Day Out with Thomas at Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire @thomasparent

Disclosure: My family received complimentary tickets to attend this event.

Day out with Thomas North Conway NH

The family and I headed out to North Conway, NH on Sunday to enjoy a Day out with Thomas. We went to this event at the Conway Scenic Railroad about four or five years ago when my youngest was just a little baby. While the kids were not super excited about slightly over two hours of riding to the event, we did have a blast once we arrived!

The arrival was a little rough, because I was not good at planning the right time for the trip. I tend to drive slower on the Interstate than most do, so it took me longer than the estimated time to get there than Mapquest had told me. When we arrived, it was about twenty minutes before Thomas the Train was to depart the station, so we had to basically grab our complimentary tickets at Will Call and then grab a drink and hop on the train. Aj was looking forward to the bouncy houses, and remember he has autism so once his mind is focused on something, there is no talking him out of it OR if he thinks something is going to happen in a certain order, and it doesn’t, there is bound to be a meltdown. I averted the meltdown of him expecting to go on the bounce houses before our train ride by buying him a fountain drink! Phew .. that was a close one!

There is So much to do at Day Out with Thomas: The Thrill of the Ride Tour

When you arrive at the Day out with Thomas event, you enter into a place of wonderful fun. The options are endless for you to enjoy this day trip with the family;

  • Ride a 25 minute train ride on Thomas the Train: Music will play in the background as you ride the rails for 25 minutes on a train that has been dressed up as Thomas. Thomas the Train’s eyes move, mouth moves and he speaks to his guests! It’s a wonderful experience.
  • Imagination Station: Enjoy a tent full of fun for the kids from face painting to train toys and hand print art as well as a surprise guest, a tortoise! There is so much to do inside of this tent, my youngest enjoyed getting a mustache painted on his face.
  • MotorCar Rides, Bouncy Houses and Engine Tour: Unlimited motorcar rides and it’s the original 1800′s motorcars that they used to use to ensure the train tracks were set for the trains to go on. Two bouncy houses are available for two age groups (one for under age 4 and one for above age 4). Engine tours are unlimited with a train sitting there for you to go up and take a peek at a real train engine.
  • Meet Sir Topham Hat and More: There is a gift shop, there is story telling, videos and you can even meet Sir Topham Hat himself!

Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour

The kids and I did almost all of the options at the Day Out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour that is going on now at Conway Scenic Railroad. I believe we did almost everything, except meet Sir Topham Hat. The boys favorite spots were the face painting, bouncy houses, petting the tortoise and getting cotton candy at the stand before we left.

My daughter and I took a ride on a motorcar, something we didn’t experience the last time we visited this event and it was so much fun! I learned that the Engine house is still in working order and is from the 1800′s, also the motorcars are from the 1800′s and so much from that era is still in working order at the Conway Scenic Railroad. I also learned that during foliage season, the company who owns the motorcars do foliage tours at the Conway Scenic Railroad on the trails! I surely will go back for that in the foliage season here in NH!

If you missed the first weekend of Thomas the Train Thrill of the Ride Tour, It’s not Too late!

Conway Scenic Railroad will have Thomas the Train Thrill of the Ride Tour there one more weekend, July 18, 19, and 20, 2014. The event takes place from 9am until 3pm. You can order your own tickets here at TicketWeb or directly from the Conway Scenic Railroad website.

Click here to look at my Instagram feed for images and videos taken during our trip. 

I also want to note, as I am a parent of a boy recently diagnosed with autism, that there will be a new ride this year on July 20, 2014 Autism Friendly Train. So be sure to click here to check out all details of Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour happening at Conway Scenic Railroad.

If you are not in NH and want to see when Day out with Thomas Thrill of the Ride Tour 2014 will be in your area, check out the Day out with Thomas website for more information and tour listings. Like Thomas and Friends on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and events!

Our Trip to Hampton Beach State Park, New Hampshire

I haven’t been to the Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire since my teen years, and even then I don’t recall actually stopping, getting out and enjoying the place. Recently I decided that would be a fun day trip to do with the kids, what made the trip even more fun was that my daughter took along her bestie and we also brought my sister as well as my baby niece with us. There was my Town & Country packed full with five kids and two adults headed to make the over hour drive to Hampton Beach State Park.

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip

After spending hours trying to find a parking spot near the Sand Sculptures and main beach area of Hampton Beach, we decided to drive further down and let the kids jump the waves, swim in the ocean and play in an area that didn’t have lifeguards but had open parking spaces. Sadly, I didn’t plan for parking meters appropriately so I only had enough quarters so we could swim at this end of Hampton Beach for about an hour and fifteen minutes. I feel that was really plenty of time, though, to be honest.

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip 3

The four big kids had such a fun time out in the ocean, little man was dancing in the waves, Aj was smiling and laughing, the two big girls were floating around enjoying the cold water from the Atlantic Ocean. This was so worth it after our couple hour drive that it took us, then more hours trying to find parking. This view made that drive and time in the van well worth it.

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip 2

I loved watching my oldest laugh and let loose in the ocean waves, she really is an over achiever during the school year, so I try to ensure she enjoys her Summer time during her childhood years! I love seeing the smile on Aj’s face here as the wave came rolling in crashing upon the kids.

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip 4

After using up our meter pay, we hopped back into the van and got the kids all ready to travel back towards the main stretch of Hampton Beach State Park. After all, one of the things we really came to see was the huge sand sculptures from the competition that had just happened the week prior. Since it was later on in the day, we found a spot quickly and proceeded to head to the beach.

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip 5

The sand sculptures were amazing, I must admit Olaf was my favorite. I just love Olaf from the movie Frozen. The kids loved how large the sculptures were and had a blast taking pictures and walking around looking at all of the scuptures

Hampton Beach State Park New Hampshire Family Trip  6

Next up, we had to feed the tribe, while I did bring some PB&J sandwiches and sis brought some snacks too, we still needed to feed the tribe something. I bought one large pizza from a place on the strip of Hampton Beach State Park and we all enjoyed one decent size of cheese pizza as well as some drinks. This is the crew sitting down to eat at one of the stage areas on the Hampton Beach Strip.

Blue Ocean Discovery Center Hampton Beach State Park NH

After lunch, we decided to head over to the Blue Ocean Discovery Center that is located at Hampton Beach State Park; they share with you information about the ocean animals and work to help keep our ocean animals safe. With their hands on touch tank, the kids had a blast! This place did cost $1 per person, except Livy my niece was free since she is under age 2.

Blue Ocean Discovery Center Hampton Beach State Park NH starfish

This was such fun, watching the kids hang onto starfish and crabs. I loved listening to the nice ladies who worked there explain things and my children watched, listening along learning so much from them.

This was certainly a great day trip, while we did learn a few things from the trip on how we can make another trip better, we all enjoyed ourselves fully. I think the kids didn’t end up asleep til closer to midnight that night, but to watch how happy they were and the fact that this was a first time experience of the ocean for my baby nice — made this day priceless!

Best Way To Survive Outings with Kids this Summer

It’s summer break and you want to be able to enjoy your children, I see so many parents counting down to the time school starts. Then when school starts, they count down to summer because the school schedule is a pain sometimes. It seems many parents are always counting down to the next whatever – be it summer or school. Stop. Enjoy the time you have with your kids, whether they are being totally awesome and getting along or having a case of sibling rivalry ALL DAY LONG, enjoy those moments. Time flies too quickly to not cherish every moment, yes even those patience testing times.

Here is how I survive summer (and other times of the year) with my three, very different children:

how to survive Summer outings with children

Always be proactive – you know how your kids work and what makes them tick. Planning ahead for things that will entertain them, allows the long drive to be more tolerable. For me, the middle child enjoys electronics as a means to keep himself occupied during a long trip, so I charge up the Nabi Tablet and encourage it being shut off when he’s not using it (as I don’t have a car charger for it at this time). For the other two, they bring along some small toys, coloring book and crayons or paper to play tic tac toe. Plan to have everything packed up and ready the night before to ensure you don’t forget anything!

Set Expectations – Let your kids know what you expect of them. If they are not acting properly in the car, I don’t care where you are, pull over and stop that vehicle. Do not yell and scream and get all stressed out because your children are not behaving, sure I get it, stopping and pulling over will make the trip take longer, but it’s worth it to teach the children that you will stop if they don’t behave properly in the car. Also let them know what you expect of them at the outing, such as not running off, staying a certain distance when walking with you, etc. One thing I do with my youngest, who is a bowl full of energy, is that he can run ahead a bit til I say STOP. He must stop when I say stop and not go again til I yell GO. This keeps him from having to restrain his energy, but also keeps him at a safe distance. If he doesn’t listen, I make him hold my hand, this involves him screaming, yelling and being pretty mad, but he learns that is the consequence and I don’t care if people “stare” at us, I am being the Mom.

Have Fun and Be Happy – Seriously, it’s as simple as that. Sure it can be stressful and overwhelming to be at a packed beach or facility, with kids, but get over it! If you set the expectations ahead of time, follow through with a matter-of-fact consequence things get easier. Do not allow yourself to think “well this kid knows better” or get all grumpy because your child isn’t listening. Kids will be kids. They will test limits; they will see what they can pull off, especially being out in public. Let your child know they have a consequence but have fun, don’t get all tense over having to “deal with your child”, it is going to happen, children will make the same mistake over and over sometimes too, it’s all about teaching them how to not keep making the same mistake. Get down at their level, have fun, be silly and let loose. Just because you are laughing, having fun and letting loose doesn’t mean your child won’t respect you as a parent, they actually will learn to listen to you more because they will trust you are able to get down on their level and enjoy this Summer outing.

I am sure I could go on and on with more tips, but these three have been the best for myself, what are your extra tips you may have that work for your family? Do share in a comment below…

 

My Son has had Amazing Progress #autism

I seriously am so happy about this autism diagnosis for my son Aj, while many may wonder why I feel that way, because no one wants to have a child that may struggle, but seriously? Aj is probably the most well rounded, honest children I have ever met. Aj says what he means and he means what he says. Aj looks at the world in such a simple manner that he is teaching me more and more each day.

My Autistic Son Teaches me #autism

I just love spending time listening and talking with Aj, he has been medicine free since January 20, 2014 and it was such a blessing to get him off of those risky medications. While, I did originally believe he was bipolar, what I learned in these past few months is that he most certainly is not. Aj needed that autism diagnosis much earlier, but didn’t get it, he has grown so much (as have I) since learning that he is truly high functioning autistic. I love this picture of Aj, taken just yesterday while he blows dandelion fluff and makes a wish.

Aj doesn’t believe in magic like most of us do, “wishes don’t really come true Mama”, he said to me. I told him that wishes can come true if you want them badly enough and think that they will happen, then yes, wishes can sometimes come true! He took all of those dandelions with fluff on them and puffed them to make his wish each time. He won’t tell me his wish, but I am pretty sure it was a wish to get Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare for the PS3.

My favorite conversations with Aj usually pertain to video games or metaphors. You see, Aj cannot stand metaphors or sarcasm, he thinks it’s dumb. Why would someone say “I am so hungry I could eat a horse if people like horses” . He went on to tell me that horses do have a lot of meat on them, but people like horses, so why would they say they could eat one. I am constantly amazed at how intelligent he is, he shows this at home and at school with his grades.

One thing about my Aj is that he has learned to be compassionate and have empathy, skills that some swear mean he isn’t autistic. It took us a lot of time to teach Aj to learn these skills, they didn’t come to him naturally by any means. Aj has found his sweet bone, he is often found helping a friend be happy at recess; “Mama, my friend was crying and upset so I told him a joke and he laughed. I made him happy, because laughing means you are happy and I made him laugh so I made him happy” is what Aj said to me one day after school. My heart beamed with pride.

This kid has come so far and I am so happy that we took that chance to allowed him to come off of all medications because now? I am seeing the real side of my son, his true colors are shining through and I am just so happy for this little boy!

It All Starts With Repeating The Lessons you Teach

As  parent we all want to ensure that our children are growing up to be a respectful part of society, but what happens when you are raising a child with autism high functioning who doesn’t comprehend empathy or compassion? I think we all can agree that having compassion and empathy are important skills to function in society, right?! The question is, how can we teach these skills to children who don’t pick up on social ques in the ways the rest of us do? I am not sure how you teach it or how you have worked with your autistic child, but this is how I have been able to work with my son and see progress.

It all starts with them repeating what you have been teaching them.

Teaching Empathy and Compassion #autism

January 20, 2014 is the date my son stopped taking any medications, after a ridiculous scenario using Risperidone which actually helped my son or so it seemed for nearly a year or so, we had to stop having that medication due to health concerns. We switched to Abilify and then they added Prozac. Long story short, those meds all messed with him on various levels, only the Risperidone created health concerns with weight and Abilify helped keep weight steady-ish but his cholesterol started to get a little high. Finally … we were brave and stopped medications. As of January 20th we have been working with my seven year old son on ways to blossom in society and at home, without medications.

He has come so far in just four months.

When we first started in January without medication, Aj was still having some difficulties because of weaning off of medications but then about 1-2 weeks later it happened; my son was started to be the son I knew was inside of him somewhere. We finally received a diagnosis that made sense; Autism High Functioning and while many said try anxiety medications, we were not on the same page with those professionals. Thankfully our wishes were granted, no one is pushing Aj to have any medications. I wanted to work hard as co-parents first, as his primary caregiver I end up doing a hell of a lot of work but I see progress in every scenario that arises.

Aj is participating in class now. Aj is able to have a play-date and handle slight conflict with his best friend in ways he never would have in the past – using his words and intelligence. Aj has very little patience but is getting better and the one area that is going to take lots of proactive measures is teaching Aj empathy and compassion. Aj comes off rude, mean and occasionally selfish with the way he sees the world, combine that with his outspoken nature, well I am sure you know – we have a recipe for social world failure.

I won’t accept failure for myself nor will I ever accept failure for my children. Ever.

The smallest ways I could help teach Aj the skills of empathy and compassion were to work with his family unit, we are a close knit family. I started working with Aj in how he handles his siblings; teaching him that sometimes we have to take turns or do things we don’t really want to do because we are a family and every family member’s wants or needs do matter. I started heavily working with empathy and compassion during the kids school Spring break week. I used my words. I cited examples through out our days and then it happened; one day K-man didn’t want to do something that Aj wanted to do, instead of Aj getting mad at his brother and just “telling him how it is”, Aj actually told his little brother this, “K I know you don’t want to do this but sometimes we have to do things that others want to do because it’s a nice thing to do.”

I get it. Aj was repeating words I have said to him in the past, but you know what? That is a huge start!

I think the best way to teach empathy and compassion to a child who doesn’t “feel” those things on his own are this;

  • Set the Example – cite times when you or another person have stepped back, outside of their own self to care for another person’s opinions, wants or needs. Explain intellectually the scenario and why the way the person handled it was in the right and being nice. Reiterate that we are to be nice to others in this world because that is what makes this world a happy place.
  • Use your Words – With any lesson you wish to teach an Autistic High Fucntioing child you have to learn how their brain works and formlulate the words you use and actions taken in a method that makes sense to them. I found having a logical, matter of fact discussion and emotion while speaking really has helped a lot.

I am sure there are other methods that work for others with a child on the spectrum, but this is how I have been working with my son and I have seen amazing progress, so I thought I would share as a way to help others who have the question “how do I teach my child on the spectrum empathy and compassion?”

Image shown is Aj on our deck one sunny day after a long Winter. Aj prefers as little clothing as possible and was happy to be outside barefoot for the first time since Winter.

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline