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.

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life · through my camera lens

Deck the halls with Ghosts and Pumpkins

We got up this morning with the plan to go out for breakfast. Richard had requested a few weeks ago to go to Kelly O’s for a cheat meal. Colby had asked for pancakes and bacon when we were creating our meal plan. So, this morning we went to Kelly O’s for breakfast. Colby had his chocolate chip pancakes, Blake had a ham and cheese omelette, Richard had an omelette with pretty much everything in it and I had a breakfast burrito.

Then off for hair cuts we went. Richard, Blake and I got hair cuts. Colby didn’t since they really cut his short last time (2 months ago) and his bangs just grew to the length that he usually asks for them to be cut.

When we got home, Richard and I tackled the lawn work. When we were done we decided to put out the outside Halloween decorations. Now the house is done!

The boys headed to the park and I decided to camp out on the couch and catch up on some of my tv shows. I don’t often have time on my own to sit down and watch tv anymore. This is not a big thing, but it was nice to have that bit of time today.

 

family · life

It’s FRIDAY!

It is Friday and we made it.

Today was my first day with the kiddos and it went… ok. There are a few personalities that are interesting and a few behaviors that will need to be quickly addressed, but hey it’s only day one.

Today we are going to North Park for Pour at the Park. This is an event we went to last year. They have restaurants and microbreweries set up tents. You pay a fee to get in, the proceeds of which go to the park itself, and then you get a tasting cup. You can go around and sample beer and food. They have music playing and just lots of fun stuff.

I’m ready!

Hope your week went smoothly and your weekend is enjoyable!

family · life · through my camera lens

Painting, yard work and working out

Life has been so busy lately.

Richard and I finished painting the basement! We painted the media area the dark green and then the stairwell the light area.

Saturday, Richard and I spend about 3 hours working outside. We seeded, fertalized and did a bit of other work on the yard. We replanted 3 plants that outgrew their pots. We also made 2 new spider plants out of my spider babies and a new pothos plant with clippings from Colby’s plant. Then we took on the way back. Richard got out the brush cutter and I took the large loppers and we went to work cleaning out lots and lots of brush. It’s crazy when you realize how much you cut, and then look at how much more needs to still be done back there. But hey, at least we made a dent.

We went on a bike ride/hike yesterday.  It was nice to get out on the trails after a long busy week. I ended up hiking just over 3 miles.

Today we started our FOURTH week of Liift4 on Beachbody. I can definitely feel myself getting stronger and am able to lift heavier weights. I won’t say that I’ve seen a ton of difference in my clothes or on the scale, but I feel a lot better getting up, working out and focusing on eating healthier. I am not following their food plan exactly. I am more focused on eating healthier instead of working on measuring out portions and counting the amount of each type of food I eat. I always feel that heath, fitness and nutrition need to be natural parts of your life not forced pieces if you are going to keep up the work. I know the fact that I’m lifting will burn calories. I know that the HIIT parts is the best way to get cardio. I also know that eating more veggies and lean protein will fuel my body in a healthy way.  Now I make all that knowledge work for me!

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Kayaking

Since moving to PA, we have been trying to get out and do a variety of outdoor things with the boys. The took mountain biking lessons, we’ve gone hiking, they learned to sled, ice skate and make snowmen. We are enjoying the county park that is located about 3 miles from our house. We love that we have 3075 acres of nature to explore and enjoy.

Out latest adventures was kayaking. We have always seen tons of people out kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on the lake in North Park. We often talked about getting out on the water and trying out kayaking. Saturday was the day we got out. We went through LLBean Outdoor Discovery School

. (We went with them on 2 hikes last year) Our feeling was to get with an instructor who would help all of us begin to understand the techniques of kayaking.

Each of the boys was able to paddle their own kayak, which was a big plus. None of us were perfect, but we had fun. Colby struggles in the beginning, but Richard helped him muddle through the basics and then his paddle stroke became near perfect. Blake on the other hand just went at it. His stroke is a bit sloppy but that doesn’t stop him from going.

For me I found turning to be the most challenging, part, but I’m getting there.

Richard has the most water craft experience, so this was a lot easier for him. (he is the one who had the camera, hence the picture of me)

While on the water we saw lots and lots of Canadian Geese, they are starting to practice for their migration flight. We saw Harry the Great Blue Heron and a snapper turtle who decided to pop up right in the middle of all of our kayaks.

life · through my camera lens

More painting! Basement this time

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, then you know that we moved into our house in Sept. Yep, it is almost a year since we moved into our house. We have lived in PA for over a year now.  We built the house we are living in and I will tell you one thing about building a house… builder paint sucks! Plus putting a coat of paint on the walls is a simple way to transform a house into a home.

Before we moved into the house, I took a week and moved all the kitchen items into the house and painted the boys rooms. I did Colby’s room in a fish/ocean theme (blue with a painted tank with sticker fish), and Blake’s as an American sports theme (cream walls with a burgandy stripe). (Click on the boys’ names to see the posts and pictures of their rooms.) We wanted their rooms to be done before we moved in the furniture and it was settled before the boys moved into the house.

Richard then picked out a gray/silvery color to paint his office. Again we wanted it done before all the furniture was settled and into the room. This room was done after we moved in, but before all was settled.

I then moved on and painted the downstairs bathroom (hunter green) and then the boy’s bathroom (slate gray). Then Richard and I painted the kitchen, morning room and living room.

This weekend we tackled our next project, the basement. When we built the house we had a majority of the basement finished as part of the building process. We already use this room a lot. It is where we have our larger tv, most of the boys stuff (including all the Lego sets), all the games, the gaming systems and so much more. In the future we plan on getting a pool table, dart board and build in a wet bar. So, this paint job needed to be fun!

We went with two shades of green. The darker green is even named “billiard” green. Richard thought I was crazy when I explained how I wanted to use the two greens in the room, but when we were done with the combo wall he agreed that it looks good.

We aren’t quite done yet. We need to paint the stairwell the lighter green color. Then we will paint darker green in the area where we have the tv as well as the wall the bar will eventually go on. (pretty much any way you see beige in the pictures still needs to be painted)

We are almost done hanging the shelving unit I built for the Lego bins. We will also use this to display some of the built Lego models and possibly put games on as well… we will see once we get everything moved onto the shelves.

I say this is a great start! I’m ready for some organization down there to make it feel more functional.

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.

food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

Yesterday we decided to go out to eat for dinner. We had a few other errands to run including picking up weights. We now have a complete set of dumbbells from 5lb to 50lb.

2018-08-05 17.42.32

We decided to try a new pizza place, so we went to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Cranberry PA. We looked at the menu on-line and decided it was worth trying out. We decided to get 4 large meatballs with ricotta cheese, a small mozzarella and tomato salad and then a large pizza that was half cheese/half bacon.

The meatballs were really good. The sauce was really fresh and the ricotta was really smooth. Colby enjoyed the sauce to much he scrapped it off his plate and then off Richard’s plate. He also ate his whole meatball and part of mine.

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While were eating these we over heard the manager talking to another table. He said that everything was fresh made. They do not have a microwave or a freezer on site. The tomatoes and mozzarella with basil were super fresh and tasty. This is one of my favorite “salads” to get at Italian places. The basil was a bit strong and there was a LOT of it so I pushed off a bit when I at the second slice.

It took a bit for the pizza to arrive. The sauce on the pizza was homemade as well, you could see the bits of tomato in the sauce itself. The bacon side was COVERED in bacon. there seemed to be a combination of slab and thick cut bacon on the top. Colby was in bacon pizza heaven.

The crust was thin which then made it crisp. I only had a cheese slice, but it was nicely balanced and very tasty! We will certainly be going back to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza to have more. If it’s up to Colby we will buy their pot of meatballs (13 meatballs and you get to keep the pot).

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.