Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Family Happenings

This pregnancy has been rough.  I've been so incredibly sick. But I at the same time I am so grateful to be in this position. I really had given up the idea that we would have any more kids. I didn't think it was in the Lord's plan for us. Because I thought we were done having kids and I gave away so much baby gear! My friend, Christy, who was the recipient of most of the baby gear gave or is going to give it back. When I am done with it, it will go right back to her. That part is a huge relief at least.

In regards to being sick, I've had to get acupuncture treatments for nausea and STILL wear my sea bands.  Were it not for the fact I've learned that a little bit of protein in my belly helps (I nibble on hard boiled eggs and turkey meat), and that carbohydrates tend to make me sicker, and blessings from the Lord, I probably would have ended up having another IV from getting dehydrated and not keeping things down like I did with Firstborn.  I tried the anti-nausea medication they said I could take, but I had a reaction to it.  

Based upon prior experience I am pretty sure I am having a boy.  I am just hoping that if it is a boy, and he too is on the autism spectrum, the Lord will grant me strength and wisdom to be the best parent I can be.  

Words really can't express how shocked I was at being pregnant.  I am so grateful though that we have made it further than we did with the last three pregnancies.  I've done a lot of soul searching about the answer I got, and I can see a purpose for it now.  The answer I got was that I had done all I needed to for my family and that I should focus on helping my kids right now.  I interpreted that as I had given birth to all the children I needed to. Perhaps I that is how I was supposed to interpret my answer.  Since then though, I have been focusing more on what my kids need.  

I have also gone through the difficult process of aligning my heart to the Lord's will for me.  I am sure this will not be the only time I ever have to align my will with what Heavenly Father and our Savior want for me, but I have grown so much closer to them.  Staying close to our Father in Heaven and Savior is a constant process I know. You really have to keep moving forward because doing nothing sends you backwards.  

Katie (who is now my first counselor), and Julie (my second counselor) have been a tremendous help. I was so sick we ended up telling them and the Bishop in addition to our parents because I needed the extra help. 

I was somewhat apprehensive at our 12 week visit. this was the visit where in the last two pregnancies things had gone wrong. First we had our 12 week ultrasound and we saw a strong heartbeat, and I could even tell the nuchial folds seemed thinner than the baby we lost. Then it was time for the doctor to see me after the ultrasound. When he came in a gave us a HUGE smile. Everything looked great at this point. I felt so relieved-- we made it to a crucial point.

We still didn't want to tell the world at large, but we felt lighter and a bit more optimistic. Thankfully as well, my morning sickness ebbed just in time for that family vacation I planned for in May.  

We had a good time--so much so that our most recent trip has earned A couple of separate posts.  I have had to put off things for my other children because I was so sick with the one I am carrying now.  One of those is pressing for C5-Trainboy--though I think Acroboy is more appropriate now--getting him into preschool.  We're almost to Christmas and he still isn't in a program yet. We were told we were on the wait list. There have been days when it was all I could do to make breakfast and lunch for the two of us, so I had no problem not having to run him to school each day.

Acroboy is smart, so it is not the academic portion I am worried about. It's getting him to adjust going to school each day. It is getting him used to a regular classroom setting and interacting with large groups of children. He goes to the children's class each Sunday, but that isn't a substitute for a weekday routine. His sister got a call just before Winter break and would she like to join the preschool. I had been hoping that would be the case again, but not so far.  I have another meeting with the district after the holidays to hopefully get him an IEP. I am hoping they'll put him in one of their preschool programs then.  Private preschool really isn't an option for us. 

We took him back to the medical institute's center for autism.  He had another ADOS and other evaluations.  This time he has a diagnosis of not only PDD-NOS, but ADHD. It's really not surprising given how hyper he is all of the time.  I've been seeing him act more and more like Whirlwind all of the time. He has food and texture issues though, so medication is not an option in my mind.  We will see what meeting with the district brings.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mickey Mouse Shirts

Ready for it?  I'm going to post pictures of our Disney shirts. To protect the identity of my kids, I had a little fun in photoshop...

So how did we do them?  Easy peasy.
1) I downloaded a template of Mickey Mouse ears.
2) Next I traced that template on our shirts in pencil.
3) I sewed around the Mouse ears with dental floss.  I've read you should use waxed.  I used the teflon slippery kind.
4)  I pulled the dental floss tight to make a puckered "balloon".

Now this is where I diverged on the two techniques.  By the way, I skipped the soda ash step some tutorials recommend. 

Orange and black Halloween Mickey shirts. (concentric circle idea)
1) I put rubber bands around the puckered balloon to keep it separate.  I did mine right on the line of the floss--I've since read you should make sure it is below it to keep it pretty separate. 
2) Using the puckered balloon as the end, wrap rubber bands to section off the shirt..  By the end it should look something like a snake.
3) Use fabric dyes in any pattern you want until each section you want colored is colored.  For more coverage, make sure you get into the folds or grooves of the shirt.
4) Be careful not to let dyed sections touch each other--color will transfer.
5) Wrap in plastic and let it sit for a day or so.

Blue and red (swirl shirts)
1) Lay your shirt flat with the Mickey poking up in the center.
2) Take the Mickey and twist it clockwise gathering up the shirt as you go.
3) Once the shirt resembles something like a fat disk, carefully wrap rubber bands across it dividing the shirt like a pie.  Keep the Mickey head poking up. 
4)  Color the Mickey head with fabric dye--wrap with plastic wrap and secure with elastics.  Then use the fabric dyes in any order you want until on the pie until each section you want colored is colored.  5) For more coverage, make sure you get into the folds or grooves of the shirt.
6) Be careful not to let dyed sections touch each other--color will transfer.
7) Wrap in plastic and let it sit for a day or so.

Once the dyes have set for a day or two, unwrap each shirt and run under cold water until the water run-off is clear.  Dry the shirts and wash them again.

On the blue and red Mickey shirts, the stitched Mickey didn't show up well.  To rectify that I tried using bleach with a toothpick and a q-tip to trace the outline.  That didn't work too well, so I used a bleach pen to trace the out line and that worked much, much better.

Other tutorials with photos here and  for swirl pattern here.  Cutest video of both techniques here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our Family's Disney Packing Lists

Before we left, I scoured the web for ideas for our packing list. The Ultimate Packing List is really very good, as is this one, but I've made a few changes to it based upon our family's needs. Some of the items on the lists are overkill (For example: why do I need to pack a portable high chair when the restaurants have them? Do I really want to be lugging that into the park?  Even when we stay off site, we use our stroller as a high chair if we need one.  Also, why bring walkie talkies when I get decent cell coverage and I can text my DH?). Other items we just don't need, like a corkscrew, wine stopper or pre-measured coffee and coffee filters. (We don't drink alcohol or coffee.)

Then there are the things that are left off of those lists.  Itineraries for my ASD kids who need to know where and when things will happen (like which park we will be on a certain day and where we will be eating).  Hair detangler for Princess Ballerina's really long hair as well as autism awareness shirts and/or cards. A lanyard with large plastic holder for the Guest Assistance Card.

Another item--when Whirlwind (and Acroboy) were younger, we brought our Child Safety Harness.  Whirlwind was notorious for running off at lightening speeds, and it wasn't always possible for me to sprint after him (like when I was holding the baby).  We had the same problem with Acroboy running/wandering.  A friend gave us a Puppy Harness Buddy which looked like this.  Acroboy like the stuffed animal version of a child harness I think in part because we treated it like a lovey when it wasn't in use.  (The tail can disconnect). 

Other thoughts about our list:

A small roll of duct tape has proven useful quite a few times as well.  Alternatively, you can wrap some duct tape around a permanent marker or sharpie which comes in handy when needing to mark identical souvenirs, or using as a pen for characters like Mickey to sign autograph books.

On some trips we opted to take Sunday off and find a local church/meeting house, so we have dress clothes on our lists.  Unless you are doing the same, have reservations at one of the dressier restaurants (like Victoria & Albert's) or are going on a Disney Cruise with a gala---you don't need them. 

For bug repellent we use the disposable wipe kind, and I always bring a tube of Afterbite with us. Pool shoes are a must for the pools and or rafting rides in the water parks. (You have to take them off on the slides). My son and husband both forgot theirs this last trip and ended up getting warts on their feet. Pool shoes stay on in the lazy river whereas flip flops can break if you try to wear them under too much water. (Speaking from personal experience). 

I have a special water bottle lanyard/carrier with a pouch. It is great for carrying my phone, camera, ticket/key card etc. you can get one here. Mine is different than this one, but it is the same idea. 

Two pairs of walking shoes allows you to switch and give your feet a rest from one.

Zinc oxide ointment (diaper ointment) can help chaffed legs as well as talcum powder.  

Garbage bags can serve as extra laundry bags, hold wet clothes, act as additional rain ponchos, etc.

Ziplock snack or sandwich bags can keep money, room keys, ticket and credit cards dry and together inside a larger bag. 

Tissue packs and/or wet wipes for every person's fanny pack is a must for our family.  Especially when some of my kids can't stand sticky, gross feeling hands. 

We recently purchased some of those reusable water bottles with filters in them. We are considering bringing those to the park now too in lieu of disposable water bottles.

We have a data transfer cord to hook our camera up to my husband's laptop to transfer photos when the card gets full.  You could just take an extra memory card instead.

Additionally, I gave each child a personalized list of what they needed to make sure they packed it. Creating opportunities for them to be in control of various aspects of the trip seems to help them enjoy the experience more. We also have each child use a carry-on suitcase of their own--with the understanding that I may require some room for consumables we will use up on our trip.

We also bring a small journal to record our thoughts each day about our trip.  

Lastly, we pack a separate suitcase just with snacks. I pack the snacks I know I can buy at home cheaper than in Orlando AND it serves the purpose for providing room for souvenirs to travel home. You can have heavier items delivered to your hotel room. Just web search grocery delivery Orlando, or better yet if you are a Costco member you can order online and have it "shipped" to your hotel. (This is a good option for obtaining a case of water if you don't have the reusable filter kind).

To see pdf versions of my individual packing lists follow the links: 11+ year old boy, girl, 3-10 boy, girl, and 0-3 boy & girl

Complete packing list here:


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good News and Bad News

I haven't written in some time (I've been feeling poorly).  So much has happened.  

First of all, I had good intentions for the summer with keeping us scheduled,but in all honesty, I should have planned for more downtime.  Trying to do swim lessons and kid courses at the community college led to an awful lot of running around.  We had a good summer, but it was far too busy.  I still had Relief Society responsibilities I was handling as well.  Next year I definitely won't take on as many activities. 

We took our trip to see Grandma and Grandpa at the end of summer and had a great time.  We got to visit with lots of other family as well. When we got back we got ready for school to start.  

C2-Whirlwind is hitting Junior High this year.  C3-Lawboy is starting at a new elementary school with his sister, Princess Ballerina, because of boundary changes.  I am hoping we will get away from the bully situation we had at the last school.  Still no word on if C5-Trainboy will be able to get into preschool--I'm hoping for the winter break.  We have another evaluation scheduled for him. 

Our sad news--my dear friend Susan, who had fought off breast cancer before she was my counselor in the Relief Society, found out her cancer was back in the spring.  Overall she seemed to be doing well.  She was positive and enthusiastic and we all felt she was beating it.  She had previously been released as my counselor about a year ago--the previous fall.  We felt it was too much stress and she needed a lighter assignment.  After some discussion, she took on our Relief Society newsletter.  She was getting treatments, taking vitamin C shots and really seemed to be doing well.  I talked with her in September when she called to ask for a little time off from the newsletter.  She was just too tired right now, but she wanted to do it again when she felt better. I shared some good news with her at that time.  

For the next few weeks I thought about her a lot and tried to call, leaving many messages.  I'd like to say I sent her cards-I thought about it, but I didn't--just the messages.   I knew she needed rest, so I didn't want to push it. I finally got a hold of her husband and when I learned just how sick she was, I convinced him to let us come in and help with things until Susan could get better.  

The next morning I got a terrible phone call that Susan had passed early that morning.  

The world has lost an angel in Susan.  She was a faithful woman of God who wanted to serve others until the very end.  


The good (in fact wonderful and amazing!) news I shared with her was a big surprise and total shock to us.  Not many weeks after we got back from vacation I was feeling rather poorly myself. I thought it was an early bout of the flu.  Just to be sure I took my last remaining pregnancy test.  (I hate throwing things away and I hadn't found anyone to give it to yet and I always bought multi-packs because they are cheaper.)  I was completely shocked when it came back positive.  I was also slightly panicked that I had  given my baby things away!   

I've just had my sixteen week checkup and I'm cautiously optimistic.  I'm ready to tell people now (hence the post), but I know we still have a long road ahead.  Before now, only a handful of people knew.  


Susan was so happy for us.  She knew how hard my last miscarriage had hit me, and she was so supportive.   She told me she hoped everything would go well.  I know she was praying for us.  

I still cry when I talk about this.  It's all still too recent.  I miss her wonderful laugh and sense of humor.  I miss her smile.  I am grateful for all she taught me and helped me with as I was finding my feet in my calling.  I am grateful Heavenly Father allowed our paths to cross.  

I believe in the Plan of Salvation--that Heavenly Father provided a way for us through his Son, Jesus Christ, that we may all return to them if we come unto Christ and repent of our sins.  I'm pretty sure Susan did exactly that and is in heaven.  I hope I can live a worthy life and one day get to heaven too and greet our loved ones-friends and family alike.  I look forward to seeing Susan there.

As Relief Society president and Susan's friend,I had the privilege of helping prepare for body for her funeral. It was an experience that I will cherish.


Monday, November 21, 2011

How to Safely Surprise Kids on the Autism Spectrum with a Trip to Disney (and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

I have always loved those commercials where the parents surprise the kids with a trip to Disney. They choke me up. However, surprises in schedule and ASD kids don't always mix well. My kids get upset if I don't remind them they have scouts that night or if I forget to let them know we have an orthodontist appointment after school.

DH and I discussed it and we decided to "surprise" the kids by telling about the vacation on Firstborn's birthday. That way they would have a couple of months to process the information and save their money for any extra souvenirs.

I wish I could say I made one of those adorable "Countdown to Disney" calendars I've seen, but no--it was all I could do to get the cookies made. 

We tied the scavenger hunt into our other planned summer activities and with book series they all love.

First clue setup: we were eating pizza at Firstborn's favorite pizzeria. I asked the wait staff to come by with a letter I had prepared, and to say it had been dropped off by owl. Firstborn happens to be a HUGE owl fan at the moment.

First Clue:
Dear Misters and Miss Macindaw (not our real name of course),
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the Macindaw Summer School of Literary  Themed Skill Learning.  Please find enclosed the opening portion of the list of all of the necessary  and books and equipment as well as subjects.  (You'll need to be clever and as diligent as Harry was in searching for Horcruxes if you want to find the rest). 
Term begins on June 13.  We await your owls no later than Thursday. 
Yours sincerely,
Minerva Macindaw (aka Mom)

All students will require:
T-shirts and shorts most of the time
Swimming suits
Eighth, sixth and fifth year students will require:
Scout uniforms
You've been eating in a great dining hall, but to complete your search, you must return to your home and find the place where your favorite aquatic friends dwell.  Watch out for the giant squid's nemesis--Mamu.  

Second Clue Location:  
The Giant Squid refers to the Harry Potter books.  Mamu is the name of Lawboy's GIGANTIC stuffed orca.  This thing is seriously huge.  I honestly didn't know how we were going to get it home last year from Florida.  In the end we put it in a garbage bag and he carried it onto the airplane.  Anyway--the second clue was with Mamu.  

Second Clue:
Percy Jackson and these animals don't need floaties or boogie boards--but we do.   Better take one along to help in case we run into the Kraken.

Third Clue Location:
Kraken is the name of one of the roller coasters they rode at Sea World last year.  The floaties and boogie boards were in the garage.  

Third Clue:
Congratulations, you've found the next portion of your book list. 
Course Books/Themes:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
June 13-24
Swimming lessons, 8th and 6th years will work towards swimming merit badges
Archery Practice
Shield making
Chariot driving (biking)
Phalanx training
Capturing your Muse: or playing a musical instrument
Of course it's not all swimming and playing war games-- Camp Half-Blood has lots of different activities--including arts and crafts.  Let's mold something with our hands.  Make sure you bring the alligator with you.  

Fourth Clue Location:  
This last clue was the first time I had them start gathering things on their journey around our home.  The fourth clue was with the arts and crafts supplies--specifically the playdough.   

Fourth Clue:
The Labyrinth Percy and Annabeth and the others traveled was like a logic puzzle at times.  Maybe we should try a puzzle of our own.  Take a  cookie cutter with you.

Fifth Clue Location:
The puzzle shelf.  It is near the dress-up box.  I put their mouse ears with the dress-ups. 

Fifth Clue:
On second thought, I think Wizard Chess is more my game.   Each of you better take a helmet/hat for head protection.  Wizard Chess can be brutal!

Sixth Clue Location:
They took the Mouse ears with them.  The clue was with Whirlwind's chess set. 

Sixth Clue:
Congratulations children, you've found your next portion of your curriculum/book list. 
Harry Potter Week(s)
Potions (cooking)
Transfiguration (art projects/building)
Herbology (gardening)
wizard chess
storytelling (journalling)
Treasure hunt (geocaching)
hiking/walking --avoiding Voldemort
Using music to calm the mythical beasts
Eighth, sixth and fifth year students will see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2.
Professor Sprout is expecting you in Herbology.  Please get your shoes and find your dragonhide gloves. 

Seventh Clue Location:
The gardening supplies in the garage where we have several pairs of garden gloves. 

Seventh Clue:
I would love to play Quidditch, but I'm missing my equipment.  Please help me find what I need.

Eighth Clue Location:
The brooms were hanging up in the laundry area.  Attached to one of the brooms was a ziplock bag with chocolate covered pretzel rods (the really long kind).  

Eighth Clue:
Congratulations on finding your brooms and wands.  You're ready to tackle Hogwarts--just don't go near the Forbidden Forest.  Though if you had a Ranger like Halt to help you learn how to navigate the forest you just might survive.  Bring your wands for magic and your Ranger weapons.  (If you don't have them on you, better go find them--it's where the next clue is). 

Ninth Clue Location:
The seventh clue alludes to another of their favorite series, The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan.  The Ranger Corps are famously good with their bows and arrows.  The boys had to check their closet and find the bows and arrows.  

Ninth Clue:
You remembered your bow & arrows!  Good job.  You've now also got your training topics as a young ranger.  Remember that an important quality of all rangers is a sense of curiosity.  It's also asking when you don't know the answer.  If we don't know the answers--where might we look for them?
Ranger's Apprentice weeks
Wilderness Survival
jongleur training
Other Possible topics:
Wilderness Survival

Tenth Clue Location:
We don't have a hard-bound encyclopedia set, but we do a lot of research online.  This clue sent them to the family computer.  The CD mentioned was a mix of Disney songs. 

Tenth Clue:
A good jongleur knows it's important to have a good repertoire of music to entertain.  Turn on the computer, log in and play the CD in the CD drive to give you music to help you be on your merry way.  If you want to play some of the music you'll have to look for it. 

Eleventh Clue Location:
The jongleur clue refers to the Ranger's Apprentice books again.  Will (the main character) had learned to play at mandola and had to go undercover as a traveling, singing performer (jongleur).  The kids had to go to our living room which acts as our music room.  The clue was hiding in the piano bench.  

Eleventh Clue:
Ahh, the sweet sounds of music.  Many bards throughout the years have told stories to music. Some have just told them and others have drawn them on the walls.  Sadie and Carter have learned to read the writing on the wall.  Have you?

Twelfth Clue Location:
I have some vinyl signs in our living room.  The clue was taped to the back of one of the phrases. Sadie and Carter are the two main characters in the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan.

Twelfth Clue:
The amulets Sadie and Carter had in the first Kane Chronicles book were vital to the story.  Mom's jewelry is pretty, but not life changing. 
Kane Chronicles subject list
visit Museum of Natural History
Reading Merit badge--Egypt
Personal Management
Record keeping (Scrapbooking)

Thirteenh Clue Location:
My jewelry box on top of my Mickey Mouse earrings.

Thirteenth Clue:
Sadie and Carter come from two important family lines.  They ought to record their family memories.  Find our family memory book that goes along with the music.  Bring the earrings that match it too.
Fourteenth Clue Location:
We have a bookcase where I keep all the scrapbooks/family histories.  The new scrapbook I made (It was digital and then I had it printed) was sticking out a bit from the rest of the scrapbooks.  The clue was sticking out with it. 

Fourteenth Clue:
Upon completion of the summer's activities we will have a graduation from the Macindaw School of Literary Themed Learning.  Please turn to the back flap of the book to find out where that will be taking place.  

Last Clues...
The back flap said, "Surprise kids! We're heading back to Disney World and to Harry Potter world this Fall, 2011."  
There was a final envelope tucked in behind the flap.  

Dear Misters and Miss Macindaw,
Congratulations Children!  You've successfully navigated the search for the missing book lists, and have completed your initial journey into the literary world.  Upon completion of this summer's activities, you will hopefully have earned merit badges, gained new knowledge, new skills and new confidence.  We have every faith that you will not only excel in your studies, but have a wonderful time in doing so. 

We hope you apply yourselves in the learning of these important subjects. 

Enclosed is the complete list. 

After you read this list, we ask that you go to the cupboard under the stairs and find your final reward.  Bring the book with you. 

We look forward to seeing you the first day term.  June 6, 2011.  
Minerva Macindaw (aka Mom)

Second Page:
All students will require:
T-shirts and shorts most of the time
Swimming suits
Eighth, sixth and fifth year students will require:
Scout uniforms

Course Books/Themes:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series    
Swimming lessons June 13-24 , 8th and 6th years will work towards swimming merit badges
Archery Practice
Shield making
Chariot driving (biking)
Phalanx training
Capturing your Muse: or playing a musical instrument

Harry Potter
Potions (cooking)
Transfiguration (art projects)
Herbology (gardening)
wizard chess
storytelling (journaling)
Treasure hunt (geocaching)
hiking/walking --avoiding Voldemort
Using music to calm the mythical beasts
Eighth, sixth and fifth year students will see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2.

Ranger's Apprentice
Wilderness Survival
jongleur training
Other Possible topics:
Wilderness Survival

Kane Chronicles
visit Museum of Natural History
Reading Merit badge--Egypt books
Personal Management
Record keeping (Scrapbooking)

We hope you apply yourselves in the learning of these important subjects /Merit Badges/ Cub awards
Wilderness Survival
Family Life
personal management
emergency preparedeness
personal fitness

The cookies were an attempt to make these.  Mine didn't come out nearly so well. 

Maybe our journey will inspire you to create one of your own.  If so, Happy Hunting!