Sunday, June 30, 2013

You Are What You Eat

Dear Ian,

We are officially insane.  Well, that goes without saying, but Daddy and I have decided not to leave well enough alone, so we created a bit of a challenge for our little family.  This July, starting tomorrow if you will notice the time stamp on this post, we are challenging our family to eat nothing that is processed.

Now, let me start by saying that we generally eat pretty healthy.  We aren't eating TV dinners every night, nor do you get overly sugary, crappy foods.  You like veggies, "meat and tater" meals, and you understand the concept that bad foods make you feel bad.  That being said, Daddy has been doing all kinds of research as of late, and it turns out that stuff that has "natural ingredients" is actually pretty gross.  The definition of "natural flavorings" or "natural ingredients," as according to the FDA is anything that is found in nature or not produced in a lab.  Let me reiterate:  ANYTHING found in nature and used in food products is ok.  A disturbing example is the ingredient in orange soda (which I think you have had exactly two times in your life) that makes the soda orange is dried locust wings. 

I'm apparently delicious?!
Yes, it's true.  That little fellow is in orange soda, and he's all natural. He and some of his buddies are probably in a bunch of other stuff, too, but I don't want to think about that!  So, when Daddy presented me with this information, I decided that challenging ourselves to non-processed, non-factory created foods wasn't a bad idea at all.  Save the locusts and stuff.  Plus, ewww.

Now, we're not trying to get all holier-than-thou and such.  This is something we want to do for our family.  We also are viewing it as sort of an experiment to see how it will affect our day-to-day selves, too.  Mommy needs to work on her blood sugar, Daddy wants to work on eating healthier in general, and we both want to establish good eating habits in you.  There's also the effect that artificial flavorings, dyes and such have on the behavior of little people.  I have been doing some research on the Feingold Diet after hearing about it this year from a mom of a boy in my class.  All those additives and preservatives can actually cause behavioral and attention deficit issues in kids.  We want to see if there's any sort of change in your behavior when we change our diet.  Yes, this sort of makes you our guinea pig, but we're swapping you from not-so-good foods to healthier foods, so I am not too terribly worried about this driving you straight to a psychiatrist's chair. 

Tonight we ate our last junky, albeit totally delicious, meal for at least 31 days.  We went to Barnaby's and pigged out on one of their awesome pizzas.  This was after a trip to Fresh Market to load up on fruits and veggies, so we are fully prepared and committed to make this work.  We have an plan.  There will probably be some leniency given to cheese and maybe bread, but we are going whole hog.  Should be interesting. 

So here's to a new us! 

Love always,
Mommy and Daddy

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Fun, Week Five

Dear Ian,

We're halfway through our summer and our paper chain.  While this passage of time kinda makes me sad, but every day we wake up excited to see what is coming next.

This Monday we kicked our week off with a Water Gun War!  Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of this, (I was trying to keep my phone dry.  Especially after the Water Balloon Fight we had earlier in the summer.) but we had a blast.  Daddy even got involved, and we all got wet!  It was fun!

On Tuesday,  you and I visited Books A Million.  I am always up for new books, and to be honest, I had a bit of an ulterior motive.  You only own one Berenstein Bears book, and that book is all about learning about strangers.  I have read that book at least 45 times, so I figured a new one might attract your attention for a bit so I could get a break from all of the stranger danger going on.  We purchased a couple of new Berenstein Bears books (all of which pertain to what's going on in your life like too much tv, and too much junk food...) and left the store happy campers.  Yes, Mommy got a new book too!  I can't leave the bookstore without a new book.  We had a nice lunch together at Subway and then headed home.  Daddy was off doing an emergency training thing for Ham Radio and hurricane season, so we had a nice Mommy and Ian morning.  That afternoon we all got in the pool and had a great time.

Wednesday was super fun.  We went on a special trip to Gulf Specimen Marine Lab.  You really enjoyed looking at all of the sea life.  This I DID manage to get pictures for, so here they are:

 Here's you and Daddy enjoying the touch tanks.  There were hermit crabs, calico crabs and all kinds of other critters.
It took a bit of coaxing, but you did get into picking things up.
Here you are looking at a sea turtle named Allie.  She is 50 years old and weighs more than you do!
Allie the Sea Turtle smiling for the camera.
Here you are riding a dolphin outside the Marine Lab.

All in all, I think you had a lot of fun at the lab.  You got to watch a couple of marine biologists feed a nurse shark, see and pick up star fish (ahem, sea stars) and admire a huge horseshoe crab that Daddy picked up.  There were fiddler crabs and puffer fish and sting rays.  You were not a fan of the sting rays.  You really liked the sea horses.

After our afternoon at the Marine Lab, we wandered around a bit and ended up at Angelo's seafood restaurant for dinner.  No, we did not eat anything from the Marine Lab.  We had a great seat on the deck overlooking the river, and we had a fantastic dinner.  It was so good.
 You and I took a self portrait at dinner.
 Then you took a picture of Daddy across the table.
My Bear, admiring the water.

And that was a really great family day.
On Thursday, we spent most of the day at home.  Great Poppey was not doing well health-wise, so Mommy was kind of on stand-by to help out.  We managed to have a fun morning, and it basically consisted of all things water.  I swear, if there is one way to keep a kid occupied, it's water.  Best to show this day in pictures:
 Here you are painting the fence.  Awesome idea, if I must say so myself.  The water caused the wood to change colors, so you really did think you were painting the fence.  It kept you busy for hours! 
 While the "paint" on the fence dried, you switched to washing your riding toys.  Another 45 minutes to an hour...
And finally, here you are "mixing fertilizer" for the garden.  I showed you how I do it in real life, so you decided to play a game with it.  You were funny to watch.  But you were having a blast! 

I did end up going to sit with Great Poppey, you and Daddy had a man afternoon. 

And that brings us to Friday.  It rained almost ALL DAY LONG.  Ugh.  But we snuggled on the couch and had an easy day.  Movies, picnic lunches and jammies ruled the day.  I will admit that after dinner we were all going a little stir crazy, so we said "so what" and headed outside.  We played catch in the rain until it started thundering again and Mommy's paranoia took over. 

What a great week we had.  I'm sad to announce that we only have about four weeks left before we head back to school for the two weeks of summer camp that I am teaching, and then it's pretty much back to school.  But we are going to have a blast this last month!  Cant wait until next week!!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Fun, Week Four

Dear Ian,

This week is going to look like we didn't get to do a lot together, because we kind of didn't.  We did have fun, though, so that's what counts the most. 

This week, my afternoons were occupied with twirling camp.  Mommy is trying to get her baton twirling studio off the ground, so I held a camp just to see who all was out there and interested.  It went pretty well, but that's not the point of this post.  Back to having fun with YOU!

On Monday, we were heading back from our trip to Destin, so we didn't really have an event on our paper chain. 

Tuesday you went with me on a drive to pick up my t-shirts for camp, and on the way we played a rousing game of I Spy.  Super fun, when the route you take is largely nothing but fields and trees.  Anyway.  You were a good sport about the whole thing, so on the way home, we stopped by a John Deere Greensouth Store, and you got to get out and run around admire all of the neat pieces of equipment. 

You and a cotton picker.  That thing was huge, and according to Papa Davis, valued at about $150,000.  No, we did not take one home. 

Wednesday was my first day of camp in the afternoon, but it was also National Juggling Day.  Lofty Pursuits Ice Cream Shop was giving away a junior scoop to anyone who could juggle, and since I learned how to do three baton by first learning to juggle...  Yes.  You can see where this is going.  I juggled (and did pretty dang awesome, if I must say) for the friends at Lofty Pursuits, and you got ice cream.  Chocolate to be exact. 
Here you are, enjoying your juggling-begotten ice cream.  It was pretty yummy.

On Thursday and Friday you got to spend some time with Grandma Brooks while Mommy taught camp.  And this included a tea party where Uncle Kurt, Aunt Stacey and Abigail and Daddy came, too.  You and Grandma made cookies and crowns for everyone, and when everyone arrived, you had your party.  I will have to ask Grandma for pictures.

I can't believe Week Four has come and gone.  It wont be too long now until we're gearing up to go back to school!  I don't think I'm ready yet.  We're having too much fun! 

I love having fun with you,

Summer Fun, Week Three: Part Two

Dear Ian,

Man.  That title was confusing.  What I mean by that is after we wrapped up Week Three of summer fun, we topped it off with an awesome weekend in Destin with your Graves/Brooks family.  And boy, did we have a good time! 

We packed up on Friday morning and headed out around nap so that way you could sleep in the car (which by the way, you only took a 40 minute nap.  Sigh).  After 446 times being asked if we were there yet, we finally made it.  And when I say all of your Graves/Brooks family members were there, I mean it!  Grandma and Grandpa Brooks were there, rounded out by Uncle Ryan, Aunt Andrea, Uncle Kurt, Aunt Stacey and Abigail.  Add us three in, and that's a pretty sizeable group.  But then on top of that there was Great Aunt Martha, Great Uncle Steve, and their kids Sarah, Erin and Joseph.  Sarah had her hubs, Tim, with her and their two kids, Patrick and Isabel were also in attendance.  Then Erin's new hubby, Scotty, came too.  So grand total, there was ton of us: in all! 

Anyhoo.  We all arrived safely at the Destin Army Rec Center and got checked in.  I made dinner that first night (a shrimp boil) at Grandma and Grandpa's cabin, and I'm thrilled to say that, even despite the shrimp, you liked it!  Which is good; we can still be friends. 

The weekend was filled with fun like playing in the splash park, spending TWO HOURS in the pool, a pontoon boat ride out to the bay, dinner at McGuires and The Backporch, mini-golf, and all in all an awesome time.  Here are a few shots of our weekend in Destin.

After our shrimp boil dinner on the first night, you and Aunt Andrea both got a special treat from the ice cream truck that drove through the facility!  You were so excited about the truck; it played music and everything! 

You playing in the splash park on our first morning at the center.  I am sad to report that trying to keep you up later and that short nap on the way over did NOT help you adjust to Destin being in a later time zone.  Every morning you were up around 5:30am Destin time.  Which yes, I know, is about the same time you get up in really Tallahassee time, but seeing a five in front of the time was really bad for Mommy's morale. 
After some time in the splash park, we headed out on the pontoon boat to Crab Island. It's a great shallow place to anchor boats and swim. Believe it nor not, this is actual bay water, not pool water!  Look how clear it was!!  It was amazing, and you had a fun time floating along in your starfish floatie.  And there was an ice cream boat.  And you got an ice cream sandwich.  You, my boy, are one lucky kid.

Sadly, I did not get any pictures from dinner at McGuire's.  I was far too busy eating the Reuben Egg Rolls to take photos.  Man those are good.  Aannnddd, now I want one.  Man.

Sunday was Father's Day, so after feeding Daddy his favorite breakfast and giving him his gifts and cards, we let him do his own thing for the day.  He went off with Ryan, Scotty and Joseph and played his Star Trek game, and you and I entertained ourselves.  After nap we went and played mini-golf!  It was a lot of fun, and you did really well!  You actually shot some legitimate twos and threes on some of the holes.  Since it was just the two of us, I didn't bother to keep score or anything, but it didn't matter anyway.  We were just having fun.  Then we stopped off at a crazy tourist store, and I let you pick out a souvenir with some money that you brought from your piggy bank.  You picked out a shark tooth necklace and were so very proud of it.  After all of this fun, it was time to meet the family for dinner again. This time we went to The Back Porch, which is right on the beach and so yummy.  You and I managed to arrive 30 minutes early, so we walked through the candy store next door, and you used your remaining money to get a ring pop. 

 You in the giant chair outside the restaurant with your ring pop. 
I think after all the togetherness, early wakings and commotions you were finally starting to lose your cool.  So you and I took a walk down to the beach.  You love the water, so you probably could have stayed there all night.  But we went back to our hotel and finished up our evening with a walk down the dock, exploring crab traps and finding fish.  We also found some hermit crabs!
You and a hermit crab friend.  You did NOT like it when he started to come out of his shell.

The next day was Monday, and we spent the morning packing up and getting ready to head back to real life.  You did get to play in the pool one last time, which made you happy.  But then we were back in the car and headed home.  And I am happy to report that this time you did sleep almost the whole way home. 

We had a fun weekend with you Bear, and we love you!
Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Fun, Week Three

Dear Ian,

Week three is coming to a close on our summer fun, and yes, I normally write these on a Friday.  But tomorrow Friday, we are leaving to go to Destin for the weekend, so I figured I'd better go ahead and get this one done.  This weekend is going to be a lot of fun in itself, so I'm wrapping up this week on Thursday.  

This week started with a necessary evil: Shopping.  You are a skinny little dude, and two years ago I
bought you a couple of bathing suits from Target.  I am thrilled to say that 44 month old little you have finally out grown your 12-18 month bathing suits.  Yup!  You have graduated to a 2T!  And it wasn't just your bathing suits that you've outgrown.  A number of your shorts are all too small now too, so we loaded up and headed off to Gymboree.  We managed to get you about three pairs of shorts and a new bathing suit.  And a couple of cute shirts.  I have a Gymboree addiction.  We did well, though, as they are having a pretty good sale at the moment.  Anyhoo, you were really well behaved in the store, and I didn't spend a fortune, so afterward we rewarded ourselves with smoothies from Tropical Smoothie.  You love that place.  So, smoothie in hand, we celebrated a fun morning and headed back home.  You were a lucky duck and got to have a sleepover with Grandma Brooks this night, and Mommy and Daddy went on a much needed dinner date.  It was a fun way to start the week

Tuesday was awesome!!!  Can I just say, God bless Walmart and God Bless the Dollar Store and found a package of about a zillion water balloons for a dollar, and this is what we did on Tuesday!  While I waited for you and Grandma Brooks to come home, I filled up a bunch of the water balloons and had them ready and waiting for you.  When you got home, we changed into bathing suits and had an all-out water balloon war.  I think you won, as I was completely soaking wet by the time we were done.  In my defense, I think I let you win, but hey.  After the war, we hopped in the pool and you had a blast swimming and floating around.  Come to think of it, I think you've been in the pool almost every day! 

 The arsenal before the war
Action shot.  My poor, poor phone...
 Love this little face!
My Bear is quite the fish.
Our Wednesday activities started off with a morning in the pool, and then we came inside to beat the heat.  (And MAN is it hot already!)  This Wednesday our activity of building blanket and sheet forts in the living room kept us nice and cool and inside for a bit.  And we're not talking little bitty forts.  Mommy has some skills.  With the help of two twin sheets, two queen sheets, a fake ficus tree and some alligator paper clips, we turned our living room into what looked a bit like a Turkish bazaar. 
You even got to eat lunch in your blanket fort!  It was a lot of fun.  After you woke up from nap, Daddy even crawled in and read you a couple of books.  Here are our pictures of that fun:
 We used your little tunnel as your entrance. 
You and your loveys hanging out in your tent.
And that leads us up to today.  Remember last week when we were supposed to do a lemonade stand? Well, we finally did it!  On what I think was the hottest day so far in Tallahassee. Whew.  But we had a good time.  You helped me make pink lemonade and a special pineapple-lemonade recipe I found on Pinterest.  We also baked some sprinkle cookies, and you peddled your wares in our drive way.  Back when we originally planned this lemonade stand, we talked about giving the money we could possibly make to people who need it.  You said you wanted to donate it to "sick kids," so we decided on St. Jude's Children's Hospital as our recipient.  We made some signs, set up, and got to work.  It got really hot out there, so we also set up the sprinkler for you to cool off with.  We only had three customers: Grandma Brooks, Daddy and Mr. Patrick and Ms. Christina from next door, but it was fun.  And you learned a little bit, too.  Like how there are four quarters in a dollar and how to be a salesman.  You waved at passing cars and tried upselling :) 
 Working on signs for our lemonade stand.
You and your little lemonade stand.  It wasn't anything fancy, but you enjoyed it!
Week three comes to an end!  Well, before we start next week we have a fun weekend planned too, but we're blasting through this summer.  I've got a few more fun tricks ahead, and I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am!
I love you!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Fun, Week Two

Dear Ian,

This week has been a mess.  Well, not really, but what I mean is that our daily activities haven't exactly gone as planned.  That's all right, though, as we have recouped and regrouped and persevered in our attempts to have an awesome summer. 

On Monday, we were supposed to go blackberry picking out at Grandma and Papa Davis' house, but I threw out my back one way or another, so I didn't think traipsing through the woods with a back spasm was a good idea.  Instead, we set up a painting center outside, and you let your inner Picasso (or Monet, or Rembrandt or whoever) run wild. 

 Here you are working on your masterpiece.
 The artist hard at work.
After you finished your artwork, it was time to clean up, and I honestly think that this was more fun for you than the actual painting.  I gave you a hose and a sponge, and you got to it.  All in all, you spent about 3 hours outside, so it was pretty awesome for Mommy.

 Had to get all the paint of your table.
Rinse cycle.  You hosed off the concrete, the fence and your playhouse too.  Then you moved on to all of your riding toys.  It's the simple things...
Tuesday we actually managed to follow through with our activity.  I had a book that I wanted to mail to Mrs. Lisa in England, so you and I wrote a letter to your friend Ben, too, and then we took it to the post office.  Sadly, I dont have any pictures, but the lady at the post office was awesome!  She gave you all kinds of mailing stickers (first class, air mail, etc.) and she gave you a stamp on your hand.  You got to see where the mail gets sorted, and then you counted the aisles of mailboxes (there are five, just in case anyone is wondering).  It was a quick trip, but you had fun and we got our task of mailing stuff accomplished. 
On Wednesday we were supposed to have a play-date with your aforementioned friend, Ben Gregory, but they had plans come up, so you and I adapted.  We went to Walmart.  We played around the house.  Correction, we cleaned the house.  But you like dusting, so it was all good.
On Thursday, it was the weather that thwarted our plans.  Our paper chain activity for today was creating a lemonade stand.  We had everything we needed to put this plan into action, but then Tropical Storm Andrea dumped a bit of rain on us, so we decided it would be best not to even worry with it.  We hunkered down with movies and popcorn and made the best of it.
Here you are watching Star Trek.  You and Daddy love to watch old episodes of this show together. 
Friday dawned dry and sunshiney, thank goodness, and we were glad that we might be able to have our planned activities, but then something happened.  The City showed up to repair a leaky pipe under our cul-de-sac, so you got your own private morning entertainment.  Thankfully Daddy moved the cars, so we are still able to go out and about, but for the morning, we were slow to get going due to all of the excitement.
Backhoes in the driveway again.  This was before they dug the 10 foot deep hole in the road right in front of our driveway.  Exciting times.
Thankfully we were able to get out of our drive way, because then we all went bowling as a family!  That's right!  Even Mommy and Daddy got in on the fun today.  It was a total blast.  Daddy and I haven't done that in a long time, so it was fun getting back into the bowling groove.  And you did really well today!  I think you are really getting the hang of it! 
Then after bowling we all came home and took a quick nap (made even quicker because all of the noise from the goings out outside woke you up early), and then you friend Ben Gregory from school came over to play!  The two of you played in your room for a bit, and then the party moved outside to the slip and slide and the pool.  You guys were so cute together!!  Here are two of my favorite pictures from the day. 
 You and Ben racing and wiping out on the slip and slide

So, all in all this week was pretty awesome.  And we have a few tricks up our sleeves with those activities that didn't work out this week.  We'll save them for a non-rainy day.  Happy week two of summer!