Monday, January 23, 2017

A day in the airport, puke and almost a head-on collision: The Vacation is Officially Over

We just got back from a wonderful family vacation full of beautiful beaches, warm breezes, WAY too much food, friends, pampering and lots of time together.  It could have been a rough transition going from the cruise boat to the airport.  Especially when my anticipated 6 hrs in the airport (which by the way is already a REALLY long time but sort of unavoidable with the flight options/disembarking procedures) turned into 10 hrs at the airport, plus another 5.5 hrs on the plane!

All together it ended up taking 17 hours for us to get home, which meant it felt like 3:34am to us (1:45 local time) before the kids got to bed.  Yikes!

And did I mention that my 5 year old started throwing up 10 minutes from home?  Oh yes, that was a unexpected challenge. :)

But, despite all the delays I am thankful.  I am thankful that we were safe in that airport, as the delays were due to severe storms and storm watches that occurred in other parts of the country.  Storms that took lives.

I am thankful that we made it home, so so many of the travelers around us had to spend the night in the airport as they couldn't make connecting flights.

I am thankful that we found an electrical outlet early on in our airport stay, we kept that thing busy all day and once the terminal was standing room only and more and more stranded travelers streamed in I was especially thankful that we were able to sit together.

I was mindful that the very same airport (Ft Lauderdale) was closed with stranded passengers only 2 weeks before for a horrific reason, and was thankful that that day we were all safe.

My kids kept busy with game players, homework, Netflix, reading and even napping.  We were crowded but the terminal had food and even a Starbucks so I was happy too.

But I am mostly thankful because this morning, only a few miles from home we had a close call. I was driving our van home from the airport on a freeway going the speed limit (65 mph) when a Jeep came out of nowhere going the wrong direction right towards us in the lane next to me.  

It all happened so fast and was so disorienting, as you don't see cars coming at you on a freeway very often (or never in my case).  I've heard of this happening, unfortunately it is rather common in my area, usually late at night/early in the morning and almost always because of drunk driving.  

It was 1:20am and we were distracted by my puking 5 year old in the backseat but I was aware enough to stay in my lane and not collide with him.  We called 911 immediately to report it but found out later that he had collided with another vehicle shortly after passing us.  He also caused another accident by cars swerving to avoid him.

I read that it wasn't a fatality, and the wrong-way driver had the worst injuries.  Partly because there were no passengers and they both swerved at the last second so they collided on the passenger sides of their vehicles.  The jeep looked totalled in photos.

That could have been us. 

I'm tired, feel like I'm still on a moving boat and have piles of laundry (plus a sick kid home) but am thankful.  So thankful. Thankful for a wonderful family vacation and getting back home safely!

I'll be back with photos and a review of our trip on the Holland America Koningsdam boat soon.  Well as soon as the room feels like it's not swaying back and forth. 😳

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fisher Price Friday - My Friend Nicky

Happy New Year!  I'm back to share another toy for Fisher Price Friday.  Today it's a collectable Fisher Price doll from the 1980s.  I gave my youngest daughter a Nicky doll for Christmas this year and it was one of her favorite presents.  

She had seen a Nicky doll online while I was looking at eBay one afternoon a couple months ago and pointed it out.  She then told me regularly that she would love the doll for Christmas or her next birthday.  Little does she know that finding a brand new 30 year old doll is not the easiest thing to do. :)

However, after a bit of searching I found this beautiful New-In-Box Nicky and she was very excited to open the box on our Christmas present opening day (not actually Christmas day but that's another story).

My Friend Nicky #206 was made only in 1985 and is one of the many super cute My Friend Dolls. Her head, arms and legs are made of plastic but she has a cloth body.  She can sit or stand.   She has soft curly hair, a blue and white cheerleading uniform, blue plastic headband with hearts and flowers and 2 pom poms.   I've read that the doll also came with white panties but as you can see ours are missing.  So either my 5 year old put them somewhere or my NIB doll was missing hers. Either way it's no big deal because the doll has a built in cloth torso that looks like flowered shorts.

According to the box Nicky is machine washable and her hair can be combed and set.  I have not tried to machine wash our My Friends dolls yet, I'm much too afraid!  It just seems like a bad idea.  If I ever do I will make sure to update with the results. 

Note that in 1984 there was a cheerleading Mandy #216 that had the same outfit and accessories.  She is the blond doll that we already happened to have, although my daughter had the #4009 Special Birthday Mandy version.

They also sold the cheerleading outfit only as set #4109.  The sweater on that set had "Mandy" printed on it.

Nicky came with a pair of blue and white tennis shoes.  This particular shoe was exclusive to this cheerleading outfit set.  The cotton socks are white with a blue stripe and they were also exclusives. 

Her blue and white pom poms attach via a velcro strap to her wrist.  The back of the box shows the doll with yellow/blue pom poms but as far as I have found this was not a variation that was produced. 

My five year old loves both of her My Friend dolls.  Although right now Nicky is her favorite. :)  For more information on Mandy check out: Special Birthday Mandy #4009

Note: Mandy is wearing a new yellow rollerskating outfit in this photo, another Christmas present.  She came with a party dress originally.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork Roast and Vegetables

While visiting my parents last week in cold-cold WA we tried out a new recipe.  My mom had a pork roast so we added a bunch of ingredients and crossed our fingers that it would turn out.  This was particularly risky since there would be 8 of us coming together for dinner that night from 2 different states and this was the only food we prepared!  

Fortunately it turned out great and everyone had seconds (or thirds).  The only downside was there were hardly any leftovers. :)

Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Pork Roast with Vegetables
2 lb pork roast (frozen)
3 cups mini carrots
1 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 Onion, diced
6 small'ish potatoes
1 (10 ounce) can or box Cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup balsamic salad dressing (or regular balsamic vinegar)
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/4 cup Brown sugar
Salt and pepper

1. Place the pork roast into the crock pot.  Ours was frozen, but thawed would work too just adjust the cooking time.  
2. Cut potatoes into uniform size pieces and dice an onion. 
3. Add the carrots to the crock pot around the roast.  Then add the potatoes and onions on top.
4. Add the garlic, soy sauce, balsamic dressing, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup brown sugar to a small mixing bowl.  Whisk the ingredients making sure the sugar is dissolved.  Add the can (or box) of mushroom soup and whisk again.  Once mixed pour it over the top of the potatoes and roast.  
5. Add a little salt and pepper.
6. Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hrs (less if your roast was thawed, ours was frozen solid and took 5 hrs).
7. Check to make sure the crock pot isn't boiling towards the end, if it is turn it down or to warm for the last few minutes.
8. Serve and enjoy!
*Note if you would prefer a thicker gravy remove some of the broth and thicken with flour or cornstarch as desired.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Visiting Nursing Homes with Kids - Tips and Advice

Visiting a nursing home/care home with your preschoolers or school aged children can be a challenge.  When you add children to an environment with unpredictable adults and then add in a (potentially) emotional situation it's no surprise that it can be very stressful.

However, I've found that the more you prepare your kids ahead, and normalize (talk through) any potential obstacles the smoother the visits can be.

For example before going to the care facility take some time and talk with your kids about how your parent/grandparent/loved one is doing.  What their current limitations are (sight, walking, talking, ability to feed themselves, etc) as well as what they can still do.

Also talk ahead about:

1. Smells - Poop/Urine
2. Sounds - Screaming, singing, bad words, laughing
3. Sights - People in wheelchairs, strangers smiling at or talking to them.
4. Rules - Boundaries, where they can and cannot go (for example bathrooms in the units may be off limits), food is just for residents, etc. 

Try to have a conversation about what they might see and what that would feel like to them, how they might react.  You could even do a little role  playing for what to do if someone wants to talk to them, etc.  Remember that your loved one might not be exhibiting these behaviors, but someone else in the facility may be.

Also talk about how the kids should act, what is and isn't allowed.  I'd suggest low voices, no sibling fighting, no running, etc.  

Come Prepared

Bring activities for the kids to do alone, together as well as with your loved one depending on how the visit is going.  When we first visited my dad my oldest was pretty apprehensive and in order to have her feel safe/comfortable she spent most of that first visit playing her Nintendo DS.  She was with us, but able to be in her own little world.  As she became more comfortable on subsequent visits the video games weren't necessary anymore and she was able to interact with us.

Consider bringing artwork that your kids have made or pictures of them to put up in your loved ones room.  That is a way to keep them engaged and to show that they are important to your loved one's space.

Activities to do Alone:

Game Players, books, tablets with games/videos

Activities to do with sibling/others:

Coloring, puzzles, painting, simple games

Activities with your loved one:

My dad joined in a little bit with painting (with some assistance).  He had watched the kids painting and I decided to see if he'd like to try and he did!  Now all of the above activities can be done in the same area as your loved one, our kids did simple puzzles (to be finished quickly and put away easily) at the table with dad.  He enjoyed watching them/us even if he didn't actively participate.

Another activity is reading together.  Illustrated children's books like James Herriot's Treasury of Children's Stories were popular with the kids and my dad, they all appreciated the beautiful drawings.  You could also look at photo books together (like the personalized ones we made for him).

If your loved one is still able to talk and communicate somewhat try to engage them in questions and be ready to write down what they say, as these gems are little gifts.  Or perhaps have your phone make recordings of your conversations.

And my best advice, take photos!  Take as many photos as possible of your kids and your loved one.  Depending on their ages your children may not remember the visits or even that they knew your loved one, so photos can help fill in the gaps when you tell them about this special person in the years to come.  

  • Prepare your kids ahead.
  • Make sure they're well rested, well fed before a visit (and bring snacks, for your loved one too) and have used the bathroom.
  • Bring activities and things to do.
  • Be flexible, you may need to adjust the visit depending on how your loved one or kids are doing.  Consider taking a bathroom or drinking fountain break if your kids are struggling.
  • Answer their questions, even if it's just to tell them that you'll talk about it later if it isn't an appropriate time right then.
  • Give lots of positive feedback to your kids during and after visits.  Try to leave on a positive note.

Do Not:
  • Make the visit too long, have a reasonable amount of time for all involved.  A few shorter visits (2 in a day for example) are better than one really long one.
  • Expect or force your kids to preform if they don't want to, no forced piano playing or singing for example.
  • Force hugs or kisses by your kids.  Let them interact with your loved one as they feel comfortable.
For more information on a parent with Alzheimer's check out:

Gift Ideas for Loved Ones with Dementia

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, hooray for 2017.  I'm hoping that 2017 is MUCH better than 2016, anyone with me?

I've got a little game for the FPLP fans out there.  See if you can identify what vintage/collectable toys the Happy New Year 2017 images belong to.  I'll have the answers at the bottom but try not to peek!

Past New Years:


Happy (face card)  New   Year
2 #2102 Magic Scan Checkout Counter
0 #112
1 #972
7 #998