Vacationing in Puerto Rico

Written by Justin posted on Feb 28, 2014 in mom & dad, Vacation

Oh traveling, how I’ve missed you. Dawn and I just got back from 7 days of pure vacation bliss. It was of the kid-free variety and we soaked up every second of it. Having never traveled to Puerto Rico we did not have a good feel for what to expect. Others had given us some pointers which were super helpful, but you really can’t have a frame of mind for somewhere until you have experienced it for yourself.

I speak for Dawn too when I say we had an exceptional time. Honestly, our only criteria was somewhere offering respite from the brutal winter we have had in Chicago. But we got so much more than sunshine and beach time out of this trip. Which is not to say we did not take plenty of those in. We did our best to explore and get a true idea of what the Puerto Rican culture, history, food, people and wild/marine life are all about. High marks across the board. We were longing to get back before we even left.

View outside the room balcony. Not a bad way to start the trip.

Castillo de San Cristóbal is an old Spanish Fort built in 1783. For a modest fee we were able to walk in and out of just about every nook and cranny of this amazing structure. The sleeping quarters were a real eye-opener for me.


Flamenco Beach, Culebra, PR
Culebra is a small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. We drove about an hour to get to the coast and then took a ferry out to Culebra. Quite a few folks lost their breakfast on the ferry. A small price to pay for what this island offers. Flamenco Beach is one of the most highly touted beaches in the world. Anyone visiting PR looking for a little adventure should make it a point to get out to the island. It is incredibly charming and remains completely untouched from big business and industry. We decided next time we come out we would spend a day or two camping here.

I passed on the Shark nuggets.


See us? See the Remora? So cool.
I dug out the snorkeling gear from Maui and it came in very handy. I don’t care much for sunbathing so I did quite a bit of underwater viewing. Dawn joined in too and at one point had 3 medium sized Spadefish following her around!

To say we did our fair share of eating on this trip would be a real understatement.

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A Little Blurb About Celiac Disease

Written by Justin posted on Feb 7, 2014 in Conor

If you are family or have been following along with the Blog for awhile, you may remember that Conor was first diagnosed with Celiac disease at an extremely young age. Then 18 months or so later the diagnosis was reversed.

Today I saw a post from one of the folks I follow on Twitter and it mentioned the Doctor responsible for Conor’s treatment, Dr. Guandalini.

I had not seen or heard that name for quite sometime but it was one we knew very well a couple of years ago. Dr. Guandalini is the Medical Director at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. He’s world renowned and largely considered the expert in his field on Celiac disease. At the time, we felt incredibly lucky to have the expert on the disease just a few miles down the way from us.

Looking back, Conor had been poked, prodded and blood-tested enough to last a lifetime by the age of 2. I can’t give enough positive accolades to Dr.Guandalini. He was knowledgeable, patient and so warm and welcoming to our whole family. Who quite frankly didn’t know what was going on or where to turn to.

Whether you give a hoot about Celiac or Gluten I emplore you to take 5 minutes and read this interview. If nothing more than to educate yourself about what Celiac Disease is and how many people are truly affected by it. Hint Ryan Seacrest: it’s not just a fad diet trend. Personally, I found his theory on the cause for rise in Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity to be really interesting (and applicable to all families raising young children).

If you are curious, our little guy has gotten over all the digestive issues which plagued him as a toddler. He would devour pizza morning/day/night if we let him.


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To Warmer Times

Written by Justin posted on Jan 30, 2014 in Kayce, Rant, Video

Are you in the midst of a wretched Winter like we are? We just survived our second battle with the Polar Vortex and the weather folks are calling for more snow to hit the Chicago area on Saturday. We will try to welcome it with another family sledding session. But otherwise, I have been jonesing for the warmth of spring.

This video takes me back to some of those warmer months. Kayce picked up bike riding* late in the fall, and we started riding bikes to school every Friday (I work from home on Fridays). We did not get many opportunities, but it’s a tradition we both hope to pick back up in the Spring.

* It’s always been a great fear of mine that I fail to provide the boys with the right guidance. What if I can’t teach them how to ride a bike? These types of questions keep my mind racing all the time. Well, my first endeavor down the bike training path was a success.  Which actually had more to do with Dawn and everything to do with Kayce. He picked up riding a two wheeler in just a couple of hours. This was something I thought we might struggle with for months as we didn’t do a ton of riding to begin with. He knocked it out of the park.  1 down, 3 to go.

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A Seven Year Old is in Our Midst

Written by Justin posted on Jan 21, 2014 in Birthday, Kayce
This (not so) little anymore gunner is 7!

This (not so) little gunner is 7!

Cliched as it may sound, the days certainly are blazing by. Yup, Kayce has notched another year on the belt of life. In my mind, 7 has crossed the threshold from “little kid” to “kid”. It’s equal parts frightening and exciting to accept this. He has always been incredibly mild-mannered and easy going since day 1. It seems no matter what the age, these immeasurable qualities grow with him.

We tend to spoil the boys a wee bit on their birthdays and Christmas. Try as we may to restrict ourselves from showering our kids with possessions, we are as guilty as anyone of doing it. In fact, we like to greet the kids right off the bat when they come downstairs with their presents. Kayce had no shortage this year. He opened them up before school and choose Chuckie Cheese’s for his birthday dinner. His pick, not mine.

Some skates for the outdoor rink right down the street

Some skates for the outdoor rink right down the street


For his birthday party he invited 22 friends and cousins over to the house to eat pizza, cake and help celebrate. Oh yea, and to watch the TRAVELING WORLD OF REPTILES!! Entertaining that many kids in a small room is no easy task, but Dave and the reptiles totally killed it. His knowledge and appreciation for reptiles and animals was not only entertaining and engrossing, but he provided the kids with some great perspective on how to treat, care and appreciate the animals. The kids loved it. I highly recommend for any parent looking for a party idea outside the norm to consider having the Traveling World of Reptiles.


Tiger Tarantula

Tiger Tarantula – Kids were putting this guy on their arms, shirt, head. Totally fearless.


Swear on my right eye this croc was trained to obey commands

Swear on my right eye this croc was trained to obey commands


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Five of 2013

Written by Justin posted on Jan 11, 2014 in Friday Five, Opinion, Rant

Back in the early-mid 00’s I used to run a little blog called flyingarrows.com. I used to put out a list of five of my favorite things at the moment on Fridays. It’s been a long while since I’ve compiled one. In honor of the New Year, I’m going to do a Top 5 of 2013.

  1. The finale of Breaking Bad
    I used to tell people, if I died before seeing the end of Breaking Bad it would be a BIG disappointment. Well, now I can die a happy man. I could gush over this show to you for countless hours. No, honestly, try me. I digress, what a perfectly crafted build-up and finale to my newly crowned favorite television series of all time. The loose ends were all tied, no ambiguity, no last second character flaw that made the 5+ years of watching feel wasted. The folks that made BB happen had so much riding on this finale and they delivered the knockout punch.
  2. The Twins at this age
    When they are not whining or throwing a tantrum these two are an absolute riot to be around. They are at the perfect age sandwiched between 2 and 3 where the intelligence and sense of self is really starting to ooze. Yet, they can’t fully express themselves. The results are usually very comical.
  3. My New found love for building

    If you follow me on any of the social media sites then you know I’m in the middle of building out the fireplace mantel and frame. It goes without saying this would not be possible with out the tutelage of my neighbor and woodworker extraordinaire, Bob. He’s showing me the way and I’m really taking a shine to it.I plan to design and rebuild our nasty old shed this summer with the help of my 4 little worker bees.
  4. Vacation Booking

    Funny story, I wanted to do one last road trip before we started having kids. I started loosely planning one for the Summer of 2006. Then Dawn got pregnant and hours upon hours traveling in the car did not sound like the most enjoyable trip for a 5 month pregnant woman. Fast forward, 8 years since our last trip together (our honeymoon). We were finally able to book a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico for this February. I’m a firm believer in getting out and seeing the sights and sounds across this great Earth. I want our boys to grow with an affinity for discovery and seeking out the unfamiliar.
  5. Getting On

    Blink and you might have missed this exceptional new dark comedy from HBO. It ran for 6 episodes towards the end of 2013 and by the end of it’s run it became must see TV for Dawn and I.  Which is not an easy task to accomplish. We tend to be a bit critical of what little TV we watch. So when something strikes us both instantly as this did, it’s quite the feat. Taking a page out of The Office, this show is based on a comedy of the same name put on by our British pals. What I found most interesting and quite the accomplishment, is not one scene in the first 6 episodes was shot outside of the hospital ward.
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