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40 Things I am thankful for

I thought it might be a fun post on this day where we give thanks…

1. My beautiful daughters

2. Freedom

3. Coffee

4. The smell of fresh cut grass

5. Dark chocolate, almonds and dried cherries

6. The sound of laughter

7. My health

8. Funny movies

9. Electricity especially during the summer!

10. Good friends

11. The grill

12. The look on my children’s faces the first time they met “Mickey”

naples sunset13. A beautiful sunset on the beach

14. A loving heart

15. The sound of rain hitting my window

peaches16. Fresh peaches look at this beauty!

17. That I have had the ability to see one of my dreams come true

18. My lovely home

19. My husband’s determination

20. Good books

21. The little things…

shelley and her camera22. My camera

23. Old songs that bring back good memories

24. The color yellow

25. My day planner

26. All of my senses

27. Hugs

28. My wonderful blog readers!

29. That I was able to stay home and raise my daughters

30. Woodmont grill’s Chicken Salad

31. The food network

red leaves of fall32. The colors of fall, this red is so vibrant!

33. Many wonderful family vacations

34. People who have supported my dreams

35. Special Ed teachers

36. Social Media

37. Trish McEvoy beauty booster cream

georgetown cupcakes38. A good cupcake

39. Sunrise, because that means I have been blessed with another day to “get this right!”

40. Life!

So what are you thankful for? Write a list and leave me the link!

Hello to my new friends!

welcome signI would like to thank Varda of A squashed bologna whose site I am guest posting on later today! So it you have popped over from her Special Needs Siblings Saturday I welcome you! Smiling from one special needs mama or day to another.

If this is your first time visiting “I’m Still Standing” let me give you a little house tour:

“I’m Still Standing” is a place to find comfort and support like home. Stop by to be inspired by stories about overcoming adversity, realizing that we’re all “able”, and to find healthy recipes.

Hello, my name is Shelley known to many as a “Playground Fairy,” Special Needs Advocate, Speaker, Blogger, Entrepreneur, Wife and Mom to three wonderful people who have helped change the world.

I am a creative person by nature and ready to jump into things with both feet, sometimes not really sure what I am getting myself into but always with an open heart. In 1996 I had the dream to create the first fully inclusive playground in the state of Maryland. Only having my design background, and my love for children, and passion to bring this project to fruition I jumped in full force. Not only did we (I formed a nonprofit organization) raise the needed one million dollars to create this playground, which is known throughout the region as “Hadley’s Park.” Our organization went on to build many more in the area, and helped hundreds of more in the country. If you’d like to find out more about me check, stop over here.


while I was doing this my husband Kenny founded a company to enhance the lives of children by taking the “yuck” out of their medicine… Yes, it’s the stuff that the pharmacist asks you “do you want to add flavoring in that” for your children’s medicine.


while we were both doing that my oldest daughter Sarah took being a disability advocate into her own hands after winning Miss Maryland Teen America 2005 and then the title of Miss Continental Teen America and raising awareness that we are all “ABLE”.

And we all did this as a way to give back; to change the world in honor of, our daughter/sister, Hadley who was brought into the world a beautiful little bundle of joy and whose life drastically altered on her 10th day when she suffered a grade 2 bilateral intracranial bleed. It is through Hadley’s life that so many other children’s lives have been changed…

In 2010 I realized I am an “Emotional Eater” and stared a Wellness Makeover. I love to cook and entertain; I can be found a lot of times reading my many cookbooks or magazines on cooking. Shout out to my favorite chef/nutritionist  Ellie Krieger! I also love to scrapbook from wonderful pictures I have taken and read a little here and there, and hopefully someday I will get to Italy.

Thanks for stopping by! Please take a look around and hopefully you’ll find something interesting today that makes you want to come back and visit again!

You might like a few of these recent posts:

What’s in your first aid kit?

There is a time to be proud

It’s time to go back to school for bloggers (I invite you to join in my thursday ProBlogger review group! Just hop on in!)

10 Zenful thoughts

I invite you to subscribe to “I’m Still Standing” RSS feed.

If you tweet, follow me on twitter or if you are interested in learning about my “wellness makeover” on facebook check out this page or you can always contact me.  I love meeting other special needs families and if you want to build a fully inclusive playground let me know, i’d love to help you!

What’s in your first aid kit?

first aid kitSeveral years ago my husband and I were at an event for Children’s Hospital and as a token of thanks each patron received a first aid kit. Over the years we have used that kit many times, and have restocked several items.

Being that we are going into the winter months and what I call “hibernation” from a lot of playing at the playground. I usually take this time to go through my medicine cabinets and make sure the medications are all in date, over the counter medicines especially; we don’t go through Tylenol quite like we used to. But I also pull out the first aid kit and look at everything inside of it too, since it does get its fair share of use during the spring, summer and fall.

Everybody should have a first aid kit of one kind or another. You don’t need to go out and buy a prepackaged one. You can make one yourself. Just gather an old lunch box or spare big makeup bag. (We seem to have a lot of them around our house)

What you put in your families first aid kit can be as extensive as you like. I have put together a sample list of items which I believe would be helpful.


• disposable gloves (at least 2 pairs)

• disposable instant cold packs

• adhesive bandages, several sizes

• adhesive tape

• elastic bandage(s)

• sterile gauze pads

• alcohol wipes or other antiseptic wipes

• hand sanitizer



• acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen

• 1% hydrocortisone cream

• antibiotic ointment

• calamine lotion

• epinephrine auto-injector if a family member is at risk for anaphylaxis

• ipecac

• burn ointment



• small scissors

• tweezers

• needle

• safety pins

• thermometer

• bulb syringe



• first aid manual

• emergency phone numbers and contact information (which I also post on the inside of a kitchen cabinet)

• important medical information for all family members, including health problems and medications

• health card or health insurance information


I hope this helps you make up your own families first aid kit. What do you have in yours?

Welcome to Holland

sarah and hadley

I have often used this short story when speaking about the importance of play for all children, so for those of you who I have not had the honor of sharing this with, although the words are not my own, the sentiments sure are; “Welcome to Holland”.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

Things I’ve Never Done

as you all may or may not know I had a pretty “big” birthday this summer, gulp…

I’m fifty… that is right five ohhhh

And I have never:

  • Set foot in Italy… yet…
  • Sang Karaoke in public
  • Eaten sushi


chicago bean photo credit: Dr. Bacchus

  • Been to Chicago
  • Rode a rollercoaster
  • Had a drawing hang in a museum
  • Seen Gone With the Wind
  • Run in a marathon

red motorcyclephoto credit: Maurice

  • Rode on a motorcycle
  • Broke a bone
  • Given birth the good ole fashion way
  • Met my celebrity crush
  • Danced until dawn
  • Watched the Sopranos
  • Been on a train across the country


montana lake photo credit: mtgriz65

  • Been to Montana
  • Been skiing
  • Been a math-whiz
  • Kissed someone just “because”…
  • Swam with the dolphins

ryan seacrest

photo credit: hollywoodmomblog

We Made it through the rain

kenny and sarahThroughout my first pregnancy my obstetrician called me “the girl with the little black rain cloud,” I had no idea just how dark and stormy that cloud would get.

Every time, I walked up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment with my husband after work, blah vomit, vomit, vomit everywhere and my sweet husband would run to clean it up. That lasted 2 months… Minus 15 pounds…Then I started experiencing gallbladder attacks on a weekly basis… Then, my blood pressure started creeping up… Then my car was plowed into by a crazy driver who was speeding through a red light… Each one of these instances has a story… tears… and a number of days in the hospital… until… it happened… the large amounts of protein in my urine… that was it… that was my admission at 29 weeks gestation for the remainder of my pregnancy to the hospital… Preeclampsia/Toxemia..

I wasn’t ready for this… I had only been to 1lamaze class… I had no idea how to “breathe”… I didn’t have any of my baby stuff picked out… No bassinette… No clothes… no diapers…. Nothing…

My days were filled with nothing but bed rest, blood tests, stress tests, weigh-ins, blood pressure checks and mainly resting on my left side.. The highlight of my day was getting up for a daily shower, which was a big deal, all I thought about was my unborn baby and how she was doing? How was she handling the stress of what this pregnancy was doing to me?

Well that rain cloud finally gave way when my water broke at 34 weeks on a very hot July afternoon, not that I would know how hot it was other then my husband and everyone telling me. I was shocked when I felt the warm gush run down my legs… I thought “nooo” this can’t possibly be happening! But it was… It was so bad inside for my little baby that she was ready to fight with everything she had and come out into the world…

Thank god my husband was there… he ran out to get the bandwagon which would be with me nonstop for the next 36 hours of pure “hell!” Ohhh why did that darn raincloud have to sit on top of my head? But there was nothing I could do now except keep on going forward through what I should call one of the biggest storms of my life…

Birth is not a pretty thing… especially when your blood pressure is 190/220… Nurses… Doctors… blood tests… monitors… IV’s… and then there was “nothing,” pain yes, but my body was just not cooperating… I was only dilated 2 centimeters… So, next came the Pitocin…20 hours….. And still only dilated a small percentage… ice chips… pain… and then….

My blood pressure decided to rise higher and I did not feel “right”… something was “wrong” very wrong… more doctors… more blood tests… more testing… and now a new medicine… Magnesium Sulfate…. And then wham my blood pressure plummeted the other way… and that was it…

36 and a half hours into this and it was time to get this baby out… 15 minutes… they moved my bed at the speed of light from one room to the Operating Room, up went the sheet on top of my stomach, I couldn’t see anything… my poor husband sat next to my head and was ghost white… I was scared… He was scared… What was happening to our poor little baby? All I kept hearing was we have got 15 minutes to get this baby out..

The room had at least 20 people in it…it was a sea of blue scrubs, on heads, feet, bodies…

I felt a pull… a pinch… a stab… and I could hear voices that seemed to be in the distance… although I was right there… somewhat there… in and out… I heard them say they had “her” out…

And then another slew of fuzzy blue scrubbed bodies ran in and grabbed “her”… I heard nothing… No cry…. No cry??? Isn’t the baby supposed to cry??? They strapped her to a board and whisked her off to the NICU…

And I fell into a deep sleep…

She was tiny… 4lbs 16oz… blue… 0 Apgar scores… she was whisked in an incubator… ventilated.. and resuscitated… I never saw her like that..

The Neonatologists’ came in and told my husband that she would most likely be deaf, blind, retarded and never be able to survive on her own…

And then I woke up… where was my baby?

By the grace of god… at 24 hours they pulled her off the ventilator and resuscitator and she was breathing on her own… she did it… she beat the odds of that dark dark storm… and her little rainbow came shining through…

So sad to say good bye…

all my children marriage chartphoto credit: we loves soaps and abc

Today marks an end of an era, some people might snicker and think nothing of it, but for 41 years the town of Pine Valley has been “home” to many who have not really resided there but sat and watched from the comfort of their family rooms and glimpsed into the lives of this small towns citizens.

We have witnessed; hookers become wealthy housewives, people find out they have long lost missing twins, people come back from the dead, siblings stealing each other’s spouses and turning marriages into divorce and then new marriages, bouts with amnesia, anorexia, deadly accidents and switching of DNA test results, babies switched at birth, and lots and lots of blackmail. There have been story lines that were so unbelievable crazy to those that really touched our hearts.

I can’t remember when exactly I started watching All My Children, because the TV was not on in my house during the day growing up, but somehow I must have started watching at a friend’s home in the late 70’s. My earliest memory was watching beautiful Nina Cortlandt fall in love with Dr. Cliff Warner and longed to have a wedding as beautiful as theirs. (Little did I know, in “real life” I would move to the town where they filmed that wedding and many other scenes.)

I have watched Jessie, Angie, Tad and Liza, as well as the diva Erica’s life move from teen to grandparents. It is amazing to think about all of the lives and stories that were intertwined on that show.

The show did bring issues to light and caused people to think about things that were not really spoken about like, anorexia, spousal abuse, AIDS, drug addiction and alcoholism, and rape.

So what did Pine Valley do for me? I know a lot of people think; soaps, how stupid, what a waste of time. But I’ll admit it, Pine Valley has been my “guilty pleasure.” For one hour of time I could leave my life and just watch the lives of others unfold as crazy as some of the story lines were. I found myself hanging from that “cliffhanger Friday” until Monday sometime to see… what happened… and yes it did entertain me, isn’t that what TV is supposed to be for?

Lilly is known for bright colors but today the pink for love stands out!

make a wish layout
photo credit: A Colorful Blog

My heart was just “touched!” Which is really something that I needed lately. Today I decided to give a “spring break” to all of my 31dbbb review participants because well it’s spring and with the spring comes flowers warm weather and yes, new “Lilly.” I love Lilly! Being a color loving kinda gal the Interior Designer in me just wants to leap out every time I pass a Lilly store. Unfortunately I don’t really have the shape for a lot of Lilly clothes but my daughters do, so you know what they say… those who can’t…. shop for others lol.

But when I opened my mail today with an update of the latest from Lilly I popped by their blog and saw this most heartwarming story. (You have to know how happy this made me after the debacle that Ina Garten pulled)

Lilly Pulitzer welcomed 6 year old aspiring Fashion Designer, Kylee, for a magical visit to the “Pink Palace.” Kylee and her family joined everyone there for a day of print, painting, designing…and of course SHOPPING! Now this is the special and wonderful way to treat a Make a Wish Child….

• Kylee and her family arrived at the Pink Palace in a stretch limo

• Greeted by Janie Schoenborn, Fashion Director she gave Kylee a very special VIP tour starting with a tour of the office, the distribution center and then visited the Merchandising, Design, and Product Development where she met a lot of the faces behind the company and showed her the process of creating one of their fab shifts!

• If this wasn’t every little fashion plates dream, Kylee then went on to the place where the real magic begins… the print design studio! Kylee was met by print designers Stacey and Paige, as well as Fashion Designer, Abraham. And then they gave her the special tools and let her creative side come out; apparently Kylee has a knack for colorful styles as her drawings are supposed to be fab!

• Lunch was every kids fav PB & J and pink and green floral cupcakes… how cute is that?

• If a morning like that wasn’t enough Kylee was then whisked away in the “Lilly Jeep” to one of their stores where she had a ball trying on lots and lots of clothes, and it only seemed fitting to these wonderful people to let Kylee have all of her choices… 4 shopping bags full and even a dress for her to match her mom!

Now that’s what I’m talkin about… that is a wish… for a special little girl… with a dream… fulfilled by a special company! Yup, that is something to smile about!

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly… and so does that child of mine…

little bird on branch at dusk
photo credit: greg westfall

First smile..

First tears..

First word..

First cold..

First steps..

First friend..

First day of preschool..


First “A”..

First fight..

First kiss..

First dance..

First pageant..

First time driving… and first car..

Graduation from high school..

Bid Day=becoming sisters and the legacy lives on..

Graduation from college..

So many memories…

8330 days…

And it’s over in a heartbeat…

And now my little bird is ready to spread her wings and show the world how she can fly..

So proud of you Sarah, go on now..

fly to great heights!

The first time


hadley first wheelchair 1997There are certain moments in a mother’s life that you will always remember, their first word, their first step, the first time they actually made it to the potty, their first date, their first kiss, their first “A”, the first team they “made” their first best friend, their first college acceptance letter… and in my case

The first wheel chair…

Hadley had been 5 years old and I had been carting her around in a stroller since birth, she was small, and it was easy to flip it open and put her in it, it was safe, she was happy… and I didn’t have to “think” about the inevitable…

And then the day came…

I knew it was coming… I couldn’t keep her in a stroller forever…

Although she was a small little girl I knew it was “time”…

No matter how easy a stroller was for me to throw in the back of my Volvo…

It was time…

And so we had her measured…

Even had her name monogrammed on it in purple… with purple sides… for our little girl…

Our little girl whose legs would never support her for long…

Our little girl whose legs get tired step after step…

Our little girl who just couldn’t stand on her own…

It was time…

When we put her in the wheelchair for the first time…

She was happy…

She tried to move it with her right hand and went in circles…

She smiled…

Me… not so much…

But I knew…

It was time…