family · life · through my camera lens

Fireworks and more

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, As I mentioned in my post yesterday, they don’t have town fireworks on the 4th here. We had a quiet day. Richard went for a bike ride. We went to Five Guys for lunch. (We love Five Guys Burgers and Fries!, ok well Blake eats a hot dog and fries, but the rest of us love the burgers).

I then went out for a bit of time shopping on my own. This was two fold, I was bathing suit shopping (read my whine about that here) and I was getting a bit of time away. Richard worked in the garage putting one of our older receivers and speakers out in the garage. As I’ve mentioned in many past posts we always have music going in our house.

Colby decided that we needed to have cookies or something for desert. I tossed out a few suggestions and we decided to make maple and brown sugar oatmeal cookies. Colby helped make the cookies and pretty much made them on his own this time. If you follow my instagram, you saw a picture of this yesterday.

We had steak, sweet potatoes fries and grilled “oven” fries for dinner. I put the sliced sweet potatoes (with EVOO, S&P, sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg) into one foil packet. I sliced up two baking potatoes and put them into foil packets too. These get cooked on the grill at the same time as the steak. The potatoes I did one with just EVOO, S&P and the other had a seasoning blend with EVOO. Richard and I devoured the sweet potato packet. Every time we do this we say we need to make this more often, but never do. I really like the slices that get a bit of burnt edge because this adds another layer of flavor and the sugars are typically more caramelized.

While we were waiting for dark, mother nature decided to put on her own fireworks show. We had over an hour of lightning in the distance. There was no rain, there was little to no thunder, but there were some impressive bolts and often the sky lit up like day.

It let up enough right at dark, so cranked up the tunes and lit off some of the fountains that we purchased. The boys also played with snap bangs and sparklers. I brought my new camera out and played with the settings.

family · life

Happy Fourth of July

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The Fourth of July is that time of year where you realize that summer is really summer. When I was a child the town I grew up in had a week long 4th celebration. There was a carnival, dinners and concerts on the town common every night. They also had fireworks. Some years they had two nights of fireworks. People would put their chairs and blankets on the common early in the day to mark their space. And you needed to do this if you wanted any decent space.

As I moved about in life, my family moved out of that town my freshman year in college, the various locations had 4th of July events, but it wasn’t always the big hoop-dee-do that I knew when I was a child. But, we’d always find a place to watch fireworks.

When the boys were younger, they actually did not like fireworks. When they were really young we didn’t even bother to keep them up to see the fireworks. As they got older, we began going to see fireworks. Each year we got closer and closer to the fireworks displays. At first we were far enough away for them to watch, but there was little noise. Each year they got closer. At one point, we had to give them headphones and this helped. We finally got them close enough AND without headphones on.

Then we moved here to PA. The area we are in doesn’t do fireworks on the 4th of July. Many of the towns around have community days on other weekends in July and they do their fireworks on that day. So we will celebrate by relaxing. We are going to have steak and oven fries for dinner. We will light off fountains and just enjoy time together.

The 4th of July is a day to celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans. It is the day to appreciate those who fought and do fight to protect those freedoms. A day to enjoy time with family and friends. To enjoy good food, laughter and conversation.

If you are from the US, I hope you enjoy your 4th!

family · life

Weekend update- mother’s day edition

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. We were busy this weekend. Saturday found us at North Park on a bike ride. The boys wanted to show Richard the trails they have been riding in bike class. I decided to skip the ride and go for a hike. I went on a few new paths that I hadn’t walked on before. It was a win-win all around. We then went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and stopped at the bike store. Blake needed a new helmet and Richard wanted to look at new bike shoes. We were spent a while outside doing a bit of this and a bit of that as well as chatting with neighbors. We originally planned to go out to dinner, but the skies opened with no sign of letting up, so fend for yourself dinner it is! We decided that since we stayed home we should watch a movie. We decided to watch Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Richard and I have been on a kick of showing the boys movies that Richard and I enjoy, but are still appropriate for tweens.

Sunday morning Colby decided he wanted to make me breakfast in bed. Richard told him that wouldn’t work since there was no way to serve it. So instead Colby opted to make me a strawberry peanut butter smoothie. He tried to bring it up to me, but I was already on my way downstairs. After breakfast, we went off to the gym, DiBellas, and Lowes. We had a long list of things to purchase at Lowes. This did not make the boys happy. We can’t win they don’t want to go if we don’t have a list, now they don’t want to go if we do have a list. Get over if… home ownership means trips to Lowes!

When we got home we started putting down seed on the front and side lawns and then were were going to begin putting the bags of top soil on bare spots. The ground here is rocky, loaded with sticks and it is clay not soil. So we are having to work hard to get this lawn looking the way we want it to look. We will get there. While we were working on putting out the top soil it began to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, but then it picked up. We had to head in and wait it out in the garage. We were already partially done and slightly damp so we decided to wait it out instead of going in to change. We then went out again when it let up only to have the sky open and drench us. Oh well… it got done.

Colby came outside when he finally stopped raining and was observing the run off on the lot next door. He has been learning about water and the effects of it on the landscape. It was neat listening to him discuss the erosion he was observing, the tributaries that were created as well as many other terms he learned in science class. School work at it’s finest!

We had homemade pizza and rolls for dinner. We used the Alton Brown recipe again. It wasn’t as good as the first time we made it, but it was still really good.

The night was ended with Google Hangout calls to both grandmothers to wish them a happy mother’s day.

Hope you had a great weekend.

(Must have Monday is still going to appear today…. just later on today. I didn’t post yesterday so I wanted to share the whos and whats of the weekend)

family · life · through my camera lens

Happy Easter Fools Day!


The funny bunny arrived at our house. The boys found their first eggs on their chair at the kitchen table, and  the start of the hunt. Each egg sends them to the next location. On Colby’s third location he found his basket, normally this is the end of the hunt, but not this year. It was located in the pots and pans cabinet and there was a pot inside the basket with another egg. The bunny said “Happy Easter Fools Day, you aren’t done hunting yet.” This then sent him to his next location. Blake found a similar egg in his basket at his fourth location, which was in “the bathroom that isn’t”, we have the rough plumbing for a bathroom in our basement.

I guess that funny bunny decided that since Easter fell on April Fools day he needed to play a joke on the boys. They did finally find all their Easter goodies hidden (Colby’s with his Traxxas truck and Blake with his lunch box).

In their basket ummm pile they each got a book, a Raspberry Pi, Lego Dimensions extension packs, and a new card game. Colby also got a carrot filled with reese pieces and Blake got Dove chocolate bunny ears. We have already played both card games, they are a lot of fun and I’ll review them later this week. Blake already read the book from Colby’s basket and has almost finished the one from his basket as well.

After that was done, we had scramblers for brunch. I made pepper and onion scramblers with cheddar cheese. Richard made bacon to have with them. Richard and I decided to have breakfast sandwiches and put all that yummy goodness on a croissant. (sorry I didn’t take a picture before diving into it).

For “linner” we are having ham, Cheesy au Gratin Potatoes, salad and homemade rolls. I’m in the process of making this. I am trying another new roll recipe, but I think I messed it up this time. I don’t think the water I used was hot enough, which means it didn’t allow the yeast to bloom enough. They turned out ok, they aren’t as fluffy as I’d like, but they aren’t rock hard which is a good thing. So we will eat them, but next time I will certainly make sure I use hot water.

I hope the funny bunny was good to you and didn’t play too many April Fools day jokes.

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Flashlight Egg Hunt: written by Blake

Many of you asked about the flashlight egg hunt. The activity was 2 hours and they let us just drop off the kids, so there are no pictures and I couldn’t write about it since I wasn’t there. So, I decided to ask Blake to write about it for you. Here is what he had to say…


So, yesterday was Good Friday, right? I had a ‘Good Friday’… literally! First we went to Kelly O’s for breakfast (Mom might have done a review on it, I don’t know) we went to Toys R Us for the last time (they went out of business, that’s why), Colby and then I did a Madden tournament in the basement (we each won a game- Blake as the Patriots 3-0- Colby as the Broncos, and Blake, as the Falcons 13- 15 Colby, Seattle.). Then for dinner we had pizza, but we weren’t done. We went to the Pine Community Center for a Flashlight Egg Hunt, which is my main topic.

At 7:15-ish, we arrived at the Pine Community Center. We waited for about 10 minutes or so, and then we went inside to a room, where we talked for about 15 minutes or so. Then the people running the thing announced that the sun just set, and we would wait for about half an hour by playing some games in the gym. There were three games that were (obviously) Easter themed. My personal favorite was the last thing, which had nothing to do with Easter at all, it was knockout, like the basketball game. The rules were explained, and we began. In the end, we played three games, and I got 4th, 4th, and 3rd place. There was one bad thing I learned about later, which happened to Colby. We were split up into two groups, and we were on different sides. Colby got nearly hit in the eye, but under the eye. (Colby’s note: I’m fine now, I still had fun.) Then we came back, and we grabbed our baskets, and we went outside. The rules were explained, they counted down, and we began! There were a bunch of eggs laying right where the starting point was, and I grabbed a few of those. I then noticed that there were a few eggs laying on the windowsills, so I grabbed those before anybody else could find them. After that, I only found, what, a couple more? Colby noticed while I was doing that, that on the cones bordering the area, that there were eggs on those cones as well. (Colby’s note: Such a jackpot!) There was a limit to 30 eggs, and I collected 44 eggs. So, a friend and I tossed out the 14 eggs. He was on one side, I went to the other. To practically prove that I’m from the South, I yelled, “Hey! Hey! Ya’ll want some eggs?! Huh?! Ya’ll want some eggs?! COME GET THEM!!!” Then, I threw them on the pavement, and they all cracked open. Oops. We went inside, and we looked at what we got inside. Colby and I both got $5 off for Fun Fore All. I also got a free small milkshake from Chik-Fil-A, and Colby also got a Starbucks gift card. After giving away what I don’t eat for candy, I was left with 31 things of Dubble Bubble, two Hershey’s Kisses, and two Starburst.

So that’s what happened on the night of Good Friday, and you will see Colby tomorrow for the Easter one. Happy Easter, and see you soon!



family · life

I heart you day!

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Today is Valentine’s day. What does that mean in our house… not much. Richard and I both have the same philosophy on this day. Over the years we have done less and less each year until we are where we are now realizing that it is just a day. We were talking about it last night. Richard said he was glad that I saw it the same way as him. That we do not need one day to tell us we love each other we do that all 365 days of the year. There is no need to buy cards that will get put in a drawer, flowers that cost more than normal, or candy that neither of us needs to eat.

Colby is exchanging Valentine’s in his class. Over the years we have done everything from making our own Valentines to buying the boxed ones and just signing names. This is the last time we will make a Valentine box. The last time we will have whole class Valentines. I purchased bouncy balls and Colby made tags to go with them. I printed them out and put everything in a zip lock bag. I did like that his teacher said no food items. My kids don’t like most junk and always hated getting a bunch of candy that they won’t eat as Valentine gifts.

Blake’s class is not doing Valentines this year. At their school, fourth grade is allowed to do it, but then it stops. Blake didn’t have an issue with not doing it, so it works for me. There is a huge difference between 4th grade and 5th grade in terms of development and maturity.

I have always wanted to find that balance of having the kids experience these holidays, yet see that they don’t need to be over the top. That this day is about friendship and the people you care about. That you can enjoy the day without having to go over the top.

What are we doing today? We are going to Jeff Dunham. This is the last of the Christmas presents that we gave the boys. The four of us will spend tonight together laughing and having fun.

I hope you and your loved ones find a way to enjoy this day in ways that make it special to you.

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family · through my camera lens

I’m back!

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Did you notice I was gone? Probably not, but that’s ok.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that we are big UCF football fans. Well, UCF was in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta GA on New Years Day. So, Richard and I got the boys, well and us, tickets to the game. This was one of their Christmas presents.

So we loading into the car on Thursday, December 28th and headed to GA. We took two days to drive down stopping in Knoxville, TN on Thursday night. We then traveled on to Atlanta from there.

While in TN, we went and did some sight seeing and then did more in Atlanta. More blog posts to follow with pictures and information about the fun and interesting sights along the way. I still have to download all the pictures off both camera and the phones.

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New Years Day found us waking up to cold and snow in Atlanta, but with so much excitement. We were ready to go cheer on the Knights. When we lived in Orlando, FL we had season tickets to the UCF football games. Richard and I had them for 12 year and the boys had them for 3 or 4. It was such a part of our fall life in Orlando. It felt great to be back in a stadium cheering on the team.

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The game was fantastic, we could not have asked for a better end to the perfect season. UCF went undefeated this season. We may not always get the respect we deserve from the “big schools”, but we sure showed up and played a great game. A season of 13-0 taking out a team ranked 7 who beat not 1, but 2 teams who had been ranked #1.

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While it was an 11 hour drive both ways, and the tickets were on the expensive side, it was so worth seeing the boys excitement when they found out we got them tickets and even more when the team won.

So we are now back to our regular lives. I’m off to do laundry, pick up the dog and do grocery shopping today, but I wanted to stop off on my blog and say… I’m home! And I will be back with my regular blog posts.

Stay tuned for posts about The Lost Sea in TN, seeing a 6 ft skillet, Atlanta’s aquarium and The World of Coke in Atlanta… I promise it will be worth it!


December 31

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This was a year of huge changes for my family. But, it was a year that was so worth it. We will look back on 2017 with many fond memories. It started off very busy with Richard getting a new job, selling and packing the Orlando house, me giving up my job and the boys leaving the only elementary school they ever attended.

But, there was so much positive change as well. The boys are in a school they enjoy and that they are actually getting challenged in a level of learning. They have made new friends and are seeking out new challenges. Richard really is enjoying his new job and the company he is working for now. We love our new house and are enjoying the changes of the seasons.

All three guys have had many firsts… first snow, first white Christmas, first temperatures in single digits. The boys have played in the snow, gone ice skating and sledding.

We look forward to 2018 and while we hope for change, as change is good, we hope the changes are a bit more subtle this year.

I hope that 2017 closes with fond memories for you and the door to 2018 opens with promise of fun and excitement.

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family · through my camera lens

Christmas Day

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Santa found his way to our new home. The gifts were found under the tree, in stockings and even one for each boy in the stocking that hangs on their bedroom door. The boys Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table and indoorwoke up before Richard and I for the first time in years. Typically we are up and waiting for them. They hung out together in Blake’s room until a bit before 8 when they couldn’t wait any longer. They found the gifts left from the big man himself.

We woke up to a world dusted white with snow. There was love, laughter and excitement. Gifts were open, thanks yous said. Then the day goes on. We went out and the boys played with their new Traxxis Trucks, while Richard and I shoved the driveway.

This was a quiet holiday of peace and joy. The boys are so excited about the gifts theyImage may contain: 2 people, people sitting and indoorfound. They are having a great day together. I found some time to read, A Memory of Violets, on the couch wrapped up in a blanket.

Each of us spent the day relaxing and enjoying being ourselves. There was no let down this year when the gifts were done. There was no feeling of that was it? I waited all this time and it’s done? Nope, there was just a feeling of enjoying time together.

I hope your holiday found you enjoying time with family and friends. I hope that the gifts of love you received out numbered the gifts under the tree. Remember to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your hearts. It’s that magic that makes this season special. The love we share, the time we share, the laughter we share… those are the true gifts of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, from me and mine. (:

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Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve!! Time to open the last door on the Advent Calendar. Time to start watching the Santa trackers. Christmas Eve is a time of anticipation to the max.

But, for me it is also a time of calm. Christmas Eve was always a time of family for us. It Image may contain: 2 peoplewas the night that we shared a meal with together. Christmas day meant traveling to see family, but Christmas Eve was for the family under our roof. Over the years we spent many Christmas Eve’s with friends too, but it always ended with the 4 of us together.

This year as a mom I find myself looking back on my sons. Life has changed so much since the first Christmas as a mom. Blake is now 11. The first few Christmases meant more to the adults than the children. I remember the tree filled with baby products and toddler toys. Over the years the gifts have changed. There have been bikes, skateboards, Lego products, remote control cars, and so many other things that little boys love. This year I predict finding more technology. The boys have changed. Their likes have grown up, and so have the gifts.

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Each year the boys write a note to Santa on Christmas Eve. This is put out with the milk and cookies. Over the years these letters have changed and matured. My hope is that they see this as a time of thanksgiving more than a time of wish fulfilling.

As I look over the pictures of Christmases past, my heart aches for the little boys who I see in these photographs. I miss the littleness of wishes and dreams. But, if you know me this ache is short lived. I am not a parent who wants to turn back time or even freeze it. I’m a parent who sees hope in the future. I love to see my sons grow and change. I love my sons for the tweens they are today. While there are times I miss my little boys who just wanted a hug from their Mommy to make everything well again, I also love the boys I have now who still need a hug, but also know they need words of advice and kindness from me. I love seeing how their minds work and how they have changed over the years. I love seeing that they love life and embrace all the challenges that are set forth in front of them.

So, this morning I will be sappy and retrospective on Christmas Eves of the past. But, I will now move on and enjoy this Christmas Eve of present. I will look forward to seeing their faces in the morning when they realize that Santa arrived. When they see the gifts from him. I will enjoy watching them open the gifts that we have chosen for each other and see their excitement in what is in the next box.  While still remembering my little guys.

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Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope that the big man brings you lots of meaningful gifts. I hope you spend the day with those you love. Thank you for joining me on this blogging journey through motherhood. I hope you continue to follow into the new year.

Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night day.