Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Mom, what kinds of kids did you take care of today?"


I got off work yesterday and Bella came running down the hall and jumped into my arms. She had already been in bed and came out to greet me. I had a rough day at work and this just made the entire day melt away in my mind. Nothing else seemed to matter except this 5 year old who's arms were around my neck and legs were around my body. Her body was pressed to mine like a big koala bear. My day floated away and I soaked in this moment. She asked me to come cuddle her in her room. Usually I'm hungry and exhausted, last night, I needed that moment with my girl.

I carried her "like a tiny baby" as she requested and plopped her back into bed. I covered her up then snuggled in next to her. As I snuggled next to her she asked "Mom what kinds of kids did you take care of today?" I proceeded to tell her a little bit about my day. We talked about what we in the pediatric nursing world call "special needs" kids. I explained that some kids I take care of can't talk or walk. She said "Mom there's a girl at my school that's like that, she's in a wheelchair and doesn't talk". We'll call her Kyra.

"Mom, I know a girl at school named Kyra and she's like those kids. Do you talk to them?"

"Yep I talk to them but they don't talk back. Sometimes they laugh or smile or even giggle.  You can still talk to them and smile at them even if they don't talk." I told her.

"Yeah I sometimes I say Hi Kyra. She doesn't smile or do anything she just sits in her wheelchair" Bella replied.

"Well that's really nice honey. She may not smile but I'm sure she hears you and that probably makes her happy to have you talking to her."

"Mama, when I grow up I want to be a nurse like you and take care of kids. I want to work at the same exact place as you. We can go to lunch together and ride to work together. We can have the same days off and do things together on our days off.

"Well that would be awesome. I would love working with you and having you take care of kids with me!"

It's moments like these, when your kids have your full attention and are asking what seem like simple questions that you should take full advantage of. Yes, I was hungry. Yes, I was exhausted. All that mattered in that moment was my daughter and the questions and excitement that filled her mind. It's times like these that I get to teach her about my life outside of my most important job, motherhood. I'm a pediatric nurse and was long before she came into my life. Nursing is a passion that I love and adore and I can't imagine who I am or what I would be without it. I'm glad I get to teach her why I work and what I do. I'm glad she has questions and I'm able to answer them. I want her to spread her wings and grow into something she loves and is passionate about. 

Baby girl, I hope your life is full beyond measure with love and passion! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Online fundraisers

We have several online fundraisers going on currently. We decided now is a great time of year to do fundraisers so that you can buy your Christmas and birthday gifts now and part of the profit will come back to us to help Bella get to Camp No Limits once again!

I was a wedding crasher at Steph's wedding, not really but it's a long story! She offered Jamberry to help us raise funds and keep your nails looking great. Buy 3 get 1 free!

My friend from years ago, Stephanie offered up her business. Silpada is beautiful .925 sterling silver jewelry. This is her direct link for our fundraiser. Silpada

My friend, TMI Amy offered to help you become addicted to essential oils. Young Living is the brand of oils I use for our family. I'm continuing to learn how to use them properly and Amy is an incredible resource! You should see her oils collection, it's pretty impressive! Each premium kit purchase gives us $10 for camp. Use think link and email me to let me know you ordered so I can tell Amy to receive our $10! My email is sarahzizzo@hotmail.com or bellacampfund@hotmail.com

Angela is someone I've never met in person but helped us get pregnant with Bella, I'll spare you the details! She was one of the first people to know that Bella was conceived. She's also a Norwex rep and has offered to help you become healthy and chemical free. Follow the link and enter Sarah Zizzo when prompted. Chemical free cleaning

Think about your family, your friends, your coworkers, bosses, all of the people in your life with upcoming birthdays... Think Christmas, get that shopping done early. Help us reach our goal of attending Camp No Limits again this year and continue to raise awareness about limb differences in the process! If these products aren't of interest but supporting us is, follow the paypal link to donate directly. We appreciate your love and support!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Siblings

In one of the limb difference groups we are a part of, a mom posted this:

"I felt like adding a discussion post of the siblings of limb differences. The awesome kids who may lead the way and very protective of younger kids with limb differences or admire the older siblings who are different. Then the challenges of creating balance of fair between the normal and limb different siblings. For example my youngest daughter gets more attention at times and she is very limited in amusement parks. Then I am sure in the future she will attend special camps and conventions to meet kids like her. Then have more specialized extracurricular activities for balance, flexibility, confidence and strength.

Is it weird to seperate kids based on abilities? The boys go on fun amusement parks, get bikes early, and play a wider variety of sports while their sister is left out. Then she goes across country, go to camps, and enjoy specialized extracurricular activities that I will likely deny the boys for cost reason"

My response was this:
"I think it's also important to recognize the siblings. I also think it's important to recognize that each child is different whether or not they have a visible difference! My youngest son loves balls and being outdoors. My middle son loves baseball and playing catch. My daughter (who has a limb difference) loves arts and crafts and prefers to be inside. Embrace them all for their differences! As for camp, we all go as a family. It's important for the siblings to be supportive and get an opportunity to see all different kids and met other sibs of limb different kids."

I thought more about this post all day. I couldn't shake it for some reason. Is my daughter "limited"? In my opinion, she anything but limited! Does she have to adapt, you bet! We all adapt in different situations that are new or uncomfortable to us. I always wondered how my brother and I were so different when we were raised in the same house, with the same parents and the same rules... then I had my own children. From get go, they were SO different! I learned as I had each baby, that you have to adapt to each child. You must figure out what works for THAT baby! It was like starting all over each time, hell I was starting all over each time! 

Bella is independent, strong and stubborn. She falls and hurts herself and she pushes you away (she's just like I was as a child!) She's strong willed and has her opinions. Her style is very unique. She's picky about how things feel on her body, how socks lie across her toes and how waistbands feel on her belly. She's a leggings girl all the way, she hates wearing shoes and would rather be barefoot. She loves arts and crafts and being indoors. She's quick to make new friends anywhere she goes. This girl could run on no sleep for days, I'm pretty sure she did as a baby :/ 

Grayson is hot or cold. He is a lover, a "nuggler" and desires to be curled up in your arms. He loves being outside and playing catch. He's easy going with his clothes and will wear almost anything. He loves wearing shoes and zip up hoodies. He's quiet and is timid to put himself out there to meet new people. He can go from happy to ticked in 2 seconds flat. He's NOT a morning person at all. He's a master sleeper. He loves dance parties.

Luca is a circus animal. He will walk into a wall and not even realize he did it! He loves to be naked. He loves to kiss and also loves to hit. He'll play with any kind of ball and has a heck of a throw. He's a wild toddler, a climber, no fear at all. He loves to read books and be dirty... really dirty! He's a fickle sleeper to this day. 

My point with all of this? My kids are all very different. Bella's limb difference does NOT define her even though it is part of her. Each child should be embraced for their differences and those differences should be celebrated. We don't treat her different because of her limb difference. We treat her different because different things make her tick.

As for camps and activities, Camp No Limits is a family affair, at least for now. The boys don't have a choice in that one. It's a good opportunity for them to see other limb different kids and adults, to ask questions about differences, to be exposed to siblings of limb different children and it's a fun vacation with great people! There will be times in their lives when they do go to different camps due to their different interests. There will also be times in life when we all go to camps together to have a vacation or show support of one of our family members. For us, each of our children will be treated different. Not due to their physical appearance but due to their needs, whether that is physical, mental or emotional. As for sports, so far Bella likes to talk too much and isn't into sports yet. We've given her the opportunity and she's been part of the parks and rec soccer program, it just wasn't her thing. We are all about exposing our children to a variety of things so they can explore what makes them happy. As for this mom asking about amusement parks, I have a strong sense that their daughter will have fun even if she doesn't get to ride all of the rides! Maybe she won't even like the rides! It's hard to say because she's so young. 

As for us and our family, parenting each child is different. We treat them with love and support no matter what. We will also teach them to be supportive of each other's hopes, goals and desires. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our first ONLINE fundraiser!

This is the first of MANY online fundraisers to come. Think of Christmas, think of teachers, wives, mothers, friends, sisters, daughter, cousins, aunts, nieces, all of those important ladies and girls in your life! My friend Steph is doing very well with Jamberry and graciously offered a percentage to give back to Bella's Camp No Limits fund.

This is your opportunity to purchase things that you want or need and give back to Bella as well!

Bella's Online Jamberry Party

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Camp Re-cap

I didn't post all the pictures from Camp No Limits last January. Life and these kids make putting pictures into albums almost impossible. Here is our album that's now on it's way to us... almost 9 months later. :) Enjoy!
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

And so it begins...

Bella asked me to talk with her class. So the next day, I emailed her teacher. She was right on board and welcomed me to come to class THE NEXT DAY. As a mother, with my first child, who happens to be a beautiful girl, who happens to be smart and kind hearted, who just so happened to be born a little different, I'm learning as I go. Even with the second kid and the third one, I'm still learning. Being a parent is no joke! The pay is not in cash money but in hugs, tears and kisses instead. I'm learning, I'm growing, she's learning and growing too. One thing is for sure, we are all in this together, united we stand.

Today, I braved the crowd of twenty-something kindergarteners and one teacher (who has been doing this for 20+ years). I was nervous, my stomach hurt, my heart ached. Would I say the right things? Would they understand what I was telling them? Would they understand her difference and her abilities? I hoped, I prayed, I crossed my fingers and I went for it.

I sat on the floor with Bella by my side and my arm around her as I talked.

"Who has seen the movie Finding Nemo?" *everyone raised their hand except one.

"You seriously haven't seen Finding Nemo?" I asked him.
"Oh yeah, I have" he replied. Wake up little guy, I thought, you've only been here for 30 minutes.

"So who can tell me what's different about Nemo?" Many raised their hands with responses "He has stripes", "He's orange", "his brain doesn't work the same way as ours" (To which the teacher responded, um yes it does, I think you've got that part a little wrong), "OH I know, I know, he has a big flipper and a little flipper"

"Great job guys! You are all right! Now, who noticed something a little different about Bella?" Again, hands raised and responses started "She has blond hair!", "She has one hand and all of the rest of us have two!" "She's the only kid in the class with one hand!"

"You guys are all right! Way to go!"

I went on to explain that she was born that way. That when she was in my belly her hand never grew and it was just the way she was born. She could do everything that they did but she sometimes did them different. Then I said each of us do things a little different because that's the way we were made, all different. Some have blond hair or brown hair, green eyes, brown eyes... I explained that she can cut paper, write her name, get dressed by herself, hold hands, play play dough. I showed them how we held her right hand and then how we held her left hand and said "See it's just a little bit different but she can still hold your hands!" I explained that it doesn't hurt her or bother her at all and it's nothing to be scared of at all. There's nothing scary about it. It's no big deal! Then I let them ask questions.

"How can she play play dough?" One girl asked.

"Hmm... how do you play play dough anyways?" I looked at her. She showed them how she rolled things with her left hand and pressed down with her left hand.

"How come she has that little ball on her hand?" I explained that would have been where her thumb was but it never grew so it's just a little ball that doesn't bother her or hurt her or do anything.

"How does she cut paper if she can't hold the paper?" Again, I looked at her and said "How do you cut paper?" And she showed them that she holds the scissors in her right hand and uses her left hand to hold the paper down.

"But she can't trace her right hand because she can't hold a pencil with her other hand"
"You are right, but I bet someone could help her... who do you think could help her?"
"A grown up"
"The teacher."
"Or a FRIEND could help her too" Her teacher piped in. They liked that idea!

"What if we hold her hand too tight?" I told them that she would tell him, "won't you?" I asked her.
"Yep, I will" Bella said.

The end... well almost. It was short and sweet and only a little bit overwhelming for me. She seemed to be very happy that I was there and that we talked about it.

From one parent to another, do what's best for your child, whatever that may be. It was best for us to tell her that we could talk to her class if she wanted. She said no initially and that's A-ok! Then a day later, she changed her ming. That's ok too. For us and our family, that was what was best.

As parents, we consistently struggle with doing what's best and what's right and worry about being judged. I'm here to tell you, YOU are doing a great job! Your child may not be able to tell you that, but you are! Congratulations, you've made it! The sleepless nights are worth it. The tiny soap eating monster at my house, he's worth it. The little lover boy that "nuggles" is worth it too. The days I spent standing up wondering how much longer I could stand and bounce my tiny baby girl to sleep, they were worth it too. It's hard work. It's no joke, it's the thunder dome baby! You've got this! We've got this! We are all in it together!

Kindergarten day one

The first day went off without a hiccup. Ryan, Grayson, Luca and I took Bella to school and walked her down the hall and into her class. As her mom, I could tell she was nervous.

"Hold my hand!"

"Hold my hand TIGHTER!"

She walked into the school hand in hand with Daddy and Grayson and I carried Luca. She was dressed in a beautiful outfit her Tutu bought that had a bright yellow tutu and a white top with ruffles on the sleeves and a big bright flower on the front, her hair in pigtails. Where had our baby gone? Who was this big girl walking into school?

We walked into the classroom and got settled. Unloaded her backpack and hung it on her hook, sat the treats for the class on the table and got her situated in her seat with the other 3 littles waiting at her table. We kissed her goodbye...

"Wait I need to go potty!"
"Come in here with me!"
"Adults can't come into the kid bathroom, we'll wait right here for you and we won't leave" said her Daddy.
"Don't worry honey, we'll be right here when you come out," I told her.About 12 seconds later the door opened to an unflushed toilet.
"You have to flush. Did you wash your hands?" Daddy asked.
"No, don't leave!"
"We won't but you have to flush and wash" he told her. Once again she got settled back at her seat. Daddy hugged and kissed her and so did I. 

"Just one more hug and kiss mom" and I proceeded to hug and kiss her and take a picture.
"Ok... no wait, ONE more!" once again, I kissed and hugged her. I held back the tears. We blew kisses from the door way with well wishes "Have a great day, we'll be waiting for you at the bus stop!" Down the hall the four of us walked. What a lonely day I would have without my girl, I thought. My heart raced, my eyes welled up. Please God, don't let me cry until I get outside, I begged. My feet hit the blacktop of the parking lot and tears rolled down my cheeks. How could I just leave her? With a stranger! Ryan poked fun "You're going to get dehydrated!" Tears continued to roll. Then the ugly cry.

"Are you sad Mama?" Grayson asked me.
"No honey, I'm happy for her. She's going to have lots of fun. I just miss her already"
"When is Bella coming back?" He asked

"When school is over, after naps for you" I told him. Many times that day I heard the same question "when is Bella coming home?" and I replied the same way each time.

Then up the driveway she strolled. Her bus was EARLY! We completely missed her getting off the bus at the end of the street, our neighbor, who happens to be her best buds dad, got her off the bus with his daughter and walked them both home. OMG Seriously? Parent fail!!

Her favorite part of the day: Riding the bus with Hannah and the "Totally awesome playground"
Her least favorite part of the day: Leaving us

As I tucked her into bed that night, we talked at length about her day. She said "Mom, I think it's a good idea if you do come to my class and talk. The kids ask lots of questions about my hand and I get tired of it. Maybe you should come tell them like tomorrow". I explained that I would talk to her teacher and see what day worked best for her and the class to have time to listen.

"One kid was a little scared, Mom. He said my little hand was scary" I assured her that it wasn't scary, that it was just new to him, like he was new to her. He was learning about her. He didn't know how she was born different and I bet there were different things about him that she would learn about too. I assured her that people just had to ask questions to learn and I would tell him not to be scared. She was perfect and I would tell him that, I promised.

TO BE CONTINUED...