Thursday, May 28

Very cool giveaway!

This relates to special a roundabout way that only parents of kids with special needs understand.

So, I never take Will to get pictures taken at JCPenney, Walmart, Picture People, and so on. For many of you, you are already laughing. Do I REALLY need to elaborate? The last professional picture I have of him is at 18 months old. At 2, he kicked the photographer, threw a football at her, ran off the set and I left a total sweaty mess. Needless to say, I never went back. (I did happen to get a really nice school picture this year at age 4, surprisingly.)

Anyway, I recently purchased my first digital SLR camera. I'm determined to take a class this summer to learn to shoot in manual mode so that I can take my own pictures of the kids. It is something I enjoy, but just don't have the knowledge to use the camera properly. Eventually, I think it would be really cool to specialize in special needs can dream, right?

Soooo, the giveaway. I recently stumbled onto a website called iHeartFaces and they are having a super cool giveaway for a camera bag which really could be used for a diaper bag instead. I have personally been looking for a camera bag, but when I saw this, I thought....this would be *so* much nicer than the dumb bag I carry around full of diapers and Will's favorite Wall-E figurine now. ;) Click here for more info and to see pictures. The one pictured above is my favorite and the one I am seriously thinking about buying. Soon.

Wednesday, May 27

WFMW: Cool Teacher Gifts

I can't believe it. It is the end of the school year.

I always struggle with how to show my appreciation for the people who have worked with my children. Particularly when there are so many of them!

We did buy gift cards for Will's bus driver and monitor. I mean, seriously....this was the part I was most freaked out about....putting my child with limited verbal ability on a bus and trying to explain to him that I wasn't sending him off to some foreign place. (He did fine, and the two women loved on him all year long. They *so* deserved those gift cards.)

Back to all of the other numerous people to buy for....I did go and buy small soaps and girly type things for the therapists and teachers, but I also wanted to give them something small that Will had a hand in creating.

We chose to try out a really neat cookie idea that I read on a favorite blog of mine (Bake at 350). Click here to see her post explaining with step by step directions. The basic idea is decorating sugar cookies with icing and giving the kids edible ink markers to decorate the cookies with.

Now, I am not a baker, though I do enjoy playing around in the kitchen. Needless to say, mine weren't as pretty as hers. And my first attempt was a total failure, which is why Will did not take any to school with him.

These were my second attempt, and ended up being a way for my six year old (who finishes school a week later) to say thank you to her teachers. I suppose we'll try again next year! Maybe Will will be able to write his name legibly by then. One can hope!

It worked for me (for at least one of my kids)! Thanks to Bridget at Bake at 350 for this idea!!

Monday, May 25

Blog Talk Tuesday: Straw Drinking

This might be the best thing we've ever done with Will. Early on, when we knew he had passed his swallow study (11 months), we also knew that he had little desire left to suck, and was getting too old for a bottle anyway. Especially if we were going to have to retrain him.

A therapist suggested a straw, rather than a sippy cup since she felt as though it worked more of the muscles. We started with this:

and continued on with this:

and he is still drinking from it today, at age 4. The method involved squeezing the honey bear (and later, the rubbermaid cup) until he began to get it. We squeezed the cups less and less until finally, he was drinking from a straw on his own. We also used the method where we put our finger over the end of a straw with a tiny bit of liquid...we started with this before trying a cup actually.

Along the way we used thick liquids to build up his endurance and now, he is able to drink anything from a straw. This has come in handy because pretty much anywhere you go has straws, and it looks age appropriate. I'm pretty sure if we had started him on a sippy, we'd still be stuck on the sippy.

The cups were stuck on my mind tonight as I ran out to get more from the store. ;)

What's been on your mind lately? Anything new and exciting with your kiddos? Any ideas to share?

***Edited Note: I am having trouble with Mr. Linky today and have been working to try and fix it. It worked when I published this post last night...but it turns out that Mr. Linky is having system overload, so it is not working today. Thanks for being patient and sorry for the inconvenience!

Blog Talk Tuesday, explained

What is "Blog Talk Tuesday" and how does it work?
  • Blog Talk Tuesday is a "blog carnival". On any Tuesday, you create a post on your blog about anything to do with special needs - a cool idea, a great resource you've found, a funny story about your child...really anything. You then link your post on your blog back here.
  • You do not have to ask to join in. Jump in whenever you like. I will reserve the right to delete any links that aren't appropriate for this website.
  • Please link to your post, not to the home page of your blog. You are welcome to use the banner above by right clicking and saving. Then you are able to post it to your "Blog Talk Tuesday" post by inserting it like a picture. You are not obligated to use the banner, however.
  • When using Mr. Linky to link to this post, put your name, your website, and a topic in parenthesis. It would look something like this: Heather @Thoughts from Holland (drinking from a straw).
  • I will try to have my Blog Talk Tuesday post up late the night before so that you can link up at any time on Tuesday.
  • If you have questions, feel free to email me at I will answer them as soon as I can!

Thursday, May 21

Coming Soon!

I'm planning to start a Special Needs Blog Carnival here at Thoughts from Holland! After searching the net, I found that very few of these that exist. (I found one during my search that seemed helpful, listed on my sidebar as well: 5 Minutes for Special Needs Moms).

So, beginning next Tuesday, we are going to have Blog Talk Tuesday....a place just for us to share ideas, funny stories, and cool resources all for kids with special needs. Come back and check it out...I will have step by step directions posted before it actually begins on Tuesday morning.

Free Montessori Materials

Have you seen this website? Montessori for Everyone has free materials to download and print to use with your kiddos. Look at the right hand column on the home page. You'll find them there.

We have the sensory room in our house set up with a shelf full of activities, Montessori style, for Will and the other kids to use. We do a very loose interpretation of Montessori teaching, but it is typically guided by what he wants to do. All of that might change soon...we're looking into some ABA therapy to see if it would benefit him. Can't say those two mix well together.

Regardless, the materials she has on her website are beautiful and can be used with a variety of kids.

Wednesday, May 20

WFMW: The Magic Bullet

Now, before you start giggling (You know who you are!), this is something we bought to puree foods for Will. For those who don't my four year old, he had a feeding tube placed shortly after birth due to aspiration. Just before turning a year old, he cleared his testing and was able to begin eating. Except that getting a one year old to eat who has never eaten a meal in his life is not so simple.

Anyway, a couple of years and many therapy visits later, Will was eating, but needed food pureed. I could never get things to puree smoothly in my blender or a food processor without adding TONS of liquid, which diluted our calorie content - a big issue for us.

Until we found the Magic Bullet. It will puree anything to a stage 2 consistency. And yes, even things like pizza and hot dogs. (I know. Blech.) I wish I had this little gadget when I was making baby food for my six year old. Oh how much easier that would have been!
It worked for me!

Tuesday, May 19

Book Review: Chronic Kids, Constant Hope

picture from
This book is a Christian based book that discusses some of the joys and struggles we deal with as parents of a child with a chronic condition. I had the pleasure of reading this book with a community group at our church, and I can not recommend it enough. I still pull it out and will read a chapter here and there to help me gain perspective when times are tough. It is available on Amazon right now, and can be found for almost nothing if you buy a used copy. Totally worth it!

Wednesday, May 13

Adaptable utensils go mainstream!

Have you seen these? They are made by Boon and are sold at Target or
The coolest part is...they bend! Special needs catalogs have been selling angled utensils for a while now, usually at a hefty price or with shipping added. These run about $5-6 at Target. Will has mastered eating with utensils, for the most part, but I bought Norah some. She loved them and they worked great!

Why "Thoughts from Holland"?

Ever read the poem entitled "Welcome to Holland"? Four years into my journey as a parent of a child with special needs, I have seen it more times than I can count.

As cliche as it might have become, it is still a really great analogy.

Here it is, in case someone hasn't emailed this to you yet.

"Welcome to Holland"
By Emily Perl Kingsley, 1987. All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Why am I here?

I began this blog after blogging personal stories about my son and my youngest who we brought home from Vietnam. At some point, my family blog became a mess of pictures, happy times, sad times, and things I wanted to share with other parents of children with special needs. Needless to say, it wasn't the easiest thing to follow.

I decided it was time to separate the pictures and medical updates from the helpful "stuff" - the resources and ideas other parents could use.

I currently teach in a toddler class located in a children's hospital. Most of the children in the class have Cerebral Palsy, though a few do not. The focus there is on teaching the kids to access technology to help them to be as independent as possible. I am passionate about what I do.

I am even more passionate about being a parent of a child with special needs.

Welcome to my blog.