Sunday, November 30, 2008

Slip Sliding Away

Dear Son was looking forward to his birthday. We had been talking about it for weeks now. Typically, I’ll send a cake to school and they will celebrate there, in addition to our little party at home. Dear Son loves a party and loves it even more when everyone sings to him. I was looking forward to it too, but was trying to figure out what I could get him, in addition to some new clothes. What he really needed was a new leather rocker/recliner, like the one at his Grandma’s house. Her rocker/recliner is very large, made of dark brown leather and has a lot of padding. Most important, it has a tall back to support Dear Son’s head and neck. That, along with the large armrests, make it perfect for Dear Son. He loves to sit in it and look out the window. What’s nice is that if you are sitting on the sofa in the living room and say something to him, he can take his foot and swivel the rocker around to face you. I like that because it gives Dear Son a chance to do what he wants to do, instead of waiting for someone to turn him around. I think that is important. In addition, it provides more support, something he badly needs now that he is deteriorating.

I had made up my mind years ago, when he got his first wheelchair, that I’d never use that in our home as a chair for him. Eating in it was fine, or transporting him in it was fine, but just letting him sit in a wheelchair, seemed almost cruel. Sitting in the chair, without being able to move around unless someone did it for you, just wasn’t right. Once I found his first rocker, my problem was solved. He either used that or walked on his knees. Now he can’t really do either.

I got him a special chair, among other things, for his birthday. The chair, was a mission styled glider, with a burgundy leather seat cushion. What I really needed was a new leather rocker/recliner for him, but I couldn’t afford one. This chair was used actually, but would meet his needs perfectly. The back was tall to support his head and neck and the arm rests were not only wooden, but nice and wide, to provide support for his forearms. He had actually used the chair nearly two years ago, during a family outing at my sister’s fiance’s summer home. At his house, it was the only chair Dear Son could use. He was happy to get out of his wheelchair to sit in the chair. At that time, he couldn’t sit very long, let’s say three hours or so before he’d have to lie down. But the chair, he really enjoyed. He sat there for hours with us, rocking the chair by pushing his foot against the hardwood floors. Dear Son’s feet have always worked fairly well and although he can’t stand or walk, he can move them fairly easily.

A few weeks back my sister’s fianc√© was looking to get a new chair for his house. He asked if I might want the chair for Dear Son. I agreed and he promptly bought the chair over. I decided to give it to Dear Son as a birthday present, along with some other items. I hid the chair in the garage and covered it up so he wouldn’t see it, until the big day.

His birthday arrived. I had the new glider sitting in the living room when he came home from school. He liked it and was eager to try it out. He sat in it and it supported him well. It took him a while before he used the glider portion though. He just kind of sat in there. I was excited that it worked for him. The only downside was that once he was in the chair, I couldn’t really turn the chair around, like I could his rocker. This was a bit problematic since once I sat him in the chair, I couldn’t move the chair to the dining room table so he could listen to his country music after school. He liked to sit in his rocker after school, with his head lying on the table and listen to his music. The glider then, was used mainly on weekends.

Typically, on a Saturday, I’d get him up and sit him in the chair. He had deteriorated enough that I could no longer use the rocking chair, since he’d fall over. The new leather glider had solved that problem or so I thought. Just last week, after sitting in it for a few minutes, he slid right out of the glider and onto the floor. I was right there to catch him, and he wasn’t hurt, but still, it was a problem. This week, we used the chair even more, while he was on Thanksgiving break, and it happened a few more times. Further evidence he was deteriorating. He’ll be sitting there, the tone just leaves his body and he slides right out onto the floor.

Soon, I began to do a work around though. I’d start him in the glider and then after he’s up for a little bit, transition him to his rocker and sit him next to the dining room table. Once he’s there, he’ll rest his head on the table and listen to music for a while. When he gets tired, he’ll yell out and that means he’s getting tired and needs to lie down. But today was frustrating. He couldn’t sit in the glider and he couldn’t sit in the rocker. Each time, he’d fall over to the right until I finally had to take the hoyer lift and put him back in his bed so he could lie down. It was frustrating because I wondered what I would do once he couldn’t sit up anymore. True, I could use the wheelchair but that is stationary. It was then that I realized that things were probably not ever getting better. I knew the path we were going down but I guess I expected that one day, he wouldn’t be able to do these things and then I’d know. Instead, it’s not really like that. They lose a little bit every day and you make adjustments, until one day, they can’t do it at all.

It reminded me of when he was little and learning to walk. I kept waiting for that big day when he could walk. I remember trying to define what that day would be. Would it be the day he took a step in his walker, the day he walked in his walker or the day he could walk by himself in the walker or what? It was none of those. It just happened gradually. And losing his ability to sit up, will happen the same way.

Note: Dear Son is seventeen years old and suffers from a progressive neurological disease and intractable seizures as a result of a random mutation of the ARX gene. This mutation causes Infantile Spasms, dystonia and severe mental retardation.

Photos are of Dear Son a few days after his birthday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best Toys and Gifts for Special Needs Children

I remember it very distinctly. I was standing in the Toys R Us store trying to find “one” toy that I could buy Dear Son for Christmas. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford more than one toy, it was rather that with his disabilities, there weren’t any toys that he could do himself, that we didn’t already have. I walked around for quite some time, when I got stuck in one of the aisles behind two young boys fighting over all their toys. They had an entire cart full of toys and were begging for more. Somehow, at that moment, life didn’t seem too fair. I just needed one toy, that didn’t require the use of your hands, your fingers, that didn’t require you to be able to sit, to be able to roll over or to use your voice. I needed something that didn’t flash or vibrate (since he had seizures and these could bring them on). I wanted to surprise him, to make him smile. I was, after all, Santa.Many of the toys I saw, didn’t work for one reason or another, or I had already purchased them. Most of my family, preferred to give me money, so I could select the toys. Typically, this would mean a two hour shopping trip, only to come home with a few five dollar toys, but nothing exciting or of any consequence. I should also explain that some of the challenges parents of special needs children face, is finding toys that match their “developmental” age especially when their “chronological” age is much larger. I decided to put together a list of Dear Son’s favorite toys over the years, in hopes that I might be able to assist other parents of children with severe disabilities, in finding toys for Christmas. I will also show you a picture when I can and tell you what types of things you should look for or what made this particular toy a favorite.To give you a little history, Dear Son is severely developmentally delayed (retarded), has no use of his hands or arms, is non-verbal, can not walk, can not talk, can not feed himself and is totally dependent on someone. For many years, Dear Son could not roll over. As time passed, he was able to walk on his knees and roll over. Today, he can do neither.

Wooden Rocking Chair- We purchased a wood rocker at a furniture store many years ago. We happened to find this rocker while we were looking to purchase some dining room chairs. Dear Son was getting fussy in his wheelchair so I put him in this child's maple rocker while we purchased our chairs. The rocking chair worked so well, we purchased it for Dear Son. What was great about this rocker was that it had a tall back, which supported his trunk and the back of his head. This rocker was made of maple, but was still light enough for him to scoot around the house on the carpet with it. He took his feet and scooted side to side to move it and then loved to lean forward and look out the window. I liked it because he could get around the house easily and independently. It was much better than sitting in a wheelchair all day or lying on the floor. We’d take this rocker to family outings or simply when we went somewhere, like to see fireworks on the fourth of July. It’s the only seat he was able to stay in. A regular chair didn’t work because he would fall off the chair and because he couldn’t move the chair around the room. Many physical therapists have never heard of a child using a rocker to get around in like this, but once they saw him, they agreed it worked. From a therapeutic standpoint, the rocker also helped his balance. He still uses a rocker today, only he can’t get around in it like he once did and it’s now much larger. I found some child rockers at this website. I like the one pictured here because it has a higher back. I understand that Cracker Barrel has some nice rocking chairs and I have noticed some of the best ones (and best price too) at a large antiques market in our area.When selecting a rocker, it’s important that the rocker isn’t too tall, that the child’s foot can rest flat on the floor so he/she can maneuver the chair around the room. Finally, stay away from the combination wood and wicker rockers since they are often too heavy for the kids to maneuver. The all wooden ones work best. Dear Son had one from a furniture store that was done in a maple wood with a clear finish that we loved. If your child has the use of his hands, select one that has horizontal slats on the back, uniform in nature, so they can grip the slats and pull themselves into a standing position. If they are severely disabled, this won’t matter and vertical slats would work just as well. Dear Son has enjoyed a rocker from ages three on up.Microsoft

Acti-Mates Barney-This is the original talking Barney that Microsoft made and then discontinued in 2000. Copies are still available on eBay.Why it works? Because Dear Son was non-verbal, this toy became his best friend. It could talk when he couldn’t. If you pressed Barney’s hands, he would sing and if you pressed his feet, he would talk. It didn’t require a lot of pressure to activate him. The reason it worked for Dear Son was that he could use his mouth and bite on Barney’s hands to get them to work. If Dear Son was sitting, he would take his left foot and step on Barney’s feet and he would talk. This toy was worth every penny. We have had about six of these in his life. There are so many severely disabled children who love this particular Barney, that it’s truly amazing. None of the newer type Barney’s work as well as this one. If you wanted to select a similar toy, look for a talking toy that does not require your hands or arms to operate and that could be activated by a foot, a child biting on it or by light pressure. Some of the talking toys that I have seen, require you to press on the chest of the toy or to press a disc in the hand. This is not something that a severely disabled child could do.
Bedtime Barney-This particular Barney has a star on his chest and is actually called a Bedtime Barney. When you press on the star, Barney sings several bedtime songs that help Dear Son fall asleep. Each song gets softer and softer and has lots of yawns in between. The lights get dimmer and dimmer until they fall asleep. What’s great about this Barney is that the star on Barney’s chest is large enough and made of a hard plastic so Dear Son could take his head or his chin and press on Barney’s chest to get it to work. He loves to sleep with Barney in his arms. The blue stocking cap night cap that Barney wears is very soft and Dear Son likes the feel of it against his skin. You don’t even have to be disabled for this one, since many kids love it. I have seen this Barney available in most toy stores and the retail section of Target and other discount stores however I had trouble locating it on a website.

Ball Pit-Dear Son loved a ball pit. He loved to lie in the ball pit and would often fall asleep in there. They are pretty safe and you can wash the plastic balls in the dishwasher to sanitize them. What to look for: You want one that is open on top (unless you want to chase the balls all over your family room when they kick them out) and one with a large enough door that is zippered so you can lift the child into the ball pit. I would try to stick with one around four feet by four feet so it doesn’t overwhelm your family room. I have seen some of these used outdoors however I would only recommend them for indoor use since things could crawl into it if it were outdoors.

Cat-You may wonder why a cat would make a good pet versus a dog or another animal. The reason I like a cat for Dear Son is that it is easier to take care of-as a single mother, I can't leave Dear Son unattended while I take the dog for a walk. He enjoys the cat because the cat is playful and gets into things. Dear Son can't get into things so he enjoys watching the cat do this or watching the cat "get in trouble" doing something he shouldn't. The cat provides a lot of enjoyment for Dear Son. Currently, our cat will stand on the edge of the edge of the bed and meow when he wants Dear Son to pet him. I'll bring the cat over to Dear Son, take Dear Son's hand while holding the cat with the other one, and then pet the cat. Dear Son really likes it. It's important to note that you want a cat that is playful, a lap cat and one that is good with children. We have a Munchkin cat (breed) and that is perfect for him. They are smart, great with kids and a lap cat.

Pop-up Tent-Any pop-up tent will do providing the size is right for your child. Dear Son would lie on his back in the tent, and then take his legs and kick the ceiling of the tent, practically knocking it over. It was great exercise for his abdominals and a great way to get rid of extra energy. If your child is Special Needs, see if you can get a child’s sleeping bag to put on the bottom of the tent to make it softer for them to lie on (it also helps to have it there in case they have an accident i.e. diaper leakage). You can find these at most toy stores. For an older child, GapKids makes one every spring and they also sell a child’s sleeping bag to match. I tried to find some examples of this type of tent and I see that they have a lot of them out there. There are three things you want to look for: 1) the tent should have a bottom (many of the ones I viewed did not) 2) it should be a pop-up type with no assembly required and 3) it should have a fabric door that closes off the front. While I left the fabric door open most of the time, Dear Son loved that it would fall half way closed. As an added bonus, he nearly always took a nap in his tent. It remains one of his favorite toys to this day and he still takes a nap in it.

Radio Flyer Wagon-My son loved this wagon. It was perfect for walks. What made this toy perfect was the tall sides and back of the wagon. The tall back allowed extra support for his back when sitting in the wagon. We had a wood one however the newer ones are plastic but should work just as well. Train-The best train we ever got was one from Walgreen’s. It was a battery operated small train that had a 36 inch round track that fit on the coffee table in the family room. Dear Son loved to sit on the floor and lean against the coffee table to watch and listen to the train. He loved it even more when he could take his arm and de-rail the train. This might take twenty tries and an awfully long time but he could do it. And when he did, he would laugh some big belly laughs. This toy was great from a therapeutic standpoint to encourage use of his arms. I purchased more expensive trains from Lionel but they didn’t work as well since the track was too sensitive. A tunnel is a great idea too if you can find one for the train. What to look for: Look for a train with a small track, unless you have a lot of room. I like the battery operated ones best. Make sure you can access the batteries easily. Most of these cheaper trains work best however access to the batteries are difficult due to the small screws used.

Mr. Christmas Musical Carousels-Mr. Christmas makes a great line of musical carousels. What is great about Mr. Christmas items is that they have a lot of songs, both Christmas and non-Christmas on the carousels and they have a volume control. The volume control is a big deal since many of the cheaper carousels you buy don’t have a volume control and they volume is too loud. Also, the quality of the music is great on them. When you listen to a cheaper carousel, the music quality is scratchy. Dear Son loved to listen and watch the carousel. He especially loved one with horses. I have tried other musical toys/carousels but the Mr. Christmas ones are the absolute best. Do not bother with any other brand. This year, I purchased the Mr. Christmas Symphony Surprise-Santa's Workshop. Four windows open in the house to reveal musical animated Gingerbread musicians. It plays fifty songs in four part harmony, 25 Christmas and 25 non-Christmas favorites and includes a real clock. The web site will give available stores however I was able to find this one at our local Meijer store even though the web site only gave the Grand Rapids Michigan Meijer store as one of the available locations.

Swing-An outdoor swing is essential for them. What you want is a swing with a tall back to support them. You can find them for several hundred dollars in a therapy catalog however I suspect you can now find them in a toy store or on-line much cheaper. Every child loves the tall back, not just children with disabilities. You can often see examples of this type of swing in many parks across the country. They are most often in red, have a high back and nearly every child and adult will use them, disabled or not.

Television near their bed.-One of the most surprising things that Dear Son loved was a television he had in one of the rehabilitation hospitals he frequented. This particular hospital had a small t.v. right next to his bed. He loved it. A television across the room was of less interest to him. The small size is important too-I am guessing this one was around a 13 inch screen which is just about right.

Videos- His absolute favorite movie was, “A Very Goofy Christmas”. He would laugh big belly laughs over this one movie.

Silly Six Pins-This is a bowling game where the bowling pins talk. We never used the bowling ball but instead set up the pins on our kitchen table on a placemat. I would pull Dear Son up to the table in his wheelchair, with only his lap strap fastened, and he would lean forward and use his head to knock the pins down. The bowling pins would talk to him to help encourage this action. This activity helped strengthen his trunk control and he loved it. As a reminder, the age of destruction preceeds the age of construction so developmentally, things that crash will always be a better choice than things for them to build.

IPOD-My son loves to listen to music so any of the IPODs would be an excellent choice. You do have to be careful that you watch the volume control since they can’t turn the volume up or down themselves.

Musical Mat- This is a musical mat that is about two feet wide and two feet tall that lies on the floor. When you press on the mat, it plays music. This is a great toy for an infant or toddler who is having difficulty in learning to roll over. You can practice helping them roll over and when they roll, they will be rewarded with music. Dear Son enjoyed this toy.

Musical toothbrush-Disney and several other manufacturers make a musical toothbrush that is great. I never used them for brushing teeth though. I used it to occupy Dear Son when he was getting a lab test or a shot. The song usually lasts three to five minutes or so, just long enough to keep his attention on the music and by the time the song is done, they have completed the shot without any crying. For Dear Son, he loved music and attended to things he heard vs. things he saw. The small size of the toothbrush made it great for taking along, as opposed to the size of a regular musical toy. These can also be used for tooth brushing however I tended to prefer the Oral B types for that.

Stocking Stuffers- Some great stocking stuffers include:

-Slinky-because it doesn’t take much hand control to get it to roll over.
-Bubble bath.
-Bath paints-you can squirt it on the child and write his name or “I love you” on his chest when you give them a bath. The color makes it fun.
-Other fun gifts ideas include movie gift cards, museum gift cards or in our state, we have a wonderful Arboretum with some fantastic trails. A membership card is a great gift.
-Babysitting coupons so the parents can go out to dinner is always appreciated. So often with Special Needs children, none of the family wants to babysit since they are afraid or it’s too much work. While that may be true, there is often a time when the child is sleeping, that the parents can go out for a quick dinner.

And the best gift of all-a note from Santa! When my son didn’t hit any milestones his first year, I was devasted. I had nothing to write in his baby book. I decided to write him a letter from Santa every year and include in it, the two or three things that he did accomplish. Santa would tell Dear Son how proud he was that he was able to work so hard and accomplish these things. The letter would be written on construction paper, in crayon and end the same way, “All my love, Santa”. I would roll up the letter and put it in his stocking. He loved to sit on my lap while I would read the letter.

These are my absolute best toy/gift ideas for Special Needs Children.

12/20/10-Recently, I compiled a list of toys/gifts for special needs children. Click here to see them. I will also tell you why I think a particular toy is good for these kids as well as tell you how the child will play with it and/or what to look for in a particular toy. I have included links to Amazon so you can order it and have it delivered to save you time from having to go out. I will be adding additional items throughout the year, that I think would work for these kids. Please be sure to save this link for all future gifts (both birthday, Christmas and otherwise).
*I originally published this on 12/4/06 however due to the high number of google requests for gifts for special needs children, I am reprinting it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Update, Nestle Compleat and Kangaroo ePump Reviews

I wanted to apologize for the delay in posting. I'll be writing a new post this weekend on Dear Son's recent 17th birthday. I haven't had a lot of time lately and I appreciate all of the visits to my site to check for new posts.

Things are getting more challenging in terms of caring for Dear Son. Not only does he continue to grow but as he gets more complex, the daily tasks seem to be taking their toll on me. None of the tasks by themselves are that difficult, but being on 24/7 can be tough without much sleep. He seems to be getting taller and heavier every day. While his waist/pant size has remained the same for the last year, his shoulders are getting much broader and he is outgrowing all of his shirts. I am buying him XL shirts and and they are no longer enormous but look to be about the right size. (Gasp!) The added size is exhausting me in terms of caring for him. On the weekends, when he is not in school, it takes a lot of energy just to care for him whether it's transitioning him from the rocker to the glider chair, changing his diaper or simply rolling him over and lifting his hips. I do love caring for him though and he is and will always be the best part of my day and the best part of my life. I am enormously blessed to be his mother.

The feeding pump issues I experienced with the new Kangaroo ePump have been resolved. A few weeks ago, Dear Son got the new pump and the pump was failing to pull the formula down the tubing. The problem was twofold. Dear Son's new formula, Nestle Compleat, which I absolutely love, is made from real food and is much thicker than his prior formula, Pedia Sure Enteral with fiber. As a result, the ePump could not pull the formula down the tubing after the initial use of the feeding bag. I solved this issue by putting 60 cc of water in the bag and starting the pump. The pump was able to pull the water through the tubing easier and once I got the pump running, I could add the formula.

The second problem with the ePump had to do with the feeding bags. There is a piece on the bags that should rotate so the bag snaps into place allowing the mechanism to rotate thereby pulling the formula through the bag. Once the bag is refrigerated (You are allotted one bag per day and you refrigerate the bag between meals.), the piece on the bag gets stuck and will not rotate. Since it won't rotate, it fails to lock into place and no formula gets pulled through the bag. Dear Son's Dad resolved that issue with a screwdriver. You can manually turn the piece to line it up and then when you place it into the ePump, it falls into place and the mechanism will rotate freely. So while it is a pain to pull out the screwdriver at every meal to resolve this, it does work.

Ironically, the home health vendor was not able to resolve the problems and I got a replacement pump before we were able to resolve the issues on our own. Secondly, I sent an e-mail to Kangaroo and they were not helpful. Their only suggestion was not removing the bag from the ePump. I explained that was not an option since 1) bacteria could grow if the bag is left out all day and 2) the bag needed to be removed so I could send the pump to school. I also stated that they needed to re-visit the ePump since it should be able to pull the formula down through the bag and that the bag should not have these issues. Kangaroo never bothered to respond. Parents should not have this much difficulty in light of the other issues we experience.

Some weeks later, our home health vendor had a delay in shipping the Nestle Compleat and I had to use to old formula, PediaSure. It was extremely thin and ran down through the bag. I guess since the Nestle Compleat is much thicker and made from real food, it presents a larger challenge. I can't imagine children would feel full on a formula that is as thin as water either.

Regarding the Nestle Compleat formula, I can't say enough good things about it. Dear Son changed formula a few weeks back. I began working with a new GI nutritionist as a major children's hospital. Dear Son needed to transition to an adult formula and I asked if there was a "natural" formula. She recommened Nestle Compleat, a blenderized formula made from "real food". It contains carrots, chicken, tomatos, peas and cranberry juice along with BeneFiber. This formula is much thicker than his previous formula, smells great and he seems to be more satisfied and not as hungry as the previous formula. In addition, it seems much easier on his system. Dear Son has motility issues related to his gene mutation and the Nestle Compleat has drastically improved his bowel movements. Previously, he might go three or four days without a bowel movement and then have a few on one day. This is not uncommon from what I have learned from other special needs children. With the Nestle Compleat formula, Dear Son has one bowel movement every day and sometimes two. If he has two then he may skip a day but he is much more regular. Although I have not been able to reduce or eliminate his Miralax (he gets one tbsp. per day), this seems much better. I should also mention that this formula has more protein in it and that meets his needs better.

The only downside to the Nestle Complet is the size of the cans. Previously, his other formula came in 8 oz. cans. This formula, comes in 8.25 oz cans which is a little more work for me. Before, I gave Dear Son two cans at each meal. With the new size, I give 1.5 cans for breakfast, 2 cans for lunch, 2 cans less 60 cc for dinner and then the final 60 cc at midnight. This is a bit of a pain on top of giving 12 meds four times a day, tracking bowel movements, taking care of Dear Son and running a business.

The new ePump, despite it's faults above, has given me one major benefit. I can set up the empty bag in the ePump at midnight so it's ready to go in the morning. I have to start the feeding at 4:15 a.m. so it's done by 6:30 a.m. so he can get ready for school. Having the bag set up allows me to hit just a few buttons in the morning and then I can get back to bed. This is important since I give his last meds at midnight and I am often up a few times in between. Also, the fact that he is getting less formula for breakfast (he gets water in addition to the formula at each meal) means that I can get up at 4:15 a.m. to get the ePump started versus 3:30 a.m. with the PediaSure. Honestly, I could never get up at 3:30 a.m. and was always behind the eight ball in the morning getting the formula ready. Now, I can honestly say that I am up for 4:15 a.m. feeds almost 100% of the time.

In terms of Dear Son, he seems to be having more seizures again. Not only that, but he is choking a lot more at night on his saliva, despite wearing the Scopalamine patch (it reduces choking since it dries up his secretions). I am very concerned about this because I am worried he will choke on his secretions and it also raises the possibility that we may need to revisit surgical removal of his saliva glands. In the interim, I have contacted the neurologist and I'll get some blood levels tomorrow for Dear Son and we will go from there.

Physically, he continues to decline, at least in terms of sitting. He can not support himself and falls repeatedly to the right side. I got him a new living room chair for his birthday and while that supports him better, he looked terrible in the pictures I took of him since he can not sit up straight. I was so excited about the pictures and then disappointed when I saw them. He can't take a nice picture when he slouches in the chair.

On the plus side, he is working extremely hard at school attempting to use his hands and arms. His teacher has done a wonderful job of incorporating fun tasks that require him to use his hands throughout the day. I went to school recently to learn how he has been doing some of these tasks. It was quite amazing. He is now able to move his fingers slightly to water the plants. His teacher has a special water bottle that she places in his hands. His hand goes on the top, one of hers goes on the bottom and her other hand goes under his elbow. When she feels the movement of his tendons, she squeezes the bottom of the water bottle so he gets the "reward" component for moving his fingers ever so slightly. Dear Son is so proud of this. And I am proud of him.

In terms of myself, I have been busy caring for Dear Son and been more exhausted than normal from a lack of sleep. I have also been busy painting my living room, foyer and dining room. Although I live in an apartment, I decided I needed to repaint the walls to freshen them up. I sanded them lightly, washed them all, applied painter's tape and then painted them all. Once that was done, I decided to paint over the green accent wall in the dining room. I painted it the same color as the rest of the room and I really don't like it. It looks very boring and dull now. Althought I not normally a fan of accent walls, it allowed me to have some color in an apartment without having to paint all of the walls back to a neutral color when I move. I will probably choose a new color in January and re-paint again.

I also hope to show you a new project that I completed recently. I had a new client with a beautiful new home that wanted to spruce it up a bit. So in this case, instead of staging to sell her house, I staged it to live. She allotted a budget for some new furniture however I was able to transform a few rooms using existing furniture. Her living room went from empty to "amazing". You won't believe the transformation! I have some before photos showing the placement of the furniture and accessories in the other rooms and then you'll see the after photos using her existing stuff. In four hours, I'll show you how some small changes made for some exciting results.

I'll try to post a story this weekend. In addition, I have been asked to complete an blogger interview. I'll share that with you once it's complete.

As always, thank you for your interest in Dear Son. I appreciate your interest and always enjoy reading the wonderful comments.

P.S. Reuters picked up one of our blog postings recently. Yay!
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