Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surprise! We're going to Disney World.

You know those Disney advertisements where the parents surprise the kids that they are going on a trip? I confess, I choke up when I watch them.

I grew up being raised on Disney. We lived in California for a time as did my grandparents, so I can't even count the number of times I've been to Disneyland. My sisters and I would play the Disney princesses. (I was Snow White and the others were Cinderella and Aurora--yep dating myself a little here). I had an old 33 record that had all the songs from Cinderella. I had another 33 that told the story of Snow White in addition to the music.

In short we are/were Disneyphiles.

For many years I've heard great stories about parents surprising their children with a trip to Disney--then Disney began showing the linked ad from above. I wanted to do this for my kids.

Two problems--1) Disney can be really expensive--especially for a family of my size. 2) Those great videos and stories where they tell the kids they are leaving for the airport right now? Yeah, that doesn't work so well with kids on the Autism spectrum. My boys need sign posts and time to adjust to ideas.

So a compromise. I did a lot of research over several months and when I heard Disney had brought back the free dining plan again I jumped on it. I made all of our reservations and I was bursting with the secret.

As I said, my children need time to adjust to ideas. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we would tell the kids a couple of months before the actual vacation so they would also have a chance to earn and save money for souvenirs.

On my son's birthday I set things in motion by having a letter delivered to him by "owl" (or so the server at the pizza parlor said) which set all of the kids off on an adventure. When we got home from the pizza parlor, (and no, I didn't have them make a Mickey shaped pizza though I sort of wish I had), they had to go around the house collecting objects and filling tasks--most of them related to Disney or Harry Potter (my kids are HUGE fans). I even made wands out of chocolate dipped pretzel sticks (the long ones), but I was remiss in getting any pictures.

The end reward was supposed to be cookies--literally found in the cupboard under the stairs--though I had been making them in secret and the royal icing hadn't dried completely, so they ended up being found inside the second fridge. I found my inspiration here. She is much more talented than I am.

It was my first attempt at edible royal icing and I discovered three things. 1) It's probably better to start with smaller amounts of icing and make more rather than trying to find creative ways to use up white, black and red icing. 2) Getting the right consistency for both outlining and filling in is trickier than it looks on paper. 3) Gel food dyes--especially black--can leave a nasty stain on your tongue and teeth. Brush immediately after eating.

Below are some of our attempts of baking more cookies and using more icing.

We took our vacation this last fall (another reason I didn't post) and we had a great time. I had to skip a few rides given my current project (baby on board), but being pregnant made me change my focus-it was okay if we were slower paced and if we didn't get to the opening gates 1/2 hour before the parks opened. We enjoyed ourselves and each others company and it made the difference.

As a side note--I recommend families with ASD children look into disability passes for theme parks. Most parks have them, but I would not have known about them were it not for a good friend whose child is also autistic.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Simplified Water/ Pirate Themed Boys Party

Flashback to 2010: (ie I'm finally getting around to posting this..)  ;)

One of my boys decided he wanted a pirate themed birthday party.  I found a variety of pirate goodies at the dollar store, party store and Wal-mart.  There are eye-patches, gold coins (chocolate and plastic), a mini telescope/kaleidoscope, pirate earrings, compasses and treasure maps.  One was pre-printed and the other one is parchment looking paper I had burned around the edges which they drew their own maps on.  If you decide to try this, do it outside over concrete, and use something like tongs to hold the paper.

Note:  I later discovered tearing the paper and inking the edges in brown works much better.  

What's a pirate party without some water?  We obtained use of a funhouse type water slide.  This provided the bulk of the entertainment.

To display their goodie bags, I made use of a pirates chest that had once served as a Harry and David gift basket.  We had gotten it from my husband's work.  It was too cute to throw away and I've used it many, many times for parties.

I got the net at the dollar store.

Isn't it a great treasure chest?  The party plates are ones we picked up with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme.  Pirates is one of my favorite rides at Disney by the way.

My son and I decided on cupcakes for his treat.  We made these together with blue swirly frosting and Swedish fish to go along with our pirate/water theme.  This was before the age of Pinterest, so I didn't make or even buy cute pirate cupcake wrappers.  I love the cupcakes though because I made them with my son.  And isn't that what the best part of parties are--making memories?

Tee hee hee:  Someone is photo bombing my picture of the cupcake tower.

Enjoy your simplified pirate party!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Project

I realize I haven't posted in many, many months. That would be because I've been busy working on my latest project--one that should be complete sometime in May.

Yep! Expecting! (Not twins, I just had to take two tests to be sure).

I spent many, many weeks feeling absolutely sicker than a dog. Then I started to feel better and it was time to try and catch up on family stuff and life in general. Then the kids got sick. Three rounds of strep throat this year. Not fun. (I'm honestly wondering if one of the munchkins is a carrier for strep.)

They also broke my laptop screen. One of the more rambunctious ones decided it was a great idea to shut my laptop while I was typing. My ring and knuckles did some serious damage to my screen. It was a while before I had a working laptop again.

I'm still playing catch up, (and part of that has been trying to get services for my children who are on the Autism spectrum), but the holidays are over, the decorations are put away (last week-finally), and I'm hoping I can begin posting again on a more regular basis.

One other piece of good news. We had planned on finishing the basement when we bought this house and have been saving accordingly. This new baby provides the impetus to get it done, and hopefully we'll be able to finish in the next month or two. The best part? One of the rooms we're finishing is a craft room for me! I can't tell you how excited I am. I haven't had a craft room in ages and ages! (I have just been hiding in nooks and cranny's wherever I can).

Look for posts regarding basement progress in the near future!