Monday, December 31, 2012

Getting His Just Desserts

The day after Christmas, we spent an hour walking on the greenway that meanders through our city. The large fountain was empty for the winter and Logan and Sean saw this as the perfect opportunity to race through it. Ben watched them, giggled a bit, then suddenly went crazy trying to get out of his chair. Interested in getting Ben some walking time in, I obliged by getting him out of his seat.

At the moment he was free of the chair, Ben pulled me in the direction of the fountain. (Imagine a large dog pulling its owner - that's how I felt.) We climbed over the fountain wall and kept walking across the circle. I thought Ben wanted to be a part of his brothers' shenanigans, but I was wrong.

When we reached the other side of the fountain, we climbed over the wall. Ben kept pulling me in this same diagonal path he had chosen. If we kept going, we were going to hit the street, not a place I wanted to venture.

Where the heck was this kid going? He clearly had something on his mind.

Then I looked up. Dunkin Donuts was directly ahead of us. Across the street, it was located exactly diagonal from the point where we started on the other side of the fountain.

Luckily Grandpa was there to run across the street and reward his very determined Grandson with a donut.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Access4Kids: Helping Kids Communicate

Here is yet another way children with disabilities can communicate - by using this special arm device to access a tablet.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Carolers!

It was icy cold with a slight breeze, but we braved the elements and sang our favorite Christmas Carols for our community and neighbors. Our first stop was at a house that requested our performance. They had Trader Joe's cookies waiting for us.

People are not used to carolers and we get many reactions from our impromptu audiences: some listen while standing next to the window, others grab family members from inside so they too can hear the singing, while others walk quickly back into their house after one song. For the most part, everyone enjoyed our singing. I can understand it is awkward to stand there while a group sings to you a bit off tune.
The kids love it - they run ahead, ring the doorbell and then belt out the words to Jingle Bells and Rudolph.  Each year, we gain a new family to our group. Once you start this tradition, it is hard to let go.

Ben is in the left-hand corner of the photo hugging Elizabeth, his former teacher.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One More Chance

Ben made a last ditch effort tonight to repair his relationship with Santa. As soon as he saw the jolly man in the red suit, he jumped into his arms...and gave him a hug.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Annual Graham Cracker House Party

Log Cabin: The pretzels were part of our healthy snacks, but this kid had  better plans for them!

Her parents are in the construction business.

For as long as I can remember we have hosted a Graham Cracker House Party for our friends and neighbors. This year we had 14 kids (and their parents) participate. Everyone helps with supplies, setup, building, decorating and cleanup. This year, we had Mimosas for the parents - a great addition that I highly recommend.

Expect some chaos.

If you want to host an event like this, the list of candy, supplies and the instructions to give each parent are below. My nephew's birthday is in December and my sister hosted a birthday party for 13 boys, and they each made their own house. My sister recommends getting two mixers and have the Royal Icing II dry ingredients measured ahead of time. I did this, and it cut down on time because once the kids start building and decorating, they need a lot of the "glue" quickly.

We also offer healthy snack for the kids to munch on in between the snatches of candy they consume.

Build Your Own Graham Cracker House

Everyone bring:

  • Approx a 12” x 12” cardboard or baking pan covered tightly in tin foil. This will serve as the platform for the house. If you use a baking pan, make sure it is not one you will need soon.
  • A cardboard foundation for the house such as individual juice boxes (taped together), box from snacks, cut off the bottom of a ½ gallon OJ or milk carton. This will determine the size of your house. I recommend small. 
  • One box of honey graham crackers – any brand. 
  • Tape the foundation firmly to the cardboard.

Supplies Needed (Each child is assigned 2 items to bring and share with the group):

  • Mini marshmallows 
  • Tootsie Rolls (small type)
  • Green leaf candy
  • Gum drops, assorted colors
  • Red & White Peppermint candies
  • Mini candy canes
  • M&M’s
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles
  • Chewing gum – Big Red – several packs
  • Neccos 
  • Meringue Powder 
  • Confectioner's sugar
  • Ziplock bags - add icing to bag and kids use this as a pastry bag after clipping a small corner of the bag 

Royal Icing Recipe I
3 egg whites - frothy
4 cups confectioner's sugar 
Sift with 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Add together and Beat 5-10 minutes until right consistency
Keep covered with wet paper towel so it does not dry out.

Royal Icing II - This is a new (for me) recipe. We used it this year and liked that we did not have to deal with the eggs.

3T            meringue powder
4 cups      confectioner’s sugar
6T            water - we added more to get a smoother consistency

Add together and Beat 5-10 minutes until right consistency
Keep covered with wet paper towel so it does not dry out.

Logan and Sean's final products.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Letter From Heaven

There are no explanations, ways to find purpose or reason in what happened in Connecticut today. We cannot wrap our minds around the tragedy and our hearts hurt. Anger, blame, disbelief, sadness and the need to hold our own loved ones closer are the prevailing feelings.

I found this poem and wanted to share it here:

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say 
But first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven, here I dwell with God above 
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; Here is just eternal love. 

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight; 
Remember that I am with you every morning, noon, and night. 
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through 
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you." 

"It's good to have you back again, you were missed while you were gone, 
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on. 
I need you here badly, you are part of my plan, 
There's so much that we have to do to help out mortal man." 
God gave me a list of things that he wished for me to do 
And foremost on my list is to watch and care for you. 

And when you lie in bed at night; the day's chores put to flight, 
God and I are closest to you, in the middle of the night. 
When you think of my life on earth, and all of those missed years, 
Because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears. 
But do not be afraid to cry, it does relieve the pain, 
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain. 

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned, 
But if I were to tell you that, you wouldn't understand. 
But one thing is for certain though, my life on earth is o'er, 
I'm closer to you now than ever was before. 
There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb, 
But together we can do it by taking one day at a time. 
There is a very wise philosophy and I'd like to share it with you, 
That as you give unto the world, the world will give unto you. 
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow and pain, 
Then you can say to God at night, "My day was not in vain. 
And now I am contented, that my life is worthwhile, 
Knowing as I passed along the way I made somebody smile." 

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low, 
Just lend them your hand to pick them up, as on your way you go. 
When you're walking down the street and you've got me on your mind, 
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind. 
And when it's time for you to go, for that body to be free,
Remember you're not going, You're coming here to me.

Written by Ruth Ann Mahaffey

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Enduring Love

This is Ben with his former preschool teacher, Elizabeth. 
When she walked into the room, he had eyes for no one else. 

You Never Know
You never know when someone
might catch a dream from you.
You never know when a little word or something that you might do, may open up a window
of a mind that seeks the light.
The way you teach may not matter at all, but you never know, it might.
And just in case it could be
that another's life through you
might change for the better
with a broader, brighter view.
It seems it might be worth a try
to do what you know is right.
The way you teach may not matter at all, but you never know, it might.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Free Online Software

My mom mailed this to me many months ago and then I lost it.  She was nice enough to find it again, scan it and email it to me. These sites are not just for children with special needs. Here it is for you to see and share:

Provides learning tools to enhance learning for all children.

Enables users to create, share, publish, and read digital books that engage young readers.

provides books that readers can view in sign language and with subtitles. Books are also in audio, and users can easily share them with friends and family.

 Furnishes nursery rhymes with child actors who animate the poems. 

 Allows for creating, sharing, and publishing digital books for repeated readings and includes wonderful prompts to help children begin.

 Provides application software that reads any text on a computer.

Provides a text-to-speech plug-in for MS Word.