food · family

Go ahead and order yourself

Every once in a while I post about things I’ve done to help my children in life. This is one of those posts.

When we go out to restaurants my children order for themselves. They have done this since they were about 4 or 5 years old. They have learned to stop what they are doing when the waitstaff approaches our table. They look at the waiter/waitress and tell what they are ordering in a clear voice. They sit quietly until everyone has finished ordering and the waiter/waitress has left the table. They also say “thank you” when items are delivered to them at the table (drink, meal, and/or other items needed). They learn to say “Excuse me” when they are getting the attention of the waitstaff because they need something else or have a question.

Before the we order the boys have to tell us what they are planning to order so that we know what they are planning, but it also gives them a chance to practice stating what they want to eat. We go through all the options of side dishes and drinks as well. At this age, we don’t talk about their drinks anymore since they know they can either get milk, water or lemonade (my kids still don’t drink soda).

I find it interesting to see how many waiters/waitresses who still look at Richard and I with shock when the boys order their own meals. Colby even knows to order his steak medium rare whenever he orders steak.

I have always felt that this is a life skill that they need. They need to make these choices and be able verbalize what they would like to other people. They need to treat the waitstaff with respect. They need to speak in a voice that is understandable and be ready to answer questions about their requests.

This being said, I also like when the wait staff checks with us in regards to their orders. There are times when they order off the adult menu or things like that. I also like when they ask if the boys can have their drinks in a glass or a plastic cup and then if they can have a refill. This shows a great deal of respect to the parents.


Do you think children should order their own food at restaurants? Do you think the waitstaff should address questions to the parents about the children’s foods? Do you think they should ask before bringing refills to the table?



Missing the Disney Magic


Every year we went and spent sometime at Disney during the holidays. Even when the boys were little and we didn’t take them into the parks we went to Downtown Disneylights (now Disney Springs).

Let me tell you Disney does the holidays right! I’ve always said a bad day at Disney is better than an ok day anywhere else. We took the boys in many times to see the Osborne lights, the best was the last year they showed them. The boys were old enough to truly enjoy this and it just felt that much more magical. I’ll post a video of this on my blog’s Facebook page.

One of our favorite things to do during the holidays was to go into EPCOT and travel around the world. Most of the countries have their version of Santa or gift giver there telling the story of how the holidays are celebrated in their area of the world.

One thing that helped make Disney that much more magical was the fact that we had annual passes. We didn’t have to pay to park. We could go as often as epcot treewe want and stay as long as we wanted. We would often go in and not ride a single ride, or only those we got fast passes for. If we missed something it didn’t matter because we could go back. We enjoyed just being in the hustle and bustle of the park. Watching people move about and seeing the little things that often get overlooked when you are there on a short vacation.

Last year the week before Christmas we were on a Disney Cruise. This was a great way to soak in the Disney Christmas magic. The cruise wasn’t over the top Christmas, but just enough mixed in with the rest of the Disney magic.

Well, I won’t be going to see the mouse this year during the holiday time, but I have all my memories to look back on.


family · food

Christmas Cookies

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This is the time of December that I typically begin making Christmas cookies. I would make a huge tray for Richard to bring to work. I also gave them to the teachers on my team and a few other teacher friends at school. Some years we gave them to neighbors as well.

This year I’m not sure if I’m going to go all out. When I say I made Christmas cookies, I mean I’d make 5 or 6 different batches of Christmas cookies. I have a few recipes that I make every year, but I would also switch up the other cookies so it wasn’t the same thing year after year.

I am not working. I won’t send them into the boys school, since I don’t work there and they don’t know us well I’m not comfortable sending in homemade goods. (I never ate anything that my students sent in) Richard’s work provides lunch and desert every day, so there isn’t a need to bring in huge servings of treats.

This year I may wait and just bake a few batches for us to have in the house and ready for the big man in red to arrive.

So I know I will make chocolate mint cookies, peanut butter blossoms and some kind of sugar cookies. We shall see. Although I keep thinking I want snickerdoodle bars, hmmm maybe I’ll make these for Richard to bring to work next week?

Do you make Christmas cookies? What is your favorite kind? Who do you share your cookies with?


The sounds of silence.

Image result for quietIf you read my blog on a regular basis, then you know that we almost always have music playing in our house. Tonight we got home from skating lessons and then had fend for yourself dinner. Richard is working on his laptop, Colby is reading and Blake went to bed, he wasn’t feeling 100%.

The house is quiet. This house is rarely quiet other than when we are sleeping. Typically as soon as the boys start functioning the music goes on, or the tv or something that makes noise. Or the boys are playing something. Or there is just the noise of life.

But, right now the only sound I hear is the clicking of the keys as I type this blog post. Sometimes the best sound to hear is silence.  And, I’m going to enjoy it.

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Teacher Gifts

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There are many articles out there about what to get and not to get teachers. I often get asked this question as well since I am(was) a teacher and have two children of my own.

Most teachers do not expect to get anything from their students, but truly appreciate whatever you give them. But, just know that the space in classrooms to store gifts is very limited. I have a few items that I have kept over the years, two are poems about being a teacher that were framed. This goes against most of what you read about teachers. But, these were both given to me by students after they had left my classroom. They were given 1 or 2 years later and they came back to say thank you. This is when a teacher gift means more, this means that you have touched that child beyond the academic year. Beyond that I have gotten rid of everything that was given to me with the word teacher on it.  (Sorry to anyone who gave me these gifts). I typically keep them on my desk for the rest of that school year and then donate them.

One of my favorite gifts I was given was a basket of cleaning and teaching supplies. Yes, you read that correctly. It was filled with Clorox wipes, tissues, sharpies, glue sticks, and other things to use in the classroom. You may think as a parent that this isn’t a good gift, but as a teacher it means less money out of my pocket to buy these items that we use in class. I have also gotten gift cards to teacher stores (Teacher Pay Teacher gift cards would be a big hit with many teachers), Amazon gift cards and even grocery store gift cards. Teachers spend a lot of their own money on their classrooms.

Over the years I have collected all the cards and letters that have been written to me by both parents and children. Not the “I love you teacher” things that the children bring in, the ones that someone took time to sit down and write. The cards and letters that say thank you for making me feel special. Thank you for helping my child love to learn. Those that said you noticed that I put time and energy into helping the child grow as a person. I have printed out e-mails and saved the cards. Taking the time to sit down and put your appreciation on a paper is the best gift you can give a teacher. And, if you really want to make a teacher smile… send a copy to the principal.

As to what I typically get my children’s teachers it changes over the year. I typically get gift cards and chocolate (good chocolate like Lindt truffles or Ghiradelli squares). For gift cards I tend to stick with things that many people would like (grocery store, Target, Amazon, unless I know a place they enjoy eating at or shopping at).

One important thing to remember with teachers, it’s not how much you spend, its the thought behind the gift. Teachers understand that this time of year is expensive. Teachers know… but they also appreciate!


Special Blake Edition: Disney

December 5th: many things happened on this day, but one important thing occurred that made history: In 1901, Walt Disney was born.

Being a former Floridian, 4/5 people ask me, “Did you go to Disney World at all?” And I’ve always said yes, tons of times. (By the way, that other 1/5 people ask, “Did you evacuate for the hurricane?”, and I’ve said no.) It’s amazing how Disney did all this stuff when movies and cartoons were just beginning to become a popularity, and some became famous, like Steamboat Willie, as well. But when he released the first full-color feature film as a cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, many knew Disney was just taxiing down the runway. His next movies were Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, and Dumbo in 1941.

In 1955, Disneyland opened, but its first day was a disaster. However, it didn’t have an accident after that. Four more parks in Florida were opened, thus making Disney World. Walt never saw these parks open, dying of lung cancer in 1966, but he did come up with ideas that are in today’s parks. The first was the Magic Kingdom, opening in 1976, followed by EPCOT in 1982, M-G-M Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in 1989, and finally Animal Kingdom in 1998; including many hotels around the 40 square mile property.

In conclusion, Walt Disney and his company have paved the way for creativity to pop all over the US, including small animation companies bought and owned by Disney- Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion,  Lucasfilm in 2012 for 4.05 billion,and many others. But also, Disney shared the magic in millions’ hearts, or as Disney put it, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

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So much loss

In reading my Facebook feed the last few days, I’ve seen two different lives lost. One a young girl here in the area I live in PA. The other a high school girl in the area I lived in FL. Both young ladies with the first name Mary, even though the high school girl went by her middle name Grace.

I do not know the details of either of these losses, and I don’t need to. I just know that there are so many out there grieving. Parents grieving the loss of their daughter. Siblings grieving the loss of their sister. Classmates, friends and acquaintance grieving.

There is no good time to loss a child, it’s just not supposed to happen. But, the holiday time makes it that much worse. It brings my mind the Sandy Hook tragedy, which took place 5 years ago Dec. 14th. How as a parent do you bury your child? How do you move forward? It is not something that one can plan for. It is not something that anyone can understand or even try to fathom how you would cope with this tremendous loss.

So remember that each day is a gift. Each life is precious. Each person you meet is someone son/daughter. Live your life to the fullest. Love your children while providing them roots and wings. Take time to reflect and realize that life is so worth it, and our children are so much more.

I sent loving prayers to those families both here and in FL that are dealing with this loss. Those families who are trying to help their own child understand loss. I think of the families from Sandy Hook who are getting closer to an anniversary no one wants to celebrate. I think of those who are watching their child fight for their lives.

Today I think, I pray, I remember, and most of all…. I love.

family · reviews

Where is your….???

Where is your sweatshirt? Where is your water bottle? What happened to all the pencils I bought you at the beginning of the year? What do you mean you left your homework at school?

It seems like some days I ask these questions more than other days. For as smart as my sons are, they are still kids. Some weeks are worse than other weeks. This week Blake managed to lose his Under Armor Sweatshirt. This is the second sweatshirt he has lost this year. He thought he knew where he left it, but when he checked there and in lost and found he says it is gone. I did ask “Were looking with his eyes and hands or with the force?” This is a running joke in our family since 90% of the time the item is where I said it would be if they just looked.

Both boys keep leaving their water bottle at school. They both have Brita filtered water bottles at school. We purchased these for our first Disney Cruise. These water bottles are great for school. The boys can fill the water bottle in any sink and still have filtered water. Having worked in enough schools I can tell you they need the water filtered!  This is the water bottle that I take to the gym as well. I love knowing that I can drink filtered water anywhere

Richard and I made a decision a long time ago to not fix these problems for the boys. They need to take responsibility for their items. I typically will replace an item once and then they are responsible to replace it the next time. Blake had to buy himself a new Under Armor Sweatshirt. He went onto Amazon and found this one and paid us to order it for him.  (I then went on and ordered both Blake and Colby Adidas Sweatshirts since they will be wearing them a lot this winter.)

I often think that I don’t think the way that many parents think. I don’t know if it is because I was a teacher? If it’s the sons that I’m raising? Or if its just that I’m not like other people? But it’s hard when I see so many parents rescuing their kids from every situation in their lives and I just don’t see that as beneficial. Maybe it’s the whole difference between what really happens and what people want others to see happening? I don’t know, but I know that I’m not here to make my sons lives easy. I’m here to make their lives real. I always say I’m raising men not boys. I want them to understand that in life people need to stand up and take responsibility for their own actions. That everything in life is a choice, and choices have consequences.

I never know if I’m making the right choices. I often question my decisions, but I never back down from them. So, today while I’m at the boys school I may just stop by the lost and found and see if I can find Blake sweatshirts. But, even if I do, he will still have learned a lesson when he had to spend $30 of his own money to buy a sweatshirt. Hopefully he will remember this the next time he puts his sweatshirt down somewhere.


I am in the process of adding Amazon Affiliate to my blog site. This means I will get a percentage of any Amazon purchases made through my blog site. Anything you read about on my blog is my own thoughts and opinions. I will not post about an item we do not use ourselves. I will not be influenced to post by the proceeds of this Amazon connection. I shop at Amazon all the time and already link you to Amazon when I do my product reviews. So read my blog and know that these posts are true Lori posts… just with a few extra links. 


family · reviews

Portable North Pole

Every year my sons each receive a video from Santa straight from the North Pole. Santa contacts the boys with his PNP machine, also known as the Portable North Pole. The boys see Santa check their big book to see if they are on the naughty or nice list. Some years he tells them which list they are on, and other years he just reminds them to do their best to behave.

If you go onto the PNP website you can get these videos sent to your loved ones, young and old, for free or you can upgrade to the video pass get unlimited videos which for $9.99 or you can upgrade to Magic Pass ($13.99) which also does phone calls and bedtime stories from Santa. They also donate 5% to a local children’s hospital.

PNP will also send your child a special birthday message on their birthday. This is also something else my boys look forward to each year.

I posted the link to Blake’s video on my Teacher Turned Mommy Facebook page. You can check out the free video for this year there.

I hope you choose to bring this magic to your child.


I am not being paid or receiving anything from PNP. I just love this service and wanted to share it with you. 

Christmas Music

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I may like Christmas just a little bit? At the baby shower yesterday, they were giving me a hard time about putting up my Christmas decorations so early. Ok I put them up even early for me this year, but hey it made my house happy and that is the gift of the Christmas season.

Besides putting up my decorations early, we also started listening to Christmas music at the same time. I love the music of the holiday season. We have an Amazon Fire TV stick on the tv in our living room. We use it all the time to listen to music. There is a great selection of music. You can listen to stations, albums, artists, a specific song and much more. I have enjoyed finding the various different Christmas music stations. Right now I’m listening to Relaxing Christmas Station, it is a nice mix of popular and traditional songs.

The boys love the fire stick too. They enjoy talking to Alexa and asking questions. Every day they have to say “Good Morning Alexa!” so that Alexa can tell them a fact about today. Colby loves to have Alexa tell jokes. Blake like to learn new facts from Alexa.

We are already talking about getting a second Fire TV so that we can have one in the basement as well at the one in the living room. The new one will have 4K capability, which excites Richard since he has this Onkyo receiver on our list of things to get for the new house. When we built the house we had surround sound systems built into the living room/kitchen area as well as the basement. The living room has a 7 point system with a second zone added over the end of my island. If you can’t tell, we love music.

We play music in this house all the time. When the boys are home the music is almost always on. And the Fire Stick makes it so much easier to play the music we want to hear.

Do you have a streaming device that you use at home? What kind of music do you listen to? Have you started playing Christmas music in your house/car? 


I am in the process of adding Amazon Affiliate to my blog site. This means I will get a percentage of any purchases made through my blog site. Anything you read about on my blog is my own thoughts and opinions. I will not post about an item we do not use ourselves. I will not be influenced to post by the proceeds of this Amazon connection. I shop at Amazon all the time and already link you to Amazon when I do my product reviews. So read my blog and know that these posts are true Lori posts… just with a few extra links.