Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Item for Special Needs Kids

Photo 1: American Sales Inflatable Pull Sled

I came across a sales flyer today that had a great item for special needs kids. This is a 33 Inch Inflatable Pull Sled. The reason that I think it would work well is because it has a tall back. If you look at the photo, the back comes to the top of the child's head. I checked the reviews and they said that it was perfect for an 18 month old child. You may need to review the dimensions to see if it would work for your child. This sled is offered by American Sales. The regular price is $29.99 and it's on sale for $19.99. You can see this sled and purchase it here. This sled comes in two styles-see the photo above and the photo below.

Photo 2: American Sales Inflatable Pull Sled

The reason this sled would work well, is that if you have a child that has poor trunk control or poor head control, the sled would support the child's head and body and it would be soft. A child with poor trunk control or poor head control needs more support not less. This sled allows for maximum support. You can see that a bit in the first photo, where it looks like the child is almost leaning back; that is how a special needs child would look in the sled whereas in the second photo, you can clearly see that this child can sit up on his own. I would imagine it would help if you had a strap of sorts to secure your child even more. If your child receives any kind of physical therapy, you probably already have something like that.

I went on the internet to see if I could find other sleds that had a tall back like this one, however I could not. Most of the sleds that have "any" back at all, only come to the middle of the child's back. You can see in this next photo how the back is not tall enough to support a special needs child's torso nor is it tall enough to provide support for a child's head. If you do choose a wooden sled like this for a child, you would need to make certain that the wood is strong enough to support a child. Many of these wooden sleds have sides that are flimsy and aren't designed to hold a child in place.

This is so aggravating to me because it wouldn't take a lot for manufacturer's to make sleds with taller backs to support the kids. What I have learned over the years, is that when you make items that work well for special needs kids, it's also preferable for all kids. I remember years ago taking Dear Son to the park to swing. He required one of the swings with the tall backs that would support his torso and head. While there were many regular swings available, most kids and parents preferred the swings with the taller backs. It would be wonderful if manufacturers started with a concept of universal design then designed toys for kids based on that.

As for the sled, this goes without saying however I imagine you will be pulling your child in this sled, not sending a special needs child down a hill in it. I doubt a special needs child would have any skills to be able to stop themselves if they tipped over in it. I would also recommend a helmet as well.

I remember taking Dear Son sledding around the house in one of the wooden sleds with a back on the sled, similar to the photo above where the back only went up half way. This was all they had some twenty years ago. It didn't provide enough support and when I pulled the sled, it stuck a bit and the first thing that happened was that he went face first in the snow and he hated sledding after that, lol. That's all part of experiencing new things. As parents of special needs kids, we have to walk a fine line between letting our kids experience things like snow and sledding and understanding that the sled might tip over and they might get snow on their faces. This is very different however than sending them down a hill on a sled. If you want them to experience that, then the mother or the father gets on a toboggan, holding the kid securely in front and you go down a small hill.

Here's hoping you get a chance to get outdoors a bit and enjoy the winter weather.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I just want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. Dear Son and I thank you for all of your support. I thought you might enjoy a few holiday photos of our studio apartment. Starting with the living area...

The view into my bedroom...

My cat kept running over to each section of the apartment as I took photos so he's in quite a few of them...

Although my place is small in size, I went for all out glamour. The gold bedding was perfect for Christmas.

Some pretty candle rings on the crystal and gold sconces.

I love the simplicity of the bedding...just one display pillow. Next year, I might try swapping out the display pillow for one with burgundy, cream and gold.

Since I only have room for a small table on the right side of the room, I kept the decor to scale.

Moving around the room...

I didn't do a lot in the bathroom. I did add a crystal Christmas tree dish edged in gold but didn't get a chance to get a photo of that.

Regardless, a little decor for the towel bar. The Noel ornament was a gift from Dear Son's babysitter. She was an older lady and was great with him. She worked for us for a few years.

This Christmas photo is one of my favorites. Dear Son was only six weeks old when this was taken. My sister made the Santa hat and bib.

This was one of his first Christmas type photos in the mall. He was actually really fussy but it looks like he's smiling. I don't think he cared for the sweater, lol. He couldn't sit up at this age but was propped. If you look closely, you can see his eyes were a bit crossed as well. He had surgery a few years later.

Moving along to Dear Son's side of the room. I could do much over here since I had to keep the floor space open in order to move around. He has a hoyer lift that I keep on this side and although I store his wheelchair in the hallway, I couldn't put a tree on this side since I need to be able to move him around. I did add lights in the window and some beautiful silver deer to the mirror.

Wiggles, the cat, refused to get out of the pictures so I told him if he wanted to be in the pictures, he had to wear a Santa hat. He didn't care for that very much.

You can see the lights in the mirror.

Here's the cat after I made him wear the hat; he doesn't like it as you can tell by his face.

This is my favorite photo. On Dear Son's dresser is his Mr. Christmas musical train that we got him last year. He loves listening to the Christmas music and watching the train going around. In this picture, the cat was just near the train and made him laugh but I couldn't get the photo in time.

And finally the outside view. You can see the stockings in the window and the wreath and lighting on the balcony next to it. That is right outside my window.

I hope you enjoyed our holiday tour. Have a wonderful holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas to Dear Son from Blendtec!

As many of you know, I’ve been a huge advocate of Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil for Dear Son. Once I started using it for Dear Son, I was able to nip any colds, flu or pneumonias from the start and since using it daily, Dear Son has not been hospitalized for pneumonia in 15 months. Prior to that, he had two to three a year. As you know, Dear Son has had a pretty rough time these past few years due to numerous hospitalizations. In 2009, the day before his Make a Wish trip, he came down with the swine flu along with a viral pneumonia and nearly died. At that time, the doctors told me that they did not think they could save Dear Son any more and that he would most likely die of pneumonia. He had several more hospitalizations after that and in May of last year, he was finally well enough to take his Make a Wish trip.

All total, it took six months from his hospitalization in 2009 for him to be able to sit up for two hours, long enough to make the trip to Disney in Florida. He still wasn’t well and we had to limit our activities. We had a wonderful time though. While we were there, we went to Universal Studios. One of my favorite memories from the trip was when we walked through the entry gates. They were enormous and it was like walking through the gates of heaven. As we walked through, I began to cry. We had spent months waiting to go on Dear Son’s Make a Wish Trip and we talked about it forever and when the swine flu happened, I thought we’d never make it. I felt like a failure in that I thought I waited too long to take the trip and thought he was going to die, having never made it. I had planned his Make a Wish Trip to coincide with his 18th birthday and instead, he got the swine flu the day before we left and he had respiratory failure the following day and was on a ventilator fighting for his life on his 18th birthday.

The Make a Wish trip was powerful for all of us. One of the things that it did for me and for us was to give us something to look forward to. When you care for a special needs child, it’s hard to do normal tasks of daily living so you don’t do as much as able bodied people because, well, everything is sooooo hard. But it wasn’t just that we had something to look forward to, the powerful part was that we broke the cycle of going to the hospital. For many years, the only placed we ever packed for was the hospital. Dear Son has been hospitalized some 70 plus times in 20 years and while most people have a packing list for their vacation, I had a packing list for the hospital.

After our trip, I vowed that I never wanted to go back to the hospital. I began researching things for us and discovered green spinach smoothies and organic, virgin coconut oil. I began drinking smoothies and was amazed at how I was able to relieve the pain from my arthritis with these amazing drinks. I started in June of 2010 and never looked back. Late last year, I discovered Now Foods Organic, Virgin Coconut Oil and began giving it to Dear Son. I soon learned how it would prevent colds, flu and pneumonia in him. It tooks months to figure out the right dose for Dear Son but I did and I am proud to say that it has now been 15 months since he’s been hospitalized with pneumonia. Certainly he’s had a few hospitalizations since then, but NONE have been for pneumonia.

A few months ago, I decided I wanted more for him. I thought that while the organic coconut oil was great once he had an illness, if I could build his immune system up, I could PREVENT sickness before it starts. I started reading about how I might use the nutrition in real foods and give that to him and take him off of formula feedings. (I had tried giving him real foods blended up but had failed since the food kept clogging the tube and I just gave up. )I made a list of all of my nutritional goals for him along with all of his conditions and began researching foods that would help each of his conditions. To give him real foods though would require a high powered commercial type blender, like a Blendtec or VitaMix. I researched the blenders and watched numerous videos and loved the Blendtec from the start. The Blendtec Total Blender would pulverize the food well, was easy to clean and fit under the cabinets and best of all, didn’t require a tamper. The only problem was that I couldn’t afford it. I mean these blenders sell for nearly $500 and I work part time so I can care for Dear Son who requires 24/7 care.

In early November, I sat Dear Son’s Dad down and told him I wanted a Blendtec for Christmas for Dear Son and I. I told him that I knew it was expensive, but that was the only thing I wanted for Dear Son. I normally never ask him for any Christmas gifts although he always gets Dear Son and I something nice. He hemmed and hawed a bit and I told him that I didn’t need an answer right away and that he should think about it. Then he said he didn’t think I’d make the food for him. But I persisted. He knew that I had been drinking green spinach smoothies for around 18 months and that I was into organic food and that it wasn’t a whim. He also knows I take really good care of Dear Son as does he. Then he asked what I’d do when Dear Son came to his house for the weekend. I said I would make all of Dear Son’s food and send it over. I sent him Blendtec videos and he still said no. Then I entered a Christmas Wish program on a local radio station asking for a Blendtec blender for Dear Son. It was the only thing I asked for.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Dad asked for Christmas ideas for Dear Son. I told him that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a Blendtec. I said I’d send him a list of some other options and sent him a list with the Blendtec at the top of the list. Here is what I wrote:

Blendtec Blender-"This is the only thing I want for Dear Son and I. I know
it’s expensive, but I can make his food and build his immunity to keep him well.
I’d rather have gift cards for the blender than anything else."

Right before Thanksgiving, I went to the Blendtec demo at our local Costco. They were offering the Blendtec and two blending jars for $474.99. I saw the demo and was excited. I called Dear Son’s Dad on the way home and told him about the demo. I tried the smoothies there and could taste the difference in the smoothness. I needed the blender to pulverize the food enough to get it through Dear Son’s feeding tube. The only thing I wasn’t clear on was whether or not there was BPA in the blender jars. So I sent Blendtec’s Customer Service an email regarding that issue.

Around this time, Dad called me and said he’d get the blender for us for Christmas. Blendtec responded to my email and clarified that the jars did not contain BPA and that they switched to BPA free jars in 2009. I thanked the customer service person and told her a little about Dear Son and how excited I was to get a Blendtec and start making his food to build up his immune system. And that was that.

Some two weeks later, I got an email from Blendtec. The person I wrote to had forwarded my email to their executives and they wanted to talk to me. They asked me for my phone number and the best time to call. A few hours later, I received a call from the customer service person. She said that she had forwarded my email to the executives at Blendtec and they wanted to send me a Blendtec blender! Can you believe that? I couldn’t! How cool is that? I mean, they had no idea how much I wanted a Blendtec and that it was the only thing I asked for at Christmas. They didn’t know how much I had been through with Dear Son or anything like that and yet, they offered to send me a reconditioned Blendtec blender. It was so exciting!

So let me show you my new baby….what do you think?

In this next photo, I am making tomato soup. It was delicious! Both Dear Son and I had some. I put his in through his gtube!

In this next photo, is Dear Son's first entire blended meal. I gave it to him today. This is a full day's meal although I am only giving him one blended meal a day for the first month as I need to transition him from formula feeds to blended foods gradually. More about that later. I created this entire day's meal. It includes: organic banana, organic strawberries, orange, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic carrots, home made bread, organic chicken breasts, organic onion, walnuts (for omega 3's) and organic milk. It felt so good to give him this rather than formula. There was so much joy in making this for him! I got to be a real Mom again and make my son a "real" meal. Let me tell you, there was a lot of love in my kitchen today as I made up his food!

In this next photo, is the first smoothie I made in my new Blendtec!

So, all in all, a very exciting gift. It was so unexpected! Sometimes, Christmas wishes do come true!

Since I received the blender, I've been using it every day. I'll write more posts later on how to make a blended diet. In the meantime, Dad returned the Blendtec he purchased for me and instead, he'll give us the money to purchase some other items we need. And of course, I wrote Blendtec a lovely thank you note regarding our new blender.

What a wonderful way to end 2011. I just love this blender and it's amazing all of the things you can make. Everything I have made is just delicious. Thank you Blendtec for a wonderful gift and amazing product!

Note: If you'd like more information or to read more reviews on the Blendtec Four Side Blender, you can check it out here at my Amazon Store.
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