family · life · reviews


Every year, my sons get e-mailed videos from Santa. They love this video and look forward to it every year.

This e-mail and video is from PNP (Portable North Pole). PNP has both free and paid videos. We always get the free video. They are not as personalized as the paid ones, but they still work.

Every year Santa pulls out the child’s big book and looks to see facts about the child. You can upload a photo of the child and also share info about the child for Santa to share.  When you upgrade the premium, you have a variety of videos to choose from as well as a phone call from Santa.

My sons also enjoy checking out the Santa’s village part of the website. There are fun learning activities and game throughout the season.

I strongly encourage families to check out this cool holiday site and connection.


technology at the table

On Saturday, we watched the UCF football game on tv and then decided to go out for dinner. Ok we knew we were going out even before we started watching the game, but that is neither here nor there for this post.

We went to a local restaurant called Stack’d. We have been there many times in the past. I found it interesting that as we were getting seated I noticed that every party that came into the restaurant with children were seated in one area. Hmmm ok. I thought this was odd, but I don’t really care. There were a few other families and the children were not being disruptive or anything. I realize that one part of the restaurant is more of a bar area, and not seating the children in that section is fine, I just think it is odd to seat all the families with children together. It almost implies that the children should not be sat with adults groups for some reason.

So, Richard and I were talking about this observation. We also began talking about the addition of technology to meal times. When you walk into Stak’d with children the first thing they ask is if you want tablets for the children. Ummm no. First of all, there are tv’s everywhere. Second of all, why is a restaurant encouraging children to be plugged in instead of talking to their families? What lesson are we teaching the next generation? Do you really need a device to sit at the table?

When my sons were younger, we would often bring in books or paper and crayons. They did not get these items until they decided what they wanted to eat and the orders were taken by the wait staff. The items were then put away once the food arrived.

Lately it feels like 9 out of 10 restaurants have televisions going around the room. I still struggle to get the boys to stop watching tv and eat. They are pretty good at having a conversation, but it is often tied to whatever they are watching on the tv. They certainly do not need to have the tvs AND a tablet… do they?

Are these children ever going to learn to have a conversation at the dinner table? What happens when they have to go to a business dinner/luncheon? Will they just sit there and play on their phone/tablet/whatever device we have at that time?

All I know, is my boys know enough to say no thank you when they are offered the tablets at the restaurant. I know that may not be the answer they want to give, but they know it is the answer they are expected to give.

What is your feeling on this topic?


family · life

Fun at the grocery store?

Yesterday we needed to do our weekly grocery shopping. I don’t mind this chore, but doing it with the kids in tow is not always fun. Typically they aren’t bad, but they just hate the whole process. I will say I’m at least glad that I don’t typically end up with a ton of extra stuff when they come with me. I think the area we may have splurged a bit in was fruit, but who can complain about that?

But, yesterday went ten times smoother than normal.  Why?… you ask! Well that is because our grocery store has added a new way to check out. They now have hand held scanners that you can take around the store with you and scan the items as you take the off the shelf. We also have fabric bags that we take shopping with us, so we had everything scanned and bagged before we even got to the checkout.

The boys took turns pushing the cart and scanning. They are also good about popping down isles to find items they want. In the produce section they helped by going to the scale and weighing the items we were purchasing, printing out the label and then scanning the items.

I was worried that shopping would take longer or we’d end up getting other items we didn’t need, but that didn’t happen. The shockingly they both helped bring the groceries in from the car.

We had a good day yesterday all around. I jokingly said to Richard last night, “Who are these children and can they stay for the rest of the summer?” Don’t get me wrong I know my boys are actually good kids, but they are tween so they test limits and get on my nerves… it’s their job.


book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.


TV Shows

Today is one of those days where I’m just going through the motions of life. I did simple things like iron Richard’s shirts, sweep and mop the hardwood floors, and did the dishes.

I was watching Trading Spaces, that I recorded on Saturday. I loved watching this show when it was around the first time. I was excited to see it come back. I started by watching the reunion show. I wish they would bring people on who were on the show the first go around. They had a few of this, but not enough. I want to hear from the people. I want to hear what they thought of their room. Did they leave it? Bring on the people who had the flowers stapled to the walls. Or the people who had their room filled with sand or covered with circus fabric.

I think one of the best things this show did for me was give me permission to see it was ok to go beyond painting the room one color. That you can choose colors that might not be always seen as traditional and make it work. I’ve had fun creating visions for our houses. I’ve enjoyed taking a concept and pushing it to work for our family. Would I want some of the designers on the show to decorate a room in my house… ummm nope! Would I like to have others, yes. But, at the same time, I can try to do it myself. And that is the fact of this show in my opinion.

I often feel this way when I watch cooking shows too. I love watching what they make. How they thing and how they take what they are given and make it work and taste yummy. There are some chefs I’d love to meet. There are some who I would love to eat in their restaurant, and others… not so much.

There are so many great shows out there that can be watched not only for enjoyment, but that can also motivate you to be more creative, to think outside the box, to try new things.

I will continue to enjoy watching the design and cooking shows. Maybe it will continue to foster my creative juices.


blogger laziness and a bit of rambles

Yesterday I was a slacker blogger. You may have noticed that I just popped off a quick post at the end of the day yesterday. I was at the school from 7:20 until 2:00 helping out with the Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. Colby came home from school exhausted as I’m sure most of the kids did. This was their last school day before testing starts, so that was a fun way to prep for state testing. Blake has testing the next 2 weeks and Colby has testing the next 3 weeks.

I also didn’t read anyone else’s blog yesterday, that is normally a morning time thing for me, so I tried to plow through a lot of them today. I try to keep up with most of the bloggers who leave comments on my blog. I always feel this is the start of a conversation/ a kinship/ a something and when I know that you are reading and commenting on my blog, then I’m more drawn into reading yours on a regular basis. Others, I tend to read if they peek my interest. Am I the only one who blogs this way?

This week has been a revisiting of winter for us. We had some type of snow every day and woke up to a little over an inch of accumulated snow today again. Ok… I’m done with winter now. Can we move onto spring?

This weekend will be a slow keep life simple weekend. We will try to stay on our normal routines and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. I really hate state testing, yes I know I’m a teacher, yes I know there is a need for accountability, but this still doesn’t feel like it is it. At least here in this school district (or at least this school) they don’t stress the kids out as much over the whole thing. My sons don’t feel the pressure as much as they did in FL.

This coming week also finds me finally going and taking the PA teacher tests. I am not stressing out over this… it is what it is. I am not going to study. I’m not going to do anything but show up and take the test. I’m totally in the mode of if it is meant to be I’ll be fine.  If not… Oh well. (part of me know that I’ll be totally ticked with myself if I don’t pass… I don’t do failure well!)

Well… time to get ready to head to the gym. I wonder what the boys will do this week in their little lifters class? I’m dragging and my throat is scratchy so we will see how much energy I have for working out today. But… I’m going and that is a start.

Happy Saturday!



without a phone

It’s Friday! This means we all survived the week after the time change. For me it also means that Richard is coming home tomorrow. He was out in San Francisco for the week for work. To top off my week, my phone decided to die yesterday. When I say die, I don’t mean it ran out of charge.. it means it won’t start, it won’t boot in any way shape or form. Ugh!

So, this is hard. Richard will be flying home. The boys are off to school and my phone isn’t working. Now, I’m not a phone person. I don’t talk on my phone a lot. Most of the time my phone is sitting on my laptop, on the arm of the couch or in my back pocket. I just like knowing that anyone can reach me when they need to get hold of me. I like that I can be out and about in my car, at the gym, in a store, on a walk…. whatever and I can be reached.

When we moved here, we decided against getting a home phone. Why do we need that? We both carry cell phones. Ummm now I remember why I always had a home phone as well as a cell phone.

So today I feel disconnected. I worry that something will happen and no one will be able to get hold of me. Now I just have to hope that Richard can figure it out tomorrow or else I will have to order a new phone and wait for it’s arrival. But, at least Richard will be back and not 3 time zones away.



My Points

As a stay-at-home mom I often try to find ways to bring in a bit more money by doing things on-line. I’ve shared more than once the things I sell on Teacher Pay Teacher. I need to get moving on a few new kits. Remember if you have an idea for a kit, share with me and I’ll e-mail you the kit for free!

Another thing that I started doing in the fall was My Points. You join the site and earn points that you can cash in for gift cards! Every day you can easily make 5 points just by completing their Daily 5. You can earn more points by participating in surveys. Do you shop on-line? If you do… you can earn point by going through their site to order. Then you get points for things you are already shopping for.

I have used it to link through to Old Navy, Lowes, and even Bear Naked Granola which I bought Richard for his birthday. They have different specials all the time. It is so easy. I log on each day and do the daily 5, print coupons and answer surveys.

I have always cashed in point to get $25 to Amazon. I have enough to cash in for more now too.

So if you are looking for something simple that you can use to make some gift card cash… check out My Points!

family · life

Rainy Monday, Sunday fun day, and warmer weather

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It’s a rainy Monday morning. For us this not only means it is gray and dreary it also means more snow melting. We have been warming up for the last few days. Yesterday we left the house with just light weight sweatshirts on (it was in the high 30s). This high temperature yesterday was 49 and today is projected to get to 60!

We headed out around 9:20 to take Dixie to doggy day care. The day care where we board Dixie during our travels is running a winter Sunday doggy day care special. You can drop off your dog from 10-4 and it only costs $10 for the visit. We decided this was a good way to get her out and running around. She loves going to The Dog Stop and was so excited to go play with her friends. Of course she was also excited because this also meant a ride in the car, one of her favorite things to do.

When we dropped her off we headed to the gym. One of the nice things about the gym we are using right now is the fact that they youth area has a kid size weight circuit, treadmill, and stationary bike. The kids are also allowed to use the basketball court, racquetball courts and track. The boys use the circuit weights for 3 sets of 10 do some kind of cardio, often running on the track, and then they can play on the Wii. This gives Richard and I a good chunk of time to workout together. I enjoy my workouts with Richard for multiple reasons. One being that I can test out heavier weights and he is there to spot me. The second is we very much think alike. I just have to look in a certain direction and if he follows my eyes he knows exactly what I’m thinking. There is something very funny about watching other people workout.

After the gym, we came home and Colby was over the moon excited. He had spent the Amazon gift card he got for Christmas on ordering more characters for the Lego Dimensions, and they arrived while we were out to the gym. The boys spent a few hours working together to build the Dimensions add on kits and then play the game. While they did this, Richard and I went outside.

I went out originally to feed the birds. I couldn’t walk near the feeder without my winter boots on. This is not because the snow was too deep, it was because the ice/slush pond of water was too deep. So in I went to put on my winter books. Richard decided to come out and move some of the “pond” so that the water could flow down the slope of our backyard. We spent a good 45 minutes working out in the backyard. I spent some time doing dog pile pick up, I also picked up 3 piles of deer skat. (We saw a 3 point buck in our backyard the night before). Richard got out a rake and was moving the snow piles away from the foundation. It was strange to be out in jeans and a long sleeve shirt, or in Richard’s case a short sleeve shirt, working with snow, but it was really nice out.

Image result for patriots vs jaguarsWe ended the day watching the Patriots/Jaguars football game. I grew up in MA, so I have Patriots blood… you can’t grow up in MA and not cheer for the Pats, it just doesn’t happen. But, Blake Bortles, the Jag’s QB, played for UCF. He is an upstanding guy and it’s hard not to cheer for him if you know much about him. (Plus his name is Blake and his younger brother’s name is Colby… how cool is that?) It was a great game. We even paused the game to have our dinner of fish tacos and finished watching it after we finished eating.  Got to love the ability to pause live tv.

After we finished the game, we decided to contact both sets of grandparents. The boys enjoy talking to their grandparents on Google Hangouts. This way all parties get to see each other not just talk on the phone. We have done this for a while with Richard’s parents. We also used this technology whenever Richard traveled so the boys could talk to him in “person” not just on the phone.

Today Colby is home so that he can get his teeth checked out again. Remember the story of the bike vs teeth incident? Anyway a trip into the city is on the agenda for the two of us today. Let’s hope this proves that his teeth are doing fine and we can put this behind us soon.

I hope you have a great Monday to start this new week! I hope you had fantastic weekend. Catch you later!

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I enjoy reading your replies to my posts. Keep sharing your thoughts, it helps motivate me to share mine! 

Is it raining in your corner of the world? What do you think of rainy Mondays?

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family · through my camera lens

World of Coke Atlanta- Vacation day 3

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Ok here is the last of our vacation posts. I promise!

New Years Eve found us catching up with friends from Orlando. We met up at the World of Coke in Atlanta, GA. This was one of the things I wanted to do on our trip. I mean who doesn’t want to visit a place that has Coca-Cola? And yes they give you free Coke! You can get a can when you first enter the building and then there is free flowing Coke before you leave.  Need I say more?

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While we were waiting outside for our friends we decided to take some pictures. The World of Coke sits next to the Georgia Aquarium and between the two is a park type area. Part of the decorations they had for the holiday was HUGE ornaments. We decided this would be a good time to get some photos just for fun.

When I friends joined us we entered the World of Coke. I really wasn’t sure what we were going to see or do there, it just sounded like something you needed to do and see. When you enter you get to have a free coke! We didn’t have one since A. it was 10am and B we were cold so a cold coke didn’t sound refreshing at the time.

You are then led into a room filled with Coke memorabilia where you watched a quick Image may contain: 1 personCoke video. This leads you into the main “museum” area. You can go into various rooms to see the production of Coke, the history of Coke, the myths and legends of Coke and even the vault that holds the secret formula. Upstairs there is a 4D movie, a pop culture room (Colby’s favorite) and a tasting room. The tasting room is similar to the coke tasting room at EPCOT, but with more varieties. Plus they had taps of original coke, coke free style dispensers, and a test coke product (Chocolate Cherry coke, which tasted surprisingly good).

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No automatic alt text available.Then of course you went into the gift shop!

There was a lot of Coca-Cola history there that I found fascinating. The boys had fun even if they don’t drink Coke. Colby could have spent hours making his own Coke art in the Pop Art room. Blake enjoyed reading everything in the Coke history room.

We had fun there, we were there for about 2 hours and that was maybe a bit too long, but it was worth the trip.