Thursday, October 31, 2013


Here is our Egyptian boy.

No...we didn't coach him for that pose!  He remembered it from an old Blue's Clues episode he used to which Joe was dressed as an Egyptian.  :)

T had a good time playing games and trunk-or-treating at an Awesome Autumn Celebration, held at a church where he used to go for Awana.


This was T's lunch today.

  • pumpkin-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on honey wheat bread with Twizzler Pull 'n' Peel green apple-flavored candy for vines
  • pumpkin-shaped pretzels
  • Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights filled soft cookie
  • apricot halves with pumpkin pick
  • milk in jack-o'-lantern cup

Spider Breakfast

This was T's breakfast this morning.

  • spider web-shaped pancake (food-safe marker details)
  • spider-shaped pancake, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar
  • vanilla yogurt in silicone spider liner, with candy eyes
  • milk in cup, with spider design

No...I didn't starve my boy!  haha.  I gave him a couple of additional pancakes...they just aren't shown.  

HaPpY  HaLLoWeEn!!

Linked to:
   Meatless Monday

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creepy Crawly Spiders

T's lunch today was full of...spiders!

  • spider-shaped sandwich on honey wheat bread (with sprinkles for eyes)
  • spider web-shaped sandwich on whole wheat bread  (I used a food-safe marker to draw the spider web.)
  • tortilla chips (with plastic spider)
  • vanilla yogurt (in silicone spider liner, with candy eyes)

The spoon even has a spider web and spider on it.  :)  For a placemat, I used a little spider web-shaped rug that I purchased at Target.  (I found it in their dollar section.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I went back to see the orthopedist yesterday afternoon, and...
Yay!!  --No more cast!  :)  That was a looong five weeks.

Now, I have to go for physical therapy three times a week for the next four weeks...
with lots of exercises to do at home between PT sessions...and then back to see the orthopedist.

The orthopedist told me yesterday that although my foot is better, the ligaments are stretched still.  He said that if they don't go back to "normal" and I'm having pain in four weeks, then we'll have to talk about surgery.  Yikes!  :/

Has anyone been in a similar situation?  What did you do to help your ligaments go back to "normal"?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Czech Republic

I received two postcards last week.  The second one was from the Czech Republic.

This postcard shows the Giant Mountains...

a mountain range located in the northeast of the Czech Republic and the southwest of Poland. The border between the Czech Republic and Poland runs along the main ridge.  The highest peak, Sněžka, is the Czech Republic's highest point with an elevation of 5,256 feet.

On both sides of the border, large areas of the mountain range are designated national parks.  The River Elbe springs within the Giant Mountains.  The mountain range has a number of major ski resorts and is a popular destination for tourists engaging in downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, cycling, and other activities.

source:  Wikipedia


I received two postcards last week.  The first one was from Russia.

The sender did not mention what this building is, where it is located, etc.  Also, there is no identifying information printed on the back of the postcard.  (Is it a building with a mural?  Is it a candy factory?)

I have requested some information from the sender.  Hopefully, she will respond!  :)

If you are reading this post and happen to know Russian, will you translate the words on this postcard?  :D

Update - Wednesday, July 2, 2014:

Thank you, dear reader, for providing some information about this building!  (See the "comments" section below.)

Reader Response

I received an e-mail response to my post, Language Guidelines (day 15 of my
31 Days challenge).  I thought her message was interesting and worth sharing.
She wrote the following:

I found your post, Language Guidelines, rather...interesting.  :)

I so agree with what you wrote regarding the "nicer" ways to refer to disabled people
, but you'd be surprised at how many families of these children refer kindly (with no ill intentions at all) to their family member as "my down's baby" or "my severely-burned child" or "my little handicapped boy."  It usually takes me by surprise when they say it, and it's not a way I plan to refer to any of them -- ever.  But I do understand that when they do it, they're not degrading their child, just pointing out which one.  Still, what you posted was a great thought for someone who might never have considered this before.

One other thing I must an explanation.  I always refer to DS as "Down's syndrome" for a reason.  It's not that I'm careless and haven't looked into the proper way to write it! When I read on your blog this morning that the correct way to write it is without an apostrophe, I quickly looked it up again.  The first thing my computer brought up was this:
and the second thing was this:

I was glad because I knew the way I wrote it was correct, though it might not be the most common way today.  Let me tell you why I prefer to write it the way I do....

::  Down's syndrome was first identified by Langdon Down.
::  Asperger's syndrome was first identified by Hans Asperger.
::  Alzheimer's disease was first identified by Alois Alzheimer.

These other two always are written with an apostrophe since they are named for the one who first identified them.  Down's syndrome used to be written with an apostrophe, and it was dropped over the years.  I still choose to use it for a reason.

Several different times I've been asked things like, "Is it normal for him to be so happy? Doesn't he have Down syndrome?  Aren't those people usually 'down' acting?" (like downcast); or they've said things like, "He doesn't act like he has Down syndrome!  He's so happy; he sure doesn't act 'down'!"  This is when I was able to explain to these individuals that the name "Down's syndrome" came from the man who identified the disorder, not from the behavior of these people!!!

Personally, I feel that calling them people who have Down syndrome is degrading!  They aren't Down!  They just happen to have a disability that was first identified by someone who happened to have that name!

(Note:  I obtained permission from her to quote what she wrote in her e-mail message to me.)

Do you have any comments or thoughts you'd like to share regarding my Language Guidelines post or this response to it?  :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Language Guidelines

Pleasant words are like an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. ~Proverbs 16:24

Here are some Public Awareness Guidelines.
  • The correct name of this diagnosis is Down syndrome.  There is no apostrophe (Down).  The "s" in syndrome is not capitalized (syndrome).
  • An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost.  The emphasis should be on the person, not the disability.  A person with Down syndrome has many other qualities and attributes that can be used to describe him or her.
  • Encourage people to use people-first language:  "the person with Down syndrome," not "the Down syndrome person."  A person with Down syndrome is not "a Downs."
  • Words can create barriers.  Recognize that a child is "a child with Down syndrome" or that an adult is "an adult with Down syndrome."  Children with Down syndrome grow into adults with Down syndrome; they do not remain eternal children.  Adults enjoy activities and companionship with other adults.
  • It is important to use the correct terminology.  A person "has" Down syndrome, rather than "suffers from," "is a victim of," "is diseased with," or "is afflicted by" Down syndrome.
  • Each person has his or her own unique strengths, capabilities, and talents.  Try not to use clichés when describing an individual with Down syndrome.  To assume that all people have the same characteristics or abilities is demeaning.  Also, it reinforces the stereotype that "all people with Down syndrome are the same."

Here are some guidelines for using People-First Language.
  1. Put people first, not their disability.
    ::  A "person with a disability," not a "disabled person"
    ::  A "child with autism," not an "autistic child"
  2. Use emotionally neutral expressions
    ::  A person "with" cerebral palsy, not "afflicted with" cerebral palsy
    ::  A person who had a stroke, not a stroke "victim"
    ::  A person "has" Down syndrome, not "suffers from" Down syndrome
  3. Emphasize abilities, not limitations.
    ::  A person "uses a wheelchair," not "is wheelchair-bound"
    ::  A child "receives special education services," not "is in special ed"
  4. Adopt preferred language.
    ::  "cognitive disability" or "intellectual disability" is preferred over "mentally retarded"
    ::  "typically developing" or "typical" is preferred over "normal"
    ::  "accessible" parking space or hotel room is preferred over "handicapped"

I encourage you to allow some pleasant words to flow from your mouth this day.  :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Special Speaker

Occasionally, we have had the pleasure of hearing a guest speaker at the parent chat on Saturday afternoon at the Star Gazers family camp.  One year, our guest speaker was Karen Gaffney.

Karen Gaffney is the first person with Down syndrome to swim the English Channel as part of a relay team.  She accomplished this feat in the summer of 2001.

Karen trained vigorously and relentlessly for more than a year to prepare for the notoriously rough 21-mile crossing from Dover, England to Calais, France.  Karen's training gave her the endurance she required to swim two or three one-hour legs in 60-degree water, the strength she wanted to battle wind and waves, and the speed she needed to pull herself through the water faster than the current.

Also of note is Karen's educational background.  In 1997, Karen graduated from St. Mary's Academy, a prestigious college prep school in Portland, Oregon, where she earned a regular high school diploma.  In 2001, she graduated from Portland Community College, where she obtained an Associate of Science degree and received her teacher's aide certification.

Karen is the president of the Karen Gaffney Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, communities, and the workplace for people with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities.  Through this foundation, Karen strives to:

  • instill renewed hope in the hearts and minds of new parents of a child born with Down syndrome or other learning disability for a full, productive, and inclusive life
  • motivate parents to new thinking and positive action so they will begin immediately to build the potential of their child
  • heighten awareness and raise expectations of students, counselors, educators, and those in the medical profession of the capabilities of children with Down syndrome to learn, grow, and contribute in an inclusive setting
  • promote community involvement and action for the support of people with disabilities

source:  Karen Gaffney Foundation

Karen delivered a motivating speech at Star Gazers.  We were impressed and inspired by what she already has accomplished in her life...and encouraged to consider the myriad of possibilities and opportunities life holds for our dear ones with Down syndrome.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


And the shape of the day is:  circle!

Today, I put together this lunch full of circles for T.

  • circle-shaped open-faced peanut butter sandwich with Craisins dried cranberries features
  • circle-shaped Ritz peanut butter cracker sandwiches
  • circle-shaped homemade savory crackers
  • applesauce with circle-shaped sprinkles and circle swirl picks
  • milk

Shall I point out that the placemat is circle-shaped...and that the plate is circle-shaped?  I guess I will since this lunch actually doesn't appear (to me, anyway) to be all that exciting.  :P

T only ate the sandwich, applesauce, and one or two of the crackers.  He didn't even drink all of his milk.  I guess he wasn't hungry for some reason...or possibly this lunch didn't look all that exciting to him, either!  :P

Star Gazers, Part 3

The last day, Sunday, is always a short one.

After breakfast, we walked back to our cabin to pack.  On our way, we saw a deer in the middle of camp!

After packing up most of our belongings, we drove the short distance to Pretty Place for chapel/reflection.  You can see why it's called Pretty Place.  :)

After chapel, everyone headed back to camp to watch a slide show of the weekend. The staff always does a nice job of putting together a recap in photographs, put to music.

A tired boy after a long, fun-filled weekend

After lunch, we loaded our vehicle and said our good-byes...until next year!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Star Gazers, Part 1

In September every year, the YMCA Camp Greenville hosts a weekend camping adventure, called Star Gazers, for families who have children with Down syndrome. The camp is located in a beautiful mountain setting at the North and South Carolina state line.

This year, as usual, the weekend began late on Friday afternoon with check-in and cabin assignment.  All of the cabins have sinks and toilets...some also have showers. I've learned from experience to register early!  I'm not much of an outdoors-type person to begin with...but factor in having to walk to a shower house, and I'm not a happy camper!  :P

Our cabin assignment this year - Mulligan II

Slices of a large tree branch were provided...for making name tags.

My husband, making our name tags

T, wearing his name tag

Supper was served in the dining hall.  (It takes T a while to "warm up" to being around so many people.)

After supper, we participated in the ice breaker games.

Dancing a little

And then...the best part of the evening...the campfire and making s'mores!

Toasting a marshmallow

A little closer to the fire works better!

Is it done?


Next, it was time to make our beds.


All tucked in for the night....

Night-night sweet boy....

Monday, October 14, 2013

Maple Leaves

I made this fall bento for T's lunch today.

  • maple leaf-shaped sandwiches (one on whole wheat bread, one on honey wheat bread)
  • Rold Gold Tiny Twists Cheddar Pretzels with maple leaf pick
  • applesauce with maple leaf-shaped sprinkles
  • Dare Maple Leaf Creme Cookie
  • orange juice in a glass with maple leaves design

Fall Finger-Painting

I remembered doing a wonderful finger-painting activity with T...I just didn't remember doing it two years ago!  Wow, how time flies.

Here's a repeat of part of that post from October 29, 2011.  You can read the original post in its entirety here.

T loved this finger-painting activity...because he didn't have to get his hands in the paint!
(--a sensory issue for him, related to Down syndrome)

You can see how he "gets into it" more and more as the activity progresses!

I found this terrific idea for no mess finger-painting at Sandy's site, Moments of Mommyhood.

We made these fall leaves with T's artwork.  They are hanging in our kitchen window.
Fall beauty at its best!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making Activities Feasible

It was fun...and browse the collection of other bloggers who are taking the 31 Days challenge, too.  In looking through the buttons in the Family Life category, I noticed that someone was planning to post each day about special needs homeschool Pinterest hacks.

31 Days of Special Needs Homeschool Pinterest Hacks

The title caught my fancy:  special needs (check mark), homeschool (check mark), Pinterest (check mark).  I had to check it out.  I'm so glad I did!  I discovered a wonderful blog written by Gabriella Volpe.

First, a bit about Gabriella Volpe:

She is a homeschool consultant for families of children with special needs.

She is a certified teacher with 16 years of classroom experience working with children who have special needs.

She is a mother who homeschools her child with special needs.

She is adept at modifying and adapting curriculum so it meets the specific needs of children with special needs and helps those who teach them.

She is an advocate for her child with special needs.  She defends his rights and speaks in his best interest until he can do so for himself.


Next, a bit about her 31 Days:

She states that she spends hours perusing Pinterest and finds a ton of ideas for homeschooling.  She guesses that we do, too...but that after pinning ideas for activities, we find ourselves never going back to them because the activities are not doable for our children with special needs -- our children who have special needs that prevent them from being able to execute the activities as presented.

For 31 days, she is showing us how an idea for an activity or project on Pinterest can be hacked and adapted/modified into something that is doable for a child with special needs.
She is giving details on how to make the activities and projects she finds on Pinterest feasible for a child with special needs.


You should check it out!  :)  She is very insightful.  Her posts are bursting with helpful ideas and doable adaptations and modifications!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


I received two postcards today.  The second one was from Russia...and was a personal swap at the sender's request.

The postcard shows many samovars which are used in and around Russia.

A samovar is a heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water.  Since the heated water typically is used to make tea, many samovars have a ring-shaped attachment around the chimney to hold and heat a teapot filled with tea concentrate.  Though traditionally heated with coal or charcoal, many newer samovars use electricity to heat water in a manner similar to an electric water boiler.

Samovars typically are crafted out of plain iron, copper, polished brass, bronze, silver, gold, tin, or nickel.  A typical samovar consists of a body, base, and chimney, cover and steam vent, handles, faucet and key, crown and ring, chimney extension and cap, drip-bowl, and teapot.  The body shape can be an urn, vase, barrel, cylinder, or sphere.  Sizes vary, from large samovars which hold 110 gallons to small samovars which hold approximately 1 quart.

The first known samovar was manufactured in 1717.  The first historically recorded samovar-makers in Russia were brothers, Ivan and Nazar Lisitsyn.  From their childhood, they were engaged in metalworking at their father's brass factory.  In 1778, they made a samovar.  Also in 1778, Nazar Lisitsyn registered the first samovar-making factory in Russia.  They might not have been the inventors of the samovar, but they were the first documented samovar-makers.

source:  Wikipedia

The sender of the postcard wrote that Russians think tea from a samovar is tastier than from a kettle.  


I received two postcards today.  The first one was from Germany.

It is a view of the city of Dresden.  It is terrassenufer im abendlicht which means terrace shore in the evening light.

Dresden is the capital of the Free State of Saxony in Germany and has a population of 525,105.  It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border.

Dresden has a long history as the capital and royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, who for centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendor.  The city was known as the Jewel Box because of its baroque and rococo city center which was destroyed toward the end of World War II.  Some restoration work has helped to reconstruct parts of the historic inner city.

Since German reunification in 1990, Dresden has regained importance as one of the cultural, educational, political, and economic centers of Germany and Europe.  The Dresden University of Technology is one of the 10 largest universities in Germany.

source:  Wikipedia

Friday, October 11, 2013

Get To Know Me

You might be interested to know (especially if you are a teacher), that you can request a complimentary "Get To Know Me" poster and lesson plan for elementary school-aged children.

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is offering these materials (free of charge) in an effort to raise awareness about Down syndrome and to promote inclusion.

The poster is 11x17 inches.  The lesson plan (for grades K-2 and 3-5) reinforces the inclusive message of the poster.

P.S.  If you're keeping track, then you'll know that I missed posting this on the actual day 7 of my challenge(s).  :(  My sister had surgery on Friday morning, I had what ended up being a looong appointment in the afternoon (2 1/2 hours, plus an additional 1 3/4 hours of travel time), and then I went straight to the hospital to visit my sister.  I arrived home at 10:30 pm...and sat in front of the computer for almost an hour, trying to compose a post.  It wasn't coming at 11:30 pm, I went to bed.  Hence, it's actually Saturday, October 12th at 3:15 pm.  You don't mind that I changed the post date to Friday, do you?