Tag Archives: Hampton Roads

Christmas Decorations – Maker Style

The boys and I headed down to 757 Makerspace today after a little bit of a hiatus.  Great to be back and such a fun afternoon!

We got to use silicone molds to cast some snowflake ornaments, the customize some glass ornaments with the laser cutter.  Creative, hands-on afternoon and some really original ornaments to bring home.  Justin said we should plan to make a custom ornament every year.  Great idea!!

Here are a few pics.

We worked with the liquid plastics last year when we were first introduced to mold-making.  Last year we made this cool storm trooper using the same technique.


This year Beau had snowflake molds already made up and ready to go.


Both times we used Smooth-Case liquid plastics, mixing two part solutions that you pour into the mold, wait for it to cure, and voila!  (provided your measurements were solid) 🙂

Most times we have tried it it worked great.  Today one of my my snowflakes flopped, but we quickly mixed up another one.



While the casts were curing, a small group of us headed over to the laser cutter.  We were able to design the images and text that we wanted on our ornament, then watch as the laser cutter did its magic.


Pretty amazing that the laser cutter can hold and laser cut so many different substances – even wood, stone, and in our case glass.


Always lots of great creative energy around Makerspace – and today was no exception.  🙂





Shop Small Saturday 2015

After staying home to relax on Black Friday, I am ready to get a little holiday shopping done on Small Business Saturday.  Hope you will be supporting your local small businesses today!  We are always sad to go visit a local shop that is shuttered – and we always talk with the kids about how important it is to visit and support the shops we like so they can stay in business and grow.  So lets celebrate the great local shops and businesses that make the area so unique.  FinalLoveVA_colorlogo_lge

So here’s my Saturday roundup of local faves, many repeats that are on the list every year and one or two newbies:

Gift the Give of an EXPERIENCE:  Love the idea of giving our friends and family experiences that will make memories.  Our favorite place for terrific family adventures in 2015 has been …

757 Makerspace – it’s a community workshop for creating and tinkering, with a huge array of tools and equipment and wonderful hands-on classes each Saturday.  We joined last winter and its been awesome.  Try it out this year – for just $100 you can get 12 day passes to create at makerspace.  They if you love it half as much as we half, you can join once you have used your passes up.   Here’s a link to my blog to check out some of what we have done with them.  My Maker Movement at 757 blog

Music: must visit Birdland Music!  They always have a terrific curated selection of up and coming artists, and I never leave without Barry recommending someone I have never heard of and always love.  And of course they have new and used vinyl so always an adventure to see what you will find.  Birdland Website

Books: And speaking of well curated collections – I always so happy to know that Prince Books has thrived while so many indie bookstores have gone out of business across the country.  But that only occurs because we shop there – so do.  You will love their selections, and the booksellers always have great reading recommendations.Prince Books website

Coffee:  New Entry this year!  You must visit Three Ships Coffee Roaster.  I am thrilled that my former colleague and his wife, Brad & Amy Ewing, have launched this roaster and coffee shop with so much character.  The coffees are always fantastic, and I just love the atmosphere of the place.  Who doesn’t love great coffee – gift some this holiday season!  Three Ships Coffee Website

Gifts & Crafts & Pottery: Every time I visit the Creative Wedge its like a different shop – so many new items.  They call it an ‘artisan shop’ – which is perfect because they have such an assortment of hand crafted things that I would have trouble describing it otherwise.  From pottery to artistically decorated glasses, and artwork to jewelry.   Love it!!    And if you are in Norfolk, don’t forget to visit Kitsch – fun assortment of crafts that make terrific and fun gifts.   Creative Wedge and Kitsch

Food: We adore all of the infused oils and flavored balsamics from Experience Olives and Grapes in Chesapeake.  One of our all time favorites is the Tuscan Herb infused olive oil.  The balsamics are so good you can sip them straight … I’m sort of partial to the sweet ones like Cinnamon Pear or the Honey Ginger balsamics!  Yum!!  check them out here: Experience Olives

Hope you find gifts that are fun, meaningful and make wonderful memories!


Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze

I’m a sucker for good old-fashioned, electronics-free fun!  So what could be better than an afternoon at a local farm

  • exploring the pumpkin patches,
  • getting lost in the corn maze,
  • wandering through the field of sunflowers,
  • taking a hay ride on the tractor around the farm
  • eating apple cider donuts, and
  • watching the kids come up with simple and silly games involving hay bales and dried ears of corn.

Triple the fun by visiting your local farm with a couple other families because the more the merrier!  (Plus –  I wouldn’t dare venture into a corn maze alone … bit of a scaredy cat!) 🙂

Here are a few pics from our weekend adventure at Cullipher Farms here in Virginia Beach.

Best buddies on the top of the world – making it rain corn!
love the dots of orange all across the pumpkin patch
they made a track out of hay bales – which they were our size
they even had a sunflower maze!
one of the sites from our hayride
added bonus – got to spend a beautiful fall afternoon with a couple of my favorite gals!

Gorgeous Sand Sculptures

Sand sculptors from around the world are competing in the Neptune Intl Sand Sculpting Championship.  They are creative, complex and amazing in any medium, but this is SAND.  Heck, I can’t even get a basic tower out of a sand bucket intact so these are fantastic accomplishments.

Josh and I headed down to the oceanfront yesterday afternoon to check them out.  The weather isn’t great this weekend so hope plenty make it down in spite of the weather.  All is safe and dry under the tents.

Here are a few of our favorites.

inhale … exhale …

Sometimes people in our lives can throw us an unpleasant curve ball.  They can surprise and frustrate us.  This is a reminder for those moments.

(Or you can just belt out Let it Go from the Frozen soundtrack … in my case, you really don’t want to hear me sing.)  This is safer.

Just follow your breath.


ETC Indie Music & Art Festival

I love that we have so many terrific festivals here in Hampton Roads in fall.  Although the temps today felt more like a return to summer … but still.  The boys and I headed down to the waterside at Towne Point Park today for the ETC Indie Music & Arts Festival.  We have had a great time the last couple years!

I adore that we we have such a gorgeous waterfront venue – green space, water views, multiple stages, and wonderfully thought out seating areas to make it feel more like outdoor living space.  It’s colorful and inviting and I always love spending time there.  Today was no exception.

We caught music from some great bands – The Dahus, KOA, and local singer-songwriter Skye Zentz.  The music was terrific, the crowd was having fun.  I only wish more people realized what a great scene and festival it was … there was plenty of room for more people.  Hopefully the turnout will be good this evening for the featured band – The Mowglis.  Sorry to miss them but schedules just weren’t going to work for that.


We LOVED the game area that they setup for the festival.  Justin settled in and went from being ready to leave quickly to having a great time and not being in any hurry to leave.    Ping pong, giant Jenga set, foosball, checkers.  Classic games that had kids meeting and playing with other kids, challenging their parents, and basically just hanging out.  My kind of setting!   And there were some great artists too – found a piece of pallet art that I loved and brought home … nice Welcome sign for our entryway.

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And the sky was AMAZING – gorgeous blue with cloud formations sprinkled across the sky.  We sat along the deck and had lunch, watching the sailboats and enjoying the beautiful view.

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Kudos on a great job with this festival!  Our family had a great time and it will definitely be back on the calendar next year.

Sulley – Adoption Love

Our house is pretty head over heels over Sulley, the adorable dog that we adopted from K-9 Justice League this past winter.  We are just so grateful for this loving, sweet and gentle dog.  He fits our family like a glove.  Hard to see this frisky, happy dog now and recognize any shred of the neglect that was a part of his life before he was rescued. I’m glad his days are brighter now – ours are too!

Sharing a few pics from a recent romp in the yard with our oldest son and Sulley’s best buddy.   Please consider adopting instead of shopping.  There’s a dog out there whose life you can turn around if you do.

Love this shot. Best buddies
Love this shot. Best buddies
Sulley Valentine
Sulley Valentine
The presidential pose - Josh & Sulley are the best ticket!
The presidential pose – Josh & Sulley are the best ticket!

Joy in Ordinary Moments – Welcome Fall!

There’s a wonderful quote from Brene Brown that goes:


As we shift from summer into fall, this seems fitting.  During summer months, we tend to seek out the extraordinary – great vacations, outdoor adventures, etc.  Back to school and fall bring us back into a routine and a cadence to our days and weeks. Perhaps more ‘ordinary’ moments – but full of opportunities for joy and love and gratitude.

  • sharpened pencils – because, I mean really, there are few ordinary things better the night before school starts 🙂
  • the gorgeous color of mums on our front porch
  • baking – giant, soft ginger cookies are our back to school tradition
  • pumpkin patches, bobbing for apples, corn mazes
  • the comfort of our routines – bedtimes, reading time, packing lunches
  • the changing color of the leaves
  • the cool breeze in the air
  • more family dinners around the table because our schedules are a little more normal

Each season we try to create a ‘bucket list’ – with a few of the things that we open to experience in the upcoming season.  And when it comes to fall, its an oldies-but-goodies list that rarely changes.

Every Kid Needs a Champion


For the next 10 months we will entrust our kids to teachers.  The best ones will build trust, inspire, motivate, and make learning fun!  I hope everyone is blessed with one (or many) terrific teachers this school year.

Watched this terrific TED talk – highly recommend.  Human connection is so key to learning.  Kids have a relationship, then they have trust, then they learn best.

Every Kid Needs a Champion.  Check it out!

3 Cheers for Surfers Healing!

Justin LOVES the water!  When he was younger, even though he could swim he loved to let himself sink to the bottom of the pool and rest there.  It was soothing for him, he said he liked the way it felt.  But how do you think lifeguards felt about that?  We know he could swim, but its unnerving.  You see, drowning is the leading cause of death for kids with autism.  And we live in Virginia Beach – surrounded by water at both the beach and the bay.  So the only way to retain our sanity as parents was to make sure he was a capable and confident swimmer.   So he swims, does SUP, and has tried surfing and snorkeling, too.  And he loves them all!

Today was Surfers Healing Virginia Beach, a highlight of the year for our autism community.


The program runs camps around the world that pair pro surfers with kids with autism – to take them out to ride the waves and expose them to surfing.   If the organization is new to you, check out their website to learn more about this great org.  http://www.surfershealing.org

The kids love it so much that its in high demand.  The camp extended to two days, and the over 400 slots are reserved within less than an hour of opening!  And I can never say enough about the kindness and heart of the surfers who participate.  They are so great with our kids!

This was Justin’s second year and – true to its hashtag – it was #oneperfectday.


The weather cooperated so we had sunny, clear blue skies and warm water.  The dolphins even made an appearance off the surfing area to And while I loved watching my little surfer, we stayed for hours watching so many other families cheer on their sons and daughters.

When it was Justin’s turn to surf, he confidently followed his surfer  out into the surf, and they paddled their board out a good distance to wait for some good waves.  They floated around for a while (my little guys might happily do that for hours) then caught their first wave rolling in.  With the help of his surfer, Justin rose to his knees and them stood up on the board.  Sometimes for a few seconds then a spill, sometimes longer as they rode the wave all the way in.  When they reached the coast, Justin would turn around and march back through the surf … ready to give it another go.  He was brave and confident and happy on the water.

Here are a couple pics I captured of Justin out on the water.  John Wright did the official pics and they should be posted soon.  Here’s his FB Page Link

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And here is a mesh of a few other pics I captured from the 1-2:30 slot on Saturday, Aug 15th.  (just click on the image to see the full image … the preview will just show a part).  Still trying out this new photo gallery, Mesh, to see what I think …

Thanks to Izzy Paskowitz for realizing that water helped your son, and growing a program to extend it to the global autism community.  We are so grateful!

Making Robots! Int’l NodeBots Day at 757 Makerspace

It was another terrific Maker Saturday at 757 Makerspace!  For the second year in a row they celebrated International NoteBots Day by opening up the site for free to the public to tinker with building, driving and battling bots.  I just can’t say enough good things about the wonderful camaraderie and the culture of coaching and assisting that ran through the event.

There were plenty of Sumobot kits, decorations to give our bots some personality, and plenty of laptops to test out our creations.  Justin loved playing with the copter bots that run on JavaScript, and was learning then teaching some younger kids how to organize he commands to guide the copters.  We had built bots at Makerspace once before, but this was our first time battling bots.  Hilarious!  Once our bot was done Josh decided to ‘enhance’ it with some bumpers – colorful ones made of neon pipe cleaners!  It was great … until they fell off just as the bot was placed into the ring to begin.  We laughed SO hard!

Everyone was laughing, cheering, just having a great time.  Thanks to 757 Makerspace and their sponsors – Grow, Emerging Technology Advisors, 80/20 Consulting, Balderdash, CodeBetter.com, Designology – for organizing the event and making it free to the public so that more could participate and also check out the great community at our local makerspace.

Here are a few pics from the first half of the day that we attended.  Our family is a member of Makerspace – to check out some of the other great programs, check out a few other blog posts here: Recent Blog Posts at 757 Makerspace.  Highly recommend you check them out and visit.  Its a great community to learn, tinker and have fun with family!