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

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.

Education · family · life · PreK class

Happy Halloween!

Image result for happy halloween images

Today has already been very busy for me. Today in my class we wore our pajamas. My class already went trunk or treating on Friday. This meant that  my class was not wearing their costumes to school today. I wanted to do something different and fun. So, pajama day!

Since we were in our pajamas and finishing up our unit on the night sky, I decided to schedule a special snack for today… pancakes! The children had fun making pancake from scratch. I made a double batch of pancakes and they were gone when we were done. There was only 1 out of 17 children who did not eat the pancakes.

I also brought in a variety of sugar based candy (opposed to chocolate based… yes I know ALL candy is all sugar) to dissolve. We used gummy bears, sour patch kids, skittles and sweet tarts. We put them into water and vinegar to see how they reacted to the liquids. On Friday, we are going to do a similar experiment with candy pumpkins and candy corn. That time we will use water, vinegar, salt water and sugar water. I’ve done this in the past and it is really cool to see the candy pumpkins react… the wax coating will separate!

The boys came home from school and then carved their pumpkins. They were so excited that this year they got to wear their costumes to school. It sounds like there were a lot of fun activities for the kids and it went smoothly!

I’ll post pictures of the boys in their costumes and with their pumpkins tomorrow.

Hope you have a great Halloween… stay safe. We will try to stay dry!

family · life

Sunday rambles

Yesterday we spent time checking things off our list. It was nice that each of us were able to do some of the things that needed to get accomplished. It was a beautiful day outside, temps in the 60s all day.

I spent a good chunk of the day plowing through a bunch of the things I needed to get done for work. I wrote the monthly newsletter, created the snack calendar, and wrote my overall monthly plans (this covers the theme, sub-topics, as well as free choice area changes).

We struggled to get moving in the morning and I do think we finally got out of bed around 10am. It was nice to sleep in and enjoy the extra hours of rest. We had a really late breakfast and then just decided that we’d just have a snack and then an early dinner. We went back to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza for an early dinner. This time we tried their chicken wings. The manage suggested these to us the last time. The wings were really tasty. They were not hot wings, they were garlic wings with sliced onions on top. We also got another pot of meatballs. I did pretty good eating… I had wings and meatballs. I love the pizza there, but decided to pass on pizza last night.

The boys went through a stint of listening to Jeff Dunham’s autobiography. Then they were listening to audio versions of his shows, over and over and over again! We told them it was time to listen to something else. Now they are onto listening to podcasts. Ok this is fine, but they again are listening to the same ones, not meaning different episodes of the same podcast streaming, but the same episodes. They said this is because they have missed parts of the podcast. Ok you might have, but you left it on and I heard the whole thing and don’t want to listen to it again.

Well today is Sunday. time for hiking/biking. Time for football. Time for getting ready for Monday. But, we will enjoy the fall weather. We will enjoy time slow and quiet of a Sunday.

Education · family · life

Changes and News

Yesterday I took the boys to their school. The teachers aren’t there, but it is an opportunity to find their classrooms. This year they are in the same biome (the school labels the hallways by biomes). Colby has the teachers that Blake had last year and Blake is just moving down the hall to 6th grade. Colby found two people from his class last year that are in class with him again this year. He is happy about that. At this time, Blake doesn’t know who is in his class, but those who know enough to contact are in his biome never mind his class. Oh well that will be good for him, meet and get to know other kids.

I know I haven’t talked about me job search in a while. I was contacted by three different preschools over the summer. I interviewed with all of them. Two of them I went back and taught a lesson. The third one offered me a position at my first interview, that was last Thursday. Yesterday I did a second interview at the other pre-school I was considering. I made a decision today. I accepted a job teaching kindergarten prep.

Image result for preK

I will be working from 8:45-12:45. I decided this would be perfect for our family. I get to teach and have the fun and challenge of doing what I’m good at doing, but I’m also home when the boys get off the bus. I can do the grocery shopping, cleaning and other things during the week and we can still have our weekends to do fun things.

It will also give me time to do more work on my Teacher Pay Teachers store! I am looking forward to this change and less teaching stress.

I’m excited to take on this new adventure and step in my life.

family · life · through my camera lens

Carnegie Science Center

Yesterday Richard took the day off to spend some time together as a family. We had been trying to find time to head into the Carnegie Science Center, but hadn’t managed yet. Right now they have a special display called the Art of the Brick.

We started by going through The Art of the Brick. This is the art of Nathan Sawaya. He creates and recreates art using Lego blocks. Colby was excited to see this. Before we walked in he informed me that this was going to be his career, but he wants to create abstract Lego Art.

We walked through and looked at the art and sculpture recreations. It was pretty impressive to see how close he was able to get to the original art. The next sections were pieces he created on his own. These too were very creative. When you went through this whole area you then went upstairs where they had a variety of stations with Lego blocks for people to build their own creations. They had a variety of suggested items, but you could pretty much do whatever you wanted.

Then we went into the science museum. This was a decent science center. There was a variety of hands on activities for the children to interact and learn from. I’m not sure I was impressed with the quantity or quality of these activities. (I guess I’m a bit of a museum snob). I’m not sure you would want to go back to this museum on a regular basis, but it certainly was worth going at least one, or once in a blue moon.

They we went outside to the submarine that they have docked on the river. You are able to go through the USS Requin submarine with your admission to the science center (the Art of the Brick was a separate cost, but everything else we did was included with the museum price). We walked through the submarine and realized that this was a very tight place to live for weeks at a time.

We then went to the Highmark SportsWorks. This was nothing like I expected it to be. There are 30 sports related activities. There were long lines at most of it and many were just ok. We did not wait in line for the ropes course, rock wall, human yo-yo or any of the ones that had long lines. They swung a bat, raced, tested their reflexes and a few other things. I’m glad this was included in the price I would not have wanted to pay a separate price for this.

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– back to school (routines edition)

It’s that time of year. Back to school time!

If we still lived in FL, the boys would be going back today. But, here where we live they go back on the 23rd. Yes, I know that there are other places that still don’t go back until after Labor Day.

It doesn’t matter when you go back, it all is the same… change!

While we all know that going back means getting new clothes, backpack and lunchbox. There are so many other things to do to help your child get ready to go back to school.

Work on adjusting their sleep routine back into school mode. I know most parents, myself included, allow the bedtime routines to slip a bit during the summer. Maybe you let your children stay up later, or sleep in longer. Maybe you drop the reading before bedtime or other routines. You should start these routines back up 2 to 3 weeks before school starts. This will help on that first day/week/month getting up and moving in the mornings.

Establish new routines and set expectations ahead of time. Each year your child should be gaining more and more responsibility for their school prep. I’m not talking about making them buy their notebooks. I mean get an alarm clock and have them wake up and get moving on their own. Or have them choose their own clothes to wear. Or have them pack their own lunches. The more steps you encourage them to do independently the easier it will be later in life.

My sons began picking out their own clothes when they started K. They had to put out their clothes on their toy box the night before. I had and still have veto power over outfits. They have school clothes that they keep separated from their play clothes. I keep their bottoms neutral (demin, khaki, navy and black), this makes it easier to put together outfits that will work. When we go shopping they pick out the clothes they have, so they like what they have.

My sons began packing their own lunches when they were in first grade. I packed in kindergarten and they used the same lunch containers in first grade. They used bento style boxes that had three sections. They packed a protein (sandwich, deli roll up, leftovers etc), a fruit or veggie and then a junk (chips, pretzels, goldfish, etc). Now they use zip lock bags, tupperware or thermos to pack their lunches. They know to have a main item (protein preferably), a fruit or veggie and then a snack type item. I do pack the lunch items into their lunchboxes in the mornings. Hmmmm maybe that will be their new thing this year?

My sons became responsible for all paperwork when they were in third grade. At this point I stopped checking folders/binders etc. They could give me everything or they could pick out what I needed to see (I prefer the later). They needed to be on it as I won’t go hunting down permission slips and other papers that need to be filled out. I typically know when things should be coming home and may provide a few gentle reminders at that time but it’s their paperwork.

I also only check homework if they ask me to, that started about 4th grade. It is their homework, their responsibility. I do help if needed, but they need to try on their own before they can ask for help. They come home, have a snack and start homework. They must complete it before asking for any kind of technology. School based technology is the last step in the homework process.

I know there are parents who would feel that I’m way too hands off when it comes to my children’s school work. I want them to own their successes and failures. I want them to learn now that it is not ok to turn in things late. That no one is going to rescue you when you are unprepared. I want them to see that they can get themselves prepared and going. They need to learn to leave time to do the things that need to get done. They can’t be late (or in my opinion on time… as on-time is late). If they learn these lessons now when grades are not as important as they are in high school and college. If they learn these lessons when we are here to help pick up the pieces it will help when they live on their own.

I’m helping my children grow up.

life

Ready for the new school year?

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. There are often times when I wish the boys went to school all year long. They do so much better when they have a routine. Then there are days when I am so happy that they have summer break. I love the slower moments of life.

Today the boys got up, had breakfast and then went downstairs. They are playing with hot wheels cars. They take control of the fire stick, but that is fine. They don’t always play well together, but when they do it is nice. I enjoy the easy relationship they have together. They certainly are best of friends and worst of enemies. They have a natural relationship together. They are both strong willed and that shows in ugly ways at times, but I wouldn’t change in either of the boys.

We have kept up some routines, schedules and expectations over the summer, but also loosened up some of them too. I like that as they get older they have more independent times. We are getting to the phase in their lives where they balance is shifting. They need to make more and more decisions on their own. They need to be more responsible for their choices, actions and forward movements in life.

So many times it seems that parents want to keep their children younger. They want to shelter the children. They want to stay in control of the choices and decisions that are made. That is not the way that Richard and I parent. We want the boys to have a firm grasp on reality. They need to understand choices and consequences now before those wrong choices could land them in more trouble than an apology can fix.

So am I ready for summer to be over? Yes and No. Am I ready for the boys to grow up? Yes. I love seeing the changes in the boys. I am excited to see what the next change will be. I’m excited to see the growth and development in all aspects of life. Going forward into the next grade of school is a huge step in the development process… so bring on 6th and 5th grades. I’m ready to see the changes it with bring in their personalities, development and all around self. (Not that I’m ready to start the whole get up and function in the mornings)

family · life · Uncategorized

Variety is the Spice of Life

Over the years, we have tried to expose the boys to a variety of things.  We have exposed them to a variety of sports both on tv (Olympics, pro sports, x-games etc..) as well as going to see sports live (pro soccer, indoor football, college football/baseball/softball/ basketball etc…)

We have introduced them to a variety of literature genres. They read everything from graphic novels to non-fiction to biographies to mysteries. They enjoy finding series of books that they can get wrapped up in characters as well as books they read to learn something new.

We have also expanded their horizons when it comes to music. They have been listening to a wide variety of music since they were children. While they did like listening to Laurie Berkner Band and the Imagination Movers when they were little, they also loved classic rock. If you look at their MP3 players you would find everything from Van Halen, to Weird Al, to Green Day to more popular songs today. There is very little that we do not listen to in the house.

Right now the boys are into listening to musicals. They are big into Hamilton, Sponge Bob the Musical and Wicked. I know that this is spurred on because of their performing in musical theater themselves. We will continue to expose the boys to a variety of musicals. I know we will soon be listening to a lot of Mary Poppins here soon, that is the play they are doing this fall.

We know that the more they are exposed to the better they will be later in life.

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.