Going to the Movies With Your "Special" Kids

Kids love going to the movies. As a parent, I love the anticipation as Ellie giggles with excitement of going to watch a show. The sound, the big screen and the lights are difficult to resist. Going to the movies is really fun, no matter who you are and how old you are, right?

Actually, the excitement of a movie theater is not shared by all children, and therefore, not by all parents. Some of us have children with sensory issues, and  a movie theater is an overload of sensory stimulation. Some of our kids simply cannot handle that as well.

A few weeks ago when we went to Lego Land, we decided to try their short movie theater type show. It was only 10 minutes long and we thought it would be a good indicator of weather or not Nina or Nichole could eventually handle going to a regular movie theater. They both made it through the first show, but there was no way they would watch a second how. Unlike Ellie who was loving it along with her friends.

The show was in 4D and there was no way they would have worn those glasses. Nina cried hard at the beginning and was begging to leave. It was too loud for her, and it was too dark. The only reason she stayed was because Ellie was staying. She took off her real glasses and buried her face on my shoulder, occasionally peeking at the show and laughing nervously at the funny parts. But it was loud for Nichole too, and her favorite word, "Scary" came out of her mouth every few seconds. Overall we felt they did really well, but those 10 minutes were as long as they could have handled.

Chatting with some of my wonderful Down syndrome friends, I discovered that there is such a thing as "Sensory Friendly Films." Encouraged by the Autism Society AMC has stepped up to the plate and there are several AMC locations where they offer the experience of a movie theater in a non-threatening, non-overload sensory way.

This is what they say in their website.

"The program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing! "

That sounds like something that we could try with Nina and Nichole! Do you want to know if there is an AMC theater close to you that offers a Sensory friendly Film? Just click here and see what is close to you!

Happy Movie Going!

Thriving Families: Finding Nichole

Guess who got to write an article on special needs for Thriving Families Magazine? I did! It is pretty exciting to get to write for Focus on the Family. It is a short article but I am thankful for the opportunity to share my experience being the mom of children with special needs.

So go ahead, you can click here and read the article and let me know what you think!

Difference vs deviance

Ben took this photo when we were walking on Blue Mountain in Collingwood the other weekend.

I thought these notes from a presentation inclusion author Cheryl Jorgensen sent me were food for thought (and I also get how referring to disability as simply a social construct minimizes the experience of parents raising children with significant disability and medical fragility).

Disability is a social construction, not a deficit located "within" a person. The degree to which disability/difference hinders a person's life is directly correlated with the level of accommodation in the environment for that person's differences and needs.

Disability is one kind of human difference: not deviance, not deficiency, not needing a cure, not needing charity or benevolence.

My Girls, "The Sisters"

Let me tell you a little bit about "the sisters."

Ellie is growing up too fast. I find myself watching her for long periods of time, mesmerized by her. I love her smiles, her creativity, her focus on whatever it is she is doing. Sometimes, I don't see a little girl but rather a big girl. She is a talented girl with a big heart and she is full of joy...and drama.

Ellie is one of Rapunzel's biggest fans. She has already decided that she wants to go to Disneyland to work when she grows up and become Rapunzel. She can quote the entire movie...no really. Every. Single. Word. And she can belch out the songs! She has always been  a good singer but this little girl has an incredible voice and when she sings, we just listen with big goofy smiles plastered on our faces! She is good! So there is no doubt that when it comes to singing, she is a Stumbo.

Ellie also is attending summer school. She was getting bored and said she wanted to go to school. She has loved school. I was a little nervous about sending my girl to school. She went to preschool and she did great, I never even had a hard time sending her to school. No tears, nothing. However, a big public school felt quite different to me. She has thrived! And, this is one of those times when we are so glad that we waited a year to send her to school. Some might call it holding back, but we call it building her confidence and emotional maturity.  I think her teacher really likes her and is thankful to have such a great little girl in her class. I know she has been impressed with Ellie.

She is beginning to show a lot of interest in riding bikes and playing kickball and her version of tennis. She is getting good at hitting the ball with the little racket we got and screams in delight every time she hits the ball.

Now we need to work on sharing with her sisters and not yelling at them when they touch one of her "untouchables."

Nina is doing really well from a physical standpoint...most of the time. She is still not wanting to walk. She could do it, but she is terrified of falling. Have you seen terror in a child's face? Standing and walking should not be instances where there is terror, but in Nina's case there is. She can stand and balance for a minute, we think she has it and all of a sudden a switch flips and she collapses in fear. I wonder how many times she fell and nobody was there to catch her. I do wonder how many times there was punishment involved with her disability. I saw Nina's best friend get hit for not walking, which makes me wonder about Nina.
On the other hand, Nina confessed to me a couple of weeks ago while she was taking a break from crying, "At the orphanage when I cried I always got to do what I wanted or Ira did it for me!" This was said with a little attitude.

Nina is really good a sharing...for real! She is the sweetest little thing as she will share with her sisters and with mom and dad. She finds great joy in sharing and I love that about her! She also loves to cuddle since she had surgery. She liked to cuddle before, but I don't think her body "felt" very cuddly. Now, she just likes to be held as she "fits" better in our arms.

In light of the fear of falling, we have been working on this. She has been using her walker outside in our backyard and our yard is not stellar when it comes to even ground. She has taken a few falls and tumbles and she is laughing about it. This is good! We hope this builds her confidence to realize that falling is okay and it is part of learning to walk. And she really loves being outside.

Lately Nina is not so much into photos but rather videos, so here she is being her silly self. You will see that old habits are hard to break. She still puts her knees together for balance because that is how she balanced for 5 years of her life. She also has to be reminded to put her heels down, and the walker as you will see is all about her arms trength and has little to do with using her legs. Still, she is a goof ball!

Nichole is a rascal...as usual. Nothing new there! She is all about climbing lately, can you tell form the pictures?

I feel like she is about to start talking. I mean really talking. When she was a baby I called my friend Leah on a day I was just frustrated about speech not coming along. She reminded me that age 4 is average for kids with Down syndrome to begin talking, and now that we are getting closer to 4, I can really see that. More words, more 2 to 3 word phrases, and lots of repeating! I cannot wait to get her back on speech therapy! We finally get to see a doctor on Thursday to get the referrals we need.

Her transitioning has been...tough. Nichole does not deal well with transition, and having a new house, church, and new people has been pretty intimidating to her. We have yet to have visitors come to our house and Nichole not be hiding in her room and calling them scary. She will not come out to see them and will cling to me or Andy or Ellie. That has been hard. Since she cannot communicate with us well, I think this is her way of dealing with "strangers." So for those wondering if kids with Down syndrome go to anyone that says hi, this is not always true. Nichole us very much all about her family and only her family.

And Nichole loves Barbie. Barbie dolls and Barbie movies. She is one big Barbie fan! And when we go outside to play, she calls for barbie up in the sky (because...she knows the Fairy Secret, and surely they will come) so she ask us to "fly her" so she can be Barbie too. Her pretend play and imagination are pretty superb.

So this is life with "the sisters." Fun, busy, and very girlie. I love it!


My parents say I was born talking and haven't shut up since. This is only a slight exaggeration.

I am their first child and one of the oldest grandchildren. My childhood was well documented in a La Leche League baby book, where the prompts not only focused on first teeth and words but father-coached child birth and breastfeeding. If I need to know when I did what, my mother can simply pull out this over stuffed book and find pages and lists of my likes, dislikes, first foods, first words and preschool pictures.

According to this book, I was talking in 2-3 word sentences at 15 months. Not years, people, months.

(Isn't it funny?" my mom said to me. "You talked so early and so well and you have the kid with a speech delay." Yeah. Funny.)

When I was a child, I chattered on and on until people begged me to stop. I remember my grandmother listening to me talk and then turning to my father and saying, "She's just like you! You used to talk on and on and I would say, `I hope you get one just like you!' And you did!" Then she's turn to me and say, "Laura, I hope you get one just like you! A kid who talks and is never quiet!"

As a teenager, my research papers and essays were long, sometimes to the detrement of my grades. I love research and still have boxes of photocopies in the basement. There's nothing like sitting in a library on a dreary day, pouring over books, discovering new information. To this day, I enjoy the challenge was writing a paper, the thrill of collecting and learning information.

They say people are more scared of public speaking than death. Public speaking never bothered me. Sure, I was nervouse- but diving into the pool before a challenging swimming event resulted in more nerves than speech class.

Yes, I have a voice- and I use it.

There have been times in my life when having a voice, being good at speaking, writing and all thing verbal, has not been a gift. It seems like people who are nice and quiet and don't make trouble are the prized ones, not the ones to challenge, who speak up, who turn in research papers miles longer than requested.

(Not that I would do anything like that. Ahem.)

And, frankly, what good is a voice if I don't use it to Be Famous, get my Masters, my PhD, become a Famous researcher, writer, novelist . . .

Ask my son, when he's an adult, what good his mother's voice was.

See, I have four wonderful, brillant, bright children, two of whom are verbal. Camille, like me, was born talking. Joseph has no problems tell you what is on his mind- and loudly. The kid can bargin like no other. Cole is shaping up to be like this older siblings. How many 14 month olds can say the word "Katie" when no one in the family is named Katie?

Then there's Georgie. What if his mother wasn't verbal? What if I wasn't a talker? What if I didn't do oodles and oodles of research and learn that having and then loosing words isn't normal? What if I had just bought into the "Oh, well, Einstien didn't talk until he was three" or "Well, so and so was a quiet baby and didn't talk much. He's just like them!" What if I hadn't been a talker and people just assumed he was quiet, like me? What then?

How old would he be before people discovered there really is a problem, a problem that runs deeper than "oh, he's just like so and so"? How much would he suffer?

See, my voice is a gift but it's not a gift for me. It's not a gift for the masses or a gift to make me Be Famous. It's a gift for my children. It's the gift I have to help them, to advocate for them. I can channel these gifts into helping them grow to the best of their potential.

I'm not verbal for me. I'm verbal for them. For George, the child who can't speak.

The words have always flown easily from my brain to my mouth. The same is not true for my child. I will never ever take this for granted again and I will use my voice, my ability, to make sure he can take the same thing for granted.

I have a voice so that one day, my child may have a voice too.

Nina's Orphanage Best Friend

I did not write a blog post today, because I want you to read about Nina's best friend from the orphanage and her adoption story. Okana and her family have become dear friends to our family and we cannot wait to visit them and finally meet face to face!

So go ahead, click here and read their story!

To celebrate Zack!

We attended a lovely event at a farm in support of Zack's Dream Room at York Central Hospital today. Louise

7 Quick Takes Friday: Travel Tips Edition

The Packers Staduim. We go every year. Yes, EVERY. You should be envious. I think. Except that we go EVERY year.

(Head over to ConversionDiary.com for more quick takes!)
When you pack, take a day's worth of clothing (socks, underwear, shirt, shorts) and roll together. Then you can grab a set of clothes every morning without digging for everything. Plus, you get tons more in your suitcase!
Minimize- one reuseable bottle (water) or sippy cup per person. One reuseable coffee cup per adult. Wash or rinse every night in the hotel and air dry. You can bring or buy a small bottle of dishsoap to use if you want.

Bubble! Keeps babies, even rear facing babies who like to scream in cars (You know who you are, Cole Robert!) happy. Added bonus? A cute little baby voice saying, "Bub-ble."

Snack traps. Fill them with snacks for little ones (or big ones) to keep them from playing "dump" on the floor of the newly vacuumed car.

Laundry soap. Not kidding. It makes my life easier when I simply plan on doing a load or two before we leave. I come home with mostly clean clothes and don't have wet or dirty clothes rotting in my suitcase. I know, I never get away from laundry and it will haunt me forever.

Chargers for everything and the plug in car charger adaptor thingy.

Minimize. Take only what you need for clothes and maybe an extra day or two of outfits. Do laundry there. Make sure your shoes match multiple outfits. Make sure shirts can be worn with different shorts and so on. Don't take all the DVDs and their cases; take the DVDs all in one small, portable case. The kids get one bag each and ONE pillow, ONE blanket and TWO lovies. PERIOD. (Ask my husband about the time his sister took all the stuffed animals on their Annual Trek Up North which is now OUR Annual Trek Up North. Go on. Ask.) Oh and said kids are in charge of their own backpacks. *evil grin*

We go on vacay and all I got was this chocolate face.


I'm grateful for some opportunities that I hope will result in a better school placement for Ben next year.

I sent information from a number of inclusion experts to our school board and trustee and the superintendent has agreed to a meeting in July to discuss whether Ben could be supported in a regular high school that has a unit for students who are deaf/hard of hearing (but typical academically -- and they are in the mainstream for some classes with interpreters). This is not where they would choose to place Ben, but I feel it is a better environment with more potential (and not a 45-minute drive from where we live).

Cheryl Joregensen, an inclusion consultant at the University of New Hampshire, has agreed to participate in the meeting by SKYPE!

Other good news. We were seen by a speech therapist at Holland Bloorview with the goal of getting Ben a better voice device and set-up of vocabulary. This is seen as critical to inclusion. We have never been able to find a reliable device that was intuitive and not clunky. The technology has always seemed archaic to me compared to everyday business software you'd use on your computer. It's so slow and difficult to navigate it's a disencentive to using.

And we are participating in Beta testing of WordQ -- a word prediction software -- on the iPad. Ben has used it before on a regular computer. It's helpful because it has speech feedback.

A retired teacher from Holland Bloorview is tutoring Ben in reading and I'm meeting with our local Kumon group because I've been doing some of the books that brother Kenold brings home with Ben.

Ben is going to overnight camp for four weeks this summer -- thanks to the generosity of a family member and a friend.

He's enjoying watching old Zoboomafu shows now that we have Netflix. Last night they featured a Duck-billed Dinosaur which he found hilarious.

I'd love to hear your good news! Louise

The Same Team

It has been a productive morning. The pile of dirty laundry is now a pile of clean laundry. The breakfast dishes have been loaded in the dishwasher, and dinner is cooking in the Crockpot. Even better, I took a shower and got dressed before noon.

While the girls play nicely in the living room, I pick up the phone to call a friend. “Hi Kezia, I was calling to ask about…” I hear a scream. I turn around and two of the girls are fighting over a toy. While the tug of war unfolds, Barbie, who has been “jumping” in her dance class with my third child accidentally pokes the eye of her owner. An unfortunate event that sends her into a high pitch cry. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

“I will have to call you later” I hang up the phone.

By lunch time, two of the girls have been in the naughty corner a couple of times. One has been sent to her room, and I have heard the phrase “It is not fair” more times than I can count. I admit I have wanted to say those same words using my outside voice a couple of times too.

When my husband arrives home, it is evident that we have had a tiring couple of hours. I am presently warning one of the girls, “If you take that from your sister one more time, you will go back to the naughty corner!”

“What is going on?” he asks

“It is pretty obvious, don’t you think!” I snap at him. As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know they are unkind. With my attitude, I take my frustration on him and fight him too.

“Honey” he gently says, “We are on the same team.”

His words touch the chaos in my heart. I don’t have to fight. I am not alone in this parenting adventure, I have a team mate, a soul mate, and a friend.

I take a deep breath.

“We are on the same team” I repeat, “I need help on this one or I will scream”

He takes over with the girls, who are excited daddy is home for lunch, and after a few minutes they are happy rolling on the floor with daddy. In the kitchen, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Later that day, when the girls go to bed, Andy and I sit down with a cup of decaffeinated coffee and talk about our day.

We talk about being in the same team.

Sometimes it is easy to allow the tensions of life to pull us apart. It is easier to “survive” a day, rather than live it. The truth is, when I am only surviving, I have little time to stop and “gather around” to play as a team.

When our girls see that mommy and daddy are united, that they are a team, they feel secure. Mommy is not snapping at daddy, but rather asking for backup. Mommy is not going at it alone, but has a strong partner beside her.

Sometimes team members get crabby, sometimes team members do not pull their part. But we are still a team, we still play together. If one of the girls asks for something, we respond, “What did mommy say?” or “What did daddy say?” We don’t challenge or diminish each other’s parenting styles in front of the children. When tension rises and we have to play hard, we stay as a team, and we try to work together. When things go well, we can celebrate.

We sip some more coffee and smile as we look back at the day. Some days are harder than other days, and some days I chose to go at it alone. Those are the days I feel defeated. But we played well today and our friendship is strengthened because we are on the same team.

Ellen Stumbo

(A late Father's Day post)

Learning empathy by looking beyond disabilities

Check out this piece in the NY Times yesterday. Louise

Music Review: World of Praise Instrumental Hymns

Do you enjoy instrumental music? Do you hear rhythms and they touch your heart, make you want to get up and dance, or simply close your eyes so you can really feel the music?

Ever since I was a little girl, classical music was played in my home. The love of classical music drew to instrumental music. There is something about just music that speaks to my heart. There are no words, no noise, just music. And if you "speak" music, you also know that music is not just music.

"World of Praise" is a compilation of hymns with music from different countries.From Latin rhythms , the deep soul of India to the clogging Irish music.  I knew the words for some of the hymns, yet the music was different and I could not help but imagine what heaven will be like, when we all come together, all so different, but praising the same God.

If you enjoy instrumental music, I think you will enjoy "World of Praise:Instrumental Hymns."

I received this CD for free by Discovery House Music in exchange for my honest review.re

Learning to fly

Learning to Fly
By Meriah Nichols

Sometimes I wonder if parenting a child with a disability -- as a parent with a disability -- is as much about logistics and tools as anything else. That with the right, bright bits of click, it's no more nor less than anything else anyone else would experience.

Let me explain myself. I am deaf -- little "d" deaf. This means that I can hear but I have what is called 'cookie bite compressed hearing.' My hearing starts at 0 decibels (essentially what a grasshopper is said to hear), goes down to 70 or so decibels (moderate-severe loss), then back to 0. At 80 decibels things become too loud. It's like the giant blue hearing monster took a big bite out of my cookie then squashed it, that's what it is. Leaving me with the oddest hearing ever -- I might not hear you say hello but I can hear someone rustling plastic bags about a mile away.

I also went through the windshield of the car when I was 4, back when seat belts were a delightful accessory and car seats for children were probably an ungerminated idea from someone yet-to-be-born. My head was spectacularly torn open -- my face is criss-crossed with scars -- and shaken up.

Added to this little sundae of disability is my cherry of vision -- I am one notch under legally blind. I wore coke-bottle glasses of the variety that were so heavy that they left permanent grooves in my nose. You name it, I was called it at school. From the more exciting 'frankenstein's wife' to the rather mundane 'scarface' and altogether unoriginal 'four-eyes.' And everything, everything in between.

It took me about 30 years to get over it. To come to a place of not only acceptance of myself, but a place of pride. I am proud of who I am, who I have chosen to become. Of my life, thus far. I am of the opinion that my scars fit my face, or that my face fits them: either way, the point is, they belong together. My hearing (or lack of), is, I feel, a blessing not to be taken lightly in the wailing face of a tongue-wagging, tantrum-throwing howling toddler. How many parents have the option that I have, of turning OFF their child, staying calm and firm with them? Truly. It is a wondrous advantage.

Thirty years. And I was in a good place. Then they told me that my second child, my (unborn) daughter was going to have Down syndrome. That, somehow miraculously resolving the diffuse fetal hydrops that she had (right along with her heart holes), she was going to come with an extra chromosome. We were told she'd be a burden for life, one that we were encouraged to terminate.

In one swoop, rather like the feeling that a bucket of ice had been dumped over my head after I went through the windshield, my 30 years of growing to a good place was gone. Utterly, completely gone. I was back to being the little girl standing there on the playground, sobbing as someone eagerly seized his advantage in mercilessly teasing me. Back to that place of wondering what, as someone had later asked, could possibly be good about me when so much was wrong?

The choice to have the moxie to have Moxie was not lightly made. What cinched it was the sudden realization -- the gut knowledge, belief, whatever it is -- that all of our paths are precisely that. Our own. Mine was mine and is not Moxie's. Her way in life will be as she makes it. The pain and misery and depression and all the rest of it that I experienced is not hers, was never hers and will not be hers.
And so. My Moxie came, complete with her extra bit to love.

The biggest hurdle for me - the one of accepting her precisely as she is -- was jumped. As a parent with disabilities, I was left with, as I have said, the logistics of disability. How to hear her when I can't hear. How to check up on her. How to remember things like all of her appointments. How to stay awake when my narcoleptic bits get triggered because I am stressed out dealing with a stupid bureaucratic system. How to deal with the seemingly endless phone calls I need to make on her behalf...when I am deaf.

Perhaps parenting is a process, much like learning to fly. If you were born with -- or acquired -- a set of wings that fly differently from your flock, well, then you need to learn how to fly with what you have. And then when you look down and see that your little chick has wings that are also different from the flock, different from yours even -- then you need to figure out how best to guide and help your chickadee.

All the way, flying with the wings you have. All the way, loving your little one as best as you can.

After designing, implementing and spending the past 8 years managing an employment program for students with disabilities at UC Berkeley, Meriah Nichols is now a full-time Mom to two: Micah (3) and Moxie (1) in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also works part time in employment coaching, as a guest editor for the Assistive Technology Coalition. She tries to work on her urban homestead every day. She can be found on her blog at doozeedad.

Overheard: I did it!

Adam was standing on the stairs, talking to me as I was getting Cole dressed. Cole was yelling and wiggling out of my arms, launching for the stairs. We finally realized he was yelling, "I did it!" and wanted to climb the stairs.

Apparently, "I did it!" is code for "climb." He's been saying, "I did it!" when he climbs up the stairs or the step to our tub for awhile now. We know that when we hear "I did it!" we need to come running and we normally sigh and say, "You certainly did."

Overhearing: breeding for the church

Laura: I like her church. I think it's the kind of church we would attend if we were not Catholic. They don't "recruit to build" or anything.

Adam: Like Catholics. We  don't "recruit to build" we "breed to build"!

One Thousand Gifts:Father's Day

61 - 64: Our grandparents. Our children have four living great grandparents. They are blessed.

65: My pool boy, Adam, who takes awesome care of the neighborhood pool.

66: The neighborhood pool. That in and of itself is a gift.

67: A messy house because it means children live here.

68. A clean house, because it means children help me clean up!

69: A chocolate and aqua colored bedding set.

70. Shopping at Target.

71: moving my daugher's bedroom around organizing her room. It's like she has a whole new room!

72: swimming

73: Father's Day- my husband is a wonderful father and a gift to our children.

74. Watching TV and eating popcorn with my husband

Swimming, swimming, swimming in the pool....

It's not exactly a little known fact that I love to swim. I used to be a distance swimmer in high school (motto: Distance swimmers do it longer and harder, baby!) and swam the mile. Yes, the mile. I mean, anyway can sprint but who can do the mile? ME!

I loved it. I was in Hawaii then and most of the swimming is outdoor, all year long. It did indeed get mightly cold in the winter but in the summer... when you submerge yourself underwater and the sun's rays break through the pool... there's nothing like it. Nothing like watching your shadow rotate as you race to the end of the pool, nothing like turning effortlessly at the walls, floating like a baby through the cool water. Sometimes I would go under just to BE under the water, have the sweet stillness press against my ears, all sound blocked out, the sun's rays fragmenting against the bottom.

I got Adam into it too. At first he just saw a thousand meters a few times a week. Two years ago, he joined the master's swim program at the gym. Seemingly overnight his strokes improved, he lost tons of weight, gained muscles, self confidence and a fantastic tan. Now he is the one talking about diving, flip turns and pyrmid work.

(Why am insanely envious!)

Our kids, it seems, have inherited this love of water. Joseph is a bit careful and Georgie even moreso. But when you get them in there... they go! Joseph needed a little "Edge" from a friend his same age who was doing flips off the side of the pool. Give the kid some googles and he's diving for missles. Georgie took more coaxing (this is the kid who won't sit down in the tub) but once Adam realized that he wants to jump off the ladder in the deep end... now all Georgie will do is jump off the ladder! My baby bear will sit and jump off the edge of the pool for hours. He even scooted himself in today. (We are working on waiting until I say, "One two three JUMP!") I am  using "elbow, elbow, tummy, knee, knee" to teach him to climb out of the pool. He even frog-kick his feet and scoots his arms around, yelling if I don't move fast enough. Of course, when I try to do "ONE TWO THREE SWIM!" and have him swim between people... he stops moving. Heh.

Georgie and Cole have already blond and reddish blond, respectivly. Camille has some nice highlights and I think Joseph is turning out to be like me- brown with a chance of brown! They have respectable tans; enough to know they are getting some sun but they aren't burned.

Swim lessons start tomorrow and I am excited to hear another professionals assessment of how they swim. Camille can do a basic freestyle but can't breathe to the side. (Perfectly normal for her age.) Joseph could given a few lessons, I think. The babies aren't in swim lessons now, as I would need another person to help me, and I taught them for so long, I can do everything myself.

Gotta pack for swimming... I can't wait to see the kids show off... and, yes, I hope get ready for a swim team sometime in the future!

Happy Father's Day!

Check out the Terratrek all-terrain wheelchair we picked up for free from a man giving one away in Georgian Bay on the weekend.

Right now it's sized for a large adult, but hopefully we can get it modified. Ben needs it for overnight camp but we weren't able to source one anywhere.

D'Arcy googled it and came across an ad from a person who wanted to give one away!

Apraxia. Maybe.

Friday was a slightly nerve wracking day. After spending every morning that week working in the Community Corner doing some awesome community building stuff with the kids, I took that Friday off. I dropped Joseph and Camille at church in the pouring rain and took the littles home.

I should say that we read stories and did fun stuff. The truth? I was such a nervous wreck about Georgie's appointment that afternoon that I made the babies popcorn, let them watch TV and surfed the net.

(Okay,  yeah, we did cool stuff like read books and play with blocks but it felt like all we did was watch TV as the morning draaaaggged.)

I had to wash his super cute green polos and plaid shorts that he spilled his drink on because, for some reason, he HAD to wear that outfit. HAD to. I had my heart set on him looking adorable, put together and slick.I didn't want the drs to look at a grubby kid, see my mommy gut, bushy eyebrows and read that he's one of four... and think that his problems are caused by too many siblings and a mom who can't manage.

Why yes, yes I was being stupid.

I picked the older two up early from the last day of VBS and felt horribly guilty that I was taking them away from hot dogs and ice cream and a fun movie (and, it turns out, a firetruck spraying water everywhere) because their brother had an medical appointment for his special needs. You know, that are all my fault since he was born early because my body failed him, blah blah blah.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

After dropping them off with a friend (who spoiled them rotten by taking them to a spray park and baking them cookies) I headed towards the hospital. I was a little early and wanted an iced tea but the line at McDonald's was too long. I finally just arrived early and parked in the shade, ran the AC and read while the boys napped.

My stomach was in knots and I was horribly nervous. I don't know why but I was. I was terrified they were going to find something wrong or, worse, tell me I was overreacting.

Nothing like that happened.

The people in the waiting room were super friendly and we chatted about toddler-stuff, like movies, for awhile before they called us back for our audiology test. Georgie was properly shy. I finally got Cole settled with a snack, and Georgie on my lap in the sound proof booth. (Can I get one of those?!) When the test started, he got into it! When he looked at the speaker a sound was coming out of, the audiologist would make a little toy act up and beat a drum. He loved it but loved the toy dog they used to get him to look "center" more. When the test was done, he wanted the dog to play more!

He passed with flying colors, by the way. No problems hearing!

The speech and language evaluation was a little more sticky.

When we were called back, the SLP gently questioned why we were there, if he was already being seen by Infant and Toddler Services. I told them the truth- we wanted a more in depth evaluation, a second opinion and more in site and ideas as to what was going on in his head.

After questioning us and listening to Georgie talk (not that he did much of that), she told us:

*his receptive language is 29 months, right on target for his age
*his expressive language is 15 months, which is very delayed
*she is pleased with his social interaction with his little brother
*she will not diagnose, but thinks he has a motor planning disorder. Basically, his brain knows and understands words and what he wants to say. His brain cannot coordinate what is going on in his mind and get it out of his mouth. He is a bit young to dx Childhood Apraxia of Speech (also Google Verbal or Acquired Apraxia) but she think he would benefit from apraxia therapy, which is a bit different from traditional speech therapy.

I completely agree with her. This fits with my research and our (long, extensive and filled with reading, speaking and writing disorders) family history. The good news is we know what direction we need to take and we have a better understanding of how to treat it. The bad news is that apraxia is neurologically based; that is, it is brain based. There is a glitch between his brain and the muscles in his mouth. While there is nothing physically wrong with the muscles, the impulse that would tell his muscles to form to make sounds is, well, out to lunch. This explains why we hear train or "it bieeeg" or other words like that once and then not again. He gets so excited or upset that he has spontaneous speech and words come out. When he has to sit down and THINK about words, it's too hard.

In short, Georgie can understand everything you say but he can NOT physically talk. Nothing we can do will MAKE him talk, he has to LEARN to talk.

Now, she did say that while he would benefit from apraxia therapy, he could very well be one of those kids who makes rapid progress to the point where they wonder if he really did have CAS. I pointed out that we would never know if he suddenly "caught on," if he is just a kid who needed a certain type of therapy, if the therapy worked or if he was just never wanting to talk to begin with. (I KNOW the latter is not the case.) I am not comfortable with waiting on additional therapy and she agreed. We are to keep on truckin' with our IT therapist and work towards preschool in the fall.

Our goals are for Georgie to work toward verbal speaking but to have some kind of adaptive equipment to help non-family members understand him.

Oh, yeah, and being the super awesome kid I know he is!

How to Organize Your Pantry

  1.  Make sure that the chips and crackers are out of reach.
  2.  Make sure you get your food out of the boxes shortly after you move.
  3.  If you take too long to unpack those boxes, it is likely that a certain rascal will decide to climb the  boxes and try to find said chips or crackers.
  4.  Don't worry if she finds the "wrong" crackers, she won't eat them.
  5. Beware if she finds the wrong crackers, they might end up sprinkled all over the floor.
  6. Decide that the least desirable foods will be the ones that could possibly be reached.
  7. If you see an orange smear on a white door, a certain kid might have engaged in rascal activities and somehow found the Doritos.
  8. Make sure that every human being living in your home knows that the chips and crackers are to be placed on the very top shelf.
(I know this happened when we moved, but I just got the pictures downloaded and I had to share!)

Lego Land!

Today we got to enjoy the day with some really sweet friends from Iowa at Lego Land!

When we told Ellie that Sovines would be coming to visit us, she assured us she would scream with excitement when she saw them park in or driveway! She didn't scream loud, she just pretended to scream, and then was too shy and not sure what to do. Of course kids quickly get over their shyness and they were playing in no time! Ellie really enjoyed showing her new house. Nina was challenged to walk because there was no way she would be crawling behind! (That, and I think we are seeing the benefits of those knee immobilizers) I really think she used her walker most of the afternoon just around our house!

Sovines left after dinner to spend the night in Chicago, but we joined them today at Lego Land. If you have kids with special needs you know how challenging it can be to go to public places, even if they are created for kids, so we were not sure how well our girls would do. But at the end of our time there, we really did have a great time and so did all 3 little girls!

Nichole is not very social unless she knows the people she is with. She walked all over the place but did take some time to play with "blocks."

 Nichole and I then watched some kids playing at the play place. There were many kids and Nichole is very intimidated by older kids that really can knock her over easily, but she sure loved watching! And while she watched the kids, I just watched her. She is growing up quickly, for the first time today I did not see my baby. (Yes Amy, I did not see a baby anymore, can you believe it?)
 Nichole also had to hug every Lego sculpture. I tried to get her to give a hug to Mommy too, but she just said, "No mommy!"
 All my girls actually got on this ride. I rode with Nichole, and Ellie and Nina rode with their friends. I only got a picture of Ellie because I was standing in the wrong spot and no pictures turned out except the very last one as I ran to get better lighting!
 We watched the 4D Lego movies! Ellie loved it, Nina and Nichole were scared with the 3D glasses on! At some point Andy and I wondered if we would have to leave but once the glasses came off they were okay!

Here is Ellie waiting with her friends.

 Nina had really wanted to go play in the play place, but the older kids were wild and she was too concerned about keeping up with Ellie, which is not going to happen. She was content to find a corner and play blocks with me. Then she turned on her silliness and was making all sorts of silly faces "for the pictures mom."

Please don't mind the glasses. They were attacked by Nichole and we have to get them fixed!

 At the restaurant with her friends.
 Nina did incredible with her walker. She walked all morning. Did you get that? She walked all morning! I know some of you know just how incredible this is! Again, is this thanks to the knee immobilizers? The surgery? Who knows! But she was able to do this all morning! By lunch time, she needed to rest!
 Ellie saying goodbye to her best friend. I was actually sad as they said goodbye, Ellie really loves Brooklyn and her siblings. I bet Ellie talks about Brooklyn everyday and tells us how much she misses her.

We miss her family a lot too.
 Nichole did not last long in the car. She was out in just a few minutes after such an exciting day!

Quote of the day by Nina: "At the orphanage I never got to go anywhere, not even to a restaurant. Today I got to go to Lego Land AND a restaurant!" Now insert a little giggle.

Knee Immobilizers

 When we began to  look at different options to help with Nina's spasticity, one of the first things that we considered were knee immobilizers. These knee immobilizers are supposed to be worn at night while sleeping. However, as we looked at how spastic, or "tight" Nina was, we quickly realized that the knee immobilizers would be too difficult for her to handle. If you remember from the video I posted before her rhizotomy, stretching her leg to make it straight was very painful for her, and there was no way she could have worn these and tolerated them.

The day of her rhizotomy, Nina got her knee immobilizers delivered to the hospital room. Now that the tightness was gone, it was time to start breaking her in into these fancy contraptions.

We began putting them on just for short stretches of time during the day, but the best results are when they are worn all night long. A few days after the rhizotomy, we tried to have Nina wear them at night. She could not sleep.
Every hour she was up crying and winning. It was quite the ordeal. And since our family appreciates sleep, and we were living in the hospital room with her, we usually would take them off after having her wear them 3 to 4 hours at night.

As we talked to her therapists they encouraged us to have her wear these braces at least 3 to 4 hours every day. Having her take rest time or play with the iPad while she was wearing them. With our move and the business of life, getting the knee immobilizers on was only happening about 3 times a week.
Four days ago I was having one of those days where I was frustrated. Frustrated that Nina is able to physically do so much but emotionally and mentally she is stuck. So I did what some of us mommies of kids with special needs do, I asked another mommy whose son has had a rhizotomy if what Nina was doing (or not doing) was normal. Natalie then asked if we had tried knee immobilizers, to which I quickly responded yes but we were not doing those, because we appreciate sleep too much. She encouraged me and said it had taken her son a week to get used to them. Andy and I talked about this, and decided to give it a week.
We talked to Nina about the "bedtime braces" and why it was important for her to wear them. We said she was going to have to wear them every night until her body started to work better. Nina went to bed with the braces no problem, but just an hour after going to bed, she was up and crying. We did the crying and crying until about midnight, where we knew we had to make a choice. Do we keep doing this, or do we stay with it.

I took Nina to my room and explained that she was going to have to sleep with the braces. And that from now on she really was going to have to wear them and it was unacceptable to cry because she was waking everyone up. I gave her a choice: go to your room with your sisters and sleep on your bed, or have to sleep by yourself because you are crying. Of course she chose to go back. It was half an hour later that I heard a little whimper, and just as it came it stopped...she remembered the warning. And then she slept all night long! And for the last 4 days, Nina has been wearing her knee braces all night long! She has not cried, complained, or even woken up. That little stinker! She figured out we had given up before and she was going to try again! But she realized we were serious and that was that!

As you can see from the pictures, the knee immobilizers are big and probably not very comfy. Nina is a trooper! She is doing so well and she is taking it better than I ever could. Because to be honest I would be crying and whining not wanting to wear those and I would not care if I had to go have my own room for as long as I could tell you I was mad I had to wear these big bulky things!

Meet Kelley - An Adult with ACC

photo taken by Kelley on recent camping trip on a hike up Table Rock Mountain in South Carolina

"Hi, I’m Kelley and I currently live in North Carolina.
I was encouraged by Sandie to share my story, although
I don’t know how informative it will be for those looking
for ways to help their struggling ACC kids.

I first found out I had Complete ACC and a small Chiari I
malformation eleven years ago at the age of 35, after an
MRI was done because I was having tingling in my hands
and feet. The tingling was apparently partly due to the
nerve compression that can come with Chiari and was
successfully resolved with bodywork such as myofascial
release. I was deemed asymptomatic by my neurologist in
regards to the ACC.

I have been on a medication to treat a mild seizure disorder
since the age of 17. It was not until the diagnosis of C-ACC
that the likely reason for the seizures was determined. The
ACC probably also explains why I am left handed (at least
according to one doctor I’ve talked to).

I had no developmental delays as a kid. I attended
mainstream classes throughout school. In addition, I
took some classes geared to gifted and talented students
during high school. I got As and Bs in all of my classes
except math, where I got Bs and Cs. I also struggled with
the math-heavy science of physics. When it came to math,
I could learn and understand the lessons, but would not
necessarily retain the knowledge three months later. The
classes I loved most were English, history, science, and
foreign languages. I liked math and physical education
the least. As far as extracurricular activities, I played
clarinet for three years and was a member of the yearbook
committee and school astronomy club for a few years.

I went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a
Master’s Degree in Library Science by the time I was 25.
I have been working in various corporate and academic
libraries ever since. I own a home, drive a stick shift
car, ride a bike, and recently completed training for and
running my first half marathon (13.1 miles).

I was a bookworm and a teacher’s pet through most of K-12.
I was very shy and easy to tease due to my curly hair and
my love of learning. This caused me to prefer the company
of adults from an early age. The serious-minded social
world of adults just made more sense! I am also the
child of a divorce and I think that impacted my early
self confidence around others. But I always had a few
very close friends in school. And I never had trouble
reading social cues. I’m sure there were plenty of times
when overall I felt excluded, different, and lonely.
But I learned to cope with the friends I had and make up
for anything missing by immersing myself in schoolwork
and reading.

I read a lot while growing up. I remember taking a
standardized test in 6th grade that measured reading
and math competency. I don’t remember what my math
score was, but I tested at a 12th grade reading level.
While I may not have had as many friends or social
outings as I’d have liked in grades 7-12, the worlds
of JRR Tolkien, Charles Dickens, James Michener, and
many others, kept me pretty satisfied.

I was an only child until the age of 11. I sometimes
wonder if I would have been a little more adept socially
if I’d had an older sibling to learn from. Most of the
other kids at school seemed so immature that I reached a
point as a preteen where I just didn't bother to try to
associate much with them!

The three very good friends I had in junior high and high
school are people I still have some contact with today.
And I also keep in touch regularly with my two closest
friends from college.

For any ACCer or the parent of one who has challenges
with social skills, my best advice is just to observe
and practice those skills until they become easier. As
I stated earlier, I was shy and introverted growing up.
I didn't always know what to say to people. But I had
the good fortune to date a very extroverted man for
several years in my 20s. He would turn to strangers
sitting in the next booth at a restaurant and ask them
what they thought of some current, newsworthy event.
I watched him have many fascinating conversations and
make new friends and acquaintances using this technique.
I asked him how he had the courage to be so open, because
sometimes the stranger(s) he addressed would just give
him a rude look and turn away. He said he never took
these rebuffs personally and always looked forward to
what the next new conversation might bring. I more or
less picked up this same attitude and now really do
enjoy interacting with strangers. But I still consider
myself an introvert, because to recharge my mental energy
I need to spend quality time alone.

I am not married and have no children, but I have had
half a dozen healthy, long-term relationships. I have
been dating a wonderful man for a year now and am very
happy. While I currently live 2,000 miles away from my
parents and extended family, I keep in good touch with
them through regular phone calls and visits home a few
times each year.

My ACC has not been a defining element of who I view
myself to be. I am a little clumsy in that I brush into
walls sometimes while rounding corners or stumble over
my own feet. But I accept the bruises that occur. I
have a relatively serious and rational outlook on life
which gets me impatient when I'm hanging around anyone
whose only interest is joking around. (Don't get me
wrong - I love and cherish humor, especially British
comedy!) I have a poor sense of direction. But patience,
maps, asking for directions, and/or using a GPS unit
always eventually get me where I want to go. Excessive
multitasking mentally wears me out, but I make do. Are
any of these traits related to my ACC? Maybe. Maybe not.
I am not convinced that they are because plenty of people
with ‘complete’ brains have similar issues.

I met a few other adults with ACC issues at a conference
a few years ago. The one trait that I seemed to share
most with them was a tendency to ramble while having a
conversation. My conversation style is not succinct,
but rather very stream of consciousness oriented. I
can tend to verbalize tangential information that is
not of immediate relevance to the topic at hand, so it
may take me a while to get to a point! This trait
sometimes gets my family, friends, and boyfriend
frustrated. But for the most part they have learned
to adjust to it. But is this characteristic attributable
to ACC? Again, I do not know for sure. Before meeting
the others with ACC, I thought I communicated that way
due to all of the long-winded 900 page Victorian novels
I read when I was young!

My passions include reading, hiking, travel, and being
a lifelong learner. It is important to grow personally
and professionally throughout life and I endeavor to do

I hope my story will at least demonstrate to people that
ACC comes in many shapes and sizes. I do not know why I
have no obvious deficits. One ACC researcher I talked to
at a conference asked me about my family background.
After I filled him in, he determined that my high
functionality was due in part to being raised in an
environment with a lot of intellectual activity and
stimulation. Yes, all of that was encouraged in my
family, but I know that there are additional pieces
to the puzzle that may never be clear."

I am thrilled that Kelley contacted me because her
story IS very interesting, worthwhile and helpful.

Many parents who have a child with ACC are told by the
doctors (myself included) that there
are people out there
leading 'normal' lives who are not affected by ACC - who
may not know they are missing their corpus callosum.

As parents we hear about this possibility but seldom are
able to see it backed up with the reality. However,
thanks to Kelley...she has made this truth very real.

I am grateful to Kelley for contributing her personal
ACC story and making it available here on the ACC blog
for others to read. Thank you very much, Kelley, for
taking the time to touch the lives of other people.

If you want to leave a comment for Kelley I am
sure she would appreciate hearing from you.

If you are an adult who has ACC or a corpus callosum
disorder, do you want to share your story?

Each person is unique. Every story is welcome and
every story is worthy.

I would love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail

Freedom for my daughter

I'm delighted to share another post with you from a parent member of Holland Bloorview's Family Advisory Committee. Louise

Freedom for my daughter

My daughter (above) is a fabulous, bright and fun little girl. She was born with athetoid cerebral palsy. She is affected in all limbs, as well as in her speech and overall control and balance. She will be six this summer.

Last year we began working with a doctor in a coaching role, to help coordinate our daughter’s therapies and organize our goals.

When she was four, she was seeing six different therapists and going to over 10 therapy sessions a week. At the same time, she was not making progress and anything new we wanted to try caused tension with the therapists we had.

With the help of the coaching doctor, we got focused and took control of the therapy program, working on measurable goals that were a priority for us and having all our therapists work together to create a plan for our daughter. There was improvement almost immediately – in our daughter’s strength and abilities as well as in our stress levels. It was and continues to be a challenge to get our therapists to communicate effectively, but it's worth the effort.

Last summer the doctor encouraged us to try it a water exercise program she had developed. We had never tried anything like this and were excited to try something new. We got our daughter a hydrofit wet vest -- a unique wet suit style floatation vest designed for athletes, so that she could do deep-water jogging three times a week. We hoped to improve her balance, encourage reciprocal motion in her legs, and build up strength and stamina.

The improvement was phenomenal. Our daughter had been taking swimming lessons for a year but it was a challenge because she had trouble controlling her body in the water. It seemed that when she went into water she became more spastic and had more uncontrolled movements than on land. Generally, she can sit well on a chair or bench, but when the swim instructors wanted her to sit on a table in the water with the other kids, she couldn’t keep herself up. Floats and glides were difficult even with a lot of assistance.

The wet vest changed all that. My daughter could sit easily on the table and float and glide on her back with minimal assistance. Needless to say, her swim instructor was pleased. The vest provided my daughter with just the right amount of input and floatation. It was so much better than a typical life jacket, which would just tip her right over.

When we first started with water jogging, my daughter had trouble keeping herself upright, even with the vest. It was a new experience and it took time for her to learn this new skill. She quickly progressed to being able to keep herself upright for two to five seconds before falling over to the side or onto her back. With more and more practice we saw this time improve. After three weeks she was able to stay upright and jog for 30 seconds consistently. After four weeks she could do a minute. By the end of the summer, she could jog on her own, easily, for more than 10 minutes at a time. I'm a good swimmer and 10 minutes of treading water is tiring for me, so I was impressed. Not only could she tread for an extended period of time, but she was doing it totally on her own, she had good form, was in control of her body and was having fun.

The improvement in my daughter’s stamina and strength was noticeable out of the pool too. Even though she had lots of therapy, before last summer she didn’t really have any cardiovascular exercise. She couldn’t run and play like other kids and tired easily. This is no longer the case. Her strength and energy improved greatly. This allowed her to walk longer distances in her walker and translated into an improvement in speech volume.

All that aside, the most amazing thing that came out of the water program was independence for my daughter. She is so physically limited that before last summer, she was never without an adult to hold or support her. Now, she has unrestricted movement in the water. She can swim on her own. We can swim together as a family, for fitness or fun. She began to wake up every morning asking to go swimming or saying that she had a wonderful dream that she swam to one place or another with one of her friends. I will never forget the look on her face the first time she jogged from one end of the pool to the other on her own.

To Kill a Mockingbird -- revisited

When I first visited the segregated high school my son is in, I was told: There will be no reading of To Kill a Mockingbird in this school. The focus would be on practical skills, the guidance counsellor said, like reading road signs.

I don't know why, but it bothered me that I was being told my son would never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Oddly, I was an English major and I myself had never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Still, it irked me when I was told this was a standard Grade 9 text and my son would never read it. I don't want anyone telling me that my son will "never" do anything.

So imagine my surprise (and delight), when I wrote to a researcher in inclusion last week asking for practical examples of how curriculum can be adapted for different abilities and one of the examples she sent was To Kill a Mockingbird!

Cheryl Jorgensen is a professor in the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, and has co-authored a number of books on inclusion, including Beyond The Access Model.

I wrote to Cheryl after visiting a deaf/hard of hearing program in a regular high school here in Toronto. The students have some classes in their unit and are mainstreamed with interpreters into regular classes as well. Most of these kids are typical kids who happen to be deaf and are working at grade level or a couple of grades below. I wanted to know if there was any practical way that my son might be able to be served at this school.

My question to Cheryl was: How do you modify for a child nine grades below in a subject? In a way that meets their learning needs and doesn't ostracize them?

One of the resources Cheryl sent me was a powerpoint about adapting high school books, and one of the books included was To Kill a Mockingbird.

The first page includes the large image above and this text:

This is Scout Finch. Scout is a nickname. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird is told through her eyes.

Scout’s mom is dead so she lives with her dad and her brother in a small town called Maycomb, Alabama.

The presentation goes on to introduce each of the main characters with an image and simple description, and then talks about the four major lessons Scout learns. For example: 'Don't judge until you put yourself in another's shoes.'

This adaptation was done by using a website that analyzes content of books for older students. Here's their plot description of To Kill a Mockingbird.

There are 100s of books on this site and they all have plot summaries which can be used to quickly adapt books.

In responding to my question about how to modify a Grade 9 book to a Grade 2 level, Cheryl offered this advice:

All text needs to be provided to all students at their comprehension reading level. This is a law in the U.S. but perhaps not in Canada. Ideas:

Have the student listen to the text using a screen reader.
Have another student rewrite the text at the student's level.
Have a teacher re-write the text at the student's level.
Find an easier version of the same text. There are even comic books available for high school literature like Romeo and Juliet.

Providing different materials and individualized supports does not have to be ostracizing if teachers communicate to their students that 'fair' does not necessarily mean 'the same.' This doesn't even have to do specifically with inclusion of students with disabilities but is a principle of universal design for learning and differentiated instruction. All students need access to print materials/knowledge at the level of their reading and comprehension and there should be different options for students to 'show what they know.'

I hope to provide you with more resources that show how students of all abilities can access the regular curriculum over the coming days. Louise

Go learn CPR. NOW.

This afternoon, I put Cole in his booster and diced up some strawberries for him. He's eaten them a million times and done fine.

I went to the fridge to get lunch and began warming a pan. I told Camille and Georgie to get inside from the garage and gave Joseph premission to have a soda. In that time, Cole began coughing and drooling, wiping at his mouth madly. Joseph said, "He's choking" and I said, "He'll be okay," and began patting him on the back.

But he wasn't okay and began drooling more and gagging, grabbing at my shirt. I took off this tray, pulled him out of his seat and tried to finger sweep his mouth, figering he had "two fisted" his fruit and had a big mouthful. I patted his back more forcefully and then he stopped gaging and crying.

I told Joseph, calmly but forcefully, to get me the phone NOW. He said, "Do you want me to dial 911?" I said, "Yes, and then give me the phone," as I flipped Cole over onto my knee and proceeded to wack him on the back. I honestly don't think I was holding him right but I remembered where to hit. At one point, I looked at him and he was blue/grey.

It felt like hours but it wasn't long before the operator answered. As soon as I said, "My 14 month old is choking," she responded, "Okay, I'm transferring your call to fire and rescue," Cole began to cry.

They came out to check on Cole although not with sirens blazing since they heard him crying on the phone. He looked great and was breathingn fine. When I lifted his shirt, I said, "I don't think he's retracting" and they asked me if I was a nurse. Ha! I signed a form saying I was declining transport to a hospital since his oxygen was fine and they didn't think he needed follow up care.

They THINK that the fruit was big enought that it blocked his windpipe and the tube to his stomach, behind (?) his gag reflex so he couldn't gag it up. When I flipped him over and did the back blows, the food became dislogged and he was able to swallow it.

PRAISE GOD Joseph reacted quickly. The other kids were perfect while this was going on. PRAISE GOD I did not freak out and knew what to do. And a big shout out to Cole's Guardian Angel, who is probably drinking right now.

I am so glad I know CPR. I never want to use it again!

Swimsuit Time~

It's that time of the year again. Summer time when it gets hot and kids like to go swimming, which means that once again I have to wear a swimsuit and this is not my favorite thing to do. I mean, what woman...let me try again, what MOM likes to wear a swimsuit?

And when you have small children, it is not just modesty you have to worry about, but you have to stand in front of a mirror and bend, squat, and lean in unnatural ways to ensure that no body part will peek out to say hi. Because let's face it, when you have small children you do end up bending, squatting, and leaning in unusual ways. Either chasing a kid, saving them from going under water, or having them hold on to you for dear life!

Swimsuits, while there are some nice ones that cover what needs to be covered, most options fall into the "bikini" category. How, how did we go from little dresses to something that covers even less than underwear?

Maybe I am on to something, maybe I should start a new swimsuit company that targets moms. Then we can all wear cute little dresses that compliment our body and will for sure cover all the stretch marks and lose skin that quite frankly need to be covered. Okay, maybe you are not a mom that got any stretch marks after being pregnant, maybe you have a perfect body. But most of us do go through a body "transformation" after having children. Don't we? And really the last thing we want to do is go on and show most of our stretched skin, our wobbly parts, and our unflattering curves.

So I will venture to wear my tankini, that goes all the way to my waist and a cute little skirt. I don't care if someone calls it "old lady" because to some I might be old, after all I am 30 years old. I like it.

Ultimately, as a Christian, I believe that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and how we dress them does matter. What I teach my girls about how to dress does matter.

 But I want to hear your thoughts, because we all feel different about our swim wear.

Holy Speech Batman!

With a giant helping of PRAISE THE LORD and THANK YOU JESUS as the main course!

This little turkey:

Has, in the past week and a half:
signed "more" without being prompted, asking for something to eat
said, "It bieeeg" in response to "Georgie, what do you think of the train?"
said, "No, Dad!" when Adam took something away from him
kept saying, "ridere!" (right there!) and pointing to the pool
signed, "Thank you!" to his sister, without the sign being prompted.

This other turkey

 at fourteen months, says:
muh! (more)
points to his tray for food
says something like "ridere"
neighneigh (horse)
I did it!

And these two goof balls:

 are never quiet!