family · through my camera lens · life

Weekend update rambles

Happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday! This weekend was fun and busy. We recently No automatic alt text available.purchased Catan. We had been looking at this game since it is often recommended for people who enjoy playing Ticket to Ride. We started the game on Saturday and then put off finishing the game until Monday. This meant that the game lived on my kitchen table all weekend. It worked out since we went out to both lunch and dinner on Sunday.

For lunch we went to Dibella’s, have you figured out yet that we enjoy this sub shop? I actually had a chicken philly salad. This was really good. Even though I ordered it I questioned what it would be like to eat a salad with cooked onions and peppers on it. Let me tell you this was yummy. For dinner we went to Monte Cellos for pizza.

We have been having a ton of different trade people in our house lately. The builder is trying to finish off our list of must fixes from our 60 day walk through that didn’t happen until almost 90s days. We have already had the painter, wood floor guy, heating guy, low voltage install guy. Yesterday the cabinet guy showed up, but we didn’t know they were coming. Then they managed to not have the correct size cabinet doors. Today the electrician, fire place guy, someone to fix my stove top and someone to replace the cracked window.  I’m ready for all this to be done! (I had to stop typing in the middle of this post because other workers came to fill in the caulk on the trim of our slider and scared Dixie because they just showed up on the back steps)

This weekend we saw winter and spring. We had snow. We had rain. Today we should have sun and it’s forecast to get to 74F. I actually have the heat shut off and one window Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, food and indoorin each room opened up. We had to open the windows last night too. Richard was grilling burgers on the grill pan (we don’t have an outside grill yet, it’s on the list!). This set the smoke detectors off. So we opened up the sliders and a ton of windows to try to dissipate the smoke. The boys and the dog were not happy with the smoke detector going off. At least it wasn’t enough to set off the alarm system’s smoke detector and send the fire department!

Colby decided he needed to learn how to form the burgers last night. I love this picture I captured of Colby and Richard working on the burgers. Richard was having Colby put the dent in the middle to help avoid burger bulge.

After dinner, we started a game of Uno. I was saying to Richard that we need to learn some new card games. The nice thing with card games is you can keep them going day after day and still clean up the game and finish another time. We love to play hearts, spades, king in the corner, Uno, Skip-Bo, Phase 10, Uno Hearts, and Monopoly Deal.

Today was hard to get moving. I love having Richard and the boys home on long weekend, but the week always feels off. I never seem to know what day it is. We all struggle to get up and moving on Tuesday. But, at least it’s a short week! Hope you have a great Tuesday that feels like a Monday!

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Taking a step towards being healthier

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I’m setting a new goal for myself health/food wise. I’ve decided that I need to increase my produce intake. So goal one is to have some kind of fruit or vegetable with every meal and try to have more of that as my snacks as well. My second goal is during the day increase my proteins and decrease my starches.

I know a lot of people will go with a set meal routine or schedule, but I can’t do that. Even when I drank smoothies every morning they were always different. I don’t like having leftovers the next day, I need to have it a few days later. I’m not a true foodie, but I enjoy food and I’m not going to eat the same things over and over.

So, when I went to the store today I got onions, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli slaw, spinach, carrots,clementines, and apples. (we have grapes leftover from last week still) My goal is to have eggs a few days a week. Now for me, eggs means scramblers or frittatas. I like my eggs with more filling than eggs. This will increase my protein and veggies in the mornings.

I’ll continue with my theory of all things in moderation. I can’t cut out sweets all together. I enjoy having pasta, crackers, and other starches. I know me. If I deny myself these things I’ll binge eat them and that’s never a good thing.

I’ll continue my goal of 80-90oz of water a day. I tend to drink a cup of flavored coffee every morning and then drink water the rest of the day. Some days I feel like I forget to drink water. If I make a concerted effort to drink a specific amount, I’ll probably do better with that front.

I am looking to make myself healthier. I keep thinking that once the weather improves I’ll get back to hiking and walking. I have a gym membership, but I am not typically motivated to go to the gym other than on the weekends with Richard. I have in the past done on-line workouts, but I’m not motivated to do that either. I know I need more exercise, but I can’t find the thing I want to do and won’t get a good workout in if I just force myself to do something. So I’ll start with trying to alter my eating and go from there.

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life · through my camera lens

Daily Prompt: Present– Take time to live in the Present

So much of life is spent looking forward or backwards. We look at where we have come and where we are going. We like to remember our kids when they were little and wonder about what the future holds for them.

But, life isn’t lived in the past or the future… it is lived in the present. We need to look at each moment as if it is a gift… a present.

Yesterday we spent the day running errands. We needed to go to Costco while we were there we ordered Colby a new pair of glasses. The pair he had we hard already replaced and it broke again in the same place. We decided that this was an issue of the glasses being too small for his head. My 9 year old needs adult sized glasses (he already has been wearing an adult bike helmet and baseball hats for the last few years). We also went to Famous Footwear to get the boys new sneakers.

When we got home from our chores it has started to snow. Last week we had a few days in the 60s and yesterday it snowed! They had predicted 1-3″ of snow. We decided after dinner since it had already snowed 1.5″ to go out and shovel the driveway. At least the driveway didn’t have as much snow since it wasn’t accumulating there as long.

While we were out shoveling the boys were riding their snow scooters, making snowmen and having fun. I decided to throw a snowball at both the boys and that was how it all started. The four of us had a snowball fight. We all made snowmen. Richard was making them on the tonneau cover of his truck. We tossed snowballs to Dixie. We didn’t think… we just lived.

We all laughed. We had a few tears. We lived. We were present in the present. There was no planning. There was no thinking about what was or what could be, there was just who am I going to throw this snowball at? Who can make a snowman that looks like a snowman? Who can make the most? Who can make the tallest?

We ended up having to run the shovels over the driveway one more time more to get rid of all the snow we threw at each other, but we didn’t care.

We had fun as a family. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t expected. It just happened. And that is living in the present.

via Daily Prompt: Present

family · life

What game should we play tonight?

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The busier life gets, the more important it is to slow down. Take time and listen. One thing we try to do every night is play a game together. This doesn’t happen every single night, but most nights it does. We have done it for years now. Richard isn’t always able to get home to have dinner with the boys, as I don’t want to be feeding them at 6:30-7:00pm when they go to bed at 8pm. But, he is home in time to play our game.

This is our time to spend as a family. We have played games with the boys since they were about 3 years old. We love all kinds of games. We have a whole shelf of games in the basement. We have so many versions of Monopoly and Clue, two of the boys favorites. We are always searching for games that a fast and fun as well as those that take longer and make you think.

What we play isn’t as important as the fact that we do play. There are so many life lessons that are taught in learning to play games. I’m always shocked when I’m teaching and children do not know how to count spaces on a board game. Family game time is a time to connect. It is a time to show children how to be good winners and how to be good losers. You don’t get a participation trophy for playing along, you don’t need a good job for winning or too bad for losing. There is competition for competitions sake. There are a bit of bragging rights at times, but we move on and go on.

It is a great opportunity to chat about little things, listen to music and settle down before bedtime. Quite often we start card games and they continue over a few nights, this teaches delayed gratification, having to wait until the next night to finish and find out who won.

I use it as a time to “read” my guys. I can take the time to see if any of them need a bit of extra attention, a bit of prodding on how their day went and what’s going on in life.

I wish more families made time to play games, not electronic games, real board and card games together. Spend time being together. I know I will continue this as long as possible, and my guess is the boys will want to also!

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Too many lives lost. Too many families broken ):

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My heart is heavy today. I heard about the shooting yesterday right before the kids came Image may contain: 2 peoplehome from school. I didn’t allow myself to read anything about it at that time. I went down and picked them up from the bus stop since it was raining. We came home and had to do homework, eat and get moving. We went downtown last night to see Jeff Dunham. We laughed so much at the show.  We had awesome seats. The boys loved it, even if some of the jokes went over their heads.  I personally know that I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

I didn’t want to think about the school shooting last night. I wanted to have a fun time with my three guys. I knew that the shooting happened in Florida. I knew it was a high school. I knew that lives were lost, families were devastated, safety was overturned. While we were waiting for the show Richard asked me if I’d heard about the shooting. The school was close to where he grew up. We’ve driven past this school.

My heart is broken. In looking into the details of this shooting, I learned that this was the 18th school shooting this year. WHAT??? What is going on? Why have we got to the point where this is common place? What are we going to do to change this pattern? Is this a result of social media influences? Is this a result of children being told they are perfect and can do no wrong? Is this a result of putting such high expectations on them? Is it the fact that children are being exposed to more realistic fictionalized violence at such an early age and continued through adolescences?

What can we as a society do to help these kids see that life is not fixed this way? That there are better ways to deal with problems? That school should be a place where you feel safe. What can we do to help them get the support they need to help them before they snap? What can we do to help teenagers feel more secure in themselves?

As a mom and as a teacher I hope and pray that we can figure this out. I don’t want to even imagine that one day my sons could go to school and not come home. That is a parent’s worst nightmare.

So what do I do? I talk to my sons. I encourage them to talk to me. To express their concerns and fears. To feel safe to tell us what they worry about and what they need to feel they are heard and understood. I teach them to keep their wits about them. To listen as much as they speak. To pay attention to what is going on around them. To see that they don’t live in a bubble. That the choices of others can affect them, but they control life and life choices. To see that others need to be seen and heard, but that they shouldn’t be making the choices for anyone but themselves.

Today I will take time to think. To reflect. To hope. To pray. I will hug my sons a bit harder. Listen to them with more attention. I will guide them to be the best they can be. I will do what I can, and then just hope to never be in the shoes of the mothers who lost their children yesterday.

When my sons come home we will joke, laugh, and move on with life. That’s what we do.


family · life

I heart you day!

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Today is Valentine’s day. What does that mean in our house… not much. Richard and I both have the same philosophy on this day. Over the years we have done less and less each year until we are where we are now realizing that it is just a day. We were talking about it last night. Richard said he was glad that I saw it the same way as him. That we do not need one day to tell us we love each other we do that all 365 days of the year. There is no need to buy cards that will get put in a drawer, flowers that cost more than normal, or candy that neither of us needs to eat.

Colby is exchanging Valentine’s in his class. Over the years we have done everything from making our own Valentines to buying the boxed ones and just signing names. This is the last time we will make a Valentine box. The last time we will have whole class Valentines. I purchased bouncy balls and Colby made tags to go with them. I printed them out and put everything in a zip lock bag. I did like that his teacher said no food items. My kids don’t like most junk and always hated getting a bunch of candy that they won’t eat as Valentine gifts.

Blake’s class is not doing Valentines this year. At their school, fourth grade is allowed to do it, but then it stops. Blake didn’t have an issue with not doing it, so it works for me. There is a huge difference between 4th grade and 5th grade in terms of development and maturity.

I have always wanted to find that balance of having the kids experience these holidays, yet see that they don’t need to be over the top. That this day is about friendship and the people you care about. That you can enjoy the day without having to go over the top.

What are we doing today? We are going to Jeff Dunham. This is the last of the Christmas presents that we gave the boys. The four of us will spend tonight together laughing and having fun.

I hope you and your loved ones find a way to enjoy this day in ways that make it special to you.

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Tasty Tuesday: Cake Mix Cookie Bars

Ok this is a recipe that I have made for years!! I have been making it since before the turn of the century… wow that sound strange and like it was EONS and EONS ago. I found this recipe back in the early 90s on the side of a box of Funfetti Cake Mix.


It is the easiest cookie, or in this cake cookie bar to make. Also, you can make it so many different ways and I’ve yet to have one I didn’t like!

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 2 eggs
  • mix-ins (optional)
  • frosting (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Mix the cake mix, oil and eggs. (add mix-ins if using)
  3. Form into balls
  4. Flatten slightly
  5. Bake for 6-8 min or until the edges start to brown
  6. let cool and then frost

I was being lazy today and decided to make them into cake mix cookie bars. I baked them in an 8×8 pan that I sprayed with non-stick spray. Then I baked them at 350 for 22 min.

Today I made confetti (Colby’s favorite) and triple chocolate (that’s what I had, but devil’s food is my favorite chocolate for these)

Some of my favorite combinations:

  • devil’s food cake mix, peanut butter chips, vanilla frosting
  • yellow cake mix, chocolate chips, chocolate frosting
  • spice cake mix, cream cheese frosting
  • lemon cake mix, lemon frosting
  • devil’s food cake mix, mint frosting
  • strawberry cake mix, strawberry frosting
  • yellow cake mix, peanut butter chips

This was a go to recipe when the boys were wanting to help bake cookies. It is simple to measure, mix and create. It also allowed them to create their own combinations. Colby loves to take and make funfetti cookies and then add peanut butter chips and more sprinkles to his. Blake typically will make devil’s food and then add more chocolate to his cookies.

I’m not sure I like them as much as bars as I do cookies. They are very tender and don’t feel as much like cookies as I expected, but they still taste yummy!P1070755



I have/ Who has verbs

I created another kit for my Teacher Pay Teacher site. They are running a two day sale  starting tomorrow, so I wanted to get a few new kits up and ready for the sale time. Everything in my store will be on sale for an additional 20% off on top of the 5% everything on TPT!  This is a great opportunity to support these teachers.

AJ at A Petite Slice of Life suggested making an I have/Who has game with verbs. I wanted to make it with just regular verbs to focus on that skill. She also suggested that I add numbers to the cards to help the teacher check to make sure all the cards are back and available.

You will find that all the cards are numbered, but not in the order needed to play the game. This way the teacher can put them back in order and pass them out that way without passing the cards out in the order the game will be played.

So here you have it:  I have/Who has Regular Verbs. 

I Have/ Who Has Regular Verbs GameI Have/ Who Has Regular Verbs Game

family · life

Who I am as a mom

There have been so many things going through my mind the last few days. Mostly mom things. I try to post about the positive things with my sons since this is such a public viewing of our lives. I know that this blog only gives people a quick snap shot of our lives. I realize that that it may seem like I try to sugar coat how things are going in our lives, but that is not my intention.

My sons are 9 and 11 years old. They are far from perfect. They are tweens and being tweens means there is a lot of drama in their lives. I don’t post about the drama because I don’t think it is my drama to share. I love to share quirky stories and funny moments in our lives.

As a mom, you want the best for your kids, but I also know it is not my job to make their lives perfect. When things go wrong we talk. We want the boys to feel comfortable to come to us with the good, the bad and the ugly. We want them to talk to us about what they are thinking.

Over the years we have dealt with many different issues with the boys dealing with everything from grades, to peer issues, to stress and anxiety. I don’t share these here. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect the way I blog. It just means I won’t blog about it for the protection of my boys.

But, what I will tell you is that having an open and honest relationship with your family is so important. My sons see that Richard and I talk through our problems. We don’t always agree, but we discuss instead of argue. We listen instead of yell. We stop and remember that we aren’t perfect and that we can’t expect the others in our house to be perfect either.

We choose to parent our sons in a way that allows each of them to have a voice. They know that they can voice their opinions, but we do not have a democratic house. We are the parents and have the final say, but they have a voice. We will not rescue the boys, but will help when they need it. We will guide them, we will listen to their concerns, we will give suggestions, but they need to make the final decision on how they choose to deal with the situations at hand. They deal with the choices and consequences of these choices.

I love my family. I love the relationships I have with each of the guys in my life. I interact with each one different. They know that I love them each for who they are and only wish for them to become the best version of himself. I can’t wait to continue on this journey and hope that the direction we are traveling is the best path for our whole family.

family · life

2 hour delay and mouse mayhem

Today the boys had a 2 hour delay. This meant the morning moved slower than normal. Richard re-set the alarm and we slept in until 7am. I then went down and cleaned off the truck and moved the snow, it was less than an inch so it was easy to clear the driveway.

I decided to walk the boys to their bus stop and then get the mail. I had to wait for the painter to show up. He was here on Friday, but didn’t have the correct stain to finish fixing one spot on the stairs. He finally showed up around 10:30. I could then jump in the shower and go on with my day.

I headed to the grocery store. This may have been a mistake since it was already almost noon, I probably should have had lunch first, but didn’t. I didn’t buy too many items that we didn’t need for the week. I got a lot of good deals on meats. I love finding proteins on sale. I will pick them up and put them in the freezer. We have a stand up freezer in the basement and I love knowing its stocked with things we can use to make dinners.

I arrived home with a headache… again probably from not eating since it was now after 1pm. I had lunch and a coke. Coke is a splurge for me, but one of the things that often helps with my headaches. I’m prone to migraines so if I can fend one off with a coke or a coke and excederine I will!

While I was relaxing and watching brainless tv, Dixie started going crazy jumping at the backdoor. I walked over to see what she was looking at. I thought maybe a bird was on the steps or a crow was in her line of vision. I thought maybe there may even be a dog that she could see…. NOPE. There was a mouse. Yep a blackish-gray rodent going in and out of the holes in the bottom of the pavers we have at the bottom of the back steps. Ok now I’m have to do something because I don’t want a mouse where the dog goes in and out all the time. So after texting back and forth with Richard we decided to put one of the mouse traps at the foot of the stairs. yes, I know this mouse is outside and it is in nature, but nope it was way too close to home, literally!

I went and moved a trap from the garage. I then took Dixie out front so she could go outside, but not be near the trap and mouse. While I was walking around I noticed that these little buggers have created a virtual mouse highway around our house. There was paths carved into the lawn, through the bark mulch and under the edge of the house. Ok this is war now!

I did catch one mouse. Richard expected me to pull the level on the trap so I could release the dead mouse and reset the trap. No way in hell am I doing that. I picked up the trap using huge piece of metal that we had in the garage and placed it on top of the air conditioner compressor and Richard can deal with it when he gets home. Then I set out another trap. Not sure if we will catch another one since we only caught one in the garage.

Ok woodland creature… you need to stay in the woods… please! I don’t want to wage war, but I will.