life

September 11th

Yesterday I mentioned that I would share info about my school life today. I am not avoiding it, but felt that this post was more important.

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Every generation has a date or two that you just understand that this is a day I will always remember. For me, September 11th is one of these dates. I was at work. Working as a teacher I didn’t have access to tv or internet while the day was going on. This meant I was in the dark about life outside my classroom.

I dropped my students off in the cafeteria for lunch and still was not clued in that this day was anything different than the other days before.

I walked into the room where we had lunch. It wasn’t a true break room, but more a walled off area inside a classroom building. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was that the tv screen was not tuned into the school channel, providing the clock that everyone in the school followed for the daily schedule. There was a tv station on. It took me a good few minutes to process what I was seeing.

Attacked? What do you mean? Why were planes flying into buildings? What is going on. I had entered the room around 10:45 by this time all the planes had crashed. They were just getting out word about the Pennsylvania crash and all that entailed and then the towers began to collapse.

I can remember standing there as my fellow kindergarten teacher arrived. I can remember thinking…. what’s next? There was fear. There was a need to figure out what we could do? Do we go on with the day as planned? Will the school go on lock down? Will the parents tell their children what was happening?

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We decided as a grade not to tell the children what was going on at that time. It would have to be addressed tomorrow. We would need to be ready to squelch fears. We knew some parents would say nothing while others would tell too much. We knew that some families would show fear and others show strength. We needed to be calm. We needed to be honest. We needed to talk about the heroes. We needed to talk about standing united. We needed to show the children the even in times of great tragedy there is great strength.

Each year as time passes that clear details of that day get a bit fuzzier. But, that movement in time when I walked in and saw the tv on and the buildings on fire will never change. I still try to show children that whenever things go wrong we need to look for the heroes. Look for the people running towards danger instead of those running  away. Say thank you to those who help us stay safe.

So today, I had my class dress in red, white and blue. We learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance. We talked about today being a day to be “Proud to be an American”. While I do not teach my students about the true meaning behind 9/11, I will always have them honor the date.

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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

It’s Saturday

It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. It’s a long weekend.

This means biking in North Park, yard work, and family time. Richard helped Colby make his car for school. Colby needed to make a car to protect an egg in a “car crash”. He made the car out of foam insulation and they worked together to shape it into the car in Colby’s mind-eye.

Tonight Colby is going to a friend’s house for a sleep over. Last year on this day Colby was having his two best friends from FL spend the night over to celebrate his birthday. This was their last hurrah together before our move. Tonight he is going to be at a friend in the neighborhood’s house. They became friends over the course of the school year and while it took time for the friendship to foster, it works now. He misses his Florida friends, but he has found a new group that makes him happy here too.

In 8 days Colby will have his tenth birthday. It’s hard to believe he will be in double digits. I’ll talk more about Colby and his birthday on his birthday post, but I was thinking about it today as the pictures from his sleep over popped up in my Facebook feed.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and are able to get out and enjoy the unofficial start of summer.

family · life · through my camera lens

Saturday is for Family Fun

Yesterday found us with lots to do, but it didn’t feel super busy. We started the day by sleeping in, isn’t this the best part of the weekends? Then we headed off the gym. The boys are participating in a 6 week programs called Little Lifters. They are showing kids 8-13 safe ways to workout at their age. The first week they did body weight exercises (squats, burpees, jumping jacks, plank, push up, etc…). This week they used light dumbbells and did: curls, shoulder press, Russian twist, goblet squat, triceps extensions and row. The class last an hour and they do rotations of six stations while talking about form and safety.

Typically when the boys workout in this class Richard and I do too. Well we started out with our typical 5 min on the rowing machine and then moved on with out workout. Richard hasn’t felt good since he returned from his travel and no one likes to workout when you can’t breathe right soooo we switched things up a lot! We decided to walk the track for a while and then when we got tired of that we went and shot baskets on the basketball court. We learned that neither of us is good at basketball, but we actually had a lot of laughs and enjoyed just goofing around for a bit.

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When we were done we headed to Lowes and DiBella’s our typical Saturday jaunt. We actually had a reason to go to Lowes other than to torture the boys (they now hate going to Lowes unless we tell them a “good reason for it”). This now means that we have a good reason to go to Lowes… to annoy them! But this time we were going to get a grill. We sold our grill in Orlando and have yet to get a new one. This would be shocking to those who knew us in Florida because we grilled out ALL THE TIME. I would say that I grilled at least 4 out of 7 meals a week. I’m so ready for a steak or grilled pizza. Grilled chicken is so much better than baked. Yep, we are ready to have a grill again!

After working a bit in the yard to get the grill up and ready to go, the boys and Richard took their Traxxas trucks out in front. Richard has had a Traxxas truck for a few years now. The boys got theirs for Christmas. They love taking them out into the cul-de-sac and driving them around. Most of the snow has melted, but the corners of all the driveways still have piles that made great jumps. Colby took his over into the empty lot next door. (They are going to miss this when they build the house next door starting soon)

Richard has become the resident Traxxas mechanic. He has a lot of parts and pieces already, but you can get replacements at hobby shops and sometimes on Amazon. Blake has already had to learn that, as he broke a part on his truck already.

When we were done with that it was time for dinner. Colby had requested pancakes. I decided to try out a new recipe from a cookbook that I have. I have a recipe off pinterest that I typically use, but decided to try something new. These pancakes had less sugar, but more dairy(buttermilk, sour cream, and butter). For this recipe you had to separate the eggs and whip the whites (I handed this job over to Richard so I could finish the rest of the recipe).

The pancakes batter was a lot thicker than our other recipe. It created a more “cakey” pancake, but it had good flavor. I tried my first bite with just a bit of butter. When I was a kid I always ate my pancakes with just butter. I’m not sure when I started using maple syrup. My boys eat their pancakes with syrup and no butter. Richard eats his with both butter and syrup. I always find it interesting to see how differently people in one family can eat the same food items.

After dinner we decided to watch Ghostbusters. We have been slowly watching some great “classic” movies with the boys. We have watched Indiana Jones, Forest Gump, Star Wars, Back to the Future and many more movies that we enjoyed growing up and over the years before the boys were born. It is very funny to watch what was at the time considered impressive graphics and think wow this is really sad looking.

That was our Saturday. It was a busy, fun filled, family day. I love days like that when we can do a lot, but it doesn’t feel super busy because we are having fun together. I hope your Saturday was productive and your Sunday brings about smiles and sunshine!

 

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!

family · through my camera lens

2017 Favorite Photo

2017 was such a year of change for our family. Richard moved to Pittsburgh in April. The boys and I moved in June. The boys started a new school in August. We bought our new home in September and moved in shortly there after. Life has been busy, but sooo good.

One of the biggest benefits of moving here is the freedom and independence the boys have found. They spent the summer outside playing. They rode their bikes, met new friends and just loved being kids.

They now ride the bus to and from school. They have more responsibility and more freedom. I feel that they have grown up so much this year. They are no longer little kids, but are now full blown tweens. I see them turning into the teens we will have in the home very soon.

The photo challenge was to pick your most meaningful photo of the year. I could have posted a photo of the new house. I could have posted one of the many rainbow pictures I took over our new home. I could have posted pictures from our time in North Park.

But, most memorable is what stuck out… what is most memorable to me this year is the boys freedom. This photo shows them as they are… boys on the move. Free to run and roam. Free to play and explore. It shows my sons loving together being themselves.

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via Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorites

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GranPat

This weekend we traveled to Ft. Lauderdale FL. This was the first time we were back in Florida since the move. We flew out at the crack of dawn, actually before the crack of dawn, on Friday and flew home today.

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We went back to celebrate the life of Richard’s grandmother. GranPat, as she was lovingly called by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, loved life. She loved to be around people and she loved her family.

Visiting with GranPat was one of my favorite things to do when we went down to Richard’s parents’ house. GranPat loved to travel. I have a plate displayed in my hutch that she brought me back from Europe. The fact that she picked this out for me, gives it even more meaning. We also have a small blue plate Christmas ornament on our tree that was from her. In her house she had a collection of these blue plates hanging on the walls. When she was getting ready to move out of the home and in with her daughter she was giving away ornaments, when I saw this little blue plate ornament, I knew this was the one we needed for our tree.

GranPat was the great-grandparent that my sons knew the best. When Blake was born he had 5 great-grandparents. Many of them passed away when the boys were too young to truly know their great-grandparents. While GranPat had 16 great grandchildren, she made time to get to know all of them. She enjoyed talking to my sons about their performances, as she and her husband also enjoyed being on stage.

 

GranPat was a loving woman who loved life and those in her life. She will forever have a place in the hearts of our family. Rest in peace GranPat, I know you are up in Heaven with Pop, dressed all in green and making everyone feel loved. We will miss you.

 

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Good-bye summer, hello fall!

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This is the last week of summer and what a summer it has been. We wrapped up school on the last day of May. We celebrated Colby’s 9th birthday with a sleepover with 2 of his best friends, and Blake of course. I thought in many ways I was crazy since well Richard was in PA and I was packing to for the move. But, it was the perfect way to not only celebrate Colby, but wrap up our years in FL.

The first week of June saw Colby’s actual birthday and celebrating with family. It found Richard home in FL for the last time and the final packing. We were then on the road to PA. The trip took us two days and we made really good time.

We arrived in PA to stay in the townhouse the first night with nothing but what packed into my Ford Flex. Oh well the next day found the moving truck at our doorstep. We were officially living in PA.

This summer we explored the area. We went to lots of restaurants, went to activities locally in the city of Pittsburgh. We found farmers markets, pick your own farms and enjoyed the fresh produce found there. We went to the movies every Wednesday. Spent time at the pool, joined a gym where the boys can also workout on kid size equipment. We found hiking and biking trails at North Park. All three guys got new mountain bikes.

The new bikes were a blessing for the boys. They are outside all the time now. Every day they are out riding their bikes with the kids in the neighborhood. They spend the summer outside and enjoying being kids.

The house went from being just a slab to being a finished house. We will officially close on Sept. 27th, but for all intents and purposes the house is finished. We have made new friends in the new neighborhood and are excited to start the next phase in our new home.

So if you ask me if I had a good summer… my answer is yes. We may have been squished into a tiny townhouse, but we made the best of it. There were lots of laughs and memories created this summer, and that is what life is really about. I wouldn’t trade it.

Bring on the fall… lets see what is next for our family!

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