Traveling with kids to DC

Mid-August we took a family trip to Washington, D.C..  It is one of the most beautiful cities!  Our kids were, I think, perfect ages for seeing many historic sites, monuments, and museums.  (Oh, and we can’t forget Georgetown Cupcake as my little one is a fan of the show “DC Cupcakes”!)

Some photos from our trip:


Pool Time!

Pool Time!



The White House

The White House

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

There is so much to see in DC that realistically, you cannot do it all in one vacation.  I wanted to see as much as possible but also pace ourselves so we’d still have some down time.  Weeks before the trip I gave the kids the DC tourist guidebook (get a free one here: and let them each pick five things that they really wanted to see.  I put priority on seeing those things and planned out our days to be most efficient getting around the city – and we were able to see everything on the lists!  Now don’t get me wrong, we were still exhausted from lots and lots of walking – but we were back to the hotel before dinner most nights so we could just hang out and relax!

Although we were turned down for a White House tour (BOO!), we still saw lots of great stuff.  Our favorites were going up into the Washington Monument (yes, it’s worth it!), the Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and my personal favorite, Ford’s Theatre.  So much in DC has free admission – which is good, because lodging and eating out are not cheap!

For us, one of the perks in going to a large city for vacation is the amazing variety of gluten-free restaurant choices.  Traveling with celiac disease can be challenging because you really have to research restaurants ahead of time.  We found some fabulous restaurants with gluten-free menus and so all was good.  I primarily used the following websites to research:,, and good old google. The best ones we found that had gluten free menus and great food – b DC Penn Quarter and Pi Pizzeria.

I highly recommend finding an affordable hotel downtown as it will cut down on travel time and allow you to do the most sightseeing possible.  (Just a warning that most downtown hotels charge ALOT daily for parking.)  We stayed at Hyatt Place – National Mall and loved it.  I also recommend getting SmarTrip cards from the metro (either when you first get there, or save yourself hassle and order them online ahead of time and have them shipped to you).  These cards give you lower metro fares and can also be used for the DC Circulator bus routes at a rate of $1 per person for 2 hours of hop-on / hop-off rides.  The savings is worth it!

All in all, we loved DC!


Advent Calendar Ideas

This week I will be working on this year’s advent calendar for the kiddos.  Can’t believe it’s almost December already!

Hope you all had lovely Thanksgiving celebrations!

Here are a couple of handmade advent calendars we’ve done in past years:

::Christmas Tree Advent::

::Clothespin Advent::

We will be using the Clothespin Advent Calendar again this year… but with a couple of new twists!

Instead of paper bags, I will be using toilet paper tubes, decorated for Christmas and used as gift boxes!  (see this tutorial).

I try to have a good mix of both goodies and activities for the kids to do.  I found this fabulous printable list of advent activities that is going to be perfect.  Not to mention it’s going to save me some time and energy!

{By the way, both of those blogs are wonderful – I am a regular reader of both and I’m so thankful for awesome bloggers who are willing to share their great ideas!}


Christmas Decorating and Gifts…


Been too busy to even hear myself think, so I apologize for the lack of posts recently!  Here are some pics to show you what we’ve been working on…

We, of course, have been preparing for Christmas – the tree and decorations are up, but we still have a lot of baking to do! 

The “snowmen family decoration” was a craft I did last year – I made one for us, and then also one for each of my sisters.  This is really easy, cute, and doesn’t take long.  Perfect gift for extended family.  Instructions are here.

The last two pictures are a Christmas Card display – again, I saw something like it on Pinterest recently.  Our local Habitat for Humanity Restore had these shutters for 5 bucks, and I was intending to paint them, but decided just to leave them black and rustic looking!  I attached them using some hinges I picked up at Lowe’s going out of business sale (score!) and then added a couple of ornaments, a lighted garland, and a Merry Christmas sign that I already had.  The horizontal fold cards just slip right in, and we’re attaching vertically folded cards with red and green paper clips.  I’m so pleased with how it turned out!!

What are you up to these days?

2011 Advent Calendar

Been working on this project the past couple of weeks… and finished just in time for December 1st!

Saw the idea on pinterest (sorry, don’t know what the original site was!) and made it my own.   Used some scrap wood from the garage, some paint I already had on hand, some rub-ons that I thrifted last year for 99 cents!, and my trusty glue gun.  I did have to buy some clothes pins.  A hint if you try this yourself – don’t buy clothespins from the dollar store!  That’s where I bought mine, but they’re kinda flimsy and I don’t know how many years they’ll hold out!

This was definitely a little more difficult than last year’s advent, but actually took probably the same amount of time!  And this can be used again!

I just wrapped the little gifts / activity suggestions in brown lunch bags and secured with ribbon.  The majority of the days have things to do rather than gifts – like read Luke chapter 2, put up the Christmas tree, bake cookies, etc. 

I love how it turned out and I’m so looking forward to all those activities with my kiddos!

Happy December!

Summer’s over? Already?

I cannot believe that school starts tomorrow!

We really have had a fabulous summer.  I thought I’d wind it down by posting pictures of a few of my favorite memories from the summer.

Mini cherry pies for the Fourth of July (this recipe was definitely a keeper!), with cherries from our own backyard.  Overall, it wasn’t a good summer for backyard fruit.  Wet and cold through June, a hot, hot, hot and dry July, and then an average August do not make for good produce!!  My homemade jam stash is meager!

And then there was the day that I gave Miss Bella a much-needed bath and then she proceeded to roll in fresh-cut grass.  She ended up dyed a beautiful shade of green.  Note to self:  bathe the dog the day BEFORE the grass gets cut!

We had a great time at Lamb Farms for the MOPS summer get-together in mid-July.  We learned a lot about cows, including that they have big runny noses and they pee right where they’re standing.  Great fun.  (Actually, we really did learn a lot of useful info about cows.  But I thought I’d share the stuff the kids thought was the funniest). 

We also had ice cream.  Fortunately not while watching the cows pee.

I was refreshed and renewed at the MOPS Convention in Nashville.

We made all sorts of crafty stuff.  Miss L made a crocheted scarf, and here’s a picture of her making a rug using old t-shirts.  (Instructions at, if you’re interested).

Mr. D, on the other hand, was busy with legos.

And Miss A, as always, marches to her own beat:

We went camping at Jellystone and had a great time at the waterpark there.  Here you can see Miss A, still marching to her own beat and always on a mission.

And Miss L and Mr. D had a “way better” time than last year because they chose to actually GO on the slides:

And we cannot forget our day at Hidden Valley Animal Adventure.  They had a large variety of animals and getting up close and personal so that we could feed them right from the trolley was a treat. 

The girls have been getting along great – including Miss L doing the little one’s hair on occasion!  What a nice break for me, and she does a great job!

And last, but not least, I made some homemade peach cobbler today to go with our labor day celebration.  There is nothing better than the smell of baking peach cobbler!

Happy Labor Day, and may all your back-to-school adventures go smoothly!

Star Wars Birthday Weekend!

My son turned 8 on Friday.

This is a picture of him on his birthday at a local restaurant – at his request we went out for dinner so they could sing happy birthday to him!

This is a picture of him when he was about 5 months old!

He has brought a lot of smiles, love, hugs, and silliness to our family and we love him to pieces. 

Here’s a few more pics of the weekend – which included a Star Wars themed party with friends on Saturday afternoon and then a party with family on Sunday.  It was a busy weekend, but so full of fun.  My hubby was a huge help because he was in charge of managing all the VERY ENERGETIC boys! 

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