food · family · life

Routines and changes

Life has settled back into  our summer routine. I’m starting to work on the boy’s sleep schedule. On Monday they start back into theater camp. That means they need to be up and moving to be out the door to be at camp at 9am. There have been days this summer where Colby didn’t get up until 10am. What is going to happen when he’s a teen if he does this at 10?

I got the boys up today at 8am and we did a workout. We did a 25 min cardio and then a 5 min abs. Richard and I are starting a new workout routine on Monday and the boys say they want to do it too… lets see if we can all get up and moving to do it.

The boys and I are also going to the grocery store today. We worked on the menu last night… fish tacos (I made homemade coleslaw for this), ribs with corn, homemade pizza (I am making pizza dough we will see what we have with it), grilled chicken and sweet potato, taco Tuesday!, grilled tuna steaks and fruit plate, meatballs. Friday is the boy’s play (Frozen again)

Hard to believe in about a month the boys will be going back to school. They start back on Aug 23rd. Blake will be a 6th grader and Colby a 5th grader. Time to get back into routines. Getting up in the morning. Eating breakfast (Colby doesn’t eat it on the days he sleeps in late), having simpler healthy dinners.

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family · life · through my camera lens

Strasburg Trains

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When Blake was little he began watching Thomas the Train and liked Thomas a lot. Colby didn’t just like Thomas and trains, he LOVED them. When they were younger we went to a Day Out with Thomas two years in a row. Colby was beyond excited to ride the rails.

While they have outgrown Thomas, Colby still loves trains. He gets so excited every year when we put the train around our Christmas tree.

So when we were planning the trip to Hershey we knew we’d need to extend the trip and go to Strasburg PA. There we went to Strasburg Rail Road and the Rail Road Museum of Pennsylvania, they are across the street from each other. At the Strasburg Rail Road, we went to the Hostling Tour which meant we were up early to see them prep the steam engine for the day.  We got go inside the engine to see them working on stoking the fire. The boys even got to ride in the engine. Then we went on a train ride and rode in the lounge car.

Then we went across the street to see the Train Museum. This was an impressive collection of train items including engines, train cars, cabooses, as well as items that were used on the trains. The pictures below are panorama of the inside collection of trains taken from the overlook.

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This is just a fraction of the photos from this day. I had so much fun taking pictures of the trains.

food · life · through my camera lens

Hershey park -part 3– rides

I’ve been telling you about our trip to Hershey the last two days. You can check out our preview day here and our water park day here.

On Wednesday we got up and headed back to Hershey. We go there shortly after it opened. While Tuesday was a ton of fun, Wednesday was the day the boys were looking forward to… the day we ride the rides!

When you first enter the park you can see where you “measure up” each ride is labeled with a Hershey product to show who can ride the ride based on height. If you look at the picture of Colby with the Reese’s on the pole you can see the stripe that says Reese’s, that is the height of the Reese’s riders. Both of my boys were Twizzlers so they were tall enough to do all the rides.

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I found Hershey’s rides to be very balanced as far as parks go. They had a balance between the old and the newer rides. They had so many old school carnival rides that you just don’t see as often in amusement parks now. They have 3 wooden roller coasters as well as 6 other coasters. Hershey’s Super Dooper Looper was the first loop coaster on the east coast of the US. Richard rode all the roller coasters. Colby rode all but 7 and Blake rode 6. I only rode 1, and I’m ok with that! (if you look right above the light in that picture you can see Colby. Blake took the picture, while I took the video below). The bottom video is a coaster that only Richard went on, this is just like the coaster I rode when I had a panic attack and swore off coasters.

The thrill rides didn’t end there. Richard, Blake and Colby also went onto the Hershey Tower ride. P1000110

The boys enjoyed riding all the rides. They were game to try just about anything we came across.

We also went into Zoo America while we were there. This is a zoo that has animals that you will find in the various sections of the US. It was a nice change of pace during the middle of the day. Since it was included in the price of the Hershey tickets why not take advantage??

We ended the day back at Chocolate World to pick up t-shirts!

family · life

Hershey Park- part 2 water park

Yesterday I began telling you about our trip to Hershey Park. Hershey is about 4 hours east of us, so it was a perfect summer vacation spot for our family. I went to Hershey as a kid, and loved it. Richard had never been there before.

Tuesday we spent the whole day in the water park inside Hershey. With your ticket to Hershey park you get admittance to the rides, water park and Zoo America. Let me tell you that we did everything in the 2.5 days we spent there.

As I mentioned yesterday, we stayed at the park until closing on Monday. Tuesday we got up, had breakfast at the hotel and then were back on the road around 10am to go back into the park. We stayed in the water park until it closed at 8 and then went back on the rides.

At the water park we rode the flume ride, which was ok but, we certainly got wet! We then headed over to the two new water rides. One is a race down tube slides riding on foam mats and the other is a water coaster. The water coaster is the only water ride we waited in line for more than 20 min. It was better than I thought it would be so I guess that made it worth the wait. While we were in line waiting a teenage girl in line behind me passed out. I saw this coming as she looked really woozy and had already almost fallen head first over the chain. I prepared to catch her while alerting the people she was with and Richard yelled for the closest life guard we could see. It wasn’t that hot, but it was a good reminder about staying hydrated.

After lunch we went to the water playground. This playground was slides, between all kinds of climbing items. Between each slide there were places for the kids to spray water, fill and dump water buckets and so much more. There were also two huge buckets that filled up at the top of the biggest slides. When you hear a horn, watch out the biggest of the buckets is ready to dump!

We then went over to the tube slide tower. One side had 4 slides that you could use with either a two person tube or a single rider tube. We rode all 4 of these sides. We rode on the two person tubes and would alternate which child rode with which parent.  The other tower had a different type of tube where you sat facing each other on top of the tube. We only rode one of the two rides with that tube. The line was longer, the tube was heavier and I didn’t like the fact that I was backwards almost the whole time.

We also went on the lazy river and floated around that for 2 laps. It was a decent length lazy river and wasn’t too crazy busy when we left.

Right before the water park closed we decided to go back to the racer slides and rode those 2 more times.

We ate both lunch and dinner inside the park. We had Subway for lunch. You could only get 6″ subs, but that was fine, Richard just had extra meat on his. We had ice creams for a snack. They had Turkey Hill ice cream. We each got a small cup Blake- chocolate, Colby – vanilla, Richard- mint chip and I had strawberry. They were all really good ice creams. For dinner we ate at one of the Hershey stands. We Richard and the boys each got chicken tenders and fries. I had the same tenders on top of salad. They were reasonably priced and had decent flavor.

We rode a few more rides and left the park right at 10pm. It was a full and fun day. I don’t have any pictures from Tuesday, just lots of memories of fun times with the boys and Richard.

Tune in tomorrow for more info and LOTS of pictures of the rest of the park and Zoo America.

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.

 

 

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Kid Packing

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As I often mention on my blog, I’m big into teaching my sons to be independent in life. They are learning to cook, clean and do many other things on their own. Here is another life skill that they have been working on since they were young…. packing!

I always hear about mothers complaining about packing to go on trips. When the boys were little I used to dread this task. I knew I’d have to pack for 3 people, and the dog(s), and get the house ready to be left alone for as long as we were traveling. So as the boys got older I began teaching them to pack.

They are given a packing list! On the list they are given the number of each article of clothing they need to pack. They put the items on their bed in outfits and let me know when they are ready. Richard or I then go and check to see that they have the right items and if they need to switch things out because they don’t go, or are more play clothes then we want them to travel with at that time. Then the boys pack everything into their suitcase.

They are also allowed to bring their backpack with things to do on the drive/while we are there. They have to bring books, their tablets, some kind of learning something and headphones.

This means I only have to pack for myself and any times that we need as a family. The packing lists are catered to what we are doing and where we are going, but I’ll tell you that taking the 2 minutes to write out a packing list for them (and often times myself as well) will solve a lot of headaches and a ton of time for me now and on the trip!

life

Bathing suit shopping…. UGH!

Today I headed to the store to go bathing suit shopping. I HATE this task. I have hated this task since i was a teen. Is there anything worse than going in and trying on bathing suits?

I went to TJMaxx first. I swear there was no A/C on in the store. When you are hot and sweating, inside the store, it doesn’t help you feel better trying on bathing suits. I think I tried on over a dozen bathing suits. Some didn’t fit. Some didn’t give enough coverage, some were not comfortable, some just didn’t look right on me. I did find one suit that I found acceptable.

I then went over to Target. I had less success there. I didn’t even find as many to try on. I swear the do not make bathing suits for people who have any kind of chest. Not everyone is a size B or C cup (or smaller). Not everyone wants to flaunt all their goods.  I do not want to be popping out all over the place.

I know the fact that I’m not happy with my body image right now doesn’t help the whole shopping process. But, I needed a new suit. I’ll need it for our vacation. I’ll need it because it is summer and there are pools and other water activities to do.

At least I don’t have daughters so it is only me dealing with this shopping drama.

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 · through my camera lens

Sprinkler fun

I feel like I often write about things that my kids are getting to do here that they didn’t do in Orlando. Don’t get me wrong, they had a great childhood there but this is a different childhood. We have created a less structured childhood here. The boys have more freedom and more opportunities to just be outside doing kid things. There are times I think they miss the structure and activities they were engaged in when they were in Orlando, but most of the time they love the quiet, free, open time they have here.

When they were younger they played sports all school year as well as were involved in a variety of other out of school activities. When we moved here we stopped that. The main reason is the fact that they were not passionate about any of the sports they were playing. Neither wanted to do anything to improve beyond the practices and games. I’m not saying they needed to ask for private lessons, but they didn’t want to go kick the soccer ball, toss the football, or shoot baskets when they didn’t have to. So, why pay for something they aren’t passionate about. When you get to their age the teams get more competitive and there is more involved, multiple practices and traveling.

They have both asked to continue acting, and they have another week of theater camp coming up soon. We will see where this goes.

But, this weekend they had another free child first. Playing in the sprinklers. In Orlando we had a sprinkler system installed in our yard. The water that was feed to this was reclaimed water, so the boys were not encourged to play in it. We actually usually ran it at about 5am so they weren’t even awake when it was running.

Here we do not have a sprinkler system, so the sprinklers run on hose water. On Saturday we were watering the front lawn since it had been a while since there was rain. Both the boys just began running in and out of the sprinkler in their clothes. At first they hesitated and were just going up and drinking the water or helping to move the sprinkler. When they realized they were not getting in trouble they went for it.

Sunday and Monday they went out and put the sprinkler in the backyard. These times they actually wore bathing suits. They brought out their water squirters and a bucket. They had a blast playing in the water.

They were just running around and laughing. They had fun… being kids!

life

Catching up on nothing

I realized yesterday while I was typing up the cookie post, that I have been writing a lot of recipe and book review posts lately. I’m not sure why, but it isn’t that life has been dull, or that I don’t have stories to share.

This summer the boys and I have been busy, but not busy. We have a routine, but we don’t. I love the slowness of summer break. I can let them sleep in, ok well I can let Colby sleep in since Blake never sleeps in, but he could if he wanted to. We can go and do if we want or stay home and do nothing if we want.

The weather hasn’t felt very summer lately. Don’t get me wrong we aren’t back into jeans, but it isn’t pool weather either.

The boys finished up their mountain biking classes yesterday. We will have to continue to get them out on the trails with Richard over the weekends, but they aren’t going back to classes. They did have a blast and it has made them both stronger and more confident riders, that was the whole goal.

I don’t have much news on the job search front. I had a second interview, well a working interview at one preschool. That is it. I didn’t apply to the school systems this go around. I decided to try just the preschools for a change of pace for me. Most of the places I contacted were not hiring. Oh well… it works out or it doesn’t.

As we wrap up June, I look towards July. We are going on vacation to Hershey and Amish country. The boys have a second week of theater camp, this time with a younger cast, so they hope to get bigger roles. We will see what else July brings.

So see there isn’t much exciting to write about, but I figured I’d catch you up on the nothing of summer break!