Archive for the ‘Cutting Costs’ Category

Update on Cera   Leave a comment

Yesterday I took Cera to the veterinarian ophthalmologist for a followup concerning the situation with her eyes. It was basically to see how her eyes were responding to her medications and for any follow up questions regarding our options. I also was waiting for a call back from the surgery center in Ft. Myers about our payment options and what we would need to do if it works out.

To sum up the day I got good news, er news, and confusing, frustrating news.

Good news- Her eyes are responding well to the medications. They were at level 13. When I took her in the first time they were 25 and 29…. anything over 25 is abnormal. Anything over 30 is painful. So she is responding well to the medication. That takes SOME  of the urgency off of us. He still recommends we do the surgery sooner rather than later if we want to save her sight because the meds will stop working and when they do they usually stop working quickly and then it’s too late.

Er news- I was disappointed that we were charged another $90 for a follow up appointment. Plus after her surgery she is supposed to come back and stay there for a few nights…. about 160 dollars. That all plus the total we’ve already spent puts us out about an additional 700$.

Confusing/frustrating news- I was still walking out of the office feeling pretty good. I have been really encouraged and touched by the donations we’ve received and we’ve only been collecting for a week. I’ve been amazed that our two biggest donations came from people who don’t even know us. I’ve had hope.

Well the universe couldn’t have that 😉

So I received a phone call from the surgery center to shake things up. The woman explained that they have to have the full amount of money in advance of the surgery, but they do take a care credit program. That has ridiculously high interest after a bit of time. So that was ok.

Then she says that the surgery has a success rate of 75% of successfully removing the glaucoma but she could not tell me at all what the odds were of her keeping her sight. Well that came a as a shock, to say the least. I guess some people can pay 3500 to just keep the eye there, looking normal, even without vision to avoid the glaucoma drops or having the remove the eye.  If she cannot see out of it our best option would be to remove the eye. It wouldn’t make a difference to her…. while I love her beautiful eyes it would be vanity on my part and of no benefit to her.

BUT she says they may be able to save her sight but they can’t tell me the odds without seeing her. Ok, that makes sense, I think. To see her is a consultation and that is NOT included in the price of the surgery. But even if we just wanted the surgery we would still have to drive down there for a consult. That would cost us $80, plus $80-200 dollars in test, plus gas.

After that they could tell us if they could save her sight, and what the odds would be.

Those costs, plus the hospitalization costs, plus the costs we’ve already paid put us at a grand total of over 5,000 if we do the surgery. Or about 2,500 if we just let her go blind.

Look…. I love animals. And I think vets have it really rough because their patients can’t tell them how they feel and they treat a variety of species but I’m beginning to feel that specialists and some vets (not my vet, we love him)…. really take advantage of the love people have for their pets. If I could buy real insurance (that covered specialists and surgeries and allowed me to change vets) it would be somewhat different. But most insurance plans I’ve looked into don’t work for us.

I guess I’m feeling down…. feel like we can’t catch a break.

We were feeling really optimistic at the donation situation. I’m still amazed that our two biggest donations came in from strangers. But we haven’t had a donation in a few days and I’m worried that is all we will to raise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly grateful for as much support as we have…. it’s just difficult to make these decisions on money.

We have the situation with Cera’s eyes, paying for Baxter’s pain medication and the hole in our roof…. lol… and of course all of this is right when we could see the top of the debt hole we had crawled out of, almost.

Anyway, there is the update.

My feeling at the moment is that we should take her to the consultation with the Ft. Myers office. If they can’t save her sight it’s all a moot point. If they can, we have tough decisions to make and it’s going to be very dependent on our ability to being in extra money. And I hate that. I hate asking. I hate not knowing and I hate the time crunch.

So excuse my down-ness today. And I was even more down last night, if you can imagine, so that was why no Cera update.

I do have hope… and it is because of wonderful people in my life.  Every time I feel like we have a handle on this, and the financial situation in total, something has to come flying out of left field to whack me in the head. But that’s life I guess ….

http://www.gofundme.com/10jch8?pc=fb_cr

 

Posted August 16, 2012 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Pets, Sickness & Health

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My Cera Bear with the pretty eyes   2 comments

I just cannot believe I am writing this post.

About 6 weeks after learning that our fuzzy baby boy, Baxter, had an inoperable tumor and was heading towards the Rainbow Bridge I noticed that my fuzzy girl Cera had some cloudiness in her left eye. The pupils also seemed abnormally large.

I looked it up online but nothing told me that it was anything to be overly concerned about.

(Cera as a puppy… the green stuffed animal is Monkey Man… her first toy ever and the love of her life, he’s in his fourth incarnation right now)

We took her into the vet that weekend. At first he thought he saw a tumor in the eye. My heart stopped. I just stood there stroking her trying to imagine losing both of them so close together. I just kept telling God, “Please let it be something else because I just can’t do this.”

Well he answered my prayer. It was not a tumor but a luxated lens caused by trauma or Glaucoma. The lens in her eye was disconnected and askew. The other eye did not look great either. And time was of the essense.

We got into the veterinarian ophamologist and he found that she did have Glaucoma. He said that she had already lost sight in her left eye do to the pressure from the Glaucoma causing the lens luxation. The right eye would do the same if we didn’t act. He started talking about drops and I had hope, because drops can’t be too expensive.

But the drops are a band-aid. Even with the drops she will lose her vision in 6-12 months. The only thing that can save her vision is laser inner eye surgery. It is not done locally, we would have to travel to Ft. Myers to have it done and it costs $3,500.

Besides that the pressure will continue to build in the left eye. If we do nothing the pressure will continue to build and her eye to bulge. Will be as if she has a permanent migraine. As someone who has migraines I could not let any living creature suffer that. There is a shot we can give her that will help. It has two drawbacks. The first is that over time it will cause her eye to shrink and that will cause pain and mean we need to have the eye removed. Since she is only six he said he didn’t really recommend this. The other is to remove her eye…. that is 950 dollars. Or we can remove the eye and have a prosthetic which is 1250.

So it boils down to we can let her go blind, which will cost us roughly $2,000. Or we can save her sight which will cost us $4,500 dollars.

To say we don’t have it would be an understatement. It is killing me to say that. It kills both of us to think it.

We are trying to find ways to get the money.

 Our first Christmas …. all of us (Cera was born on the same day we had our first date… we joke she is as old as us)

To anyone reading this Steve will mow your lawn, hook up your surround sound system, fix computer issues, or do manual labor to earn money for this. On my part my birthday is in a month… what I want is for my dog to be able to see. Please do not give me gifts… donate to Cera. If I can watch your child for a few hours, come over and do your dishes, tutor your children, or sew anything that I make I will do so for a donation.

Basically if you need something done and you’re willing to pay someone else to do it…. ask us! We will do it!

(you can see the difference between happy Cera and sad Cera here)
To our the families who have adopted our rescues:

I feel terrible even saying this but I have to.

When we started rescuing and fostering we did it because it was the right thing and because we could. We rarely received compensation and if we did it never covered what it cost to rescue, feed, train and vet any of the dogs.

If you appreciate what we did, and what we want to continue to do, please consider helping. I feel wrong asking but I would do just about anything, even beg for money, to help Cera.

Cera is the reason we started rescuing. The first rescue that we organized, which saved 24 dogs and 4 cats was because I saw the picture of a little girl dog who looked so much like Cera I could not let her die. When I called to adopt her I found out there were 10 other dogs in danger and it avalanched from there. It literally is because of Cera that there are over 50 dogs out there who have been rescued or fostered by our family.

Cera has put up with a lot in all of that. She has allowed new dogs to chew on her toys, to share her bed, her home, her food and with most difficulty her mama and daddy.

If each of our rescued dogs families donated 25 dollars we would have a good portion of what we need. If each of my Facebook friends gave $5 her surgery would be paid for.

That last fact amazes me because I know times are tough and I know that to a lot of people she is “just a dog”… but who can’t spare $5? And if you can’t… I understand. But please pass this around to others.

She is not just a dog. She is a beautiful soul who is family. She IS family and I feel so much like a failure. If I had taken her into the vet sooner some of this might have been avoided. I am trying not to beat myself up for it, but it’s true.

It was suggested to me that her quality of life would be compromised and I should just put her to sleep. She is six years old. She LOVES life… she loves us. She has already struggled with life and it’s not her time to go. (for those of you who don’t know Cera was born with holes in her brain. Probably due to exposure to distemper while in utero. When she came to us she bobbled and shook as if she had Parkinsons. There was so much she could not do. After some water therapy she improved and gets along better… but struggles. She cannot jump on furniture or move quickly and her back legs give out on her often). She loves to go for walks, to swim, to play, she loves any type of attention and love. She loves to stand with her face in the wind, close her eyes and “talk to God”…. I don’t know how else to describe it but she looks as if she’s listening to His answers when she does this.

 (you can see the difference in her left eye and right eye here… this is after her first drop dosage that gave her iris back again)

I’ve been told that dogs do alright being blind. But she lives in a house with one small child and we’d like to have at least one more. I worry about her stepping on a baby… about a baby stepping on her. About her living in fear of a toddler grabbing her unawares… and how will she react to all of this.

Even if you believe she is “just a dog” do this for me. Do this out of compassion. Do this because you couldn’t do something else small. Share her story, her link, give $5 or more and help me or her….
I cannot do anything to save Baxter but I am going to do everything I can for Cera because I can. I will not go down without a fight.

Please help us help her!

http://www.gofundme.com/10jch8

Posted August 9, 2012 by etainl in Cutting Costs, Health/Exercise, Pets

Etsy Shop   Leave a comment

This was a rough week for our family. My mother got some bad news and we got some bad news… all around just rough. The nearly constant rain didn’t help alleviate the pervasive sense of doom and gloom.

I’ll be ready to talk about my bad news more, I probably need to but not yet.

What I did for me this week is to put aside the time to work on my Etsy shop and Facebook shop pages more! It’s been on my to do list forever!

 

So, without further ado I give you my Facebook Page for Mama Loves. I have the basic set up looking good. I have a few things listed in the wine category and the toddler clothing section. I’ve started asking people to “Like” me… it’s a start!

I also have my Etsy shop up for Mama Loves set up, but just for the wine glasses.  Since my sizing, cloth selection and pricing is still being finalized I didn’t want to list those items just yet. But they are coming!

While writing this I just realize I never did a post about my new sewing hobby. I just wanted to at least try to make a dress or two for LA. But I had lots of success and really enjoyed the process. I also enjoyed the control of choosing the fabric and the exact style I wanted. Not to mention the fact that a few people asked me to make things for them. One friend even paid me to make a replica of a tutu skirt that I gave to LA. Another friend requested something I had made as a gift for her son…. and it was fun!

I really enjoyed making the wine glasses so I was thinking I’d just open up a shop selling those. Since they are custom made I wouldn’t have to have inventory on hand. But so many people encouraged me to at least put a few toddler outfits or accessories together so I figured “why not?”

The only problem I had was that the shop name MamaLoves was already taken. But it wasn’t taken by someone using it, they have changed their name. However, Etsy sets it up so any original shop name is marked as “taken” so no one can steal former clients. It looks like the original user has not used the name in a long, looooooong time so I wrote Etsy. They said no.

So I can still be Mama Loves but my web address right now reads http://www.etsy.com/shop/etainbutterfly. I cannot make it say MamaLoves there. I can make it say “AllMamaLoves, ” “MamaLovesBoutique” or “AngelicArt.” The last was originally going to be the name of the shop when I was planning on doing only glassware, no clothing.

Which one do you all like?

I am also really hopeful that I’ll get the time this weekend to try a new project of something I’d like to sell in the shops! I am excited about it. I’m also excited about the fact that I did a search on Etsy and there are not really any wine glasses quite like the ones I make. So, fingers crossed, it will go well!

Let me know of anything that you think I should offer in the shop that aren’t there yet. I have a plan to have little boy ties with matching shirt and hair bow for girls, or maybe a skirt and hair bow. I think the tutu I made is going to make the cut and up cycled shirts from Daddy’s old work shirts 🙂 I also thought I could do a matching toddler dress/top and Mama skirt like I did for us below.

Below I’ll post some pictures of things I have made for LA and you can let me know if anything strikes you as uniquely sell-able.

 

Princess Dress… First thing that I made for LA

Old Fashioned Dress- My second project

Up Cycled Dress

Up cycled dress progress

Tutu skirt

Tutu skirt and matching top

Matching toddler dress and Mama skirt

Little boy and baby ties

Oh! And even though it was a sad week I did not forget LA’s project. I just can’t show you what we did until after Father’s Day 😉

 

 

Theme Parks… The fun   1 comment

So previously I posted some of the nitty gritty of what worked for us at the parks.

Here is a ride run down of what LA loved and what the lines were like etc….

At Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World– Be prepared to be singing it the rest of the day! I was so excited to take her on it… she pretty much sat rapt and unmoving through the whole thing. Occasionally she’d wave at a child or sign swing or bird or what not. I think she enjoyed it but I also think it was a lot to take in. But a definite one to do.  The line isn’t too bad and if you go by and it’s long just try again…. plus the line goes pretty quick.

Peter Pan LA reacted much the same way as It’s a Small World… she showed a bit more enthusiasm. This line is VERY long… possibly a good one to use a fast pass on. It’s also a slow line…

Prince Charming’s Carousel This very well may have been LA’s favorite of all…. we have tried to take her on other Carousels at the fair or parks. She screams and refuses to ride. However, for this carousel she points and laughs and can’t wait to ride! She signs pony over and over again…. I mean really, she loves it. And most of the time the line is both short and quick!

 Before her first ride… with the Magical Auntie C

I mean, really, look at the face! Totally worth the trip right here…

Dumbo  The classic… a pretty long line at times. LA really liked it… once it started moving. On our first trip there she was cranky and ready for lunch and was not happy until it started moving… then she was most happy.

 Can you see her screaming her head off here? 😦

They have now actually moved Dumbo and  made a new one. The classic is not open yet but the new one is awesome. Here is a tip… ride it once it gets dark… because it looks like this!

And she loved it…

The Rapunzel meet and greet- We really wanted to do this one because our LA LOVES Tangled…. but this is probably the longest, slowest line in the whole park. Really, really…. even Auntie C said we should either get there super early and get in line or just forget it. So if you want to do it head there first… otherwise just wait until your daughter is older and do a Princess breakfast, that is our plan 😉
The line also looks uber boring 😦

Winnie the Pooh- We did it the first trip but didn’t bother the second time. She liked it but wasn’t super excited. Maybe if your child is older or more into Pooh.  VERY long slow line, good to use for fast pass… but an interesting lines with things for the kids to do while they wait.

The Tea Cups We did this both times and LA loved it 🙂

That’s about it for Fantasy Land… we totally skipped Snow White… that thing scared me till I was like 10!

Frontier Land

We skipped Haunted mansion… it says you can bring your little ones on. I didn’t think it was worth the risk of scariness… we did it while she slept.

The other two big ones here are Splash and Thunder Mountain….. obviously not for kids.

Hucks island has some kid stuff… but a lot of it looked like stuff for older kids so we skipped it.

However we did do the Country Bear Jamborie…. And she LOVED it! She clapped and laughed and pointed and shouted Nay Nay (her word for cat) to the bear to tell him he had a raccoon on his head. She just loved it… and bonus no real line. Plus it’s nice and cool inside. We used it both times when we needed a break to slow down and relax a bit.

Adventure Land

We skipped Pirates of the Caribbean which made me sad… it’s one of my favorites. She was allowed to go on but I was nervous about the drop and the scary skeleton stuff in the beginning. Otherwise I think she would have liked the characters and singing. If you are brave enough to take your little one, tell me how they do.

We skipped the Jungle Ride, although I totally think she would have loved it.  REALLY long line.

But she adored the Tiki Birds in the Tiki Room. Steve has sworn he will never go back in there because the song and the singing drove him crazy but LA thought it was fantastic. I thought it was nice to sit and relax in the cool… the line wasn’t bad at all 🙂

Tomorrow Land

Monsters Laugh Floor This was more for us adults… didn’t seem to impress her too much. But we adults laughed and again… nice and sitting and cool and the line wasn’t too bad.

Just a note the first time we went she woke up from her nap and we were in Tomorrow Land… when she realized we were still there she laughed and clapped and was so excited. It was cute.

We were going to try her on the People Mover but we didn’t bother

Main Street

On Main street she liked the shops… we got her some illicit candy and we tried on silly hats. The shops are SO expensive… those adorable Disney dresses you see so many girls wear cost 79$…. WOW… I hope by the time she wants one I can make a really cool one.

Character meet and greet- I like how they have some set character meet and greets so if you really want to meet someone you know where they will be. Back in the day we had to hope we bumped into Cinderella or Mickey or whoever…the downside is that it makes for really long lines. We decided not to wait for Princesses because the line was like 45 minutes or an hour, I don’t remember. I figure in the future we will not have this option. We chose to go see Mickey and Minnie, their line was twenty minutes. I couldn’t help but think how times have changed…. Mickey and Minnie used to be the longest lines. LA wasn’t too impressed…. she’s not super familiar with Mickey Mouse because she’s only seen the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a handful of times, because she has a wicked mother who limits her TV to an hour or so a day. She was wary… but I was glad we got pictures.

On our second day we started to wait to see Snow White, who was on the street, but it turned into a 30 minute line so we left. We thought about waiting for Goofy but LA was terrified of the statue of him so we skipped it.

At Animal Kingdom

We did the Safaari Ride… which I thought she’d like. But she was overly tired and in some sort of strange mood. She pointed at a few animals but otherwise didn’t seem to care. Daddy and I thought this was AWESOME! The animals are so close… this is definitely one that if you want to do you have to go early and get in line. The line gets REALLY long plus if you wait till later in the day the animals have all taken shelter from the heat and aren’t as active or close.

We went over to the kids area and the Petting Zoo…. which was nice. She liked seeing the animals in the walk through display.

We didn’t get to do anything else at Animal Kingdom…. it was so hot and crowded. Then baby had melt down so we cut our losses and took off. But I really want to go back now.

I will tell you that several parents told me not to do the Bugs Life show with little kids because it gets scary… so you’ve been warned.

Hollywood Studios

We enjoyed Hollywood Studios way more than expected.

As mentioned Mama and Daddy loved Rockin Roller Coaster… not for wee ones though.

We went on the Little Mermaid Live show…. really short line, not a bad wait if you catch the show just right. LA was absolutely enraptured. She sat on Steve’s lap in a trance. Bubbles come down from the ceiling, there were fish, and singing and music, the girl was in heaven. Steve is now suggesting we show her Little Mermaid but I’m a little worried Ursula is a bit intense.

We took her on the Hollywood Movie Ride.… she enjoyed the Wizard of Oz portion and the Fantasia clip… otherwise she didn’t care much. There is one alien part that I was worried about but conveniently she asked to nurse and as it was a dark seated area I took that as a perfect opportunity to distract her and let her finish. Oh and the line was nonexistent.

The Toy Story Ride was really cool…. LA liked it but didn’t really fully enjoy it. First of all she would not leave her 3D glasses on for very long. She enjoyed the occasional spin on the ride. But basically you get to use a “slingshot” and do arcade shooting…. we really liked it. It is a terribly long line without a fast pass… and get the fast pass early if you can!

See how impressed she was with the ride 😉

Ok here is I reveal some geekiness… I adore the movie Splash… and look, it’s the fountain from the movie!!!

And here is some more geekiness… I’m such a Star Wars Nerd…. so the fact that we put my daughter on a speeder and she immediately assumed the properly position, well, it just about stopped my nerdy little heart 😉

 (This will totally be on my wall btw… Yes I am that much of a nerd)

We got fast passes for Star Tours and then got lunch…. it was perfect by the time we were done eating lunch it was time to go on. I totally recommend Star Tours, it’s different nearly every time you ride it and even the line is awesome. However, you cannot take your child in the line nor can they go on the ride. But you can tell them at the front of the line your dilemma and they will let one adult go on and give the other a pass to come back and jump right in the line.

So one of you has to wait with child. At this point in the day I was trying to get LA to go to sleep… but next time we’ll just go around the corner to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. When the other parent is done they can just come and switch so both can ride the awesomeness that is Star Tours 😉

Plus it was one of LA’s favorite things…. and to be honest, it is quite amazing.

Next time we’d like to see the Indiana Jones show or the Stunt show…. when LA is older they have the Muppets in 3D but we already knew she wouldn’t wear the glasses.

They have a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show/experience that she might have liked but we didn’t do.

We really did love Hollywood Studios, which I still call MGM lol

Epcot

We didn’t do it but we knew there had some neat Living Sea exhibits and some hands on lights/technology things for little ones to play with.

So there is our little run down of what we did and what worked for us…. I hope it helped and if I didn’t answer a question let me know and I’ll do my best. I’m no expert but we had a good time and it was relaxed which equals success in my book!

Theme Parks…Tips   1 comment

We had a lovely vacation recently involving two fantastic Disney days and one blissful do nothing hotel day. Because my husband is fabulous I spent over an hour just enjoying this….

And we both got to relax because LA knows how to properly enjoy a vacation and did this….

He’s great… and that’s why we were celebrating four years of marriage … see how cute we are?

But enough about the relaxing portion of our vacation… I’m writing about the nitty gritty of taking a wee one to the most Magical Place on Earth. Which will also help you if you are taking your child to a really fun place that charges an exorbitant amount of money to ride their rides, stand in line and over pay for glorified fair food 😉 (but dontcha love it!)

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful Auntie in the family (by adoption) who takes us to Disney… she is wonderful and we love her. LA is going to love her more than me someday because she is lovely and sweet and fun … oh, and did I mention she takes her to Disney 😉

So, after some inquiring questions from friends, I figured I’d offer up what worked for us and what didn’t…. I also have another post just a bit about the rides and lines and such here.

We went back in October when LA was 14 months old. I was terrified about her having a meltdown while we waited in line… that was my number one concern. So I packed our back pack with a ton of snacks and small distractible toys, several new junk things from dollar store. There was also our camcorder and camera. A change of clothes for her and all the diaper paraphanelia. Plus snacks for Daddy and me. I also brought our Ergo carrier, the plan being that when we had to hold her still I could try to back carry her if she got wiggly. She wasn’t yet at the stage where she wanted to walk all the time but if carried she prefers to be moving. However, at that stage she was very against the Ergo (now she loves it) but it did not get used a lot.

Both trips were a success but I think our second trip went even smoother because we learned more. Much more streamlined and prepared… and there was only 4 months really in her age so even though she’s grown up a bit I think it was because of how we prepared.

It seems the easiest way to tell you what worked for us is to make a list…. so here you!
1. Stroller- We had a brief debate on taking the quick little stroller vs the big snazzy stroller. We went with the big snazzy because really the only time it was a pain was getting on the tram at the beginning and end of the day…. otherwise it was nice to have the little shelf underneath and a stroller with a recline for nap time. I felt bad seeing some kids laying back in very uncomfortable positions in the Disney strollers that do not recline. Also, I don’t think LA would have slept as long in that type of stroller.
While she slept we took turns going on more adult rides 🙂
So for us big stroller was the way to go… better/longer nap, happy baby, and room to carry some of our junk.
So if you don’t mind a brief struggle on and off the tram the big stroller is the way to go!

2. Claim it– No matter what stroller you have identify it! I clipped a bright monkey toy thing to the handle of the stroller. This made it SO much easier to find when coming off a ride. The Disney associates move your strollers sometimes so you cannot guarantee that it will be where you left it.
I know it was a good idea because on the second trip to Disney we forgot the monkey toy and it was MUCH more annoying to find the stroller.

3. Bring a carrier!

Ok so for our first trip we hardly used it. LA was in a stage where she didn’t like it very much, so we definitely could have done without it for that trip.
And for our second trip we only used it a little bit…. but it was nice for me to know in the back of my mind that it was there as an option. We did use it a bit and I was glad we had it. If your child is happy in one you could even have them nap in it! (but then you can’t sneak on adult rides! )
There are probably even some children who could do the whole day just with a carrier and not a stroller. Personally I like having something to dump my stuff in and LA likes to have her on space on occasion so we needed the stroller. But I liked having the Ergo.

4. Leash them?  Personally, I’m pretty opposed to those leash-y things that you put toddler in so they can walk around but still be “attached” to you. Not judging anyone… I’m just not a fan (especially when I see parents use them at random locations and seem to use it as an excuse to ignore their child)… but that’s just me.

I wrote previously about how I broke down and bought one for our Texas trip because I had images of having to chase her through and airport and leaving my luggage behind, not good when you are on your own.

However, Disney would be another place I could see them being useful. The bonus is that if you have a super independent child it can let them walk a bit and wander in some areas. BUT Disney is so crowded they could still be run over or hurt…. so it’s a catch 22. But there are areas that it could be helpful.

LA is pretty good about holding our hands, she seems to understand it is the price she pays for walking on her own.

btw this is her adorable new little walk… she walks/runs like Phoebe from Friends (if you haven’t seen that episode check it out, it’s hysterical)

And walking with Daddy at 14 months 🙂

5.Bring some distractions but not too many! The first trip we were overflowing with distractions and we really only used a fraction of them. So for our second adventure I packed far less and was wise enough to pack smaller ones (stickers, beads, etc)…. Disney is so full of stimulation it’s really not too hard to distract them with what is around you. We mostly used them when we were trying to buy ourselves some extra time to eat in the restaurants.

And even in the restaurant there are things for distractions…. like straws… LA loves straws!

6. Bring snacks! The greatest toddler distraction of them all!

I tried to bring some that were healthy. I knew there would be very few veggies at Disney so I bought some of the pureed veggie pouch things. LA loves them and we don’t have them often so they are kind of a treat. She also loves apples and pears so we had those. Cheese was good. Crackers and goldfish, obviously. But we were on vacation so she got some illicit pleasures…. like cheese puffs and M&M’s. LA loves M&M’s…. this is her face when she first realized I had them…

And the relief on her face when she realized I was going to give her some….

M&M’s are our big guns…. if we need more time or a big distraction. I do not recommend this trick for all occasions but it works for Disney because it’s a. a matter of survival and b. it’s supposed to be the happiest place on Earth 🙂
So whatever your big guns are… bring them

7. Pack water… the night before I put a couple bottles of water and a sippy cup with water in it in the freezer. They slowly thaw out during the day time so you have cold water… for free! Not to mention it will keep your fruit and cheese cool in your bag.

8. Pack lunch/dinner!! I always forget that Disney lets you bring in food. We totally did not do this in October but we did this last time. Just some easy sandwiches and chips but it was worth it. It meant we only had to buy one meal at the park a day. That saved us like 30 bucks… worth it! Plus as you eat and snack your bag gets lighter!

9. Getting there- The first time we went we drove over in the morning and got there about an hour after opening. It worked fine for us… LA slept on the way over so she was fresh and ready to go. We were a bit tired.
The second time we went we stayed overnight at a hotel the night before. That was obviously nicer 🙂

10. Leaving- The first time we stayed all the way through the end. We watched the Electric Light parade and the fireworks afterwards. LA really liked both. I really think she would have liked them even more the second time we went but we didn’t stay until closing that time…. we were so tired.
But the other reason we didn’t stay was the horror that happens after the Electric Light Parade…. so BE WARNED! here is what happened.

We waited to the left of the castle about 45 minutes before the parade. We thought that would be enough time… it wasn’t really. It was an ok spot for us to watch from because we could see a straight shot down Main Street but we were not close and there were a ton of people. Immediately after the parade there was chaos. It seemed everyone was either trying to get out of the park down Main Street or to go to the other side of the park. It was bumper to bumper strollers and people were NOT nice. I struggled to keep up with Steve and LA in the stroller. I worried about LA getting smacked in the face with people’s swinging bags so I carried her. Then Steve was paranoid about someone knocking me over with her in my arms (and rightly so). It was awful… it took us over a half an hour for us to get from the castle to the opening of Main Street.

We stopped at the Baby Station to change her and leave… but we had taken so long the fireworks started so we watched those. I then nursed LA and we tried to leave the park. More stroller deadlock. Then a REALLY long wait to leave the park with a ton of very pushy, tired people.

I’m not saying the fireworks and parade are not worth it… they are awesome. But either be prepared to deal with what we dealt with (and we were there in the off season) or plan ahead.

Here is what our plan will be for next time (when we are definitely doing the parade and fireworks)…. We will stake out a good comfy spot on the curb at the head of Main Street. A good spot near the entrance to the park with a straight view towards the castle. We will stake it out about one and a half to two hours before the parade is scheduled to start.

Mommy is going to bring a book and take one for the team while Daddy takes LA on another fun ride. Mama will hold the spot for them. They will come back with food and we will sit and eat until it’s time to watch. If baby gets fussy we will take turns looking in shops with her while the other holds the good spot. This way we can all see the parade and we are in a good location to just duck out and avoid the chaos afterwards. Feel free to steal our plan!

11. When to go- From my personal experience and our inside Auntie information October, February and the first part of March is the least busy time to go. It is also, coincidentally, the nicest weather in Florida… it’s a win win!

12. Know when to leave- If you are park hopping time your visit for nap and lunch. On our October trip we just did one day. This last trip we did Hollywood Studios and Disney on Thursday and then Animal Kingdom and Disney on Saturday. We left our lunch in the car in a cooler. LA napped and we ate between parks. Less to carry, a good nap… a little break for us. A win win.

If you can afford to stay on site go to the hotel and take a nap, it’s worth it.

If we had season tickets or several days I would probably recommend going over in the morning and exhausting the kids. Bring them back to the hotel for a nap and go back after dinner…. if you go back at all. All depends on what you can do.

13. Put your baby to bed! I made this mistake… on our between day we rested at the hotel. I should have put LA to bed at her normal time. But it’s vacation I stupidly reasoned and let her take another swim in our giant jaccuzzi tub in our room. The next day we paid for it. On our first day God was with us and we had a perfect day. Our second day, when we did Animal Kingdom/Disney it was the opposite. LA had meltdown after meltdown, the crowds were awful (it was a Saturday vs a school day), and it was so hot…. oh, until it rained. I really wish I’d just put her to bed.

Steve and I both feel like doing two days in a row would be suicide. He is sure that just doing two park days over a three day vacation is a bad idea…. I think it’s doable if you make sure to rest on the between day and put the baby to bed early the night before! Don’t make my mistakes!

14. Use those fast passes! They are amazing…. do some research when you go and don’t waste them. You can only have one at a time on your tickets. So don’t get one for something like Small World, which moves quickly and during certain times of the day has little to no line at all. Use it for the big scary lines.

15. Strategize!– Take some time and look things up. Apple has an iPhone ap that tells you what each ride is and who it’s aimed at. You can get an idea of which have longest lines because it posts wait times.

For example- When we went to Hollywood Studios Auntie C told us that Rockin Roller Coaster and Toy Story have the longest lines in the park. We arrived shortly after the park opened. Auntie C took LA to get fast passes for us all while Steve and I went and rode Rockin Roller Coaster. When we went in the line was 20 minutes long… by the time we came out it was over an hour.

Auntie C got us fast passes for between 11 and 12:30… we walked past the ride about a half an hour later and the fast passes were already being given out for 7 n the evening! So just be aware of which rides have the longest lines and will need fast passes and plan accordingly.

If you don’t want to do the research yourself I can be bribed for some nice cookies or a large Coca Cola to tell you all of my secrets 🙂

16. If you can… get a hotel- I really loved having the hotel… it made it feel more like a vacation rather than a really exhausting, fun day that still ends up back at home. Also, we live about 90 minutes from the park so it’s easy to drive over there and back in a day… in all probability the baby will sleep on the way there and back. So not much difference for them… but huge difference for the adults.

There are a TON of cheap hotel deals. We stayed at a nice one called Mystic Dunes Golf Resort… we had a one bedroom villa with a full kitchen, a hot tub in the bedroom, leather furniture, 4 pools, giant sandbox, free use of putt put golf, ping pong and bicycles for 85 a night.

If you keep an eye on groupon you can get some other amazing deals if you are willing to give some of your time.

There are websites for Time Share deals (search Time Share Disney deals or something)… I’ve seen ones that are two nights in the hotel and two Disney passes for 150 dollars… which is great. You juts have to commit to hear their 2 hour spiel or what not. You can usually only do this once a year, but that works for us. My husband, however, hates going to the spiel… I don’t love it but if you want to give me cash, tickets and a snazzy hotel so you can talk to me about something I cannot afford all while I munch on your free breakfast/lunch… by all means go ahead.

For example our hotel had a deal of they would give you 50$ cash, two tickets to their expensive golf course, and two more nights at their hotel for listening to their pitch. To me, that is worth 2 hours of my time….

If you don’t stay overnight before or after or both… bring PJ’s in the car for your children. Make sure they have a fresh diaper (if necessary) and are cuddled up with whatever they like to sleep with in PJ’s and head home. If you are lucky they will transfer to bed and you can pass out yourself!

17. Remember it’s supposed to be fun… I can’t tell you how many parents we saw shouting at their child or looking annoyed or run down or unhappy. I think there is pressure to get your money’s worth (and with good reason) and to make it this amazing time that it can get to you. You are trying so hard to make things perfect that you snap. Just make a short list of things in your mind that you’d like to do and everything else is extra… and relax. I know, easier said than done… but just remember you can always come back.

So…. those are the best tips I can think of…

This is a really long post and I actually wanted to tell you about the rides and lines and what not… I will put that in another post 😉

If I remember more tips I’ll post them… if you have more I’d love to see them.

Handmade Christmas successes- Coasters   3 comments

So another project that I felt turned out well was homemade coasters.

I purchased white tiles from home depot for 10 cents a piece (I think!). I made coaster sets of four.

I also had to buy Modge Podge, acrylic sealant and regular glue…. this was the most expensive part. If you are planning on making one set of coasters (as I originally was) this is not cost effective. If you will use these things or will make lots of coasters (or use them for future projects) than it is 🙂

Then you need fun paper. You can use anything. I happened to use some cool scrapbook paper I had. You could even use family pictures which is fun!

You need to cut the paper until it is slightly smaller than the top of your coaster.

Then you paint on a layer of modge podge and set the paper in the center of the tile. Paint another thin layer on top and let it dry.

repeat this 2-4 times or until you feel it’s firmly “on”…. The modge podge will dry clear not to worry.

When you are done and they are dry you need to spray them with the acrylic sealant… this will make them waterproof, and effective coasters 😉

I took mine outside to do this and I did several layers as well.

Next you cut out felt and glue it to the bottom… voila!

I failed to take completed pictures but you can get the general idea I think.
I was pleased with them, those who received them as gifts seemed to like them. My only complaint was even though I let them thoroughly dry the felt seemed to stick to the coaster underneath when you stacked them….
But they were cute 🙂

Handmade Christmas successes- wine glasses!   3 comments

I saw this idea on pinterest and just loved it. The idea is you take wine glasses and basically bedazzle them. Steve says I should not call it bedazzling because it brings up tasteless 80’s references… and he’s right. But it is the most accurate term I can think of.

I bought the glasses at the dollar store and I collected the beads and stones from various sales. The best being the Borders going out of business sale. I also bought some tinier beads at Joanns and I had some on hand from some old project or another.

You need glass sealant. The kind from home depot used for aquariums is waterproof and dishwasher proof (reportedly, I have not tried it although I feel I will have to).

For this first set I used black, frosted and clear stones. Some small pearl and black faceted beads as well as some metal rolling, rivet style beads.

You definitely need rubber gloves and a protected base for working.

Next you take the acrylic and mush it all over the bottom of the wine glass and then apply the beads and stones in any pattern you like. I started with the large ones and then worked my way down in size filling in spots, using the tiny ones last. A toothpick was very helpful to get them in nooks and crannies.

Voila!

I was and am… very pleased with how they turned out. These pictures don’t even really do them justice. They did take nearly a half an hour per glass to complete, so not a quick thing.

I made a couple black sets like this, one blue set for my mom, a green set, an amber set. My grandmother gave me some vintage wine glasses that are petite in size…. I bedazzled those and they look adorable. A few people got them as gifts.

Now here is the thing… I’m actually thinking of opening an Etsy shop selling these as well as other things. I read once that to make money on Etsy you have to be selling something that no one else is making. So I did an Etsy search and there is one mosaic glass seller, she takes teeny tiny pieces of glass and does mosaic, very pretty. But not the same.

The great thing is I could make them special order so I wouldn’t have to have sets of glass piling up everywhere and the possibilities are endless. I could bedazzle the whole glass with pink or sparkles for bachelorette parties etc.

So I think I’m going to do it…. the question is what should I call my shop? Steve suggested Wine by the Glass. Which I think is adorable, but it does limit me to the wine glasses. My mom thought Art by Angel, which I like as well. Any thoughts?

Also, can someone come up with a better, classier term than bedazzling lol?

PS my brother is going to take some fabulous proper pictures of the set

Posted March 4, 2012 by etainl in Arts & Crafts, Cutting Costs, How To, Stay at Home Mom