Travel, Uncategorized

Road Trip Diary – 4

We are all beaming today after sleeping so well. The kids have their own room, and own beds, and Doug and I have a nice large room connected to a family room and kitchenette. Sleep is so important. Especially when kids are still napping!

We had a free breakfast downstairs this morning that was completely nut-free. Who knew eating nut-free at Hilton was so easy? Chloe and Carter were pumped about selecting their own food and drinks. The dining room was beautiful with a waterfall and indoor/outdoor seating. Hard to believe it’s free. Super family friendly, too.

We all took a shower (the kids were afraid of the old fashioned bathtub at Bungalow 9, so they haven’t bathed in 5 days). Oops.

We walked (3minutes away!!!!) To Centennial Park to visit Parthenon. Centennial Park’s Parthenon is kind of like what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. They were both built for a large Fair held in the city to attract tourists. Parthenon is a FULL SCALE replica from the building in Greece. It’s amazing. It contains a full scale replica of Athena and the largest set of all-bronze doors in the world.

There was a small museum inside that had local flair swag from 1800. Advertising, posters, festival prizes, etc were all on display. Somehow it reminded me of The Night Circus book I read last summer.

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Chloe and her new friend, Skyla

Centennial Park is huge. We also saw an old Choo Choo and airplane. We walked over to the play set becuase that is, of course, the only thing the kids were really interested in.

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I love UBER! We Ubered to Maggianos Β (on our safe list since they are SO great about allergy information) for a really nice lunch and Ubered back to our hotel. Naps are in progress and we plan on taking the trolley tonight downtown for some BBQ and live music. It’s 86* sunny and beautiful out. Walking has been great. So glad we found this hotel. It is MUCH closer to the things we wanted to walk to anyway. Plus, someone else is cleaning up while we are out; beds, fresh towels, empty trash, clean dishes!

Sometimes things just work out the way they are supposed to.

And when you’re traveling with kids, always remember this:

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Travel, Uncategorized

Road Trip Diary -3

Finally, a great night of sleep. A feeling we have ALL been looking forward to since Saturday.

Yesterday was our 3rd day of our trip. I kind of gave it away on Facebook, but we ended up moving into a Homewood Suites by Hilton, about 2 miles from Bungalow 9.

First, yesterday was AMAZING. Hanging out with John and Vicky was the best. After a morning of bugs on the floor, crappy homemade breakfast and a shower with pressure so hard you could loose your lady parts, it was so nice to be somewhere comfortable and fun, their home in Franklin, TN. If you’ve never looked at the History behind Franklin, you should. Really interesting Franklin War sites to visit. The city really protects it’s history, you literally drive past old cannons. More

here:http://www.franklintn.gov/community/history-of-franklin-tn

We cooked out, played in the kiddie pool, had a water gun fight,took naps, grilled flank steak, went for Β a ride in Vicki’s cool Jeep, and played with John’s 20 year old match box car set.

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When we got home at 8:30 and noticed the bugs were STILL in the hardwood floors, I called the owner and thanked her for the exterminator, but asked nicely for a refund to stay somewhere else.

She was great about it.

Here’s the thing. This house is old. They remodeled the kitchen extensively and updated the rest of the house. The hardwoods were original. They were lovely hardwoods, but it was time to say good bye to the foundation of the house. The baseboards did not line up with floor. Floor was uneven and there were spaces in the door jams that went directly outside, I mean, you could see outside. There was no threshold! If you have an old home, and love that charm (bugs, noises, creaky floor, bad shower and no yard) then this house is for you. After dealing with Orkin last week for fruit flies and ants in our OWN home, this wasn’t the charm I was looking for.

At 9pm I called the Hilton and they squeezed is in. We ended up packing the entire house in 30 minutes and managed to have kids in bed by 10pm.(I’m still looking for Skye stuffed animal, btw. Hope she’s somewhere in the van!).

Learned my lesson on that rental.

We are LOVING this place and are excited to walk to Parthenon today. We have free breakfast and cocktails today in the hotel lobby!!!

I’ll post pix later. Crew just woke up.

Uncategorized

Road Trip Diary – 2

Remember that “no technology” rule? Yep. That’s gone. We think Carter has motion sickness becuase he ended up getting sick all over the place!

The drive from Champaign to Nashville was fine. Watched a few movies and stopped to eat at Arby’s.

Woah. Arby’s. Totally threw me for a loop by changing the bun on the kids sandwich. Luckily, Arby’s is amazing and has a very elaborate and up to date allergy info sheet. Chloe could enjoy her lunch.

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Quick stop in Paducha, KY, for Harley swag for papa Joe.

Last night we checked into our Bungalow and headed over straight away to see friends John and Vicky. Their house is right down the road. What a beautiful drive too!

They made a really nice, nut-free dinner. It was SO NICE to eat real food again!! And Vicky had bubbles for the kids in the patio. Such a fun night. Since Carter blew through his naps today and was still awake at 8pm, we decided to go home early. On the way back to our Bungalow, we stopped at Kroger (huge nut-free section . Thank you!!!! And they have Boars Head meats!) to get a few things and the kids enjoyed a ride in the world’s largest car cart!!!!! And later, Doug took me for a ride in itπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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So. This brings me to the highlight of our day. Bugs.

Bugs.

Bugs.

I don’t camp, remember?

We got back to Bungalow at 9pm. Put the kids to bed and unpacked groceries. I started to get ready for bed when I reached down to my suitcase on the hardwood floor and noticed a TON of BUGS crawling around. They were small, and all along the baseboards. At this point, I’m exhausted beyond exhausted. I start to freak my freak out.

This trip has been in the making for MONTHS. The hard work, research, packing etc. And there ARE BUGS IN MY ROOM. This 5 day rental was $1200. I didn’t PAY FOR BUGS!!!!

I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid that they might be bed bugs.

Doug and I took everything off the floor and moved it to dining room. I sent the owner a message. By now it’s midnight. There is nothing to do except sleep.

We decided to share the couch. Another crappy nights sleep.

So. Here we are waiting for an exterminator. I’m 99% sure I’m looking for the closest hotel to move my stuff too and pray to God these aren’t bed bugs.

Always something. Always. Stay tuned for what happened tomorrow!!!!

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Road Trip Diary

Day 1: We left the house, after what seemed like a month of packing, and headed toward our first stop, Champaign, Illinois. This was a little over 4 hours and the longest the 4 of us have ever spent in the car together. While we have done a bit of travelling with the kids, this is our first real road trip with them.

Along the way, we only stopped at McDonalds’ since I trust their bathrooms most and it’s on our “safe snacking list.”

The kids did AMAZINGLY well in the car, thanks to these one-step ahead smushy trays. I was hesitant on the purchase, but well worth it to keep them occupied. My goal for the trip is NO TECHNOLOGY (for the kids) and yesterday was a success.

Champaign just creeps up out of a cornfield in Illinois. I have to say, I am impressed. This little downtown area we are in is THRIVING. We are at the new Hyatt Place near University Ave. We easily walked 4 blocks and saw about 10 different amazing (kind fancy) restaurants to eat at. We ended up directly across from our hotel at what I consider upscale pub food. They had something we all wanted.

Chloe and I swam in the hotel pool while Doug and Carter hung out and we ended the night with snuggles and Curious George.

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Today, I m the first one up hanging out in our small living room area away from these adorable sleepers.Β  We will probably enjoy the FREE continental breakfast (safe cereal and fresh fruit for Chloe) and make our way to our Tennessee Bungalow.

I got to put my college RA skills to work last night. At midnight we were awakened by some youthful drunkenness next door to us. The noise persisted and my blood pressure was through the roof with how loud and inconsiderate these “kids” were being. I marched over And pounded on the door. I said, “look, we are directly next door, share a wall and are trying to sleep with a baby(Carter is still baby, right?!πŸ˜‚). They turned it down asap. Thank God. Then I felt guilty, like I had ruined their fun, and how old I must be getting for complaining about hotel room noise. Ugh. Over it.

Now, just counting down the minutes until family wakes up, and we can go enjoy some FREE STARBUCKS COFFEE!

…on the road again!πŸ˜ƒ

Travel, Uncategorized

Make A List to Stress Less

Have you ever had a million things running through your mind at once? Yes. We all have. Personally, I find it helpful to just write it all down. Making lists helps me de-stress, unclutter my brain, free my mind and focus on what’s really important; the needs of my family.

If you follow me on Instagram, you see my week usually planned out for food, the refrigerator chalkboard doors are my go-to. On the right side is menu items and left side is usually snack ideas or “to-do” items.

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I also keep a paper planner to randomly jot down, “pick up Rx, get gas, Mani/pedi, send card, vacuum car” and so on. If it’s out of my head, I don’t worry about it. It’ll get done eventually. And no, I cannot draw. Is that supposed to be a guitar? Good lord.

(Please don’t judge my list. This is not all inclusive. I do grown up things, too, like pay bills, housework, trim bushes, etc.)

TOP 5 TIPS for LESS STRSSED VACATION PREP

1. For that busy time, right before you leave, like the week OF your trip, eat off paper plates. Less dishes means less clean up and more time for packing and laundry!

2. Speaking of laundry, make a few days “Pajama Day” to focus on cleaning the clothes you need for your trip and packing.

3. Β Pack the kids suitcases (as much as you can) one week in advance. This gives you time to pack your own bag and pick up any necessary items before you leave.

4. Do a “toy rotation” a few weeks before your trip and pack the old toys in a small box to take along. (We just did this)πŸ˜‰

5. Make meals with stuff from your fridge or freezer, minimize meal times and clean out the fridge at the same time. This will also save time at the grocery store (this week, I bought the minimum stuff to get by).

6. Ok I lied, here’s an extra tip. Plan relaxation time before your trip, during your trip and after. This could be Mani/pedis, massage, a solid work out, an hour walk outside, lunch with friends, anything that takes you away from the normal, everyday stuff. I should also include wine here. Make sure you have some of that, too. Oh Seghesio, I do love you.😘

We built in “rest” days to our last vacation to Disney and it was amazing. So nice to not have a schedule for a few days in such a crazy, busy environment. It made it feel like a relaxing trip.

Wherever you are headed this summer, have a great time. And if you forget to pack something, you can probably buy it when you get there if you really NEED it. And don’t forget to stop an smell the roses.

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Campbell’s Soup Sauce Starter

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My pantry always has two or three Campbell’s Soup Sauce Starters in it. These are great for nights like tonight where nothing is thawed and I’m not in the mood to cook a big meal.

At 4:30 we decided to make Chicken Marsala using the Campbell’s Soup Sauce starter and the microwave to thaw chicken.

The allergy information is always clearly stated under ingredients, which I love. Thanks, Dad.

ChickenΒ MarsalaΒ 

  • 1 pound chicken
  • Campbell’s Sauce packet
  • Favorite vegetable
  • Pasta, rice, or couscous

Directions

  1. In a pre-heated 425* oven, add your vegetable to roast for 30-40 minutes. Tonight we did asparagus. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, baby carrots, etc. All taste amazing roasted. Just line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, drizzle a bit of evoo, sprinkle salt and pepper. Easy.
  2. While your vegetables are roasting, prepare the chicken by heating a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of evoo. (Or use a regular skillet and deglaze when you’re done, I prefer my All-Clad).
  3. Add the chicken. I use BARE chicken tender strips. It’s important to season each side of the meat with salt and pepper before putting into the pan.
  4. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side, or until juice runs clear and chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Our herbs are growing like crazy, so I chopped some thyme and chives and sprinkled on while chicken was cooking.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, start your rice/pasta/couscous. I like basmati rice. Prepare accordingly.
  7. Once the meat is done, pour the Campbell’s sauce mix in and heat through. Leave covered and on LOW until your rice and veggies are done.
  8. Enjoy, yield 4.

HHappy 50th Anniversary Campbell’s Milwaukee!!πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

 

Uncategorized

My Passion for Writing this Blog

Today I received the phone call all nut-allergic (or any allergy/ailment/illness) parents dread. It was just as nerve wracking as I thought it would be.

Rewind to this morning. I dropped Chloe off at school, like I always do on Wednesday mornings. Carter and I came home, did some yard work, had lunch and I put him down for a nap.

While I was in the middle of emptying the dishwasher, I received a call from Chloe’s school saying they gave her the epi pen, she had been in contact with an allergen and 911 had been called with paramedics on the way.

I’ve always imagined this phone call. But I never imagined what I would do next. The first thing that came to mind was, “I’ll be right there.”

I dropped the dishes I was putting away in the sink, sprinted up stairs, grabbed Carter out of bed, carried him down the steps and into the van.  Buckled him in, ran back inside grabbed shoes and my purse and drove as quickly as I could to school, which is about 10 minutes away.

Once I was driving, I tried to calm myself and identify my feelings so I wasn’t a hot mess when I got there. A whole host of emotions suddenly came over me.

I was upset because I couldn’t seem to be getting to school as fast as I wanted to in order to hold her. I was angry because cross contamination happened in an environment we consider safe. I was anxious because I did not know the extent of the allergic reaction. I was sad becuase I felt helpless. I felt scared because someone had administered epi pen on my child, and I was not there to tell her it was going to be OK.

I cried.

I got over it.

I needed to think logically and calmly and in order to do that, my breathing and heart rate would need to normalize. I calmed myself because Chloe needing me so much right now.

By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I prepared for whatever I was walking into.

Deep breath.

First, Carter and I saw the fire truck and ambulance parked in front of the main entrance making parking difficult, but by the grace of God, the very first parking spot was open. I didn’t think that was a coincidence .

Chloe’s teacher met me at the door. He took Carter for me and directed me to the back office where Chloe was with the principal, staff, teachers and the EMS.

I honestly don’t remember what was discussed, just that Chloe was stable, epi pen effective and we needed to take the ambulance to the ER.

This is the part that makes me tear up. I’m so overly grateful for this school, these teachers and amazing staff. The teachers were alerted that Chloe was having a hard time after a snack. They knew about her allergy. They followed the action plan and the plan worked. This entire process worked the way it was designed to, keep the student safe. Everything was done correctly to keep Chloe safe. For that, I am forever grateful. There was no hesitation.

The executive director of the school so kindly offered to take Carter in my van and follow Chloe and I behind the ambulance. She also stayed the ENTIRE time we were in the ER for observation. Anyone who has kids and has been to the ER knows how crazy it is to keep them entertaines for HOURS on end. I am so appreciative of the extra hands so I could focus on helping Chloe and talking to the doctors and nurses.

Chloe was such a champion in the ambulance and in the ER. She perked up so much in the ER and we were discharged after a few hours.

My passion for writing is to spread awareness about food allergies. Awareness for dining out, awareness grocery shopping, awareness at school and so on. I hope that by sharing our experiences it helps shed some light on this issue. Maybe it’s not hour own child, maybe you’re at a soccer game and see the symptoms. Or maybe yourre at a grocery store using the car cart and decide not to serve a nut-based granola bar for fear of the next child sitting in the seat.

My writing is off tonight. My brain is tired. I’ll post tonight and edit tomorrow. I’m so so so thankful for epi pens and smart teachers. They saved my baby from what could have been a very serious situation.

So grateful. Hug the ones you love a little longer.