family · life · through my camera lens

Richard!

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Today is Richard’s birthday. Richard and I have been together over 15 years now. He is my rock. I know that no matter what is going on in life, Richard is there for me. Together 09_30_r_01we deal with life so much better than we do apart.

Most people talk about finding someone who makes them whole. Richard and I have never felt this was the case. We do not complete each other, because we both had our lives together before we got together. I feel that instead we bring out the best in each other.

I love seeing Richard with our sons. He is showing them not only what a good father looks and acts like, but what it is like to be an honest, caring and responsible man.

Happy Birthday Richard. Thank you for everything…. and so much more!

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life · through my camera lens

Thankful for- places

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

family · life

Thankful week 1 -things

thankful blog

For the month of November, each Friday I will write a thankful post. I think it is important to stop and think about the things you are thankful for. Those things/ people/e vents in your life that just make your life a bit better, a bit more meaningful.

This week I will focus on things.  What objects am I thankful for having in my life? How do they make my life more meaningful?

Our House

Image may contain: house, sky and outdoorI’m thankful for our home. We have lived in our house for a bit over a year now. It is now home. Granted home is wherever I spend most of my time with my family. It is the place where my children soundly sleep in their beds. It is the location I see my guys first thing in the mornings. It may not be the first home we lived in as a family, but it is the home we are loving and growing in now…. for that I’m thankful.

Technology

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Many people think I am anti-technology since I limit the amount of technology the boys use. I’m quite the opposite. I enjoy technology, but I understand the needs for limits. I enjoy the connections that technology allows. I enjoy being able to dance my fingers across the keyboard and access a huge variety of knowledge, products and so much more.

Food

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I love food… ok who doesn’t? I love to cook, bake and explore with foods. I have been working very hard the last few months on being more proactive in my food selections. It is often easy to say… this tastes good, so I must eat it. But, thinking that way can get you in trouble. So instead, I think this is healthy AND tastes good… so I can eat it.

Changes

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There have been so many changes in the last few years. I know that change is hard, but change is good. Change brings about growth. Changes brings out the best and the worst in people. But, it is important to be flexible enough to deal with change.

 

I have decided to have the boys join in this thankful process.

Blake is thankful for our house. “Without it we wouldn’t have the life we live”

Colby is thankful for nature. “Nature shows us there is more to life and change. That the real world happens beyond technology”

Join in… What things are you thankful for?

 

 

 

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!

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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

Indoor Block party?

The street we live on is finally complete. We decided this was a good reason to celebrate. A few of us got together and tried to coordinate a weekend date in Oct to have our first block party. This was back in September, and the best we could do was this weekend. So we planned our first block party for yesterday. It was all planned out. We were going to block off the cul-de-sac, drag out tables, chairs, the grill and fun things for the kids to do.  Yeah well I guess no one consulted with mother nature. Starting Friday night we had rain on and off all weekend. Finally Richard and I decided we would just move the party into our house.

Friday night we began the process of company cleaning the house. You know that feeling of everything that is always out and about needs to actually be put away in the right places. We began in the basement and worked our way upstairs. It felt good to get everything cleaned and know I didn’t have to clean during the week. This also forced the boys to help clean beyond their basic cleaning. Ok they still didn’t do it willingly, but it was done.

Saturday I sent out a message saying that we would make a final decision on Sunday, but that we could move it into our house if needed. We kept putting it off, but finally gave in and said… ok inside it goes. Right after we sent out that message, the sun came out. I felt like mother nature was messing with my head. We also decided that since it was wet and only in the 40s that even with sun…. inside was better.

The party was planned for 3:30pm. Around 3:29 the skies opened up and I felt better about the change in plans!

There are 6 houses on our street (4 in the cul-de-sac and 2 on the straight part of our street). Everyone showed up! It was nice to get everyone together. The people in the house next to us, the last to be completed, were able to meet the rest of the neighbors. We had a 13 month old, an almost 3 year old, a 4 year old (it was actually his birthday), Colby, Blake and another 6th grader, a middle schooler and a high schooler. This was a decent mix of kids. The children are all boys except the one high schooler is a girl. The kids were down in the basement. They had red zone on the tv and were playing on the PS4. Colby set up a hot wheels track and got out the monster trucks for the little boys.

The adults hung out in the kitchen and chatted. The groups were pretty fluid and no one seemed to be left out of the conversations. Each family brought food and there was a lot of food and drinks consumed and leftover.

We already scheduled our next get together. Another family offered their house this time and we picked the date while everyone was together. We hope to do this every couple of months, especially through the winter!

So while it didn’t turn out like we originally planned it was a lot of fun and worth it.

family · food · reviews

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies

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This weekend my school held their fall festival. This was an opportunity for the children to show off their classrooms, play games and play in the bounce house. We also had the book fair open and were selling items at a bake sale. All the staff members were asked to bake items to sell at the bake sale. So, I got thinking… what am I going to make.

I decided to bake two different cookies. First I baked S’more cookies, and messed up the recipe. It turned out ok, but would have been better if I followed ALL the steps.

The second kind I decided to bake at pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies. I figure, oh everyone is head over heals for pumpkin spice these will sell like hotcakes. Well they didn’t, but I don’t care they still tasted really good (and I am not a huge pumpkin spice person).

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal cookies. (edited from Food Fanatic)

  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, line your baking sheets
  2. Cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Scrape down the bowl, and mix in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla
  4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice and oats). into the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
  5. Scoop out dough with a large cookie scoop and place on the lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, its okay if the middles look slightly undercooked, they will finish cooking on the pan as they cool.
  7. Allow to set for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 2018-10-08 14.08.42

These cookies were REALLY tasty. They were not dry in the least. Colby took home some of the extras from the bake sale and they were sticking together. Colby was hesitant to try it at first and then loved them. I think he took home 4 bags from the bake sale. I guess I will have to bake these again. I bet they would be very tasty if you used apple pie spice in lieu of the pumpkin pie spice. I have more pumpkin pie spice now I want to make snickerdoodles with the pumpkin pie spice… yummy!

life

technology at the table

On Saturday, we watched the UCF football game on tv and then decided to go out for dinner. Ok we knew we were going out even before we started watching the game, but that is neither here nor there for this post.

We went to a local restaurant called Stack’d. We have been there many times in the past. I found it interesting that as we were getting seated I noticed that every party that came into the restaurant with children were seated in one area. Hmmm ok. I thought this was odd, but I don’t really care. There were a few other families and the children were not being disruptive or anything. I realize that one part of the restaurant is more of a bar area, and not seating the children in that section is fine, I just think it is odd to seat all the families with children together. It almost implies that the children should not be sat with adults groups for some reason.

So, Richard and I were talking about this observation. We also began talking about the addition of technology to meal times. When you walk into Stak’d with children the first thing they ask is if you want tablets for the children. Ummm no. First of all, there are tv’s everywhere. Second of all, why is a restaurant encouraging children to be plugged in instead of talking to their families? What lesson are we teaching the next generation? Do you really need a device to sit at the table?

When my sons were younger, we would often bring in books or paper and crayons. They did not get these items until they decided what they wanted to eat and the orders were taken by the wait staff. The items were then put away once the food arrived.

Lately it feels like 9 out of 10 restaurants have televisions going around the room. I still struggle to get the boys to stop watching tv and eat. They are pretty good at having a conversation, but it is often tied to whatever they are watching on the tv. They certainly do not need to have the tvs AND a tablet… do they?

Are these children ever going to learn to have a conversation at the dinner table? What happens when they have to go to a business dinner/luncheon? Will they just sit there and play on their phone/tablet/whatever device we have at that time?

All I know, is my boys know enough to say no thank you when they are offered the tablets at the restaurant. I know that may not be the answer they want to give, but they know it is the answer they are expected to give.

What is your feeling on this topic?

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Last weekend in Sept.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.