Monday, February 23, 2015

The Bullseye effect...

     So, I think all of our family and friends know that Kerstin is a huge Target fan!  No kidding!  The child LOVES Target!  You may have seen the pic I posted a few days ago of her looking at the store with dreamy eyes like "I love this place!"  I have been wondering what is it about the store!  The Bullseye?  The red letters?  The lights?  Store signage? The conversations that Kerstin eavesdrop on when we're walking aimlessly through the store?  What is it?  Whatever it is, she loves that place.

     This past Saturday, I decided to go in with her as an escape and a treat!  It was crowded, more crowded than on our weekday trips to the store yet, Kerstin was still very happy being in the crowd, in Target.  Shopping alone with a child in a wheelchair can be a task.  Try pulling a shopping cart while pushing the wheelchair, and add in a crowded store.  Sometimes the customers can be understanding and happily allow room, other times some can be assholes!  

     This crowded Saturday, the checkout lanes were busy and crowded, there were workers stocking items around the lanes.  One in particular stopped what she was doing, came over and spoke to Kerstin.  She asked her name, seeing that she was nonverbal, she looked to me to tell her Kerstin's name.  When I did, she proceeded to talk directly to Kerstin.  That made me smile!  A kind act like that meant so much.  It didn't end there, she took the shopping cart and put all of our items on the counter!  I thanked her, she assured me that it wasn't a problem.  

     Our encounter with this store associate didn't end after she placed our items on the counter, she went back over to Kerstin and told her that she would probably have to be reminded of her name a couple more times but, she would get and that she looked forward to seeing her next time!  This lady we met Saturday wasn't the only employee in this store location that remembered us on our visits.  We were once again, walking around one day when another associate seem to have come out of nowhere to speak and ask how we were that particular.  This lady told me that she sees us in there a lot and that Kerstin always looks happy.  Yeah, happy because it's one of her happy spots!  

     Target, if you happen to read this, she will happily model for your ads, LOL!  




Thursday, February 5, 2015

Brag? Maybe

     I can proudly say that I am not one to brag...or at least I try my best not to brag.  When it comes to Kerstin and a milestone or achievement she has made, or something she's involved in, that all goes out the window!   It is with so much happiness that I can honestly and very proudly say that this post is nothing less than a brag post.  *insert a happy smile*

     So, I'm sitting with Kerstin, giving her a bolus and like always, I casually talk with her about what's on TV or the day we've had.  I notice that her little hands are growing, as is the rest of my little lady.  So, I take her hand and kiss it, telling that it's so soft and that is why my little one year old niece always kisses her hand.  I continued holding it as were bonding and I'm feeding her.  Suddenly there is a strong grip on my hand!! I looked at Kerstin and she's looking directly into my  eyes with a big smile on her face.  I said to her, "You're squeezing my hand!"   Without any hesitation, she squeezes it again!  Four times in a row and at my command of "Can you squeeze my hand again?"  She did so!!

My sweet girl is strong and a very determined little girl.  No matter how tired I may become, which happens every single day, no matter how often I feel like I want to give it all it...those times have hit me.  I know that if all that Kerstin has been through in her 13 years of life, I can and should be able to continue on!    And continue on is what I will do! 

She squeezed her momma's hand... 



     




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A letter to Kerstin

     The mere thought of this post bought tears to my eyes.  It is about the inevitable, that one thing that no man can escape.  No matter the exercise routines, the meds and vitamins we take daily; they may aid in prolonging and making this life a little better and healthier.  They just cannot keep us here forever.  Death is that thing we will face and we can't get around that. 

     I must admit that I have selfish thoughts when it comes to death.  Since Kerstin came into my life 13 years, 1 month and 11 days ago and my entire outlook on life has changed forever.  I cannot imagine my life without Kerstin and I can't even comprehend her living a life without me!  One of those may happen, sadly.  Back to my selfish thoughts, I have prayed at times, that when that time comes, that it be in a manner that we could leave this earthly home together.  I can't imagine the heartache it may cause my family but, it can't possibly compare to that of Kerstin or myself to have to live without each other. 

     
With Kerstin in Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge

     So, I thought about writing a letter to my sweet daughter. 

My sweetest Kerstin,

     I have loved you more than my own life.  You have meant the world and more to me.  Words can't fully express the love that I have for you, my sweet girl!  This journey we have been on together has been one of many ups and downs, some pains but great joys.   When I was pregnant with you, I imagined a life much  different than the one we have lived.  

     I hope that I have shown you a smidget of the love that I have for you.  I have loved the cold winter days when you didn't got to school and we sat watching whatever animated, you not wanting to share your blankets.  I have loved taking you to the movies and you ignoring me completely once the lights went down.  I love the way you stare at me until I looked at you only to poke your tongue at me.  Your laugh, I just love hearing you laugh so hard that you begin to shake.  

     Kerstin, you made me look at life differently!  Before you, I never thought about things like accessible parking, hand rails in bathrooms, ramps, inclusion and so much more.  I never knew that I would be required to do and learn so much in order to take care of you.  I would not change any of the things we have endured together.  The many surgeries and hospital stays only made us stronger!  You have been a true example of strength and courage sweet girl. 

     I love you darling!  No one can say that I didn't do what I could to be a voice for you.  You have been my life!  We are forever together!  

Loving you always and forever,

Your Mommy!


     So, I can only hope that, if I should leave this place before or without my daughter, someone would read this letter to her and continuously remind her that her mommy loved her to no end!  



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

     May this New Year be filled with many blessings for you and all those you love!  From our family to yours, 












Monday, December 29, 2014

Sharing a discount this cold and flu season!

     Enjoy $1.50 off Kleenex Lotion or Anti-Viral Tissues.  





Remember, if you're sick, stay home!




Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Parenting a Child With a Disability Through the Holidays Stress Free"

     The Alabama Parent Education Center (APEC) has some tips on avoiding additional stress during the holidays.

While most children live for the holiday season, it can be an extremely stressful time of year for children with disabilities and their families. The disruption to their routine, unfamiliar sights and smells, the house full of noise and people - it can all prove to be too much. Holidays are all about the family, but it can be hard keeping everyone happy.  While the words "stress-free" and the "holidays" don't often go together, at the Alabama Parent Education Center we want all children to enjoy this special time of year.

Tips To Prepare
To help you prepare for surviving the holiday season, we have compiled the following tips to help you, your family, and your child with a disability have a much happier, reduced stress holiday.  Good preparation is the key so here are a few tips to help you prepare yourself, your child, and your family.

Reduce The Stress.  Try to find ways to reduce the stress - both on your child and you. Schedule in quiet times and create chill-out zones in your home. Remember, your child will pick up on your stress levels, so try not to over-stretch yourself.

Ask For Help.  Friends and family may not know how they can help unless you tell them. Give them a list of things they can do to support you - from looking after your child while you spend quality time with your other children - to helping you finish the holiday meal.

Wrap Up Familiar Toys.  If your child is not keen on opening presents because they're new and unfamiliar, try wrapping up some favorite toys. Sometimes unwrapping something familiar is very reassuring.

Give Your Child A Job And A Schedule.  Always give your child a job to do at family gatherings.  Giving them something to do reduces their stress of having people in the house. I also give them an itinerary so they understand, for example, that people stand around and chat a lot, and that is part of the occasion.

Manage New Smells.  Add cinnamon to your child's play-dough to gradually introduce new smells. One thing that people with autism complain about during the holidays is the many different perfume smells coming from visiting adults. Ask your family and friends to hold off on the perfume.

Work On Gift Giving.  Help and encourage the person you are caring for to give gifts. This provides an excellent opportunity to work on social skills, like thinking of other people's needs and interests, and being kind and helpful. Support your child in making gifts for their family and friends and assisting them in giving out the presents as well.

Reserve Some Special Time For Your Child.  It's easy to get overloaded with festive preparations at this time of year, so plan daily activities to make some special time for your kids - ie. 5 to 10 mins of undivided attention. Let your child take the lead, tune into their world and see it through their eyes.

Create A Weekly Calendar.  Print off a week-to-view calendar page from your PC or the internet and add a picture of your planned activities during the holidays (divide into morning, lunch afternoon etc) and this will help put your child at ease about the week ahead.

Prepare Your Family.  Talk to family members ahead of time. Discuss your child's specific needs, and gently but firmly tell them what your plans are. Be sure to let them know that this will make the whole experience better for everyone. Ask for their support.
Prepare A Bag Of Activities.  When you are visiting friends or relatives, fill a backpack with things your child finds comforting or enjoys playing with - toy cars, a stuffed animal, a CD and CD player, ipads, or a few books. If your child gets over stimulated, find a quiet corner or a back room and pull out the backpack.

Easy To Open Presents.  If your child has trouble with fine motor skills doctor their cards and presents to allow them to open easily. Makes for a much happier time for all and gives your child a sense of satisfaction that they can complete tasks.

Have a Code Word.  Have a code word your child can use if he or she feels overwhelmed and needs a break. Assure your child if he or she uses the code word, you will respond right away. Again, giving children some control during activities that may be over stimulating for them will reduce anxiety.

Prepare Before an Event.  Before you leave for holiday parties, parades, or other fun events, have a quick family meeting so your whole family knows how long you plan to stay and how you expect them to behave. This will benefit neuro-typical children as well, since any child can get overwhelmed with the excitement of the holidays. Continue to make your child's sleep schedule a priority, even in the midst of so many special events.

Prepare for Food Allergies.  If your children have food sensitivities or allergies that prevent them from eating holiday treats, plan ahead to offer alternatives like all-natural candy or a gluten-free treat from home. Children with neuro-behavioral disorders like ADHD or Autism often already feel different, so be sure to include them in as many holiday festivities as possible.
  
 Limit Holiday Decorations.  If your child is easily over-stimulated, limit holiday decorations in your home. Too many twinkling lights combined with smells from the kitchen and other holiday distractions, while enjoyable to most, can be too much for children with autism, ADHD, or sensory disorders. Let special needs children help you decorate for the holidays so they are involved in the changes that take place in their comforting environment.

APEC is here to help
APEC provides free training, information, and consultation to families.  Visit our training calendar for more information about learning opportunities at www.alabamaparentcenter.com  or call our center.

The contents of this publication were developed in part under a grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention.   To help support the ADCANP mission visitwww.ctf.alabama.gov.  Parenting  V.2


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