Friday, December 28, 2018

Benjamin turns 10!

My baby is 10! TEN!

 I always take a photo the day before the birthday so this was Benjamin's last photo as a nine year old.

 Officially DOUBLE DIGITS! We always do birthday morning donuts.

Benjamin decided he didn't want a big party this year. He just wanted to have a couple of friends join him at All Star Ninja.

 This place was awesome. The boys had a blast. Easiest birthday ever!

 After Ninja antics, we headed to the local coffee shop for smoothies and cupcakes (all Benjamin's idea)

 It was such a fun, relaxed birthday. He said it was the best one yet!

(Seriously can't believe my baby is ten!)

Mavericks Game Blessing

I'm about three weeks late in posting this but it's never too late to share a really cool story.....

I don't believe in coincidences, I believe God has His hand in all things. I wanted to buy Caleb tickets to a Mavs game for Christmas to further feed his NBA obsession. The cost was kinda high for four tickets so I thought about just getting two tickets so he and Glenn could go. None of us have ever been to a game. 4 BOX SEAT tickets were gifted to us unexpectedly from someone we've never even met. The tickets included parking, food, drinks, and our own attendant. We were rollin' like celebrities at the December 8th game against the Rockets! God was the only one who knew I wanted tickets and He used other people to deliver a blessing to my family, a blessing these people didn't even know I wanted. That's not a coincidence y'all. That's God. He's really that cool.

We had the best time at the game. Here are some pics....

(sportin' our Mavs gear!)
Not the best picture but it was taken from our box seats. Basically we had several seats to ourselves plus access to drinks and a buffet of food and sweets. It was a pretty cool set-up.

 Benjamin loved the food. Give the boy a constant supply of food and he's happy.

 We watched the players warm up before the game. 

 James Harden!!

Just keep feeding the boy.

 It was an amazing game! A nail-biter until the very end. The Mavericks won by only 3 points!

I think this photo sums up Caleb's feelings about the night. 

We were so blessed by this experience and by the stranger that gave us the tickets. It was so fun and definitely something that we will remember for years to come. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tapestry of Grace, Year One-Unit One

We just wrapped up Unit One of Tapestry of Grace, Year One. This was our second time to go through this Unit (first time was 4 years ago) and it was a lot of fun to revisit things we had learned previously and learn new things at a deeper level.

This was a 9 week unit that covered creation through Ancient Egypt. We studied the first 5 books of the Old Testament along with studies in Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.

Here are a few highlights....

As we read about creation, we made our own model of Earth out of playdough....

 ....complete with the layers!

We played the Royal Game of Ur (basically a 5,000 year old version of Sorry).

We made our own cylinder seals out of glow in the dark clay just to make it fun!

 (those freckles!)

The cylinder seals came out great and they actually worked.

And they glowed!

Hieroglyphic bookmarks. 

We went though the mummification process using Obi-Wan. The Ancient Egyptians would remove the organs they believed were vital, placing them in canopic jars. The body was wrapped from head to toe (we used duct tape). The body was placed in a sarcophagus (fancy coffin) and the person was laid to rest surrounded by jewels, food, clothes, furniture, anything and everything that might be needed in the afterlife.  Apparently Obi-Wan needed his light saber in the afterlife.

We spent a lot of time on Moses and the Israelite people. Benjamin built a model tabernacle out of Lego bricks.

Complete with a Minecraft sheep for sacrifice.

You can't read about the Israelite people without learning about some of their feasts and celebrations. We ate apples dipped in honey while we read about Rosh Hashana.

Books we read...

God's Names
The True Story of Noah's Ark
On Noah's Ark
Tales of Ancient Egypt
Technology in Ancient Egypt
Journey through the Bible
Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
Life in Ancient Mesopotamia
Ancient Egyptians and their neighbors
Gilgamesh the King
The Revenge of Ishtar
The Last Quest of Gilgamesh
The Golden Goblet
A Cry from Egypt
Walk with Y'Shua through the Jewish year
Wonders and Miracles

Check out my Tapestry of Grace, Year One board on Pinterest for more ideas/activities. I pin a lot of YouTube videos because the visual component really seems to help my boys. I can read about mummification but if I follow it up with a video it really helps to solidify the message. I also found an awesome channel, The Bible Project. I used their videos on the Torah Series and they are fantastic! I highly recommend.

I think that about wraps up the highlights of our first Unit. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Spina Bifida Christmas Card Exchange!

It's that time of year again folks! The Spina Bifida Christmas card exchange! If you aren't familiar or haven't participated before, here is how it works: You sign up using the link provided. I'll take the list of sign ups and divide it into groups of about 10-15. You will get a list of SB folks to send a card to and then you will get cards from other SB folks. It's really simple and easy and super fun.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Halloween 2018

Halloween night proved to be rainy and chilly....luckily we were able to hit up a Fall Festival over the weekend when it was sunny and warm.

Benjamin and I have been reading Harry Potter together. We just finished book 2. He wanted to be a Ravenclaw Prefect student.

I thought he looked quite snazzy in his cloak and tie. He was very proud of his costume.

Every wizard needs a wand. Rather than buy a generic wand, Benjamin made his own using a dowel rod, hot glue, and paint. One of a kind creation.

Caleb decided to keep it real this year and go as a wheelchair basketball player. He already had the jersey but he insisted on a headband.

I made a simple basketball backboard using just foam board and black tape. I used a Nerf basketball  hoop for the goal. 

Easiest wheelchair costume he has ever asked for. And cheapest too at only around $10!

Halloween happens to be this sweet girl's birthday. She is officially FIVE. We love her.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Wheelchair Accessibility in Branson, MO

Traveling can be a bit tricky at times when you have to consider wheelchair accessibility. Whenever I plan a family vacation, I have to do a bit of extra research to make sure our plans are accessible to Caleb. This can be a bit harder than one might think. So, I thought it might be helpful if I did a blog post all about the wheelchair accessibility in Branson. Obviously I can only share our experience but perhaps it will prove useful to someone.

The Cabin

I wanted to stay in a cabin that felt removed from the Branson fun, but still close enough that driving more than a few minutes to activities wouldn't be necessary. I had a very hard time finding what I wanted. But I finally stumbled upon this cabin on Airbnb. Now this cabin is not advertised as wheelchair accessible but it was close enough for me. It met all my other criteria: open floor plan in the living room and kitchen, no stairs to the front door or in the cabin, low entry showers, surrounded by nature but close to Branson fun.

We had parking right by the cabin but Caleb did have to bump up/down a curb to get to the sidewalk/ramp. This wasn't a deal breaker for me, it was a minor inconvenience. 

Caleb was able to access the screened-in back deck with no problem at all.

You can see more pictures from the cabin by clicking here.

Overall the downtown area was pretty accessible. A few of the shops and stores in the downtown area were a bit tight but Caleb managed to maneuver around okay. It helped that we were there during the off-season so crowds were minimal.

We went into several shops and food places without much trouble. The landscape is a bit "hilly" so there were some steep inclines that were challenging for Caleb. Lucky for him, he has parents that are willing to pull him up steep hills!

I was so excited about this! For this tour you get to drive a golf cart through the trails and into the cave. It was fully accessible for Caleb. He just hopped onto the golf cart and the staff put his chair to the side so it was ready right when we pulled up at the end of the tour.

Our ride.

There were several of these "photo-op" places along the trail. These were not wheelchair accessible so we had to carry Caleb to the rock. Other than that, the entire tour was gorgeous and fully enjoyable from the golf cart.

You can see more pictures from Downtown Branson and the Cave Tour by clicking here.

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City is a well-known theme park so it is very accessible. They have a "Ride Guide" on their website that will tell visitors all about the rides and their accessibility. It is a very helpful tool.

Caleb didn't have any trouble navigating the park. All of the shops and food places were accessible. The landscape is gorgeous, although quite hilly (some being steep). He needed help getting up some of those hills (especially toward the end of the day) but no help rolling down!

I felt like the accessible entrances to rides were clearly marked. We didn't have any issue at all. Overall I would say that SDC is wheelchair friendly.

You can see more pictures from Silver Dollar City by clicking here.

Runaway Mountain Coaster

This was so fun! The location and building itself are quite accessible. There are no steps into the building or down to the loading area. Caleb had no trouble getting around at all.

Caleb did need some help getting into the coaster. The staff were so great and took his chair to the coaster exit so it would be there when the ride was over. Helpful staff make everything better!

Caleb rode with Dad but he could have done this on his own. The coaster is gravity driven and you control the speed with hand brakes. Caleb had no trouble handling the coaster.

All smiles!

Mini-Golf locations are a dime a dozen in Branson...they are everywhere. We went to Dinosaur Canyon.

They had several courses to choose from. The "Raptor Course" was accessible.

 There were no steps at all and it was easy to get right to the course.

There were low transitions that he had to cross over but they were more than manageable.

To see more pictures from the coaster and mini-golf click here.

Sight and Sound Theater

This venue was completely accessible. The transition from parking lot to sidewalk was completely flat, no curbs at all. The lobby was fully wheelchair friendly. We sat in the accessible seating area and we were all able to sit together (some places only allow one companion per accessible seat). Caleb was able to see the show perfectly from our location.

This particular photo-op was the only thing that was not wheelchair friendly. To actually get to the columns you had to go up a few steps. So Caleb wasn't able to get as close to the columns and had to take his photo in front. Obviously this doesn't break any ADA laws or anything, it's a little thing that would have been nice. I had actually been in touch with their Marketing Manager before we arrived in Branson and she set aside time to meet with us after the show to see what we thought about the accessibility. She was genuinely interested in Caleb's experience. I did offer feedback on the photo-op having steps and a simple ramp would have been icing on the cake. She was very receptive to that so maybe it will be a change in the future. Again, it was minor and didn't take away from our experience at all. The show was incredible and our favorite part of our trip. If you do only one thing in Branson, go to Sight and Sound!

No steps at all in front of the venue. 

To see more pictures of Sight and Sound theater click here.

Branson Landing

Branson Landing is full of shops and restaurants. The fountains at Branson Landing are a fun thing to see. Everything we saw in this area was accessible. Caleb didn't have any trouble getting down to the fountains and we went into a restaurant and several shops without any problems.

This a small college just outside of Branson. It is very scenic and welcomes visitors.

Overall it was fairly accessible. Caleb was able to get around the campus just fine. The stores and museum were accessible.

He was able to watch the students making stained glass creations.

There were a few spots that weren't accessible. There is a beautiful look-out spot that was rocky and had multiple steps so he wasn't able to do that. 

To see more photos from College of the Ozarks click here.

To sum it up: I'd say most of what we did was fully or mostly accessible to Caleb. The only thing that really wasn't accessible was go-karts but that didn't really surprise me. There was no way to get to the karts without bumping down a big curb. It took a bit of work to get Caleb to the karts but we managed. Again, not really a surprise.

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