August 31, 2011

Starting School

Summer is winding down and it has been a great one! Lots of little ones are starting school soon. Thankfully that won't be Gavin until next year. I'm not quite ready to have my baby start kindergarten yet! But I'm sure it will be here before we know it.

Little Miss Gabby starts school this year though and its pretty exciting! :)

I know there are some valid concerns and worries about sending your child off to school! And when he or she is missing a hand or has some other type of limb difference the worries and anxiety skyrocket, as you wonder how the other children will react, imagine them saying mean things and pointing and how your child will handle it, etc. etc.

I know this is a source of stress for many parents. So I want to share some really helpful suggestions and info put together by Jordan's mom, Jen, of Born Just Right.

I just love this idea of making a little book about your child to share with the other children. Check out Jordan's Kindergarten Book! Very well done :)

Here is also a template for a letter you can personalize. It is directed to the parents of your child's classmates to give them a bit of background info and help them answer questions their children might have about limb differences.
Generic Letter to Parents.

I hope you find these helpful. Thanks so much Jen for these fantastic resources!

Also, if you don't have one already, be sure to request a "Starting School Kit" from CHAMP! There is lots of great info in there too!

If you are looking for books about limb differences, check out my book list! You could always ask the teacher to incorporate some of these books into circle time, or even arrange to come in with your child to talk about how we are all different, read a related book and allow the children to ask questions. This can be really helpful for everyone! CHAMP is really awesome about having someone come in to do a presentation with your child if that is something you would like to do!

Good luck to all our friends starting school this year!

August 24, 2011

Filmpossible Finalists!!

We want to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been supporting Gavin & Gabby's filmpossible entries! Thank you to everyone who took the time out of your busy or even lazy day to vote over the summer! Cisco Canada donated $1 per vote up to $10,000 in round one so you guys helped raise a lot of money for Holland Bloorview and help bring a lot of visibility to disability :)

We have some pretty exciting news....the finalists were announced today and their video "I CAN BE ME!" by Jen Warman and photo "LUCKY FIN LOVE" by Annya Miller both made it to the finals!!!!

Now there is only ONE WEEK of public voting to determine the winners. You can vote for both entries once a day (open August 24 - August 31, 2011). Winners are determined based on the highest number of public votes in Round Two. Now we need your support more than ever! So please spread the word and show your support.

Thanks again! Lucky fin love to all!

Please vote for "I CAN BE ME! by GAVINandGABBY
Gavin and Gabby are two friends who were born with congenital limb differences, but despite what many other kids might think at first, they can do EVERYTHING other 3 year olds can do..and more!!

Please vote for LUCKY FIN LOVE!
Gavin and Gabby showing off their little fingers (Gabby calls them "pinky fingers" and Gavin calls them "baby fingers") and Lucky Fin bracelets! Left hands are SO overrated ;) © Annya Miller Photography 2011

filmpossible Video and Photo Contest

August 15, 2011

Lucky Fin Bracelet Giveaway!

This is one of the awesome pictures taken by Annya Miller during Gavin and Gabby's recent photo shoot! We think it looks like they are shaking hands :)

If you don't have your own lucky fin bracelet here is a perfect opportunity for you to WIN one! Just head on over to Born Just Right and leave a comment and you will be entered in a random draw to win one of five lucky fin bracelets! Make sure you do it by August 23 and the winners will be chosen at 8pm central time!

August 8, 2011


"There's no other love like the love for a brother.
There's no other love like the love from a brother."

- Astrid Alauda

August 6, 2011

1000 reasons to smile

"When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile."

- unknown

August 5, 2011

Curious George helper arm

I have been going through ALLLLL the pictures on our computer in the past few days. I'm trying to save them on discs so I can delete most of them off the computer.

Anyways, I came across these cute pictures of Gavin when he was a year old wearing his second prosthetic arm. His Curious George arm, which he rarely wore so I'm glad I have a few pictures.

Here he is at 14 months old driving his ride-on toy on the driveway

When it got colder, we tried putting a mitten over it. Not that it needed a mitten! :P

Here he is at 16 months playing the drums. I used the drums as an incentive for him to want to wear it but it didn't work.

He would always pull it off shortly after. He always wanted to hold the drum stick with his little arm instead! This picture makes me laugh because it pretty much sums up how he felt about this piece of plastic! "Get it off me!"

August 4, 2011

When you smile, the whole world smiles with you

The filmpossible contest is in full swing and there have been lots of new entries submitted in the past few days! If you are going to submit a photo or video, make sure you do it before August 12!

Last year Gavin's video was the only submission of a child with a limb difference. This year there are several and I couldn't be happier about it. When we all come together like this, our message is so much louder and more powerful. We can reach out and educate so many people who may have never met a child with a limb difference before. We are also helping to empower our kids and advocate for them in a really fun way!

I just have to share these awesome photos with you! Remember you can vote on as many entries per day as you want :)

I absolutely LOVE this photo of Jaclyn! She clearly has a great sense of humour :)
When you're smiling...

I also LOVE this beautiful picture of Claire and her new dragonfly friend!
Claire and dragonfly on the beach

Please take a minute to check out these pictures and some of the other inspiring entries. It always makes me smile :)

August 3, 2011

Shifting focus from disability to possibility

Check out this article by Ann Douglas in today's Toronto Star! She interviewed several parents (including me!!) about bringing visibility to disability, tying in to the theme of the filmpossible contest.

Parents shift focus from disability to possibility

I will copy and paste the article just in case the link gets removed eventually.

Douglas: Parents shift focus from disability to possibility
August 3, 2011

Ann Douglas

When Andrea McDowell was seven months pregnant, the baby she was carrying was diagnosed with dwarfism.

“Initially, I was more or less terrified because no one could explain to me what the diagnosis meant,” the Hamilton mother of one recalls. “And, at this stage, the only thing you know about your kid is what is potentially wrong with them. You don’t yet know who they are as a person.”

Sharon Aschaiek, a Toronto mother of one and disability advocate ( whose 5-year-old son Jaden was diagnosed with autism at the age of two-and-a-half, remembers the sense of urgency she felt at the time: how her worry about his future made it difficult for her to relax and enjoy her son.

“You can get too caught up in the future. I had to learn to relate to Jaden in the moment — to really be there in the moment, too. Instead of worrying about the future, I had to realize that I was shaping that future right now.”

Once she made that shift in perspective, she experienced less anxiety and more joy. “What you see is what you get with Jaden. His love is unfiltered. I feel lucky to be raising him. He is a really special child.”

Aschaiek was wise to let go of the need to control a situation that is often out of the parent’s control, says Amy Baskin, mother of two, a volunteer and advocate in the special-needs world, and co-author of More Than A Mom: Living a Full and Balanced Life When Your Child Has Special Needs (

Advocate, yes, she advises, but don’t let your child’s disability become the focus of your relationship. “Hang out and do the fun kid stuff. Tune into your child and recognize your child’s unique personality, strengths and talents. Create a village around your child. And connect with other parents who are in the same boat.” According to Baskin, you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding other families in a similar situation: One in five families has a child who has special needs.

Tapping into support from others who truly understand can change everything. Peterborough mother of two Linda Viscardis remembers hearing Northwestern University communications professor John McKnight speak 22 years ago about the value that people with disabilities bring to the world. “That speech changed my life,” she recalls.

At the time, Viscardis was hungry for inspiration. Her eldest child, Laura, then 5, had been diagnosed with a chromosomal abnormality during her first year of life — and had almost died on a couple of occasions. The combined pressures of taking Laura to speech, physio and occupational therapy and caring for a new baby had taken a toll on her. She had experienced a major depression the previous year.

What McKnight said changed everything for Linda and for Laura.

“He talked about the importance of creating strong, healthy communities — how every single person in the community has strengths and gifts and the capacity to contribute. We changed the expectations we placed on Laura and that in turn changed the expectations she placed on herself. Today, at age 27, she lives in her own apartment, works part-time and volunteers at a seniors’ residence. She’s more computer literate than I am and she has a large circle of friends. She has surpassed every single expectation we have ever had for her.”

Toronto mother Megan Daley feels that making disabilities more visible is a crucial first step to changing attitudes and expectations. (Her son Gavin’s left arm didn’t fully develop in utero, so his arm ends at the elbow.) To encourage people to focus on what Gavin, now 3, can do rather than what he can’t, Daley is participating in filmpossible (a contest organized by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto in an effort to “bring visibility to disability”) for the second year in a row. (Note: For information about this year’s filmpossible contest, which now features photography, please visit

Last year’s video — titled His Abilities — focused on a day in the life of Gavin, who was then 2. “We like to show people what he is capable of,” explains Daley. This year’s entry — titled I Can Be Me — features Gavin and his friend Gabby, who has the same type of amputation as Gavin. (The aim of this year’s entry, according to Daley, is to show other young children that kids with amputations are just kids.)

The first few years after a child’s disability is diagnosed are really difficult, say parents who have been there. As time goes on, you are able to focus less on the disability and more on the child.

As Andrea McDowell, whose daughter, Frances, is now 7-1/2 puts it: “Now she’s just Frances and she’s fabulous and we have a wonderful life together.”

Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (Wiley Canada, 2nd Canadian Edition, June 2011) You can find all of her columns on the Star’s parenting website,