7 years and counting.


7 Years ago today we gathered with our favorite people in the whole world and said our vows.

After that amazing party we spent 10 days in Jamaica to celebrate. I wish we could go back!
After 7 years... I would do it all over again. Happy day sweetie!


Williamsburg - the rest of the week.


The bulk of our week in Williamsburg was spent swimming in the pool and at Watercountry which Alec LOVED. Not really into the rollercoasters but it turns out that the bigger the water-slide the better. He was even willing to wait in lines that exceeded 30 minutes just for the thrill of a 30 second slide!

Outside of the standard parks & history there were two other really notable places we visited. The first, The Yankee Candle Store. I know, not a place you would expect either Ave or I to step foot into but, after dinner one night it was right there and for whatever reason we walked in. Wow, it was actually amazing. The store was like a big plaza with smaller stores off in each direction. Each smaller store was a theme, the home store, the toy store, the candle store, etc. And in each store there were activities for kids. The hit? The Christmas store - trains, Santa's workshop and every 5 minutes it snowed! Not just blown paper but real, cold, icy snow. The boy loved it. It is hard to see in this photo but if you were standing in the snowy areas you could actually get really covered!

The last place we should note is one of the restaurants we visited. In our standard - going out of town - eating safely regimen we emailed Food For Thought prior to leaving to ask about their menu, food preparation, and nut contamination policy. The owner/restaurant manager wrote back to me immediately. His response started like this "We take this VERY seriously and honestly, food allergies scare me to death so we will make it safe for your child to enjoy your meal." and went on from there. He outlined their menu and how they prevent cross contamination. It is rare that we go to any restaurant that actually serves food with nuts but not only did we try this place but loved the service. Everyone there was knowledgeable and took the allergy very seriously. All Alec's food was prepared in a separate kitchen space with cleaned utensils and staff that wore rubber gloves. It was just about the best eating out experience we have had. If you are in Williamsburg please try them out.

-- Post From My iPhone


Colonial Williamsburg


We spent one of our afternoons in Colonial Williamsburg wandering around. We used the "Historical Williamsburg for Kids" map and it did not disappoint. The first stop was at the Geddy House. They taught the kids about how they used to actually cut coins in half, quarters, and bits (Averill pointed out the term "2bit hooker"). Alec was much more fascinated with using his spotting scope (our map) to watch out the window for bad guys.

Then we went on to pull water from the well, water plants and check out the gunsmith.

From there we climbed some trees (Alec's first attempt at tree climbing)...
watched brickmakers do their thing and assisted by pounded mud with our feet. As we wandered around town we got to see Ox, a man spinning and carding wool, and shop for wares.

Another good (and hot) day in Williamsburg. I truly can't even imagine getting dressed in all those clothes and doing the kind of labor they did with no air conditioning - shesh!


Williamsburg: Busch Gardens


This past week we gathered up our very exited child and set out on our last road trip of the summer - Williamsburg VA.

We spent the first day at Busch Gardens (which is somehow no longer affiliated with Anheuser Busch). It was HOT. About 100 degrees with just about 100% humidity so the park was nice in the wet areas but kind of miserable otherwise.

Alec's favorite rides in the park? The skyride and the bumper cars - he kept calling them the Demolition Derby and got in line over and over again. Fortunately the lines were not too bad.


Nut Contamination


We have a standing rule in this house that we do not eat any baked goods that come out of other peoples houses or from a bakery. That is, barring a few exceptions. Nuts of all kinds show up in baked goods and the risk of cross contamination is just too great. So, we just veto all baked goods.

With that said, I spend a lot of time baking (my 30lb weight gain is proof of that). We bring cupcakes to parties so Alec has safe food. We almost always opt to bring dessert with us when we head out and we keep "safe" items here at all times in the event of some last minute invite.

Today while I was at Wal-Mart shopping for ingredients to make Mike's birthday cake I noticed this container. Note the MAY CONTAINS warning. Milk, Eggs, Almonds, Coconut, Wheat and Soy.

(As a side note, Coconut while considered a nut by the FDA is not actually a nut - it is a fruit. And likewise, the FDA considers a Peanut a nut and it isn't. It is a bean most closely related to the lentil)

Do you want to take a guess as to what the container is?

Come on, guess....

Unbelievable! Baking Powder is not something that I would have ever considered to have any contamination issues. Not only that but if someone was going over the ingredients of something they made, I would have never even thought to check the baking powder ingredient list. This is very much like the time I found frozen green beans with a peanut warning or the time I found packaged romaine lettuce with a nut contamination warning. UNREAL is the nicest word I can think of.

It it just another reassurance that nothing should ever be considered safe without looking at the ingredient statement.


College Roomies.


We spent some great time with the roomies this past weekend. And, as typical, the weekend went way too fast.

Can you believe how old my godson is? Insanity. You really see the passage of time in other people's children.


Word Cards


The (ahem) elders in my family tell a story about my apparent stubbornness even back in Kindergarten. Even though I was already reading I apparently flat-out refused to learn any of the words my teacher instructed the class to learn. No sight words, no new words, nothing. I would just refuse to do it. When asked why, I said definitively that I wanted to choose my own words and didn't want to learn hers (we had some issues, me and Mrs. Angstat). From then on I had a word box, a box of index cards with words that I chose for myself to learn and none of the teachers words.

Not that I am expecting trouble from the soon-to-be Kindergartner in my house but, he does seem to take after me in the stubborn/I want to do it my way category. So, I have created some word cards for him.

There is a place to put a newly learned word (either his teachers or his own), a place to practice writing it, and some upper and lower case letters for reference. I figure either we will use these to encourage him to choose his own words (like his mama) or we will use them to highlight words he learns in K.
I designed them and laid them out on an 8.5x11 sheet and then printed them on some cream card stock I had laying around. There are red, blue, and two shades of green. My hope is that when he gets a new word he will be excited about writing it on the card and hanging it up on the fridge for all to see. These will go in the Schultute that we are making him for the start of school.

Do you have a new reader/writer in your house? Want the cards for yourself? Here you go. This will download a pdf with each of the 4 colors. Just print on to card stock and cut out and you will have some for yourself.


Camera Strap.


I have been itching to make a new camera strap all summer. In fact, it is one of the many things I have put on our Summer List. There are so many gorgeous ones on Etsy that are so inspiring that I just could not pass up the opportunity.

Well, this past week I did it. I got some really cool striped fabric and ta-da!

Done. Just a hemmed sleeve is really all it is. I set to make one for the big camera:

But it turned out that there was enough for the little one too.

I really like the way it came out but have come to realize that sewing is just not fun for me. I am not sure if it just my old, crappy sewing machine or if it is the looking for missing parts or if I just don't really enjoy sewing. Don't get me wrong - I always love the outcome and truly always think sewing is a good idea. The process however, the broken needles, sticking thread, too tight tension just is a huge pain in the a**. I have a bit more sewing to do this summer then it just might be time to retire the machine.

If you are interested in making one for your self there is a good tutorial at PhotoJoJo. Have fun!


Random Photo.


Here is a somewhat non-descript photo of Alec.

So, what? I am so glad you asked! You see, he is sitting here watching the incredibly hilarious Simon's Cat Videos on YouTube.com at the AT&T store while Ave and I purchase our NEW iPHONES!!!



Scavenger Hunt.


We have (and have had) a couple of road trips planned for this summer and I thought it might be fun to have a bingo/scavenger hunt ready for Alec when we go. He is really into "treasure hunting" these days so I thought the road trip combo might keep his interest on a long boring ride. Since he can't read yet I created this 8 1/2 x 11 grid of things that he might see on our way.
He is always pointing out Mustangs, Corvettes, and other car favorites so they are on here, MD state road signs, McD's, Wawa, Ritas, etc. We printed this out, gave him a crayon to check things off and he had a blast, really we all did.

We do a lot of traveling, before this summer almost all by plane, but the games translate from one to the other pretty easily. He (like his mama) gets car sick easily so books, coloring, and any kind of in-car concentration usually causes some pretty serious nausea. That being said, here are some of our current travel favorites...

1. Books on Tape. He is really into Magic Treehouse right now and they are always on in the car. We keep about 5-10 books on each of our iPods.

2. Pointing out cars. Finding Mustangs and Corvettes are the two most coveted sights on the road. We even got to see a Ferarri the other day.

3. Telling stories. And, he is just now at the age and interest for story-go-rounds

4. Floor Fishing. This is just a dowel with a string and magnet attached and a bucket of magnetized letters and numbers on the floor. With each letter that is caught, we name some words that begin the same.

5. Bigger/Smaller, fatter/thinner etc. Kind of like iSpy but someone will name something and then go around finding the opposite.

Traveling is so fun and honestly we would do it non-stop if we could. Long car rides are a great opportunity to play games listen to books and to have deep conversations about how we would spend our time if money (and medical insurance) were no object.




Yesterday we headed to Baltimore for our annual allergy appointment with amazing Dr. Robert Wood. We got there a bit early so we could enjoy some of the city's tourist attractions. Normally we do something like the Aquarium, or the MD Science Center, or Port Discovery but because our appointment was right in the middle of the day we opted for some less time consuming activities.

First stop: ESPN Zone. This is the first time Alec has been in a big arcade like this and his reaction did not disappoint.

It was all about the driving... the carsand trucks

the raftsand golf.

There were horses to ride, wave runners, snow mobiles, hang gliders, street luges and so much more. We all had a great time. Unfortunately our time (and tokens) was running out so we left and headed over to Hopkins.

What to report about this trip? The bad news first... he is rx'ed with Oral Allergy Syndrome which is a fancy way to say that his pollen allergy is now bad enough to cross react into certain foods like apples, pears, and watermelon. So, when he eats these foods he has a reaction. So far, a non severe reaction with only a slim chance at a big, anaphylactic reaction. Here is the list of the pollen/food cross reactivity.
  • Alder pollen: almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley
  • Birch pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas,[5] carrots, celery, cherries, chicory,[6] coriander, fennel, fig,[7] hazelnuts, kiwifruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, wheat; Potential: walnuts
  • Grass pollen: fig,[7] melons, tomatoes, oranges
  • Mugwort pollen : carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
  • Ragweed pollen : banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, honey dew, watermelon, zucchini, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, hibiscus or chamomile tea
  • Possible cross-reactions (to any of the above): berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc), citrus (oranges, lemons, etc), grapes, mango, figs, peanut, pineapple, pomegranates, watermelon
He is in at least three of the above categories. Pollen allergies get worse until about puberty so eventually he will get to a point where many fruits and veggies will be (at a minimum) uncomfortable enough not to eat. Huge bummer, yes. There is no news on the nut front... all is status and tests all about the same as last year.

After Hopkins we headed back down to the inner harbor for lunch at our favorite - Chipotle. Look at the size of that burrito, it really must weigh close to 5 lbs!

Then a wander around sightseeing, taking photos, shopping, and generally enjoying a HOT (94 deg) day in Baltimore.

All-in-all, it was just like most of our trips to Hopkins. A pathetic attempt to mask the underlying malaise, annoyance, and general hatred of food allergies. With a bit of fun sprinkled on top :)


RePurpose | ReThink | ReCycle | ReGift?


This summer my MIL had a short stay in the hospital for knee surgery. Instead of the standard obligatory flowers or balloons I put together this basket of totally recycled products.

I was taught from an early age that whether you purchase or make a gift it should really reflect the person receiving it. And, in this time of economic crisis and since we have been "greenifying" our existence I thought you might enjoy seeing a gift that was a hit and cost me almost nothing to give. Not only that, it recycled many things that would ordinarily go right into the trash.

Here is a list of all that was in the basket:

3 magazines: all of these came to me as a subscription. This is the most significant recycled item in the basket. 4 million tons of tossed away magazines show up in our landfills every year. Magazines specifically are considered a ground and water contaminant because of the ink and page coating used in the printing process. Now, I am in love with magazines, the more the merrier, there is nothing like curling up on the couch with a new, glossy read BUT these are one of the most important things to recycle or reuse. Don't know what to do with your old mags? Here are some good options:

1. Donate to your local doctors offices, hospitals, or other waiting room areas (call first to make sure it is OK)
2. Donate to your local schools or art studios for projects, crafts, etc
3. create a swap with your friends, if you all get different subscriptions just rotate the magazines every couple of months. Then when you are done recycle or pass on to another

A good Chic-lit book. My MIL is a reader and a writer and typically reads novels that are much more "intellectually challenging" but sometimes when you are getting constantly interrupted and just need something fun and gripping to take your mind off what is happening around you, chic lit is the answer. This again was a recycle. It was a gift to me and I read it a few times. Books that sit on your bookshelf don't go bad. There is no shame in passing along a slightly read book to someone else. I suggest you look at paperbackswap or bookmooch for some great ways of swapping books and saving trees. Both of these swap sites are really good for kids books that they have lovingly read and outgrown.

Things to do: A sealed pack of cards. These were some that came from a hotel but have never been opened, again, a pass-on. The Internet is the mecca for printable activities. I printed some coloring pages (she is truly a kid at heart) and some Sudoku puzzles (all on the back side of some already printed paper). A couple of newly sharpened pencils and crayons from our enormous stash completed the activity kit. Best of all I included a set of hospital bingo cards that we generated using a free Bingo card site.

A few yummies: Those of you that have been in the hospital for any length of time know that you have virtually no control over what and when you eat. And, sometimes you just need a little something to take that metallic hospital taste out of your mouth. From our own kitchen I added a pack of gum, a "bouquet" of DumDums and a couple of organic Honest Kids Juice pouches. Just enough to change the taste in your mouth without a lot of calories.

Lastly, some silk flowers, container, and fill, all of which I had here at my house. Not only was the gift a hit but everyone felt good that we were responsible about money and the environment all at the same time.

What can you RePurpose, ReThink, and ReGift in a way that really honors the person you are giving it to?

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