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.

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family · life · Must Have Monday

Weekend Update

Happy Monday Morning…. why does that always sound soooo wrong when you say that? So, I don’t think I even opened up my laptop this weekend, hence the lack of blogging. So let me catch you up on life!

Friday was the boy’s last day of theater camp and there production. They did Frozen Kids this time. Colby was Olaf and Blake was the Duke of Weselton. They had so much fun. I am totally impressed that these kids can learn a whole musical (lines, scores, blocking, dances etc) in one week.  Well it isn’t even a week. On Monday they have auditions. Then they practice T, W, Th at the studio and then on Friday they have their dress rehearsal and the show.  (pictures taken after the show– Colby was hot in his Olaf costume and Blake’s wig was driving him crazy. so they aren’t the best pics, but they had fun)

Saturday we slept in! I think that was the thing Richard and I were looking forward to the most for the weekend. Getting up at 5:30am everyday to workout is good… and bad! But, worth it. Saturday and Sunday are rests days in this program so we didn’t have to get up and get moving. I took Saturday as my cheat day too. This meant I finally got to try the PB&J cookies. They were really good I think the ratio of peanut butter to jelly was off. I almost would prefer them as a thumbprint cookie instead. We ran a bunch of errands including going and researching getting a full rack of dumbbells for working out. Then went out for Tex-Mex for dinner.

When we lived in FL we had a few different Tex-Mex places that we went to on a pretty regular basis. I guess Tex-Mex isn’t as popular here, or it at least doesn’t live up to our standards.  We keep trying different places, but haven’t found that OMG this is good Tex-Mex just yet. The one we went to on Sat. was the closest we’ve tried. We would at least go back to this one again opposed to the others that were one and done places.

Sunday found us with beautiful weather and motivation to hit the trails. I dropped Richard and the boys off for a bike ride and went for a hike. I found it a lot easier to walk trails that I’ve walked before. I wasn’t having to stop to catch my breath after climbing the hills and increased my pace. I hiked just a bit under 2 miles. The guys rode just under 5 miles. The rest of the day found us doing relaxing things at home.

I finished 2 of the books I got at the library this week and the third books I read two chapter of and then gave up because it didn’t peek my interest enough. I also deleted the book I was reading on my kindle, that one started to get too smutty. I’m now reading a book on my kindle about Hemingway until I get back to the library.

Ok that is my weekend in a nutshell. Hope you had a good weekend too

 

family · life · through my camera lens

The Point and North Park

Friday we went into the city. The boys and I met Richard at his job and from there we went to an art’s festival by “The Point”. Point State Park is the location of Fort Duquesne which was part of the start of the French Indian War. (I’d have to have Blake do a blog post to tell you more about it) The Point is also the location where three rivers (the Allegheny, Monogahela and the Ohio) converge.

 

The art festival was… ok. But, we had a good time walking around and just being. I was also able to get a few decent pictures of some of the bridges as well as the incline.

Saturday we got up and headed to North Park. The boys took Richard on another trail that they rode with their mountain bike class. This trail travels across the park so I dropped them off and then moved my car. When the finished they wanted to ride more so they took off on a new trail. This trail also ended in a second spot so I moved the car again. I hiked on two new trails for me too. We were all tired when this was done.

 

While I was hiking I came across this little deer having a snack. I decided to stop and watch. While I was there, the boys and Richard actually made it to where I hiked (we were going in opposite directions). We then headed back to the car.

Last night Colby had two friends over for a late birthday sleep over. They had a blast playing video games, watching a movie and we even went out for ice cream. We are all tired today, but it was a fun weekend.

life · through my camera lens

Strawberry Picking

Yesterday the boys and I had a quiet-ish day. The power was out in the morning for over 3 hours, we knew about this ahead of time. The boys used this as an opportunity to build with Lego and read. The power came back on right around lunch time. After they had lunch they began their summer workbooks. I typically purchase workbooks for the boys to complete over the summer. I don’t make it a ton of work, but just enough to keep their brains going. Yesterday, Colby decided he was going to do the first 3 days of lessons, go for it. They did get to use a bit of technology and this made them happy too. We also watched the recorded episode of America’s Got Talent, always a fun and quirky show to watch together.

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I got an e-mail yesterday saying that Sorgel was opening their strawberry fields today from 10-4. We arrived at Sorgel at 10:30! We worked together to pick just about 3lb of strawberries. They did not originally intend for the fields to be open yet, but they said there were too many ripe berries to not have it open for at least one day.  The first field we went to was really picked over, but the second one was bursting with perfect berries.

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I find it interesting that the strawberries that we got in FL, did not have anywhere near the flavor that they have here in PA. This seems backwards to me, but hey I’ll take it!

So… now what to do with all my strawberries??

family · life · through my camera lens

Catching you up on life

Wow I think I missed posting more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole time I’ve been writing this blog. We were busy this weekend as I talked about here. The boys finished up school yesterday, so there were a lot of end of the year things happening. Also, yesterday I had a job interview.

I will hear back from them in about a month, they are between sessions right now and have a board meeting coming up. They also need to finalize with the existing staff what hours they want before hiring. Not that I know if they will offer me a job yet or not. I have another preschool that wants to interview me later in June once they too get their summer program up and going as well as the director of that one is going on vacation in the middle of June.  We shall see what comes about from these places.

I always hate when interviewers ask canned questions. I’d rather you ask me specific questions that I can tell you actually want to know the answer. The first question I got in this interview was tell me about yourself… ummm what do you want to know? I’m a mom, I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I have lots of teaching experience,  ummm umm crickets in my brain.

Another interview question that is always asked that I never know how to answer is “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” Now when I was young (as in right out of college) I was better at answering this… now, not so much. When I got asked this question at my last interview, back in FL, I laughed and said if you asked me this question 2 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been “I see myself interviewing for a teaching position”. They knew this, but that is another story for another post. This time I was like…. if you asked me last year I wouldn’t have said I’d be in Pittsburgh. Life has to be a bit more fluid when you are a mother. I’m lucky in the knowledge that I don’t need to work and that if life says I need to stay home I can. I instead talked about the fact that I want to go back at sometime and get my PhD (that won’t be until we’ve paid the boys college tuition… they come first), and that I would love to teach in a either a HS, tech school or college where people are in teacher training programs. I have a lot to share and I think I’d do a decent job teaching people to become teachers. But again, that is on the back burner right now because I need to take more courses to get the certifications I’d need for that. I think of life this way in 5 years, Blake (16) will be going into his junior year in HS and Colby (15) his sophomore year. In 10 years Blake will be 21 and Colby will be 20 and they will be in college. How can I know what I’d be doing then when I can’t even imagine them at those ages?

Ok enough of that. Blake and Colby finished their first round of mountain biking classes last night. They enjoyed this so much that we signed them up for session two, that starts on Monday. They went a totally different route and actually ended at a different part of the park. North Park is 3,075 acres so there are lots of trails and paths to take. I decided to drive down to where I would pick them up and hike from there for a change. This was an area I’d never visited, but I will be back. I didn’t walk as far or as long as I typically do, but I finished feeling tired and covered in sweat, guess I call that a good workout,

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family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

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food · life · through my camera lens

Rambles and Pasta Salad

Yesterday the boys had their first mountain biking lesson. They left excited to go back on Thursday! That makes it feel like money well spent. While they biked I went off on a hike. I’d hiked over 1 mile when Richard surprised me by showing up to walk with me. I had to hike back out and meet up with him. I ended up hiking/walking over 3 miles in about an hour. I wasn’t doing a good job about pausing my app while texting/talking to Richard in order to figure out where we were going to meet up. So, I’m not sure how long I walked, but I don’t care that was still good hike.

One of the places I came across on my hike has a “forever tree”. This is a tree dedicated to those furry friends who loved North Park, but are no longer with us. People add medal ornaments to the tree to honor these pets. Such a loving tribute.

Today I decided to take my coffee and make it a smoothie. I used 1 cup of chocolate coffee, a splash of chocolate creamer, and 1.5 frozen bananas. I blended it up and called it a drink. It was yummy… I’d show a picture, but I finished it before I decided to share about having it.

While I was having my coffee smoothie I worked on lunch. I know I often talk about the foods I make for the family for dinner, but almost never discuss breakfast or lunch. Part of that is breakfast and lunch is take care of yourself meals. I haven’t made breakfast or lunch for my boys since they were about 5. Most days my lunch is open the fridge and toss whatever I find on top of salad, pasta, rice or something on that idea. I will also eat leftovers as is, but I typically like to reinvent them so they feel new and not just leftovers.

Today, since I went to the grocery store, I decided to make myself a pasta salad. I love pasta salad and is such a great side, but for me… it’s lunch!

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Today’s pasta salad

  • bowtie pasta (about 1/4 a package)
  • zucchini -diced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes (I used a 10oz package) split
  • heavy handful of spinach
  • 1/4 package of broccoli slaw
  • fresh motzarella
  • Italian Dressing (I used Ken’s Simply Vinaigrette Italian)
  • EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder

Cook pasta according to package. When done make sure to rinse in cool water to cool down the pasta

Dice zucchini. Heat EVOO in a skillet. In skillet put half of the tomatoes and zucchini. Dust with garlic powder. When cooked to the texture you like, leave to cool.

Chop of the spinach. Cut the rest of the tomatoes in half. Cut mozzarella into bite size pieces.

In a large bowl place the spinach, broccoli slaw, chopped tomatoes and mozzarella. When pasta and veggie are cooled down add to bowl. Top with dressing and then toss.

Refrigerate. I put it into the fridge for 40 min or so before eating. This is one of those the longer it sits the better it tastes.

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I like the fact that there is more veggies than pasta. You can put in whatever veggie float your boat. I was trying to go for an Italian-ish flavor profile. Do you have a favorite pasta salad? What do you put in yours?

family · life

Cinco de Derby Day

Today was a busy and fun day for our family. We started the day by Richard taking Blake with him to Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Blake is going to write up a review on this as soon as I let him near my computer) and then get gas for the lawnmower.

After breakfast, Richard got the lawnmower going and mowed our lawn here for the first time…. ever! When we lived in Orlando, we mowed the lawn almost all year long. In the spring and fall you mow it once a week, in the summer you need to mow it every 5 days or so and in the winter you can get away with skipping a few weeks depending on the temperatures. Not so much here in Pittsburgh. We will see how often we have to mow as the seasons go on., but at least we know it won’t be all year long.

While Richard did this, I added the baffle to our bird feeder. We now have at least two squirrels fighting over climbing the shepard’s pole to get out our feeders. The boys gave me the baffle shown for my birthday. The nice thing about this baffle is you can attach it to an existing pole without having to take the pole out of the ground. The opening closes up and attaches with a joint closure. I had to adjust the location of our dish feeder. The recommend that when you have a baffle it is located 4-5 feet off the ground.

When I finished this I began fertilizing the yard. We try to fertilize our lawn about once a month. This helps the lawn’s growth and coloring. I need to pick up some more seed so we can add soil and seed to the balder spots in the lawn. But, at least it is coming along.

After that, Colby and I helped Richard install the wire shelves above his work bench. This was a big task, but so worth it because we were able to get more garage thing emptied out of the boxes and put up on these shelves.

After putting up the shelves we had lunch. I had the last of the Thanksgiving salad, I need to make a pasta salad or something next. I like having a simple go to healthy lunch to have around.

The boys took off on their bikes to find friends and Richard and I decided to work on the back of our property. We began by trying to cut back some of the thorn bushes and vines. After getting cut to shreds doing this we decided to change gears and work on cutting a path through the backyard to get to the path to the pond. We completed this task just before the boys returned home.

We then worked on cleaning up the garage and putting things on the shelves while the boys drove their Traxxas trucks. They love driving them on the lot next door and even created a ramp in the muck to jump the trucks. They won’t be able to drive it there much longer since they should start framing that house here soon.

Dinner tonight was chicken salsa over couscous with homemade pico de gallo. We watched the Kentucky Derby and then played a few rounds of Uno Hearts.

Wow that was a busy day, but productive and fun. Hope you enjoyed your Cinco de Derby day.

family · life · through my camera lens

Spring Weekend

This weekend found us with nicer weather, so that meant we were outside. The boys and I went out after they got home from school on Friday. They rode to the park and brought a basketball and soccer ball to play on the court and field down there. I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked about 1.5 miles.

We just realized that that bug protection we had been applying to Dixie didn’t cover ticks. Great!! We have already pulled 4 off her. It’s not easy to find them since she has very dense fur in some spots, plus most of her fur is black. We have given her the flea and tick stuff the vet told us to try at her last appointment. Hopefully this works, last thing we need is for her getting ticks on a regular basis.

The tick find on Dixie spurred me to get out and treat the backyard. We sprayed the area she has access to as well as the perimeter of the woods of our yard with the insecticide spray and then put granular over the rest of the yard. That was my task Saturday morning before we left for the gym.

This was the boys last week of little lifters. They really enjoyed this program. It would be nice to see my places provide this type of training to kids their age. The program was for kids 8-13. This is the prefect age to introduce correct use of gym equipment that they can use independently. They aren’t ready to get out and use the circuit training or free weights yet, but they can use a step bench, resistance bands, light weights, a medicine ball and many other equipment. Colby is very excited to create his own workout for next weekend and keep working on getting stronger.

We headed to DiBella’s and Lowes. We needed an extension rod for the new fan we purchased at Costco for the morning room. We also picked up rollers so we could paint the garage. Over the last few trips we have been picking up their discounted paints. We were getting gallons of paint for $9. It is a great way to get paint if you don’t really care about the color.

So Saturday we painted the garage. We mixed together a quart of navy blue, a gallon of purple, a gallon of sage and a gallon of a light blue. The color ended up sort of a cornflower blue. It works. Richard also took the cans of white and painted the ceiling in the back section of the garage. We still have 3 cans of different shades of green and may mix them together to paint the basement since we were already talking about painting it green. That is still in the lets think about this stage.

Today we got up and headed to North Park. All three guys took their bikes. I’m’ still nursing my hip and knee so I decided to just walk. The boys rode the paved path to the pump park where I caught up with them. I ended up walking about 1.5 miles again. I was glad to see the distance here because soon the boys will be taking mountain biking lessons here and I’ll walk while they are at their lesson  Richard rode his bike on the actual bike trails.

When we were leaving, we ended up stopping to watch an auto cross in the pool parking lot. There were just regular cars, or regular-ish cars, racing around a cone course. The boys enjoyed this. I liked that I captured a few good photos of them up close. 

What a great way to get out and enjoy the fact that we are finally seeing spring temperatures and the sun!

Hope it is nice in your part of the world and that you had a great weekend.