family · life · through my camera lens

Mary Poppins Jr.

The boys had their performances this weekend of Mary Poppins Jr. They had a blast working with the cast in this play. There is something special as a parent to see your child up on stage singing and acting. But, even more important seeing them smile and their personalities shine.

Colby had so much fun and was improvising in all of his background rolls. Blake you could see was super focused and hit every mark he was given.

This is just one of the costumes that the boys wore in their performance. I can’t wait to share the pictures of them in their “park” costumes, but those were taken by the professional.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Blake is 12!

This post is much later than I expected it to be, but today was busy AND the internet was out almost all day.

12 years ago today I became a mom. Blake has changed my life in so many ways, but I can’t imagine our life without him.

12 things you may or may not know about Blake! 2018-11-11 16.41.44.jpg

1- Blake loves to read. He reads everything and anything… and he reads it over and over and over again. I think he would read in his sleep if he could figure out how.

2- Blake is a walking sports encyclopedia. He loves to learn facts about sports, it doesn’t matter the sport or the fact he needs to know it.

3- He is an audiophile. Blake loves music and always has music on. He can tell you the name of the song, artist and often the album after only a few notes of hearing the song. There are only a few genres of music that he does not enjoy.

4- Blake is a huge history buff. He loves all things about the USA especially presidents.

5- If you ask Blake anything about his birthday the first thing he will tell you is that his birthday is on a holiday. He is proud to share his birthday with Veterans Day.

6- Blake has decided the wants to be a sports lawyer when he grows up. This encompasses his love of sports and his love to debate. Blake enjoys a good debate on any and every topic.

7- Blake loves pizza and would eat it for every meal if I let him. His latest kick is deli meat he will eat this for breakfast and lunch most days.

8- He loves chocolate. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate cup cakes and today Colby even made him chocolate cookies! 2018-11-11 18.31.59

9- Blake loves technology…. of any kind! He has to have control over the remotes. He enjoys creating technology for his teachers to use in class. He creates power point presentations for fun.

10- Blake lives inside his own box. He is a black and white/right or wrong kind of kid. This effects him in so many ways, but it is also makes Blake… Blake

11- Blake is harder on himself than anyone else. He pushes himself and has had to work on understanding that perfection at all times is unrealistic. He is starting to see that we grow and learn from mistakes. That a mistake, a wrong answer, a misstep is not a sign of failure, but a sign of being human.

12- Blake defines himself as a bookworm, a nerd and a gamer. I’m not sure I’d call him a gamer, but I will say he is a bookworm and in his own way a nerd. He is a learner. He is a seeker of knowledge and information. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I can only hope that continues. Blake loves to challenge himself and others to be the best. It doesn’t always work, but he tries.

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Blake has challenge my intellect since he learned to talk. He needs to ask “Why” “What’s next” and “How”. I’m proud to be Blake’s mother, to be able to help him deal with the bumps in the road. Richard and I are excited to see where his life path takes him. We love you Blake, and are proud of you!

life · through my camera lens

Thankful for- places

Home is where my family is, where we sleep each night. In my married life I have lived in 3 houses. Before I married Richard, I owned my own house in Orlando. Before that I owned a condo in MA. I also lived in Rochester, NY and grew up in different area of MA.

I still talk about going home to FL even if I feel like our house here in PA is home. There are so many things that make this house a home. We have done so much in the year we have lived here. We have explored the area and enjoy everything if offers.

I am thankful for the house we live in, but I talked about that last week as a “Thing”.

I’m thankful that we live so close to North Park. This is a county park that we go to whenever we can. I have watched the leaves change the snow fall and the floods comes. My sons have learned to ice skate, mountain bike and kayak in North Park. We love the trails, wild life and scenery we can enjoy there.

I’m thankful for the city of Pittsburgh. This is the city where Richard works. But, more than that it is the city we get to explore. We have experienced a variety of cultural activities there. We have gone to baseball games, monster truck races, street fairs and many more things. It is know as Steel City from all of the steel factories that were located here back at in the last century. This steel is present in the many bridges that crisscross the city.

I’m thankful the memories we have from our years in Orlando. It was the city where my sons were born and had all their “firsts”. We miss going to Disney World and the year round summer.

But, for now… Pittsburgh (well really Wexford) is our home… and for that I’m thankful.

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Rainy Days and Halloween

Last night we had the builder in trying to fix our stairs. Richard was home, but on working still. The boys carved their pumpkins and then we headed out to grab dinner. 2018-10-31 18.22.04While we were driving home (before 6pm) people had already started trick or treating.  Why you ask? Because there was finally a break in the rain.

The temperatures we perfect yesterday, but it was far from dry. So I think as soon as there was any kind of break in the weather, people just said… go!

Well my boys had to come home and eat dinner, then finish prepping to go out. No worries, at least it was almost dark when they left. But, they both decided to toss their rain coats over their costumes. It was mainly drizzling, but there were a few patches of down pours.

Richard and I sat in the garage and handed out the candy. It was nice that the boys were 2018-10-31 18.15.43able to join another group of kids their age and head out trick or treating.

Richard and I popped across to some of the other families who were handing out candy and chatted between lulls in the crowds.

We certainly do not get the huge groups we got in FL. We could easily have just used 1 Costco size bag and that is with giving 3/4 candies to each child. Oh well, the extras and all of Blake and Colby’s candies that they didn’t want was dropped off at their school today. Their school collects candy and other treats and makes stocking to ship off to the troops.

All in all, it was a good night and the boys had a blast… that is all that matters.

family · life · through my camera lens

Last weekend in Sept.

Every once in a while you just need to have a weekend to do things. This was one of those weekends. Saturday we went kayaking for the second time. All of us did a much better job this time and we were able to go further than the last time. The guide this time said that Colby needs a narrower kayak next time. They ended up having to give him a tow back to the spillway. They gave him a turn to try the other kayak at the end and it was so much easier for him. We are planning to try a longer trip the next time we go. LLBean has a 3 hr fall foliage kayak tour. We talked about doing it this time, but it wouldn’t have been worth it since the trees haven’t even really started to change. Maybe in about 2 weeks we can try?

Today we headed to Sorgel’s for their fall festival. We started by picking apples. We ended up picking a whole peck of apples.

We then went over and picked pumpkins. We told the boys they had to be able to carry their pumpkin down to the car. Blake kept picking ones that were way to big for him to carry on his own. Even the one he ended up picking was a bit too heavy for him.

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After bringing everything to the truck, we went and watched them press cider. We did this last year too, but it was fun to watch again. Plus this year they had samples of cider and we were able to go into the room where they pasteurize and bottle the cider. The guy who was running the press said they now have to press cider all year long to have enough for the stores and for the companies who purchase it to make hard apple cider.

While we were on the tour, the apple cider dude told us that they filmed an episode of Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood in the cider press. Here is the guy we spoke with as well as the press and areas we visited. http://pbskids.org/video/daniel-tigers-neighborhood/2365854390

It was a great weekend and a lot of fall fun. I’m not ready for Monday, so I’ll enjoy a bit more of this last day of Sept! See you in October09_30_bc_03

 

Education · PreK class · through my camera lens

October in K-Prep

Today was the last school day in September! It was our 16th day of school. Some days it feels like it has been a lot longer and other times I feel like I just started.

My aide and I stayed after school to get the classroom set up for our new month. Each month I pick a new theme for the month and base all our learning on that topic. September’s theme was changes. October’s theme is “the night sky’. We will learn about camping, stars/planets, day/night and nocturnal animals. (and pumpkins and Halloween).

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I changed our dramatic play area from housekeeping to a camping scene. It will be fun to see how creative the children get playing there. They will work this week to create a mural of the woods at night to be the background for the area. We have a tent that we set up. Then I created a fire pit using a platter, rocks, paper towel tubes and tissue paper. We sorted through the foods and found hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and other camping foods. We created marshmallows to roast and make into “s’mores”.  There is also a toy grill and cooking gear.

We are going to have bubble water in the sensory table. They will make mazes in the blocks area and you will now find all sorts of pumpkin, space, night and Halloween books around the room.

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We finished switching the bulletin board to “Welcome to Our Patch”. Each child marble painted with red, yellow and orange. We then transformed those pages into pumpkins. They were then given either yellow or black paper and told to create the face of the pumpkin. These turned out too cute.

Our classroom door decoration was changed as well, but it’s not quite finished. This time we traced and cut out the children’s arms/hands. The children then wrote their name on the arm and decorated the hand however they wished. I cut out a bunch of stars and the children got to decorate it with glue so we could glitter the stars. The hands are towards the bottom of the door, and the stars towards the top. It says “Reach for the stars”

food · through my camera lens

Cheeseburger “TOTchos”

I always menu plan the night before I go to the grocery store. I really don’t know how people shop without menu planning!

Well this week, we had one night that was unplanned. We just could not come up with something to have as one of our weekend meals. I looked when I went to the grocery store and we looked again yesterday when we were at Costco for something to get for dinner. We did buy pork chops and ground turkey. But, I just did not feel like pork chops tonight. So… I started to think and think  of something to make. I ended up making a recipe off the seat of my pants.

In the past I’ve made “TOTchos”, but I always made them Tex-Mex. I didn’t want that. I have been on an anit-taco meat kick lately. But the concept of TOTchos sounded like a perfect meal for tonight. So I created Cheeseburger TOTchos. (it tastes better than it photographs! )

Cheeseburger TOTchos

  • -ground turkey (or any ground meat you like)
  • -small onion-minced
  •  1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp steak sauce
  •  3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Steak seasoning (I use McCormick Montreal Blend)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like on your burgers)
  • -tater tots
  • -EVOO
  • -S&P
  1. Preheat oven and bake tater tots according to the package
  2. In a large cast iron pan (or frying pan of your choice) sauce the onions (seasoned with S&P) in some EVOO
  3. When the onions begin to brown add in ground turkey and cook it while breaking it down into chunks
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, steak seasoning, and ketchup to the meat and continue to stir
  5. I popped this into my second oven at 350 to continue to cook, but you can do it all on the stove top.
  6. When the tots are done, season the tots with S&P
  7. Put the cheese on top of the meat mixture
  8. Put the tots on top of the cheese and pop back in the oven for 3-5 min to melt the cheese

Serve with your favorite tot and burger toppings. I used ketchup, mustard and pickle slices, Colby used ketchup, Blake and Richard didn’t t add anything to theirs.

This was really good. Richard felt it needed a bit more seasoning. I think the tots needed to cook a bit more so they were super crisp. I think the next time I’ll cook them for the longer time on the bag instead of the shorter. I will certainly make it again.

 

food · through my camera lens

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

So, yesterday when I walked in the house, I decided that I wanted to bake. It wasn’t because I’d had a tough day or anything it just was a need to bake. (granted the world imploded after the kids got home.)

I decided that since I had homemade applesauce from the weekend that I’d use it to make applesauce muffins. I found a recipe for healthy applesauce oat muffins on Tastes Better from Scratch, and decided to alter it.

  1. 2018-09-19 17.04.14

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1 cup applesauce (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 Tablespoons butter , melted 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Microplane a few swipes of nutmeg

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375. line muffin pan with liner or spray with pam
  2. Stir together wet ingredients in one bowl (applesauce, milk, egg, butter and sugar)
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
  4. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just mixed (do not over mix)
  5. scoop into muffin liners
  6. bake 15-20 min or until a toothpick comes out clear
  7. cool completely
life · through my camera lens

Deck the halls with Ghosts and Pumpkins

We got up this morning with the plan to go out for breakfast. Richard had requested a few weeks ago to go to Kelly O’s for a cheat meal. Colby had asked for pancakes and bacon when we were creating our meal plan. So, this morning we went to Kelly O’s for breakfast. Colby had his chocolate chip pancakes, Blake had a ham and cheese omelette, Richard had an omelette with pretty much everything in it and I had a breakfast burrito.

Then off for hair cuts we went. Richard, Blake and I got hair cuts. Colby didn’t since they really cut his short last time (2 months ago) and his bangs just grew to the length that he usually asks for them to be cut.

When we got home, Richard and I tackled the lawn work. When we were done we decided to put out the outside Halloween decorations. Now the house is done!

The boys headed to the park and I decided to camp out on the couch and catch up on some of my tv shows. I don’t often have time on my own to sit down and watch tv anymore. This is not a big thing, but it was nice to have that bit of time today.

 

Education · life · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Orientation Day

Today was the day! It was the day when my K-Prep kiddos got the opportunity to see our classroom for the first time. It was also the opportunity for their parents to come in and see where they will be learning and playing.

I had to give the school’s Orientation power point, which meant I was speed talking. I’m also not used to having the children in the room when I have to give these types of presentations to the parents. This meant my voice had to get louder and louder to talk over the children who were working on a quick project in the back of the room.

Oh well… it is done. Onto tomorrow our first day of class. I should have 17 of my 19 students tomorrow, but 3 did not show up today and at least one parent told me they will be on vacation next week, of course I totally forgot who that was 3 minutes after they told me. Information overload!

As promised, here are a few pictures of my classroom.