February 28, 2010

Born Just Right

When I was pregnant with Gavin, I came across Jordan's blog, "Born Just Right." I just wanted to share this with you because she is really an extraordinary little girl and her blog inspired me to start my own for Gavin.

During my pregnancy, I went through a lot of different emotions when we learned about Gavin's arm and it really helped me a lot to read about Jordan's adventures, see her pictures (She is SOOO adorable!!!) and videos of her in action.

I especially love THIS recent post about how she figured out how to use a knife & fork on her own!

Gavin is really into pretending to cook in his play kitchen. He recently became very interested in using the little plastic utensils to "cut" the plastic food. He concentrates very intently while he rests one of them on the end of his little arm and then holds the other in his right hand and scrapes it back & forth over the food.

They really do figure everything out.

February 24, 2010

Lather, Rinse, REPEAT

Most of the time I have to say I'm VERY patient with children asking questions about Gavin's arm. But sometimes I just don't feel like saying it AGAIN.

This week my sister & I took Gavin to Funnelz (an indoor playground for kids). He was having a blast running, climbing and sliding! At one point, a little girl noticed his arm and asked me "Why is it cut off?" I gave the usual explanation but she was really interested and wanted to stand and stare and ask more questions. We just wanted to play and I didn't feel like talking about it anymore.

She was getting annoying and my sister joked that we should have just told her that his arm fell off and hers will fall off too one day. Ha! Don't worry, we would never actually say that but it made us laugh!

Then today we were at the Early Years Center and another little girl asked me why he lost his hand. I explained it to her and she kept saying, "That's funny!" and laughing and pointing it out to other people. She told me, "He can't even colour or do anything with that!" I started to tell her that actually, he can do pretty much everything with it but I was getting annoyed and didn't have the energy to explain it to her again. Gavin & I just walked away and went to play in the other room. Thankfully one of the staff (who is really great by the way!) had a good talk with her and helped her understand a bit better and she ended up coming over and apologizing for making fun of him.

I'm usually very patient and don't mind talking to kids about it. I know how curious they are and most of the time I find their honesty amusing. But sometimes I just don't feel like teaching a life lesson every single time I get asked about it. Sometimes I wish I had a little tape recorder so I could just press "play" and have them listen to my little speal. Sometimes we just want to continue with what we're doing and not be interrupted to answer the same questions over & over. Sometimes we just want to be left alone!

(By the way, it really annoys me when parents try to ignore the situation and pretend they don't see whats going on! Feel free to step in and rescue me from your kid's stream of endless questions! Also feel free to step in if you see your child following us around like the paparazzi!)

Its nice to have people in our life who can take over with the questions sometimes when we're just too tired to be bothered. I hope Gavin will have supportive friends who can do that for him and be there to set a good example for other kids.

I wonder how he will handle all this when he gets older. At this stage he doesn't seem to mind. In fact, I think he even enjoys the extra attention and will usually just hold out his arm to be examined. But I wonder if he will learn to accept that answering questions is a part of going places and meeting new people or if it will it bother him to always have to repeat himself and have people point out that he is different? How will he handle negative comments? Will he get his feelings hurt easily or will he be so used to it that it doesn't phase him? These are the things I wonder about...

February 22, 2010

Talking in circles

Don't mind me, I'm just venting...

OK so I ended up calling Gav's modeling agent today. I just wanted to ask her what the clients had said and what their concerns were (you know, the ones that get scared when they learn he has 1 hand.)

I ended up quite unsatisfied with our conversation. I wasn't upset or trying to blame her. I just wanted to know more about what clients said when they decided not to use him because of his arm. Maybe they had concerns that I could address. But she said that no client has said anything about his arm because there has been no interest in him since he has been the wrong clothing size until now. I was so confused why she made that comment (Direct quote: "I understand, he is so cute, however once clients realize that he has one hand, they get a little scared.") in her email if that was not the case. I did not appreciate being told that I was "taking it too personally" and "reading too much into it." Um, no, I'm not taking it personally or reading too much into it. I'm just wondering why you said that clients get scared when they learn my son has 1 hand. She never really gave me a straight answer.

She brought up how she is the only agency in Canada that has special needs children. (Although Gavin is not in the special needs section.) She also brought up that they have another little girl who has 1 hand. I said, yes, I know and Gabrielle hasn't been booked at all, has she? Then she started talking about Gabby's profile being out of date and how she was the wrong size.

So is it that they are the wrong size or that they have 1 hand?

I asked her if she tries to advocate for Gavin. I don't remember exactly what she said but I think she started talking about advocating for all the special needs children.

She said that she is obligated to tell clients about his arm because if he shows up and they're unable to use him, she will be held responsible. She gave me an example of what if they wanted him to hold onto something or push a stroller or something. I said that he is more than capable of pushing a stroller, holding onto things, and doing anything else. I also brought up that he has a prosthetic arm he can wear if they need him to. She said, "OK, I will keep that in mind." She is already aware that he has a prosthetic arm so I'm not sure how that changes anything...

I think my questions made her uncomfortable because she seemed to be getting defensive and I felt like she was rushing me off the phone. Overall, not impressed.

John thinks we should try to find someone else to represent Gavin. I don't know. I'm hoping now that Gavin is size 18 months, which is the size they book the most for catalogues and flyers, and now that I have brought some things to her attention, that maybe she will advocate for him more. We will see.

Whether he models or not is not a big deal to us. It is more a matter of principle. Why should he not be given the opportunity when he would be great at it? He is very photogenic and loves being in front of a camera.

I'm the type of person who when someone tells me I can't do something, it makes me even more determined to prove that I can. This is how I feel about this situation. I want to show Gavin that when someone tells him he can't do something that he KEEPS trying until he finds a way.

February 20, 2010

1 hand is better than 2

Janelle & I sometimes like to joke about the benefits to having a child with one hand. Here are a few we have thought of:

- When your baby is trying to grab something they're not supposed to, you can just transfer him/her to your other side
- Less finger nails to trim
- Less hand prints on the windows and mirrors
- It doesn't matter as much if they lose a mitten. You can just use the other one. (I suggest buying pairs that don't have a designated left or right so it doesn't matter which hand they wear it on)
- Can't get into jars/bottles/containers/ziploc bags as easily (enjoy it while it lasts because they'll figure it out eventually!)
- Only one hand that interferes with nursing, particularly as a newborn
- Less chance of slamming your fingers in a door or drawer!
- Less chance of getting called for "hand ball" during soccer!
- Meeting lots of cool people!

Please let me know if you can think of any others!

Cloth is cool!

So although the modeling world has proven to be quite superficial so far (surprise, surprise!), there are still some people who aren't 'scared' to show children with limb differences modeling their products.

One example I can give you is goodmama diapers.

A lot of people thought we were crazy for wanting to use cloth diapers on our baby but I knew a few people who did it and it didn't seem like the horror story that people make it out to be. Every time someone doubted that I would be able to stick with it, it made me that much more determined to do it.

Being new to cloth diapers, it can be a little overwhelming at first. There are so many different kinds (pockets, fitteds, all-in-ones, prefolds...) and then there are a million different brands as well. We ended up trying out several kinds during Gavin's first few months, trying to decide which ones were the best fit for him and which type we preferred using. I fell in love with the goodmama brand. (How do you fall in love with cloth diapers? Goodmamas are so soft, fit perfectly, I love that they are one-size, and I especially love all the cute colours and prints!) An added bonus was the weekly photo contest they used to have, which I entered Gavin into several times in hopes of winning a free diaper.

Here are the shots that graced their website. I was so proud each & every time!

4 months old

8 months old

9 months old

10 months old

I had a lot of fun with all our little photo shoots while it lasted and ended up with a lot of great pictures!

February 18, 2010


Has anyone heard of the kids show "Maya and Miguel" on PBS? I recently stumbled across a link about this show. It is produced by Scholastic and incorporates Spanish into the episodes. One of the characters, Andy, is an RBE (right below elbow) amputee!

There is an episode called, "When Maya met Andy" that is included in their "Funny Fix-Ups" DVD. I bought a used copy on amazon and was eagerly awaiting its arrival! I received it a few days ago and am very pleased that I bought it.

In this episode, Andy moves to the neighbourhood and all the kids are shocked when they first see that he is missing part of his arm but Andy jokes around saying, "Someone lost an arm? Where? Where'd it go??" Maya wants to make sure Andy feels included in everything they do but she becomes overly sensitive to Andy's feelings, assuming that he is unable to do most things. She tries to stop her brother from playing sports because she assumes that Andy won't be able to participate and would feel left out. It turns out that Andy was on his baseball team on his old school and is a great basketball player too. In the end, Maya learns that true sensitivity means treating others as equals.

CLICK HERE for a printable colouring sheet of Andy! I don't know how big of a role Andy plays on the show because I haven't watched any of the other episodes yet, but whoever had the idea for this character gets an A+ in my books!

February 17, 2010

What are they scared of?

Gavin's modeling agency recently emailed me asking me for updated pictures and measurements. I sent them and made a comment that he has only had 1 booking since he has been with them (about a year).

I got this response, "I understand, he is so cute, however once clients realize that he has one hand, they get a little scared."

I'm not sure how to handle this. There were a lot of things I wanted to say out of anger but I didn't. I asked "What are they scared of?"and she responded with, "my thoughts exactly, I try to get them to book my children with Downs Syndrome as well. Now that Gavin is the size that they need, hopefully they will book him."

How would you handle this?

I don't know if there is any point of him doing this anymore but I also feel that we should keep him enrolled so that hopefully someone will eventually book him and not be afraid to show off his difference. Lets be honest, you never see kids with limb differences in catalogues, magazines, commercials, etc. Once in a while you will see a child in a wheel chair or with another type of disability. But if we withdraw him I feel like we're just giving in and accepting that children with limb differences will never be able to model.

We already had a negative experience where his agent called and asked if Gavin could do a photoshoot with Zellers. I said "sure" and asked if they knew about his arm. I should have just kept my mouth shut. I don't know why I asked. But she said she would call me right back and then told me that it was a short-sleeved shirt he would be wearing so Zellers decided to pass on Gavin for now.

I was really upset about that. Not that he missed out on being in their flyer. But because its unfair that they rejected him based on his arm. He would have been the cutest kid in the flyer! ;)

Looking back I wish I had have followed up with Zellers and called them on their discrimination. But I just let it go. Now I feel that its our responsibility to advocate for Gavin and prove that there is nothing scary about showing someone who is different.

February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Gavin recently had a Valentine's themed photo shoot with our dear friend Annya, of Annya Miller Photography. She really does an incredible job and Gavin loves her. We all do. Just the other day John said to me, "I love Annya. Is it wrong for me to say that about another woman? I don't care. I love Annya." Haha! Yes, I know John. Its OK, I love her too!

I am soooo in love with these photos, I couldn't resist sharing some with you.

Take time to stop & smell the roses this Valentine's Day!

Our little Romeo!

Blowing kisses! xoxo

Wishing you all a very sweet Valentine's Day!

Love, Gavin

February 9, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Gavin LOVES music. He especially loves songs with actions. His favourites are:
- If you're happy and you know it
- The wheels on the bus
- The itsy bitsy spider
- Head & shoulders, knees & toes
- Row, row, row your boat
- Roly poly

He has the Fisher-Price puppy that sings songs and says stuff. He is constantly pushing its nose to hear the itsy bitsy spider. Over and over and OVER!

So what are some other good kids songs with actions? We need to add some new ones to the rotation!

February 7, 2010

How to tie your shoes with 1 hand

Last time I wrote about wondering how Gavin would learn to tie his shoes with one hand. Here is our answer my friends!

Renee left me this comment on my last post:
My husband taught himself to tie his shoes with one hand. He has both hands, but he wanted to see if he could do it. Our son was born without his left forearm and hand, but he's only four months old so he's not even wearing shoes yet. But, hopefully, my husband can show him how he did it.
I guess one thing I wonder about is how he'd do in gymnastics. My other two children are taking classes. I wonder if he'd just not do some of the things as the other children.

I think thats so awesome that your husband did that! You should take a video!
As for gymnastics, I bet he would be able to use his arm to do a lot of things, even if its not the same way the other kids do it. Makes me want to put Gavin in gymnastics to see what he comes up with!

I couldn't find any good videos of arm amputees doing gymastics. But this guy has a prosthetic leg and look at him go!! (don't mind the music)

I also came across this quote which I think is pretty funny!

How does a high-schooler with one arm compete in gymnastics?
Simple: He does the one-armed vault. Turns out you get two-tenths of an extra point doing the vault single-handed as opposed to two-handed, “which is funny, because that’s all I could do anyway,” says Drew Borske, assistant sales manager at Midland Medical in Lincoln, Neb.

February 5, 2010


Every once in a while I will think of a specific task and wonder how Gavin will be able to master it. Usually I will bring it up to Lisa, his occupational therapist and she will give me examples of ways he could do it. It is very reassuring to know that if there is ever a skill or task that Gavin is struggling with, we can make an appointment with Lisa and she will work with him to help him achieve it.

I was just sitting here and wondering how he will be able to learn to tie his shoes. To me it seems nearly impossible to do with one hand.

If you have a child with a limb difference, what is something you worry that they will struggle with? And if you don't have a child with a limb difference, try to think of something that you think could be a potential challenge for Gavin.

Try to think of at least 1 thing!

February 2, 2010

Our Little Helper

Gavin loves to do the same things that Mommy & Daddy do! I decided to post some pictures to show you some of his favourite ways of "helping"!

For a long time he has enjoyed helping himself to the drawer of kitchen utensils. The rolling pin has always been a favourite of his! He's given it so much more attention than I ever have!

But he is especially obsessed with sweeping!!

Here he is with the broom and Swiffer combo.

He also loves to wear the oven mitts!

He even attempts to sweep while wearing them!

And he likes to help Mommy put the diapers away. He even pushes the basket all the way down the hall for me (very proudly!)
Here he is "helping" me sort and fold them.

But his very favourite thing EVER is to scratch on the turntables!!

We are SO lucky to have such an amazing little helper!

Righty tighty, lefty loosey

After Christmas we ended up with a lot of empty containers and tins. We try to recycle what we can but I also didn't want a bunch of containers lying around that weren't being used.

Well, after Christmas we also had toys spread all over the house. Gavin had so many new cars and vehicles and toys with different pieces. It was great, he was loving it! But I was not loving picking everything up off the floor at the end of the day.

So can you see where I'm going with this? I decided to organize Gavin's smaller toys (that we were constantly stepping on!) into the containers. Exciting, right? It was for me, who loves to organize!

All the random Happy Meal toys (those are usually the worst to step on!) went into a big empty ice cream tub. His little cars got put into the smaller ice cream container. Plastic animals into the big Boy Scouts Caramel Corn tin. The Little People into an empty dark chocolate wafer sticks tin (Ohh how I wish THAT one was refillable with its original contents!!). And finally, stickers in the red plastic wine gums container

His room instantly became much more oganized and easier to clean because he is less likely to have everything out at the same time. (I say less likely because it still does happen of course!) But he enjoys opening the containers and taking things out and then putting them back in and closing the lid! (He is still at that age where this is entertaining).

Using all these different containers has really helped him because he has had lots of practise with opening/closing the lids. Some snap on and off, some you can just pull off, some you have to twist (he needs help with those). But I've realized that this is a great exercise for young children with arm differences!

Gavin has it down pat by holding the container in the crook (is that a word?) of his left arm. He squeezes it tight with his arm and then untwists the lid with his right hand. Works like a charm. That seems to be the norm for people with amputations below the elbow. Above the elbow is a lot more challenging. But that's the great thing about practising! No matter how hard they may find it at first, they will get better.

Now I challenge you to try to open a jar or container with one hand and then comment with how you did! Feel free to use Gavin's method!