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!

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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!

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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.

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy Spring Saturday

Spring! Spring! Yeah… it’s spring! And we have been doing a lot outside… that is where you should be when it’s spring!

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04_13_c_01After having a steak dinner yesterday, we headed back into the woods. I wanted to show Richard and the boys some of the paths I traveled. We decided to cut down through our own property and see if we could clear out a safe path to use on a regular basis to get down into the woods behind our house. I think there are a few good choices. We just need to clear out a04_13_b_02 bunch of thorn bushes, all of us ended up with cuts from the thorn bushes. One crazy thing… all four of us put tick spray on. Only one person came home with ticks… ME! I pulled at least 6 ticks off and then spent the night thinking there were more on me. Why me? Gesh!

Today, we got up and had a slow morning. We headed to the gym so the boys could go to their “little lifters”. They have really enjoyed this, too bad there is only one more week. plantersBut, the good thing is they have learned a lot of things that they will be able to do on their own. This will be good going forward especially in the summer when I plan to have them workout on the days we head there to use the pool.

After the gym, we went to DiBellas for subs and then to Lowes (if you follow my blog regularly you probably have noticed this is our regular Saturday pattern). While we were at Lowes, we picked up plants, new planters, potting soil, fertilizer and a few other things. Colby helped me pick out the plants to go in the planter and the hanging plant we purchased.  When we got home we set to work. Richard and I worked on getting the new planters set up. Dixie decided she needed to do some digging too.

We then went into the backyard and Richard began digging holes. This is not an easy task. Digging holes should not require more work with the pick ax than the shovel. He planted the Christmas tress that we purchased to use on the front porch for part of the04_14_c_03 Christmas decoration with the intent on planting them in the backyard. Even though it was a lot of work we will probably keep with this tradition next year.

While Richard was working on the holes, I spread out the butterfly/humming bird seed mix that we picked up at Lowes on sale a few weeks ago. I then went and fertilized the front yard. We need to do something to get the grass a bit greener. Since there is rain in our forecast for tonight and most of tomorrow we wanted to get some of these tasks done so the rain can do it’s job too.

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For dinner we decided to head to Red Robin (YUMMM!) Richard needed to go to the hobby shop to get a new motor for his Traxxas truck, so why not go out to eat too? We all splurged and got milkshakes which is a great treat (Richard: Oreo, Blake: chocolate, Colby: Vanilla, Me: Caramel). We figured we had burned a few extra calories today.

So I’d call today a success. We will see how much rain we get tonight and tomorrow, we need it! The big thing on my agenda for tomorrow is making pizza dough for Stromboli. The last few times I’ve tried to make pizza dough it didn’t workout… keep your fingers crossed I figure it out this time.

family · life

The child not the path

I find it interesting when I read about parenting and changes in parenting. I’ve always thought of myself as an old school parent. I try very hard not to shelter my boys. We have conversations about topics the bring up. We have talked about everything from sports, politics, education, conservation and so much more. Richard and I believe that we need to provide them the tools for adulthood.

As the boys get older, we are trusting them more and more to do things on their own. We are allowing them to make their own mistakes and not fixing them for them. We guide, we may even direct, but we can’t do for them. Our job as parents is to help them become adults.

No automatic alt text available.I recently read an article talking about the difference between parenting when I was a child, and before that compared to parenting these days. (Sorry I can’t provide a link because I’m not sure where I read the article, it has just been bouncing around in my brain) It asked the question of why did those parents feel comfortable providing the freedom that many parents today do not. The freedom to go as well as the freedom to fail. The articles answer struck me… it is not the faith or trust in the children that has changed as much as the parents feelings about parenting. Too often today parents blame themselves for the shortcoming and failures of the child. This probably contributes to the fact that many parents do not want to see fault in their child, because then they are in essence admitting failure in themselves.

In many ways this hit me and hit me hard. I often blame myself for the shortcoming of my sons. Just the other day we were yet again supervising cleaning of the basement. Richard was getting frustrated because he felt the boys needed to show more respect for the items they have, which I totally understand. But, my gut reaction was that I didn’t doImage may contain: text my job as a stay-at-home mom when they were younger. I didn’t instill this respect for property, I didn’t foster the desire for a clean living space, I wasn’t able to provide them with the routine of cleaning up that stuck through this phase of life. It is easy to slip into this I failed mode. I was the one who was home with them. If I only did x, y, z better then, my kids would do what they were supposed to do. But, wait they are. Kids are perfect. They will makes mistakes. Tweens and teens are notorious for being messy and not taking care of their space. Is it that I didn’t do my job as a parent, or it is that my kids are… kids?

My sons are good kids, far from perfect, but good kids. Do I think Richard and I are bad parents… HELL NO! Do I think we are/were perfect parents… NOPE! But, do the shortcoming of our sons need to reflect on us as humans, never mind as parents? No. One can not raise perfect beings… it isn’t possible. We model the behaviors expected. We helped them see the errors of their ways and fix their mistakes. We foster an understanding of differences and an acceptance of others choices and opinions. We can guild our children, we can foster their interests and gently guide. We can show them the safe way to proceed with caution when needed, as well as allowing them to throw caution the wind when life allows. We will be there when they fall, but we can not fix the path for them. I do not know what lies ahead in the road for my sons, I can only hope that we have given them the tools to deal with each choice they make. When they succeed and excel we will be there cheering them on. Just as when the stumble and fall we will be there to help them dust themselves off and try again.

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family · life

One year ago…

Richard is home! He came home very early yesterday morning. There is something about having everyone back under one roof. Today on my facebook “on this day” feed there was a picture of a ton of empty packing boxes. That was the beginning, one year ago we started packing up our Florida house. We started the adventure, but had little direction on where we were headed.

Last March, we headed up here to Pittsburgh for spring break. We came up to see where Richard would live while we were still in Florida. We came up to see where we would consider looking at houses. It was a hard, yet fun journey. We stayed in downtown Pittsburgh, which is very different from where we now live. We originally were looking in a total different township area than we decided upon. Our real estate person that we were connected to was awesome! She had been sending us links to houses, we were sending her links to houses, and through this process we narrowed it down.

It is strange to try to figure out where you want to live when you have never even been to the area before. When we arrived in Pittsburgh we went through a whirlwind tour of house hunting. We looked at existing homes. This had two issues to it… .one I wasn’t moving here until after the school year. Could we afford two houses until that time? How much work would there be to transform a new house into “our house”? I think I found maybe one that we might have considered as a possibility, but… nope!

We looked at new builds. Richard was building his house when we met. Then we sold that and built the house our sons grew up in. There is something about moving into a house no one has ever lived in. There is something about starting the process from scratch. Picking out every detail and making the house your own. So we found two house plans we really liked the one we purchased and one in another area, that I originally swore we were going to move to.

So how do you pick. How do you pick one over the other?  For me… it came down to what the neighborhood offered for my sons. The house we did not purchase was a smaller neighborhood. It did not have sidewalks. It did not have common play areas. The lots available to purchase were narrower than the one here. One was mostly slopped woods and the other had a retention pond at the bottom of the slope. The neighborhood we picked is the complete opposite of this.

The other draw was things around. The neighborhood we live in is about 3 miles from North Park, this is a county run park with SOOOO many amenities.

One year ago today all we knew was that Richard had a job. That we were packing up the house we had lived in since 2005. That the boys would be starting at a new school. That I would not have a job. That our lives would change and that the packing of these boxes was the start of this process.

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We told the boys… change is hard, but change is good. And this change has been good for us!

Education · family · life

How much sleep do I need?

Image result for sleep needed for children

Sleep is one of those issues that people do not want anyone telling them what is best. I’ve learned this over the years of teaching. I’ve had so many children tell me that they only need 8 hours of sleep…. ummmm nope that’s not enough. Quite often when children do not get enough sleep on a regular basis they don’t act tired, they act wired! Sleep issues is a question that is often brought up when people are considering ADD/ADHD.

I’m one of those mean parents. My sons who are 11 and 9 go to bed at 8pm. This is lights out go to sleep time. They head upstairs around 7:30 to read. My sons’ alarm clocks go off a 6am. That means if they fell right to sleep they’d get 10 hour of sleep. Which if you look at the chart above is the minimum needed for their age range.  (Richard and I sleep from 9:30/10:00pm-6am)

While I know they wish they had a later bedtime, and they will over the summer time, I do it because it is what they need.

Sleep is such a vital part of human development. Children grow physically and mentally while they sleep. This is the body’s opportunity to slow down and process the effects of the day.

Sleep is important in a healthy lifestyle. It is just as important as diet and exercise, but it is so often overlooked. Instead of letting your child drink caffeine to keep awake (yes more and more people are doing this younger and younger) or even yourself for that matter. Instead of saying his isn’t tired he just keeps going. Or hitting that 3pm wall… look at your sleep schedule. What time do you need to wake up? What time does your child have to get out of bed? Take that time and work backwards. Yes the first few nights of going to bed earlier will be hard. Do it in small increments, keep adding a few more minutes of sleep each night until you get yourself/your child into the ideal sleep range. (know that the range is a suggestion and some will need more and some will need less, but this is a guideline).

If you are switching your child’s sleep schedule explain why. Show them research or at least the graphics they show how much sleep they need. Talk about how long it takes them to fall asleep. Talk about healthy sleep routines that will help. Stop using electronics 1 hour before going to bed.

Get a good night sleep… your body will thank you!

family · life

Why did you leave FL for PA??

Whenever people learn that we moved from Orlando, FL to Pittsburgh, PA, we always get that look of … “What were you thinking?” People then always say “Was this for a job?” “Do you miss Florida?” “And many other questions that make you know that people think we are nuts.

Maybe we are, but this is working out for our family.

Yes, the weather in Orlando is a LOT warmer. Yes, Orlando has Disney and Universal and Sea World and Legoland and so many other things. Yes, Orlando is the only place my sons knew as home. Richard too had only lived in Florida.

What have we found? The neighborhood we live in now is a lot friendlier than the one we left. The boys have friends here. They enjoy going out on their bikes and joining up with other kids to play sports, ride bikes, play on the playground and so much more. The school they attend is for grades 4-6. This means they have more freedom and responsibility. The school doesn’t focus all their time and energy on the state testing. They want the children to be involved in learning beyond the classroom. They are more concerned about the depth of knowledge than the breathe of knowledge.

The city of Pittsburgh is a bigger city than Orlando, but it actually has a small town feel. There are lots of museums and things to do, but you can walk around and go to small restaurants and other venues that have been there for decades or longer. When you talk to people around they are friendly and speak highly of the city they love to call home. We have met so many people who say they grew up in Pittsburgh, moved away and came back.

No city, town, area is perfect. But, I will say that feel of this city is so caring and welcoming. We look forward to getting to know the area, city and state more. We are enjoying the change, and not just the change in seasons.

So were we crazy to leave Florida? Nope! We made a step that is helping bring happiness to our family, and that is what is important.

family · life

Weekend business

This weekend was busy on so many levels. Saturday we slept in and then the boys worked on their homework. We got a late start to the day and then headed out to Lowes. We went to buy a garden wagon, but decided to go look at tile for the backsplash. Lowes was having a sale for their credit card members… we saved 10%. We decided this was a good time to buy the stuff for the backsplash. When we first looked I couldn’t decide which one to get. We ended up buying three different styles and bringing them home. I then made a decision. We decided to head back to Lowes to get the tile and all the accouterments needed to put up the backsplash in the kitchen. So Saturday felt like all we did was homework and shop at Lowes.

Sunday found us heading out the door again. First we went and dropped Dixie off at The Dog Stop for their Sunday daycare. She LOVESSSS this. On Saturday she was asking to go for a ride first thing in the morning, and we realized she thought it was Sunday since Richard didn’t work on Friday. So Sunday when he was home again, she was trying to get to the car as soon as she went downstairs. When she found out that she was going in the car and going to doggy daycare she was bouncing.

When we got to the gym, the boys were disappointed to find out that the kids size circuit training equipment has been removed. The person working in the kids zone was one of the trainers. He decided to work with the boys an put them through a workout. They said they had fun doing it. We signed them up for a “Little Lifters” workout group that they are starting there. This will take place Saturdays from March 17- April 21. This will be really good for both of them.

Then we went to lunch and then back at Lowes. In the process of painting Friday and doing everything on Saturday we failed to get the paintbrushes cleaned… so back to Lowes we went to buy brushes to paint the gray.

After picking Dixie up and heading home the guys went outside and drove their Traxxas trucks. This provided me time to shower, fold laundry and then do some reading. I read quite a bit on Sunday and am now getting to a better place in Lilac Girls and can read it quicker.

Sunday night Richard and I painted the gray wall. I’m so happy with the choices we made. The windows pop, the furniture goes well, and it just wraps up the space.

Hope you had a great weekend.