Firefly Playpak GIVEAWAY

The Playpak GIVEAWAY is now CLOSED. Thank you all for participating. Congratulations to Joy in Australia who will be receiving her new Playpak from Firefly soooon!

Most of you know about our trip to Belfast in March for the Upsee Launch. We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Firefly Friends community and you’ve also seen some of my guest posts on their blog as well, most recently about Sebastian’s Journey with epilepsy. Today we’ve teamed up again for my first blog GIVEAWAY!

Many of you have already seen the new Playpak online. I wish we would have had something like this when Sebastian was a baby growing into toddlerhood. It would have been fantastic for our lifestyle living in Cairo and travelling to see family in Michigan and Melbourne too. Playpak is THE portable activity kit. Fun therapy at home or on the move.

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Packed with Activities
, this lightweight little bag contains an entire activity centre. Inside you will find rolls, wedges and supports (designed by clinical experts) that stick together in dozens of ways and let your child tackle different developmental postures.

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Playpak also comes with a handy online therapy programme, featuring advice and easy-to-use instructions that show you how to use each clever little piece to create different sitting and lying positions, as well as how to perform all the recommended developmental games with your child.

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Practicool
: Your Playpak is light, handy and can go anywhere. Grab it when you head to Gran’s house and your little one can happily play, learn and get stronger while the grown-ups catch-up. Or to a birthday party so junior gets great therapy and misses none of the action. Or hang it on the stroller and head to the park for impromptu therapy with a picnic. You’ll want to take it everywhere – and you can.

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You’ll find it easy to store at home too. Just hang it on a coat hook, in a corner or in the wardrobe – it’s durable enough to take a little bit of squishing, squashing and bashing. Playpak is also more than just practical, it looks great too. It definitely doesn’t look like therapy equipment, and won’t attract any sideways glances!

Features and Benefits
• Lightweight, foldable bag/mat design
• Easily adjustable shoulder strap
• Five handy storage pockets
• Five colourful postural support elements
• Non-slip grip on base of bag
• Stylish, fun and easy to use
• Durable, machine washable materials
• Colourful loops for attaching favourite toys
• Super sticky Velcro strips for added stability
• Soft Velcro cloud

Therapist friendly
You already know how important therapy is in your child’s early years, but sometimes finding the time can be a challenge. Playpak gives you and your family the chance to make every day count. Every spare moment becomes a chance for great fun and great therapy. That is what we call quality time.
Playpak lets you play a bigger part in your child’s therapy too, and that matters a lot. Research shows early intervention programmes that allow therapists and parents to work together, like Playpak does, make a bigger impact on a child’s development.
The Playpak online guide will show you how to ‘mix and match’ Playpak components in three key therapeutic positions, which form the basis for later abilities – back lying, tummy lying and floor sitting.

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Meet the Taylors: I had the opportunity to meet this lovely family at the Upsee launch last March. I am so happy to see their daughter, Charlotte, getting so much use out of the Playpak while having fun and also being near to her brother so they can play together.  Julie and Cam have been using Playpak with their daughter Charlotte for some time now. Playpak has opened up lots of new opportunities for the Taylor family, and activities from the online therapy guide have become an essential part of their daily therapy routine. You can listen to Julie talk through the various activities she does with Charlotte below, as part of the Guide.

Back lying Tummy lying Floor sitting

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One of these can be yours! Enter the GIVEAWAY by this Friday, December 12 at midnight. Winner will be announced Monday, December 15. Your new Playpak will ship to you directly from Firefly.

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I’m having trouble getting the widget to imbed, but click the link and it will take you to the entry page. There are three possibilities and you can enter using all three if you’d like!

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Gifts for Seb. And kiddos like him.

I went to Target with Tallula recently. We always browse the toys to see what’s new and get ideas for Christmas etc. Tallula always wants to find something for Sebastian and she is usually pulled to the Spiderman and the Ninja Turtles’ toys. Shopping for Sebastian is difficult. Every birthday and every Christmas we really have to think outside the box. I do a lot of looking through toy stores and online. I read other blogs and take notes of other kiddos gifts at these times to file away for when I need to. I looked through every Spiderman toy and not one was something he could manipulate himself. There was one that went on your hand and shot Nerf saucers and I thought, cool! But then after looking up a video on youtube (because there are no instructions on the outside of the box) I discovered you had to wrap your fingers around something and pull them down to activate the saucers. No go. I try not to get discouraged, but I always leave a little deflated. Thankfully on our way to the escalators I spotted a set of Spiderman headphones that someone had just set down. He’ll find those under the tree this year. And he will be excited. But can he play with the headphones? No. He’s six! He wants to play too.

I’ve read two special needs holiday gift guide blog posts [Love That Max and Have Wheelchair Will Travel] this year and I’ve seen the ToysRUs Gifts for the Differently Abled Guide and Melissa and Doug Special Needs catalogues. Even though they are great, they have few options for kids with significant physical disabilities. Sebastian cannot manipulate toys on his own. He needs hand over hand. He’s come a long way using switches for communication as well as computer games (I really need to write about that). I want him to have fun and have some independence too. And I know there are other kids out there with very limited physical abilities that do too. So I decided to do my own list this year.

Robo-pets! Last Christmas we put Zoomer under the tree and it was AWESOME. We put commands into Sebastian’s Proloquo2Go app (his communication book) so that he could tell Zoomer what to do. His favourite is ‘Zoomer, Go pee.’ Zoomer is supposed to recognize the same person’s commands but sometimes it’s difficult with a somewhat computerized voice telling him what to do so we have to help out, though Sebastian can essentially still give the command. It’s the next best thing to actually having a dog. He does a lot of fun stuff. My favourite is when he barks ‘Oh my darlin’. Zoomer also has some new friends you can choose from too.

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Sebastian also has a Robo-Shark we call ‘Sharkie’. He swims for about 5 mins in his fish bowl and then he goes to sleep. He’s not as interactive as Zoomer but the kids like to watch him for a bit and then return to him later. We can also make up stories about his adventures.

Computer Games: switch accessible. Sebastian has a subscription to HelpKidzLearn A UK based site that has songs stories, games, and other activities. Each one has settings which can be set up with using a switch/switches. They also sell switches on their site, which was what we used until Sebastian got his custom ones. Many of the games are two player games so Sebastian can play with his sister, dad or myself. His favourites are basketball and bumper cars. There’s also a soccer song he really likes. Not only are these fun, but they teach switch skills as well as allow Sebastian to play with others. A year subscription to their website activities costs $90CAD and it is definitely worth it. Over 80 games and activities, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. When Sebastian talks about his favourite things to do, ‘video games’ is high on the list. These are his video games. They also have iPad apps for some of the same games/activities for 2 AND a select ten on the website to try for free. On of his favourites is Hoop Stars.

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Switch toys: Sebastian has played with some very basic cause and effect switch toys in the past when his was first learning how to use switches and also to assess his ability with targeting, etc. Switch toys can be very expensive. Since Sebastian uses his switches throughout the day to communicate, even read and write, I knew he was ready for something bigger. He really likes to play with the train track at home and he loves his car race tracks. We have a couple that he needs little help to manipulate but the train track he can really only tell us what he wants us to do with the trains using his ipad/communication book. It became my mission to find a train or race track that was switch accessible. My search took my to a site in the UK, Excitim LTD Special Needs Toys. I found some photos and an old blog post re the trains so I sent a message on FB and immediately heard back. We corresponded via email and I was given a few links and descriptions for exactly what I was looking for. After looking on the site I decided on two Rally Racer and Tolo Train Can you guess which one Sebastian is getting for Christmas? I’ll be doing a follow up post after the holidays…

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Monkey Bingo: Sebastian got this game a couple years ago for Christmas and it’s still a hit. He can push the monkey himself, so he can take turns like everyone else. We usually take this game with us whenever we go to Michigan because his cousins love to play it with him. I use blue sticky tack to attach the plastic coins to mark when he gets a match so that I can hold up the card and show him the pictures as we go. (This also works for memory games: sticky tack onto a piece of cardboard).

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Aqua Dragons Sebastian got a prehistoric egg kit for his birthday and he loved looking every day to see if they had hatched and when they had, how they grew. We had to squeeze air bubbles into their small plastic aquarium for oxygen daily and feed them once a week. We reported progress on his home-school switch share and he loved learning and sharing about these little tiny beings. Unfortunately after returning home from a week holiday they had perished but the few months we had to see them grow were fun.

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Bubble Science/science kits are also a great gift. Even though Sebastian can’t do the experiments on his own, he loves to do them with us, or watch us do them and discover and explore something new while learning and having fun. We also got Sebastian Sands Alive! Dino Adventure for his 6th birthday and he was gifted Kinetic Sand. It’s like having a sandbox indoors/on your tray. Less mess and a great sensory activity. With the Sands Alive Dino kit Sebastian can help roll a roller with dino-feet to make dino track marks as well as push down dinosaur skeletons to make fossil prints. Tallula likes to burry his hands and he lifts them up. The kid comes with 3D glasses and is a lot of fun, but it’s still something that he needs some assistance with.

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Therapy Swings A couple summers ago we got Sebastian a kids hammock swing for our back deck as well as a platform swing for therapy (which couples as a large hammock). The small swing can also be hung inside and it’s a great way to relax as well as great for sensory/motor. ‘The soft swinging promotes your child’s sense of balance as well as the general development.’ And it’s fun!

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Music and Movies: Sebastian loves a good dance party. He’s going to be getting the new Beck album for Christmas and he’s going to love it. Sebastian also loves to play music and takes music therapy which give him the opportunity to play different instruments, including the VMI (virtual music instrument) so he can play drums independently. Music therapy/lessons are another gift the continues long after the holidays have passed. I also always purchase a new movie to watch on the iPad during our long drive to Michigan for the holidays. Last year it was the Lorax. This year it will be Ernest and Celestine. Both are films that we watched together first so we know them and know how much they are enjoyed.

Experience tickets: Experiences make memories that last a lifetime. Getting tickets to a Christmas show/pantomime or Sesame Street: Let’s Dance! are a wonderful way to celebrate as a family or even with friends. Going to see a special exhibit at a museum or science centre are fun ways to explore and make memories together too. Or even a trip to the movies! We are hoping to see Paddington at the cinema with Grandma when we are in Michigan.

Books! We love books. We also have a lot of books. But I really believe that books are gifts that keep on giving. Getting someone your favourite book or a book by your favourite author is a great way to share something with someone, especially if you know they have all or most of their own favourite author, as is Sebastian’s case with  Mo Willems.

I hope you find something that works for you. I’d love more ideas in the comments. And please share. Because there are other kids out there like Sebastian, just a kid, wanting to have fun like all kids do.

This post has not been sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies. Just me, a parent, sharing our experiences with you!

27 Months (belated)

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Dear Tallula,

On October 20th you turned 27 months. You had so many adventures and a new first! You also had lots of fun with visitors in town.

I love how you play. We made a little snail out of soft clay and you took him on a picnic and on an adventure around the kitchen. You are a little photographer. You take pictures with our phones but also with our camera. I’ve started a folder for you of all your photos. I love to see your perspective. Sometimes I catch little conversations or kisses you give your baby dolls as you hold them tight or push them around. You tuck them into their cots and whisper ‘nice and cosy’ and ‘I love you.’ You make up stories in your big tall doll house from Aunt Shannon. Your imagination grows more every day. I am so lucky that I get to spend my days with you. We have so much fun. ‘Where are we going today Mama?’

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I love how you play games on the computer with Abees. You always want to be the pink basketball player. You are learning to give him time to hit his switches and you both take great pride in winning and high five each other when the other wins.

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I love how you make Sebastian laugh. We had so much fun with Grandma on Toronto Island when she visited. I think it was really our last summer hurrah. You love to learn forward and fly ‘like a butterfly’ on the swings. I’m pretty sure your daddy is afraid you will tumble out, head first. Though he also likes to toss you up up up, and you ask for more, ‘again daddy. to the sky.’ And Sebastian just laughs. We saw farm animals and you sat in the front of a quad-cycle while daddy and Grandma peddled and I held Sebastian. We saw monarch butterflies on all the pink flowers and you took my big, heavy camera and hung it around your neck and took photo after photo. One of my favourites is of our shadows and the pink flowers. Two of your favourite things.

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You also got your very first haircut when Grandma was visiting! You sat up tall in the pink airplane and say very still. You held a Dora doll. I love how you love Dora and her Spanish words. You love trying to speak Spanish and one of these days we will take a class together.

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Your Granny and Pop came to visit all the way from Australia and we traveled to the 1000 Islands where we started with sunshine and then had a lot of rain. You love going on adventures and stomping in puddles, so the rain didn’t bother you. On the boat tour through the islands you spent most of your time moving chairs and making friends. I watched you making friends with little girls older than you that didn’t speak English and their parents marvelled at your friendliness. I think they liked your bright blonde hair and spunky attitude because I spied them taking a few photos of you with their daughters too, on holiday from Japan.

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I love how you climb onto Sebastian’s chair so you can be closer to him. How you move your chair over to be right next to his at dinner time. Sometimes you use it as a stepping stone but he doesn’t mind. He loves your adventurous spirit. If you can’t reach out and touch him you aren’t close enough. Side by side with your ‘bruva.’

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You really enjoyed having your Granny and Pop in town and went on many adventures with them. You even had a special girls’ morning out with Granny while I got my hair cut. You went to Queen’s Park and afterwards we had a little shopping trip on Bloor St. Your favourite part though was taking the subway. A rare treat for you. We spent as much time outside as we could on their three week visit, going to parks, taking walks and playing in the back garden.

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We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving and I passed on the tradition of breaking apart the bread for the stuffing, something I always did as a child; though usually while the Thanksgiving Day Parade played on the TV in the background. But that’s US Thanksgiving. We celebrated with all the yummy things my mom and Grandma made for us when I was growing up. Sweet Potatoes. Corn. Green Bean Casserole. And of course Pumpkin Pie. The corn and the pie were your favourite. Which you wanted to help feed to Sebastian. He’s a lucky kid! You also decided that wearing your shirt off your should meant that you were Super Girl for the day. And we finished off the day with The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. You are a big fan.

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I love how you love bikes. And all because of your papa-daddy. Riding. Locking up. And fixing. You watch everything he does and you want to do it to. In fact, you are very good at it. I also know it’s one of his favourite things too.

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On top of the world! Evergreen Brickworks.

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When we call you a kid you tell us, ‘I’m not a kid, I’m Tallula!’ You are strong. You are brave. You are full of love and laughter, compassion and adventure. You balance on every surface worth a good balance, and you spread your arms wide open, embracing the world and those in it. You are Tallula. Our favourite little girl.

Being a mom really is the best.

Because even on the hard days there are always smiles. Always. At least one. IMG_0465

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Tallula has bronchitis. She’s using an inhaler to open up her lungs to breath easier. There is an airflow attachment that covers her face. I was reading the instructions and they show a teddy bear and suggest using one as an example so your small child isn’t afraid of the contraption. Tallula approaches it very seriously and matter of fact. She takes it out of the box. I shake the inhaler and she helps put it into the airflow tube. We place it over her mouth and nose. I spray. We count five breathe for each puff.

She enjoys the routine of taking medicine. She wants more Tylenol for her fever. She sees Sebastian take medicine every day. Three times a day. It’s a very important part of our routine. As much as she wants to help with it we don’t let her. Because it’s medicine. It’s something off limits to her. Except right now. Right now she has her own medicine. Her own routine. Just like her big brother.

There is beauty in figuring these little people out. I’m so thankful I get to. Because there are more happy days than hard ones. Without a doubt.