Wordless Wednesday – A Smile That Lifts My Heart

His smile lifts my heart every time I see it. I took this at one of the area playgrounds. It’s another of my favorite shots of my youngest son. (So much so I included it in my portfolio for Photography class.)

Wordless Wednesday - CJ looking up ladder at playground

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Wordless Wednesday – My Tiny Dancer

I took this photograph of my youngest son (who loves to dance around the house) at the Grounds For Sculpture. It was so cute and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Wordless Wednesday - CJ with ballerina sculpture

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A Boy’s Best Friend – Good For Listening And Catching Snot

My son loves our cat Jules. He loves him like crazy and considers him his friend. For my son, the cat is as good or better then any PCH Treatment around. The cat is the first thing that my son asks for when he gets home. My son talks to the cat, he’s even been known to show him pictures and books and read to him. It’s really sweet to see. See, my son doesn’t really have friends in the sense that many kids do. He has some friends in school, but there is noone in the neighborhood. Noone is beating down the door to play with the boy who has Down syndrome. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Anyway. Yesterday I went out to meet the bus as usual. I found my son looking upset and like he’d been crying. The bus driver wasn’t sure what was wrong, he said that my son had just gotten upset. My son got off the bus and I tried to discover what was bothering him, which is not the easiest feat in the world at times since his verbal skills are limited. I made no progress at all, which saddened me because I hate to see him upset like that. So we go into the house. Upon entering the house the first thing he did was look for Jules the cat, who he found quickly. When he saw Jules he threw his arms around the cat and proceeded to sob.

A Boy and his cat, a boy's best friend - Jules and Sad CJ

Then my son picked his head up and told the cat something.

A boy's best friend, a boy and his cat - Jules and sad CJ

Then he realized that from crying his nose had run and the discharge (ok, the snot) had gotten on the cat. At which point he told the cat he was sorry and that he loved him.

A boy's best friend, a boy and his cat - Jules and CJ sad

This cat is seriously awesome. We’ve known it for some time. I hope he lives a long, long life.

Photo A Day – 2012 Day 6

the other day my son’s class had an outing to a local department store. I sent along $5 for him to buy something. He decided he wanted this hat. This is interesting to me because he doesn’t wear hats, as soon as I put them on he takes them off. Since bringing the hat home, he has asked to wear it whenever we leave the house. It’s not a hat that I would buy, but he likes it and it keeping it on and at this point that’s what matters.

Photo A Day - CJ In The Spiky Hat

This is us together.

Photo A Day - Me And CJ In The Spiky Hat

REVIEW – Pictello Talking Photo Album Creation App

My youngest son has Down Syndrome and severe speech delays. There are many times he cannot make himself understood, and others that only his father and I can understand him. Because he can’t always communicate effectively, he gets frustrated at times, understandably so. I’ve often felt most sympathetic for him at times like when he returns to school after a vacation. I mean, the limited amount of friends that he does have are in school and I’m sure he’d really enjoy it if he could communicate with them better. I was recently invited to try Pictello, an app that creates talking photo albums. I accepted, wondering to what extent it would be useful for someone like my son.

Pictello App Button


Pictello is a universal app that runs on iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. Pictello is a simple way to create talking photo albums and talking books on your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Each page in a Pictello Story can contain a picture, up to five lines of text, and a recorded sound or text-to-speech using high-quality voices. Stories can be shared using iTunes File Sharing or via WiFi with other Pictello users through a free account on the Pictello Sharing Server. Pictello is developed for all ages and skill levels, so it is easy to use and requires no reading skills to locate and read stories. Pictello offers an easy visual story creation wizard so everyone can use pictures and sound to share important moments in their lives. An advanced editor gives full control of the editing capabilities.

Uses for Pictello stories include:

  • Stories to teach social skills or to recall events.
  • Photo albums to allow non-speaking people to share their news and interests.
  • Sharing important events and memories with family who live far away.
  • Talking books.
  • Teaching narrative skills as part of a literacy or language skills curriculum.
  • Schedules, Task instructions, etc.


I received a fully functioning version of the Pictello app. The app will work on iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone. It installs like most other apps, just purchase from the store and then put it onto your device from within iTunes. When you open Pictello the first thing you’ll see is albums. As a new user you won’t have any so you’ll want to create one. Creating a new album of your own is easy, you can use the Wizard or do it in Expert mode. FYI before you start – if you’re planning on creating an album of your own you’ll need to add photos to the device, or use the camera if the device has one. Back to album creation. First you’ll enter your album’s name, using the onscreen keyboard. Then you add the album cover photo. Your album has now been created. Now you add pages, also very easy to do. Click add a page, and then add a picture. Next you’ll add any text that you want to appear on that page, followed by the voice that you want to narrate the page. (If your device permits there’s even an option that let’s you add your own sound and voice.) now your page is done. From here you can edit existing pages, add more pages, or save and return to your album library.

I started by creating two albums, one for our recent family trip to Lancaster, PA and one for my son’s 12th birthday. I thought these were events that my son would enjoy remembering and sharing with his class if possible. Once the albums are created, you can choose which album you want to view from the library screen. nce you choose the album you can select it to play manually (you turn the pages) or in slideshow mode.

Pictello Page

I tried getting video of our album while it was playing but the quality of the video wasn’t very good (not the app’s fault, I have an old camera that just couldn’t get it clearly). The playback within Pictello is clear. I prefer the sound of the man narrating over the woman. I was pleased to find that the narrated words sound clear and aren’t hard to understand.

I let my son bring his iPod Touch to school the following Monday. His teacher wrote me a note that day telling me how much he’d enjoyed showing all of his classmates and friends the stories. As it turns out the Pictello app is perfect for him, so he can share memories and stories despite any speech delays and limited communication abilities he may have. I’ve even found him watching his stories at home, smiling as the pages turn. I’m super pleased with the app. Pictello is very easy to use and I recommend it highly.

Pictello is available for purchase for $14.99 in the iTunes store.


Pictello website

Pictello on Facebook

AssistiveWare on Facebook

AssistiveWare on Twitter

The product featured was provided free of cost to me for the sole purpose of product testing and review. This post has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or self. Please note that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Wordless Wednesday – My Son Reading To His Friend

Remember RB added a kitten into the family while I was in LA? She’s a kitten. what more can I say. Actually, I can say a lot. One of the things I will say is that she is awesome with my son. If he isn’t taking her somewhere then she’s going to him.
Now my son is a long way from reading. But he likes books. Yesterday I caught him reading to his friend, the cat. It was without a doubt one of the cutest things I have EVER seen. He even let her get in close to see the pictures.

Cj Reading To Juliet 1

Cj Reading To Juliet 2

Cj Reading To Juliet 3

Cj Reading To Juliet 4

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Wordless Wednesday – Bedtime – Somebody Is In My Bed And It’s Not Me

shortly before CJ’s bedtime last night it got awfully quiet. I crept around the corner and found him in my bed, with the PBS Kids channel on. When he realized I was there he closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep with a fake snore. I took this when he couldn’t keep his eyes closed any more.

wordless wed cj in our bed

Thanks for stopping by! If you have a picture up for Wordless Wednesday, leave your link below on Mr. Linky! Then head on over to From Val’s Kitchen, Here And There, What’s That SmellGo Graham Go, 5 Minutes for Mom and The Not-So-Blog Blog for more wordless fun!

Deal Alert – All In One Mens Grooming Kit

buycom norelco all in one grooming kit

CJ has alopecia areata. Male pattern baldness. His hair doesn’t grow in evenly and he ends up with bald spots all over the place so generally we buzz his head. A few days ago the hair he had was getting long, so I told RB it was time to buzz it.

Into the bathroom we went. I sat CJ on the countertop and got out RB’s grooming kit. I turned it on and it barely buzzed. We tried charging it. It didn’t get better. It had died, leaving us with a problem and the need for a new grooming tool.

I found a sale for reasonably priced solution to the problem – the Philips Norelco G485 All-In-One Grooming Kit. This trimmer has more features than our recently departed groomer. The trimmer works on beard, mustache, nose and ear hair. The trimmer has nine cutting lengths and comes with a several blades, a cleaning brush and eyebrow comb. There’s also a charging stand with storage spots for all of the attachments. This trimmer takes ten hours to get a full charge and will run for up to 35 minutes.

The Philips Norelco G485 All-In-One Grooming Kit regularly sells for $69.95 and is currently on sale for $39.99. There’s a $5 coupon on top of that, bringing it down to $34.99. And, it qualifies for free shipping. This would make a great gift for any guy. And don’t forget, Father’s Day isn’t all that far away.

Affirmation And Answers Through CJ And Noddy


Tonight was our monthly PTA meeting. I came home steaming mad, questioning myself on if it was worth it to be there. I’ll spare you the storm and drang of the meeting and get right to what’s on my mind.

Part of the goal of the SEPTA, or mission statement, reads as follows.

We will make Sacrifices in our lives
To create Pride
by helping these children and their parents Excel.
Through our Commitment we will work together
To Improve Awareness
And we pledge our Loyalty to EDUCATION
We are the Parent Teacher Association.

So. That all sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You’d think.

First a little background. I think the idea behind this organization is a good one. I also think the organization has great potential. In the more than five years that I have been a member I have benefited from things I learned because I was a member. I learned that it is ok to question your school and how they are handling your child’s education. I have had my child’s IEP (short version- annual individualized education plan) broken, which is breaking the law. I learned that it is quite appropriate to hold the school responsible for breaking that law.

Member A raised a question about officers not following rules. Some of those folks were running for offices that required training. Member A caught a LOT of attitude and flack for bringing it up, despite the fact that she has always stuck to the letter of the law. Member B and C could be heard whispering. Member D was just rude and fresh. Member E said that she, as one of the founding members, was sure that our rules were intended to be bent because our parent members were burdened. What? Burdened? My special needs child is a challenge but certainly not a burden. I thought her statement was somewhat offensive. Anyway. Most of the group seemed to feel that questioning if rules were and should be followed was not needed. The meeting continued on in a downward spiral. Some people were yelling and behaving quite badly. I’ve seen groups of children behave better. I lost a lot of respect for some by the end of the meeting.

I made the ride home questioning my own view on the situation, and my involvement with the organization overall. Was all of this arguing worth it? Was Member A right – should rules be followed to the letter? Was the bullcrap I had just sat through for more than an hour worth it? RB saw my foul mood and lent an ear. He was astounded at my description of the night’s events. Not having found an answer, I spent a few minutes with CJ and then sent him off to bed.

I went into the bedroom to kiss CJ good night. I went in with a cup of milk and a head filled with lots of questions, none that he could answer. Noddy was on the television. In this particular episode Noddy had coins and was wanting to buy something. CJ pointed at the screen and said “Oddy”. I agreed and told him it was bedtime. Noddy was now counting his change – one, two. “Ree” said CJ. I tell him that’s right and that he needs to go to bed. “Oney” he tells me. I agree that that was money and it is bedtime. “Oins”. My answer hit me.

I learned from SEPTA that I must be vigilant, to protect my son’s right and access to the best education he can get. Tonight my son did a little counting and recognized money and was able to tell me in a manner that I understood. That may not seem like much to some but for us it’s freaking phenomenal. It’s a result of making sure that laws were followed, even when it wasn’t popular.

Our school district child study teams are surely understaffed and overworked. Some might call them burdened. That doesn’t mean they should break the laws, does it? Of course not. Some of the very people complaining about following the laws at tonight’s meeting have argued to hold the school district to the letter of the law in regards to their own child’s education. What a bunch of hypocrites! Apparently the laws only suit them when they suit their own interests and agendas.