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.

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Transition Vacation Day

Have you been following along with my travel posts? I posted the last three days about our time in Hershey Park. You can read about it here, here and here.

Thursday found us traveling again. We had one more Hersey place to visit first. Before we left Hershey we decided to go visit the Hershey Story Museum.

The first thing we did there was attend a candy making session in their chocolate lab. Yep, we made our own chocolate bars.  They played Hershey Trivia to start with and apparently I know my Hershey trivia. My boys won quite a few kisses with my help.  Then they discussed the process of chocolate making from the fields to the factory. After, each person was given a candy mold which had a beach scene transfer on it. The tables were given bowls of melted chocolate and you got to work making our own bars. The session we attended was beach bars so we could add in salt or graham cracker crumbs (I found shakers of red pepper flakes and cinnamon there too so Richard and I used those).

We then went through the museum. Did you know that there was once a Hershey town in Cuba? They had a whole exhibit on Hershey in Cuba and how he created a Hershey village there for the people who worked in the sugar factory there. While we were in the museum we purchased booklets for the boys that they could use to go around the museum and fill out trivia information. There were stations along the way to get “rewards” for finding all the information. While the museum was interesting, and the chocolate making was fun, I’m not sure it was worth the price of admission. I don’t regret doing it, but if you aren’t into history and don’t want to go around reading a lot of information then this is not the location for you.

When we wrapped this up, we headed to our next stop on the trip. Strasburg PA. Our hotel was in Lancaster, but the places we were headed were in Strasburg. When we arrived in Strasburg we went to the Choo Choo Barn. This is a model railroad. The boys had fun going around and finding all the different little things there were to see. The layout of this was ok. There were a lot of things that were hard to see since they were in the middle and you felt like they got lost. They did have spots where you could activate the different animations. They dimmed the lights to make it night time. They also gave you a scavenger hunt list of items to find while looking at the scenes. We ended up walking around twice.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our last day of the vacation… when we ride the rails, visit an Amish farmers market and eat at 2 different local restaurants.

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 · life · reviews · Uncategorized

Star Girl and Mockingbird book reviews

This summer the boys and I got library cards. We have been going to the library every week. Each week Blake gets 7-9 books and Colby gets 5-7 books. I have been picking up 2 books each week. I am always shocked to see that we have plowed through the books and are ready to return them the next week.

The last two weeks Colby has been choosing books off a list we found of books for children who liked the Wonder series. He asked me to read one last week and one this week.

Book - Stargirl by Jerry SpinelliLast week he had me read Star Girl, by Jerry Spinneli. Star Girl is written about how a school deals with “The new girl” who starts school for the first time. Leo tells the story of how Star Girl changes Mica High from the first day she arrived. Star Girl did not look, act or even think like anyone else in the school. Is it good to be THAT different? Can the positive energy and unique desire to be happy all the time, that is Star Girl, bring about a change in the culture of a whole school, or at least a few of the students there?

I really enjoyed this story and so did Colby. I believe in some ways he could relate to Star Girl. He was just the new kid and he too is very emotional, passionate and always wants people to be happy. Now don’t get me wrong he doesn’t dress crazy, or call himself a unique name, or go out of his way to feel that different, but he knows his personality draws people in and makes them happy.  This is a YA book and one that is a good read for teen and tweens. The story is written from the voice of Leo and how he reacts to Star Girl. Both male and female readers can relate to this story.Book - Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Colby and I both plowed through the book Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine yesterday. It’s not that the book was super short, it was just that good. Caitlin is in the fifth grade. She is bight, a gifted reader and a talented artist. Caitlin also has Asperger’s syndrome. Before, her brother Devon helped her negotiate how to fit into a world that makes little to no sense to her. But, then the unspeakable happened. Devon was killed in a school shooting. Her father doesn’t no know to deal with his own emotions never mind those of his daughter. The school counselor tries to help Caitlin see that with a little guidance she can understand empathy and then understand how to help herself and so many other people in her life that are hurting after this tragedy.

This book is a good ready for anyone! It was an interesting look into the thought process of a child with Asperger’s. I have taught children with this and I could relate. I have know children with his and see how they just don’t fit in even when they don’t realize they don’t fit in. They see the world through their own set of eyes. This book did an excellent job of showing how important it is to see each person for their strengths and that if you just step back and look at the person for their strengths and not the aspects of why they don’t fit in you may see you have more in common than you realize.

The theme of school shooting plays a back plot in this book. It is not discussed in great details, but more deals with how this effects those left behind. The purpose seemed to be to connect a variety of characters to the same tragedy. This is something that is being addressed in schools on a regular basis, and helping children see how the shooting effects more than just the victims themselves may help children see this act in a new light as well.  (this is also a YA story)

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.

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 · 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!