Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Our Disney World Curriculum

If you're here to check out our pre-Disney World curriculum, I wanted to make things a little easier and have a list of each day's lesson/books/activities.  So, here you go!

Day 1 - North America
Day 2 - Italy, Germany, and France
Day 3 - Norway and UK
Day 4 - Asia and Ocean Life
Day 5 - Africa and Additional Ideas

Hope this makes navigating a little easier.  I am so glad that we took the week before our trip to do some studying on countries in Epcot.  Last year, my kids really didn't enjoy Epcot; this year they LOVED it.  We could have spent a few days there.  Another thing we did was try foods from many of the countries while we were there, of course they really liked that too!  Some of our favorites were the lamb and chicken platter from Morocco; chocolate croissants, ham and cheese croissants, and napoleons in France; Kaki gori in Japan; school bread in Norway; and the chocolate gelato in Italy (this is not part of the meal plan, but totally worth the splurge!).  We also had dinner at the Rose and Crown in the UK, so they had fish and chips there along with a super yummy dessert.

Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we plan on creating an additional post with trip tips and some of our favorite moments.  We haven't completed this yet, so please check back!

Bzzcampaign - TruMoo - Halloween Vanilla Milk

Recently, I had the opportunity to try a limited edition variety of TruMoo vanilla milk. Please read my review below.  After you're done, check out the TruMoo Goosebumps Sweepstakes! You could win an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles!  

Our family has enjoyed Tru Moo in the past, so we were very excited to be chosen for this campaign. 

We probably would not have purchased Tru Moo Vanilla milk if it weren't for this campaign.  First, we probably wouldn't have known about it.  We shop at Kroger, Meijer, and Marc's, and none of these stores carry Tru Moo.  I visited the Tru Moo website and was happy to see that they listed stores that carried Tru Moo.  Unfortunately, we did have to travel to a store several miles away to get Tru Moo.

When I did locate a store, it was easy to find Tru Moo amongst the other chocolate and flavored milks.  One thing that I like about Tru Moo is that there is less sugar than store brands, and unlike my store's brand, there is no HFCS.

The cost of Tru Moo is higher than my store brand, but due to the increased nutritional value, I feel that the price increase isn't too extreme.

So, onto the Vanilla milk.  The orange color did make it fun for my kids.  I would rather it be white, but it wasn't a deal breaker.  The milk was creamy, more like a vitamin D milk than skim.  And it tasted like vanilla.  Not overpowering, artificially flavored milk; just the right amount of flavoring milk.

My children really enjoyed the milk, and I did too.  I think they could easily make additional holiday flavors, which we would be interested in purchasing again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bzzagent Review - Transformers Construct-Bots

Recently, I had the opportunity as part of a Bzzcampaign to review new Transformers Construct-Bots.  Below is my review:

I want to start with full disclosure.  My son is just under seven years old and not particularly interested in Transformers.  He's not uninterested, he's just (in my opinion) too young for the movies, so he isn't really familiar with them.  He is, however, very interested in building toys and cars.

To begin, I really like how this toy is packaged.  In each box is two small, plastic (with LIDS!) boxes.  These store the pieces for each of the two Transformers.  Each box also has an instructional booklet for each Transformer (Megatron and Optimus Prime). 

The building materials are strong plastic, they remind me of Legos or K'Nex quality.  The Megatron comes with just over 60 pieces, and the Optimus Prime comes with just under 80 pieces.  I like that there aren't a ton of pieces, just the right amount for kids.

Building each Transformer was tough.  The directions are step by step drawings, and were mostly easy to follow.  The beginning of each book shows how to construct, then, they have instructions on how to convert it into a driving toy.  Some of the pieces are very similar, so we really had to pay attention to the directions to make sure we didn't use the wrong toy.  As I stated, building was tough.  There's no way that my almost seven year old would have been able to build this on his own.  In fact, it took me about 45 minutes to build one.  Then, I decided to take a break before converting the toy.

I like that I could store the completed Transformer in it's case and come back to it later. 

Converting each Tranformer involves many steps.  You wouldn't want to lose the directions or else it would be nearly impossible to convert.

I love the concept of the toy.  I love the storage (you won't have to buy a separate storage container!).  I like that you can play with the Transformer as an action figure or as a vehicle.  However, my son really wasn't too interested in the toys.  The directions are far too difficult for a seven year old.  I think they should increase the suggested age.  I also felt that the toy was high-quality, it just wasn't my son's favorite building toy.

Back from Iowa - cast-free (for now)

We're back!  It's amazing how quickly the trip to and from Iowa goes by.  It used to seem to take forever, but now that the kids are bigger, it's a much easier drive.

Sunday we headed out a little later than we normally do - around 7:30 am.  We made our normal stop for gas, and only had to stop once for a potty break in Illinois.  The kids were troopers.  There was no complaining (of course, DVDs on the laptop, coloring, and snacks helped quite a bit!).

We made it to the Ronald McDonald House at 2:30 CST (that's only eight hours total!).  This was a record for us!  The house is the same as last year, but they instituted a couple changes.
  1. When we arrived, the kids were each given a business card for their toy store.  A traveling motorcycle group (I believe it was the Golden Wings) donated a roomful of toys, clothes, books, and other items for the kids.  Little Lou chose a giant stuffed bunny. She has taken very good care of the bunny, he is lucky to be so well-loved! X-Man was having a hard time deciding what to choose until he saw a 96 pack of crayons.  He said "Ninety six crayons?! That's so many!" - then, his decision was an obvious one!  Everywhere we go, he tells people that he has a box of ninety six crayons.  He loves them!  So many thanks to the wonderful people who donated these items to put a smile on a child's face!
  2. They now give you a parking pass. You can use the pass to park in the lots adjacent to the house (before, you could only park there on weekends and before 7:30 am, then, move your car to a far off lot).  You can also use the pass in the parking garage at the hospital.  I'm not sure if it gives you a discount or if it makes your parking free (we were there for less than an hour and had free parking), but it's going o be a big help for many families.
We also were able to go to the Children's Museum of Iowa (it's free for RMH residents).   They added a couple new exhibits and the kids had a wonderful time.

The next day, we had our appointment at 8:15am CST.  We got there a few minutes early because they have you fill out a survey before you go back. 

When Dr. Morcuende came back, X-Man was being very shy.  He told us on Sunday night that he was afraid to go because he hadn't seen the staff in a year but that "it felt like five years ago".  Right away, Dr. M started goofing around with him, and within a couple minutes, X-Man was excited to be there.  Dr. M checked X-Man's feet and had him walk a few times up and down the halls.  I told him about our concerns, and he talked with us about some long term case studies by Dr. Ponseti.  One thing that I really like is that Dr. M gives us a lot of information so that we can make an educated decision about X-Man's treatment.

He agreed that X-Man's right foot was pretty stiff.  He said it could be the result of a growth spurt, which would mean that it may loosen up in the next month or so.  He said they like for the kids to have dorsiflexion of around five degrees or better.  X-Man's left foot is five to six, so that one is good.  His right is at zero.  So, he told us that if we wanted to have him casted (right foot only), that we could do that, but, if he has a growth spurt in the next couple months, it may not be very effective.  Or, we could wait until April (he said that he doesn't want to wait until summer because he doesn't want him to have a cast in the summer) and come back.  He'll recheck him, and if he's still at zero or less, then we'll have one or two casts put on his right foot to get some extra flexibility.  Luckily, this time around, he would only need one cast and it could be a short leg cast. 

He told us that if we keep on stretching (we currently stretch for around 15-20 minutes each night), that we may be able to gain some flexion.  We told him that X-Man is still wearing his magic shoes at bedtime.  He told us that he only has three other patients that still wear the shoes at his age, and that it's wonderful that he is still tolerating them!  He did suggest that if X-Man is still having pain in his right foot, that we may want to remove the stops from his shoes.

Our favorite nurse, Maria, also came in to the room to talk with us.  We joked about the Iowa vs. OSU game, and asked X-Man how he was doing.  I love that even though they must see hundreds or thousands of patients, that they still remember us when we come.

They both thanked us for coming back - which cracks me up!  They're so appreciative of us coming, but we're the ones that are benefiting from them!  And, of course, we're so appreciative and thankful for them. Ben and I talk often about how going to Iowa was the best decision we could have made regarding X-Man's treatment. 

We had a great visit with great news (we also got to visit with my sister in Indy for a little while, and my mother-in-law who graciously agreed to watch our dog).  Thank you all for your prayers, well-wishes, calls, and text messages.  We're so blessed!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

And we're back (and leaving in the morning)...

We're back from the Wonderful World of Disney.  We had a most wonderful time, and I can't wait to share some of our favorite memories and tips with you.  I'm still in denial about our trip being over (which is why we still have suitcases in our bedroom).  I'm just not ready to be back - we spent so much time getting ready, and then it's gone in the blink of an eye.  So, in the next week or two, I'm going to post a ton of photos and info - be prepared!

Until then, I wanted to ask a quick favor of our readers.  Please pray for us.  Tomorrow morning we're driving to Iowa.  X-Man has a check up on Monday morning.  Before nearly every appointment, I get a little nervous.  One of the things that I LOVE about X's medical team is their honesty.  They let us know that while his feet look good, there is always a possibility that he will need a tendon transfer surgery.  Of course, we're hoping that he won't need it, but it's always a possibility.

Lately, X-Man has been complaining of some pain in his right foot.  Unfortunately, this is his less-flexible foot.  We still do nightly stretching, and he still wears his boots and bar (with stops), but we've noticed that his right foot has significantly less mobility and flexibility than his left foot.  I'm concerned that once we get there, we may be discussing a possible relapse.  This could mean surgery (worst case) or recasting.  In the grand scheme of things, this really isn't so bad.  It's still helping him.  As a mom, I just worry.  I know the medical team in Iowa is the best in the world, and I have full confidence in God that he will grant them the discernment to know what is going to be best for X-Man's feet. I just need to keep my mind from wandering into worry and pessimism. And, I need to keep in mind that God's got this.

Once we get back, hopefully we'll have no news.  But regardless, we'll let you know how things went.  So please, pray for us, the medical team, and most importantly, for our sweet boy. 

Thanks for reading, and for the constant support, it means the world to us.