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.

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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 https://teacherturnedmommyblog.wordpress.com/ 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 https://teacherturnedmommyblog.wordpress.com/ 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

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.

blog hop · Education · family · life

Back to School Blog Hop- day 2

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 https://teacherturnedmommyblog.wordpress.com/ 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.

A Favorite School Supply

I decided to get a bit of help with this topic, so we discussed it at dinner the other night. Here are our answers:

Image result for mr sketch markersMe– Mr Sketch Markers. While I do like these for their smell, (Who doesn’t love a smelly marker?) I actually like these because they are strong colors, they last a LONG time and they write really well. They have a chiseled tip so you can get a fine line, bold line or some combination of both. When I taught first grade, they students LOVED when I corrected papers with these, especially if they got to pick the color/scent. I found this box of 22 markers this year and I will really enjoy the color selection while making charts and other items at school this year.

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Richard– old school trapper keeper. All the cool kids had them! It was a way to keep everything in one space. The teachers like them because it kept everything organized in one spot. There were 2 pocket folders, dividers and spots for all your important papers. Plus you can’t forget the flap that held everything in.

Image result for pencil case 3 ringBlake– a pencil pouch. He likes that this is a place to keep all your tools in one spot.  He prefers the ones that can go into a three ring binder. In his you will find: pens, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, color pencils and probably a lot of scraps of paper. He has used the same one for the last few years, I guess he really likes that one.Image result for loose leaf notebook paper

Colby– loose leaf paper. Colby loves to write, doodle and just create and craft. Loose leaf paper can be used for a variety of academic and non-academic activities in school, and trust me he uses it for both purposes!

Ok… your turn! What type of school supply did you like when you were in school? Or what type do you like now. Post about it on your blog and join up in our blog hop!

 

blog hop · Education · family · life

Back to School Blog Hop- day 1

Ok here we go… this is my first post in my first blog hop on my blog. Yep!

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 https://teacherturnedmommyblog.wordpress.com/ 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.

First Day of School

Ahhh the words every child, teacher and parent waits for each fall, “It’s the first day of school.” For me this takes on so many different feelings and meanings.

Image result for first day of schoolAs a mom, this means that everyone is back to routines. It means I should have purchased all the needed school supplies, lunches are packed and the boys are cheery and ready to start the new school year, maybe. For my boys the routine of school is the most important part. While we LOVEEEE summer and the slowness of the summer break, they thrive on routines and school is all about routines. It also means they see more people than our neighborhood and house.

As a teacher, it means a new group, a new start to the school year. I doesn’t matter what grade I’m teaching I’m always a mixed bag of emotions starting the new year. What will my class be like? What will their parent expect? What is the new “in” thing that administration will drop on our laps this year? But, it is also exciting to see the children come in also a mixed bag of emotions. Will they be excited, scared, nervous, exhausted, who knows. What baggage are they bringing to the classroom and what can I do to help them learn to love to learn?

I almost never sleep the night before school starts. (And now that the boys start on a different date than me that means two nights of not sleeping). It is just the anticipation. The what if. The what’s going to happen of that magical day.

And then there is day two and we move forward into the routines and procedures of life.

There is my thoughts on the first day of school… I hope you decide to hop on my blog hop and join in the fun. Talk about what the first day of school means to you. Does it mean you are going back to school? Are your children going back to school? Or does it just mean that there is more traffic and the neighborhood is quiet during the day?

Tune in tomorrow to read my second post about my favorite school supply. Hmmm maybe I’ll have the boys chime in too??

 

family · life

Where are you???

I did not fall of the face of the earth… sorry I’ve been MIA

Friday I was sick. I was dizzy, nauseous and had a severe headache. I have no clue what was wrong, but I slept almost all day!

Saturday, I still didn’t feel quite myself. I took the day easy for the most part. We ran some errands and then we went down to our neighborhood park. Our neighborhood organized a get together with bounce houses, food trucks and other activities. Richard and I came home and sat by the fire, but the boys stayed until after 9pm.

Sunday we did a few more errands and then had a quieter day.

Today… I went back to work! Now I’m trying to get back in the groove of working life. So, I might not check your posts for a bit. I may not post as many posts myself, but I will find my groove and get back into the swing of life again…. I promise!

Education · family · life · through my camera lens

First day of school

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Yesterday was a tough day for the boys. They are not ready to start school. They asked me if I felt like summer went fast or slow. My answer? I said I felt like it’s been forever since the end of the year, but it seems like the start of school came too fast. This is very true. I can’t believe the school year is here. We had a great summer. Our vacations were good, but more important than that, the boys had fun. They were always off on their bikes going and doing things with friends.

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This is the first time the boys will be in different schools since Blake was in kindergarten and Colby was in preK. Colby asked to set his alarm early enough to say good-bye to Blake.

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This morning they were both in good spirits and found their independence and were ready to go. Richard drove Blake to the bus on his way to work, Colby set off walking to the bus. Dixie wasn’t sure what to think about everyone leaving. I wonder what she will think on Monday when I have to go to work too?

So here are my thoughts: I wish for them both a year of learning, growth and discovery. I hope they find their voice, confidence and sense of self. I hope they remember they are loved, they have a space and a purpose, and that the world is theirs to grab. I hope they are kind and understanding and yet strong and independent.

 

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Niagara Falls part 2– final vacation post!

It seems crazy to me that a two day vacation took 4 blog posts, but hey I wanted to break it up into manageable bites for you.  (I tend to skim read when posts are really long)

So after we changed our shoes, and Colby changed his pants, from getting wet at the Cave of the Winds, we hopped on the trolley. The discovery passes we purchased included trolley passes for a day. We rode over to the other side of the falls and got in line for the Maid of the Mist. If you go to Niagara be prepared to wait in lines for a lot of the day…. oh and to walk a lot of stairs.

When you go to the Maid of the Mist you get a blue poncho and then board the boat.

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We were on the bottom floor (or first floor) of the boat. We decided this would be better since we could get a spot on the rail instead of being a few people deep up on the top level. It is crazy to see the people pushing and forcing their way closer to the rail.

On this ride, you get to go past the American and Horseshoe falls. We got SOAKED when we were close to the Horseshoe Falls. I wasn’t paying attention to the falls at one point because I was trying to prevent a man taking a selfie from backing into the boys more as he was already pushing against Colby. Then Blake bent down to do something and next thing I know… SPLASH a wave or some other kind of mass of water dumped all over us. Guess we should have brought our raincoats and other shoes for this part of the trip too. Richard took some photos with his cell phone (see yesterday’s story as to why we didn’t use the waterproof camera). The rainbows were really cool to see.

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After we were done with the Maid of the Mist… we were Done! It was already 5:30. We never did eat lunch. So, we decided to head to the hotel and go find somewhere to eat dinner.

We ended up in some dive bar that had decent reviews, but then we realized it was because it was on Buffalo’s wing trail… umm we didn’t order wings there. Oh well. After we drove to SUNY Buffalo (UB) which is where I went to grad school. I pointed out the building that I worked in, found the playground to the child care center that I worked at (yes that was two different jobs) and then drove by the dorm I stayed in. Blake kept asking questions about this and that and half of them I couldn’t answer. Granted I was only there for a year AND I did my full masters degree in a year while working 2 jobs on campus (and one at home) so I was a bit busy. They were shocked to hear I’d never been the football stadium.

The next day we got up and headed home.  Thanks for reading about our busy, fun and crazy weekend.