Tuesday, March 08, 2016

More Hallow

Our sweet girl is fitting right in with our family ya'll. I had to share some pictures from the last couple of weeks.

This girl loves to sunbathe. Loves it. She loves going outside and just laying in the sun, it cracks me up.

Caleb and Hallow showing off the "lap" command.


Big yawn! I think we have worn her out with all of our walks and nature adventures.

She's so pretty!

Benjamin adores her. I was concerned that he would feel like Hallow is Caleb's dog and not his but it hasn't been that way at all. She has been a nice addition to our family.

She loves to play fetch and often brings the ball to us to let us know when she is ready to play. She is just the right amount of playful balanced with the perfect amount of chill. 

We have fallen into a really nice routine with her already. She is just so easy. 

Hallow joined us on Benjamin's final orthopedic appointment. It is so weird and fun to take a dog into a public building. She did great.

We've only had her a couple of weeks but she truly feels like part of our family. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Meet Hallow

Get ready for some major cuteness, sweetness, and adorableness. 

Caleb and Hallow meeting for the first time.

She was born on Halloween 2013, that's how she got her name. You say it like the "Hallow" in Halloween.

I really have no words for how amazing this dog is. I knew Canine Companions for Independence trained these dogs well but I was truly blown away by Hallow. Really I was blown away by all of the staff and trainers. We did training Monday through Thursday of this week. It was a fast paced week with a lot of information thrown at me. I think I went to bed at 9:30 every night this week because I was just so exhausted! It really was a training for me because this dog already knows how to do a ton of things. I learned so much about Hallow, about how to be a good leader, and how to handle her. I wrapped up my training today by taking the public access test which certifies me to take Hallow out in public places. We are officially trained.

Caleb had the easy job this week during training. While I was sitting through lectures, he was cuddling with Hallow.

That face. Stop it.

He's quite smitten with her. We all are really. 

I think she is pretty comfortable in her new home.

She is just so sweet and smart. I'll share some of the things she can do on the blog soon. I just wanted to take a minute to introduce everyone to Hallow.

I did set up her own Instagram @hallow.cci 
I'll be using that as a way to share videos and photos of her. It seemed like the best way to connect with other Canine Companions and allow her puppy raiser to keep track of her and how she is blessing us. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FreeWheel Wheelchair Attachment

I have the coolest thing to share with you guys today! I first heard about the FreeWheel Wheelchair attachment a couple of years ago and was immediately intrigued by it. If you aren't familiar with the FreeWheel, it is a wheel that you attach to the footplate of your wheelchair. The FreeWheel lifts the front caster wheels off the ground, which makes navigating rough terrain possible. Those of you in the wheelchair community know how impossible it is to push a wheelchair through grass, gravel, sand, and uneven ground in general. The front caster wheels are the reason those surfaces are so difficult to push through. The FreeWheel prohibits the caster wheels from getting in the way.

(You can read more about the FreeWheel by visiting the product website. GoFreeWheel.com
The product was actually developed by Patrick Dougherty, an engineer and wheelchair user. The product has a really neat backstory and I encourage you to read about it on the GoFreeWheel site.)

I have wanted a FreeWheel for Caleb since I first heard about the product but the steep price tag (about $600) kept me from making the purchase. I was also unsure that the product could deliver on all the promises that it made. So, I reached out to the company to see if they would be willing to give me the FreeWheel in exchange for my honest review of the product. I was put in touch with their North American distributor, Dean Miller (Epical Solutions, Steadfast Foundation), who graciously agreed to send a FreeWheel to Caleb. Yay!

The FreeWheel is designed to attach to the footplate but the footplate bar has to be in the FRONT in order for the wheel to attach. Caleb's footplate had the bar in the back (see photo) so we did have to order a new footplate.

You can see that the bar supporting the footplate is in the back. 

The new footplate has the bar in the front. We ordered the new footplate through our DME. We paid about $150 out of pocket. 

Once we had the new footplate, we were ready to assemble the FreeWheel. This is what the FreeWheel looks like right out of the bag. It looks like a lot of pieces but you won't need all of them. The FreeWheel is designed to work with a variety of footplate styles and the instruction booklet walks you through installation process based on the footplate you have.

There are special considerations if you have a TiLite clamp footplate. If you have an older TiLite chair then there is a chance that the footplate clamp won't work with the FreeWheel unless you make some modifications to the clamp. Because we bought Caleb a new footplate, he had the right TiLite clamp so we didn't have to make any changes. TiLite actually made changes to their clamp to accommodate the FreeWheel. 

If you have a clamp footplate (like Caleb) then you have to add 2 additional screws to "pin" the footplate. This makes certain the footplate is secure so the FreeWheel can attach safely to the footplate. You only have to do this if you have a clamp footplate. Again, the instruction book tells you what to do based on the footplate you have. It sounds more complicated than it is.

The FreeWheel easily attaches to the footplate.

It clamps right onto the footplate.

Caleb was dying to take this thing out for a test drive. We took it to the nature park so we could see how the wheel performed on a number of surfaces. You start with the wheel out in front like shown in the picture. In this position the wheel is not engaged and the caster wheels are still on the ground.

Caleb quickly learned how to engage the wheel by spinning the wheel back toward the chair. This lifts the caster wheels off the ground.

This is how the wheel looks when it is engaged and ready to roll

We have done a number of nature walks at this park. It is paved with crushed granite and normally I would have to push Caleb through the trails. It is brutal on my back and not terribly fun for him. Not anymore ya'll. Caleb was able to navigate the trails on his own. I only had to help a couple of times when we were headed up a steep hill. But even helping him was so much easier with the FreeWheel. I could push him up the bumpy hill with far less effort than before.

He loved going off-roading.

In this video you can see Caleb go from the rough gravel to the concrete. Normally he would have to wheelie to get over the transition from gravel to concrete, but not with the FreeWheel. 

In this video Caleb flies down a hill with ease. He goes over grass, to concrete, to gravel and rocks, to grass and back to concrete! If Caleb were to attempt this without the FreeWheel, his front casters would catch on the grass or hit a bump and Caleb would tip forward in his chair. I can't tell you how many times I've see Caleb tip forward in his chair because he hit a bump in the concrete or tried to go from concrete to grass. With the FreeWheel he doesn't have to worry about tipping forward. And I don't have to worry about him breaking his face.

This video shows how easy the FreeWheel can go from sidewalk to grass. Normally Caleb would have to wheelie in order to move to the grass.

Another video of Caleb zooming down a hill.

This product is legit. I had my doubts that it could live up to the $600 price tag but it absolutely does. Having tried it and seen it in action, I can say that it is worth the cost. Now having said that, I know not everyone has several hundred dollars to spend on this. Many of us are already stretched financially because of all the medical expenses we already have. That is where the wonderful folks at The Steadfast Foundation come in. They are offering $100 off the cost of a FreeWheel! Simply use the code ADAPT on their website when placing your order! 

For those of you who really want the FreeWheel but can't afford it (even with the $100 off) don't worry, The Steadfast Foundation wants to help you raise the funds you need! They have set up a way to create a crowd funding site through their foundation. They will help you set up your site AND help you raise the money you need!

They are so passionate about getting the FreeWheel into the hands of as many people as possible. They are willing and axious to help you raise the money needed. How cool is that!? 

Here are some links if you want to learn more about the FreeWheel:

GoFreeWheel.com: The product website. You can learn more about the product, see videos, and read the backstory on this site.

The Steadfast Foundation: Go here to learn more about this amazing non-profit, their mission, and their story.

TSF Crowd Funding: This page will get you started on setting up a crowd funding site through The Steadfast Foundation. They are anxious to help you raise the funds you need!

Buy the FreeWheel: If you want to take advantage of the $100 off "ADAPT" offer, go here to purchase the FreeWheel directly.

I will continue to post videos and share our experience with the FreeWheel. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Nebraska Tournament

Sometimes we do things as a family that makes me question our sanity. This weekend was one of those times. We drove from Texas to Omaha, Nebraska for a wheelchair basketball tournament. It's a 10 hour drive ya'll....for a quick weekend tournament. We must be mad.

We left Friday morning and arrived at our hotel around 6:30. 
Pizza at the hotel is always a big hit with the boys. 

Even if we don't see snow in Texas this year, we can say we saw plenty in Nebraska.

This kid made shot after shot during practice. I can't believe how well he is doing. I'm anxiously waiting for his first shot during a game.

It was a blur of a weekend. The team played all day Saturday, one game Sunday morning and then we headed home to Texas...another 10+ hours in the car.

I never want to get in the car again.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Benik Vest for Trunk Support

I thought I would share something we use with Caleb to help him sit up straight. He has a tendency to sit back on his tail bone and we needed something that would offer him a little bit of support but not too much.

This is a Benik vest. It is made of neoprene and is completely soft and flexible. It has multiple velcro strips on the back to allow you to adjust the amount of support or even make one side tighter than the other if your child tends to lean to one side. It has a zipper up the front and 2 velcro strips that can go between the legs to keep the vest in place.

Caleb has had this vest for a few months now and we use it in the mornings while we do school. It really has helped him to sit up straight. I like the vest because it does just enough to offer a little bit of feedback and support but it doesn't do too much making it so Caleb doesn't have to work at all. It helps...but doesn't help too much.

I thought this little bit of information might be useful to some of my readers :).

Friday, January 29, 2016

CCI Service Dog Update...really good news!

We started the process of applying for a Skilled Companion Dog through Canine Companions for Independence a year ago. We went through the multi-step application process and found out over the summer that Caleb was indeed approved for a dog. At that point Caleb's name went on a waiting list and we started waiting. The typical wait time is about 2 years but we knew it would be less for us since CCI just built a new training facility in Texas.

Yesterday I got a very unexpected call from CCI letting me know of a very unique opportunity. They have a dog that they believe is perfect for Caleb and is ready to be placed immediately. Yay! The situation is unique because we get to bypass the usual intensive 2 week training that is scheduled for May. Caleb and I get to do our training in 3-4 days because we will have one-on-one training with the team. We will begin our fast-track training on February 22nd. This time next month we will officially have new member in our family. I don't know much about the dog except it is a female black lab. We are so excited to meet her. 

This kid was pretty excited when I told him. Fist pump for excitement.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

State Capital visit and B-ball tournament

Caleb had a wheelchair basketball tournament in San Antonio this past weekend and we made a quick stop in Austin to see the State Capitol Building on the way.

This tree was really cool. The branches have grown toward the ground.

Benjamin running off some of that energy. 

The Rotunda inside the building. The boys loved this. It is a sight to see. I remember visiting the capital when I was a little girl and looking up and being amazed.

We also got to see the House and Senate chambers.

Visiting the Capitol Building was a fun pit-stop on our way to San Antonio.

 Best part of staying in hotels....the yummy cinnamon rolls!

The team.

The tournament was at Morgan's Wonderland (an amusement park designed for those with special needs). Unfortunately the park wasn't open but the kids were able to enjoy the playground in between games. 

He is looking so grown up lately. I swear he has grown about 3 inches and he just looks more mature.

Caleb's team did a fantastic job. They played 3 games and won all of them. 1st place baby!

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