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G’Day LA: Tourism Soars With Help From Australia | NBC Los Angeles

LA tourism numbers have been released, and once again Australia has hopped in as the front-runner in generating the most overseas visitors in Los Angeles.

In 2011, approximately 26.9 million people visited Los Angeles, surpassing the 2007 record of 25.9 million visitors, according to Carol Martinez, vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. That’s an increase of 4.2 percent from 2010.

“This has occurred for the past couple of years, but there are a number of reasons that make Los Angeles is an attractive destination for Australians. One, being the boost in business linkages,” said the Australian Consul-General Chris De Cure.

via G’Day LA: Tourism Soars With Help From Australia | NBC Los Angeles.

Australia has been the front-runner in generating the most overseas visitors to Los Angeles for the past two years.   I’d have to agree with the writer that the increase would have a lot to do with the stronger Australian dollar.

When I moved to the US in late 2001 the Australian dollar bought just $0.50 US.  Today that same dollar will buy $1.04 US.

So I’d like to remind all my Aussie friends and family, especially those that have never visited.., that 2012 is the year for you to get on that Qantas jet and come to Los Angeles.

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Our Vacation This Year – Disney World

I’m participating in the 2012 Blog Dare at Bloggy Moms.  One of the recent writing prompts was to write about a vacation we hope to take this year.

In an effort to be more positive, I can say that we ARE taking our vacation at Disney World this year.

I’m very grateful that my husband convinced me to become a Disney Vacation Club member four years ago on our last trip to Disney World.  This is similar to a timeshare in that we can stay at a Disney property using points.  Unlike a traditional timeshare we can choose when we go and which accommodation we stay in.  We are only restricted by availability and having enough points for the accommodation we want.  We have ten days booked at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in a 1 bedroom villa with a Savanna view.

We will be vacationing during the school year so we made the decision to tell the kids.  Their teachers need to agree to independent study so that they can go on the vacation.  The kids are super excited to be going to Disney World again and to be able to see the animals from our balcony.

Our accommodation includes a kitchen and laundry so we’ll be able to travel lightly…for us… I hope.  Check back in May for my rantings from the airport when my husband leaves me with our daughter who needs to go to the bathroom and all our luggage whilst he parks the car or returns the rental vehicle.

This will be our first major vacation since our son became gluten, dairy and casein free this time last year.  Because of this there is a little more planning but there appears to be no better place than Disney World to have a food allergy.  I’ve already been able to find many food options and the chefs at Disney World will help us find appropriate food for our son at our sit down meals.

My husband has already booked many of our sit down meals and we have our airline tickets and Disney transfers arranged.  Over the next few months we’ll purchase the park tickets and meal plans so that we can all relax during the vacation knowing that there won’t be any credit card surprises when we get home.

Where are you planning on vacationing this year?

Do you pay for your vacation before you go, or when you return?

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A Look Back at 2011

2011 was a busy year for me that found me trying to balance too much and ultimately neglecting my blog.

I am a mother of two children, including an 8 year old with Aspergers; a contract IT worker;  a Network Marketer and a wife who really enjoys having this blog as an outlet.

Tomorrow is my first day back in the office after 10 days at home with the kids during winter break so I’ll do my best to summarize our 2011.

My year in review:

In January we took the plunge and started our then 7 year old on a gluten and dairy free diet. It was something I had considered for a while due to his life long abdominal issues and a recommendation from a friend, Barrie Silberberg.  Barrie wrote The Autism & ADHD Diet Book and I would not have had the courage to make this step without her.   That being said going gluten and dairy free was not an easy task with a child who has sensory processing issues and an extremely limited diet.  I allowed the diet to take over my life for most of the year as I searched for foods that our son would eat and would meet his nutritional needs.

In May our little girl turned 6!!!

In June both children started summer vacation and I began juggling work and shifting children between am and pm camps.  To some it may sound a little indulgent but I struggled to find camps that didn’t include lots of food on a daily basis and our then 7 year old lacked the necessary coping skills to be in other camps for a whole day.  So I found appropriate morning and afternoon camps that were right for him and did what I needed to.

The kids had a wonderful summer learning soccer skills, swimming, acting, singing, building Legos and so much more.

Late August came too quickly as our little princess started 1st Grade and our son started 3rd Grade.  With the kids back in school I feel like we are just constantly on the run between school, therapy 4 times per week for Mstr 8, Cub scouts, Daisies, Ballet and Soccer.  Thankfully I’m married to a wonderful man who is happy to play Mr Mom after he finishes work each day.

In September our son turned 8!!

In October my husband and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary!!  We had hoped to take a cruise to Tahiti (our cancelled Honeymoon) or a trip to Hawaii but neither seemed feasible at the time…  I wasn’t ready to travel gluten and dairy free just yet and didn’t feel like I would be able to relax enough to enjoy the vacation.

In December we found out that our son is intolerant to 20 foods, which brings us a step closer to helping him heal and grow.  It also means I need to revamp his diet again as many of the “bad” foods were in his diet.  We also got to celebrate Christmas with our wonderful children and share precious moments with family both near and far (thanks to FaceTime).  My husband was fortunate enough to have a week at home with the kids leading up to Christmas and I got to spend a week with them between Christmas and New Years just hanging out.  A lovely change from our normally hectic life.

I’m looking forward to a more organized and calmer 2012.  How about you?

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Social Media Goals 2012

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This year I’m participating in the Blog Dare 2012 hosted by BloggyMoms.com

Simply put, the Blog Dare 2012 is a year of writing prompts for bloggers.

I’m a day late for the first post, but better late than never.  So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

My Social Media Goals for 2012 are:

  • To post on a regular basis.
  • To increase reader interaction on this blog.
  • To increase my Twitter followers (currently 5835)
  • To post at least 1 video blog.
  • To comment on other blogs on a regular basis.

What are your Social Media Goals for 2012?

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He Wants A Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Ice-Cream Cake!!

It’s our boys birthday soon and he’s having a Birthday Party. There is a great local company that makes gourmet gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes and he loves them. Instead he’s asked for an ice-cream cake.

I’ve been able to find substitutes for our sons many requests for foods since going gluten and dairy free but this one had me stumped. After much searching I’m certain there is no-one locally who makes a dairy-free and gluten-free ice-cream cake.

With the days to his party getting closer I’ve decided to bite the bullet and make the cake for him. My husband is very concerned about this endeavor as our son has turned down tasty foods I’ve made for him before.

I’ve decided to bake two small cakes (approx 4.5 inches round) using a packet mix. I’ll use the remaining batter to make some cupcakes. Both cakes will then be frozen. Another blogger suggested softening some store bought the ice-cream. I’ll use the same two baking dishes to mould the ice-cream. The plan is to have a total of five layers, two of cake and three of ice-cream. I’ll decorate the outside of the cake with softened ice-cream or Mimic Creme

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Snow Predicted in Los Angeles this Weekend!

I was watching TV earlier and they mentioned that we could get snow this weekend! Normally we have to drive almost 2 hours to get to the snow so the kids are going to be very excited.

Snow in Southern California could fall to elevations as low as 1000 to 2000 feet in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties Friday night into Saturday. Light snow could fall in elevated valley locations of these counties, including the Santa Clarita Valley. Portions of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties could see some flakes fall as low as 500 feet.

I just got an email that the Flag Football final scheduled for Saturday will go ahead even if there is rain or snow.  So I guess we’ll have to wait to search for a place for snow play!

Maybe we’ll make the drive to Wrightwood on Sunday as they are expected to get between 10 and 17 inches on Friday and Saturday.

What’s the weather like where you are?

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What My Life Feels Like Lately

In May 2010 our son was diagnosed with Aspergers and I have spent the past 8 months feeling like I am stuck in a really bad version of groundhog day.

There are services available for children with Autism and yet they always seem to be out of our reach.  Whether it’s the local regional center, the school district or health insurance everyone wants to point the finger somewhere else.  We have been able to get insurance approval for some ABA therapy but of course it was not even close to what was requested.    Unfortunately, the big looser in all this is our children!

Recently Wrightslaw posted this video on their Facebook Page and I felt like it gave a small insight into the political joke that parents of special needs children can get stuck in.

Created by the Special Ed law firm Frankel & Kershenbaum (http://davefrankel.com), this video is “A satirical and slightly sarcastic look at a typical conversation between the parent of a child with special needs and an official from the school district who isn’t quite getting it.”


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Bread and Grains

Why Our Son is trying the Gluten Free and Casein Free Diet

Our son is 7 and has high functioning Aspergers with sensory processing issues.  He has had digestive issues since he was born which at it’s worst had him up awake screaming up to 10 times each night.

He’s visited the pediatrician so many times, had allergy tests visited gastroenterologists and none of them could give us an answer.  The best they could recommend was letting him scream it out or over the counter products.

In 2010 we started to notice our son seemed to be lactose intolerant so we reduced his total dairy intake and only allowed him low lactose foods and his behaviour started to improve.  Due to senstivities to sulfites I decided to remove foods containing high fructose corn syrup, corn flour and other foods containing hidden sulfites.  The agitation and aggression reduced a little further…  I was relieved to see such positive changes.  A few times we introduced foods only to discover him getting hyped up again, which would lead me to double check a few labels a sure enough I’d accidently let the corn flour back in…

After being low lactose for almost 6 months I had to go back to Australia on an unplanned trip without the family.  I got back to a very bouncy child… it turned out daddy had decided to let him have dairy whenever he wanted whilst I was gone…

Two weeks ago we decided to bite the bullet and try gluten free and casien free.  Well the first week went OK but we found it very hard to give our picky eater enough to eat.  Many of the popular gluten free, casein free products I researched and had great reviews were turned down after just 4 bites.  He lost a pound that week, and he really doesn’t have any weight to lose.

Week Two I conceded to bread for lunch so I could get some protein in his diet.    He wouldn’t have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the gluten free bread and I can’t say I blame him.  We maintained dairy free the whole week and to my surprise our picky eater drank a whole glass of almond milk.

We are now in Week Three and things are getting easier.  Breakfast and snacks are easy and dinner is going to definitely need a revamp.  My mission now is to find or make a bread that he will eat and ensure that I am including an adequate amount of protein in his diet.

If you are going to go on the gluten and/or casein free diet I highly recommend changing one meal per week.  Once you have substituted gluten free breakfasts, then substitute dinner, then snacks, followed by lunch.  The aim is to completely remove the unwanted food over a 1 month period.

Have you tried a gluten free or casein free diet?  Do you have any tips or favorite foods?

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Txting & Driving... It Can Wait

Texting Whilst Driving…. Is It Worth Losing Your Life Over?

I would like each and everyone of you who read this post to consider putting down your phone whilst you are in the car.

If you text, email, vlog or surf the net whilst driving you are putting yourself and those around you in danger. 

Don’t be mistaken, this is not just a teen problem.  Research has shown that adults are much more likely to phone whilst driving and texting than teens.  One article stated that 75% of adults admit to phone conversations vs 52% of teens and 47% of adults admit to texting whilst driving vs 34% of teens.

How would your friends or family feel if they sent the text that killed you?

If you don’t think it can happen to you or someone you know, then you are not alone.  AT&T released public service announcements in 2010 to encourage people to stop texting and driving and yet it seems like I pass people every day who are still texting and driving.

 

This young man is a victim of someone elses texts.  He was the passenger in the car that his girlfriend was driving whilst texting.

No text is worth dying over and the US seems to be taking a gentle approach when discussing the dangers.  The first video I watched about texting and driving was made in the UK and had a lot more impact on me.  Be warned this is graphic and I wouldn’t recommend for young children.

Will you take the pledge to stop texting and driving?


Txting & Driving... It Can Wait

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RIP Ivy Margaret Wasley ‘Nana’

Today, January 7th 2011 my Nana finally let go this morning at 10am Sydney time.

It may sound weird but I feel happy that she is now at peace.  Her life has been 6 weekly doctors visits for over 22 years and for the past approximately 5 years she has been fighting multiple myeloma.  Since Christmas Eve she has been heavily sedated to manage the pain and exceeded the doctors expectations by almost 2 weeks.

I took this video on my trip back to Australia to say goodbye to Nana.  I was so happy that I made it back in time and that my wonderful husband took on the task of looking after both our kids on his own so that I could go.

In this video she is describing a dream that she had and wasn’t sure if it really happened or not.


 

This post is part of the Blog Dare Challenge at BloggyMoms.com.

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