A Hippo, A Boy and a Therapist

A big day for Noah today.  No, he didn’t really ride a hippo, but he did start hippotherapy (hippo is greek for horse).  And actually, I knew that long before today, but only because we’re studying ancient history in our homeschool this year, and we recently covered Mesopotamia (meso translates to between and pota means river).  The text we use for history was gracious enough to put two and two together for us and explained hippopotamus translates to river horse.  For some reason that stuck, so I was pretty sure hippotherapy had something to do with a horse when I first heard of it.  Kinda neat to have a real life reminder of what we learned in history.  Who says Latin is a dead language?

If you’re not familiar with hippotherapy, the American Hippotherapy Association has a great explanation of it on their website.  http://www.americanhippotherapyassociation.org/hippotherapy/hippotherapy-as-a-treatment-strategy/  The way I understand  hippotherapy is that it is a therapy that integrates aspects of physical, occupational and speech therapy all in the course of a horseback riding session.  I thought it sounded a little bit hokey at first, but watching today and watching some videos of hippotherapy on U-tube convinced me otherwise.  Those guys work HARD!!!!!

So, we left the house early this morning at 7:30.  Not a problem for Noah, who we heard banging around at 5:30 this morning.  Noah slept so much when he was a baby, I was thinking we’d be smooth sailing through our mornings as he grew older.  Ha!  He is the first one up every morning and would probably be the last one in bed every night if we gave him that choice.  It’s okay, though.  I’ll take a healthy and rambunctious little boy, and I’ll thank the Lord he wakes up every morning, no matter what time it is.

We live out in the country, and the hippotherapy arena is even further out in the country.  I was so excited – we actually left the house in time – hippotherapy started at 8:00.  I’m driving and driving, paying attention to the street signs, notice Noah’s physical therapist is in the car behind us, so when I pass a suspiciously familiar-looking street and notice she has turned onto it, I pulled off onto the side of the road and turned the car around.  Did I happen to mention we were out in the country, on a narrow road?  So what I pulled off into was something akin to quicksand.   Somehow with the front of my Suburban taking up a whole lane, the back half  got stuck in the quicksand-ish stuff (okay, okay, maybe it wasn’t quicksand, but it was soft, really soft) on the side of the road.

And this is why I love living in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.  Immediately a truck pulled up beside me, the man got out and did his best to get me out.  I had done this in a really bad spot, just on the other side of a hill, so the people cresting the hill could not see that there was a problem until they were right up on it.  You know, the kind of situation where even the kindest folks will back down from helping because it’s just not really safe.   He decided to take his truck and put it at the top of the hill as a warning.  The entire time he was helping me, every person who drove by stopped, rolled down their window and asked if they could help.  If you live in Texas, you know it is not a rare site to see Hispanic day laborers broken down on the side of the road, obviously needing assistance assistance that seems to rarely come.  Well, this kind, kind man who looked like he could himself have been in that situation stopped his truck, got out, brought a strap and wanted so badly to help.  The first man who was sticking around until I got free said he didn’t think the strap would hold, and you could tell the guy was disappointed he couldn’t do anything.  Then another guy stopped.  This guy had a huge diesel.  I asked him if he had chains, and he said he didn’t know, but he’d take a look and see.  Thank the Lord, he did!!!!  And those two guys worked together and got me out.   I insisted on paying them, but they refused.  One of them just told me to pay it forward.  (I will.)   They did each take a gospel tract.  I was kind of embarrassed though – they were the Good Samaritans that day, they could probably have taught me a thing or two about loving my neighbor and helping the helpless.  If you have a second, pray for those guys, that the Lord would bless them in a mighty way.  I know both of them were probably on their way to work and had a whole list of things they had to accomplish before they could wrap up for the day, and helping the lady stuck on side of road (that would be me) because she backed her car into quicksand wasn’t on the list.

They sure were my angels today – and Noah’s.

So while all that was going on, I called Noah’s PT to tell her what happened and to see if there was any chance she would come get Noah and take him on to hippotherapy while I dealt with the car (that was while the Suburban was still making mud pies).   She did!!!  Can you believe that?  What a gal!!!!  But I was already free by the time she got on the road, so I just followed her back to the arena, and other than being 15 minutes late, everything went off as scheduled.

So, how did he do you ask?  Oh, he was a champ!!!!!!  He rode with someone on the horse with him, and I couldn’t hear a lot of what they were doing because it all happened outside, and they keep spectators a good distance away from the action.  But he was all smiles and waving at Mom (again, that would be me).  I could see they had him throwing rings and balls around.  He looked so professional with his helmet on.

All in all a great day.  I took some video, but my hands are so shaky and movements so jerky that I know it is going to be very annoying to watch.  I’m not much for video, but maybe blogging will motivate me to learn.

Here are some lotto boards I put together on www.mrsriley.com with hippotherapy terms and pictures:  http://mrsriley.com/app/#fileID=46037.  Anyone can view them, just click “preview” and “continue” once on-site.  If you want to print, click the green “preview, register to print and save” star in the upper right hand corner.   The three boards are all slightly different, so up to three people can play, or you can change out the boards for a little something different.  Print each board that you want to play two times, cutting one copy of each board into cards.  Keep cards divided into stacks according to the board.  Each player gets a deck (or mom and child can share a deck if they are sharing a board).  Players take turns drawing cards from their deck and matching card to corresponding place on board.  Winner is the first person to get a row of three, all four corners or black out.  Of course, customize the game to fit your needs.

Note:  One of the cards features “Miss Laurie.”  I know not everyone is as fortunate as Noah to have Miss Laurie.  Hopefully you each have your own version.  To edit the text to match your therapist’s name, simply follow the link, double click on the Miss Laurie card, delete the text  in the card name box and enter your own therapist’s name.  Repeat procedure for all three boards. 


So You Say You Don’t Have a Laminator

A few months back, my very helpful daughter was laminating some picture cards and she put the sheet in upside down.  Unfortunately that laminator didn’t have a release lever on it; so much for that laminator!!!!

I was being extremely frugal that month, and that’s when my creativity often kicks in.  I’m sitting there with a box of 200 laminating sheets and absolutely no way to use them.  Hmm.  My thought process went something like this:  Well, the inside of the pouches must have a lower melting point than the outside of the pouches or else the pouches would completely melt all over the inside of the laminator.  Hmm.  I wonder what would happen if . . .

Uh huh.  So, I took a laminating pouch, inserted and glued my picture cards to the bottom sheet of the pouch, put the pouch on the ironing board, turned the iron to medium heat/dry and proceeded to iron.    And if it didn’t work, well, this post wouldn’t be here, would it?  Yup, worked like a charm.  The cards wound up completely laminated.

Now, laminating sheets in themselves can be very expensive.  Between making file folder games for my six preschool to elementary-age children (my 17-year-old barely escaped my obsession with file folder games) and making picture cards, I go through about 100 laminating sheets a month.  The best deal I have found is at Sams Club – a box of 200 for $20.00.

Another option I use at times – plastic sheet protectors.  I’ve also found plastic sheet protectors at Costco and Sams – a box of 200 for about $10.00.


Whatever  you do, don’t get sheet protectors mixed up with laminating pouches.  My suspicion is that the melting point of the inside of the sheet protectors is exactly the same as the outside, hence the entire thing will melt all over your iron or your laminator.

Because sheet protectors are cheaper, I use them whenever I don’t need to cut anything out from what I print, i.e. schedules, if then boards, etc.

How about you – what are your favorite ways to make do when you don’t have just the right tool?

Potty Training Reminders ala Picture Cards

Do you ever remind your child not to potty in his diaper only to have him stare at you blankly like he has no idea what you are talking about?  Do you feel like you just might not be getting through to him?  Well times that by three and there I am.  I’ve had three littles in diapers for two years now.  As much as I love my babies, enough already!!!!!  How can I have three in diapers?  Well, first consider Noah has Down syndrome, and we were ready to give him a little extra time and space to reach the “I’m a big boy now” stage.  Never mind that he started using the potty earlier than our other children did because Daddy did such a good job in teaching him.  He’ll go just about every time we take him.  I just figured he would have moved on by now to the “I need to go pah-teeeeeeee” stage.  No such luck – a mere 4 years later.  Next, we have Bella, age 3.  Gasp, yes, she’s 3 and still not potty trained.  My “neurotypical” children (who aren’t so neurotypical now that I think about it) start reading at 3 but don’t potty train until close to 4.  Go figure.  And finally, pulling up the rear, no pun intended, we have Seth, almost 2, who is starting to show a little curiosity about toilet training.

So, what to do?  It would be nice to cut down diaper changing time around here to five minutes from the current 15 (and that’s  on a good day).  I’ve been thinking about sandwiching lately.  That’s that concept that first year marriage counselors teach you where you say something positive , then you say what you really mean, and then you say something positive again.  Except I’ve added a little twist, and a few picture cards of course.  Take a look here, http://mrsriley.com/app/#fileID=45894 for a  boy version, and http://mrsriley.com/app/#fileID=45980 for the girl version.  When you arrive at the site, click the preview button, then click continue, and it will take you straight to the file.  Remember, you can print this out (along with everything else you can imagine)  just for registering for a free trial subscription to mrsriley.com.  If you just want to look, when you arrive at the site, click on the preview button and it will take you to the file.

I’m going to try this with all three littles and see who responds.  I figure if I take them potty every hour and show them the picture board 30 minutes between potty breaks, we might be on to something.

Chime in if you try this at your house.  I’d also LOVE, yes LOVE to hear if you’ve stumbled onto something creative that works with your little (or not so little ones).

Note:  I hear a lot of people say, “Don’t worry, he’ll potty train when he is ready.”  Well, I met a young adult the other day with Down syndrome whose parents fell for that one, and they are STILL waiting!!!!  Hmmm.

More on potty training later.



An extradorinary little boy, the ordinary people who love him, and their journey together through the world of visual learning and speech acquisition. (And in my "free time," vintage crochet, machine embroidery, digitizing and Etsy.)