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The one with the peanut butter s'mores

Thursday, May 30, 2013
You know it is summer when your evenings consist of cookouts and fire pits and Sunday night we got together with Andrew's family for just that. Andrew's dad grilled out yummy hotdogs and some amazing corn.

Perry had some yummy formula and then played in his swing while we all ate dinner.

After dinner it was time for the fire and marshmallow roasting. We had ingredients for original s'mores and then some reeses cups for an added twist. This peanutbutteraholic was a fan.

Family and food. Doesn't get better than that.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The one with the sweet playtime faces

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Each and every day P is interacting with and exploring more about the world around him. It is so fun to watch him play. 

Today in the car he was playing with the plush cow that dangles from his carseat...he stared at it for a little while and then just broke out into a a toy cow. If only we could know what he was thinking about...
Cousin Ben said today "I wish babies could talk." Me too sweet Ben.

P is really learning to like his Jumparoo

Gone are the days of laying on his back and playing on his activity mat for hours...he can go from back to tummy in 2 seconds flat. Happy boy!

Favorite Disney Resources

Monday, May 27, 2013
For quite some time we have been planning a big family vacation for this fall. Actually Perry was booked to travel out of the country before he had a name or birthdate. This year marks our 5th anniversary and we wanted to do something special. We decided we wanted to do a cruise and that we wanted to include Perry in the fun. We love cruising because it is so simple and fun and relatively stress-free (unless you have been on a carnival ship recently...eek). I did a lot of research about which cruise line and itinerary would be best for a little one (~10 months old) we finally settled on Disney Cruise Line. We have never cruised Disney before but it seems like the perfect set-up both for Perry and us. We will see how it goes. : )

So this fall, the three of us will be Disney bound. We are going to go down a few days early and spend 2 nights prior to the cruise in the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. You can say we are crazy for taking a baby to disney world...but we think we know what we are getting ourselves into, and have appropriate expectations. No he can't ride space mountain...but I think there are some aspects of the parks he will really enjoy in a short visit. We are going to just relax and enjoy a day at disney at his pace...and maybe ride space mountain using childswap. : ) Then we will be off on a 7 night cruise in the caribbean. We can't wait.

That is all to say that I am neck deep in planning for the trip and trying to figure out our packing lists (which is quite different with a baby), documents, and other details. Since I have been spending quite a bit of time recently with my favorite Disney planning resources, I thought I would take a minute and make a list of them for posterity sake and in case anyone else finds it useful.

Here are my favorite Disney resources (in absolutely no particular order):

1. WDW Radio Podcasts: I can't describe enough how much I like this resource. Lou Mongello hosts weekly disney newscasts and podcasts that keep you up to date on happenings in Walt Disney World (WDW) and discusses every possible detail about disney vacations. Best part is there is an archive of the past podcasts (hundreds of them) with descriptions so you can go and find the ones that would be most useful. For example there are podcasts about disney cruiseships, taking little ones to disney, dining, resorts, disney trivia, and on and on. I often listen to them on my commutes to and from work.

2. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (Insert year here) book: This is probably my favorite Disney planning book (of which there are many). It seems the most comprehensive with reviews of all the resorts, rides and restaurants (and ratings of attractions by age know while grandma might love the Hall of Presidents...young kiddos maybe not so much). My only problem with the book is that it is bulky and I would never actually carry it into the parks with big deal since I am OCD and love making lists and planning out every detail ahead of time.

3. Blogs: There are lots of great blogs and bloggers out there who specialize in writing about Disney. Some of the ones I follow are:
The Official DisneyParks Blog
The Main Street Gazette
WDW Radio
Disney Daddy
The Disney Food Blog Blog
The Disney Blog
And I am sure there are lots of others I have yet to find.

4. This website is awesome. To use it to its fullest you need a paid account, which is only about $12 for a year (less than you would pay for a travel book). The folks at TouringPlans have done just what the name suggests...they have created a whole bunch of different suggested touring plans for the parks at WDW. These plans really help maximize what you can do and minimize the amount of time you spend standing in line. Using touring plans (essentially an advised schedule and order of attractions) is most important when the parks are crowded...but are helpful anytime. There are tons of plans to pick from depending on what kind of overall experience you are going for, and can be customized and printed. The other great thing about TouringPlans is their crowd calendar, which tells you on a range of 1-10 how crowded each park is every single day of the year....super helpful in picking when to go. It also tells you when all the special events are in the parks so you can decide if you want to be there then (or if you want to avoid that particular week). : )

5. This website has all sorts of WDW planning tools and advice. One thing I have definitely used it for is to look ahead of time at menus for all the restaurants within WDW. And I mean all food service locations (including quick service/snack places).

6. The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World book: This is a book I am currently reading (electronically on the ipad as i have time...usually just before bed) and enjoying. It is less about planning and more about the hidden things and backstories found throughout the World, that are often overlooked. It appeals to the nerd in me and makes me want to slow down and appreciate the little things next time we are there (which is good...our 10 month old will definitely take the pace down a notch).

7. Forums/discussion boards about absolutely anything and everything Disney related.

8. YouTube: Disney puts out all kind of great (official) videos on YouTube, as well as lots of random (and not so random) visitors to the World. If you are wanting a little taste of Disney from home, or are wanting to know what an area of the park or attraction looks like...just look it up on YouTube...I promise someone has captured it on video.

Those are just some of my favorites. I am sure there are lots of great resources I don't even know about or forgot when I was writing this list. If you have one that didn't make this list...please share it with me.

And because I feel like a blog post is kind of naked without a is one I dug up from the bowels of history (aka albums found in storage) of me at Disney World when I was almost 4. : )

The one with the living room fort

Sunday, May 26, 2013
Yes. You read that right. The other night Andrew, Perry and I built a our living room...and it was awesome.

I posted yesterday about our new date night jar. Well we took it out for a spin the other day and what did we draw but "build a fort." Probably the most whimsical and random stick in the jar. So that evening we moved the coffee table out of the way and constructed a fort of bar stools, blankets and pillows. Then we all snuggled up in it and watched Finding Nemo.

Here are my sweet boys falling asleep in our fort. I have a feeling this was the first of many living room forts we will build with Perry. Good times!

Pinterest Project of the Week - date jar

Saturday, May 25, 2013
This one has been on my to-do list for a while. Andrew and I had a free night (which are relatively few and far between) and we started the usual conversation of "what do you want to do?," "I don't know what do you want to do?"...and on and get the picture.

So to fix that problem in the future we sat down and made a list of all the things we could do together and how we could turn normal evenings into a fun "date night." We listed all sorts of things like going out for ice cream, to making homemade pizza, etc...some of which we came up with ourselves and some of which we pulled from ideas on the internet.

Only rule is that it requires little planning and it is something we can do with Perry...we made a whole other list of things we want to do on our real date nights ( child in tow).

Then we got a jar (which was readily sitting around after Perry's dedication party) and some craft sticks and wrote each idea onto a stick. You will notice there is one of two colors painted at the top...some of the items are best done during the day (light blue) and others are more evening appropriate activities (dark blue).

I also talked to Andrew about this being a fun thing to do with Perry as he gets bigger (e.g. jar of things to do on summer vacation, etc).

So more floundering trying to figure out what to do. Next time one of us asks "what do you want to do?" the answer can be "let's draw a stick from the jar and find out."  : )

The one at the ballpark

Friday, May 24, 2013
There is not much more fun than childrens' sports events. I am so glad that Emily and Matt put our niece and nephew in sports so we have excuses to go watch (without being totally creepy).

Ben did an awesome job in tee ball this year. Last Saturday the weather was a little iffy (as it is every weekend lately) but Perry and I got to go watch Ben play his next to last game. Ben had his last game Wednesday and Andrew and Perry got to go (while I was in DC), but I hear Ben did great.

It was so wore Perry right out. But look at that precious baseball outfit. : )

The one where HudsonAlpha turned 5 years old

Thursday, May 23, 2013
It is hard to believe that HudsonAlpha is 5 years old. I am blessed to have been a part of HudsonAlpha since the beginning and it is amazing how much has been accomplished in research, industry and education during the last 5 years.

To celebrate, the institute held a birthday party for its employees last week. It was a fun time of food, drinks, reminiscing and looking forward. It was one of my days off, so Perry got to be my date for the party.

I think he fit right in and was already caught networking with Dr. Myers.

Happy 5th birthday HudsonAlpha!

Wordless Wesnesday

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The one at the playground

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Recently we took Perry to play on a playground for the very first time. Ok - I am using the word play quite liberally. We have a small playground in our neighborhood, but we wanted to let him swing (in our laps of course) so we headed just a mile down the street to the playground at the elementary school. Perry will probably get to know this school and playground very well in the coming years. P wasn't totally sure what to think about the rocks under his feet. But he had fun just chilling in mama and daddy's laps swinging and sliding and just watching the bigger kids play.



Pinterest Project(s) of the Week - baby dedication crafting

Monday, May 20, 2013
I took a little hiatus on the pinterest projects lately, partly out of the busyness of life and partly because the crafting I have been doing has mostly been for Perry's baby dedication and I didn't want to give away the details until after the party.

But now I am ready to show them off without a spoiler alert needed. The other day, I blogged about the party itself and the vendors/resources I used, and today I am going to go through the DIY aspects of the party.

1. Slideshow of pictures/music
No need for a picture here. I put together a slideshow of music and pictures of Perry to have running on the TV in the background. Apple TV is wonderful for this. All I had to do was make an album in iPhoto (where all our photos are stored anyway) and a playlist (of my favorite worship music) in iTunes of music and share it with the TV. Seriously took all of 30 minutes. We really enjoyed watching the pictures scroll by and reminiscing with our families how tiny P used to be (even if it was only a couple months ago).

2. Fireplace banner
Banners are super easy to make and look great hung across a fireplace or anywhere else in the house. All you need is some scrapbook paper, a cricut (or lettering stencils), a hole punch and some ribbon.

3. Gift tags
I have these awesome paper shape punches from hobby lobby (no idea what the proper term is...but they are like giant hole punches). I have two sizes and edge styles that are perfect for making gift tags, cupcake toppers, etc. I put them together with craft glue and then used a normal hole punch to make a hole so I could attach the tag to the gift with twine.

4. Framed verses
No description needed. Just typed the verses up in good ol' microsoft word, printed them out and put them in frames I had laying around the house.

5. Twine
I love twine. You can use it to add some texture and color without it overtaking whatever it is you are dressing up. I used it to tie around the mik bottle cups, around jars and serving containers and around the mothers day gifts/favors. Other awesome thing is you can get a huge spool of the stuff for super cheap...and it will last you forever.

6. Striped canvases
We typically have these brown/green painted fork knife and spoon canvases over the buffet in our breakfast room. I love them...but they were definitely not going to match the party color scheme. So I decided to paint some replacement canvases as a backdrop (since we had the nails there to hang them already). Stripes are so easy to paint...all you have to do is use some painters tape or masking tape to make stripes and paint over it. Then when you pull the tape off...voila...white stripes (or whatever color the canvas was) appear. I have a feeling I will be doing this again and again for different parties...probably just painting over the same 3 canvases.

7. Napkin "rings"
This is one of my go-to ways to customize a party. Get some scrapbook paper in your color of choice, cut 1 inch thick strips and tape it around your napkins to make "napkin rings."

The one with the colorful feet

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Mothers day gifts (all gifts really) have gotten a tad easier these days...I mean while no one wants a butterfly canvas made from my or Andrew's feet...who wouldn't want one made from Perry's precious 4 month old feet. 

Thanks to pinterest, some paint and a bumbo chair we got to work on one of mama's days off a couple weeks ago. The bumbo chair was perfect for the gave easy access to P's feet while made it impossible for his feet to touch anything and get paint everywhere.

We made 11 canvases (as favors for P's baby dedication party) and two cards to put in the mail to out of town grandparents. Perry tolerated the whole experience pretty well. The butterflies wings are made from his footprints while the antenna are made from his thumb prints (which were significantly harder to do...I figured out the best plan was to do those while he was half After that I drew in the bodies and sprayed a matte sealer over top. Then the canvases were ready to be dressed in twine and gift tags.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The one where daddy wanted a pink cake

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Andrew turned the big 29 last Thursday (ok, 29 isn't that big except for the reminder of what next year is...). He had the day of his birthday off and got to hang out with Perry all day. We had a family party for him last Saturday night. It was low-key but fun. We ate bbq, played games, and had cake.

Andrew decided he wanted camping stuff for his birthday. After we all got over the shock that Andrew wants to start camping, we went shopping. Perry and I got him an awesome tent and his family got him other necessities like a frisbee, smores skewers, and some giftcards to dicks. Our nephew Ben decided he wanted to get Andrew movie tickets to see Iron Man 3. It was so sweet that he thought about it and picked out a gift. Andrew was excited (and I am just hoping he finds someone else to go

Andrew loves ice cream so his favorite kind of cake is ice cream cake. When I showed him the Coldstone cake menu he picked out the raspberry cheesecake, to which I asked "are you sure you want a pink birthday cake?" Andrew answered yes (and something about being secure enough in his manhood to have a pink cake if he wants one) and so here it is.

It was very yummy. Good choice Andrew.

It was a fun night. We played games and talked way into the night. So late that sweet Kate gave up on going home to sleep in her own bed and made herself a little bed with Perry's bear rug in the living room floor.

Happy Birthday Andrew! One more year until the big 30.

The one with the dedication after-party

Monday, May 13, 2013
After Perry's dedication at church, our families all joined us back at our house for lunch and a party. I love planning and hosting parties. It is one of my favorite things to do...I think it is the balance to my science brain. And there is nothing I would have rather done on my first Mother's day.

I decided to go with a simple blue, white and khaki color palette. I wanted to keep things pretty and elegant without it feeling too formal.

The dessert table turned out awesome. It was so fun to put together. The cake was precious and so yummy. The top layer was chocolate with cookies and cream filling and the bottom tier was white almond cake with strawberries and cream filling. I had a lot of fun making the cross cookies. It was my first experience with homemade sugar cookies and icing and overall it went pretty well with minimal casualties.

Because we were coming back for lunch straight from church, we needed a menu that did not need cooking or heating. We had ham and turkey (from Honeybaked) and an assortment of salads (green salad, grape salad, brocoli salad, watergate salad, and potato salad. Yummy!

For drinks we had lazy punch (aka a equal mixture of sunny D and sprite), fruit tea and water. I found these super cute plastic milk bottles online to use as cups and leftover paper striped straws (from P's gender reveal party).

We are so glad our families were able to celebrate Perry's dedication and Mothers Day with us.



Favors/mothers day presents:
Butterfly canvases made from Perry's sweet 4 month old footprints

The details:
My awesome sister-in-law Emily designed the invitations. I love them. I covet her photoshop skills.

Place settings:
In effort to minimize the number of dishes that had to be washed post-party. I opted for plastic, paper and wooden dishes and silverware.
Clear plastic plates - Party City
Blue scalloped dessert plates - The TomKat Studio
Wooden cutlery - The TomKat Studio
Clear plastic milk bottles (for cups) - Shop Sweet Lulu
Blue striped paper straws - Shop Sweet Lulu

Dessert Table:
Cake - Slice at a Time
Cross Cookies - Homemade...from scratch
Blue Gumballs - The TomKat Studio

Burlap cross door hanger - This Etsy Shop
Banner - homemade, with some scrapbook paper and a cricut
Framed bible verses - homemade and frames I had laying around the house
Flowers - In Bloom (They did our wedding 5 years ago and are amazing)

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