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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Education · family · life

School visits

The last two days found me driving around from school to school. Yesterday we went to the middle school. We spent time walking Blake’s schedule, practicing locker combinations and just getting accumulated to the new school.

Today we went to check out Colby’s class. He already knew where it was and it is actually the same teachers Blake had last year. I really wanted to go so we could get his supply list.

While we were there, Colby discovered a few people who would be in his class this year. He has other friends in his biome (collection of 4 classes who travel together for lunch and recess). We stopped in and chatted with the librarian. The library is always a place my sons love to hang out.

Blake saw a few other 7th graders and found out that he knows a few people who will be in his class as well. This was a big relief to him. Up until that time he hadn’t found anyone who was working on the same rotation schedule never mind the same classes.

Over the years, I only had a few moments where I was concerned about the boys starting school. I was NOT the mom crying while dropping off for pre-K or kindergarten. All the grades moving forward while in FL were fine. I had moments of concern more in wondering who would be in their class and would there be someone there for each of them.

When we moved to PA, I was concerned about Blake going into 5th grade. Colby was entering 4th, which is the major transition age in our school district. There are three elementary schools that service children K-3. Then they all transition to the upper elementary school for 4th-6th. This meant that while some children would know each other, there would already be a mixing of students from different schools. Blake was entering when the mix up was already complete.

This year, Blake is entering middle school. I hope that he has a better middle school experience than I had, or Richard for that matter. These years are so tough. It is such a personal transition for all the kids. I just want him to feel comfortable in his place. To find an activity to get involved in. To have people to sit with at lunch. To feel safe in the hallways. To be confident enough to show what he knows and not too cocky that he tries to outshine. I hope he continues to have a love of learning and begins to figure out what he wants to do with this knowledge going forward.

So we went back to the middle school today and practice opening his locker again. We went under the premise of bringing in his school supplies, well his binders anyway. We will spend the first part of the week adjusting to the new sleep schedules (he will have to wake up at 5:45 to be ready for the bus).

A week from today. I will send him off on the bus to start middle school… I just hope I’m ready.

family · life · through my camera lens

Tech Night

I promise, I’m not done with my recap of the cruise (day 1 and day 2), but I wanted to let you know about something pretty cool my boys did last night.

If you follow my blog, you know that my sons are into musical theater. We did two weeks of camp this summer already (Camp Rock and Peter Pan). This summer they asked to try out the tech camp too. This was a shorter camp. They went to camp from 9-3 on Thursday and then from 9am-8pm on Friday.

On Thursday, they learned about the various jobs that the tech crew does during the show. The company was doing Peter Pan, so the boys already knew the blocking for the show, the props and a bit about the projections being used.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoorRichard and I went to the show on Friday night. Blake started the show on spot light. He had another tech person with him proving him cues. Colby was in charge of the prop table and had to insure that everyone had the props needed as well as giving them to the stage hands who Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people playing musical instruments, people on stage and indoorwere changing out the sets between scenes.

 

At intermission, they switched jobs. For the second half of the show, they were both down in the soundboard booth. Blake was working the projection board. This meant he was switching the graphics used to create the backdrops of the show. Colby was working the light board. This controlled the house lights, the stage lights and pretty much any light that was not one of the two spot lights being used.

This was a great experience for them to see what goes on behind the scenes. It was so worth it, and they had a blast!

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family · food · life · through my camera lens

Blake’s Dinner- Steak Pizzaiola Pasta

So I mentioned in my post the other day that the boys are going to help make dinner once a week. They will pick out the recipe and then do most of the prep and cooking.

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This week Blake chose to make Steak Pizzaiola Pasta from Food Network Magazine.  We had to make a few changes to the recipe, but it still was good. I’ll tell you more about the result at the end of the post

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Steak Pizzaiola Pasta

  • 1/2 box of pasta
  • 1 sirloin tip steak
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red pepper cut in thin slices
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup veggie stock
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with garlic
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water to add to sauce at the end)
  2. heat a cast iron skillet with 2 tbsp of EVOO.
  3. season steak with salt and pepper
  4. Cook steak in skillet to medium rare, remove to a plate and tent with foil
  5. add 1 tbsp of EVOO to skillet
  6. cook onions, peppers, garlic and seasoning until veggies are tender
  7. add stock and tomatoes
  8. add pasta, steak drippings and 1/2 cup of pasta water
  9. thinly slice steak and place on top of pasta.
  10. enjoy!

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This is Richard’s plate. He thought that the steak needed more seasoning, but he likes his steak with more than just salt and pepper to begin with. He also felt that the sauce was a bit too thin for his liking.

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Colby picked through and ate the steak and pasta. He said that steak was cooked perfectly but felt I cut it the wrong way (oops)

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Blake ate everything on his plate, onions and peppers included. He agreed that the sauce was a bit thin and the steak was a bit tough.

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Education · family · life · through my camera lens

I’d rather you get a B for your own work…

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, shoes and indoorLife with a tween is hard. I’ll be the first to admit this… I have two of them.

Over the years the boys have had MANY projects to complete. They have done science fair projects, book report posters, built models, built egg cars and so much more.

The last few months Blake has had a few different projects to complete. While he is more than capable of completing them, he is not the best with creating timelines of work, or getting things done over time. He knows this. We know this. But, while we will remind him to do things, help him set goals for things to be done, and are there to support him; we WILL NOT do the work for him! (or Colby for that matter… but this post is spurred on by one of Blake’s projects)

So the latest project he had was a Wax Museum of Greek Gods. He knew this project was coming all year. He talked about it all year. He was so excited when he got to pick his God and was able to pick Hermes. Having devoured the Percy Jackson series as well as other books about the Greek Gods he knew who he wanted to be, and all about the God.

He completed the research. Wrote out his speech and was managing to turn in everything on time. Well this weekend he remember that he needed his costume for today. (Well I might have reminded him about this step too).  He had an idea in his head as to what he wanted it to look like. But, he struggled. He wanted it to be perfect. He wanted the vision in his head. When he couldn’t get it right there was some yelling, some frustration. He asked us to do it for him. Our answer was no. I will help you find things. I will give you suggestions. I will print things out… but I will not do it for you.

I looked at him and said “I’d rather you get a B for something you did on your own, then an A for something I did for you.” He looked at me strange. But it won’t be perfect! Life isn’t perfect. Teachers know when students do their own work and when someone does it for them. This is your project…. you do it. He wasn’t happy at the time, but in the long run he was proud of the costume he put together. It is his interpretation of a 21st century Hermes.

While I want him to do well on this project, what I hope he walks away knowing is that he was proud of his work. That he figured it out. That he made it himself. That he did it… and that is what life is about. Stepping up and taking responsibility. Doting what needs to be done and owning the results.

 

family · life · through my camera lens

Mary Poppins Jr.

The boys had their performances this weekend of Mary Poppins Jr. They had a blast working with the cast in this play. There is something special as a parent to see your child up on stage singing and acting. But, even more important seeing them smile and their personalities shine.

Colby had so much fun and was improvising in all of his background rolls. Blake you could see was super focused and hit every mark he was given.

This is just one of the costumes that the boys wore in their performance. I can’t wait to share the pictures of them in their “park” costumes, but those were taken by the professional.

family · life · through my camera lens

Blake is 12!

This post is much later than I expected it to be, but today was busy AND the internet was out almost all day.

12 years ago today I became a mom. Blake has changed my life in so many ways, but I can’t imagine our life without him.

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1- Blake loves to read. He reads everything and anything… and he reads it over and over and over again. I think he would read in his sleep if he could figure out how.

2- Blake is a walking sports encyclopedia. He loves to learn facts about sports, it doesn’t matter the sport or the fact he needs to know it.

3- He is an audiophile. Blake loves music and always has music on. He can tell you the name of the song, artist and often the album after only a few notes of hearing the song. There are only a few genres of music that he does not enjoy.

4- Blake is a huge history buff. He loves all things about the USA especially presidents.

5- If you ask Blake anything about his birthday the first thing he will tell you is that his birthday is on a holiday. He is proud to share his birthday with Veterans Day.

6- Blake has decided the wants to be a sports lawyer when he grows up. This encompasses his love of sports and his love to debate. Blake enjoys a good debate on any and every topic.

7- Blake loves pizza and would eat it for every meal if I let him. His latest kick is deli meat he will eat this for breakfast and lunch most days.

8- He loves chocolate. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate cup cakes and today Colby even made him chocolate cookies! 2018-11-11 18.31.59

9- Blake loves technology…. of any kind! He has to have control over the remotes. He enjoys creating technology for his teachers to use in class. He creates power point presentations for fun.

10- Blake lives inside his own box. He is a black and white/right or wrong kind of kid. This effects him in so many ways, but it is also makes Blake… Blake

11- Blake is harder on himself than anyone else. He pushes himself and has had to work on understanding that perfection at all times is unrealistic. He is starting to see that we grow and learn from mistakes. That a mistake, a wrong answer, a misstep is not a sign of failure, but a sign of being human.

12- Blake defines himself as a bookworm, a nerd and a gamer. I’m not sure I’d call him a gamer, but I will say he is a bookworm and in his own way a nerd. He is a learner. He is a seeker of knowledge and information. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and I can only hope that continues. Blake loves to challenge himself and others to be the best. It doesn’t always work, but he tries.

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Blake has challenge my intellect since he learned to talk. He needs to ask “Why” “What’s next” and “How”. I’m proud to be Blake’s mother, to be able to help him deal with the bumps in the road. Richard and I are excited to see where his life path takes him. We love you Blake, and are proud of you!

Education · family · life · through my camera lens

First day of school

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This has been a great summer for us. Hershey, trains, mountain biking and lots more. But that time of year has come: back to school.

P1000335Today is the boys’ first day of school. They were up and ready to go. While there may have been a bit of nervous energy, they were excited to get back to it. Both boys enjoy school. They enjoy learning and exploring knowledge. Blake thrives off the routine of the school year. Colby was psyched to go see his friends and find new ones too.

It’s hard to believe that Blake is starting 6th grade. Sixth grade is such a huge transformation grade. This is the time where kids go from being kids to being a younger version of their adult self. Yes, I know they still aren’t even teens, but trust me this is the year that so much growing and maturing in personality and maturity happens.

Colby is starting 5th grade. While the change isn’t as dramatic from 4th to 5th there is stillP1000337 a change.

This will be Blake’s last year at the school he is in now. He will have 4 teachers instead of 2. This is the school’s way of getting them ready for middle school. Next year the boys will be in two different schools, they haven’t had that since Blake was in K and Colby in preK.

I can only hope that they learn, grown and mature. That they take on challenges. That they push themselves to expand their knowledge base and learn. I want them to make mistakes, failure is a good thing… it is the means to growth. I want them to hold their heads up high and know that they’ve got this…. no matter what this is!

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 · 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.