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!

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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?

Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.

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.

 

food

ice cream cookie sandwich update

Well, as promised I’m back to let you know how the ice cream worked in helping the Costco cookies. Missed the original post? Read it here.

Richard and I tried them last night. Richard had the mint chip and I had the moose tracks. Today I had the second moose tracks and Richard had the chocolate.

Well, it did help the cookies out a bit I guess. But, we figured out that we are now ice cream snobs. I purchased store brand ice cream. We have been eating either Ben & Jerry’s or Talenti. If you’ve had either of these brands you know they are real deal ice cream. So having a generic ice cream was a bit of a let down.

Talenti’s mint chip has a true mint taste so now having anyone else’s artificial mint flavor was not what Richard wanted.

Oh well… as I said next time I’ll have to make fresh cookies and make my own ice cream.

family · life · through my camera lens

Snow Day Today

The forecast this week was for us to get a wintry mix yesterday and then they said 3-6″ of snow before 8pm last night. That my friends did not happen! We had a wintry mix on and off and did see some snow from time to time, but there was little to no snow when we went to bed last night. This morning we woke up to a white world.

At 5am we got the call saying there would be a 2 hour delay. Some how we actually missed this phone call and were up and moving with the thought we’d have to have Richard and the boys out the door before 7:20. Then I noticed the phone message saying it was a 2 hour delay. (I got my replacement phone yesterday so now I feel better again!). About an hour later we got the call saying that school is cancelled for the day.

Richard decided to stay home as well. He has been fighting a head cold for the last few days. There was already about 1.5″ of snow out there and it was snowing harder and harder as the hours past.

So we had a slow morning. Then Richard and I headed out to shovel. It wasn’t bad until the plow came along and plowed about a foot of snow onto the bottom of our driveway, oh and it also took out a huge swath of the grass off the edge of our property. (What do you call that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street?? I have no idea what it’s called). After we got it shoveled, all 5 of us (4 humans and the dog) piled into the truck to go to the vet.

When we got home the boys headed outside to play in the snow. Me, I should go out and shovel again, but I’m not in the mood to do that just yet. I know it is a necessary evil of the season… oh wait it’s not winter anymore, but it is snowing. So instead I’m making dried strawberries and trying a new roll recipe to have with cheese steaks for dinner tonight.

Are you seeing spring in your area or are you seeing a winter wonderland like us?

 

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!

book · Education · family · life

Time to Read

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It’s Saturday! Sorry I have been off in my posts lately. Thursdays’ post was really late. Yesterdays… well it never happened.

Yesterday I was up and going to the boys’ school. Did you notice a trend this week?? I went to help out with the last day of the book fair. I wasn’t actually working in the book fair. I was helping with the money they collected to donate money to Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh. Each day they collected coins and the PTO counted the coins and let the classes know how much was collected. They held a contest between the grades. The class in each grade to raise the most money won a prize. The prize was just a little whatever item. Each child got putty, a pencil and then some other little item (one class got folders, one class got sunglasses and the one in first place for the whole school got sunglasses and a bookmark). When they set up this fundraiser they had no clue how much money they would collect. When I arrived at school and the Friday buckets were starting to pour in… and let me tell you they were FULL. We had a bucket that had over $200 in coins… in one bucket! The school raised over $3400.

The job I had planned to accomplish when I got to school on Friday was to pull the books from the All for Books donation money to send off to Children’s Hospital.  But, we did not have a final tally of how much until around 2pm. So, we didn’t even start. This means more work on Monday. Monday I will go in and help pull the books for this. Add up the books for the teachers. The PTO donates $50 in books to each teacher. Then we have to clean up and close down everything for the cases to be taken away.

Lot of work, but lots of books getting into the hands of those who need them. My own boys purchased a total of 7 books. Works for me!

As a person who loves books. Who guides children in the process of learning to read. Who is raising two avid readers. I feel that book fairs are a fun way for children to see the joy of books. Since this book fair came on the tail of Read Across America week, where the school made it fun for the students. They celebrated books in so many different way, I’m sure this also motivated the students to want to buy more.

In terms of me and books right now… I’m almost done reading Lilac Girls. I’m also about 1/3 of the way through The Identicals. When I finish Lilac Girls, I need to pre-read a book for Blake. Richard is also pre-reading a book for Blake. It is hard when your children are reading at a level that is way beyond their years. We have struggled with this before. When Blake started into chapter books I would read them before he could, then he got to an age where I trusted most of the books he would encounter/ he reads a lot faster than me. Now we are getting to a point where he is reading books that could contain sexual/ violent/ or other content that we need to check for maturity. He isn’t happy when we say, yes but… but he also knows we are doing it for his own good.

Colby is also a strong reader, he actually reads at a higher level than Blake did at that age. At this point, the books Colby typically chooses would not have the violent type content that Blake’s does. Blake is into history and therefore into wars and teen age war books can be very graphic. Colby enjoys reading stories about human nature (Wonder, Ugly, Finding Gobi, and more) the type of books that touch your heart strings. Those who know my sons would not be surprised at the difference in the types of books they choose. So, we know at some point we will have to read Colby’s books too, but right now we don’t. I guess when that day comes we will either have moved on from reading Blake’s or I’ll only be reading their books!

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