Posted in Parenting

Disney World with Food Allergies

We recently spent 5 days at Disney World, our first stay there since Zen’s diagnosis. That meant a lot of meals away from home at a wide variety of restaurants. Disney World’s restaurants have a reputation of being great for allergy sufferers. We found the experience to be pretty good but the ultimate quality varied by restaurant.

Quick Service Allergy Menu
Quick Service Allergy Menu

Quick Service restaurants have an allergen menu available by request but you are still encouraged to order separately so they can substitute ingredients if needed and make sure to avoid cross contact.

Regardless of restaurant type (quick service, casual dining, buffet, or deluxe dining) once they are aware of an allergy a Chef came to speak to us about Zen’s specific allergies and what he felt like eating. After the allergy has been reported at one reservation or hostess stand, it’s entered in our file and it follows us to other restaurants so we only had to speak up at quick service counters. This was convenient because our server was given a paper with a red allergy stamp (like the picture at the top of this post) to be made aware of the situation before we were even seated so there was no wait to speak to a chef.

After speaking to us the chef would then either verify that the item that Zen wanted was allergen free or try to make it so. His food was cooked in a separate area to avoid cross contact and was brought separately from the rest of the food so the plates won’t even touch, this didn’t affect our experience at most restaurants but it did lead to longer waits for food at the quick service restaurant at our resort. At a buffet the chef cooked everything for him from scratch because he didn’t trust anything that was on the buffet line.

Separate order pad used by Chef for allergy orders
Separate order pad used by Chef for allergy orders

Some chefs were more knowledgeable and friendly than others and I found that the more expensive the restaurant didn’t necessarily meant better allergy service.

I could tell that the chefs were not used to such a long list of allergies at once and that meant that the usual substitution on some items were not an option. For example, for a soy allergy they usually substituted the bun on a burger with the gluten free version but that was not an option for our son since that has rice flour and he is also allergic to rice. As a result my son age a LOT of mac n cheese because it was one of the few safe options available at most restaurants, thankfully he didn’t mind but I can imagine how boring that must be.

The one place were allergies were truly a problem was at the club level lounge at our resort. There is no chef on site at that area (with a minor exception for 2 hours of the day) and the staff wasn’t knowledgeable about ingredients in the foods offered at the different buffets during the day. So we had to play it safe on what we knew for sure was ok and didn’t take a chance with most foods. When there was nothing on the buffet that we felt comfortable trusting to be safe the staff was great about getting Zen a yogurt from the back so he could have something to snack on.

Overall, Disney is one of the best places to vacation with food allergies due to the extensive training and experience in handling these situations.  This doesn’t not replace being vigilant, asking questions and bringing your own food when in doubt but overall it was a less stressful experience than we anticipated and I was glad that I never once had to touch our Epipen.

Posted in Homeschooling

Lessontrek Online Planner Review

As I mark the official close of this school year, I am already looking forward to next year.

While this year was everything I could have hoped for and more. I must admit that I have quite a bit of anxiety about next year. Why? Because I will be homeschooling 2 boys with vastly different learning styles and interests!

While Zen will be in pre-K, I get the consolation that it should be a pretty laid back approach which is good as this will be my “trial and error” year as I figure out what will work for him. I am willing to bet money that the methods and resources that worked for his older brother won’t be a good match for him.

Part of this planning process is organization. While this year a $0.17 notebook was sufficient as a planner, I am looking into something better as I start to keep track of educating 2 children.

Last year I had scored a free lifetime membership to Lessontrek as part of a limited time promotion that they offered. I didn’t use it at first because it didn’t seem appealing but I have decided to take it out for a spin these last 2 weeks to see if it will be a good option for next year.

Pros:

* Easy to use
* supports multiple students
* Ability to color code students and subjects for easy visual recognition
* automatic grading with different grading types (optional feature)
* Ability to choose whether or not to show weekends
* Easy to grade all assignments/subjects for the entire week in one screen
* you can enter as much or as little information as you like.
* Can be used for advanced lesson planning or after the fact tracking.
* Easy to drag and drop information to other days as life happens and schedules change.
* Able to reorder the day with easy drag and drop
* Able to copy entire week to use as template for future plans.
* Ability to create transcripts
* Easy to jump back or forward in time with 1 click using the “time line” at the top of the screen

Cons:

* requires computer and internet connection
* unable to print grades or completed work log
* Help/tutorial information is basic/limited. There is a 3 minute tutorial video which highlights the basics in a very fast format, no help documentation, just some helpful tips when clicking the “Help” button
* While the daily use is quick and intuitive with minimal clicking, changing settings is tedious as there are extra clicks to accomplish the changes. Specially when modifying settings for multiple subjects as it takes you back to the main screen after each subject having to click all the way back to the dashboard each time.
* Unable to view multiple students’ information at the same time

Color coded, easy on the eyes with the whole week at a glance
Color coded, easy on the eyes with the whole week at a glance

I chose to show weekends because we often have field trips or other educational activities on those days. It doesn’t take me any longer to do the data entry here than it did on my notebook (I do type faster than I can write by hand, lol). So far I’ve only used it on desktop and Chromebook so I don’t know if it would work on tablet/ mobile.

I loved how easy it is to access any week of the school year from the main screen. If something happens to change the schedule I can easy drag and drop the boxes as needed.

Tweaking the settings to be “just right” was a pain in the rear mainly because I felt like I was doing a lot of clicking but once it was configured the way I wanted it the performance has been great.

While I didn’t use grading in our school this year, I plan to next year so I activated the feature and tested it this week to see how I liked it. I enjoyed the flexibility of grading types and custom scales, I was able to set some subjects such as math to have a percentage grade while others like science be “complete/incomplete” and others have no grade at all. Being able to add all grades for the week is very easy and once I figured out the weight method I was impressed at how well it kept track of everything.

Easy to enter all grades quickly in 1 screen
Easy to enter all grades quickly in 1 screen

 

My biggest disappointment with it is not being able to print the week after the fact and show the assignments already checked and with grades entered. The printable report currently only outputs the information in a to do list format with a space to write the grade in manually. This is great for those that use this for planning but not so much for people like me that would mostly use it for after the fact tracking.

“Print Week” screen, works great as a printable to do list

While the system keeps grades for you, there is no report card option to print, I currently print the screen which gives me the information necessary but it’s not in a printer friendly format. The lack of reporting or at least the ability to export data to PDF is the biggest con for me, it’s still a workable system and it won’t stop me from using it further but I really hope that the developer has this feature on his to do list.

Lessontrek App - Google Chrome 5132016 35452 PM.bmp
Gradebook does not offer a printable report card option. It is in Beta stage so it can only get better

The verdict:

While it’s not perfect, it will get the job done. The plan is to use it next year, only time will tell if I’ll still be using it by the end of the year.

Exclusive reader offer!  For a limited time get a 1 year subscription for only $15 (a $45 savings!) with code HM45.  But hurry!  Code expires 8/24/16.

 

Visit Lessontrek’s website to sign up.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Posted in Protection, Random

The Quest for the Perfect Holster Part 2

You can read the first part here.  Continuing my search for a conceal carry holster, I tried 2 new options, the Raw Dog Tactical Holster and Fancy Pants Original Holster.  Here are my thoughts below:

 

Raw Dog Tactical Holster Defender Pro Series IWB20160418_171240

Pros: good fit, great adjustable retention, quick shipping, good customer service, easy to adjust, comfortable once you find the “sweet spot”, “combat” cut for quick draw.

Cons: not tuckable, limited adjustments, most of the gun is above the waist making it harder to conceal, a sturdy belt is a must have, not compatible with ulticlip, prone to showing wear quickly

I had been recommended this holster by several women in my search and the price was right so I decided to give it a shot.

Gap between gun and clip protects gun from scratching but adds bulk
Gap between gun and clip protects gun from scratching but adds bulk

I like that it shipped promptly as I hate waiting for weeks for something to be custom made. There is a gap between the gun and the clip to prevent the screws from scratching your gun which is a good thing except that it adds bulk to the holster.

Huge gap between the grip and my waist
Huge gap between the grip and my waist

The holster is very comfortable but sadly not curve friendly as most of the gun is over the waistband, I can tell that it was designed with men in mind and women just happen to buy it too. Carrying on the back there is a gap between my waist and the holster big enough to fit my hand with space to spare and on the front it conceals great as long as I am standing but when I to sit down and my muffin top pushes the gun down it creates a bulky “shelf” on my shirt.

Impossible to AIWB with the Raw Dog, this happened when I sat down
Impossible to AIWB with the Raw Dog, this happened when I sat down

I really wanted to like it as it’s super comfortable at the 1 o’clock position but it would be impossible to conceal  when sitting down.

I was ready to return it but decided to try it at the 3 o’clock position and that seems to be working, I do have to be exact on the placement as if I put it too far to the front or too far back it stabs my hip when I sit down. While it’s not as comfortable as appendix, it’s still doable and easier to conceal because my hip pushes the grip of the gun into my waist curve, I do get an “uneven” waist but I only see that because I am looking, I have concealed outdoors for 2 days with no issues.

It looks well made although there was a sharp spot that wasn’t sanded down well and cut my finger. However I fear that it will show wear and tear quickly, by the 3rd day of use the clip got a scratch and ruined part of the finish and I can’t figure out what could have caused that as that is in the part that sits over the belt and was covered by my shirt. It’s still functional and just a cosmetic issue.
I decided against returning it because the scratch may disqualify it since you are supposed to return it in new condition and it feels more secure than my TWAW IWB holster. Unfortunately the clip setup is not compatible with the Ulticlip limiting wardrobe choices for this holster.

Wear on the leather from the manual safety
Wear on the leather from the manual safety

A good belt is a must have so this will be limited to the days that I wear jeans and cargo pants. My women’s belts couldn’t handle it so I bought a men’s “work belt” from Walmart and that was sturdy enough to do the trick.

20160419_152526

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fancy Pants Original Holster

Love the Celtic print
Love the Celtic print

Pros: Cute, lightweight, comfortable, looks well made, lots of prints to choose from for a custom look and made to fit your gun. Distributes gun weight very well, perfect for yoga pants, skirts and other clothing with weak waistbands. Pocket for spare magazine or knife and separate pocket for ID and CWP. No worries about the gun being visible when using a public restroom. Woman made in the USA, with very prompt and friendly service.

Cons: Retention strap causes delay in drawing. Long turnaround time of 5 weeks, she offers a few “Quick Ship” holsters that are supposed to ship within 48 hours but mine took just over a week to ship. Very thin fabric makes me fear that the trigger could be manipulated through the fabric but it didn’t happen when I tried. Concerned about durability since fabric is so thin. After I received my holster the manufacturer posted on social media about being able to request a reinforced holster for durability, I wish I had known!

It conceals very well with yoga pants and fitted tank top
It conceals very well with yoga pants and fitted tank top

Finally a holster that keeps the grip of the gun in! I am able to sit down while appendix carrying without getting stabbed in the thigh and no muffin top! Like the Can Can Concealment hip hugger, the elastic band rides up on my butt until it reaches my waist but unlike the Can Can hip hugger, this doesn’t require a tight fit to work so it’s still comfortable and the gun feels secure. I originally measured to wear at my upper hip but the holster is determined to ride on my waist so it’s a little loose but feels secure.

The retention strap is a must have to make sure that the gun stays secure since it’s not tight. I didn’t think it would work with a pair of pants that is too tight at the waistband but it did. It’s very comfortable and forget it’s there most of the time, I am only reminded it’s there when I bend over at the waist and the gun pokes my stomach.

My stomach gets hot and sweaty (I live in Florida after all) but the sweat guard does its job and keeps the gun dry. I don’t think that can be prevented with anything I try although I see the manufacturer beta testing a breathable fabric version so I will look into that once she posts them for sale.

Finally a holster that doesn't print!
Finally a holster that doesn’t print!

My biggest concern is draw time, it’s a LOT slower than my kydex and hybrid holsters and I have to get used to manipulating the retention strap. I have to make sure that I adjust the holster after using the restroom to ensure than an inch or two is above the waistband so I can reach the gun faster. While it’s very well suited for deep concealment, digging through the waistband to find the grip of the gun would take too long.

So far this is the winner in my book. While not perfect, it’s the best in terms of comfort and conceal-ability which is a must for me to carry daily so for now I am willing to sacrifice a second in draw time if it means that I’ll actually have a gun on me to draw in the first place.