Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Flashmob Choir

1 What are your thoughts?
This is one flashmob choir I wish I would have experienced first hand. In the midst of our materialistic culture, and malls full of people buying stuff, we are reminded of why this season is important...for all of us.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Trying to stay afloat!

1 What are your thoughts?
Wow! I look at this blog and realize how much I have neglected it! I have been doing okay with guest posts, but even some weeks I am really dropping the ball.

The truth is, I have too much going on!

Last summer I began to really push my writing as a freelancer, and I have had some pretty amazing jobs. One is on-going and I absolutely love writing about the things I went to school for (Psychology, and Christian Counseling). But if I have limited time, the job takes precedence over the blog. I have also been doing editing and it has been fun! I met a pretty remarkable woman that had a sister with down syndrome and her short memoir is fascinating! Editing a book takes up a lot of time!

I am also on the board for the International Down Syndrome Coalition for Life. The IDSC is doing great things in the Down syndrome community. It is an honor to be a part of this group. I have been dropping the ball here too, but thankfully our awesome leaders are understanding and they have not fired me yet. Thank you!

I attended a Writer's conference in October and an editor said she would take a look at my book proposal. I have been diligently working on it, and was going to send it in next week. Then I read a post by another agent who suggested to wait for those book proposals until the new year, since this is a really busy time for them. They have lots of projects to get caught up with and they need to finish things up by the end of the year. (The book is about emotions in adoption for the parents. Parents also go through a lot during adoption, it's tough, hard, and also wonderful. How does one handle the different emotions of adoption? I know of a woman that was diagnosed with PTSD after adoption. This is real, it's happening, and we need to start talking honestly about those feelings).

I am also teaching Zumba. I LOVE it! Just got hired by the YMCA and I will also be teaching dance again. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know it has been a dream of mine to teach an adaptive dance class...I am getting closer to that dream!

In pursuing my writing professionally, I am working hard on my Writer website/blog. Please stop by if you have not had a chance to do so. When I only have a chance to do one blog post, that is where it is going.

I am still around, just trying to get organized and trying to juggle too many projects at once. Not to mention I have 3 little girls that need time and attention!

On the meantime, I would love to connect with you via facebook! I do stop by there everyday and share thoughts, photos, posts, and ask for recipes sometimes :)

Reading this over, it almost sounds like an excuse not to blog, but I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately, and that is the truth. Sometimes at night, I just want to sit with my husband and watch a show, or read a book.

But I am still here, and I will try to update as much as I can. Nina is doing amazing since taking the magic juice, we have seem improvement in a lot of areas, especially cognitive. Like not just little things, but WOW!

The rascal is also on a roll, and there is much to share about her development. She has Down syndrome and she is certainly not a typical child, but goodness is she amazing and is she a star! Speech is also coming along, and some days she even likes me almost as much as her daddy (some days).

Ellie wants to be an author. I realize how much she looks up to me, and I am humbled and reminded that I need to be the woman I want her to be. Oh the responsibility! Oh the pleasure and joy to be her mom!

And Andy, well, he is just amazing! Our 10th anniversary is coming up and I am madly in love with this man. And I swear he just gets better looking with time.

That's it! I thought this would be a short update, but I kept writing. So there you go. Life so far.

And would you pray the Loraines move to our town to do ministry with us? Thanks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Down Syndrome and Therapy {a guest post by an OT}

1 What are your thoughts?
Children with Down syndrome often receive occupational therapy to address motor delays. Today I’d like to share some physical characteristics of Down syndrome that may affect your child’s motor development and then I’ll share some easy activities you can do with your child with Down syndrome to promote development of motor skills.

Physical characteristics of Down syndrome that can affect motor development:

  • Hypotonia. This is a fancy medical term for low muscle tone. Babies with Down syndrome often feel very floppy when you hold them. This is due to the low muscle tone. The best way to imagine what it is like to have low muscle tone is to think of when you are exhausted and how much energy it takes to get your muscles to move. That is what it’s like all the time to have low muscle tone. It is good to remember that low muscle tone affects every muscle from head to toe.
  • A single transverse palmar crease (also known as the simian crease). Despite some beliefs that this is a primary physical characteristic of Down syndrome, only about half of children with Down syndrome have the single palmar crease. This may affect your child’s hand dexterity, but often the single palmar crease does not have a significant impact on hand skills.
  • Short fingers, especially 5th finger(pinky finger), which may appear slightly bent. Smaller fingers and hands may cause your child to have difficulty with tasks that require fine motor precision and dexterity, such as buttoning pants.

Activities for babies:
  • Tummy time. All babies need tummy time, but this will be especially important for your baby with Down syndrome. Lots of tummy time will help increase your babies strength and help your baby overcome the low muscle tone associated with Down syndrome.
  • To develop fine motor skills, encourage your baby to grasp onto toys such as rattle and rings. Since your baby may have smaller hands, make sure the toy is thin enough for your baby to get his or her hand around it.

Activities for toddlers:
  • Drink through a straw. Since low muscle tone affects every muscle from head to toe, drinking through a straw will help strengthen the muscles of your child’s mouth and face.
  • Further develop your child’s fine motor skills with simple, age-appropriate toys, such as duplo blocks, playdough, and wooden knob puzzles.
  • Walk, walk, walk! Toddlers with Down syndrome typically learn to walk around two years of age. The best way to promote their gross motor development is to let them practice their new skill of walking.

Activities for preschoolers:
  • This is a good age to start introducing oral motor games to further strengthen your child’s facial muscles. A simple oral motor game you can play with your child is to race cotton balls across the table by blowing through straws.
  • Develop early self-help skills by encouraging your child to put her shoes on and teach her how to manage the Velcro on her shoes. This promotes independence and fine motor skills at the same time!
  • Preschool is when children start developing pre-writing skills. Use broken crayon pieces to provide your child with small crayons for small hands. Encourage your child to imitate lines and circles. You and your child can also use your fingers to draw lines and circles in shaving cream, paint, or sand.
  • As your child’s gross motor skills develop, you can introduce more challenging activities requiring balance. Encourage balance by standing on one foot to kick a ball. Or place a two by four piece of wood on the floor to create a low balance beam.
  • To increase your preschooler’s overall strength, wheelbarrow walk with your child or have your child do animal walks (e.g. crab walk, bear walk).

Activities for school age children:
  • This is the age in which children begin to develop more independence in self-help skills. For your child with Down syndrome this will probably take a lot of practice and patience! Skills that require fine motor dexterity, like zipping a jacket, buttoning pants and tying shoes will require lots of repetition. It’s best to work on one new self-help skill at a time.
  • Developing scissor skills can require extra practice in children with Down syndrome due to their shorter fingers. Practice the open/close motion required for cutting by squeezing tongs and spray bottles. Promote the use of both hands together stringing beads or doing crafts that require tearing paper into small pieces.
  • As your child moves from pre-writing to writing letters and numbers, keep in mind pencil grip. Children with Down syndrome have shorter fingers, which can make it challenging to hold a pencil appropriately. To promote the use of a tripod grasp, encourage your child to hold a small toy or eraser against his palm with his pinky and ring fingers, while he holds onto his pencil with the remaining three fingers. Click here to see what that looks like.
  • As your child’s balance improves, keep introducing more challenging gross motor activities. Encourage your child to alternate feet when walking up the stairs or start riding a bike with training wheels. Get that two by four balance beam back out and practice jumping off of it!

The key to developing motor skills in children with Down syndrome is the same as in all children: go at your child’s pace and choose activities that are developmentally appropriate. I hope this list helps provide a guideline for promoting motor skills in your child with Down syndrome!

Recommended Reading:
Fine Motor Skills for Children With Down Syndrome by Maryanne Bruni
Gross Motor Skills in Children With Down Syndrome by Patricia Winders
Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents' Guide by Susan Skallerup

About the author:
Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist with five years of experience evaluating and treating children ages birth to twenty-two, including children with Down syndrome. Her work experience includes school based practice, early intervention and feeding therapy. Abby recently moved from Southern California to New England, where she is enjoying the changing seasons. Abby currently specializes in providing occupational therapy services to students with language and learning disabilities. Abby blogs about her experiences as a pediatric occupational therapist at

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Magic Juice and a CP Connection

8 What are your thoughts?
Nina has been drinking magic juice. Okay, it is really a mineral supplement, but one mom called it the magic juice, and I guess we have seen some great progress with it.

Don;t be surprised if some of the people linking-up are also sharing about this magic juice. And no, we don't really think it is magic, but we are seeing that there are some real deficiencies in our children with CP and this is helping in many areas of development.

About two months ago a fellow mom brought up the Preemie Growth Project. She got her daughter involved in the research and she began to see some real changes. The changes were significant enough that many of us took notice and we began to research what this project was all about. The project/research is based on a mineral supplement. Specifically plant derived colloidal minerals. The science behind it is that premature babies lack the mineral foundations to brain and muscles necessary for optimal development. By providing these minerals, the brain and muscles are able to finally function at a more typical level. For kids with cerebral palsy, this can be huge.

If you want to know more, check out the website, and like I said, there are probably some blogs linked up here talking about this.

Also, here is a pretty good article about plant derived colloidal minerals.

We are taking a very conservative approach to the supplement and we are introducing this very slowly with Nina. We are only to half the recommended dose and we are seeing changes. Nina is balancing so much better, and she is bending at the waist to touch the floor and back up again. In only a couple of weeks, we have seen change, including some improvement with her school work.

Here is a video of Nina today, check out her balance just 11 days into the supplement and only half the recommended dose.


Join the CP Connection!


Make sure you at least visit the person that linked up before you and leave a comment on their blog.

Link back to this post so we are ALL connected. This is kind of a big deal. Other people are finding you because this is the gathering place, so make sure you return the favor by helping others find all the awesome blogs participating in the CP connection.

You can link with text or the graphic.


Adoption Rocks!

3 What are your thoughts?
I once was lost...
But now I am found.
Adoption Rocks!

It seems amazing that Nina has been in our family for almost three years! This journey has been difficult,  oh how I have cried and how I have loved! It has been worth it, all of it. Even the really hard parts of the journey, they have all been worth it.

This little girl is a joy!

If you are considering, or have considered adoption, I have a ton of posts here about adoption, so go check them out!

If you are interested in what the journey was like during the process, we kept an adoption blog. I don't update it anymore, but I remember being in the process and wanting to know so much more about the families going through the process. What was it like? 

Adoption is an emotional journey, no doubt about it! But did I mention it is worth it?

If you read my last post, you know I have pretty strong feelings about the church and the orphan crisis. But I also know there are some real reasons why people are not able to adopt, or that keep them from making the commitment. These are not excuses, these are real, significant reasons why people don't step forward.

So I want to help you, and in turn, you can help me!

What keeps people from adopting?

What do you wish you knew about adoption?

What do you think are misconceptions about adoption?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, and yes, adoption rocks!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Orphan Sunday

0 What are your thoughts?

This Sunday, November 4th, is Orphan Sunday. I am glad that there is at least one day dedicated to bring awareness of the orphan crisis within the church. However, shouldn't the church's response to the 210 million orphans expand beyond one Sunday?

Adoption should be a part of our churches. The church should respond and help families in the process of adoption, and not forget that the real hard work begins when the child comes home (not before). With the large number of churches, funding adoptions should not be an issue. And for the Christian families that live in comfort and are content with life, I often wonder, why not bring a hurting child into that wonderful family you have created (with God's help, after all HE is the one that provides for ALL our needs). I don't want this to be a "guilt" message, but there are too many indifferent Christians. Sure, we care, and we feel for the cause, but how many people actually ACT and do something about it?

If you can't adopt, then when was the last time you sent a check to a family struggling to fund their adoption? Did you think maybe you could skip the run to McDonald's, or wait for that new pair of jeans? Did you think maybe this Christmas your children didn't need several material things, but instead you could use the excess money and contribute to an adoption so that ONE child could have the gift of a FAMILY?

Your don't have to adopt, you can give...and you can pray. Is your heart burdened enough that you offer your prayers for the orphans? Are you on your knees asking God to raise up His people and rescue these children? Are you moved by the plight of the orphan? There are more than 210 million orphans in the world today, surely you can pray. Wake up church, we have a call! Yes, we are commanded to care for the orphan, are you doing your part?

Adoption is hard, really hard. It is an exhausting emotional journey and yes, at some point you might wonder if you made the wrong choice. But it does get better, and life resumes with a new normal. And then love grows, and there is joy, and there is an incredible thankfulness for this child you now call your very own. Seeing life through the eyes of a once-orphan child is a gift. It is life altering. Adoption is WORTH the sacrifice. Adoption is WORTH the trials. Adoption is WORTH the tears. Because adoption is God's heart, is it yours?

Get the word out, spread the message, act!

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