March 31, 2012

Gavin's Dream Come True

Last Saturday was the big day. The day Gavin had been waiting for! The day to MEET JAMES REIMER!

He was supposed to spend the day resting up for a late night.

But instead he spent the day getting pumped up for the big game!

There was so much anticipation in the weeks leading up to March 26, and then when the day finally arrived he had to wait until after dinner... And when it was finally time to leave, he had to wait for traffic... And then when we finally got there we had to wait for our tickets...

In reality, we didn't wait long at all. It all unfolded pretty quickly actually! But for a three and a half year old, it must have felt like an eternity.

I really wish Gavin could write about this day in his own words. It was his day. His dream come true. But I will do my best to tell his story. And I will let the pictures say the rest.

Gavin & I arrived at the Air Canada Centre in our blue & white, full of excitement!

I wish I could have captured the look of pure awe on his face as he walked up the stairs and entered the arena for the first time.

We found our seats and before long I saw the beautiful Mrs. Reimer coming towards us with a bag in her hand. She greeted Gavin with a "hey handsome!" and a big smile. She was so incredibly friendly and generous. I can't even thank April enough for everything she did to make Gavin's dream come true. She totally went above and beyond for him.

The bag in her hand was full of gifts! Including a real James Reimer #34 Leafs jersey for Gavin! And a James Reimer mini goalie stick! And even a Reimer shirt for me! As well as some pictures of James to get autographed after the game!!

Gavin was right into the game. He was the loudest fan in our section, yelling, "GO LEAFS GO! GO LEAFS GO!" and clapping and cheering. He was soaking up every detail, right down to the guys who come out with shovels to clear the ice.

With his new jersey and goalie stick he felt more like Reimer than ever!

After the first period, April came back with snacks and drinks! (She really is the sweetest ever.) Gavin was enjoying the M&Ms but instead of polishing off the bag, he told me he wanted to share them with James Reimer. (Gavin sharing candy?? Wow, he must really love the guy!)

It was a close game and it had us on the edge of our seats cheering on our Leafs! After going into overtime and then shoot out, we ended up losing, but it didn't even matter. It was time to meet James Reimer and despite how late it was, Gavin had more energy than ever!

April can attest to that! She brought us to the wives and family lounge where she kicked off her heels and took shots on Gavin until he was so hot and sweaty that he started stripping down to his undershirt. I guess you could say that he made himself right at home!

But there was more waiting in store for Gavin, because James still had to work out after the game, shower, and do whatever else it is that guys do after a hockey game.

Finally, April announced that she saw James walking down the hall. Gavin instantly ran out of the room and met James with a giant bear hug. James is so tall that Gavin had his arms wrapped around his legs and then barely even give him a chance to come in the room or introduce himself before passing him a stick and asking him to play hockey.

Gavin had been asking us for weeks if he would be able to take shots on James Reimer. We kept telling him we didn't think so. But there he was, right in front of me, doing exactly that. It was pretty surreal.

I can say nothing but wonderful things about Mr. & Mrs. Reimer! They treated Gavin so incredibly well and really made him feel special. Gavin gave James his half-eaten bag of M&Ms (just what he always wanted, I'm sure!) as well as a pair of custom Lucky Fin Bracelets in blue and white for the lovely couple.

Soon it was time to say goodbye but not before James presented Gavin with one of his actual game sticks to take home!!!! It has puck marks and everything!

As we finally started making our way out of the ACC, Gavin's legs gave out on the stairs and he had to be carried to the car. He was soon fast asleep and didn't even wake up when I brought him inside, took off his Reimer jersey and tucked him in. I watched him sleeping for a few seconds and I had a pretty good idea of what he was dreaming about. But this time it wasn't just a dream. It really did come true.

So I just want to say, "God bless you too, James & April Reimer! Thank you for making my little boy's dream come true!! We will never forget it!"

March 21, 2012

Dreams Do Come True

Remember my recent post about Gavin's dream to meet James Reimer? (James Reimer's #1 Fan)

I am SURE glad I wrote it! Because it just so happens that I posted a link to it on twitter and guess who stumbled upon it?

JAMES REMER'S WIFE!!!!! A lovely lady by the name of April Reimer. She sent me a tweet that she read my blog post and would like to send something to Gavin.

Twitter really does have a purpose after all! ;)

We just thought it was the coolest thing! Gavin was so excited to see if he would get another package in the mail.

A few days later I got an email from April asking if we could do her a favour and meet her at the ACC on March 24 so she could give Gavin the stuff in person!

THEN she offered up her seats to the Leafs game!!!

AND THEN, as if that wasn't enough, she went one step further and offered for Gavin to MEET JAMES REIMER after the game!!!!!

When I read the email and realized that Gavin's dream was actually going to come true, I was literally running up and down the hall, laughing, yelling and basically acting like a crazy person.

I couldn't wait to tell Gavin the news. He was so overwhelmed that he was speechless! He fell back on his bed and stared up at the ceiling for several seconds while the words sunk in.

Its really amazing how it all unfolded. And it just proves that you never know what can happen unless you try!

There are only three more sleeps until the big game and Gavin is PUMPED! His passion for the Leafs is at full throttle. The other day I heard him say, "I'm not Gavin. I'm James Reimer. You can call me James if you want to. But I'm James Reimer."

March 19, 2012

A Beautiful Poem

by Kris Heims

God looked down, another child complete,
A smile so perfect, a temper so sweet.
But baby looked and some parts were gone,
Did God mess up and make me wrong?

God just looked at this perfect child,
He explained Himself as He just smiled.
"If I'd taken time to make that part,
you wouldn't be such a work of art."

I would not have had time to make that smile,
To list your talents would last a mile.
Your sense of humor, that belly laugh,
Where are these parts, you have to ask?

You are so lucky, these gifts of gold,
Those missing parts are mine to hold.
Forever they'll be, close to my heart,
So as you live, we are never apart.

Each time I move, you'll be on my mind,
You special child, you are quite the find!
So do not miss that part, you see,
It will always be safe and sound with me.

March 11, 2012

How to Open a Candy With One Hand

Yesterday we went and enjoyed ourselves at Olivia's 2nd Birthday Party. When we came home the kids went straight to bed, they were nice and tired from all the fun! Then this morning Gavin discovered two treat bags on the counter. Candies after breakfast? Sure, why not? But only if you share the Starbursts with Mommy. ;)

Usually he would ask me to open the candy for him but this time he didn't want me to do it. In fact, when I opened one for him he didn't want THAT one. He wanted a new one so HE could open it.

And so he worked on that candy for a little bit but candy is a pretty good motivator! He was ripping into them in no time and it seemed like a good idea for a How-To video.

Gavin loves to watch Ryan's How-To videos from "Doin' things one-handed! BING!" His favourites are "the one where he bites the fruit" and "the one where he makes a snowball".

Gavin doesn't like me to videotape him much but since it was for Ryan ("bing!") he smiled and said we should.

He started talking before I started recording but he was trying to say "How to open candy!" Its a very important skill to have, especially with Easter coming up.

The problem with this video is that it keeps making me want more Starbursts and we already ate them all!

March 8, 2012

Books About Limb Differences!

I originally posted this list of books in 2010 and have received a lot of great feedback since then. I have updated it with some wonderful new books! Please let me know if there are any others I have missed.
Unfortunately some of these books are now hard to find. If anyone knows where to find available copies of "For the Love of Jody" please comment and let us know. I love hearing your feedback since we do not own ALL of these books. Which one is your family's favourite?
Thank you to the all the people who have commented as well as to the following resources for helping me compile this list:
"Resources to Help Children Understand Limb Loss", I-CAN Book Club and Limb Differences: Recommended Reading.
"Reading encourages children’s imaginations to grow, and opens their world to new people, places and possibilities. Reading books about difficult concepts, such as limb difference, is a safe and familiar way to introduce children to the topic.
These books can help a child with limb difference have greater self-esteem and identify with characters that “look like me” or are “different like me.” Children can find encouragement to talk about their limb difference openly and answer questions from friends. Some books even help explain how to be fitted for a prosthesis. They can also be useful for easing fears that children often have about upcoming medical procedures or recovery for themselves, their friends or an adult in their life.
While each of these books is different, a shared theme is that people with limb loss are still just people and have a lot in common with others.
Some adults with limb loss visit classrooms and libraries for story time to help children learn about living with a disability, and what it is like to be an amputee. This is an opportunity to teach acceptance and to reinforce the old adage that “different is not bad.” Books often get kids talking and asking questions."
- Molly Moore, NLLIC Librarian

"The Gift of Grace" - Grace Mary McClelland
Grace was born with little fingers and she was inspired to write this book by a bully when she was 5 years old. She wanted to help people understand about her "special hand". Grace has a wonderful message that we are all "wonderfully-made". Also talks about her surgery which involved removing bones from her toes to make fingers.
"Make a difference" Written by Ty and his mom, this book's goal is to raise awareness of children with limb anomalies and to celebrate everyone’s differences. A wonderful story about a little boy whose physical difference is not a disability but merely an outstanding characteristic. It teaches children that THEY can make a difference in the world, simply by treating others with respect and by simply giving a smile.
"The Tree With No Limbs" - Christine Marie Johnson
The little tree has no limbs but discovers he is loved and still able to produce fruit. This an eLIVE book, meaning each printed copy contains a special code redeemable for the free download of the audiobook version of the book.
"The Making of My Special Hand: Madison's Story" - Jamee Riggio Heelan This book recounts the making of a prosthesis for a girl who was born with one hand. Beginning with the visit to the hospital where Madison and her family learn about the different kinds of "helper hands," Heelan takes readers through the whole process.

"Harry and Willy and Carrothead" - Judith Caseley
Born without a left hand, Harry is just a regular kid. He enjoys the same games, and his matter-of-fact responses to other children's questions soon satisfy their curiosity. The emphasis is on the similiarity of the boys. Harry shows that he is capable and self-assured.
"Imagine...Amazing Me!" - Libbi Chilia
Photos of beautiful children from across the United States and Canada enjoying childhood activities despite their limb differences. Inspired by Libbi Chilia’s daughter Sami, who has a limb difference, this book is reflective, educational and inspiring.

"Oliver's High Five"
- Beverly Swerdlow Brown
Oliver Octopus "only" has 5 arms but it doesn't bother him! Oliver journeys onto land to try to find a job but he is judged by how many arms he has and no one will hire him. Oliver never gives up and eventually proves that he doesn't need 8 arms to get the job done!

"Little Arm & Me" - Mutiya Vision
Kiomi is a very “handy” and “capable” girl born with a little arm. As she works to find her purpose in the world, her example helps others realize that her potential goes far beyond her physical limitations. Kiomi doesn’t let the world’s limited perception of her influence how she sees herself. As she overcomes challenges, she learns to find value in the masterpiece she was born to be. Since she was created to be in the spotlight, Kiomi decides to be an inspiration by living a life filled with love, courage, and accomplishment.
"My Brand New Leg" - Sharon Rae North
In this wonderfully illustrated book, the characters meet a girl who has a prosthetic leg and can do everything her friends can do. She gracefully shares her abilities with others and never once expresses a difference. As she encounters new activities, her friends see that she is no different.
"Boo-Boo's New Leg: A True Story of Illness, Acceptance, and Healing" - Mary Garcia Sarah tells the story of how her grown up friend is very sick. Her foot is bandaged and she can't get around without the help of a wheelchair and crutches. Her friend must go to the hospital to have her leg amputated. Although her life will be forever changed, she will inspire a positive way of thinking in those around her with the greatest gifts one can have- laughter and friendship.
"Burgess and Marie Bear" - Josie Horvath and Mary Hovancsek The tale of Burgess Bear shows how he navigates through life with a prosthetic leg, inspiring young children who might share the same obstacles to take on life’s challenges with the utmost enthusiasm. Burgess shows that despite what may happen to us, we can turn any situation into a great one.
"Zoompanszee and His Bionic Buddies" - Frank Horvath
Zoompanszee, an adorable little chimp was born without arms. He and his new friends are swept into a perilous adventure and in the process learn a lesson about the damage that can be done by hatred and anger, and ultimately, learn about the healing power of love and friendship.

"Different Is Not Bad, Different Is the World: A Book About Disabilities" - Sally L. Smith The purpose of this book is to help children realize that being "different" is OK; in fact, it makes people more interesting and the world is a better place. This book is intended to help children with differences feel better about themselves, as well as to help other children become more accepting of those different from them.

"Charlie: The Dog That Didn't Have a Paw" - Delaney and Ria Hurst
"Once upon a time there was a dog that didn't have a hand. The other dogs made fun of him. Then, he met a dog without a hand. They became best friends and lived happily ever after." After Delaney wrote that story her mom took her to Camp NO LIMITS to meet other children with limb differences. Then she encouraged her daughter to expand on her story until it became this wonderful book that sees beyond differences and includes some very unexpected animals!
"God Made Me Special, Just Like You!" - Nicki Olin
An inspiration story about a girl with limb differences. Using fun photos and rhyming it is appealing to children and a wonderful teaching tool. This book teaches that not all people are made the same on the outside, but on the inside we are the same. God made all of us special, be proud of who you are!


"Shared Experiences: The Experience of Having and Parenting Children with Upper Limb Deficiencies" - Charlotte Fielder
In 2006 Charlotte Fielder invited parents of children with arm and hand deficiencies to share their experiences of parenting. Parents responded with incredible honesty and a strong desire to inform new parents, health professionals, teachers and a much wider audience of what it’s like and how it feels. Having been born with a missing left hand, Charlotte has a natural understanding of the issues, and has been able to bring together the many and varied responses in a way which offers valuable insights into parenting visibly different children.
"Expectations: Parenting Children and Teens With Limb Differences" - A Publication of the Amputee Coalition of America
This is a FREE resource available through the ACA's website. It addresses a variety of topics of interest to parents, including adjustment issues, prosthetics, funding, peer support, advocacy, insurance reimbursement, technology, and prevention of secondary conditions. It also includes several useful resource lists and links to other youth organizations.
"For the Love of Jody: Insight for Parents of Children with Limb Differences" - Tamara Reyes-Muralles
Written by a parent of a child with a limb difference. She wrote this book because she was frustrated with the lack of info available. Tamara wants to let parents know they're not alone.


"Footnotes: A Life Without Limits" - Lena Maria Klingvall
Born without arms and with one fully formed leg, Lena is an inspiration. She refused "special" status, preferring instead to learn how to accomplish things her own way. Lena has not only learned to play keyboards and drive a car, but also to conduct a choir, develop a successful professional singing career and compete in the Paralympics.
"Jim Abbott: Against All Odds" - Ellen Emerson Wright
An awesome pitcher for the California Angels who has one hand. He has countless achievements in baseball, from Little League and high-school, through his years at the University of Michigan and his performance with Pan-American and Olympic teams, to the major leagues! There is a detailed explanation of how he catches and throws the ball, and comments from teammates and opposing players on how Jim has inspired them.