Monday, December 1, 2014


Today we saw the 13th specialist, the endocrinologist. I don't know if many can truly understand, but I've spent most of Sadie's life counting calories for her to gain weight and NOT be failure to thrive. I feed her high calorie milk shakes. Her solid foundation of growth and body has been a result of regular worry and regular weigh-ins by doctor's orders. Dicing food because she doesn't chew, adding mayo to make the texture soft enough so she doesn't have sensory issues. A year and a half of eating therapy with CHKD. My pseudo-g-tube fed kid has now reached a weight level that I now that to back off because her tummy weight gain is too much over the past year. Her metabolism has changed, she's being checked for hormone issues, she self-feeds a little better, but I'm in shock. I'm sitting here just so thankful that she's grown after all these years of hard work.  After all my preaching about keeping her fed and nourished... We now have to adapt.  And now making sure she isn't eating too much. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014


After watching Frozen twice, they finally went out for a quick run in the snow. Of course takes one kid at a time to bundle up. Sadie was being impatient, but it was rather cute when she realized the deck was freezing and she ran back inside. I got her dressed and the first thing she wants to do is sit and eat snow. 

herrarelife with a dog

As they say, cleaning up after kids at this age is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos, and so pretzels are not on my grocery list this week.
My daughter will snack on many things.  Sometimes she will eat chips, sometimes she won't.  Sometimes she will keep her snack in the cup and other times the cup is emptied on the floor.  Most of the time our dog Daisy is our little vacuum and will eat the snacks that Sadie spills.  I was reminded this week that pretzels and cheese crackers are not going on my grocery list for a while.  I can't imagine having Sadie without Daisy around. And that's the glorious life with a dog and a child living with a disability.  =)

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Daisy would NOT eat the cheese crackers. =)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

9 Signs You Have a Good Caregiver for Your Child Living With a Disability

9 Signs You Have a Good Caregiver for Your Child Living With a Disability
If you have a child with a disability and they have a personal care attendant or caregiver to assist them, then you probably have to manage the hiring and firing of people who will take care of your child.  It can be exhausting at times to find the right fit for your child and your family.  However, when you find a good caregiver, the whole family experiences less stress, more happiness, and a better quality of life.  Some indications that you have a good caregiver for your child are:
  1.        When she puts socks and shoes on your child, does she make sure the seam and sock are pulled on correctly, not twisted and awkward?  She knows how uncomfortable a twisted sock can be.  When she puts on her shoes, she makes sure they are just right, not too tight, and not too loose.  When she sees your child tugging on her shoes, she will double check to see if it’s on comfortably.  Seriously, who wants to walk around with twisted socks?  People who care will pay especially close attention to this.
  2.       When you see your attendant dress your child, she will make sure all the shoulders and arms of the shirt are straight and comfortable.  Just like the shoes and socks, she is aware how uncomfortable twisted clothes can be and she is truly concerned with the comfort of your child.  Especially in the winter months when we wear hoodies, extra layers, it’s just so frustrating to feel confined and unable to straighten out a twisted outfit.
  3.       Have you ever gone out to run a few errands or go to work and come home to find out that your child’s caregiver hasn't changed your child’s diaper, given her a drink, and the recently watched history on Netflix shows “Flashdance?”  Yep, that’s not a good caregiver and yes that’s happened to us.  A good caregiver is concerned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, does your child feel safe and cared for, and does she have access to a drink of water or food?  A good caregiver knows kids need water whether they have a disability or not.  A good caregiver knows that sitting in a soiled diaper cannot be comfortable.  Some things go without being said…. Water, food, and a dry diaper.  Come on people… do for that child like you would do for yourself.
  4.        Without being told, the caregiver takes your child out of the house.  She knows that people need fresh air and to see the world.  She knows that being cooped up in a house all day will drive anyone stir crazy.  And even just a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood is so refreshing.  People need to get out in the community and be around other people.
  5.        When your nonverbal child goes to the refrigerator, the caregiver tries to meet the child’s needs and desire to get in there… probably because she is hungry, not as a behavior.  People that pay attention to all aspects of your child’s behavior and communication are awesome.  Those caregivers WANT to communicate and meet the needs of your child.
  6.        How about some eye contact and talking… Does the caregiver treat your child like a person? Does she look in her eyes and face when your child is communicating? Yep, good signs they are a good caregiver.
    "she's my favorite person" ~ Emily
  7.        One sure way to know someone cares, if they have technology to do this, they will take many photos of your child throughout their time together.  Our most caring caregivers send me photos of our daughter while I’m not with her.   Also, the captions, will say something like “isn’t she beautiful” or “she’s my favorite person.”  You know you've got an amazing caregiver when you know they genuinely care for your child.
  8.        When our daughter can’t wait to sit next to her caregiver and hug and love on them, I know I’ve got a good person with her.  When your child runs away from people and fusses when the person tries to reach out and take care of them, you better trust your gut and know that person doesn’t “get” your child.  We all don’t connect and have chemistry.  It’s important to recognize that your child will connect with some people, but not others.  That’s OK
  9.        When your home is seen as a home, not a work place, and when caregivers come over, they show interest in your family and your child.  They know they are there to help the child and therefore that helps the family. 

These certainly aren't all of the qualities that make up a good caregiver, but empathy and understanding, and overall genuine concern that your child is cared for will show when you see the little acts of compassion through the actions of someone else toward a person who can’t speak for themselves.    
~ dedicated to Emily, Kim, and Meghan, thank you for all you do and have done for Sadie

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Storm

For most families and most kids, including my own, the excitement of the coming snow storm brings giggles, and smiles, the energy surrounding the feeling of going outside to watch the flakes fall and the accumulation begin.
The excitement was building the day before, as the weather forecast predicted 5-9 inches of snow beginning in the early afternoon.  Parents and teachers anxiously await early dismissal, as children try to understand coming home early for highway safety.
As a parent of a child with an intellectual disability, but also, one of the most stubborn children, waiting for school to close and the idea that we are all about to be cooped up together for days in freezing cold weather, can be stressful.  To add to the stress of that, I am the parent that manages emergency closure pickups, which can be especially daunting with a child who weighs 63 pounds and will sometime refuse to walk.  In 25 degree temperature, bundled up so tight that you can barely move arms, just adds to the struggle of getting this child to the car and buckled in without resistance.  
Sadie wasn't interested in walking,
so she was pulled by her dad on a boogie board.
As most parents of young children know, it is utterly exhausting to get every child bundled up for the cold, especially for snow play.  Hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, ski bibs, ski pants, layers and layers and layers of socks and pants, boots and boots and boots, and finally coats.  I can be completely worn out before we even open the door to feel the arctic blast.
The best part of all this frustration, the smiles and excitement of first steps in 8 inch deep snow, running and watching the dog hop through depths as tall as she is.  But most of all seeing your street blanketed in beautiful untouched snow.   The feeling of the crisp air and feeling the crunch of snow and ice underfoot, watching your children pick up snow and touch it to their tongues, throwing it in the air, running through the surprise depths of snow, makes all those frustrating moments worth it all.  Their smiles and enjoying the moment make all of it worth while.
After she kept sliding off the boogie board,
we switched to the wagon.
The most important thing for me about today is that no matter about Sadie's disability and how it can sometimes be hard, we press on and create memories as a family for the sake of our happiness and her sister's happiness, to make the most of the day, but most of all to live in the moment.   
I do have to be honest and admit that while all of that snow and walk around the neighborhood for a few hours was wonderful, I am perfectly content in the warm house drinking hot Irish tea with Sadie and knowing that our other daughter is playing at the neighbors house with her friends.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


After participating in my state's Partners in Policymaking program 2010-2011, I learned that another PIP graduate brought SibShops to my area for her end of the year project.
"Sibshops are best described as opportunities for brothers and sisters of children with special health and developmental needs to obtain peer support and education within a recreational context. They reflect an agency's commitment to the well-being of the family member most likely to have the longest-lasting relationship with the person with special needs."
At that time in 2011, Sadie was nearly 6 and her younger sister was nearly 3; therefore, she would have to wait at least three years to attend a meeting.

Shelbi was able to attend her first meeting this past November.  Happily, she instantly connected with the people running the meeting and also the other children in her group.  She enjoyed the meeting so much that she was excited to attend the next one.  However, due to scheduling, she couldn't attend the next meeting until yesterday.

At the meeting yesterday, she was so excited to be there, so much so that she actually didn't want me to stay with her for the meeting.

When I arrived back two hours later to pick her up, she was modeling playdoh and chatting with another sibling. This also gave me the opportunity to drive around and explore the area, stop at a few shops and grab a coffee.  We both benefited from the morning.

I'm so thankful for programs in our area to support the lives and health of siblings of people with developmental/intellectual disabilities. 
Virtual Waterway on the floor with puddling water sounds too