Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Advocating for Children with Learning Differences

Life is so busy & crazy as the new school year approaches.  Yet, I remind myself to slow down and think about being pro-active while advocating for my son with learning differences, instead of re-active.  Now is the time to write an email to your child's teachers, giving them some insight to their new student.  For instance, my son is deaf in his right ear.  I like to inform the teachers of this, let them know about his preferential seating modification, and also let them know 1. He's a loud person 2. If your class is loud, he will be louder, because he cannot hear. 3. If he has his back to you, he cannot hear you (don't mistake this as ignoring you). 
A few years ago, one of his teachers called to tell me that the whole class was loud that day and especially my son.  She went on to tell me that she decided to make an example of him to try to get him to be quieter.  (Keep in mind, I did tell her at the beginning of the school year about his deafness.) So, I listened to her and sympathized that a loud class must be very frustrating but not to make an example of the deaf child ever again.  That teacher and I went on to have a fantastic teacher/parent relationship.
Step into the teacher's shoes for just a minute.  For example, our high school has 2100 students, can I expect all of his teachers to know his modifications the first day of school? No, not realistically.  For this reason, I send the email about the week before school begins. I introduce myself, give all of my and my husband's contact information, and list his modifications.  I stress to the teachers to feel free to contact us any time. 
My husband and I are our son's teachers biggest advocates, as well as our children's biggest advocates. If you don't advocate for your child, who will?
Have a great school year!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Universal Studios Meal Deal. ...Deal or No Deal?

This week, my family had the opportunity to visit Universal Studio's in Orlando, FL. More specifically, Islands of Adventure.  Of course, the main goal of my sons was to enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Like the smart theme park "goers" that we are, we were awake very early and standing at the turnstiles 30 minutes prior to opening, ready to go.  We certainly did not enjoy waking up that early during our vacation. However, the perks of being at the park early and one of the first families to ride the Forbidden Journey, far outweighed the bad.

My question to myself and to all that read this article is, should we have purchased the Universal Meal Deal?  First, the cost, $20.99 for adults and $9.99 for children through 9 years of age.  Second, you can eat "all you like" during lunch and dinner at participating restaurants only.  Also, beverages are not included. However, you can purchase a Meal Deal Cup for $8.99 to use only during the day of your meal deal.  All you can eat, sounds great especially with two growing sons.  But, the restaurants are limited and you can only fill your drink cup for "free" at those participating restaurants.  Otherwise, you can fill your Meal Deal Cup at other locations for 85 cents, per fill up.

The participating restaurants located at Islands of Adventures are:
Circus McGurkus

Burger Digs

Comic Strip Cafe

Captain America Diner

I absolutely can see how this would be a value for any children/teens traveling in groups or with friends for the day.  As a mom, I would be happy knowing my child will have no problems eating.  But, I have to admit, I found these four restaurants to be very limiting to me as I am not a fried food person.  I did have a salad for lunch at Capt America Diner and a veggie burger for dinner at Burger Digs.  Though I found myself disappointed as I walked through Three Broomsticks and Mythos, with my husband, wishing I could eat something different, something I consider "better".
Three Broomsticks Menu

Mythos Menu

In closing, was this a Deal or No Deal for our family?  Well, it will depend on who you talk to. My two sons,  Jack and Nick, say yes this was a deal.  They were able to eat chicken fingers and burgers all day.
My husband, J, says that yes it was a deal for our family as we would not have been able to feed all four of us lunch and dinner at a theme park for less than $89.  Though, he would have like to have more options in the dining.  As for me, I say no, it was not a deal.  Part of the problem is, I like food and more specifically, I like good food.  Fried food just doesn't cut it for me for the entire day.

So, the next time we visit Universal Studios, the Taylor Family will not be purchasing the Meal Deal.  Though, if my sons ever travel here with a group, I absolutely will purchase this deal for them.

Have a great week!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chocflan - the absolute best dessert for fajitas!

I've made this recipe for Chocoflan many times. It is a family favorite! Make sure to have extra Cajeta (mexican carmel sauce) to drizzle on each slice. So yummy!


Marcela ValladolidShow: Mexican Made EasyEpisode: Family Favorites

It's a great day for grilling! How about Fajitas? Yum!!

Tyler Florence
Show: Tyler's UltimateEpisode: Fajitas

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Great summer recipe

Grilled Romaine With Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette

Guy Fieri
Recipe categories: Vegetables, Lettuce,
Technique : Grilling
Photograph by Yunhee Kim


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 pound bacon, 1/4 inch diced
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Preheat a grill or indoor grill pan to high.


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove the onion and bacon from the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and reduce for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Brush the romaine with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place on the grill cut-side down and quickly sear until grill marks are visible. Set aside.

For each serving, place a half head of romaine cut-side up on a plate and drizzle the balsamic dressing on top. Sprinkle with blue cheese and the bacon and onion, and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep time - 15
Cook Time - 10
Yield - 6 servings
Level- Easy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Curry Chicken Salad via Chef Joe Karnath Disney's Tusker House Restaurant

Photo via Pam Brandon, Disney Parks Blog

Curried Chicken Salad
Serves 2
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 ripe mango, diced
3/4 cup red grapes
Fill a large, shallow pan with water. Bring to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add chicken. Simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Cut into 1/4-inch dice and refrigerate until cold.
Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, onion, lime juice, curry powder, honey, ginger, pepper and remaining half-teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add chilled chicken and stir to combine. Fold in grapes and mango and serve immediately.
Note: If making in advance, combine chicken with sauce and refrigerate. Fold in grapes and mango a half-hour before serving.