May 30, 2010


A commonly asked question among parents of children with limb differences is, "At what age did your child start to notice their difference and how did you handle it?" It is pretty much inevitable that at some point your child will come to you looking for answers.

I never really pictured it as being one distinct moment, but more of an awareness that develops over time, bit by bit.

There have been a few times when I noticed Gavin sort of inspecting his little arm very intently.

And really, how could he not notice, with all the times it has been pointed out to him by people asking questions and wanting to look at his arm or touch it. He obviously hears our explanations and children understand so much more than we give them credit for most of the time.

Anyways, tonight when we were getting him ready for bed he was looking at his little arm. He touched his little nubbins and then pointed to them and asked me, "This??"

I told him, "Ya. Those are your little fingers."

My mom came into the room and I told her what just happened. She told him, "Yes. Those are Gavin's!" and asked if she could give them a kiss. He held out his arm for a kiss from Gramma and it made me smile :)

I asked him, "Can you kiss it too?" and he gave his little arm a BIG kiss with smacking lips and everything! My mom and I laughed. It was SO cute. Of course, then he thought he was funny so he kissed his arm over and over and laughed with delight.

I know there are bound to be some tough moments as he gets older. I hope he doesn't struggle too much with his self-image. And I hope he will always be able to kiss his arm and laugh.

May 29, 2010


A very wise woman once tweeted,

"Live life with a joy that is uninfluenced by your circumstances."
- Oriana

OK, so that wise woman is my amazing friend, Oriana! But this quote recently helped me get through a very difficult day and I wanted to share it in case it could help someone else too.

This is not the first time Oriana has inspired me. She is such a beautiful, positive person. Just being around her, you can't help but smile. I love this girl and I know she is one of those incredible people who will make this earth a better place just by being here. That may seem corny but I promise you, its true!

By the way, she even taught Gavin how to blow kisses. Hows that for a claim to fame? Ha!

Here is a video of one of my favourites of her songs (and there are many!) I just love the message about what the world would be like if we judged people based on who they are inside, instead of what they look like on the outside.

"People would know what they're worth. That would be heaven on earth."

You can listen to more of her music on her website. And stay tuned for the upcoming release of her new album! (She doesn't pay me to say this stuff, I swear!)

May 24, 2010

Two Wolves

You may have heard this story before. It has a strong but simple message, and one that really speaks to me these days.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

May 20, 2010

A Mother's Child

A mother's child is every breath she takes,
walking hand in hand, he's every step she makes.

And as his steps will grow to strides,
still a child, in mother's eyes.

Every ache and pain he feels,
mother will share and with love will kneel.

She'll pray to God to take care of her child,
to protect and guide him through every mile.

Her child is the very core of her soul,
from baby in arms to a man he will grow.

But to a mother, her child will stay,
the precious gift she held that day.

~ author unknown

May 17, 2010

Empowering Amputees

I recently discovered an awesome social networking site for amputees and their family members. You have to fill out a bit of info about yourself in order to apply for membership. I just became a member today so haven't had much time to check everything out, but from what I see so far, it looks great! (think Facebook for amputees but with better privacy and more to offer!)

Come and join me! I need friends! ;)

Visit Empowering Amputees

May 15, 2010

The Crayon Box That Talked

While walking into a toy store the day before today
I overheard a crayon box with many things to say

"I don't like Red!" said Yellow and Green said "Nor do I"
"And no one here likes Orange but no one knows just why"

"We are a box of crayons that doesn't get along
Said Blue to all the others "Something here is wrong"

Well, I bought that box of crayons and took it home with me
And laid out all the colors so the crayons all could see

They watched me as I colored with Red and Blue and Green
And Black and White and Orange and every color in between

They watched as Green became the grass and Blue became the sky
The Yellow sun was shining bright on White clouds drifting by

Colors changing as they touched becoming something new
They watched me as I colored - they watched me till I was through

And when I finally finished I began to walk away
And as I did the crayon box had something more to say

"I do like Red!" said Yellow and Green said, "so do I"
And Blue you were terrific! So high up in the sky

"We are a box of crayons each one of us unique
But when we get together the picture is more complete"

by Shane DeRolf

May 14, 2010

Little Big Man

We went to our friends' Ken & Dayanna's wedding last Saturday and it was Gavin's first time in a shirt and tie! (clip-on that is)

I couldn't believe how grown up he looked! This was the night it really hit me that my little boy is growing up SO FAST!

At the reception, he was the first one to take to the dance floor! At one point I looked over and there were 2 little girls squatting around him, taking turns examining his little arm. He was examining them just as intently so I sat back and watched and resisted the urge to go over and say something.

After a few minutes they followed him over to me and told me, "He only has 1 hand!"
"Yes, I know!" I said :)
They wanted to know why and all the usual stuff. One of them put her left hand in a fist and said "His one hand is like THIS!" as she held it high in the air.

For the rest of the night they kept coming up to our table and asking for Gavin to chase them! They would squeal with delight as they ran in circles around the dance floor with my little guy chasing after them as fast as his little legs could carry him!

Here is our little flirt busting a move on the dance floor!

During dinner John told them that Gavin had to sit and eat now and he could play with them later. One of the girls said, "Its OK, I'll just wait here." And stood patiently beside his chair!

"OH no." I thought to myself, "Is this a preview of what is to come? Because I don't think I like it!"

May 12, 2010

Do you know what disabled means?

If you have time please check out this amazing speech by Aimee Mullens about disability and adversity. She is so empowering (and beautiful inside & out)!

She talks about the first time she looked up the word "disabled" in a thesaurus and all the horrible words she found such as "crippled, helpless, useless, wrecked, maimed, mangled, mutilated..."

Current definitions are not much better.

Disabled (adjective) blind, deaf, mute; halt, lame, paralyzed, quadriplegic, immobile, immobilized; ailing, diseased, ill, sick, unfit, unhealthy, unsound, unwell.

Hopefully you will think twice before giving a child that label.

The speech is about 20 minutes long so I realize most people won't watch it but here are some of my favourite quotes from Aimee:

"Its not just about the words. Its what we believe about people when we name them with these words. Its about the values behind the words and how we construct those values. Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world and how we view other people."

"Adversity isn't an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. Its part of our life. And I tend to think of it like my shadow. Sometimes I see a lot of it and sometimes there's very little. But its always with me."

"The question isn't whether or not you're going to meet adversity, but how you're going to meet it."

"Our responsibility is not simply shielding those we care for from adversity but preparing them to meet it well. And we do a disservice to our kids when we make them feel that they're not equipped to adapt."

"There's an important difference and distinction between the objective, medical fact of my being an amputee and the subjective, societal opinion of whether or not I'm disabled. And truthfully, the only real and consistent disability I've had to confront, is the world ever thinking that I could be described by those definitions."

"I think the only true disability is a crushed spirit...
If we can bolster human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we can truly be using our power well."

Just the two of us

Gabby stopped by for a visit today with her mom, Janelle and new baby sister, Olivia. It had been way too long since we last saw each other. We will be sure not to let that happen again!

These pictures were just too cute not to share! (Although it is virtually impossible to get a picture where one is not making a goofy face or looking away from the camera!)

I love these two more than words can express!!

They are such an awesome little duo! We are very blessed to have them in our lives :)

May 11, 2010

Have baby, Will travel

Last year, on May 6, 2009, John & I finally made it official (after 7 wonderful years together) in paradise (We stayed at the beautiful Riu in Ocho Rios, Jamaica).

I call it my "Heaven on Earth" because it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen in real life and I got to have my fairy tale wedding on the beach. It was simple, gorgeous and perfect. It was like a dream.

Not many can say they've been to Jamaica TWICE before the ago of TWO! Gavin is definitely a very lucky little guy! He was only 9 months old the first time and we weren't sure what to expect, traveling with a baby. But he LOVED it! If we had have known he would be so content, we definitely would have stayed for another week. He slept better than he ever did at home, he loved being in the water and was such a good little traveler.

We had such an amazing time that we wanted to go back for our one year anniversary (May 6, 2010). There was no where else we would rather be. We also really wanted to bring Gavin again before he turned two (while he still travels for free!)

We tried to find the most "economical" option and ended up getting a great deal for a week at Breezes in Trelawny, Jamiaca. It was not as nice as the Riu, but also about half the price and VERY kid friendly. Gavin had the time of his life. It was so much more fun with him being a year older and independent enough to be able to wade around in the pool, run along the beach and socialize with other children. He spent HOURS in the pool every day and would usually pass out for the night right after dinner!

Gavin learned lots of new words in Jamaica but my favourite is hearing him say, "YA MON!" I still laugh every single time.

I really recommend traveling with your children while they are young. Take full advantage of the "free before 2" thing! I know it can seem a bit overwhelming to travel with a baby but its really not! We had an incredible time and it was exactly what we needed. We had the greatest first anniversary :)


- In Canada they DO need their own passport and photo! You can download the forms HERE. Apply for it ASAP! It costs $22 for children under 3 and $37 for 3-15 year olds.

- Children who have been issued a passport when they were less than a year old get one free replacement passport. You still need to submit a new application and new photos etc.

- Click HERE for frequently asked questions.

- Since they are free, they don't get a seat on the plane. They will be sitting on your lap (this was a lot easier with a 9 month old than an almost 2 year old, but still manageable!)

- Request a seat close to the front of the plane so you can be one of the first to get off (you will get to board first anyway)

- Nursing is a bonus because with them on your lap already, it is easy to nurse them while the plane takes off and lands (sucking helps their ears not to pop) Bottles or soothers work too and I'm sure the flight attendant would be happy to warm a bottle for you. I have found them to be very helpful.

- DON'T OVER PACK! I know its hard! You don't need everything you own.

- They aren't allowed their own luggage (unless you want to pay extra) so you have no choice but to PACK LIGHT (However you CAN bring a diaper bag, a stroller, and a play pen...those don't count) If you bring a play pen you can stuff a few extra things into it before you put it in the bag! I recommend bringing a play pen your baby is comfortable sleeping in instead of requesting a crib for the room.

- Make sure that if you need to bring any liquids, aerosols or gels in your carry-on that they are in small amounts! We had to leave a bottle of sunscreen and a tube of toothpaste at the screening checkpoint because they were over 100 ml. HERE is a great Canadian site for info on permitted/non-permitted items.

- If you are traveling with an infant under 2 years old, you can bring formula, baby food, milk or juice in your carry-on in containers over 100 ml (More info HERE).

- Figure out how many diapers you will need per day and remember that they will probably be in swim diapers most of the time (At least you won't have the diapers on the way back so you will have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs)

- Washable swim diapers are awesome and take up a lot less room. We usually travel with 3 and rinse them out and hang them to dry on the balcony.

- Limit the toys. We stick to a few small books and a bag of crayons and paper in the carry on and a few small sand toys in the suitcase. You don't have much room on the plane and don't want to be lugging around a bulky stuffed animal or toy.

- Bring a sun hat with a chin strap so it can't blow off or be pulled off

- Pack the necessities in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost

- Bring a familiar item, like a stuffed animal or blanky to make it easier to fall asleep in a strange place

- Don't forget baby and adult sunscreen and bug spray and some medicine cabinet items in case baby gets sick (thermometer, pain relief, etc.)

- baby carriers are perfect for busy airports and day trips. Preferably one that's light & breathable and comfortable to wear for long periods.

- We also bring a large "wet bag" (like this one). We just hang it on a doorknob in the hotel room and can easily put all our wet or dirty clothes in there. Its easy to throw in the suitcase at the end of the week and throw in the laundry when you get home.

- bring a cheap, portable stroller that you will not be upset if it gets damaged. Preferably one that reclines so baby can sleep comfortably in it. Bonus if it has a sun shade and somewhere to stash your room key. Triple bonus points if it has a cup holder! ;) The stroller will be the last thing you check, right before you get on the plane.

- We brought teething toys and kept them in the fridge in our room to help him cool off. We also brought a sippy cup that we would fill with water and keep in the fridge. In Jamaica the drinking water is great so there were no worries there, but obviously you would want to make sure first or use bottled water. Bring a few snack sized bags of Cheerios, crackers or something for long bus rides from the airport to the resort. Sometimes we would bring a banana from the buffet to save for him for later but avoid bringing food back to the room because you will attract a lot of bugs.

- If they're eating solids you will be able to find lots of suitable things for them to eat from the buffet - fruits, breads, cereal, etc. You might want to introduce certain foods before you go to rule out allergies (for example, we made sure he was OK with mangoes before we went the first time)

- Breastfeeding is a bonus because you don't have to worry about cleaning bottles or heating them. Its always ready to go and the perfect temperature! ;)

- Request a room with a balcony that faces the stage if you want to be able to enjoy the night life from your balcony while your little one is sleeping in the room. Or you might prefer a nice quiet view to be able to relax and not hear the noise of the resort.

- Don't stress. Just go with a positive attitude and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!