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!

Education · family · life · through my camera lens

First day of school

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This has been a great summer for us. Hershey, trains, mountain biking and lots more. But that time of year has come: back to school.

P1000335Today is the boys’ first day of school. They were up and ready to go. While there may have been a bit of nervous energy, they were excited to get back to it. Both boys enjoy school. They enjoy learning and exploring knowledge. Blake thrives off the routine of the school year. Colby was psyched to go see his friends and find new ones too.

It’s hard to believe that Blake is starting 6th grade. Sixth grade is such a huge transformation grade. This is the time where kids go from being kids to being a younger version of their adult self. Yes, I know they still aren’t even teens, but trust me this is the year that so much growing and maturing in personality and maturity happens.

Colby is starting 5th grade. While the change isn’t as dramatic from 4th to 5th there is stillP1000337 a change.

This will be Blake’s last year at the school he is in now. He will have 4 teachers instead of 2. This is the school’s way of getting them ready for middle school. Next year the boys will be in two different schools, they haven’t had that since Blake was in K and Colby in preK.

I can only hope that they learn, grown and mature. That they take on challenges. That they push themselves to expand their knowledge base and learn. I want them to make mistakes, failure is a good thing… it is the means to growth. I want them to hold their heads up high and know that they’ve got this…. no matter what this is!

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 · life · through my camera lens

Fireworks and more

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, As I mentioned in my post yesterday, they don’t have town fireworks on the 4th here. We had a quiet day. Richard went for a bike ride. We went to Five Guys for lunch. (We love Five Guys Burgers and Fries!, ok well Blake eats a hot dog and fries, but the rest of us love the burgers).

I then went out for a bit of time shopping on my own. This was two fold, I was bathing suit shopping (read my whine about that here) and I was getting a bit of time away. Richard worked in the garage putting one of our older receivers and speakers out in the garage. As I’ve mentioned in many past posts we always have music going in our house.

Colby decided that we needed to have cookies or something for desert. I tossed out a few suggestions and we decided to make maple and brown sugar oatmeal cookies. Colby helped make the cookies and pretty much made them on his own this time. If you follow my instagram, you saw a picture of this yesterday.

We had steak, sweet potatoes fries and grilled “oven” fries for dinner. I put the sliced sweet potatoes (with EVOO, S&P, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg) into one foil packet. I sliced up two baking potatoes and put them into foil packets too. These get cooked on the grill at the same time as the steak. The potatoes I did one with just EVOO, S&P and the other had a seasoning blend with EVOO. Richard and I devoured the sweet potato packet. Every time we do this we say we need to make this more often, but never do. I really like the slices that get a bit of burnt edge because this adds another layer of flavor and the sugars are typically more caramelized.

While we were waiting for dark, mother nature decided to put on her own fireworks show. We had over an hour of lightning in the distance. There was no rain, there was little to no thunder, but there were some impressive bolts and often the sky lit up like day.

It let up enough right at dark, so cranked up the tunes and lit off some of the fountains that we purchased. The boys also played with snap bangs and sparklers. I brought my new camera out and played with the settings.

family · life · through my camera lens

Sprinkler fun

I feel like I often write about things that my kids are getting to do here that they didn’t do in Orlando. Don’t get me wrong, they had a great childhood there but this is a different childhood. We have created a less structured childhood here. The boys have more freedom and more opportunities to just be outside doing kid things. There are times I think they miss the structure and activities they were engaged in when they were in Orlando, but most of the time they love the quiet, free, open time they have here.

When they were younger they played sports all school year as well as were involved in a variety of other out of school activities. When we moved here we stopped that. The main reason is the fact that they were not passionate about any of the sports they were playing. Neither wanted to do anything to improve beyond the practices and games. I’m not saying they needed to ask for private lessons, but they didn’t want to go kick the soccer ball, toss the football, or shoot baskets when they didn’t have to. So, why pay for something they aren’t passionate about. When you get to their age the teams get more competitive and there is more involved, multiple practices and traveling.

They have both asked to continue acting, and they have another week of theater camp coming up soon. We will see where this goes.

But, this weekend they had another free child first. Playing in the sprinklers. In Orlando we had a sprinkler system installed in our yard. The water that was feed to this was reclaimed water, so the boys were not encourged to play in it. We actually usually ran it at about 5am so they weren’t even awake when it was running.

Here we do not have a sprinkler system, so the sprinklers run on hose water. On Saturday we were watering the front lawn since it had been a while since there was rain. Both the boys just began running in and out of the sprinkler in their clothes. At first they hesitated and were just going up and drinking the water or helping to move the sprinkler. When they realized they were not getting in trouble they went for it.

Sunday and Monday they went out and put the sprinkler in the backyard. These times they actually wore bathing suits. They brought out their water squirters and a bucket. They had a blast playing in the water.

They were just running around and laughing. They had fun… being kids!

family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.

 

family · food · through my camera lens

Breakfast…Quesadillas? Recipe By Blake

Hi everyone, Blake here. Toady, I decided to have a breakfast burrito, and with a regular recipe and a bunch of dumb luck, I ‘created’ a new food item. Here it is….

Ingredients:

Two regular eggs

dash of water

Any decent slices of ham as needed ( I used off the bone ham from Giant Eagle.)

Any amount of slices of Colby Jack cheese as needed

Two taco-size tortillas

A little bit of butter

Equipment:

A grilled cheese or panini press

About a 6′ pan/skillet

A bowl, any size

Procedure:

Step 1: Crack the eggs in the bowl, then poke the yolk, preferably with a fork. Mix it around until it is all the same color. Pour the water into the bowl.

Step 2: Turn on the stove, and put on its highest heat setting. Move the butter around in pan/skillet until it dissolves.

Step 3: Pour the eggs in and then cook it until it’s fully cooked. Then have the wraps, ham and cheese out and ready.

Note: Here’s where this dumb luck came into place. We (myself and my mom) had turned the oven on, but my  skills on proportions weren’t so good, and we decided to do this:

Step 4: Take out the press and begin to heat it.

Step 5: While the press is heating, put cheese on the bottom of one wrap, then put ham on top of the cheese. Then, put the eggs in. After that, do vice versa of the ham and cheese, but putting ham first. Last, put the other wrap on top.

Step 6: Heat the quesadilla until desired, take it out, cut it, and enjoy!

If it ends out well, it should sort of look like this:

I tried it, and it was pretty good! Unlike this picture!P1080312

Happy cooking, and see you in my next blog, whenever that is!

-Blake

family · life · through my camera lens

Frozen in the summer

This week the boys were in theater camp. When we lived in FL the boys were involved musical theater in their school. They got to perform in Lion King, Seussical and Willy Wonka. When we moved here they didn’t have anything like that at their school. They got busy asking around for places that had musical theater for kids. Both kids found friends we acted for Jeter Backyard Theater. While we didn’t find out early enough to get into their spring performance we did find out in time to get them into theater camp.

The boys are doing two weeks of camp this summer. This first week they were performing with kids from 4th-12th grades. The oldest that they remembered being on the cast was 15 years old. They went in on Monday, auditioned and found out their roll before they left for the day. Tuesday-Thursday they learned the script, songs and blocking. Friday night at 7pm they put on Frozen Jr. This was the first time this play is being put on ANYWHERE. Jeter and two other companies across the US are piloting the production for Disney Theater. When they go back in July they are doing Frozen Kid. This will be a slightly shorter performance. They will be working with a younger cast that time around.

For this performance, Blake was one of the townspeople. He was very happy that he would be in a lot of the scenes and actually had a line. Colby was one on of the “hidden people” (the rock troll people). He wasn’t in as many scenes, but actually had a solo line in the song “Little Bit of a Fixer Upper”. They had soooo much fun and are super glad they did it and excited to go back in July.

I love that my boys are into performing like this. I grew up on the stage too. I had my first performance in the third grade and performed until my freshman year in college. There is something about being on stage. I always loved getting to know the other actors and helping each other show their best on the stage. It is a place where the odd are accepted and respected for what they can add. You learn structure, flexibility, public speaking and so much more. Can’t wait to see what roll they get in their next production and hope they continue to choose to perform going forward.

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

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