Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Card 2010!

What A Year Christmas Card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our favorite gluten-free and dairy-free products!

(I will link to each company that I post about, but only once so if you see the same company more than once in this post, only the first time is linked. Also GF=gluten free, CF=casein free, DF=dairy free)

Ashton's favorite mac & "cheeze"

Amy's Gluten Free/Non-Dairy rice macaroni w/ non-dairy cheeze
This has been a favorite since we first discovered it. We have tried "them all", quite literally. Ian's GFCF mac & no cheese, our own recipe using teese "cheeze" that recipe can be found here at: GFCF Mac & Cheese, Road's End Chreese penne & cheese, Namaste Foods Say Cheez pasta, and many others. The Amy's GFCF mac & cheese is the one that most closely resembles homemade mac & cheese. It's texture is similar (not gummy like I find some gf pastas to be) and the color of the Daiya cheese makes it looks sooo yummy. Ashton loves it and the few times that I've gotten the cheese sauce on my finger and licked it, I don't snurl my nose up in horror; so it's not all bad :)

Ashton's favorite chicken nuggets
Allergy Free Foods Chicken Breast Nuggets

Again, as with the mac & cheese, we tried many brands. Ian's GFCF chicken nuggets, Applegate Farms GFCF chicken nuggets (which were pretty tasty and we get in a pinch when we can't find the others) and then Allergy Free Foods. What I like about this brand, is the quantity of chicken nuggets you get for the price. You get a lot, and that helps when I want to bake a whole bunch and then refrigerate for future meals, as I did when we went camping earlier this summer. My only peeve with this brand is the breading does sometimes fall off easily, but Ashton doesn't seem to mind. Yes, we do bake these, and not fry them. They might be even better fried, but Ashton doesn't need the extra calories from fried foods; he's quite big enough, thankyouverymuch! :)

Ashton's favorite cheese
Daiya Foods Cheddar & Mozzarella style shreds

Yes, non-dairy cheese that looks like cheese. Non-dairy cheese that melts. Non-dairy cheese that tastes like a real dairy-full cheese. Daiya Foods knew what it was doing when it came out with these two products. It appeals to the vegan, the dairy & soy allergic, and to all those who need to be on both a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. When you can find a cheese substitute that melts like real cheese, you know you've found the holy grail. I've used the cheddar style shreds to make "cheesy" eggs (scrambled eggs w/ cheese) and to make our favorite home-made mac & cheese recipe. I've used the mozzarella style shreds on pizzas, spaghetti, and in a mixture on taco meat for my son. Now if only Daiya would come up with cheese slices, than I would be forever indebted to them. Ashton misses cheese slices on his sandwiches. I know I'm not the only one who wishes this; so get on it Daiya! ;)

Ashton's favorite donuts
Kinnikinnick Cinnamon Sugar donuts

Kinnikinnick (this link takes you to the US site) products are a huge hit in our house! Ashton particularly loves these donuts. They smell wonderful when you nuke them in the microwave "2-5-start" in our household. They taste pretty good too. He used to really love the vanilla glazed and chocolate dipped ones, but somewhere along the way, he's not that into those two varieties anymore. These do look and smell just like regular gluten-containing donuts. So that's a major plus! Ashton also likes the Kinnitoos (both the vanilla and chocolate varieties; they're very similar in taste, texture and appearance to oreos!) as well as S'moreables (graham crackers). He used the s'moreables when we made s'mores this year when we went camping - Yummy!

Ashton's favorite bread
Udi's Whole Grain Bread and White Sandwich Bread
Yes, a gluten-free white sandwich bread that rivals the real thing! We have tried both Udi's varieties and while I prefer the whole grain variety (it's healthier), Ashton enjoyed both. The white sandwich bread really does taste, smell and look like the real thing! It smells wonderful when it's been toasted lightly and well, you can't say anything nicer about a gluten-free bread. It's moist and delicious; two adjectives you hardly ever hear when you describe a gluten-free bread product. We also really like their pizza crusts and muffins.

Favorite store to shop at
Navan Foods Allergy Free Food Shop in Virginia Beach, VA

Navan Foods is a wonderful, local, allergy free food shop owned by Jennifer Elizondo. She has taken the guesswork out of figuring out what foods are safe and healthy for the food-allergic, celiacs, vegans, and specialty dieters of the area. Every product in her store is labeled with a card showing what allergens the product is free of as well as the manufacturing conditions the products are made in. (Some people are so allergic that even products made in the same plant and/or line as their allergen, could be deadly) She's a wonderful person and friend and is very knowledgeable and willing to help anybody. If you're local, I highly suggest you check out the store, IN PERSON. If not, check out her website as she does have some of her products available for purchase online.

Favorite baker of all things delicious
Unfortunately, their products are only available in store,
at Navan Foods in Virginia Beach, VA

Willow Bakery is a wonderful, local, bakery that has bridged the gap for the many tasty treats that the gluten and dairy intolerant/allergic can have. To have fresh, home-made goodies is a rare treat, and to have them taste delicious, even more so! Ashton loves the chocolate chip cookies and brownies and we recently tried the chocolate pumpkin marble cake. Quite delicious but he wasn't as big of a fan of that as I thought he might. If you follow them on Twitter, you can find out when they are bringing fresh products to Navan Foods. Get there in a hurry as the stuff sells outquickly!

I'm sure there are many other products I could blog about, but I'd be here all day in that case. These though, are our tried and true favorites. I hope they have helped you! :)

Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

wow - what a change!!!

See the chunks of hair he cut out? See how LONG it was, comparatively?

Ashton's hair after we "fixed" it in Dec '09
this was Ashton, just a few days ago (Oct '10)

November of '09 through March of '10 was a horrible period for us. Sure, lots of good things happened but it's when things with Ashton went, completely haywire. I mean, totally off the wall, odd, strange, weird, psycho behaviors. Strongly believe (well, we know based on what Dr. Dozier explained to us) that it was an allergic behavioral reaction to Paxil. Evil drug, at least for Ashton.

Anyways, during that period, he gave himself several hair cuts (two of which happened at school!) The top picture was after the worst one, and then after we had it "fixed"! Well, he hasn't given himself any haircuts since March. We've kept it short all summer, but then decided to see if he'd let us grow it out to a normal, boy haircut. Well, he's done it! (the last picture)

I've even decided to grow it out longer, and see how long he'll let it grow. I think he looks cute with longer hair; it's just going to depend on how hot it makes him or if he starts complaining. Can't wait to see how he looks with "longer" hair!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ashton was in the newspaper (and on TV)!!!

How cool is this?! I had emailed the reporter and she asked some questions and a few weeks later, there he was... in the newspaper! :) He got SUCH a kick out of this!!! (I blacked out our neighborhood name and name of his middle school)...

Then tonight, he was apparently on the local news (WTKR, Channel 3). They were talking about the Noblemen's ..... ...... if you watch the video, the picture is about 35 seconds in. It's just the picture and doesn't say his name or anything but if you've seen the picture or the below newspaper article, you'd definitely know it was him!

A celebrity in the making!!!! :)


Have a good one!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kudos to Taste of Home magazine!

I was thumbing through the most recent issue (Oct-Nov '10) of "Taste of Home" as the delicious looking turkey on the front called my name. I love the excitement I get from looking at a magazine with new recipes; especially when there are holiday cookie recipes..... yummm.

So many yummy looking pictures with easy to follow directions. 

At this point, I'm also realizing that hey, this was my last issue.... (I must renew soon)

Anyways... I'm flipping through the magazine and I happened upon the "Mom's Best" section. I read the tagline to the article/recipes ... "When this teen learned he was gluten- and dairy- sensitive, ......." I immediately had to read and glanced at the pictures and recipes. Of course, as you all know, Ashton is gluten- and dairy-free. Finding unique, but yummy recipes for a gluten- and dairy-free lifestyle is not easy as I'm sure many of you know. Finding recipes with pictures are even harder to come by as many gluten- and dairy-free foods are just not that appetizing, let alone mouth-watering delicious. 

There are four recipes: chocolate-chip-banana belgian waffles, grilled peach bbq chicken wings, spaghetti and meatballs with garlic crumbs and penny's apple-brown sugar coffee cake. Wow.... they all sound so delicious and even the pictures make my mouth water. I might try the coffee cake, as that's what Ashton is most likely going to be willing to eat.

After reading the entire article, I realize that the woman who came up with these recipes, Silvana Nardone, has published a book, called
Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy Delicious Meals. I think I might have to see about getting this, if by the four recipes printed in "Taste of Home" is any indication on how yummy they might be. I then realized, after reading the Amazon page, she also has a blog, Dish Towel Diaries (by the way, I absolutely love the name of her blog), which I started to look around at and realized she has many delicious recipes posted there!  

So - huge kudos to "Taste of Home" for posting not just one, but several specialty recipes that are geared towards the gluten- and dairy-intolerant people of the world. Not just the autistic people, or the celiacs, but to letting others see that specialty foods for dietary needs can be just as to make as recipes they are used to and just as appetizing as well.

Have a good one!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Surfers Healing Camp 2010

Ashton has always loved the water. Granted, he might not always be the most happiest child in the water (washing his hair was a lovely job chore when he was much younger) but when he got a bit older (five or six-years-old) he had a blast sitting and playing in the water at the beach and/or lake. Over the last three or four years he's gotten more and more brave about going further out in the water and not being able to touch bottom. In fact, last month when we went camping, he'd wade out into water that was way over his head and without a care in the world. Yes, he had a life jacket on, as he can't swim (though he thinks he can ;))

Earlier this year, I had heard about a wonderful organization called Surfers Healing. For those of you that don't know what Surfers Healing is, it's a surf camp for autistic children. It was started by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. You can read more about Surfers Healing and about why they do what they do at And to read about the local Surfers Healing team that we participated in, go to I figured with as much as a "water baby" as Ashton's become, that he might really like and enjoy this experience. Plus, it's free for the campers! After paying for three weeks of Camp Gonnawannagoagin, a free and fun option seemed like a wonderful idea! So, when the signup page went live in May, I got in right away and signed Ashton up. I heard within two weeks that he'd been accepted!

So, we anticipated this day all summer long and went about our daily lives. Well, the day finally arrived yesterday and Ashton was completely excited for "Surf Camp"! Got him dressed in his "surf gear" (rash guard and swim trunks) and got the car packed up and headed to Granny & Papa's to hitch a ride in their van as they were going with us.

We arrive at Virginia Beach Oceanfront and were immediately greeted by the excitement in the air. You could tell the day was going to be exciting and the weather could not have been more perfect! Hot (but not
too hot), sunny, and just a very light breeze blowing. PERFECT SURFING WEATHER! We were greeted by some volunteers who gave us a wheelbarrow to put all our stuff in (chairs, coolers, cameras, etc) and signed Ashton in and got his goodie bag and free tshirt (and us parents also got free tshirts!). We weren't there long before it was time for Ashton to gear up and get ready for his surf experience!

They put their life jackets on (we had brought Ashton's) and take their picture with their name and time they went out in the water. Then a volunteer came up to us, took Ashton's hand and walked him to the water where two more volunteers took him into the water to meet his surfer, Kalani. I couldn't see Ashton's face at this point but I know he was totally excited! He walked away from me without a care in the world. He didn't care that I wasn't with him! hahaha... independent kid! Ashton went out at 10:24; he came back in at 11:06. He had 40+ minutes of water time! 

He ended up getting to ride the board about 5 or 6 times (one time he rode it all the way onto the sand! lol) and his surfer, Kalani, helped him stand, twice! He spent a lot of time just floating on the board waiting for just the right wave to ride in on. Ashton definitely preferred laying on the board to standing, but you could tell he totally had a great time! Most amazing to me? I didn't see his hands flap or clap the entire time he was out in the water!

Thank you to Surfers Healing, Surfers Healing Virginia Beach, all of the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, surfers and all the other families and children for making this such a wonderful experience for our son! He got to experience something he likely would have never gotten to and he's looking forward to "tomorrow" next year! An especially HUGE THANK YOU to my son's surfer, Kalani! What a wonderful soul; patient, kind, caring and a big teddy bear to boot! Ashton will always refer to you as the "blue surfer"!

And now, for the pics.... (I might be adding one more of Ashton with his tshirt on and with a picture of his lei/medal).

Getting walked out to the water with some volunteers

Ashton & Kalani (aka. the Blue Surfer)

waiting to go back out on the surf board

floating on the board

Riding a small wave in! Ohhhh!

Kalani, trying to "help" Ashton stand!

Ashton getting a hug from Kalani, his surfer

Ashton with his lei/medal (that you can't see, oops!)

hope, surf, heal ~ let's ride!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

(a day late)

So, I attempted to take some decent shots of the boys for the fourth of July.... the above 3 pictures were what I got, in addition to the winner of the day, the photo that is standing in as the header for my blog. My guys are just so handsome!! :) Ashton wasn't in the mood for smiling but I still love the pictures. The top one here cracks me up because neither was looking at me and they were both looking in opposite directions... haha... silly kids! :)

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Fourth of July....

Hand-tossed ice-cream = FUN!!

Thanks to Kate & Sara over at "Our Best Bites" for the recipe for this wonderfully delicious, hand-tossed ice cream recipe.

I had been actually googling for pudding pop recipes to use in the old (and I *do* mean, old....) tupperware popsicle molds that my mother-in-law gave me. By old, I mean as in .... my husband is nearly 38years old and his brother will be 33years old in December; these babies are a rare breed! ;) LOL!

It's been unusually warm....  errr, scratch that, HOT this summer, already. With many days over 90 degrees and some days even topping out at over 100 degrees, it's hot and not too fun to go outside and play for the boys. So, when I began looking for pudding pop recipes, I happened to fall upon the gem "hand-tossed ice cream". At first I thought, "what in the world...? hand-tossed ice cream?" But as I read the page, and looked at the ingredient list and looked at the wonderful photos, I am like, "we have to do this!" My older son can't have dairy, but I thought he might have fun tossing the ice-cream around or at his younger brother, but I was wrong; he wanted NO part of it. *shrugs*

So, I asked my younger son if he wanted to try this activity; I figured 1.) it looks like a lot of fun 2.) it gives us something to do OUTSIDE 3.) we get a yummy treat after all the hard work. He said yes, he wanted to do it so I rounded up the few ingredients I didn't have (whipping cream) and the supplies (freezer bags, ice cream salt) and we set off for some fun out in the backyard! He wanted  chocolate ice cream (he is his mother's child, after all... lol) so we used chocolate milk. I suggest that if you want a really chocolatey-tasting ice cream that you add chocolate syrup.

It was a lot of fun with a lot of giggles and running around and throwing it (hey, that's what boys love to do most!) and after all the work, he got to taste the fruit ice cream of his labors. He loved it and it was a lot of fun! We're going to experiment with some other flavors later this week and will post the results then. Until then... enjoy the pictures and the recipe below! :)

The following is a direct copy from the Our Best Bites blog......

Hand-Tossed Ice Cream

2 c. 2% milk
2 c. whipping cream
1 c. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
Desired ice cream toppings and mix-ins (we used sugared strawberries, blueberries, and crushed or chopped Butterfingers, Twix Bars, York Peppermint Patties, Reese's PB Cups, and Skor Bars)

2 1-quart Ziploc freezer bags (I used Walmart brand and wished I'd sprung for the big guns)
2 1-gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags (ditto on the name brand)
10 lb. ice
2 c. ice cream salt
Waterproof tape (like duct tape)
Gloves (optional, but I don't think anyone would have minded a pair today!)

1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, milk, whipping cream, and vanilla. Have one of your larger little helpers hold open one quart-sized bag and pour half of the mixture into the bag and zip shut, squeezing out all the air. Use duct tape to tape the opening shut (we actually, in a pinch, used electrical tape and it was fine!). Repeat with second bag.

2. Place one filled bag inside one gallon-sized bag and sprinkle 1 c. of ice cream salt around each smaller bag. Add as much ice as you can comfortably fit into the gallon-sized bag, squeeze to remove excess air, and zip shut. Maneuver the ice around to make sure there's ice on all sides of the smaller bag inside. Place in freezer while you repeat the process with the second bag.

3. When the second bag has been prepared, head outside. Be sure to bring the leftover ice and rock salt because you're probably going to need to drain some of the salty water and replenish the ice supply while you're tossing the ice cream. Let each kid take a turn (or a couple) tossing the bags of ice cream into the air or to each other. It gets C-O-L-D, so a pair of gloves won't hurt anybody!

4. After about 10-15 minutes, remove the quart-sized bag and rinse off the saltwater. Cut a hole in one corner of the bag and squeeze the ice cream into individual dishes. Let everyone add their desired toppings and have at it! It might be a little melty, but I promise, not a single person will complain! :)

Pics from May to June .... **LOTS of PICS**

Well, I haven't been posting here since Mother's Day (whoops!) so I thought I'd catch you all up with a great plethora of pics of the boys! there are a TON of pics! Maybe I should have done a slideshow instead? LOL! :) Anyways.... enjoy :) Will post a real update shortly :)

cracking the eggs for a cake

Yummy - cake batter!

Yummy - cake batter!

gotta love chocolate!

David and I... all dressed up for a family member's wedding

Handsome memorial day boys!

Red, White & Blue day at their schools

Holden, acting as goalie for his soccer team

Waiting for the ball to get passed to him

too busy chatting to pay attention to the game ;)

1st of his off-season wrestling tourneys... waiting to start

pinning his one and only opponent that showed up

getting a pep talk from the referee....

at his 2nd off-season wrestling tourney, wrestling a 35lb kid!

Pinning his opponent

waiting for one of his matches to start

tying up with an opponent (and a kid he's wrestled SEVERAL times)

getting ready to run a gable

Won this very cool FIRST PLACE trophy!!!

Ashton @ his 5th grade graduation ceremony
can't believe he'll be a MIDDLE SCHOOLER in the fall

handsome guy!

McCormick side of the family on Father's Day

Griffin side of the family on Father's Day

all the Dads @ Father's Day

handsome boy, posing for me :)

Smiley boy!

interrupting his DSi playing time LOL

Fresh cucumber from the garden = cool new phone! lol

enjoying some watermelon

he even gave it a thumbs up!

looks like he's trying to eat it with his nose LOL

wrestling at another wrestling match

waiting around for another match to start

trying to take the kid down

He WON! :)

Handsome poser, and he's SMILING!

look at those lady-killer eyelashes - WOWZA!

handsome boys


Holden with his bug catcher (and his bugs)

intense stare..... 8 - |

Scratchy, our kitty cat (she's old!)