Thursday, August 22, 2013


How does it seem to happen every year?

That the year just flies by and before you know it your child is another year older?

But yet it does and I just know I end up saying the same things time after time... "where did the time go?"

Another year has flown by for my oldest.  My second "born".  My daughter Olivia.

Who is now TWELVE!

For her birthday dinner she chose:
BBQ Cups
Sweet Potatoes
Root Beer

She LOVES clothes (a true tween girl?!)
so mom found some GREAT deals 
over the past few months to save for this special gift. 

And a stylin' pair of boots for fall/winter.

We had her dinner the night before her actual day, 
because on the day of her birthday we took her to 
Six Flags! 

Olivia absolutely LOVES rides, so to find her youngest brother
is starting to enjoy them too was such a GIFT!
(We both thought he was going to hurl on this!)

But he ended up having a BLAST! :)

As we all did!

It was the perfect day!
Monday, August 05, 2013

Dis*ney's Guest Assis*tance Pass

I have SO much to tell you about this little known gem in Dis*ney World. (I'm assuming Disney*land has this too but have no experience with that park so am not sure.)

I first started hearing about this card when we began planning for our time in Orlando this past Christmas.  I was reading some of the "boards" where moms, etc would talk about the parks and tips and such.  I was looking for information about the resorts with the best decorations for us to peruse, and saw people talking about taking kids with special needs, and then lots of talk about this card.

There is much debate over this and it sounds like you never know for sure who you will get at the guest relations center when you go to ask about one of these.  (Sometimes people just won't know enough about the card and how it can apply to certain special needs.  If you get a person like that it was stated time and again to just ask for a supervisor.)  It WAS made very clear in all that I read that it does get misused at times.  It's something that should obviously be used if it is truly needed, and even those who do get one should choose the times to use it.  It is NOT a bypass the entire line card.  It may mean different things for different needs and when you do go to ask for one, you will want to discuss the NEEDS of the child and they will help you with the card and what it is for.

So here's more of what it is and how to get it.  First, please know I would never get one or try to get one with either Liam or Olivia.  As we are looking ahead to this coming Christmas, we are looking to go back to Orlando and part of their gift this year is going to be a day at Magic Kingdom with mom.  Just the two of them.  And I will not get a card (though it's tempting!) :)

Also, I did NOT use it for every ride we went on.

OK, so, this card is geared to help those with special needs.  This obviously began with the basics... wheelchair bound children and adults.  But has grown as more and more have been used for those who just have different needs to have a fun experience at a park such as this.  I liked how one person put it when they received some very disparaging looks from others in a line where they had been able to use their card and go instead through the Fast Pass line.  They said, if it were up to me, I would have traded my child's needs and the silly card, for their child who was able to wait in line even though that line was long and ugly.  That's the gist.  And even with the card, and even if you do bypass lines at times, for the kids who truly need this card you will still never have a day like those who don't need one of these cards.  

A card may be used to allow a stroller in line, where the stroller is basically used similar to a wheelchair or to give the child their own space such as a highly sensory child who couldn't handle the closeness of a line but could wait in line time wise just fine.  Or a child who has issues with loud noises, etc and would benefit from sitting farther away at a loud show, or near an exit in case they had a reaction and needed to leave quickly.  Or a child who couldn't handle the temps of waiting in a hot line and medically would overheat and may need an air-conditioned waiting area.  Etc.  I think you understand.  Here are some of Braeden's needs... lines: the overwhelming numbers of people, noises, smells, closeness, etc. and his movement and impulsivity, shows: loud noise, scary sequences, needing to be by an exit in case he bolts or needs to leave, etc.  There was no way he would have done much at all if we didn't have that card, and even with it we used it only when needed.

Here's us just trying to wait for lunch at Hollywood Studios.  He was on the verge of a major meltdown.  Luckily I was able to hold him off with an iPad in the air conditioning until we could get in for our reservation and get his sugar levels evened out.  (He hadn't wanted any of the snacks I had and did offer him!)

We went to Hollywood Studios first so that was where we got our card.  They will write it out for the duration of your trip and it's good at all of the parks, so you only need to get one for your trip.  I admit I was nervous about asking for it, but the gentleman I spoke with had no problem with it and was SO HELPFUL!  He asked about Braeden's needs and I explained.  He went on to suggest ear plugs for some of the shows which I hadn't even thought of and when he saw I had none he went and got two pair for us to use.  He reiterated it was NOT a line bypass card and I let him know I did know that.

At Hollywood, we were among the first in the gates which was so helpful!  We got to Toy Story Mania as one of the first and had NO LINE, so no card was used.  Then we went to Star Wars, even though it was across the park, because he wanted to ride that and I knew those two COULD have lines later.  Again we didn't use the card and had only about a 5-10 min wait which was perfect.  What we DID use the card for at this park was the Cars Stunt show, American Idol, and Fantasmic.

At the cars show, I knew that it was going to be LOUD and with loud you never know how Braeden will handle it, so I showed the card as we were going in along with many many others.  Braeden also has big issues with any kind of heights, and the way everyone was piling in we would have ended up at the top or part way up the bleachers which could have been a definite issue.  I explained upon showing the card that I needed us to sit near an exit.  It was so perfect.  It landed us at the far right side, right next to the exit in case we needed to leave, and in the front where the handicapped/wheelchair seating was located so we didn't have to walk up at all.  We had GREAT seats and luckily - with the ear plugs! - the noise was ok and he LOVED the show!

Later we went to American Idol.  This is a show I had asked him about because Olivia and I had gone another time and had lots of fun at.  He hadn't wanted to go which was fine with me, but later in the day when we needed to "kill" some time before Fantasmic he decided he would go.  We waited about 40 minutes and then as we were about to go in he decided he didn't want to go.  I kind of made him anyway since we had waited and showed the card to sit near an exit again.  Good thing because he wanted none of it.  The wheelchair section was where we were and it was at the very top.  Braeden was rolling around on the ground, not sitting in his seat, etc.  The few rows in front of us were empty thank goodness.  Of the 5 finalists at the show we stayed for 3 and I had had enough so we left easily and unnoticed.

At the end of the day we headed to Fantasmic. It's an outdoor show where you come in and the theater is way in front of you and down many rows of a stadium. I again showed the card and asked to sit near an exit.  Thank goodness.  We would have filed in with everyone (they file them in certain seats as it fills from one side to the other) and would have been on the far left in the front.  Again I knew this was a loud show and a bit scary in parts which he does not do well with.  We were placed right there at the entrance/exit at the very back.  During the show he "hid" behind a large cement pillar right behind us that was just enough for him to get through the scary parts as he peeked out at the show.  I'm so glad we were at the back.  And then after the show we were able to leave immediately which also meant that we were in the front of the bus line to go back to our resort!  Big time stress reliever!

On our final day, the day we went to Magic Kingdom, we used the card a bit more.  Again our first couple things had very little wait and we didn't use the card (Buzz Lightyear and the Laugh Floor) but we did use it for a few others (Tomorrowland Speedway, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and a couple others).  For those, they allowed us to either go in the fast pass line so there was little wait, or use the wheelchair access if there was no fast pass line, with no wait.  I did feel a bit guilty... but... I know again that we rode no where near what most who do wait in line ride, and that had we not had the card we wouldn't have even rode those.  He just couldn't have handled it with the noise and all, it wouldn't have happened.  Others we didn't use the card for included Mickey's Philharmagic and the tea cups.

One place I wish I would have pulled it out to see if it helped was at Dumbo.  If you haven't been to MK recently, there are now TWO Dumbo rides, identical!  When you get in line, it goes into a circus tent and part of your wait is spent in a play area.  Genius!  You wait in line a bit, then get a pager and go in to play.  When the pager goes off you rejoin the last part of a line and wait a bit more before the ride.  The problem for us here was that our pager went off in about 5 minutes.  Sounds great, right?!  Not much of a wait!?  Well, for most sure, but for Braeden he JUST got in and started playing and just could NOT switch out of that so quickly to get back in line.  I asked the person with the pagers if we couldn't wait a bit longer but he said no. :(  I should have pulled the card then and asked again but didn't.  I also didn't think until later about trading our pager with someone just coming in.  Oh hindsight is a great thing.  So on the verge of a complete meltdown, we took the nearest exit and missed out on Dumbo.  Not a big deal, but because he really doesn't ride much, to miss one this way kind of stunk! :(

Again, I am not wanting people to get a card to bypass lines, BUT if you have a child like my Braeden, you KNOW what a blessing this was!!!  You will NOT find this card written about ANYWHERE, believe me I looked!  And you can only get it at a park, not a resort or anywhere else.  BUT... look into it if it will help your experience!  SUCH a lifesaver!  Thank you Disney!

Day Four...

...was spent at the most magical place of all... Magic Kingdom!

We started our day with breakfast at Chef Mickey's which is located in the Contemporary Hotel.  When Braeden was very young we stayed at the Contemporary (thanks to grandparents!) and ate here.  The kids haven't stopped talking about it!  They love it!

He was very excited, even though it was an early morning since we had a few packed days. :)

The food was incredible as always and the characters are so fun to see up close!  We LOVE the Mickey waffles!!!

We had a lot of fun at Magic Kingdom and it was the best day of the four as far as any "issues" Braeden had during our trip.  He of course is ADDICTED to cotton candy!

It's been a while since any of us have been to this park.  There are days where I've taken Olivia to Hollywood Studios, etc but not MK.  It was really neat to see all the "new", such as the whole new Circus area replacing Toon Town.

And the Beast's Castle...

And Ariel's new Grotto location and ride...

And Rapunzel's tower...

Disney parades are some of my favorites EVER!  I was so bummed at Hollywood Studios when I found out they no longer have a parade!  I used to LOVE their cars parade!

One of Braeden's favorite things on this day was going to Tom Sawyer's Island... which I've NEVER been to before!  I've heard that cast members hide a few paintbrushes before the park opens each day and if you find one you get a fast pass for either Splash Mountain or Thunder Mountain Railway.  We weren't there early enough for that but still had loads of fun hiking over the island, going in the caves, and looking for butterflies!

We left before the nighttime parade and fireworks show since Braeden had had enough. :)  One more thing to tell you about though that he loved heree... there is a new "games" in the park called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.  There is a little kiosk behind the Christmas Store in Liberty Tree Square where you can "sign up".  Each person can do this and get one pack of sorcerer cards per day.  You get a pack of cards (I wish I had a picture) with different Disney characters on them.  Each has different strengths and "powers".  There are spots through the park where you can stand and flash your "key card".  It starts a digital showing of something that you can then cast a spell at using one of your cards.  You are then sent on to another spot in the park.  We did about 3 or 4 and may have done more had we started earlier in the day.  It was very fun and something that was right up his alley, not being a big "rider".

We headed back having had a wonderful day and an amazing trip.  I can't believe my guy is turning 10 this year!  Wow!  Love you Braeden!  Thanks for a great four days!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Day Three...

was a "down" day...

After sleeping in, we got ready for the day.

We first went to Downtown Disney's AMC Dine-In Theater for lunch and to see the new movie Turbo.  Very fun!

Braeden got an appetizer plate for his lunch...

And I chose a pasta dish.  (It was good, but not hot/warm enough, but I'm a chicken and didn't send it back!)

Afterwards we meandered through Downtown Disney and Braeden HAD to sample some cotton candy!

Then we went to the Pirate Dinner Adventure.  
(Think Medieval Times with pirates, but not as good!)

Ninja Braeden!

After that we headed back to the lodge and swam again, watching Tangled pool side!  And then called it a night, finally...

Day Two...

... of our amazing trip was spent at Hollywood Studios.

This little baby was a LIFE SAVER for us both here and our last day when we went to Magic Kingdom.  It's not written anywhere on any Disney website, map, information, etc but is available for certain special needs.  I plan on writing a whole separate blog post on this for those of you reading who would benefit from this knowledge as we did!

Braeden does not really do "rides" like most kids his age, but we did have to go to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play set THREE TIMES! :)

Our lunch was very fun at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater!  A place we had always heard about but had never been to!

Since we were on the dining plan, each meal came with dessert.  This was my dessert here... the Sci-Fi Candy Bar... Amazing!  I think I ate MAYBE three bites and couldn't do any more it was so RICH!  But Braeden helped out!

We planned on doing three shows during the day: the Lights, Motors, Action Stunt Show, Beauty and the Beast live show, and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  Unfortunately it rained off and on starting around in the afternoon and dampened some of the plans.  The car stunt show was great and we saw it all with no problem.  Beauty and the Beast got through one song before stopping due to weather.  And Indy was able to do the first of three "scenes" since the final two are outdoors.

But the Car show was definitely a fave so I'm glad we got to it!

Here's my dessert from dinner: a chocolate capuccino cupcake to die for!  I think I had two bites of this one! :)

One of his favorite things from the day was seeing "THE" Power Rangers suit at the Planet Hollywood store!

And I HAD to get him to stay for Fantasmic which is one of my all-time favorites!  I had to do a little bribing as it was a long day for him, but he was glad in the end that he went! :)

Let's Connect!

Search This Blog


About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Blog Archive

What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:

Other Awesome Blogs

Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you