May 31, 2013

Run to the Temple

Bookmarks for my mom's Relief Society lesson.

This is our take on Sister Dalton's "Run to the Temple" bookmark that she talks about in THIS BYU Women's Conference talk.

May 30, 2013

Dino Baby Gift

Possible baby gift to expectant mothers in our Relief Society.
Pattern and instructions can be found HERE

The ribbon details are my favorite.

 This button blends in too much and we are concerned about them eventually popping off and kids getting them in their mouths.  We will probably heat transfer vinyl the eye on or do a little hand embroidery.

I love how cute this dino turned out and it took less than an hour to make, that's my kind of project.

May 29, 2013

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Major Pettigrew is a widower who loves to do things the traditional way.  When he strikes up an unlikely friendship and eventual romance with Mrs. Ali, it is sure to stir things up a big in their small England village.  Between the local country club, the gossiping ladies, family traditions, and wearisome adult children, how can these two star-crossed lovers even think of being together? 

Loved this book and the characters.  Had some slower parts, but the overall storyline and some of the hilarious situations this poor retired Major has to go through are well worth the read.  The country club party scene is my absolute favorite, I laughed out loud several times.  Lots to talk about in this book, a great book club read or just to read on your own.

View all my reviews

May 28, 2013

Disneyland Tips and Tricks: Special Needs Edition

 Disneyland, or any large theme park, can be very daunting for any family with small children.  We picked up a few tips along the way.  Those families that have special needs to consider, it can even be more of a challenge.  We were very nervous about taking our six year old, who is severely autistic, on this trip.  However, with some careful planning and "go with the flow" attitude, we found it to be a very rewarding and wonderful vacation for our family.  Here are a few tricks and tips we tried for our special needs family, hopefully they are helpful to you as well.

1.  Bring Extra Help

We have three boys, so automatically my husband and I are outnumbered.  We asked my parents to accompany us on this trip and it was the best thing we could have ever done.  Not only were they able to help with all of our children, but we made some wonderful memories with Grandma and Grandpa along the way.  It's funny to say that this was the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation I have ever been on with my kids considering the crowds, long lines, etc. but it really was thanks to our extra help.  We were able to split up at times when rides or attractions weren't the best for our son and if he was having a hard time, there were extra hands ready to assist in any way.

 2.  Make Note of Favorite Rides

Every child with special needs is different.  Our son couldn't get enough of anything that was spinning or really fast.  Roller coasters, teacups, and giant swings were his favorite.  We made sure to find a couple of rides nearby that he really liked, and luckily, usually didn't have very long lines.  If he was struggling, we would take him for a ride on the swings again....AND if needed, hop back in line right after getting off for another turn!  Nothing was more enjoyable than seeing his beaming smile as he was swinging up in the air with his dad.  Another great reason to bring extra help: you can switch off going on the same ride so the adult doesn't get bored (or too dizzy!).

3.  Headphones  

Word to the wise:  Disneyland is loud.  The crowds, the rides, the music, the parades, EVERYTHING is really loud!  Most of the time, my son kept his fingers in his ears and was fine (he does that at home a lot even when there is no noise).  Every once and a while, the noise became too much.  We brought a pair of noise cancelling headphones for him to wear.  We also brought a small iPod with some of his favorite calming music (Mozart) to help, not knowing if the noise cancelling function would really work.  I don't know what the experience was like for him, he cannot speak to tell me what he thought of them, but it did help him calm down and work through whatever sensory overload he was having at the time.  We only used them a couple of times on our trip, but it was peace of mind knowing we had them in our backpack.

4.  Strollers and Special Passes

This probably goes without saying, but bring a stroller if your child will ride in one.  My son is a bolter and will run away the second your back is turned.  Thankfully, he loves riding in his custom stroller, kind of a cross between and umbrella stroller and a wheelchair.  It was the best piece of equipment we could have brought with us.  It was also nice to have a place to hang backpacks and purses so you didn't have to carry them around yourself.

Upon arriving at Disneyland, the first thing we did was walk over to City Hall, located in Main Street USA.   If you have a special needs child, you may ask for a Guest Assistant Pass.  You must have your child present and explain your needs to the employee.  I went as far as bringing a signed doctor's note explaining my son's condition, but they never asked for it.  We received a pass that allowed his stroller to be considered a wheelchair everywhere in the park, so we could let him sit in it while waiting in line.  It also allowed us to use an alternate entrance onto a few rides that couldn't accommodate his stroller otherwise.  Waiting in a separate area to get on some of the rides was such a blessing for someone who has a hard time with crowds and noise.  We will be forever grateful to Disneyland for providing such a wonderful service for special needs children.  It really did make all the difference for our family.

Note: We also did a day at Legoland in San Diego.  They also have special needs passes available at the customer service area.

5.  Breaks and Snacks

This is also fairly obvious, but take breaks and bring snacks!  My son, in typical autistic fashion, is an extremely picky eater.  There are only a few things he eats on a regular basis, so bringing in food for him was a must.  We also bought lots of treats along the way too.  Frequent, short breaks worked best for our family.  It allowed everyone to rest for a moment before moving onto the next thing and it allowed parents to figure out which way was the best route to our next destination.

Large, crowded places can be so hard with special needs kids, but this kind of reaction made it worth every moment of planning and consideration.

You can check out my Disneyland/Legoland Pinterest board for other links to helpful hints and tips, including other posts about vacationing with special needs kids.

May 23, 2013

Disneyland Tips and Tricks

I'm finally getting around to posting about our fabulous Disneyland trip.  There are lots of tips and tricks out there to ensure you and your family have a great time and get the most out of your trip.  Here are a few things that helped us stay sane, save a little money, and create memories.

1. Autograph book

We made an autograph book for characters to sign before we left on our trip.  Full post HERE.  This was a great way to have fun meeting Mickey and Minnie, and also a place to display photos of our trip for our kids to look at after we arrived back home.

2. DIY Disney T Shirts
I have three boys, so the notorious nephews of Donald Duck seemed like a good choice for our family.  I downloaded some clip art into my Silhouette program and used heat transfer vinyl.  The boys love them and wear them at home too.  It's nice to have some kind of themed shirt for easy spotting if you get separated.  The shirts in the part are really expensive so we saved some money by making them beforehand.  Each shirt cost me less than $5.00.  It makes for great photo ops and you feel like you're part of the "magic" of the park.

3.  Clothes Organization and Packing

A great travel tip I found on grey luster girl was to pack each kids' clothing for the day in a gallon Ziploc bag; one bag for Monday, one for Tuesday, etc.  Label each bag with the child's name and day for wearing and you don't have to rifle through your suitcase in order to find clothes to wear that day.  It is tedious to pack that way, but saved so much time when we were traveling.  It kept me organized when the kids were wearing the same themed shirt on the same day.  After the boys were dressed, I would put the boys' swim shorts and shirt in the Ziploc bag, along with a small towel.  If we wanted to go on a water ride or happened to get wet, we could easily change into our swimwear and/or put our wet clothes in the Ziploc to take home without getting everything else in our diaper bag wet.

4. Glow Sticks and Bracelets

When it gets dark, Disneyland starts pulling out the lighted toys for everyone to buy before the parades begin.  They are expensive, and if you are like me, would have to buy three to keep everyone from fighting.  I brought some packs of glow bracelets instead and my kids loved them.  It was another easy way to visually keep track of everyone as we walked around at night.

5.  Apps and list of rides

Before we left on our trip, I downloaded the Disneyland Explorer app for my kids to acquaint themselves with the park.  They loved looking at all of the rides and they each made a list of their top 5 ride picks.  Unless you are spending an entire week at Disneyland, you are not going to be able to go on every ride.  Having a list of their top choices not only made it easy to plan out what we were going to ride next, but kept them from being disappointed if we didn't get to everything.  Hey, at least we got your top 5 in, right? (and plenty more too)

There are several apps, depending on your phone or tablet, that keep you up to date on each rides' wait time, along with maps of where everything is located.  So helpful when you are deciding where to go next or find a bathroom in a hurry.

6.  Passes

Use Fast Pass and Photo Pass to their full advantage.  We did and it saved us a lot of time waiting in line and hassle trying to snap a photo.

7.  Dole Whips

Do yourself a favor and get a Dole Whip in Adventureland.  They are fabulous.  About 30 seconds later, that cup was empty.

Check out my Disneyland/Legoland Pinterest Board to check out other tips and tricks.  Hope your trip will be as magical as ours!

May 15, 2013

Disney DIY Autograph Book

We recently returned from our very successful and incredibly fun trip to Disneyland!  My boys had so much fun and we are already talking about when we can go back again.  I knew my oldest would probably really enjoy meeting some of the characters and getting their autographs, so before we left on our trip, I purchased a standard sketch book from Joann's in their art supplies section.  It was less than $10 and I probably used a coupon.  I liked this particular sketch book because it was spiral bound for easy page turning and page removal if needed, had a nice hard cover that could withstand being shoved into bags and strollers, and it was a good size for attaching 4x6 pictures to the opposite pages of our autographs.

I used my Silhouette to cut out the word in white vinyl.  The font is Waltograph and can be downloaded HERE, free for personal use.

 While waiting in line for our turn with the character, we would choose the page we wanted them to sign.  I brought along a retractable Sharpie marker.  It was nice not to have to worry about a pen cap and the characters usually have on thick gloves, so a bigger writing utensil is easier for them to manage.  (The Princesses don't have as hard of a time signing, but as you can imagine, my boys weren't terribly interested in seeing any of them.)

Here's Pluto signing our book.  He had the hardest time signing anything due to his large nose.

 After the character signs your book, you can pose for a picture or two.

After we arrived home, I printed off all of our character photos and glued them into the book next to the signature.  The boys love to look through it.  We probably only got a dozen signatures and there are lots more pages in our book.  We are thinking of adding to it throughout the years.  We will add to our autographs with new characters' signatures, but will probably get some of our favorites, like Mickey Mouse, again too.  We can compare how much the boys have grown and have a wonderful book of memories for our family to look back on in between visits.

We Love Disneyland!

May 14, 2013

Book Review: Reached by Ally Condie

Reached (Matched, #3)Reached by Ally Condie

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The concluding book in the three part Matched series.  I loved the first book and found it very entertaining and interesting.  The second book was a filler book if there ever was one.  This final book just petered out the story, although it did have a nice, complete conclusion.  The characters all seemed very hollow, not real or dynamic in my opinion.  The story itself was lackluster and I found myself bored and only reading to just find out what happened to everybody in the end.  The prose of the book was very lovely and there were some moments that were profound and even pretty, but the story was so weak that it wasn't enough to make up for it.  Glad I read the first one, wished it hadn't been made into a series so I could have enjoyed the beginning, untainted.

View all my reviews
Related Posts with Thumbnails