Monday, October 16, 2017

Just Like Me: Toys for Kids with Special Needs

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

Kids love it when their toys look like them.  From hair and eye color, to any special needs that they might have, it helps them feel accepted.  They can also help kids feel less afraid of their differences or medical conditions.

My son Davy was only two months old when he had surgery to get his G Tube.  The day before his surgery, a nurse came into his hospital room with a stuffed bunny that had a G Tube just like the one Davy would be getting.  I practiced hooking the extension tube up on the bunny before and after Davy got his feeding tube which was much less stressful than having to practice on my screaming baby.  He got his G Tube out when he was 18 months old, but the bunny still sits on top of his dresser.  I plan to add it to his memory box when he gets older.

Just Like Me: Toys for Kids with Special Needs

Toys that are adapted or created to have special needs or disabilities shouldn't just be for the kids who have them though.  What greater way to teach your child that it's okay to be different, have a feeding tube, or wear leg braces than for them to play with a toy like that?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Handsocks and Eczema Awareness Month

I was compensated in the form of product for this post.  Nevertheless, everything in this post is my honest opinion.

October is Eczema Awareness Month.  Mild eczema is usually no more than an annoyance, but for people who have severe eczema, it can be downright miserable.

With four of us diagnosed with asthma, eczema is also a common issue in our family.  Davy's eczema is definitely the worst though.

Handsocks and Eczema Awareness Month

The poor kid has eczema from head to toe and when it's flaring up, he's so miserable that he can't sleep at night.  He scratches until his skin is raw and open.  I do a skin care routine for him each night that includes a layer of triamcinolone (a prescription steroid cream), vaseline, and then vanicream.  The triamcinolone often burns when it's applied and so understandably, Davy hates his skin care routine.   Periodically, his eczema will flare-up so severely that nothing I do at home can get it under control again.  The only thing that works at that point is a round of Prednisone (an oral steroid) and antibiotics.

To keep Davy from scratching and rubbing the cream and lotion off of his skin after I put him to bed, I put him in footed pajamas like these.  However, he'd still scratch and no matter how short I kept his fingernails, he managed to scratch hard enough to draw blood every night.  I tried putting socks on his hands, but he pulled them off the minute I left the room.

Handsocks and Eczema Awareness Month

When Casey, founder of Handsocks, offered to send me some of her Handsocks to try on Davy, I was pretty excited.  I was desperate to find a way to keep Davy from scratching his eczema at night and Handsocks looked like they'd solve the problem.

Guess what?

They worked!!  No matter how hard he tried, Davy couldn't pull them off.  Having a way to keep him from scratching his eczema meant that it could finally heal better.

So here's the lowdown on Handsocks...

Casey, a mom of two, came up with the idea after using a pair of ski socks to keep her daughter's hands and arms warm during the winter.  They come in sizes newborn through 3T and in a variety of designs, including college football themed ones.  The soft minky mittens fold back so kids can still use their hands to play or eat without taking the Handsocks off.  There are no snaps or velcro to keep them on, but they're stretchy enough that kids and babies can't pull them off.


Handsocks and Eczema Awareness Month

For each pair of Handsocks purchased, a donation is made to Orphan's Promise, an organization that provides shelter, medical care, food and education to orphans in the US and around the world.

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What are Handsocks? Find out here! http://bit.ly/2yH351I @sunshineNspoons @handsocks 
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Just a few of the uses for Handsocks are:
  • To keep little ones from scratching eczema, rashes, or other skin conditions.
  • To keep hands and arms warm in cold winter weather.  Babies and kids often pull off their mittens leaving their little hands exposed to harsh conditions, but Handsocks stay on!
  • To keep little ones with medical conditions from pulling out their feeding and/or oxygen tubes.
  • To protect fingers from little ones with oral fixations who like to chew on their hands.  
You can find Handsocks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.  Don't forget to subscribe to get discounts and updates!

What would you use Handsocks for?









Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Is Life Like with ALS?


I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and it can make being a mom hard.  My kids know that there are days that Mommy has lots of owies and needs to rest.  I can't do a lot of activities with them like take them to the park or go for walks with them.

My EDS has given me a small taste of what it's like to be a mom with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).  Sarah from Speed 4 Sarah was diagnosed with ALS when she was 33 and her daughter was just two years old.


ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder.  Early symptoms include muscle cramps and twitching, weakness in the limbs, and difficulty swallowing or speaking.  As it progresses, the muscles atrophy and eventually become paralyzed.  The survival rate is generally 2-5 years after diagnosis.

In an article for CNN about her journey navigating motherhood with ALS, Sarah writes: "At first, I was drowning in my inability, in all the ways I thought I would fail her as a mom.  Then something unexpected started to happen.  The things I couldn't do for her, she started to do for herself.  When she was two, she dressed herself.  By age three, she was opening doors for me and helping with groceries.  At 4, she could make a quiche, and these days, she folds laundry and cleans her room with only the slightest bit of prodding."

I'm teaming up with the ALS Therapy Development Institute and Linqia to raise money for ALS research with the #whatwouldyougive campaign.  It challenges people to temporarily give up an ability such as using their arms or legs to get a small taste of what life with ALS is like.


Are you ready to join the fight?  Donate here and share the #whatwouldyougive campaign on social media and let's #endALS.  Click here to learn more about ALS and who it affects.

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Support ALS research and join the #whatwouldyougive campaign: https://ooh.li/69de6e4 #sponsored #EndALS @ALSTDI @sunshineNspoons
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Together we can fight ALS!





Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Giving Back Program Pick for October

In the past, I've selected March as a month to give back by donating a percentage of all sales in the Sunshine and Spoons Shop to a foundation or charity organization.  But now it's time to up the ante.

From now on, I will be selecting a different organization each month to which to donate 10% of all proceeds from the Sunshine and Spoons Shop during that month.  Each month, the new organization will be posted here so you can see who and how your purchases can help.  I'll also post the total from the month before.

As October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month, a cause that is dear to my heart (pun intended for those of you with POTS, haha) 10% off the proceeds from all purchases during the month will be donated to Dysautonomia International.


Be sure to check out the dysautonomia collection at the Sunshine and Spoons Shop to help raise awareness for and continue to fund research for dysautonomia.  Remember though that ALL purchases count towards the donation amount.

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@sunshineNspoons is donating 10% of all shop proceeds to @Dysautonomia International this month!
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Have a suggestion for next month's Giving Back Selection?  Leave it here!










Monday, October 2, 2017

What are Dysautonomia and POTS?

Did you know that October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month?

Let me back that up a little....do you know what dysautonomia is?

If you said no, you're not alone.  Most people have never even heard of it.  I didn't know what it was either until I was diagnosed with it.

What are Dysautonomia and POTS?

Monday, September 25, 2017

20+ Shops Run by Special Needs & Spoonie Moms

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

Parents who have chronic illnesses and/or children with special needs often have a hard time working a traditional job.  Between therapies, doctor appointments, and low spoon days, a job with flexible hours can make the difference between being able to keep a job or not.  One of the best ways to do that is to be self-employed.

20+ Shops Run by Special Needs & Spoonie Moms

Many special needs/spoonie moms end up starting their own shops online which gives them the flexibility to take care of their kids and themselves.  Want to help support them?  Check out the list I compiled of shops run by special needs/spoonie moms below and do a little shopping.  Christmas will be here before you know it!  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Meet Sarah: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Awareness

Charcot-Marie-Tooth...sounds like a fancy dentist, right?

Actually, it's a neurological disorder that was named after the three doctors who first identified it.  It affects approximately 1 in 2,500 people.  Some of the symptoms include foot deformities, muscle weakness and atrophy, loss of sensation, and more.

September is Charcot-Marie-Tooth or CMT awareness month.  Joining me today is Sarah Wells from My Stripy Life to talk about her journey with CMT.

Meet Sarah: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Awareness

Hannah from Sunshine and Spoons: What condition do you have?

Sarah from My Stripy Life: I have lots of conditions, labels that have been applied to my list of symptoms over the years, my most recent being Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) and the associated co-morbidities. But the one I'm going to tell you a little more about today is my first diagnosis, Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT). It's a peripheral neuropathy affecting the sensory and motor nerves to my arms and legs. I like to think that my bodies nerves are like a system of electrical wires and because of CMT the wiring to my arms and legs is wonky.

💙

Hannah: How does it affect you? How does it affect your family's daily life?

Sarah: A medical condition infiltrates every part of your life so that it is hard to tell what is normal or not and with long term conditions, it is often just the way it is and has always been. It's not until I've stopped to unpick my tangled web of medical symptoms that I've realised just how much of my
daily life may be affected by one thing.  Growing up I did not realise how much pain I was in, it had always been my normal so I thought that living with pain was normal for everyone. There was a moment in my early 20's when I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't cope with the level of pain I had on a daily basis. It was only from this point that I began to realise that daily pain wasn't normal at all. The main type of pain that I get from CMT is nerve pain, particularly in my feet. Mostly it is a stabbing pain, like a hot knife is penetrating my feet over and over and over, or burning pain, where my feet can feel like they are on fire and cramping at the same time. They ache all the time because of the extra effort for the muscles to work and I have muscular-skeletal pain from the bones dislocating and muscle imbalances.

I'm definitely not very strong but like everything it has become my normal in the same way that it is normal to find ways to overcome it in my daily life. Like having two handled pans so that my wrists don't dislocate, hot water plumbed in so that I don't have to fill a kettle, a downstairs loo so I don’t have to climb the stairs. Now that my children are growing up I don't have so many problems
undoing the bleach bottle or the children's paracetamol when my hands can't manage the lids as there is usually one of them on hand to help.

My hands don't feel sensation as they should, I rely on my eyesight for all fine motor tasks, even
for things like typing, as I can't feel the keys at all. If I cut myself in the kitchen I often see the blood before I feel any pain at all. When I run a bath I can't tell by popping my hand in the water if
it is too cold or too hot. I have to test the water three or four times and wait for my brain to register
a response, all the time proceeding with caution as scalding hot water often feels the same as
freezing cold to me.

Like many people with chronic illnesses I tire easily, especially when a task requires muscle power
such as walking, wiping the counter tops or writing. Every element of our lives is paced to avoid
the fall out from fatigue and to try to limit pain, there is always a pay off later for any fun that is had today.

I fall quite a lot, partly because I have poor proprioception, partly because I find it hard to pick
up my feet, partly due to muscle imbalances and deformity in my feet and also because I easily roll
over on my ankles. The kids are very good at picking me up or sitting with me while I catch my
breath.

💙

Hannah: When did you find out about it? Tell me about that experience.

Sarah: After the birth of my first son, things went very wrong for me. A mystery pain in my left foot left me virtually unable for me to walk. After nine months of investigations and scans I finally had a surgery to fix a thickening of my sural root nerve and in the process was left with a CMT diagnosis to get my head around.

💙

Hannah: What happened after you received your diagnosis? How did you react?

Sarah: Firstly, lots of things slotted into place for me. Why I had funny feet. Why I fell a lot. Why I wasn't strong. Why my feet hurt. Why I couldn't open a carton of milk without using my teeth. Why I couldn't run.

Then as the reality of having a condition for the rest of my life began to sink in I couldn't get the
words progressive, neurological, hereditary out of my head. Questions spiraled around my mind;
Why me? What would it mean for the future? For my little boy? Would I be able to have more
children? Would it even be fair to try?

It probably took me a good two years to get my head around what this would mean for me and my
family and to realise that I was still me. In essence I just had a name now for the weird and
wonderful symptoms that had become so embedded in my life. Little did I know at the time that I
was very wrong. It was my EDS diagnosis nearly 10 years later when things really began to make
sense.

💙

Hannah: What good or bad experiences have you had because of your condition?

Sarah: My illnesses have stolen my career in teaching, the job I had trained hard for and loved with all my heart.

Around the time of my diagnosis my mobility deteriorated quickly in a short space of time, I would
dislocate as the bed covers lightly brushed across my knee, I couldn't walk on grass without falling
and having more dislocations. Then one evening I stretched in the bath and something just broke
in my knee cap. I had a young baby to look after and I was too proud to ask for help, life was just
hard.

After two surgeries in quick succession, I was told that I would be probably be a wheelchair user by
my mid 30's. While this wasn't a very positive thing to hear it had a really positive impact on me, it
was at this point that I decided to fight and to learn. I slowly began to get stronger and over the
next few years had two more children. Each pregnancy was better than the one before.

Having CMT has taught me to fight for the care for all of us, to negotiate, to say thank you when
people do their jobs well, to be assertive when they don't, to learn the law, our rights. We are
empowered. I am thankful for that.

It has also taught me to give back, by lecturing, writing on the blog and for different charities and
helping others navigate their own chronic illness journeys. I have been on my own journey through
diagnosis to the point where I am now, and I survived. I think that I am in a much better place
physically and mentally than before I ever knew that I had CMT. I am stronger and I can help
others to be stronger too.

💙

Hannah: What has been your biggest challenge?

Sarah: Acceptance was one of the hardest things to grasp. For me this became much more than being able to talk about the conditions that I have.  There are two things that I struggle with.  The first is that I can't do everything, to admit that I am not normal, that things are hard for me.  I have had to learn to balance my life, management is the only option as there is no cure or magic pill.  When pain or fatigue flare I know that I have to rest in order to even function the next day but it frustrates the hell out of me and I think that it always will.

By far the hardest thing for me is accepting this for my children. All my children are bendy and
have varying degrees of symptoms relating to hypermobility or hEDS, and my youngest has a
confirmed diagnosis of CMT. I don't know if I will ever come to terms with the fact that they all have pain. I will never get used to watching them struggle where there peers don't. To be tired, tired,
tired all the time. To have to do daily physio to lead anywhere near a normal life.

💙

Hannah: What has been easier to handle than you anticipated?

Sarah: When our daughter was born it was obvious that CMT was part of her too. We were formally told after she had to endure painful Nerve Conduction Studies just before she was two. It was gut wrenchingly hard but at the same time I knew that it was OK.

While watching her struggle is one of the hardest things to do, coming to terms with the fact that
CMT is part of her life was easier than I had thought it would be. This time we understood what we
were dealing with so we can be prepared for her future. We can fight this monster because we
understand the beast. We can always make sure that she will be her strongest best self.

💙

Hannah: What was harder?

Sarah: To get the right support in place for us all has been a long road, one that we are still travelling. Just as you get the right ‘dream team’ of professionals in place someone leaves the service or goes on maternity leave. It's taken a long time to find these people, professionals that have something to offer us rather than attending appointments for us to educate them. This extends to fighting for the right support for my children in school, navigating systems from what feels like the wrong side of the fence in order that they are not at a disadvantage. In short, it's not the conditions that are the hardest to deal with but the bureaucracy of the health and education service.

💙

Hannah: What kind of support system do you have?

Sarah: I talk to my mum every single day. I also have a small but fantastic group of friends, I don't have to explain because they just ‘get’ me. They know that some things are hard but it's no big deal, our friendship is much more than that.

My husband is a complete superstar. He works hard for us all so that I can be home with the kids
where they need me. He knows when I feel that I am drowning and holds on to me until I can
safely tread water again. He makes me laugh every single day. We are a good team.

💙

Hannah: What would you say to someone who has just received the same diagnosis? What advice would you give them?

Sarah: Take your time to get your head around everything, any new diagnosis takes time to digest and process. Also remember that you are the same person that you were yesterday, before your
diagnosis, you just have a name now for your symptoms that you never had before.

Knowledge is power, you know what you are dealing with now. Read, learn, and use this new
knowledge to help yourself to be your strongest best self, with things like exercise and nutrition.

💙

Hannah: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Sarah: CMT has taught me perseverance and patience, when things are tough they will improve. It has taught me think out of the box and find solutions when problems present themselves, the rewards can be so much more when you work harder for something. It has taught me to value what is dear to me and treasure it with all of my heart. And it has taught me not to judge others because you never know their story.

Funny feet or not, I'm happy in my skin.

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Meet Sarah: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Awareness: http://bit.ly/2xtiSzG
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You can find Sarah on her blog, My Stripy Life.  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Be sure to check out the CMT Awareness collection at the Sunshine and Spoons Shop to help raise awareness for this disease!
Do you or someone you know have Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?






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Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business with Printful

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

When I first started my t-shirt business, I had to figure everything out on my own.  What sites to use, how to set up my website, how to design graphics for my shirts, etc.  It was time-consuming and intimidating to say the least.

Thankfully, I had some experience researching things like that as I'd been running an online shop selling handmade children's clothing and accessories called Annalie's Baby Boutique since 2010.  I loved my shop, but I knew it was time for a change.  I just didn't have the time to devote to it anymore plus my health was deteriorating thanks to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and it was getting harder for me keep up.  

I had a lot of designs that I wanted to have printed on shirts, but the idea of having to pay up front to have a bunch of shirts printed that may or may not sell was a little daunting.  That also would mean keeping up on inventory, packaging, and shipping products myself.  And then I found Printful, a print-on-demand company that would take care of all of that for me.  It was exactly what I was looking for.

How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business with Printful

I closed down Annalie's Baby Boutique and opened the Sunshine and Spoons Shop in September 2016 to go along with my blog, Sunshine and Spoons.

Here are my statistics for the year of 2016.  I opened my shop in mid-September.

How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business with Printful

Want to open your own print-on-demand t-shirt shop?  Here's how to do it.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

There are five people in my family who have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means that pain is a normal occurrence around.  I prefer to try alternative methods of pain relief such as using essential oils (Panaway is a great one for muscle pain!), massage, ice, and heat before turning to tylenol.

A few weeks ago, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed and was in excruciating pain for 10 days straight.  After applying ice to both sides of my face for the first 48 hours, the oral surgeon recommended switching to heat.  He said I could heat up the ice packs he'd sent home with me, but they just didn't seem to hold the heat very well so I decided to grab one of our trusty rice socks that I'd made with one of Hubby's (clean!) tube socks instead.  The problem was that it was too big and bulky to work well for my face.  In a rare moment of clarity, I grabbed a leg warmer from the kids' mis-matched sock basket and turned it into a perfectly sized rice heating pad.  

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Want to make your own rice heating pads that are the perfect size for kids AND adults?

First, grab some kid sized leg warmers.  I pulled these two out of the mis-matched basket of kids' socks, but you can get some really cute ones on Amazon.  Just make sure you don't get any leg warmers with metallic thread or print on them as I don't think that will end well for your microwave...

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Tie a knot on one end of the leg warmers.

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Measure out a cup of uncooked rice (NOT minute rice!) and pour it into the leg warmer.

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Grab the leg warmer by the open end, and shake all of the rice down to the bottom.  Then stretch out the untied end and tie a knot in it so there's a knot on either side.

How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Done!  Super easy, and each rice sack only takes a few minutes to make.
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How to make no sew DIY rice heating pads: http://bit.ly/2ez2IKu
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How to Make No Sew DIY Rice Heating Pads

Warm your rice heating pad up for 15-30 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave and enjoy.  Add a few drops of an essential oil such as Lavender for some extra relaxing power.






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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How to Make a Snot and Chest Rub with Essential Oils


This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

I don't know about your kids, but when mine have stuffy noses and coughs, no one sleeps in my house, which makes for cranky kids and a cranky mama.  Thankfully, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help everyone sleep a little better!

First, I run a diffuser in the sick child's room at bedtime for about 30 minutes with a drop of R.C. oil from Young Living.     

Secondly, I rub some of my Snot and Chest Rub on the bottom of my little one's feet and on his or her chest.  

How to Make a Snot and Chest Rub with Essential Oils

When I first got some Snot and Chest Rub from my oily friend, I had doubts about how much it would help, but after four sleepless nights with Anna, who was three years old at the time, I was getting pretty desperate.  Guess what?  We both slept all night!!

Want the recipe?  You can find it below.

How to Make a Snot and Chest Rub with Essential Oils

Snot and Chest Rub

Ingredients: 
  • 3/4 cup organic coconut oil
  • 6 drops Lemon oil
  • 6 drops Peppermint oil (substitute Myrtle oil for kids under 5 years old!)
  • 6 drops Lavender oil
  • 4 ounce glass jar
Mix the coconut oil in a glass or stainless steel bowl until it's smooth.  Add the oils and mix well to combine.  Put in the glass jar and label.  Apply to bottoms of feet, chest, neck, or back of neck as needed.

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How to make a Snot and Chest Rub with essential oils: http://bit.ly/2iVxSRk 
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Interested in joining Young Living?  You can sign up here!  







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