A place to show my love for my granddaughter who lives with Cerebral Palsy and my passion for painting. In an effort of raising awareness for C.P. every painting brush stroke I make on raw canvas is a stroke of love, as I discretely paint a green C.P. awareness ribbon in every piece. Can you find them?
Do you know someone who would like to have a painting done? email www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"I never knew"




I never expected to feel this way. I mean, of course I knew that I would love my grandchildren when the day came. After all, I am a very loving, nurturing person. I knew when the day came for me to have a grandchild that I would be blessed and that I would feel elated. But I never expected to feel a love as deep and as strong as I do for Hailey.
That being said, the day that Hailey was born, and with the level of complications that she had, emotions were overflowing, questions surpassed the highest mountains and uncertainty scared the hell out of me.
After awhile, and one heck of a roller coaster ride, reality and acceptance sets in and love and admiration grows even deeper than you ever thought possible. Hailey is an amazing little girl who has taught our whole family how to live a brand new life, a life that we never new existed. She brings us to new places and gives us a new perspective on what is most important, she has shown us how to be better people and more accepting and aware of others. Things that we never thought we had the time to do. Well, suddenly I have time, because for me the world seems to have come to a standstill and all of the things that we thought were so important are now insignificant. I have learned that we take things for granted everyday. I never realized that we are the fortunate ones just by being able to do everyday simple tasks like being able to walk, or talk, or by being able to feed ourselves. Well Hailey has opened my eyes to the fact that those things that we take for granted everyday are not simple tasks, they are not simple at all for many people. Who knew? I’ve heard about people having disabilities, but really I closed my eyes to it all. I had no idea how large of a community it really is. Now, that is not to say that people who cannot do these tasks cannot grow up to be great people, who can teach us so much about life, real life. On the contrary, people with disabilities are by far the strongest and most determined people that I know. Kind of funny yet contradictory that we perceive them as people who are weak. They will endure more in their lifetime than many of us will even begin to endure. (And we think we have it tough. See, it’s that perspective thing kicking in again) I challenge everyone reading this, to start the New Year off with a new perspective, a new outlook on life and new found respect for people who have a disability. I never knew that such a world existed, and I never knew that I could love someone so deeply as I love my granddaughter Hailey, but it is true, I do...who knew?


God doesn't give children with disabilities to strong people: He gives them to ordinary, everyday people, then He helps the parents to grow stronger through the journey. Raising a child with special needs doesn't TAKE a special family, it MAKES a special family. Author Unknown

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Good Intentions"



At this time of year reflection on the past and resolutions for the future tend to occupy our minds. Resolutions are hard to keep for everyone. In families with special needs children it is even more difficult. It was my intention to do a post on New Years Resolutions then I decided that I hate making resolutions, to me they feel like added pressure and commitments and who needs more of those? So Instead I decided to post a list of “Good Intentions” I have derived a list of 10 good intentions or things that I will keep in mind in the upcoming year. Then I will post it on my refrigerator as a subtle reminder. Please add your suggestions to the comment section below.

1) Be patient with others who don’t understand and sometimes say thoughtless or hurtful words. Instead of being bitter, channel your energy into educating them.
2) Promote independence by involving your child in everyday activities. Even if it gets done faster by doing it yourself.
3) Ask yourself what small thing you can do in your community to help raise awareness for people who have disabilities.Then make those things happen.
4) Hug your child even more than you do all ready if that is possible.
5) Laugh...If you lost it somewhere along the road, try and find your laughter. It is in fact the best medicine (and you don’t even have to fight your insurance company for it).
6) Get involved in your child’s school. Volunteer to read books, or serve snacks etc. Meeting the parents of your child’s classmates can be a lesson learned.
7) Enjoy the moment. Don’t let the everyday hustle and bustle of life overshadow your precious moments. Savor the moments and enjoy them while they are happening. After all, there is no rewind button on life.
8) Celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. Praise and encouragement are two very important things to do for your child’s development.
9) Share what you have learned in your journey with other parents who have similar struggles, you will teach them and you will also learn from them.
10) Get off the Internet! Make sure that you are prioritizing your time with constructive play and quality time with your child. This is therapy for both of you without feeling like a traditional therapy and so rewarding too. Save the internet for when your child is asleep.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LOVE IS...


LOVE IS...
When you care about someone and want the best for them even if it means putting your own needs last. Love is selfless. Love is when you see the best in a person even if others don’t care enough to take a good look. It is understanding their every word, even though they haven’t verbally said a thing. It is believing in them, when others think things are out of reach. It is appreciating them for who they are and not wanting them to be someone they are not.
These are just a few of the things that define love to me, what is the meaning of love to you?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Giving the gift of Time, Quality time"


Why not give the gift of time this holiday season? At the risk of this title sounding a bit commercialized, note that I am not selling watches, or clocks. For most of my life I have always worked in retail, this time of year is always an extremely busy time for everyone. Even if you do not work in retail you are still extra busy either working long hours, or shopping for long hours, there is just too much to do and never enough time to spend with your family. Having a special needs child there are the endless therapies, school activities, Drs. appointments, more therapies, more Dr’s appointments and I just want to remind you to breathe, take a moment and realize what is most important in your life. Quality time spent with your child and with your family is priceless. This year I have decided that I would not work overtime, and that I would not spend countless hours in the mall, buying things that my family doesn’t like or doesn’t need. But instead I have compiled a wish list of things to do with my granddaughter and with my family, things that I always wish that I could do, but never make the time. Well, you know what, life is too short, this year I am just going to do it! The first thing that I would like to do is decorate a gingerbread house with Hailey. Now, I am definitely not your typical grandmother, one who stays at home and bakes delicious baked goods (I don’t have the domestic gene at all, I could however paint you an awesome painting) So, I guess I will have to buy one of those pre-fab gingerbread houses that you buy already made and decorate it ourselves. I will buy lots of candy, gumdrops for the walkway, m & m’s for the rooftop and candy canes for the doorway. Maybe we will invite a few of Hailey’s cousin’s and have a gingerbread house party! Another thing that would really put us in the Christmas spirit would be to watch a live Christmas musical at our local high school. There must be a local school or play house putting on their own rendition of The Nutcracker. I don’t think it is necessary for us to go to a big playhouse downtown and pay for a high ticketed performance, just in case Hailey experiences a bit of sensory overload. She enjoys music and she might enjoy seeing little ballerina’s twirling around dizzily on the stage. We definitely should go around the neighborhood and see the pretty lights. I know she will enjoy that this year. Maybe we could take a train to New York City for the day, I hear there is Disney’s “A Christmas Caroll” train ride in Central Station. This may be too ambitious of a wish list, but, if nothing else, I vow to spend quality time reading books to Hailey, and cherishing whatever time we can manage together, because she makes me smile, and I think that I make her smile too.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Another Painting"


I’m sure these boys look familiar, this is the 3rd painting that Caryanne from About the Small Stuff commissioned me to do of her adorable twin boys. (Daniel and Benjamin) She was hoping to have it in time for her parents as a Christmas present and I wrote to her a told her that I probably wouldn’t get to complete it in time, with my mom being sick and it being holiday time at work etc. but to my surprise I actually pulled it off. Yeah! I absolutely loved painting her boys they are soo cute and Ben, like Hailey has Cerebral Palsy. If it isn’t obvious in the painting and I know alot of you look for this now. This time I placed the green c.p. awareness ribbon over their grandpa’s heart. If you would like a painting of your child, please don’t hesitate to email me at harrold.janet@gmail.com 100% of the money will go directly to Hailey for future therapies that are not covered by insurance. Such as Conductive Education, Hippotherapy etc.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Transforming Bullies into Educators



Often times children with disabilities are misunderstood as well as misrepresented. Typically developing kids just don’t understand why kids with special needs do the things that they do and the lack of education results in bullying and name calling.
I believe that kindness, compassion and knowledge are lessons that must be permeated in the classroom in preschool and reinforced into continued education. If we are surrounded by
individuals who are a bit different for whatever the reason, be it a learning disability, a figurative disability or a speech impediment, combined with educators who can explain why their abilities may be different than the majority, the students will be better able to understand the differences rather than fear them. Knowing and understanding why a person may be different will more often discourage bullying and name calling and promote compassion. We need to intervene early enough by educating everyone, students and teachers alike. Changing the overall climate of the school is necessary to foster a profound impact on school bullying as well as educating children at an early age about how to interact with someone who has differences and by raising awareness and encouraging friendships. What can we do as a community to promote these essential components to build a better foundation for our kids to be able to live in a place of peace and harmony?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hippotherapy Poem "I Saw A Child"



I Saw a Child
by John Anthony Davies

I saw a child who couldn't walk,
sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies
and yet he could not walk unaided.

I saw a child, no legs below,
sit on a horse, and make it go
through woods of green
and places he had never been
to sit and stare,
except from a chair.

I saw a child who could only crawl
mount a horse and sit up tall
Put it through degrees of paces
and laugh at the wonder in our faces


I saw a child born into strife,
Take up and hold the reins of life
and that same child was heard to say,
Thank God for showing me the way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Being fairly new to the Special Needs Community it sometimes amazes me the amount of kindness that strangers show me when I least expect it. (It is also sometimes unbelievable the ignorance of strangers, but we’ll save that for another post) You may remember my friend June from alexandra glass art she is the artist that helped me make the C.P. awareness ribbons that I featured on a previous post. Well, this past weekend June attended Roslindale Open Studios. I decided that I would visit June and show my support for her work by paying her a visit. We also took the time to stroll around the neighborhood to see the other Artist who were displaying their wares in hopes of showing off their creativity and hopefully selling a few things. I’m so glad we did. We entered upon this one particular artist who makes handmade jewelry from the rocks that she finds on Cape Cod. Now, jewelry is not something that I wear often, I very seldom get the opportunity to go out and I don’t like to wear jewelry while I am working. But while peeking over June’s shoulder at the stone earrings I noticed an awareness ribbon that caught my eye. I picked them up to show June and the woman who made them asked me if I had a personal connection to the awareness ribbon, I said “yes, my granddaughter has C.P.” she leaned over to me and said “then take them for her”, I said “oh no, I couldn’t, she is only three years old and she doesn’t have her ears pierced but thank you” She insisted and said “then you wear them in her honor, then she can look at them all the time”. I was just so touched I asked her if I could give her a hug.
I write this post in hopes of paying it forward. Please be kind and show the love by following this link you never know, you just might find something that you have to have or you may even find a Christmas gift for someone that is special to you.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Music to my ears






Move over Liberace... this weekend Natalie, Tom and Hailey went up to New Hampshire to spend the weekend with Natalie’s aunt Christine. They had a great time at the petting zoo, apple picking, and trick or treating. Christine gave Hailey a gift and this one really struck a chord with me. She gave her her very own Baby Grand Piano! Growing up my family didn’t have much, but we did have music, most of my family were self taught musicians. My father played the guitar and the harmonica, my sister played the guitar and my brother played the drums. Coinsidently his son also plays the drums and my uncle went to the New England Conservatory of music. So it was no surprise when my son Tom(Hailey’s daddy) came home and said that he wanted to attend St. Paul’s (better known as The Boston Boy Choir) where he studied music and learned how to play the piano. He later went on to graduate college as a music major. “When Tom played it was intoxicating to me”, there was a sense of calm when he passionately ran his long slender finger’s up and down the keyboard. Due to her Cerebral Palsy I know that Hailey doesn’t have the dexterity in her fingers to play the piano like her dad, but it sure does my heart good to see her play and respond to music the way that she does. It makes me wonder how many of you have children in "Music Therapy" and if you do, how has it helped your child?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lantern Festival






I just can’t get enough of quality time spent with my family. Last weekend was the Annual Lantern Festival, such a stress free beautiful night, my husband even skipped out of work for a couple hours and joined us this year. :) as thousands of people walked around the pond with their children dressed in their halloween costumes, proudly carrying their handmade lanterns made out of plastic bottles and tissue paper, with a candle to light the way. It felt like were taken back in time or in a fairytale. It was beautiful to look across the pond in the darkness and see all the lanterns lighting the way. Natalie did a great job helping the kids make them this year and Hailey loves to participate in arts and crafts projects, so it was a win, win for everyone. Her costume this year is a dragonfly, she picked it out herself. She also had quite a good time modeling it while her mother took some great pictures. She looks so animated in these shots, we are not sure if Hailey will walk, but it looks like she is going to fly.
Tell us your fun halloween stories.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Different Points of View



Different Points of View --Cards written for the differently abled in mind and in heart.
These cards are never intended to offend anyone.
Last May while I was looking for a birthday card for Hailey, I realized that what the Hallmark cards had to offer for 3 year old girls were popular and current cartoon characters such as Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse or generic cards that displayed a prima ballerina in all her grace and elegance, high on her toes in her beautiful pink pointe shoes. That is when I realized that they didn’t have a card that was a bit more specific to Hailey’s grace. I didn’t see a ballerina in A.F.O’s or a little girl celebrating her accomplishments as she walked through a field of daisy’s in her new walker. So I began to write a line of cards so that when I wanted to give my granddaughter a card for her birthday or a card for encouragement, I could chose a card that was a bit more relational to her.
I began to write text and I am happy with the text that I have written. My drawings however have me a bit concerned. I wanted to paint them in soft demure colors and keep them simple and child friendly. After emailing them to a co-worker I am starting to second guess myself here. I would really appreciate everyone’s honest opinion here before I spend more time, effort and money on this particular project. Above are some images and below is the email correspondence of myself and a co-worker. An example of one of my favorite cards will read as follows.

“When it feels like the whole world is staring at you...just smile”

His Response to my images:
Janet i never want to offend or discourage ..but i expect honest responses when i ask for your reaction so....my first reaction is to be disturbed (obviously the subject manner is sad) 2nd they look juvenile like a kid painted them..however that may be the look you wanted to achieve so there is an innocence to them that's sweet i think you wanted the paintings to say i am handicapped but i am somebody and i can achieve to be what ever i want to be and i am ok and just like you....its ok to look at a person with a handicap on this card or in this world but i guess the reality of it is a bit hard to take...this is my perspective maybe someone with a handicap would be reassured or reaffirmed by an image of someone like themselves...i know these are preliminary drawings and dont necessarily represent your end goal but that was my first reaction i guess the girl and the dog is a bit softer and more gentle to look at...and if she had a smile that was ear to ear i would find it a more pleasing image let me know if my response seems fair.
My response:
Hi,
You never offend or discourage me. I asked for your first impression and you gave it to me. i wanted them too be soft and simple....so they didn't look to harsh. I realize it is hard too see but for a lot of people this is the reality of their lives, even if others chose to look the other way. Your reaction just makes me more aware that these kind of cards need to be in as many stores as poss. If people got used to seeing them more it would help to raise awareness and hopefully blend into the Norm (whatever that is) I appreciate your honesty.

I realize that I am putting my self in a very vulnerable position on this but, i've got to know before I keep investing in this. The question goes out to my "special needs" friends and my "Not So Special" friends (just kidding) Is this something you would like to see more of, or should I throw in the towel?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

kicking and splashing


Usually when I bring Hailey swimming she seems to be pretty happy to be in the water. She doesn’t move around as much as I hoped despite all of my efforts in engaging her in the water.
None the less, the warm water is so good for her tight muscles, and so we continue to go.
This week there was a crate of rubber duckies and fishies on one side of the pool. Hailey dipped her hand in the crate and pulled herself out a fish. We played with him and submerged him under the water until his belly was filled with chlorine. Then of course, we dumped the water on grammies head. Not only did Hailey think that this was funny, but she just loved kicking and swimming from one end of the pool to the other and when she was done letting the fish spit all over my head she would line them up next to each other on the wall of the pool, before I knew it, it was time to go and she had 6 ducks and 6 fish lined up in a row and the crate was empty. We had fun and made progress today, I just can’t wait until next week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Exceptional Family





Well, it’s official episode 2 just started on Exceptional Family T.V.(To link to the video introducing me and the other bloggers)click here and then select "This Week" I am both honored and proud to do my small bit in contributing to their show. I will be writing a weekly blog from a grandmother’s perspective trying to convey the importance that the role of extended family plays in the life of a child with a disability, and also about the fun that Hailey and I have together. eFamilyTV focuses on parents/families/caregivers raising children with special needs. I hope that you will follow me and the other bloggers as we raise awareness and educate the rest of the world about the realities, struggles and triumphs of amazing families raising children with special needs. It helps parents connect with each other through open discussions and share ideas about therapies, equipment, adaptable toys and everyday stories. I have learned so much about Hailey’s disability by reading and speaking with other parents/grandparents who are living the same life. You can too. Pictured above are just a few images of my "Exceptional Family"

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Double Trouble"


You may remember these two adorable twins Ben and Daniel, i've painted them in the past. (they also remind me so much of my own twin nephews Mickey and Orlando when they were that age)Ben has Cerebral Palsy, like Hailey. The first painting I did Cary,(their Mom) from here was touched when she noticed that I put my trademark Cerebral Palsy awareness ribbon over Ben's heart. This time I placed it near Daniel's heart because i'm sure his love for his brother is great. I hope she likes it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm Now Writing For "Kidz Krew"


I have recently joined the “Kidz Krew” and will be writing monthly blog entrees for the site. This is both an honor and a pleasure for me to be able to write for a special needs site. Most of my loyal readers, friends and family know that I mostly write about my granddaughter Hailey who has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. It is my mission to raise awareness and educate people about C.P. and this is another great opportunity to be able to do that. The Kids Krew contributer’s are all amazing woman who have children with different abilities, who share their knowledge and resources with thousands of readers, some who are veterans in the special needs community and other’s who are newbies and looking for as much information as they can possibly find to help them understand their child’s diagnosis. On this site you can expect to find uplifting stories, poems, songs, activities, ideas, friends and resources, many resources. If you know anyone who may benefit from this site, please send them here I know it will help them, just as it did me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"The kind words of strangers"


After a very busy week at work, what better way to unwind than to have a sleepover with my favorite granddaughter, I know she is my only granddaughter but secretly she will always be my favorite, I know she will. This morning we went for our usual walk exploring the neighborhood, counting all of the cars, stopping at all the stop signs, smelling all the pretty flowers (o.k., o.k., so I let Hailey pick a few) today is Natalie’s birthday and she wanted to pick a few for her mom, what’s wrong with that? We listened to all the birds chirping and Hailey pointed them out to me each time they flew from the house to the tree’s. I decided to take her to the park up the street from my house. As we were walking by a bus stop a young boy about 10 or 11 years old was sitting on a bench with his dad waiting for the bus, as we casually strolled by the boy said “hi”, I stopped and told Hailey it was o.k. to say hi to him. Hailey smiled and didn’t say anything, the observant young boy asked if she was handicapped. I explained “she doesn’t talk and she doesn’t walk yet, but we are working very hard at helping her do that”, the young boy said you should bring her to Children’s Hospital, they will help her. I told him we do regularly go to Children’s and they are doing their very best to help Hailey. Not satisfied with that answer the boy continued to let me know that his younger brother didn’t speak well and they got him a tutor, and even suggested we do the same for Hailey, In a very persistent manner, I explained to him that Hailey has her own speech therapists and people who are working with her to help encourage her voice. Again, he was still not satisfied with my answer and urged his father to write down the name of the tutor that they used for his younger brother because he now can say juice and that is just one words that were difficult for him to say prior to the tutor, the father took out a pen and wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to me, the proud young man said “call him, he will help her to talk I know he will”. I looked down at what the man wrote and it read. Sorry, I don’t know his name and number. I looked at the father and gave him a wink and I thanked the young boy who was so eager to help Hailey. As my day continued, I just couldn’t get the young boy’s sweet words out of my mind. What are some kind words that others have said to you that you will never forget.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Learn American Sign Language

Teaching your non-verbal child how to sign can really cut down on tantrums and frustration. It can easily replace stress and guessing games if done correctly.
To help build language comprehension you need to pair the sign with a verbal response by doing this they help each other. The sign can act as a verbal prompt. For example: If you say the word car, while giving the sign for car, your child will understand that you expect him or her to make verbal approximations, even if he/she doesn’t say the word perfectly, they may make an effort or an approximation if in fact they are able to. Another thing that I have heard other parents of children with C.P. say is that they don’t teach their child with Cerebral Palsy sign language because they don’t quite have the dexterity in their hands, and though that is most likely true, and it is the case for Hailey as well, you still may be able to adapt a few signs to his/her ability. If it isn’t as perfect as a child who is deaf and has great control with their hands, it’s o.k. You will still be able to understand what they want because they will do it THEIR way. Start out by showing them just two words at a time, keep it simple, chose two words that you wish your child could say, or communicate to you. I think one of the most important signs that you can teach your non verbal child to do is the sign for “hurt” there is nothing worse than when your child is crying and crying and they cannot tell you what is bothering them. If they learn the sign for “hurt” you may be able to narrow it down by finding out if their ears hurt or their throat hurts etc.This is not the easiest sign to learn because your child doesn’t always have a boo boo. You may start out with something like “more” or “eat” or maybe “water” but eventually learning the word hurt can be a life saver. If you are considering sign language for your child as an alternative way of communicating, below is a chart of the alphabet in ASL you may want to get familiar with. As you begin to learn certain words the alphabet will be helpful, but for now, baby sign may work better for your child who is just starting out. Rachel Coleman is a woman who has a child who is deaf and has a child who has C.P. she is an amazing mom and the founder of http://www.signingtime.com/, these are the best c.d.s for teaching your child sign language and the best part is they will have fun while they learn. So come on, give it a try, what do you have to lose. Your determined child just might surprise you!
How to Learn American Sign Language

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Swimming, swimming, swimming in the pool"

Hailey and I tried a new pool yesterday, we love it. We had previously been swimming at a pool that was convienant, but lacked some of the necessary things that would contribute to her much needed aquatherapy. The pool that we had been visiting regularly didn’t even have a proper place for me to be able to lie Hailey down and take her wet bathing suit off. I had to do this on the counter of a sink. This was not good for Hailey as well as the people who needed to use the sink. The showers didn’t work properly and the water temperature wasn’t kept warm enough in the summer months to be beneficial for Hailey’s stiff muscles. The last couple of times I noticed Hailey wasn’t moving around as much as she used to. The water temperature was just too cold causing her muscles to stiffen instead of relax. Warm water is the most beneficial to children with cerebral palsy because warm water relaxes stiff muscles. Cold water can have a freezing effect on muscle spasms, making the task of swimming difficult. You may ask why swimming is such a great therapy for Hailey, because the buoyancy of the water relieves stress normally placed on muscles by gravity. The water also gives her a grander range of motion and coordination, allowing her a chance to build muscles and improve coordination. The sensation of water on the body is good for neurological development.
I decided to look for a new pool to bring Hailey to, and I found it! This pool is handicap accessible, has large stalls where I can now have some privacy and a comfortable place to lie Hailey down and get her dressed, the showers work and the temperature is always 83 degrees. Though we don’t have to use this type of feature yet, they even have a lift to lower handicapped individuals down into the pool!
The rules of the pool are a bit more strict, we have to wear a bathing cap, I thought Hailey was going to flip, but she kept it on and with the cap fitting snug to her head, The only thing that I could see was her pretty little blue eyes bobbing around the pool in excitement!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Lifes A Beach"





Life’s a Beach

Since the summer has all but come to an end and Hailey will begin school on Wednesday we thought we would do something as a family and enjoy the outdoors while we could. As you may have guessed by the pictures, It was a beautiful day at Nahant Beach. The water was a bit too cold for Hailey’s liking though, we spent more time on the sand than in the water. After a few hours we decided to get something to eat. Hailey was so tired by the time our food came that she began falling asleep sitting in the chair. Her eyes closing every time Natalie put a bite to eat in her mouth. As the waitress began clearing our plates, (Hailey still fighting her sleep, eyes closed, head down, practically face down in her plate) The waitress says “will that be all”? Hailey picks her tired head up...she’s not going to miss this opportunity no matter how tired she is, and just as we taught her to ask the waitress for what she wants, she uses her sign language and asks the waitress for “ice-cream please”. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Walk in the Dark






Well it definitely wasn’t dark when we headed out after dinner, it was more like dusk. We just had so much fun strolling around the neighborhood we lost track of time. As we went along from street to street Hailey was fascinated with the STOP signs, of course we stopped at every intersection and pointed up at the sign. I said “STOP” and Hailey silently smiled with her pointer finger while thrusting herself back with excitement. It was a perfect night out, someone must have lit a fire because the smell of a burning fire place filled the air. When we approached a quaint little house with a beautiful garden, we couldn’t help but stop there and smell the pretty flowers. I also couldn’t resist picking an orange marigold for Hailey, it just matched her dress perfectly, she held on to that flower the entire walk. As a desperate attempt to go over her colors I thought it would be fun to point out the color of each car, as we walked pass them I would say, “see the blue car” and Hailey would respond in her sweet soft voice “aah” (her interpretation of car) a few steps later I’d say “Hailey look, there’s a red car” she would point to it and say “aah” and before I knew it she was navigating our way through the neighborhood pointing left “aah” then right “aah.” this simple game had become so pleasurable. Hailey really has taught me how to slow down, how to enjoy and appreciate the moment. We were having such a good time together I didn’t want the night to end.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Well This About Sums it Up!


You weren’t like other children,
And God was well aware,
You’d need a caring family,
With love enough to share.
And so He sent you to us,
And much to our surprise,
You haven’t been a challenge,
But a blessing in disguise.
Your winning smiles and laughter,
The pleasures you impart,
Far outweigh your special needs,
And melt the coldest heart.
We’re proud that we’ve been chosen,
To help you learn and grow,
The job that you have brought us,
Is more than you can know.
A precious gift from Heaven,
A treasure from above,
A child who’s taught us many things,
But most of all- “Real Love”

Author Unknown

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oil Painting Good Harbor Beach Gloucester

This is the 2nd of two paintings I have painted for a woman who wanted a couple of unique and personal Christmas presents for her family. This picture was taken at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester. They celebrated their daughters 2nd birthday there and now we've captured this picture on canvas. What a beautiful memory!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ipad


Not a day goes by that I don't read something positive about the ipad being helpful tool for children with special needs. I read it on Nathan Charlan's Blog about his son Zachery who Has Cerebral Palsy. He and his wife Renee are completely sold, you can read more on that press here http://www.exceptionalfamilytv.com/blogs/producers/nathan/zachs-mac#comment-414 I have also heard about it being helpful for kids in the autism spectrum. You can read more about that press here http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-08-11/news/ihelp-for-autism/ I just thought I would put these out there for anyone who may be thinking about this or even for those who have not. Hailey has a Dynavox (pictured above) a $10,000. computer that she has been using to help her communicate. Thank God this was covered by insurance! Otherwise we would be going the ipad route for sure for about $500.00 From what I understand the ipad is much easier to carry around, not nearly as heavy, that's one up on the ipad, but the dynavox has a plastic guard on top that helps the children with motor skill issues make a more accurate choice. Can anyone else who has either of these two useful devices tell me some pros and cons about each? Thank you

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I had lots of fun painting this ocean scene. What a beautiful day to be walking along the beach with your granddaughter. I am glad this special moment was captured on camera so that I could do my own interpretation of this special day on canvas. This painting is one of two that I am doing as a commissioned special I offered recently. This customer new a good deal when she heard it, a 16 x20 original oil on canvas for only $100.00 She ordered one for her parents and another for her husband as Christmas presents. Shop early this offer ends on August 31. For more information contact me www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Monday, August 2, 2010




We had such a nice weekend with Hailey, I’m sure I sound like a broken record, I just enjoy her company so much, it is always my pleasure when she spends the night. We even got Grampy up at 6:00 a.m. to take us out to breakfast, even though he just went to sleep at 4:00a.m. Though she doesn’t really talk much, Hailey knows that all she has to do is give him that mischevious unbelievable smile of hers and he will do whatever she wants. She can play him like a fiddle. We spent the remainder of the day playing games and reading books, It is amazing how much Hailey still enjoys reading, after reading several books I would attempt to walk into the kitchen and start preparing dinner or cutting up fruit and Hailey will continuously follow me out there with another book in hand, her new thing is to get on her knees and thrust herself up on your legs.She totally wraps her arms around both of your legs, still holding on to that book and looking way up at you and smiling. After such effort and determination I have to stop dead in my tracks and bring her back into the living room and read more books. She can never get enough of them,and I can never get enough of her.
Last night when Christine came to teach us sign language, Hailey totally knocked her socks off. Of course Grampy was video taping us and she also likes to ham it up a bit. We mostly worked on our colors. We started with the book “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see” I narrated the book while Christine would show her each color in sign and Hailey would match each color inside the book with a small color square, she never even got one wrong! The high light of the night was when Hailey signed “Bear” each time she would sign “bear” Hailey would point outside, we had no idea what she was pointing to, at the end of the night, Christine brought the dogs inside (she brings two dogs with her each week, one dogs name is Lycos and the other is Teddy) The dogs come running inside very happy to be going home and Hailey smiled and
signed “BEAR” we didn’t get it that she was signing Teddy Bear! Now I wonder who is teaching who here?

Friday, July 23, 2010

To sign or not to sign THAT is the question

Well I guess we have been thinking whether or not it is a good idea for Hailey to learn more sign language. On ocassion Hailey sometimes says partial words, for example: When I ask her if she wants to read a book she used to comment “a boo” not totally finishing the word but everybody new what she was trying to say. Earlier on we learned a few words in sign language so that ultimately Hailey’s frustration level would be down a bit and also so we could open up the lines of communication, and to give her more choices. It seems since she has learned the sign for book, she no longer says “a boo”. This causes concern for my family. We have to ask ourselves if this is something we want to continue doing. We do not want her to use sign language INSTEAD of trying to use her voice.
Last night we had Christine come to the house, she taught us the alphabet in sign as well as a lot of different signs that might be helpful to Hailey. It was so much fun to learn (my fingers hurt). She has been working with children who have autism for over 10 years and she also had some great ideas to help with speech development and motor skills as well. Christine did such a wonderful job showing us how to sign and she even let us videotape her so that I could share it with all my blogger friends who have children that have a hard time communicating verbally. I hope that some of you can also benefit from these short clips.
In addition to learning sign I also learned that although we were initially nervous about signing preventing her speech development, research suggests very strongly that this is not the case. In fact the opposite occurs, as signing seems to positively encourage speech development.

Tell me your thoughts about American Sign Language and share your experiences with us.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

I can paint your child


Well, as it turned out I have been getting many requests for painting children since my last post!
Partly because people like to see something that they can relate to, and partly because who wouldn’t want to take advantage of this special opportunity? But also because Caryanne from http://aboutthesmallstuff.blogspot.com/ was kind enough to write a post and put a link to my blog on her blog. Thank you Caryanne. One mother is ordering 3 paintings, 1 for herself and 2 for her parents for Christmas presents, what a great idea! Christmas in July, why not, it may take me that long to keep up with these commissions anyway. This picture is of Caryanne’s twin boys, Daniel and Ben. Ben also has Cerebral Palsy and those of you who know me well, know that I like to put a small green Cerebral Palsy awareness ribbon hidden somewhere in my paintings. This time I thought it would be appropriate to put the ribbon right over Ben’s heart. Thank you Caryanne.
If you would like one for your family, please email me www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Stay tuned for videos of our sign language lessons. Christine has come to our house for the past two weeks to teach us sign language, because she has been working with children who have autism for over 10 years, she is pretty well rounded in child development and has taught us a lot of good ideas and tricks to help with motor skills,. She has given us lots of ideas to apply to everyday activities as well as encourage speech development. I can’t wait to introduce her, I hope you will find these videos of signing helpful. Please comment kindly about whether or not you think American Sign Language helps your child communicate better or if you believe that sign language will somehow hinder him from trying to vocalize. It is a question we ask ourselves everyday, any input with your experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"My Paintings of Hailey"





The weather has been so beautiful around here lately, there is no way you can stay indoors. Today I had the pleasure of going to the pond with Hailey and Natalie. Hailey really enjoys exploring and playing in the grass. I thought I would make her laugh, I said “watch Grammy, i’m going all the way to the top of the hill and I’m going to roll down o.k.” Hailey sat on her mother’s lap while she anxiously waited for me to get to the top. When I get there I said “ready, here I go” and as I begin to roll ( all the while hoping I don’t break something) I hear Hailey laughing. It is music to my ears. She is, as I expected laughing hysterically. She enjoyed my hideous attempt to roll down the hill so much that the little daredevil wanted to roll down the hill too. So, I thought I would humor her by bringing her just a wee bit up the hill and laying her down, but no, she’s not having it, I try and lay her down and she keeps pointing to the top. I’ll tell you, I can never get over on Hailey, she is a girl who knows what she wants. Before I knew it all 3 of us were rolling down the hill. My only regret is that we didn’t get any photos of this fun yet ridiculous act. Natalie did however get some nice shots of Hailey in the grass. They were so cute I just had to paint them.

I was pleased with the results (the pictures don’t really do them justice, I can never seem to get them without a glare). Anyway, if you think that these are just so cute that you might like me to paint one of your child, now is the time. Since I am painting to raise money for Hailey’s Conductive Education Fund, for a limited time I would be happy to paint a 16”x20”’ oil on stretch canvas for $100.00 Typically I would sell these any where from $500.-$700. For information please contact me www.harrold.janet@gmail.com I would be grateful if you would post a link to this blog on your own blog or facebook status. Thank you for your continuous support.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hailey crosses the finish line!

It's been awhile since my last post, I am just so proud of Hailey! Not only because she is doing well with her gait trainer but also because she is really enjoying showing off her new set of wheels and playing with the other children. In the video you can see and hear the reactions from the other children at the park. At one point she seems to be the envy of a curious little boy (we'll call him George). He thinks what she is riding is like an airplane! He comments that he has never seen a bike like that. He is asking all kinds of questions and at one point he asks why Hailey isn't talking. Another curious girl was just staring quietly at Hailey. I realize that this is probably something that Hailey will have to face her whole life, and at some point she will probably be picked on or even treated mean. I am not quite sure how to handle this, I was not quite sure how we should have answered George's questions. I find it hard to explain to children in a way that they would understand, and at the same time being sensitive to the fact that Hailey is listening to everything that is being said. I'm sure that it is natural for George to be curious about Hailey not being able to walk and talk, but at the same time Hailey must be curious about why everyone around her CAN walk and talk. Educating adults about Hailey's disability is hard enough, not an easy thing for adults to grasp. Talking to children, Hailey included, it's difficult to know the right thing to say. I hope that with today's school system having more inclusive classrooms it will help typical children to understand how to talk and act and play with their peers despite their ability.
(click on the video below)

With the summer here and more things to be done out doors I haven't had much time for painting, but I do have some work hanging at The Mud House. So if any of you are in the Dorchester area, stop by The Mud House 389 Neponset Ave. They serve the best coffee, sandwiches and pastry fresh daily. Thank you to all who purchased Cerebral Palsy stained glass ribbons, and remember we can make any color awareness ribbon that you would like to support.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cerabral Palsy Awareness Ribbon made of stained glass

A good friend of mine and fellow artist June Alexandra creates custom stained glass. http://www.alexandraglassart.com/contact.html  I recently asked her to design a green ribbon for me. It is by far the most precious piece of art I own. I hang it in my kitchen window and every morning when I make my usual cup of tea, a little piece of light shimmers through and it makes me smile. It reminds me of Hailey. It gives me a bit of hope, it also reminds me that I need to continue my quest to raise awareness about C.P. (Thank you June) Not only to make people aware that there is a condition out there called Cerebral Palsy, but that the people who have C.P. and other disabilities are very important people, just like you and I. I must admit that before Hailey was born I had no idea or clear understanding about life as a disabled person....how would I, why should I, how would you? I didn't care about taking the time to understand. I was far too busy for that. Then suddenly it stopped me dead in my tracks. Bang! You have absolutely no choice in the matter, and your priorities are now crystal clear. There is not a single thing in the world that is more important to me.

June has so graciously offered to help not only raise awareness of C.P. but to help raise money for Hailey's Conductive Education fund. She will make a ribbon fashioned out of stained glass so that you too can let the light shine in your window as well as raise awareness and show support for Hailey and many other people like her. To remind people that we will never stop fighting the fight.

For information about purchasing your stained glass ribbon for $20.00 plus shipping, please contact me, harrold.janet@gmail.com

If my special needs blogger friends wouldn't mind copying this post to your blog I would really appreciate it. Thank you