life

In Summerrrrr

Image result for start of summer

Today is officially the first day of summer. The boys have been out of school for a few weeks. The weather has been warm and the fresh fruits and veggies have started rolling into the grocery stores. So, I guess today doesn’t feel any different than the other days. But, it is the official start of summer. The longest day of the year.

I enjoy the season of summer. I love the fresh fruits and veggies of summer. So many of these you can get all year long but they don’t taste the same as summer fresh. I’m looking forward to peach season. Peach is one fruit that I feel is only worth eating when they are summer fresh.

Summer means slower mornings. Later evenings. Less plans and more family time. It means trips to the library, playing games and hiking. Trips to the pool, grilling and hanging out outside. Summer means reading, watching movies and laughing together.

The boys and I went and got library cards on Tuesday. I picked up two books, including the Elite which is the book after The Selection. I am also reading a book about Grit. That book is a bit text book feeling, but it is a good read. Richard already read this book, and we are considering having the boys read it too. I’ll share more information about it when I finish it.

The boys are already spending more time helping in the kitchen. They have already cleaned their desks, floors, closets and toy boxes. Next week we will tackle their bureaus… ugh!

I love the fact that I’m able to spend the summers with my sons. I realize that there will be a time when they don’t want to spend their time off with their mom, but for now, I’ll enjoy it.

So, happy first day of summer to you. I hope this summer finds you enjoying the sunshine and smiles, relaxation and simpleness of life. Happy summer!

Image result for happy summer

Advertisements
family · life · through my camera lens

One year ago

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, shoes and outdoor

One year ago today the moving truck pulled away from our Orlando house. This was such a bittersweet day for all of us. We were excited for our new adventures. We were ready to all be in the same state again (Richard moved to PA in April, while the boys and I stayed in FL to finish up the school year).

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

We moved away from the house the boys grew up in, the house they came to when they came home from the hospital. This was the house they played in, got sick in, learned in, laughed in, and so much more.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingBut, where there were tears, there was excitement. The boys were excited to go watch our new house being built. They were ready to go experience snow, meet new people, and start off in a new school.

While the move into the townhouse was not completely smooth and we barely survived some days without “killing” each other, it too was a good experience. The boys strengthened their friendship, we showed that you could pair down life and still enjoy. We played games, went to the pool, took in the $1 movies and explored the area.

One year later…

It feels like just yesterday some days and then other times it feels like forever ago. I thinkImage may contain: 1 person, sitting all of us know it was the right move for our family. The boys feel like they have learned so much this year. They felt challenged in school, enjoyed the new people they have met, and have learned to enjoy the freedoms of childhood.

Richard knows that this job was an advancement in the right direction for him. I took the time away to settle all my guys into our new life. I was able to take time and reassess where I want to go in life.

This has been a long crazy year, but it is a fun journey to be on!

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Baking and Tile Work… all in two days

Ok I guess I am continuing on the oops I didn’t post mode of late. Friday I went into full baking/cooking mode. I started the day by making homemade vanilla ice cream. I haven’t made ice cream since before started packing to move to PA.

When the ice cream was done, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.P1080247

Then, I realized we didn’t have bread to use to have sandwiches, so I baked a batch of rolls.P1080250

While the cookies were cooling and the bread was rising, I started applesauce in the crock pot to go with the pork tenderloin we were having for dinner.

We then had lunch. After lunch I took the cooled cookies and the homemade ice cream and turned them into ice cream sandwiches. P1080253

Saturday was busy in a different way. We started the day with Richard and I heading to Lowes and the grocery store. We picked up lunch from the grocery store so that we could get to work on the back splash.

This was another long process. We had to go through and make sure that there wasn’t too much mastic between the tiles. This involved using a utility knife to cut out the extra mastic and there are a LOT of seams in this tile work. Then we sealed the tiles for a second time. When the seal was drying we went around and removed the tape and paper we had put up originally and re-protected the marble the best we could while still having the bottom of the tiles available for the grout to get into the seams.

Then we began grouting. This means mixing the grout. Wait 10 minutes. Apply the grout, which takes a while since you have to go over it over and over with the float to make sure you get it into all the groves, there are no air pockets and then make sure you take off enough so that it isn’t a pain to clean up in the next two steps.  Ok now wait 15-30 minutes for the grout to dry.

Next, you take a damp sponge and wipe off the excess grout. This was easy on the glass tiles, but the stone pieces… not so much! Both Richard and I were working on this and our arms were screaming when we finishes.

Then you wait! This time you give it an hour and you wipe everything down again with a clean damp rag.

Today we are going to have to go back and add the matching caulk to the bottom and edge of the tiles. Then we need to put the plates back onto the outlets and switches. We are planning on sealing the granite counters too since the ones under the tile are already empty.

Today, well we don’t yet know what else we are doing today. There is rain in the forecast so that will play a role in whatever plans we make.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend so far!

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Catching you up on life

Wow I think I missed posting more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole time I’ve been writing this blog. We were busy this weekend as I talked about here. The boys finished up school yesterday, so there were a lot of end of the year things happening. Also, yesterday I had a job interview.

I will hear back from them in about a month, they are between sessions right now and have a board meeting coming up. They also need to finalize with the existing staff what hours they want before hiring. Not that I know if they will offer me a job yet or not. I have another preschool that wants to interview me later in June once they too get their summer program up and going as well as the director of that one is going on vacation in the middle of June.  We shall see what comes about from these places.

I always hate when interviewers ask canned questions. I’d rather you ask me specific questions that I can tell you actually want to know the answer. The first question I got in this interview was tell me about yourself… ummm what do you want to know? I’m a mom, I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I have lots of teaching experience,  ummm umm crickets in my brain.

Another interview question that is always asked that I never know how to answer is “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” Now when I was young (as in right out of college) I was better at answering this… now, not so much. When I got asked this question at my last interview, back in FL, I laughed and said if you asked me this question 2 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been “I see myself interviewing for a teaching position”. They knew this, but that is another story for another post. This time I was like…. if you asked me last year I wouldn’t have said I’d be in Pittsburgh. Life has to be a bit more fluid when you are a mother. I’m lucky in the knowledge that I don’t need to work and that if life says I need to stay home I can. I instead talked about the fact that I want to go back at sometime and get my PhD (that won’t be until we’ve paid the boys college tuition… they come first), and that I would love to teach in a either a HS, tech school or college where people are in teacher training programs. I have a lot to share and I think I’d do a decent job teaching people to become teachers. But again, that is on the back burner right now because I need to take more courses to get the certifications I’d need for that. I think of life this way in 5 years, Blake (16) will be going into his junior year in HS and Colby (15) his sophomore year. In 10 years Blake will be 21 and Colby will be 20 and they will be in college. How can I know what I’d be doing then when I can’t even imagine them at those ages?

Ok enough of that. Blake and Colby finished their first round of mountain biking classes last night. They enjoyed this so much that we signed them up for session two, that starts on Monday. They went a totally different route and actually ended at a different part of the park. North Park is 3,075 acres so there are lots of trails and paths to take. I decided to drive down to where I would pick them up and hike from there for a change. This was an area I’d never visited, but I will be back. I didn’t walk as far or as long as I typically do, but I finished feeling tired and covered in sweat, guess I call that a good workout,

IMG_20180531_175527.jpgIMG_20180531_175817.jpgIMG_20180531_175426.jpgIMG_20180531_175554.jpg

family · life · through my camera lens

A long weekend means working in the house

I can’t believe that this is the first time I’ve picked up my laptop since Saturday, when I wrote my last blog post. We decided to take on the project of putting up the back splash in our kitchen this weekend.

Saturday Colby was at a sleepover. Richard, Blake and I went out for dinner at Burgatory. All three of us got milkshakes as a treat. I had their Fluffer nutter butter Shake (vanilla ice cream, nutter butter cookies, peanut butter and fluff mixed together into a delicious concoction!)

We then headed to Lowes to pick up a few things we needed. I decided to pick up new drawer organizers for my silverware and cooking tool drawers. I love the new bamboo dividers we purchased. (I actually purchased another one on Monday). I now have enough to organize 3 drawers in my kitchen.

We decided to let Blake stay up and watch a movie. Richard suggested Happy Gilmore since Blake keeps talking about wanting to see it, and Colby has shown no interest in it. Blake ended up not feeling well part way through the movie so we never did finish it. Oh well… another time.

Sunday we had already decided to have a quiet morning. It rained over night and was gray and overcast for the beginning of the day. Perfect day for working inside. So Sunday and part of Monday we worked on getting the back splash up. Other than working around the outlets/light switches, it wasn’t too painful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We got all the tiles laid out so we could put the sealant on them before putting them up on the wall. Richard set his new wet saw up in the garage and we got to work.

I really like how it is turning out. We did not get around to putting up the grout yet, but all the tile is on the walls now!

The boys are off to school today for their last Tuesday. They have a full day today and tomorrow and a half day on Thursday and then they are off for the summer. It’s been a crazy busy year, but it was all good. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend.

family · life

It’s Saturday

It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. It’s a long weekend.

This means biking in North Park, yard work, and family time. Richard helped Colby make his car for school. Colby needed to make a car to protect an egg in a “car crash”. He made the car out of foam insulation and they worked together to shape it into the car in Colby’s mind-eye.

Tonight Colby is going to a friend’s house for a sleep over. Last year on this day Colby was having his two best friends from FL spend the night over to celebrate his birthday. This was their last hurrah together before our move. Tonight he is going to be at a friend in the neighborhood’s house. They became friends over the course of the school year and while it took time for the friendship to foster, it works now. He misses his Florida friends, but he has found a new group that makes him happy here too.

In 8 days Colby will have his tenth birthday. It’s hard to believe he will be in double digits. I’ll talk more about Colby and his birthday on his birthday post, but I was thinking about it today as the pictures from his sleep over popped up in my Facebook feed.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and are able to get out and enjoy the unofficial start of summer.

family · life

7.5 school days left

And so the countdown continues. It is hard to believe that the boys only have 7.5 days left in school. This year has been such a whirlwind for our whole family.

At this time last year we were wrapping up our last few weeks in FL. The house was pretty much packed up. The school year was almost over and we were getting ready to set off on our grand adventure. We left FL on June 5th and were moved in to the apartment on June 6th. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been a full year already.

The boys were talking about it the other night and both feel that this move was good for them. They love their school and feel they have learned a lot this year. They have had their ups and downs, but in the long run they are happy.  Richard is settled into his job and I’m just about ready to send off my resume. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on what to do, where to apply, should I apply, should I stay home, what is the best thing.

It is such a hard thing to try and figure out what is not only best for me, but also best for the family. The last job I had pretty much fell in my lap and I I hardly thought about it. I took that position more than half way through the school year, the boys were settled and I was going to be in the same school as them. While the boys are settled, I will not be with them anymore. I know they are old enough, responsible enough and more than capable of dealing with the adjustments that will come along with me going back to work, it’s not an easy decision.

I know that the job market for educators is tough in this area. I know that I have a lot to offer still I just need to make sure that I go in the direction that will bring me the most joy. That will bring me the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children…. that is what teaching is all about.

So, my goal is to get my resume sent out and the process started in the beginning of next week. I won’t share more details at this time, but will as time progresses.

I hope you are enjoying the countdown to your summer, whenever that starts in your life. For me, I’m looking forward to our first summer in our house. Seeing the boys settle into the summer routine of life. 7.5 more school days until life changes for us… again!

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Yesterday I never did get around to writing a blog post, I’m not sure why, but oh well such is life.

I saw the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bars and thought they looked rather yummy. Who does’t like chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, oh wait I know a few people who don’t, but I like them and that’s what counts, a lot of people like them and that is what’s important.

I made them yesterday… well I made something similar anyway. I followed the recipe, but then “Lori-ized it”. And, as soon as I tried one I was already re-writing the recipe in my head.

This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided) Image may contain: dessert, food and outdoor
  • bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 4 oz. box Reese’s Pieces candy
Peanut Butter Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate layer:
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a siltpad
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth. (my microwave has a melt chocolate setting so I used that, but this is the typical way to melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it)

For the peanut butter sauce:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add honey and sugar and stir well to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

  3. Stir in vanilla

     

Assembly:

  1. Spread the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet, don’t worry about neatness aim more for a similar thickness across the surface area used
  2. Top with pretzels and Reese’s Pieces. You can put them down at random, or be more like me and spend time making sure they are evenly spaced out (ok a bit OCD there, but hey what can I say?) Lightly press into chocolate
  3. Prep peanut butter layer. I had enough to spread it in an even layer over the whole bar
  4. Add an additional layer of the pretzels and press into peanut butter layer
  5. melt remaining 4 oz of chocolate and drizzle over the top of everything.
  6. Refrigerate until solid.
  7. Cut or break into pieces
  8. Enjoy!

OK… now here is how I’d change it next time!

First I felt this was very honey forward. I would either use 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of agave nectar or switch it all to agave nectar (I am not a huge honey fan even though both Richard and Colby love the stuff and eat it all the time).

Also, I would add salt to the peanut butter layer to bring out the peanut butter flavor more than just the sweet of the honey/sugar combination

I liked the double layer of pretzels (that I already changed from the original recipe), but felt the Reese’s pieces got lost. So you either need to double the amount you use or add peanut butter chips or even peanut M&M’s to up the peanut flavor.

Finally I would put more of the chocolate into the bottom layer maybe only reserve 2.5 oz for the top so it was a true drizzle and not a full layer of chocolate.

Colby tried these out as his after school snack. He loves peanut butter and chocolate together. He loves peanut butter and honey together. He always eats peanut butter and pretzels together. He LOVES  Reese’s Pieces. So this treat was right up his alley. Richard also enjoyed them when he came home from work. I guess I will be making these again, but next time I’ll “Lori-ize” them even more!

Image may contain: food

Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.

family · life · through my camera lens

Spring Weekend

This weekend found us with nicer weather, so that meant we were outside. The boys and I went out after they got home from school on Friday. They rode to the park and brought a basketball and soccer ball to play on the court and field down there. I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked about 1.5 miles.

We just realized that that bug protection we had been applying to Dixie didn’t cover ticks. Great!! We have already pulled 4 off her. It’s not easy to find them since she has very dense fur in some spots, plus most of her fur is black. We have given her the flea and tick stuff the vet told us to try at her last appointment. Hopefully this works, last thing we need is for her getting ticks on a regular basis.

The tick find on Dixie spurred me to get out and treat the backyard. We sprayed the area she has access to as well as the perimeter of the woods of our yard with the insecticide spray and then put granular over the rest of the yard. That was my task Saturday morning before we left for the gym.

This was the boys last week of little lifters. They really enjoyed this program. It would be nice to see my places provide this type of training to kids their age. The program was for kids 8-13. This is the prefect age to introduce correct use of gym equipment that they can use independently. They aren’t ready to get out and use the circuit training or free weights yet, but they can use a step bench, resistance bands, light weights, a medicine ball and many other equipment. Colby is very excited to create his own workout for next weekend and keep working on getting stronger.

We headed to DiBella’s and Lowes. We needed an extension rod for the new fan we purchased at Costco for the morning room. We also picked up rollers so we could paint the garage. Over the last few trips we have been picking up their discounted paints. We were getting gallons of paint for $9. It is a great way to get paint if you don’t really care about the color.

So Saturday we painted the garage. We mixed together a quart of navy blue, a gallon of purple, a gallon of sage and a gallon of a light blue. The color ended up sort of a cornflower blue. It works. Richard also took the cans of white and painted the ceiling in the back section of the garage. We still have 3 cans of different shades of green and may mix them together to paint the basement since we were already talking about painting it green. That is still in the lets think about this stage.

Today we got up and headed to North Park. All three guys took their bikes. I’m’ still nursing my hip and knee so I decided to just walk. The boys rode the paved path to the pump park where I caught up with them. I ended up walking about 1.5 miles again. I was glad to see the distance here because soon the boys will be taking mountain biking lessons here and I’ll walk while they are at their lesson  Richard rode his bike on the actual bike trails.

When we were leaving, we ended up stopping to watch an auto cross in the pool parking lot. There were just regular cars, or regular-ish cars, racing around a cone course. The boys enjoyed this. I liked that I captured a few good photos of them up close. 

What a great way to get out and enjoy the fact that we are finally seeing spring temperatures and the sun!

Hope it is nice in your part of the world and that you had a great weekend.