A Look Back: Top Ten Reflection and Gratitude Blogs

It’s that time of year when everyone is rushing through the season. We survived Thanksgiving and now the crazed Christmas rush is well underway. It’s also the last month of the year and the last days of the decade. 2020 will be the start to new beginnings and the passing of old experiences. How will you reflect on 2019?

The last two months I’ve tried to slow my roll in every aspect of my life. I was stressed almost the first half of the year as I worked to obtain my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and that led to some health issues. I reached the goal and then fell apart. I’m proud I made it through and also puzzled as to why I made it so hard on myself.

As we look into the New Year, I thought I’d share some of the blogs I wrote this year and from many years ago that are good reminders to slow down, just be and enjoy the moments that pass us by so quickly. Continue reading

Designed with Heart: Inclusive Playgrounds

We spent all day at a playground when I was a kid. Running, climbing and jumping was what we did. I never gave the tanbark, metal equipment or two-step entrance a second thought.

Looking back, I can remember the kids who never played with us because they couldn’t access the playground. It wasn’t until my own daughter had so many challenges with play spaces I realized that a playground is not one size fits all.

Our daughter has intellectual disability, developmental delay and tremors along with balance and coordination issues. She couldn’t sit on a standard swing when she was younger. She fell easily on uneven surfaces and couldn’t keep up with her peers on most playgrounds. Our trips to the playground usually ended in tears. My son had a very different play experience since he could play on any type of playground. Continue reading

Tips for Going Back to School

I’ve been in corporate marketing for many years. I enjoy working for small companies where I feel I can make a difference and collaborate with cross-functional teams. I earned my bachelor’s degree at a time in my life when my complete focus was on school. That wasn’t the case when I decided for study for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification online.

I’m a working mom with two active kiddos and a full-time job. The thought of squeezing one to two hours of study time into my day made my head spin. I was at a point in my career I felt I needed to up my game and gain new knowledge in the areas that interested me the most. Continue reading

Why We Love Special Olympics

It wasn’t so long ago I found a Special Olympics Arizona notice in my daughter’s backpack. I was so grateful her school offered participation in the events.

Special Olympics is a wonderful organization that supports children and adults with intellectual disabilities through sports. The organization also improves the health of others through collaborations with health providers and community organizations. The health of the athletes is so very important. These competitions help them get physical fitness, build confidence and experience happiness.

My daughter’s first competition was bowling. She was so excited. The kids took a field trip to the local bowling alley and she won a medal that day. The next competition was track and field.

Continue reading

Homemade Trampoline Therapy Activities

It took over five years to get our daughter’s conditions diagnosed. We moved to a new state in between all of the doctor appointments and it was a very long journey.

Her first neurologist couldn’t figure out her conditions. He looked at me that last day I saw him and said, “She is a little girl who needs a lot of  therapy.” He also encouraged me to go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital when we got settled into our new home and get a second opinion.

During that time, we were encouraged to start Occupational Therapy (OT). I had no idea what that was or what it could do for her. I started reading and learning what OT was and why it’s important for people with disabilities. Continue reading

Benefits of Practicing Daily Gratitude

My 2018 gratitude journal. I started last year with these goals and added an entry every day.

We’re already a month into the new year. Hard to believe how fast time flew by this month. Resolutions were made and broken within the first few weeks of the year. One poll suggested that 80% of the people who set a resolution failed by February. Yikes!

Don’t despair if the resolution didn’t work out for you. We always go for the brass ring and create the lofty resolutions that are hard to achieve. It’s the consistent, daily efforts that turn into the big wins over time. The small practices benefit you more in the long run.

Gratitude is one of those practices that’s been part of my daily routine for years now. I’m not talking about daydreams with rainbows and unicorns, although I love both of those things. It’s the daily thought about what you are grateful for. And I get it that some days just really suck. I had a few of those days in January. Continue reading

Kids, Bikes and Adaptive Play

Riding a bike is like a right of passage for a young child. It’s the moment when the training wheels come off and they take off with that little wobble. I saw a father help his girl take that first ride in a field behind our house the other day. She was smiling and beaming with excitement. She fell once and then got back on long enough to ride away.

For moms like me, watching that moment is inspiring and also bitter sweet. It’s hard for me to imagine our girl taking off on her own two-wheeled bike.

She has balance and coordination challenges along with other conditions and intellectual disability. She tries very hard to ride her bike and she really just wants to join in play with others. Continue reading

Planning a Petting Zoo Birthday Party for Special Needs Kids

Birthday party invitations are few and far between when you have child with disabilities. My daughter who is part of the SPED program at school has been invited to two birthday parties in the last 8 years. My son who is able-bodied and has a group of buddies he hangs with will get invited to birthday parties throughout the year.

Before we moved out of state from our hometown, it didn’t matter if the party invites came in for her because we had big birthday parties with grandparents, family and cousins. Living in Arizona, we don’t have that network so her parties became dinners with cake and a couple of my son’s friends. Continue reading

Horse Therapy for Kids with Disabilities

Horse Therapy for KidsI love horses. I do. I rode for years with a friend when I was growing up. She was a natural trainer when we were kids and has a successful training business today.

When my husband and I relocated to Arizona, I remember telling him one of my goals was to get back in the saddle. I missed it and was determined to start riding again.

Our new town has an equestrian culture and I stumbled across a horseback riding class for special needs kids. I put my riding aspirations on hold and enrolled our daughter who has disabilities. I was nervous the first session, but it was amazing to see her light up. Continue reading

Sensory Processing Issues and The Morning Routine

Sensory Processing DisorderSequence, lace and bows make little girl clothes cute and adorable. For the little girls with sensory processing issues, cute and adorable becomes a nightmare. It’s scratchy. It burns. It irritates.

Sensory processing issues was a new term we learned when our daughter’s conditions were finally diagnosed. Her conditions include a lengthy list with sensory processing issues plus developmental delays and intellectual disability.

Sensory processing refers to the way the brain receives messages from the senses and turns them into the appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Continue reading