leisure time. After all, after I drop the children off at school (taking the children to school would be counted as “child care” by time-use researchers), I have about 30 minutes of, say, listening to NPR or Chvrches.

So, yeah, I have about an hour, hour-and-a-half of leisure time daily. That’s not too shabby. For reference, according to a 2012 survey, the average amount of daily leisure time is 5.1 hours.

According to Pew, fathers get more daily leisure time than mothers. Now, here I will certainly defend my husband, who works between 10 and 12 hours a day during the week (and often 5 to 7 hours on Saturday). If you count gym as leisure time (the survey referenced above would, I believe, as it falls under “sport”), three days a week he gets about an hour, hour and a half of that. Plus, Dan is the guy who comes home and turns on the television. At 9 p.m.

He doesn’t play golf. He doesn’t have a poker game weekly, let alone monthly. If he gets anything over and above what I get, I suppose it would be his “steak night” with his buddy about once a month. And seeing as I average a GNO about that often — Dan and I are pretty even on leisure time. He may get two or three hours more a day, but that’s just because he will watch television until midnight, whereas I go to bed at 10 p.m.

Anywho, I am also interested in reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte, which parses her experience of busyness. When she kept a time-use journal and took it to a time-use researcher, he found 27 hours of leisure time in her week. She was rather surprised until she looked at what he counted as leisure time, for example, 10 minutes of laying in bed listening to the radio before she got up and the time she spent waiting for a tow truck when her car broke down. I seldom recommend Terry Gross, but her interview with Schulte is a peek into the way modern work, school, and parenthood have changed the parameters of what we consider leisure time. And how, mostly, that’s not a good thing.


And all of this leads up to me telling you: I’m off to the woods tomorrow with the family and many good friends. I am going to cram in all the leisure I can. I will be off the grid. Have a great weekend!

What do you think? Should leisure time be longer than 10 minutes? And take place outside of your car (if you’re commuting to work)?

Seven Things

1. I have no photographic proof of what a lovely Easter Sunday we had. The children colored eggs and got fun Easter baskets. The girls and I dressed up and went to Mass. The weather was perfect. We had dinner at my in-laws. All in all, a lovely, low-key holiday.

You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

2. Sunday night, Dan and I cleaned our house. Well, together we cleaned up the front room. Then I crashed and he cleaned up the kitchen. Monday morning, I got up early to clean the kitchen, not knowing Dan had done it the night before. That was a nice surprise! I put away all the clean dishes and took out the garbage. It was a good start to the week.

3. Also a good part of Monday: Kate had a follow-up appointment to see if she’d cleared her latest ear infection. Fortunately she had, and now I just need her and Michael to keep everything clear so we don’t have to move the surgery date.

4. I only work four days this week because we are heading to the woods on Friday. We are going to try to hit the road by 2 p.m. So far, I have packed most of M’s clothes, pajamas for the girls, my Saturday outfit and pajamas for me, plus socks and underwear for everyone. Last night, I browned the beef for the beef vegetable soup I am making; I’m going to put that in the slow cooker tonight. I’ll have to make the lentil soup either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

5. I woke up Tuesday morning hot and uncomfortable. Like, at 1 a.m. Despite opening windows, I still couldn’t fall back to sleep. I am really hoping that wasn’t a hot flash. It was… pretty yucky.

6. New things, primarily authors: Ania Ahlborn, The Bird Eater. Extremely creepy. Amy Stewart, The Drunken Botanist (I may have mentioned this book before). Very educational, and fun for cocktail making. Jessie Humphries, Killing Ruby Rose. Highly entertaining page turner.

7. Old things that are kind of new to me: I recently took up the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris again, and find myself waiting for Book 12 to be available to my Kindle. The series ends with Book 13, and I’m curious to see how it all wraps up.

After 16 years, the Afghan Whigs have released a new album, and I’ve become hooked. I didn’t listen to them in the late ’90s, although I did check out some of their older stuff because Do to the Beast roped me right in. 1965 is pretty good. I especially like “Sweet Son of a Bitch” into “66”. It’s compelling. Do to the Beast is a different animal from their ’90s music; clearly reminiscent, but with the sharp edges smoothed down.

And after 23 years, The Pixies have released another album — without Kim Deal. So… call them the Not Pixies, I guess. (The argument was made to me on Twitter.) I think this review sums up my own thoughts on the issue. (I will refer to them as the Pixies.) Regardless of what you want to call them, you should go listen. It’s a solid album.

What do you think? If a band’s lineup changes, should they pick a new name? Why or why not?

Random Thoughts: The One Thing at a Time Edition

I have scheduled my children’s (perfectly routine) surgeries. The date is about five weeks away.

In order for me not to obsess over the fact that my babies are having (perfectly routine) surgery, I am working hard, very hard, to focus on other things. I will fall down a rabbit hole of anxiety if I don’t.

1. This weekend is Easter. I have promised to help my MIL clean her house. She cannot vacuum — she is physically unable to. Back problems. So, at the least, I can do that for her. I’m sure she will have more.

Back at home, we will dye eggs and put together baskets. We will go to Mass, and then next door to have dinner with Dan’s family. It will be low-key.

2. I have a Major Work Project that will take up a lot of my time and brain power from now until the date of surgery. So that’s good. I have already arranged to take FMLA time to be home with Kate, and I’m glad this project will be done when I am out. I really need to be 100% present to my babies.

3. Our annual weekend in the woods is the week after Easter. It is one of my favorite things ever with some of my favorite people ever. Instead of (perfectly routine) surgery, I will obsess over shopping, cooking, and packing the car for the trip. Anyone have a good beef vegetable soup recipe to share?

4. Hm. It looks like I’m going to need something (aside from Major Work Project) to work on after our weekend in the woods. Thinking it’ll be time to tackle some house projects. Maybe M’s bedroom re-do and some other interior decorating. It’ll finally be time to swap out clothes for the season. If I can kick the kids outside on the weekends (memo to Mother Nature: could use some dry, sunny weather for May) I can start these projects. Also will need to pick paint colors. So that could be fun.

What do you do when you need to NOT think about something?

Meatless Monday: Beans and Rice

Dan mentioned this recipe early in our dating life. I had to adapt it because it’s a Puerto Rican dish that uses chicken wings — although with my newly omnivorous daughter, I should try it with wings some time.

When I first started making it, I used a big Farberware sauté pan. But since we got a rice cooker, I have used that instead. If you don’t have a rice cooker, then you should just go get one. But if you’re not going to, a sauté pan is fine.

Rice and Beans, the rpm way

1 and 1/2 cups brown rice
1 15 oz. can pigeon peas, drained
1 8 oz. can Goya tomato salsa
1 packet Sazon (from Goya) with Coriander and Annatto
2 spoonfuls Sofrito
2 cups vegetable stock

I put this all in the rice cooker, stir it all together, and press the button for brown rice. I suppose you could also so this on the slow cooker setting or in a slow cooker, on high, for about two hours.

If you don’t have a rice cooker, I suppose you need a little oil, and you may want to sauté some garlic or onion before you dump everything else in the sauté pan and cover it; cook for about 40 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

With a salad, this is pretty much a complete meal.

And, no, Goya did not sponsor this post.

Do you have a rice cooker? What have you done with it besides cook rice?

Random Thoughts: The Getting Through This Week Edition

1. I started feeling better on Wednesday — antibiotics FTW! — but I wanted to get back to work, so I did go in on Tuesday. It was a rough day.

2. Aside from Monday, which came with its own challenges, I’m not really giving myself a break this week, and I’m hoping it doesn’t kick my ass too hard.

Monday was: Doctor appointment for Kate (she still has an ear infection; we went to the next level antibiotic; surgery is coming up mid-May); run Kate to school; doctor appointment for M, who had been running a fever since Saturday (just a virus); drop M off at my in-laws; MedExpress appointment for me. Getting my prescriptions filled took forever.

My MIL cooked me lunch (tomato soup and grilled cheese — ultimate comfort food FTW!), and then M watched Frozen while I took a nap. Getting woken up by an impatient 3-year-old when the movie was over wasn’t the greatest. Then my FIL picked up all the kids who needed to be picked up, and my MIL and I cooked dinner for them (all five). And then I took M next door and retired to the couch for the evening. The girls were champs. They showered themselves (Flora sat in the bathroom while Kate showered), and then they made me a cup of tea, which was hilarious because it was like the 10-step cup of tea.

Flora: I’m going to make you a cup of tea!
Me: You don’t have to.
Flora: Yes, I’m going to.
Me: Okay.

The faucet in the kitchen sink had fallen off, and I hadn’t fixed it, figuring Dan could do that when he got home. So Flora had to take the lid off the tea kettle and fill it from the water pitcher in the refrigerator.

Then she asked me what kind of tea I wanted.
“I don’t care,” I said, “just as long as it’s decaffeinated.”
Rummaging sounds from kitchen.
Flora: “Does ‘decaf’ mean the same as ‘decaffeinated’?
Me: “Yes.”

Water boils, tea bag steeps. Kate brought me the cup of tea with a bowl for my teabag. I asked for creamer, then for an ice cube. I got the ice cube first. Then strawberries (two, in another bowl); then creamer.

It was cute.

3. Tuesday: work, pick up niece and nephew, taco night at Bella’s (yay, taco night!), Kate and M needed baths — the weather is getting nicer, and daily baths are going to be the norm soon. It already makes me feel more tired.

I went to be pretty early Tuesday night, was definitely in bed by 10 p.m.

4. Because of my sickness and exhaustion, I didn’t pack lunches for the girls at all, let alone the night before. I scrambled to pack M’s lunch Tuesday a.m., and I completely punted Wednesday, and told Dan to pack it. Later that day, he said, “Yeah, M got four bags of chips for lunch” and I almost believed him.

5. Wednesday: because I went to bed early, I felt like a superhero most of the day Wednesday. The feeling didn’t last past 9 p.m., and yet I didn’t go to bed until after 10 p.m. And then I didn’t sleep well.

This is where I admit that I am guilty of the “busyness” in my life. I usually try to keep weeknights clear. Beyond my Monday-Tuesday pickups, and Flora’s Monday-Friday soccer practice, I usually don’t do much doing the week. However, sometimes I gotta do what I gotta do. Wednesday, my parents were staying over because they had to be at the airport very early on Thursday. They picked up the kids from school and daycare on Wednesday, and then we all went to dinner, and then I assisted Kate with her diorama project (even though it wasn’t due until Friday), and then I actually did pack lunches (which Kate proceeded to forget Thursday, probably because she was focused on getting her diorama to school). And THEN, after 10 p.m., we got an email from our cousin, who is a teacher at Franklin Regional, and she described the events of the morning. She was right in the thick of the violence, and I read her email aloud to Dan and my parents. It was… horrifying. And then, very funny at the end. Because that’ how she is.

Please keep those kids and faculty in your prayers.

6. Like I said, I didn’t sleep well for some reason, so I’m seriously dragging today. I suspect I kept waiting for the 5 a.m. alarm. Dan was a champ, and drove my parents to the airport, though.

Tonight I have a potential babysitter coming to the house tonight because:

7. Saturday! I am being interviewed by a fellow Pittsburgh blogger over lunch, and then going to the hockey game, and neither of my other sitters are available.

8. Sunday better be quiet. Oh, please.

And yes, I skipped Friday, because Friday is going to be: work, soccer, dinner, baths, bed. In no short order. Or else.

How’s your health these days?

They Got Me

After many ear infections, viruses, and pediatrician visits for the children, I have been felled. I fought the good fight, but I am currently incubating my own ear infection plus conjunctivitous (a.k.a. pinkeye). I am waiting for my prescriptions to be filled so I can go home, have soup and grilled cheese, and take a nap. Although the nap will depend on what my also ill 3-year-old decides to do.

Happy freaking Monday.

Doing Something Right

Finally, a study that proves sometimes my parenting instinct is spot on. As reported in The Atlantic by Dana Goldstein, research shows that some types of parental intervention in the school are hurtful rather than helpful. Titled, “Don’t Help Your Kid With His Homework”, it turns some conventional parenting wisdom on its head.

Reading about the research was interesting. And let me emphasize two things: 1) “Don’t help with homework” doesn’t mean totally ignoring schoolwork or school involvement and 2) For better or worse, the measure of doing well in school was summed up by standardized test scores. There’s a lot more to school than test scores.

Oh, the other thing, and I see this often when I read about school in the media: When researchers or media are talking about schools, they are talking about public school. I imagine that much of the research can be extrapolated to children in private schools, although arguably, if a child is in private school, they already are operating in a different environment — at home as well as in school — that is going to affect their educational income.

Basically “don’t help with homework” boils down to making sure your children do their homework and giving your children positive messages about the importance of education. Then you have to step back and let them work to the best of their ability, or let them face the consequences of not working.

Last year, I did check Flora’s math homework. This year, she asked me not to. “We check it in class,” she told me. “You don’t have to do that.” I decided to take her at her word. I don’t check her work.

Also, I don’t do my children’s projects. Every now and again, one of the girls comes home with a report to do, or a project that requires drawing or crafty-ness. I let my children draw, color, cut, paste, and/or build with clay whatever they want for these latter projects. For book reports or research, I support them or help them figure out how to search things out on Google, but I don’t fill in the blanks for them.

I will admit, my fingers positively ITCH to help with their projects. Sometimes I have to leave the room. I want my children to turn in shiny dioramas where perspective is correct (i.e. the trees are taller than the people). But my girls don’t give a hoot for perspective sometimes. They just like arts and crafts.

The only thing I try to do consistently with my children is help them practice spelling. We do practice tests of the list words. And even that I’m not consistent with, although I do ask if they have a test that week and if they know the words.

So far, my strategy is working; the girls are bringing home As and Bs (and my husband is paying them $1 each for the As, that stinker).

Two big take-aways were:

1. Read to your children.
2. Request a certain teacher.*

And one big hypothesis: “Robinson and Harris posit that greater financial and educational resources allow some parents to embed their children in neighborhoods and social settings in which they meet many college-educated adults with interesting careers. Upper-middle-class kids aren’t just told a good education will help them succeed in life. They are surrounded by family and friends who work as doctors, lawyers, and engineers and who reminisce about their college years around the dinner table.”

I can see this in my own upbringing. My parents encouraged the routines and habits that ensured we did our homework in the evening. With the exception of my father trying very hard to help me with my math homework (with disastrous results), they pretty much left us to our own devices. My parents were children of people with no college education; in the case of my father, his parents were Irish immigrants. But my parents did well for themselves because of their education, and they had a lot of friends and family members (siblings, older cousins of mine) who clearly benefited from college, too.

The research is food for thought. Given the high cost of higher education, I wonder sometimes what Dan and I will do when our children are graduating from high school. But in the meantime, I’m not going to help them (much) with their homework. How about you? And do you pay your kids for As?

* More on this later.

Pittsburgh Blogger Guest Post: Green in Pittsburgh

Today’s post comes from Michelle, who blogs about running and sustainability at SOLE for the Soul, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on The Steel Trap, where I mention a few of my favorite places in Pittsburgh for a family day out, date night, and me-time.

Writing about sustainability has its advantages; sometimes you get to visit some amazing places and chat with incredible people! Today I’d love to share one of my most interesting adventures: a tour of Sota Construction near Avalon, PA.


When Ernie Sota, president of Sota Construction, decided to redesign his business’ headquarters, he knew he wanted to do something different. He also knew he wanted his business to have a small footprint and big goals! In the spirit of green building, he set a goal to decrease material costs by utilizing as many local and natural resources as he could. Well, what does western Pennsylvania have a whole heck of a lot of? Straw! Yep, the picture above is a building constructed of steel beams and straw bales. Believe it!

Pittsburgh is full of forward thinking green business owners. I know this because, as it turns out, Ernie Sota is one of them. Not only was his straw purchased locally (it’s actually a really long process; the straw bales have to be dried in a barn for several years before they can be used), but he purchased the clay and sand that was used as a mixing medium in the walls from Greensburg, PA. Additionally, Sota chose to use organic insulation created from mushroom spores.

While it may sound like this building has a short shelf life, it’s actually quite the opposite. The steel beams that frame the building are rust-resistant and less likely to warp than conventional wood studs. The interior walls are cobb, which is a combination of straw, clay, and minute amounts of sand. The cobb combined with the straw bales create walls that end up being between 8–10 feet thick and very well insulated! Straw also naturally decreases the humidity in the space.

Inside, Sota was able to integrate some recycled building materials into this renovation, such as cabinets that were salvaged from a lawyer’s office. The counter-tops are paper-based, made from recycled materials. They were able to use some of the extra wood for doors as well.

As you walk through the building, there is an openness in the design of the building. In fact, there are several vents between the first and second floor, which naturally provide airflow without using energy. They also pull sunlight from the skylights in the roof. Essentially, the skylights in the roof are passively lighting the first and second floors!

View of vent from first floor.

If you’re into the geeky side of green building like I am, read on!

One of the coolest things in the building is a monitoring system that senses the temperature and humidity both outside and inside the building (according to five orientation zones). This system will flash a red or green light that notifies occupants when conditions are ideals to open the windows/skylights. For example, if the humidity outside would cause less than ideal working conditions inside, you get the red light!

Getting sticky in here!

The structure is heated radiantly using geothermal coils that are in the floors and covered in poured concrete, which in theory is meant to save on energy costs. The six geothermal wells are drilled 450 feet deep. The extensive network of compressors and the pipes/returns are located in the basement, but highly visible, which allows for detailed monitoring.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-tour of Sota Construction, a local green building. If you want to talk more about sustainability, pop over to SOLE for the Soul and leave me a comment! It will get me talking about something other than the Pittsburgh Marathon for a change!


Here’s a list of participating #PGHgbe blogs. Go check them out, and see more of the awesome Pittsburgh has to offer:

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


Tall Tales from a Small Town

The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH