family · life

busy weekend and germs

I feel like the last few weeks have been beyond crazy busy. Blake is now done with Seussical and we have a bit before the boys start back with their theater company. This past weekend found Blake at school late Thursday, Friday and Saturday for performances. We went and watched it on Friday night.

Richard was crazy busy with work and on top of that he bought a new car.

I started parent teacher conferences on Thursday and had them all day on Friday.

Yep, life was busy… but there was another monkey wrench thrown in… Colby got sick.

Friday Colby had a headache at school and said he felt worn down. Well with Blake in tech week and Richard having a busy week we were all tired and worn down. Then Saturday morning he woke up with a hacking cough. When he said it hurt his chest to cough and breathe… into the walk in clinic we went. Needless to say the clinic was way backed up and we were there forever.

Finally go in. Lungs are clear. Throat is clear…. oh yeah there is this virus going around that gives you a sore throat, cough, possibly get a fever and possibly loose your voice. That’s what he’s got. There is little to nothing we can do for it. Take these allergy meds and rest. Oh yeah and it seems to be contagious and your whole family will probably get it.

Oh joy… thanks! So Colby’s been down and out and stayed home from school yesterday and today. Oh and I got the cough too. Not as bad. I didn’t get a fever, which Colby managed to spike on Sunday while we were out running errands… oops! I have been very tired and have gone to bed around 8:30 the last few nights.

So much for hoping that this week would be a bit more normal.

Oh well… that’s life. Just when you think you’ve to it figured out, it proves that you don’t know anything!

family · life

when it rains it pours

Image result for when it rains it pours"This is one of those crazy busy weeks in our lives. Richard has things going on late every night for work. Blake is in tech week for the middle school musical. Colby had a concert last night… oh and I have conferences this week.

I have learned over the years that I just need to stay on top of everyone’s schedule. Things that typically take precedent are put on the back burner and we just plow through life.

So, if this means that dinners are sandwiches, fend for yourself and/or leftovers multiple times in the week… oh well. If it means I stop at the grocery store for one or two items a various points to get through all that needs to be done… I do.

Everyone is wearing clean clothes. Everyone has food of some kind to eat. Everyone get’s their homework/work done on time. And, even if bedtimes are pushed back a bit… everyone sleeps. No one misses what they need/want to do this week…

We just need to get through Saturday and then life settles down a bit. But in the meantime… lets enjoy the ride on the crazy train of life.

family · life

Never leave with out saying I love you

I am not posting from present not perfect, but this post could easily be part of the reflection from the book.

I like so many people were shocked and saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter. But, they were not the only victims and/or the only family shattered in this horrible crash. There were 2 other teenage girls as well as 5 other adults who lost their lives.

It is times like this that people realize that time is precious. Life is unpredictable and unforgiving at times.

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I grew up hearing over and over… never go to bed angry and never leave without saying I love you.

The last words you speak to your loved ones should always be I love you. We need to put the anger and frustrations aside and find peace and kindness.

Every night Richard and I still go up and say good night to the boys. Good night, see you in the morning, I love you.

Every morning I walk each of my guys to the door and give them a kiss before they walk out the day. Have a great day, I love you, see you when you get home.

I never want to leave or go to bed without hearing those words. While I know at some point they won’t want us to say it in front of others, these are times when it is just our family.

So hold your family closer. Forgive those who you haven’t forgiven. Say I love you to those you love, and yourself. Today is a gift… remember that




family · life · present not perfect · through my camera lens

January 8- photo of me

Hello blogging world! I hope your Wednesday is going well. Today is COLD here. We actually got alerts during the morning telling of a snow squall that was coming through. It was crazy snowing for a short time and then it was done. But, the wind is whipping and the temps are dropping all day. But, we will survive.

Today, I found myself working on assessments, chatting with a parent who had some questions/concerns and an on-line friend who is getting ready to go on a cruise. All these things were done from the time I got home from school until Blake walked through the door. So, again I didn’t carve out a bit of time to be quiet and reflect, soooo I jumped ahead again and found a page that I don’t need to be introspective to write about.

This page had you find a photo of you that you like and then write about why you like it. So here you go….

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If you have been following my blog for any length of time you probably have noticed that photos of me are few and far between. I truly dislike having my picture taken. I have tried over the years to make sure that I’m not totally missing from all the family moments, actually to be honest Richard makes sure of this.

This photo was taken when we were on our vacation in Erie PA in August. Yes, first of all that was in August and I’m wearing a sweatshirt, ok a light weight sweatshirt, but it was actually a bit chilly at the time.

While I could look at this picture and tell you everything I hate about the picture, I am not going to look for negatives. This photo is the one on my I/G account. I love that it is me taking a picture of something. I believe I was actually taking a landscape photo at the time, but it doesn’t matter. It is me looking at our lives and capturing the moment.

Going on vacations is always a fun moment. I try to balance capturing these moments and living these moments. While I want to have photos to help us remember our trips, I also want to put down my camera/phone and just enjoy the trip. I believe that over the years I have found this balance.

Yep… everything in life comes back to balance.


family · life · through my camera lens


While I’m not starting new blog project until Jan, I wanted to post about the year. With one day left in 2019 it is a time to sit back and reflect.

This year we traveled on two Disney Cruises, traveled to Erie, PA  then Niagara, NY and spent Thanksgiving in DC. I love these trips. While it means lots of planning and some frustration with travel and changes, it is a time of family. I love when the four of us can unplug and do something different together. These vacations were very different in style, but they were chances for us to reconnect.

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Colby with Albert Einstein. Colby has always wanted to become a scientist and Einstein has always been someone he admired.Image may contain: 1 person, tree and outdoor

Blake reflecting on the stars of the WWII memorial. Blake enjoys history, especially American history. The fact that his shadow was cast on the word freedom and how solemn his face was at the time captured him perfectly.

The boys performed in High School Musical, Camp Rock, Peter Pan and Matilda. They have each seemed to find their space in the theater.  Blake is also now working on the TV crew at the middle school and Colby is singing in the chorus and all-star chorus in his school. I love that they have found places where they feel at ease. They love to sign, act and even work behind the scenes.

This year found Richard and I celebrating our 15th Anniversary. It is hard to believe we have been together over 16 years, I can’t imagine a day without being by his side. We just celebrated our 3rd Christmas here in PA.

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While this year found some drama in the fact that the boys learned that Santa is the Christmas spirit and not some magical man who brings you gifts (we told them at Easter actually), it brought about new traditions and experiences this holiday season. It was hard at times, but we each needed this year to adjust to the new magic of the holidays.

So now we wrap up the year. This was a year of unexpected. There were both positive and negative unexpected moments. Things that went right, and things that could have gone smoother. But none of these moments matter unless we realize that what matters most is who stands by our side in the good, the bad and the ugly moments of life. I always know that Richard will be at my side, and I his. But, now that the boys are getting older not only will we always be there for them, but now they are seeing that it is important to be there for each other and for us.

I hope that this next year and decade continues to bring about change. I hope we grow and thrive. I hope each of us learns to get up and dust ourselves off when things go wrong, and celebrate when things go well. Search… and you will find.

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family · life

One crazy week

The weekend is here. This past week was CRAZY around here. It was my first full week of teaching. My class this year has 13 children. Let me tell you compared to the crew I had last year, who I enjoyed, this years crew is a lot calmer and excited to work. I do believe part of this is a numbers game. The more students you have, the more they feel they need to do to get your attention. This means children who struggle with self control are doing a lot more attention seeking actions. Children who are struggling with picking up on the academic skills need more help because they are distracted during the learning because they feel they are a step behind. I’m excited to see what fun things I can do with my students this year.

On the home front, Richard was traveling this past week. He left for San Francisco on Sunday. His flight was delayed twice. He returned yesterday and we were all happy to have him back home.

Blake’s school had a bomb threat on Monday. Some kid wrote the threat on the bathroom wall. They had to be evacuated to the HS, which is on the same campus. They were back in the building and learning in about an hour. Then on Wednesday there was a cyber threat made on the whole campus and they closed both the middle school and the high school for the day. Blake was furious at this disruption and was especially upset that this threat was made on 9/11. He saw this as disrespectful to those who lost their lives on that day. I love how much he loves school and the country. I love that he sees that this type of behavior is stupid and understands that most of it is attention seeking.

Both the boys had dentist appointments on Wednesday and I had one on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon I got a text from my neighbor telling me that Dixie had caught a groundhog in our backyard. Dumb groundhog! The dog is out on a run in the backyard and is out all the time. I don’t know why it got so close to her as they usually scurry away. But, this meant that I had to deal with the groundhog. Ugh.

Oh well… Richard is back home now. Today we are having a quiet morning and then we will watch the UCF football game and have pulled pork nachos for dinner. I need to go get out my crockpot and start the pulled pork.

I hope you had a great week and Friday the 13th with a full moon didn’t disturb your life too much.

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chicken Parm

If you follow me on I/G, you may have noticed that I’ve started playing “What am I making for dinner” as my I/G story from time to time.

This recipe was shared on there, and yes there were a LOT more pictures on my I/G story, but I took a few to share on here too.

Richard and I are HUGE Alton Brown fans. We have seen him live twice, watch him on YouTube and his tv shows. I also follow him in I/G and Facebook, oh and have one of his cookbooks that I use all the time. When he announced that he was re-launching Good Eats, we knew we’d be watching and making more of his recipes.

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The first episode was Chicken Parm. Who doesn’t love a GOOD chicken parm? Don’t get me wrong there are some really bad or just ok chicken parms out there, but I love a good chicken parm. So we decided this would be a good one to try… so we did!

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  • 2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 120 grams (1 cup) plain breadcrumbs
  • 20 grams salt and vinegar potato chips, not kettle cooked or thick cut
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 70 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour (I needed more)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red sauce, divided, recipe follows
  • 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 ounces Italian fontina, shredded
  • 2 ounces of Parmesan, shredded
  1. Cut the flattened chicken into 6-8 pieces per breast.
  2. Salt and place on a rack on top of a cookie sheet
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 min
  4. This is when I made the red sauce, see below for steps and heated the oven to broil
  5. Combine the breadcrumbs, potato chips, oregano, parsley and garlic powder in a gallon zip-top bag and crush into a course meal.
  6. set up a breading station (flour, egg, crumbs from step 5).
  7. Dry off chicken then put through the breading process. place on another rack over a cookie sheet to collect any excess coating
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add half the breaded chicken to the pan, but don’t overcrowd. Cook, undisturbed, until crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the clean rack, wipe out the pan and repeat with the remaining butter, oil and chicken
  9. Spread 3/4 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of a a 9-by-13-inch broiler-safe baking dish and broil about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the dish from the oven and arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer. Dot the chicken with the remaining red sauce,  Scatter the cheeses over the sauce.
  11. put back under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown
  12. enjoy!

Red Sauce

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  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • One 2-inch Parmesan rind
  1. grate garlic on micoplane to form a paste
  2. mix with 1/4 cup EVOO and salt
  3. cook in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until it begins to brown
  4. add the anchovies and break down with a wooden spatula
  5. add strained tomatoes and break up with wooden spatula
  6. submerge the Parmesan rind
  7. reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 1 hour or until the sauce looks “dry”
  8. discard the rind and use the rest for the chicken parm


This was sooooooo good. We really enjoyed this chicken parm. I used 3 breasts since that was what was in the pack we purchased. Since it didn’t all fit into the pan we had some that did not have sauce on it. This was a really good breaded chicken patty.

So here is what I’d do different… I enjoyed the sauce that was in the bottom of the pan that had been broiled, but I didn’t like having the chicken on top of it as it started to get soggy. So next time I will put one pan in the oven with just sauce, and another one with the chicken and cheese and make my own chicken parms tableside!


family · life · through my camera lens

weekend update

Well I enjoyed posting my blog hop. If you didn’t play along yet, it isn’t too late. Grab the information here and reflect on the back to school topics on your blog.

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This weekend we were busy. Friday night we went to Pour at the Park. This is an annual fund raiser for Allegheny Parks. This was our third year attending. It is a great way to give back to the park we use so much. They have food and alcohol company from around the area come and distribute their products. We purchased a drink pass for Richard and a designated driver pass for me. In the years past, most of the alcohol based companies only gave away beer which I do not drink. This year I would have drank more as they had a few cider companies, one with vodka and another with rum… oh well!

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They moved the location from the lake to the lodge. While it was nice to have real bathrooms and the food places were able to use the kitchen facilities a bit, I didn’t like it as much. In the past, Richard and I spent a lot of time just chilling out looking at the lake. Also there was no additional lighting so the tents that were not right near the lodge were in total darkness once the sun went down. The event didn’t end until 8:30pm.

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It was still nice to just slow down and enjoy a bit of time as a family.

Saturday we got up and went to Target to get a gift for a birthday party Blake was going to Saturday night. Then headed over to Costco. When we got home Richard decided to try out his new chainsaw. We now have more firewood. Now we just need another day to have a fire in the fire pit.Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature

After we dropped Blake off at the party, we headed into the city for dinner. Then came home to watch the UCF football game.

Sunday we had a lazy morning and then went to pick up Colby’s new bike. We got both boys got new bikes on Labor day. They got bigger frames bikes with more mountain biking features such as disk breaks and separate shifters and break leavers. They only had one bike in store, so we ordered Colby one since Blake liked the color in the store.

The boys and I went out do dinner. I swear the slider Colby was having was almost as big as his head. Image may contain: 1 person, eating, sitting, child, drink, food and indoor

Today everyone was back to school!


blog hop · family · life

Back to school blog hop– Day 7! (the end)

I hope you are enjoying my first blog hop, and even more I hope you join in the fun!Image may contain: text

Here is how it will go. I have posted seven different school/fall topics for you to use as blog posts. You can write them for seven days in a row, scattered throughout the month or however you so choose! Here are the topics: first day of school, favorite school supply, teacher who made a difference, apples, a new box of crayons, new friends and what’s in your lunchbox

All I ask is:

  • Please copy and post this image with your post
  • link back to my blog so we know who is playing along
  • have fun! remember you can take these topics in any direction you want… just use the idea as a jumping off point.

What’s in your lunchbox?

This is my last topic in my blog hop. Thank you to those who played along and those who enjoyed reading my replies.

So… what’s in my lunchbox? While I don’t have lunch at work since I only work part time, I do occasionally bring snack with me to work. I typically will bring myself yogurt, carrots with hummus or cheese.

So, lets talk about the boys instead. Blake and Colby began packing their own lunches when I went back to work. This put Blake as a first grader and Colby as a kindergartner.  When they were that age, they used the Sistema lunch cubes. They learned that they had to pack their main item into the large section. Then they packed either fruit or vegetable into one of the small sections and a “junk” in the other section. They packed their lunch after dinner and put the box into the fridge. I would then pack it into their lunchbox.

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While the boys no longer use this lunch cube, they do still pack their lunch in a very similar fashion. They have to pack a protein, fruit/veggie and then can have snacks to go with it. They pack their lunch after dinner, put it the fridge and I pack it into the lunch box in the morning.

So, what do you find in their lunches?

Blake– pizza, deli (ham or bologna), chicken tenders, or leftovers for his main item. Apples… only apples… for his fruit or veggies. He takes a half an apple sliced (soak the slices in sprite and it won’t brown). Junk: chips, pretzels, cookies, mini muffins

Colby– uncrustable, cereal with milk, deli ham. Fruit/veggie: whole apple, carrots w/ dressing, grapes, pears. Junk: granola bars/Zbars, chips, pretzels, cookies, popcorn

What is in your lunchbox? Your child’s lunchbox?



blog hop · family · food · life

Back to School Blog Hop- Day 4

I hope you are enjoying my first blog hop, and even more I hope you join in the fun!Image may contain: text

Here is how it will go. I have posted seven different school/fall topics for you to use as blog posts. You can write them for seven days in a row, scattered throughout the month or however you so choose! Here are the topics: first day of school, favorite school supply, teacher who made a difference, apples, a new box of crayons, new friends and what’s in your lunchbox

All I ask is:

  • Please copy and post this image with your post
  • link back to my blog so we know who is playing along
  • have fun! remember you can take these topics in any direction you want… just use the idea as a jumping off point.


Apples are a fall favorite around here. All of us love to eat apples, but there is nothing better than going apple picking at a local farm and then eating those fresh picked apples.

Every fall the local farm has a fall festival where you can go and pick apples in their orchard. We then use them to eat, make applesauce and apple pies. Apples is also a theme I always teach. It is a great way to teach parts of a plant and physical changes. My students always love when we make homemade applesauce. I am often shocked to see how many students do not know how applesauce is made.

Now here is part of the interesting things in my family… my husband and the boys like apples that I think taste like pears (which I don’t like) such as gold delicious, red delicious and fuji apples. While I prefer McIntosh and granny smith apples I guess I like apples that are better for baking/cooking than the ones that are typically just eaten.

Oh and in case you want to know. I do not have a collection of apple items. Shhh don’t tell anyone, but I never keep any of the teacher gifts people give me. I’m sorry, but I’ve been teaching over 14 years if I kept every apple gift or best teacher ever gift, my house and classroom would be FULL of these items. Please, please, please… do not give teachers teacher gifts!

OK… so now it is your turn. What do you think of apples? Do you have a favorite apple? Do you like to bake with apples? If you are a teacher, do you like to get apple items from your students? Join in my blog hop and have fun posting about all things back to school.