food · family · life

Routines and changes

Life has settled back into  our summer routine. I’m starting to work on the boy’s sleep schedule. On Monday they start back into theater camp. That means they need to be up and moving to be out the door to be at camp at 9am. There have been days this summer where Colby didn’t get up until 10am. What is going to happen when he’s a teen if he does this at 10?

I got the boys up today at 8am and we did a workout. We did a 25 min cardio and then a 5 min abs. Richard and I are starting a new workout routine on Monday and the boys say they want to do it too… lets see if we can all get up and moving to do it.

The boys and I are also going to the grocery store today. We worked on the menu last night… fish tacos (I made homemade coleslaw for this), ribs with corn, homemade pizza (I am making pizza dough we will see what we have with it), grilled chicken and sweet potato, taco Tuesday!, grilled tuna steaks and fruit plate, meatballs. Friday is the boy’s play (Frozen again)

Hard to believe in about a month the boys will be going back to school. They start back on Aug 23rd. Blake will be a 6th grader and Colby a 5th grader. Time to get back into routines. Getting up in the morning. Eating breakfast (Colby doesn’t eat it on the days he sleeps in late), having simpler healthy dinners.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Strasburg Trains

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When Blake was little he began watching Thomas the Train and liked Thomas a lot. Colby didn’t just like Thomas and trains, he LOVED them. When they were younger we went to a Day Out with Thomas two years in a row. Colby was beyond excited to ride the rails.

While they have outgrown Thomas, Colby still loves trains. He gets so excited every year when we put the train around our Christmas tree.

So when we were planning the trip to Hershey we knew we’d need to extend the trip and go to Strasburg PA. There we went to Strasburg Rail Road and the Rail Road Museum of Pennsylvania, they are across the street from each other. At the Strasburg Rail Road, we went to the Hostling Tour which meant we were up early to see them prep the steam engine for the day.  We got go inside the engine to see them working on stoking the fire. The boys even got to ride in the engine. Then we went on a train ride and rode in the lounge car.

Then we went across the street to see the Train Museum. This was an impressive collection of train items including engines, train cars, cabooses, as well as items that were used on the trains. The pictures below are panorama of the inside collection of trains taken from the overlook.

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This is just a fraction of the photos from this day. I had so much fun taking pictures of the trains.

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Transition Vacation Day

Have you been following along with my travel posts? I posted the last three days about our time in Hershey Park. You can read about it here, here and here.

Thursday found us traveling again. We had one more Hersey place to visit first. Before we left Hershey we decided to go visit the Hershey Story Museum.

The first thing we did there was attend a candy making session in their chocolate lab. Yep, we made our own chocolate bars.  They played Hershey Trivia to start with and apparently I know my Hershey trivia. My boys won quite a few kisses with my help.  Then they discussed the process of chocolate making from the fields to the factory. After, each person was given a candy mold which had a beach scene transfer on it. The tables were given bowls of melted chocolate and you got to work making our own bars. The session we attended was beach bars so we could add in salt or graham cracker crumbs (I found shakers of red pepper flakes and cinnamon there too so Richard and I used those).

We then went through the museum. Did you know that there was once a Hershey town in Cuba? They had a whole exhibit on Hershey in Cuba and how he created a Hershey village there for the people who worked in the sugar factory there. While we were in the museum we purchased booklets for the boys that they could use to go around the museum and fill out trivia information. There were stations along the way to get “rewards” for finding all the information. While the museum was interesting, and the chocolate making was fun, I’m not sure it was worth the price of admission. I don’t regret doing it, but if you aren’t into history and don’t want to go around reading a lot of information then this is not the location for you.

When we wrapped this up, we headed to our next stop on the trip. Strasburg PA. Our hotel was in Lancaster, but the places we were headed were in Strasburg. When we arrived in Strasburg we went to the Choo Choo Barn. This is a model railroad. The boys had fun going around and finding all the different little things there were to see. The layout of this was ok. There were a lot of things that were hard to see since they were in the middle and you felt like they got lost. They did have spots where you could activate the different animations. They dimmed the lights to make it night time. They also gave you a scavenger hunt list of items to find while looking at the scenes. We ended up walking around twice.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our last day of the vacation… when we ride the rails, visit an Amish farmers market and eat at 2 different local restaurants.

family · life

14 years

Wow two days in a row you get two posts from me!

14 years ago today I was in the Florida Mall. How do I know this? 14 years ago today Richard and I got married in the lobby of the hotel in the Florida Mall. We have been through a LOT in our 14, well actually 15 years together. I can not imagine anyone else by my side during the good and bad, the happy and the sad, the calm and the chaos.

Richard and I are only only husband and wife, we are best friends. I love the fact that we balance each other out. We don’t complete each other since we are both complete people, but instead bring out the best in each other. We recognize each other’s strengths and aren’t looking to change each other.

food · life · through my camera lens

Hershey park -part 3– rides

I’ve been telling you about our trip to Hershey the last two days. You can check out our preview day here and our water park day here.

On Wednesday we got up and headed back to Hershey. We go there shortly after it opened. While Tuesday was a ton of fun, Wednesday was the day the boys were looking forward to… the day we ride the rides!

When you first enter the park you can see where you “measure up” each ride is labeled with a Hershey product to show who can ride the ride based on height. If you look at the picture of Colby with the Reese’s on the pole you can see the stripe that says Reese’s, that is the height of the Reese’s riders. Both of my boys were Twizzlers so they were tall enough to do all the rides.

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I found Hershey’s rides to be very balanced as far as parks go. They had a balance between the old and the newer rides. They had so many old school carnival rides that you just don’t see as often in amusement parks now. They have 3 wooden roller coasters as well as 6 other coasters. Hershey’s Super Dooper Looper was the first loop coaster on the east coast of the US. Richard rode all the roller coasters. Colby rode all but 7 and Blake rode 6. I only rode 1, and I’m ok with that! (if you look right above the light in that picture you can see Colby. Blake took the picture, while I took the video below). The bottom video is a coaster that only Richard went on, this is just like the coaster I rode when I had a panic attack and swore off coasters.

The thrill rides didn’t end there. Richard, Blake and Colby also went onto the Hershey Tower ride. P1000110

The boys enjoyed riding all the rides. They were game to try just about anything we came across.

We also went into Zoo America while we were there. This is a zoo that has animals that you will find in the various sections of the US. It was a nice change of pace during the middle of the day. Since it was included in the price of the Hershey tickets why not take advantage??

We ended the day back at Chocolate World to pick up t-shirts!

family · life

Hershey Park- part 2 water park

Yesterday I began telling you about our trip to Hershey Park. Hershey is about 4 hours east of us, so it was a perfect summer vacation spot for our family. I went to Hershey as a kid, and loved it. Richard had never been there before.

Tuesday we spent the whole day in the water park inside Hershey. With your ticket to Hershey park you get admittance to the rides, water park and Zoo America. Let me tell you that we did everything in the 2.5 days we spent there.

As I mentioned yesterday, we stayed at the park until closing on Monday. Tuesday we got up, had breakfast at the hotel and then were back on the road around 10am to go back into the park. We stayed in the water park until it closed at 8 and then went back on the rides.

At the water park we rode the flume ride, which was ok but, we certainly got wet! We then headed over to the two new water rides. One is a race down tube slides riding on foam mats and the other is a water coaster. The water coaster is the only water ride we waited in line for more than 20 min. It was better than I thought it would be so I guess that made it worth the wait. While we were in line waiting a teenage girl in line behind me passed out. I saw this coming as she looked really woozy and had already almost fallen head first over the chain. I prepared to catch her while alerting the people she was with and Richard yelled for the closest life guard we could see. It wasn’t that hot, but it was a good reminder about staying hydrated.

After lunch we went to the water playground. This playground was slides, between all kinds of climbing items. Between each slide there were places for the kids to spray water, fill and dump water buckets and so much more. There were also two huge buckets that filled up at the top of the biggest slides. When you hear a horn, watch out the biggest of the buckets is ready to dump!

We then went over to the tube slide tower. One side had 4 slides that you could use with either a two person tube or a single rider tube. We rode all 4 of these sides. We rode on the two person tubes and would alternate which child rode with which parent.  The other tower had a different type of tube where you sat facing each other on top of the tube. We only rode one of the two rides with that tube. The line was longer, the tube was heavier and I didn’t like the fact that I was backwards almost the whole time.

We also went on the lazy river and floated around that for 2 laps. It was a decent length lazy river and wasn’t too crazy busy when we left.

Right before the water park closed we decided to go back to the racer slides and rode those 2 more times.

We ate both lunch and dinner inside the park. We had Subway for lunch. You could only get 6″ subs, but that was fine, Richard just had extra meat on his. We had ice creams for a snack. They had Turkey Hill ice cream. We each got a small cup Blake- chocolate, Colby – vanilla, Richard- mint chip and I had strawberry. They were all really good ice creams. For dinner we ate at one of the Hershey stands. We Richard and the boys each got chicken tenders and fries. I had the same tenders on top of salad. They were reasonably priced and had decent flavor.

We rode a few more rides and left the park right at 10pm. It was a full and fun day. I don’t have any pictures from Tuesday, just lots of memories of fun times with the boys and Richard.

Tune in tomorrow for more info and LOTS of pictures of the rest of the park and Zoo America.

family · life · through my camera lens

I’m BACKKK– Hershey Park day 1

As you may have guessed from my post on Monday, we were on vacation this week. I had pre-posted the two book related posts so that my blog didn’t go to sleep for a week. I tried to pop back into a few of the blogs that I follow all the time to catch up on your lives too.

On Monday we dropped Dixie off and then headed East to Harrisburg. We stayed in Harrisburg for our trip to Hershey Park. I purchased 2 day tickets at AAA. This got us a discounted ticket price, plus we got a free preview day. This meant we could go into the park 2.5 hour before closing on Monday. Plus they have it set up where if you pay for parking on the preview day, it counts for your 1st days parking too.

Image may contain: foodMonday we went to Chocolate World. This is a Hershey Store right outside Hershey Park and had milk shakes, and cookies. Colby had a peanut butter cup blossom cookie. Blake had a smaller chocolate chip cookie. We walked around Chocolate World and went through this “Factory Tour” which is a free ride that takes you through an animatronic model of the kiss factory. At the end you get a free miniature Hershey bar.

We then headed into Hershey Park for our free 2.5 hours. We Image may contain: sky, night and outdoorheaded over to take a look at the Water Park. We planned on spending all of Tuesday at the water park area. We decided to stay over the Mid-Way area and do those rides. This was 2 wooden roller coasters, a mouse trap style coaster, a Ferris wheel, a matterhorn style ride, and the whip. I love the fact that this section was mostly filled with old school rides. It felt like a carnival more than an amusement park.

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We stayed until the park closed. They boys were so excited to head back the next day. Tune in tomorrow for more info about our trip!

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.

 

 

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Kid Packing

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As I often mention on my blog, I’m big into teaching my sons to be independent in life. They are learning to cook, clean and do many other things on their own. Here is another life skill that they have been working on since they were young…. packing!

I always hear about mothers complaining about packing to go on trips. When the boys were little I used to dread this task. I knew I’d have to pack for 3 people, and the dog(s), and get the house ready to be left alone for as long as we were traveling. So as the boys got older I began teaching them to pack.

They are given a packing list! On the list they are given the number of each article of clothing they need to pack. They put the items on their bed in outfits and let me know when they are ready. Richard or I then go and check to see that they have the right items and if they need to switch things out because they don’t go, or are more play clothes then we want them to travel with at that time. Then the boys pack everything into their suitcase.

They are also allowed to bring their backpack with things to do on the drive/while we are there. They have to bring books, their tablets, some kind of learning something and headphones.

This means I only have to pack for myself and any times that we need as a family. The packing lists are catered to what we are doing and where we are going, but I’ll tell you that taking the 2 minutes to write out a packing list for them (and often times myself as well) will solve a lot of headaches and a ton of time for me now and on the trip!

book · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Star Girl and Mockingbird book reviews

This summer the boys and I got library cards. We have been going to the library every week. Each week Blake gets 7-9 books and Colby gets 5-7 books. I have been picking up 2 books each week. I am always shocked to see that we have plowed through the books and are ready to return them the next week.

The last two weeks Colby has been choosing books off a list we found of books for children who liked the Wonder series. He asked me to read one last week and one this week.

Book - Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliLast week he had me read Star Girl, by Jerry Spinneli. Star Girl is written about how a school deals with “The new girl” who starts school for the first time. Leo tells the story of how Star Girl changes Mica High from the first day she arrived. Star Girl did not look, act or even think like anyone else in the school. Is it good to be THAT different? Can the positive energy and unique desire to be happy all the time, that is Star Girl, bring about a change in the culture of a whole school, or at least a few of the students there?

I really enjoyed this story and so did Colby. I believe in some ways he could relate to Star Girl. He was just the new kid and he too is very emotional, passionate and always wants people to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong he doesn’t dress crazy, or call himself a unique name, or go out of his way to feel that different, but he knows his personality draws people in and makes them happy.  This is a YA book and one that is a good read for teen and tweens. The story is written from the voice of Leo and how he reacts to Star Girl. Both male and female readers can relate to this story.Book - Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Colby and I both plowed through the book Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine yesterday. It’s not that the book was super short, it was just that good. Caitlin is in the fifth grade. She is bight, a gifted reader and a talented artist. Caitlin also has Asperger’s syndrome. Before, her brother Devon helped her negotiate how to fit into a world that makes little to no sense to her. But, then the unspeakable happened. Devon was killed in a school shooting. Her father doesn’t no know to deal with his own emotions never mind those of his daughter. The school counselor tries to help Caitlin see that with a little guidance she can understand empathy and then understand how to help herself and so many other people in her life that are hurting after this tragedy.

This book is a good ready for anyone! It was an interesting look into the thought process of a child with Asperger’s. I have taught children with this and I could relate. I have know children with his and see how they just don’t fit in even when they don’t realize they don’t fit in. They see the world through their own set of eyes. This book did an excellent job of showing how important it is to see each person for their strengths and that if you just step back and look at the person for their strengths and not the aspects of why they don’t fit in you may see you have more in common than you realize.

The theme of school shooting plays a back plot in this book. It is not discussed in great details, but more deals with how this effects those left behind. The purpose seemed to be to connect a variety of characters to the same tragedy. This is something that is being addressed in schools on a regular basis, and helping children see how the shooting effects more than just the victims themselves may help children see this act in a new light as well.  (this is also a YA story)