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After having my daughter Sara go to sleep away camp for several years with campers who had service dogs our family started the wheels in motion to get her a dog. Every year Sara has bunked with her friend Lynsay who bring the super dog Webster to camp. Webster comes from Canine Partners for Life. Webster has “alerted” that Sara was going to have a seizure several times while Sara attended the camp. Schools cannot guarantee your dog can alert for a seizure, but they can train the dog to give you help if you have a seizure event. Dogs can get you a phone, open drawers, get your  medication, or a bottle of water from the fridge. Dogs are trained to stay with their master until they have recovered from their seizure. Within the service dog community you can find several categories of training schools. There are dogs for people who are blind, have autism, diabetes, mobility issues, and seizure disorders. When picking a school Sara and I were interested in finding a good match for how Sara has treated other pets. In Georgia there is a terrific school run by Jennifer Arnold that uses love and kindness to train service animals, Canine Assistants. Sara treats all our pets like babies, and would not be able to be too firm with a dog, use a choke collar, or be mean in anyway to an animal. This school was a great match to Sara’s loving personality. They offer a follow up service and have someone work with you after you finish the training camp.

 

We have a date in the fall to attend Canine Assistants training school and are busy getting ready. We made a video about Sara’s home and daily activities for the school to review. We have been interviewed, filled out doctor’s surveys, put up a fence, and are searching for a local veterinarian. We have talked to  the programs that Sara attends  to “alert” of this new change.The policies that guide the rules for a service dog fall under the Justice Department ADA. Pretty much any place you can go if you are a person with a disability, your dog is allowed to go also. There were some interesting facts on the ADA web page such as:

 

  • It is not okay to use allergies or fear of animals as an excuse to ban a service dog.
  • Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.

 

 

To ask about your business, school, non profit and it’s obligation to include service dogs you can contact the ADA  at 800-514-0301 or try them on the web at

 

www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm

 

 

for frequently asked questions. Complaints can be filed with the same Justice Department if a non profit, business, or school is unwilling to allow a certified service animal in their doors.

 

Consider a donation or volunteer for Canine Assistants contact them at

 

www.canineassistants.org

 

Maybe you have a child with a seizure disorder and are considering a camp for this summer, try to contact the EFNJ Camp Nova program.

http://www.efnj.com/what-we-offer/programs/camp-nova/

 

 

Hope your family finds the right service animal for your family member with special needs.

 

 

Lisa Bock

 

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When I first became a mother, a friend asked me, “What’s it like?”

All that came out were tears. Many, many tears.

“What’s it like?”  A seemingly innocent question, which in all actuality, is the most overwhelming thing you can ever ask a parent, especially a new mom.

Becoming a parent, and the experience of raising a child, embodies every single feeling you could ever imagine and multiplies it by 100.  Then it adds a million other feelings that you never even knew existed.  And I’m not only talking about the positive feelings. You know the good ones: love, pride, dedication, joy… we all know we love our children more than anything.  We all  love to share the joy of watching our little pack of wild creatures grow.  We love to talk about the pride we feel in relation to our children and their accomplishments…blah blah blah.

But what about the bad stuff?  What about the ugly feelings?

When I say becoming a parent embodies and amplifies every feeling, I mean every feeling:  sadness, anger, worry, frustration, loneliness, powerlessness, rage, guilt.  These feelings sometimes overpower the true happiness that was borne out of becoming a parent, yet we don’t talk about them so much.  We save them for the nights that we lie in bed and cry, or lie in bed and eat a massive Mixed Italian Sub with extra mayo and pickles because we feel so guilty about the way we yelled at our kids that day.  (Yes, I’ve done that.  More than once.  More than 5 times.  Okay, okay, I did it last night.)

Recently, I ran into an old friend from elementary school, who is a new mom to a beautiful little dude.   Silly me, I asked her “How’s it going?”

I know, I know. What the heck was I thinking?

Despite my faux pas, we proceeded to have a refreshingly honest conversation about parenting.   We talked about how amazing it was, of course. But we also talked about how she was lonely at times and how hard it was to be up all night and how it’s a struggle to figure things out.  At the end she apologized for being a “Gloomy Gus.”  The notion that she needed to apologize for being honest about motherhood reminded me that we really need to talk about the bad feelings that come with this job more often.

Maybe if we all talked about the tough stuff, it wouldn’t seem so tough?  Maybe we would remember that we are all human and we all have flaws that we struggle with when it comes to raising other humans. Yes, our kids are humans too, despite my theory that they came from an alien planet inhabited by creatures who only speak in beeps, growls, and fake farting noises.

I’ll start the sharing with one of my many tough parenting times:  I find it incredibly difficult to be nice to my children at their bedtime.  I know it is important to give them a peaceful send off into dreamland, but more often than not, I just can’t do it.  I’m impatient, I yell,  and I don’t laugh at the cute dances they do while putting on their PJs. Overall, I feel frustrated.  Then as soon as they are asleep, I go back in, look at their serene faces and promise myself I’ll do better tomorrow. At this point I typically feel a combination of overwhelming love and guilt.  You know, a typical Friday night in the life of a parent.

What’s your parenting tough stuff?  What are the times that amplify your “bad feelings?”

Next week:  A fun way to help let the trials and tribulations roll off your back…

 

Whenever I tell people I’m the Discount Diva I usually get, “Oh you’re the Discount Diva, I love your blog,” which seriously does my seventh grade afraid to talk in class ego some good, but it’s always quickly followed by “I love to coupon.”

Though I’ll be the first to admit I coupon, it’s ranks pretty low in my money-saving arsenal. I’m much more apt to talk about buying used, negotiating bills, tracking expenses, finding alternatives, saving energydoing without, and appreciating what you already have. BUT since everybody and their mother is giving couponing a try these days in order to save money, I figured I’d do a basic crash course for those just starting out.

1. Get A Cheap Coupon Organizer – A lost coupon isn’t saving you any money. I use a plastic recipe organizer I got for my bridal shower. Set up a system that works for you. I usually organize by a few basic categories – Grocery, Baby Care, Household Items (like cleaners, garbage bags, pet food) Personal Care, Restaurants, and Other (this could be coupons for department stores, photo packages, toys, oil changes, etc.). If alphabetizing coupons by manufacturer is your thing, go for it. Whatever makes them easy to find in the store. Nothing is worse than pulling out a ginormous stack of unsorted coupons mid-aisle.

Coupon Organizer

2. Know Where To Find Coupons – Most everyone knows the Sunday paper is a great place to find those coupons inserts, but also check store circulars from department and grocery stores, reputable coupons sites like coupons.com, manufacturer websites, and in your grocery store (check the catalinas – coupons printed at checkout and given to you with your receipt, coupon dispensers in the aisle and even stuck to the outside of the product). You can also download coupons directly to your store loyalty cards or smart phones. Be aware that there are fraudulent coupons floating around the internet that may not scan. Also if you’re printing from a website, make sure you have enough ink in your printer because blurry or faintly printed coupons may not scan.

3. A Coupon Is NOT Always Cheaper – A lot of the time store brands are cheaper than a brand name even with a coupon, so really check size restrictions listed on the coupon and look at unit prices of competing brands like generics. Coupons are a great way to try brands you may not normally buy, but don’t forget they are a marketing tool used by businesses hoping you’ll become brand loyal for life. Sure we all have some products we have become hopelessly addicted to – like maybe coffee, deodorant, shampoo or diapers. Whatever you’re brand loyal to, be sure to clip those coupons whenever you find them and let friends and family know your regular brands so if they don’t use them they can pass them along to you. Offer to do the same for them.

4. Match Coupons To Sales – If you’re an old couponing pro you already know this, but newbies might think “great $1 off something I was going to buy anyway and want to use it immediately.” Hold your coupons till that item is on sale, but of course pay attention to expiration dates. Grab your grocery circulars, note sale items and match coupons you have to those items. I like to circle them and write the new price after sale and coupon next to it on the circular so I don’t forget while I’m at checkout what I should be paying. They have pay per use or subscription sites that will price match for you, but you probably already know how the Discount Diva feels about paying for something you can easily do yourself. There are free sites like couponmom.com that post price match ups with coupons by store, which are helpful. Price matching and pulling those coupons you plan to use at home saves valuable time at the store.

Next week I’ll talk about some things you might not know like when to use an expired coupon, stacking store and manufacturer coupons and even rebates for the same item to get it free, using coupons on BOGO sales, the truth about “doubling” and “overages,” and establishing thresholds for your regularly purchased items, which is between the lowest price you’ve ever paid for that item up to the maximum you’re willing to pay for it, and when stockpiling crosses the line into hoarding.

You know I love when my step dad calls me up and says oh did you know you could do this with a coupon. I could never get my mom to use them regularly so it’s neat to see him warm up to the possibilities of couponing. Stay tuned, and feel free to share your tips here.

 

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My girl’s got questions. Lots of them. I used to be able to answer quite a few and fudge the rest, but now that she is the wise old age of five many of her questions are out of my area of expertise. There are only so many times a day where you can say “I don’t know” and not begin to feel inadequate. To make matters worse, after learning about the solar system at school, she was left with more questions than answers especially regarding stars and black holes. From what I gather, even NASA isn’t sure what a black hole is so I didn’t feel too badly when I once again did not know the answer. Madison, however, was not satisfied. So, I did what my mother would have done in this situation: I found a class at our local planetarium and signed us up.

 

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SUNY New Paltz hosts a free Astronomy Night on the first and third Thursdays of every month that school is in session. It begins with a 45 minute show in the planetarium and each Astronomy Night has a different focus, but they all start with a basic explanation of where and how our solar system and galaxy exist. The show then ends with a current event topic and for us that was a new revelation about the Big Bang Theory. It is presented by the chair of the Astronomy Department and a student. I was amazed at how smart this college kid was and the depth of his knowledge regarding all things space and his ability to translate it all for us non-experts. Some parts of the show were over Madison’s head (shameless pun intended), but she was still enraptured by the “movie” for the duration of the show. However, she still doesn’t quite grasp the concept of whispering, but no one seemed to mind her slightly loud questions.

 

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After the show, we headed down to the Smolen Observatory to utilize their high powered telescopes and hopefully catch a glimpse of some stars and planets. We were not dissappointed. There, volunteers manned the telescopes, and we were able to not only see Jupitor but also its bands and two of its moons. We learned in the planeterium that one of Jupitor’s moons, Europa, has water under its surface which was very interesting and then to actually see that moon was pretty amazing. This was Madison’s favorite part of the night, and she was begging to visit again as she drifted off to sleep on the ride home.

 

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Astronomy Night is free but you must reserve your tickets ahead of time. Tickets become available exactly one week before the show, and they go quickly. Good news is they will open up a second showing if the first sells out. Right now, the first show begins at 7:30 but the time changes based on when the sun sets. The observatory is difficult to find and isn’t on the campus directory. After the show, follow signs for the soccer fields, park in South Parking Lot #35 and then follow the path into the abyss. Just kidding. Not really. It’s a very dark path leading away from civilization, and you will feel like you are going in the wrong direction but I assure you- you are not. It has to be dark for obvious reasons. Definitely look up and witness the starry sky on your walk. You will be amazed to see how much we are missing out on due to light pollution. Astronomy Night was the perfect answer to Madison’s questions and the perfect way to spend an evening with our girl.

Anyone else hear about this new fad called “spring cleaning?” It’s where you clean stuff simply because the season has changed?  It’s all the rage in my house right now. We are pulling apart closets and cleaning in corners we didn’t even know we had. It all started because I was tired of my ugly wardrobe. I don’t know about you but I am kind of over selecting outfits based on their ability to camouflage snot stains and glitter.

Before kids if something didn’t fit I would just go buy something new. I didn’t worry about labels like, “machine washable,” or “dry clean only.”  I had plenty of stylish clothing to wear to work, out with friends and while lounging at home. Now, I can barely tell those outfits apart. So, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe.

I started by thinning out the clothes I could no longer wear based on size, location of stains and tatters. This left me with a sparse amount to work with, but I’m a creative mom! I can make toddlers believe terrible things will happen if they don’t eat their peas!

Next, I coordinated a few outfits to have at the ready for moments beyond the standard issue mom uniform (t-shirt, jeans and sneakers).  I waste so much time over thinking and rethinking an outfit before leaving the house. Having outfits I can just grab and go saves me from all that!

 

My sparse, but clean ensembles

My sparse, but clean ensembles

I layered accessories right on the hanger so I have a complete outfit.

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

When I finished, I realized my makeup bag could use a little rehab. I have some “vintage” pieces in there it was time to let go of.  I don’t have a lot of time for make-up, but there are days I want a casual look. My new dash out the door (can’t tell I didn’t sleep a wink) look consists of a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, cream eye shadow I smear on with my finger, mascara and lip balm. Kiss My Face Lip TreatMint is  the only lip balm I wear ever ! Feels great and the SPF covers me for play dates at the park!

Streamlined make up routine

Streamlined make up routine

After I cleaned everything up I realized my nails looked shabby too. It seems the mani/pedi is the first thing to get the boot when moms go on a budget. A friend of mine shared her secret for a one minute manicure- press on nails. I know sounds really tacky (no pun intended). But, not only did my husband think I spent big bucks on a manicure, I also got a lot of compliments from friends and strangers. These are great for date night, mom’s night, grocery shopping, or whatever. I don’t have to find time to get out to the salon. No dry time! No smudging!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Three and a half years into the mom gig and I realize how easy it is to get sucked into a wardrobe rut. It’s sad how little I’ve invested in my appearance due to time and feeling overwhelmed. Now I have a simple, clean wardrobe to select from and I gain a few extra minutes in my day with a simplified routine.

What does your mom routine look like? What are some tips for keeping your wardrobe current?

 

 

Me: “This week I’m writing about the reasons why we should have sex even though we’re so busy.

Husband: “Because it’s fun. Blog done.”

What else could I say?  The man had a point.  But after our stimulating conversation, I continued to think on it. After all, I had 300 to 500 words to write.

For me, fun isn’t always enough to combat the overwhelming business of life.  What I need is a whole host of whys that I can refer back to when I need motivation to get busy even though I’m busy.

So here goes…

“Why Busy Parents Should Have Sex: A Comprehensive List”

1. Because it’s fun (some of you may be able to stop here)

2. Your partner will be in a better mood.

3. You will be in a better mood.  (this magically makes your children seem easier to take care of and all around more lovable and cute.)

4. It counts as exercise (this is a helpful one if you’re like me and never get up to squeeze in an a.m. workout)

5. Chocolate tastes even better after you’ve done it.

6. You can enjoy G rated snuggle time afterwards (without anyone trying to grab your boobs)

7. Your stress will wash away for at least 5, maybe even 60, minutes.

8. You will be practicing mindfulness (nothing’s better than being in the moment)

9. You will remember your wild side.

10. It gives you a reason to change the sheets (Ew!  Gross, but true)

11.  It gives you a reason to take a shower.

12. You will most likely share a laugh with your partner either before, during, or after.  (What’s better than a laugh?)

13.  You will sleep better.

14. You will catch a glimpse of the couple you used to be, remember how far you’ve come, and you will love each other even more than you thought you ever could.  (Now granted this won’t happen during every little quickie you’re trying to fit in here and there, but it happens when you need it most. Sometimes you can  look into the eyes of the person you love, really look, and you will see the whole life you created together.)

Why do you make time to do it?  Add to my list!

 

 

 

 

 

Even the Discount Diva is not immune to spending binges during the holidays. In fact, it’s probably because I’m frugal by nature that I didn’t see some of the pitfalls of Easter spending coming. I totally discounted that I was not immune to the cuteness factor. If you have small kids, it’s easy to get swept up in the “magic” of the holidays and forget that all that “magic” comes with a price tag. Here are some tips to recover from your holiday spending hangover.

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1. Admit You Have A Problem – They say you can’t begin the process of recovery without first admitting that you have a problem. Though I was terrified to check my bank account the entire weekend for fear of seeing those awful red overdraft charges, I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever. Turns out my binge didn’t take us into the red (this time). So after you see the full extent of the damage, it’s time to refocus your budget and get back on track. Take a second to feel the full impact of your binge, but beating yourself up is counterproductive. Instead look for other ways to save money until your next paycheck comes in.

I instituted a No Unnecessary Spending Freeze in my household. That means that for the rest of the week my husband needs to bring his lunch and coffee to work in the morning and other than gas or groceries we don’t spend a dime until Friday. I’ve done these freezes before and although we aren’t always perfect at executing them, it definitely helps to get on the same page with your spouse. This is especially helpful in households like mine where one person tends to hold primary responsibility for paying the bills and tracking the spending.

2. Eat Those Leftovers – The thing that makes leftovers unappealing to almost everyone is the idea of having a rerun of the same meal (no matter how great the original meal was). Instead you need to look at leftovers as ingredients for new dishes that you would otherwise pay for at the store. If you cooked a big meal for Easter like I did you probably have tons of your main meat dish leftover (ham in my case). Meat is expensive at the store so before you throw it out, get creative in making new meals to use it up. Tonight it’ll be cheesy ham and rice casserole with leftover veggies and sour cream purchased for yesterday’s meal. For lunch today I’m thinking crumbled hard boiled egg over leftover salad and egg salad sandwiches for the kids. Even if you didn’t cook for the holiday, I bet you have some pretty colored eggs in your fridge. A quick internet search could yield tons of ideas to keep those leftovers out of the trash and keep more of your grocery money in your pocket.

3. Get A GREEN Easter Bunny – Gather all those plastic eggs, baskets, unused Easter grass, cute bunny ear headbands and the like and tuck them away for next year. At our house the kids know that we leave out our baskets for the Easter Bunny to fill, much like Santa does with stockings, so they don’t expect a new basket every year. This year, I tried to be even more practical since it was the first time I had to buy new baskets since the ones we’ve been using the past three years or so fell apart. The dollar store had great Easter pails we can use this summer or even next winter. Sand and snow are both fun for kids to shovel and scoop. Before you go shopping next year, pull out your Easter stash and assess what you have before you hit the store and you just may prevent a binge spending spree.

4. Get Dress Clothes For Less – I didn’t plan on buying snazzy new duds for the kids this Easter. That left my husband vulnerable to my daughter’s fashionista whining about not having a pretty new Easter dress. So he hit the store and bought my daughter two new dresses and my son a little suit with tie. I had to admit that when I saw how cute they were I couldn’t even be mad he spent $40 on just a few outfits they’re only going to wear a handful of times, if that. Had I planned better (this is my vow for next year) I would have begun scouring the thrift shops earlier to avoid falling prey to the high price of buying cute Easter outfits right before the holiday. While killing time before Good Friday Service we stopped in a thrift store in Pine Bush and found the cutest little suit and tie for my son. Let’s play a game, which suit in the photos below do you think was the one bought new and which was the one bought used.

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If you can’t tell, that’s why you should buy used and save money on these special occasion outfits. If you don’t have younger children to pass these clothes down to next year, take them to the consignment shop and get store credit on new duds or get cash depending on what consignment store you use.

I wish you all a speedy recovery and here’s hoping next year’s holidays don’t hit our bank accounts quite so hard.

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Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays.  I don’t have to buy anyone presents, and it’s a reminder to appreciate the beauty of Earth and to stop taking it for granted.  The Hudson Valley is one of the most beautiful places on this Earth, and it’s our job to keep it so.  The best way to do that is to educate our children of the importance of taking care of our planet.  Thankfully, our community makes this pretty easy with several events going on in the next week.  Earth Day is officially April 22nd, but don’t limit yourself to just one day- get crazy and live like it’s Earth Day everyday!

 

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1. Greater Ossining Earth Day Festival will be held April 19th from 11-4 at the Louis Engle Waterfront Park.  They will have free family events, green vendors, craft beer, and live music.  They will also be hosting an athletic gear swap so if your child has switched sports bring that old gear and trade it for what you need.  Have e-waste?  Bring it and they will teach you how to repair, repurpose or recycle it.  They will also be collecting e-waste for recycle.  Restrictions apply so be sure to check their site.

 

2. Earth Day at Bear Mountain will be April 26th from 10-4:30 and will be featuring family friendly fun with an Earth Day focus in addition to their regular activities including making a special snack for the bears. $8 per vehicle

 

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3. Hudson Highlands Nature Museum will be hosting an Earth Day celebration on April 26th from 10-3 at the Outdoor Discovery Center.  The day will begin with a hike at 9 am.  There will be several hikes to chose from to meet different abilities from a stroller friendly hike to a hike for the more experienced.  Then the children will receive a planet protector passport to be stamped at each booth and be entered to win a prize.  There will also be nature play, story telling, and music.  The day is free with a suggested donation of $5 to park which will be donated to support environmental education.

 

4. New Paltz will be hosting their own Earth Day fair on April 27th from 11-3 at the New Paltz Reformed Church.  They will have family friendly displays, activities, food and music.

 

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5. Usher in Earth Day with the Lyrid Meteor Shower taking place currently and will peak the morning of Earth Day, April 22nd at or before 5am with a minimum of 15-20 meteors per hour.  It goes against everything I believe in but wake up those kids, grab a few blankets, and enjoy in your own backyard.  Obviously the darker the sky the better which might inspire you to join the Dark Sky Movement and reduce your own light pollution.

 

6. Disney Nature’s movie Bear comes out on Friday.  See this movie in its opening week (18th-24th) and Disney will donate a portion of ticket sales to the National Park Foundation.

 

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7. Earth Day is super easy to celebrate with your kids.  Talk about the importance of taking care of our planet, read a book about it, check out kid friendly apps and websites, and then get out there.  Take a walk and on your way pick up some litter.  Don’t forget your reusable bags every time you go shopping.  Turn off those lights when not in use.  Role modeling is the most effective with our kids so be sure to set that good example.

Enjoy this beautiful weekend in our very own Hudson Valley!  Happy Earth Day!

Our sunny funny photo booth

Our sunny funny photo booth

I wanted to do something really fun for the girls Easter pics this year. Short on time and money for a professional photographer, I decided to create my own funny bunny photo booth. But once I made the booth it was too cute to keep to ourselves. So, we invited a few friends for an impromptu bunny bash. Luckily, my very awesome (and talented) friend Danielle brought her fancy camera along to get some great pics of our little party goers.  A total bonus!

Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney

Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney

I selected a fun background to give our photo booth a casual feel. I used a chevron designed wrapping paper taped to an extra piece of paneling we had lying around. You could tape it to your wall, but hanging the paper on the wall is a two person job and I am a one mom operation. Using the panel was easier and allowed me to hide the back drop so I could surprise the girls in the a.m.

Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place

Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place

I strung a line of foam shaped chicks across the patterned paper. I simply taped some twine to the back of each chick. You could easily skip the paper and just hang a string of fun themed shapes to a clean colorful wall inside your home. Or, move outside and hang the shapes along a fence, around a tree, or on the side of your house.

Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland

Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland

This time of year you can find bunny ears at every dollar store- a must have for a funny bunny photo booth!

Bunny ears from Target

Bunny ears from Target

To make a bunny face I used a wooden mustache prop I found at Michael’s.  I added a fuzzy pom-pom nose and some colorful pipe cleaner whiskers for a touch of whimsy. I tried to use Elmer’s glue, but the hot glue gun worked the best.  Of course I had to add in some recognizable bunny teeth. I used white craft foam with adhesive backing and attached directly to the mustache.

Easy to make props

Easy to make props

I situated our photo booth in the sunniest spot of our house. Natural lighting makes for the best photos! Then, we handed the kids the props and let them have fun! I wasn’t worried about them posing angelically; I was just shooting for nobody crying. My goal was to make some fun memories with our friends. Mission accomplished! How cute are these kids?

Friends posing as bunnies

Friends posing as bunnies

Bunny buddy

Bunny buddy

Little bunny

Little bunny

For less than $10 I now have some fun pics to commemorate our Easter holiday. I can print as many photos as I’d like and email copies to distant relatives (thank you Danielle!).

A themed photo booth is a great alternative for kids who are afraid of the Easter bunny, or maybe too little to meet the EB yet. It’s also an easy, affordable, fun activity to do for birthday parties, play dates, or holidays. Just change up your props!

 

 

When Sara was 4 she contracted encephalitis. After a major illness like this you can expect delays and health issues. Some residual problems were more of a surprise than others. Sara takes medication that help with her seizure disorder with the unwanted side effect of altering the way her food tastes. If we change a medications we often change her likes or dislikes of a particular food. Sara would LOVE baked Ziti in December, in January, after a medication change she might not.The next eating challenge she has is with her medical device, a Vagus Nerve Stimulator. It is a small pacemaker like device that sends a signal up to her Vagus Nerve in the brain, helping with seizure control. This signal then travels down through her bariatric system causing many of the food issues we now have. This signal will make Sara feel full or giver her indigestion. The device has settings which the doctor will increase over time. When the gastro-intestinal side effects started getting worse our doctor and our family thought we should hold off any increases in the Vagus Nerve Stimulator settings. Slowly we have been able to increase the setting on Sara’s device and slowly we have seen an improvement in her appetite. This can be rough on a Mom, the one who takes care of the family. Feeding difficulties are real issues for many families with or without children with special needs. Once I adjusted to the new challenge, breathed, and accepted that this would be one of the difficulties of the new device, I was able to focus on things that help Sara at 25 eat more, eat healthier, and gain improved health.

 

Sara is a social eater. She loves people, inviting friends over for lunch always helps her eat more. When we dine out buffets and salad bars are a great choice. There is no waiting, Sara can find foods that appeal to her visually. Sadly, it is fine to serve Sara the same thing over and over again. If she is not in the mood for a vegetable, sliced strawberries and bananas make a great dinner side dish, not just for breakfast. Feeding Sara before she is hungry helps. If she helps cook the meal it tastes better. Get some substitute cooks. Sara will not complain to friends or other family members about what they cook as easily as she can complain to Mom. When Sara’s Dad started making breakfast into animal shapes there was a huge increase in her interest in breakfast.

 

 

 

 

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When the going gets tough, the tough get help. I was lucky to attend a feeding conference presented by Ingrid Lucas of Lucas Speech Pathology in Warwick. She can offer advice that would apply directly to your family member. If your child receives special education services you might benefit from a feeding evaluation from your child’s speech teacher. Many students who have Autism need more than just the evaluation, many schools have speech therapists that are certified in feeding therapy .For more information about the services at Lucas Speech Pathology go to

http://www.lucasspeechpathology.com/

 

For more information about the Vagus Nerve Stimulator try http://us.cyberonics.com/en/vns-therapy/ .

 

Good luck, hope your family is eating healthier in no time. Lisa Bock

 

Washingtonville Soccer Shop 027

 

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