Born Just Right We are all born just right Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:39:53 +0000 en hourly 1 3D Hand-Printing Service Stations Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:31:34 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

I am so thrilled to watch the rapid growth of 3D printing for prosthetics. There is an ongoing community called e-NABLE on Google+ and Facebook that is connecting engineers with 3D printers with children and adults with hand differences. That combination is making it possible for more and more people to get the opportunity to try using prosthetic fingers created with the help of a 3D printer. (If you want to learn more details behind the e-NABLE group, read an older blog post I wrote on the organization.)

The Rochester Institute of Technology plans to take that production to a new level. During its yearly Imagine RIT event, engineers plan to demonstrate and prototype an e-NABLE Service Station. Adults and children are invited to visit Rochester, New York to experience how the service station works during the event. My mind is a bit blown with this awesome idea. I can’t wait to see what comes of it. The idea is when a person with a hand difference walks up to the service station, he or she can get measured and arrange to have a custom hand designed.

It’s an awesome opportunity to pitch in on an effort to make it even easier for people with hand differences to get access to 3D printed hands. If you live close by and are interested in attending, all you need to do is RSVP to the Facebook event. Or you can email the founder of e-NABLE, John Schull.

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The Magic of Amy Purdy Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:27:12 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

Being different and overcoming obstacles sometimes brings out the very best in us. I tell Jordan and Cameron that often when we face tough stuff in life. We can choose to let it make us sad, or we can find the good in the bad and keep living a positive life. I know those words may be tough to believe at times. But that’s how I take each day. And then others prove it for me.

Let’s take Amy Purdy.

Amy Purdy shows how positive thinking and hard work can go a long way.

Photo courtesy Adaptive Action Sports

I learned about Amy because she’s the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports. She’s a rock star snowboarder who earned a bronze during the Winter Paralympics in Sochi earlier this year. Right after she won that medal, she headed back to the states to compete in the ABC show, Dancing with the Stars. Oh, did I mention she lost the lower portion of both of her legs and her kidney function when she contracted bacterial meningitis as a 19-year-old?

She fought back from that illness and found ways to return to life… Not only just living but finding positive opportunities after some really terrible struggles. It is truly inspirational to see how one person found ways to take her life’s passions and is giving back to the world by finding some very public arenas to prove life’s challenges can’t stop anyone from trying their best.

She proved that point during this week’s Dancing with the Stars. (The contemporary dance she did in honor of her dad made me bawl.) She broke me when the video shared before her performance showed just how difficult it was to dance the waltz.

More and more people are noticing. ABC’s Nightline did a really wonderful interview with Amy this week. Her positive focus shines through when she talks about losing her lower legs.

“I’ve never looked at myself as if I’ve lost anything,” Purdy said. “If anything, I’ve gained.”

She gained a chance to work with amazing athletes, dancers and if you follow her Facebook pageInstagram and Twitter, these opportunities are giving her a chance to meet some really remarkable people. Her dancing and snowboarding prove the power of positive thinking and very hard work can make a difference.

Purdy mentioned in the Nightline piece, “If I can accomplish grace on these legs, then I’m already a winner.”

I really think she has not only won, but she’s help bring even more open eyes to limb differences and showing the only thing that is impossible is impossibility. (Yes, it’s a quote from Phineas and Ferb… We say it all the time in our house.) Not all amputees can find this level of success. But it is possible to maintain a positive focus and do our very best.

By the way, if you’re impressed by Amy, consider donating to Adaptive Action Sports. It is an awesome organization that helps people with physical disabilities the chance to join in on skateboarding, snowboarding and other action sports you’ve probably seen in the X-Games.

[Also, if you missed it, Hugh Herr showed off the future of bionics and helped a victim of the Boston Bombings ballroom dance for the first time. The video is pretty remarkable and made me think how Amy could have benefitted from the technology.]

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Showing it Off on the Dance Floor Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:57:13 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

I mentioned earlier this week how proud I am at the risks Jordan takes on a regular basis. One activity that’s been a constant since Jordan was two and a half years old is dance. I tend to just consider is an assumed activity until I step back and watch her. That’s exactly what I did earlier this week during Jordan’s dance class just after they got to try on their recital outfits for the first time.

Dang. She shines. She’s confident. It’s awesome. I absolutely know for a fact that I couldn’t shine like that at her age. I was singing solos in my church choir, but you couldn’t catch me performing with that kind of ease.

So… I’m proud of this kid. She really is confident and defies expectations on a regular basis. Our kids can really do anything if we give them the space to try.

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Two Hands Are Not For Everyone Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:07:41 +0000 sarahjohnson

Sarah with her prosthetic as a child.

My journey with prosthetics started with I was five months old.  My parents knew that I was going to need to learn how to crawl, and realized early on that I would need a prosthetic limb in order to do so without major difficulty. They took me to Shiners Hospital in Chicago and had me fitted for a passive arm (a prosthetic created to resemble the body part that it is replacing, it’s typically used for cosmetic purposes). When I was 18 months old, I became the youngest person ever at Shiners to receive a myoelectric (this type of prosthesis has electronic aspects to it and it is able to mimic some of the motions of the missing limb).  While my first prosthesis allowed me to crawl, my second limb allowed me to do two-handed tasks more easily. As I grew older however, wearing a prosthesis slowly went from serving a purpose, to getting in the way.

In my last post, I told you a little about my softball career. From a young age, I was spending several days a week practicing softball or in gym class. I always left my prosthesis in my coach or gym teacher’s office because I hated wearing it while doing any kind of an activity. For those of you who have worn a prosthesis, you understand! They can be fairly heavy, and depending on the material, can get very hot. I eventually realized that my prosthetic arm was just getting in the way and was no longer serving a purpose. After I had this realization when I was 12, I stopped wearing my arm at all times.

When I was 12, I had been going to school and playing softball with the same kids for many years. I didn’t constantly have to explain what happened to my arm or prove what I was capable of. I was just Sarah. I spent the next several years living life one handed, and not giving the dusty prosthesis in my closet a second thought.

That changed when I was 16 and my family moved from Indiana to Oklahoma for my Dad’s work. I knew that as soon as I started school, there would be all kinds of questions again, and I was going to have to prove myself in softball all over again. I made the decision before I started my junior year of high school that I needed a new prosthesis. I wanted to make things easier for the new kids that I would be meeting. I wanted to help them feel more comfortable around me and not be too intimidated to be friends with me.

However, I didn’t plan for what was going to happen before I started at my new school. I was playing powder-puff football during the last week of summer and had an unfortunate mishap during the first play of our first game. I had a linebacker from the other team slam into me and send me flying towards the ground. Even in the spur of the moment I was terrified of breaking my hand, so I used my stub to brace myself. In the process, I managed to break my elbow and tear multiple ligaments in it as well. The most excruciating pain that came from that injury wasn’t the broken bone; it was accepting the fact that I would no longer be able to wear my prosthesis due to my enormous cast!

In hindsight, I love this story, and it makes me laugh every time I think of it. I made my parents get me a prosthesis to prevent the kids at my new school from feeling uncomfortable, and I never even got the chance to wear it. Not only that, but when I started school it looked like I had just had my arm amputated!

This forced me to learn one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in my life so far: never hide who you are. I wanted a prosthesis to hide the real me. I believe that the Lord knew what I really needed in that situation when I clearly didn’t know what was best for me. While I would have loved to learn the lesson without the pain of a broken elbow, I’m grateful that I was able to learn it at the exact time that I did. It was difficult at first, but I had to learn that the only opinion that matters when it came to me was my own. I needed to be comfortable in my own skin, and nothing anyone could say about me or to me could affect that.

After my powder-puff debacle, I have never worn a prosthesis again. It never again served a purpose in my life, and I don’t have any reason to change my mind.  No, a prosthetic arm is not for me, but I know that everyone is different and either wears them or doesn’t wear them for different reasons. The great thing about your prosthesis is that it is your prosthesis.  You can wear it because it makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin, or you may not wear it merely out of pride. No matter what, it’s your choice, and I don’t believe that anyone can tell you what decision to make or how you should look.  To me, I was only wearing it to try and hide who I really was. As soon as I realized that I had nothing to hide, my prosthesis no longer served a purpose.

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Trying to Make Teeth Brushing Fun Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:22:21 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

This paid post is brought to you by the new free Oral-B Disney Timer App as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post.

Tooth brushing has never been so important in our household. Jordan has more and more grown up teeth and Cameron has braces. It’s so important to make sure the kids brush their teeth in the morning and the evening (and Cameron really should brush at other times of the day).

Nagging can only go so far.

Enter Oral-B’s Disney Magic Timer. As a family that loves playing with all kinds of apps, it makes sense to give this one a try. The application works for phones or tablets using iOS or Android systems. It give kids motivation that works with Oral-B’s line of tooth brushes and toothpastes. Once you create a profile for the kids, you connect the profile to a Disney-themed toothbrush or toothpaste. You just wave the camera over the product… And BOOM, magic. I love how this app has gotten a lot of buzz in the media even before I had a chance to share details about it here on Born Just Right. I mentioned tooth brushing challenges online last month and a friend brought this app up without any prompting. I guess it helped me realize this free app may be worth the try. Jordan loved the idea and was ready to jump in and connect the app to her Ariel toothbrush.

Each time you connected the app to a toothbrush or toothpaste, the app bubbles up and gives your tooth-brusher two minutes to uncover a picture that matches the toothbrush or toothpaste theme.

The two minute timer and a tooth brush brushing the screen kept Jordan focused on her goal.

Since we connected to an Ariel toothbrush, Jordan uncovered a Little Mermaid-themed picture.

After a completed tooth brushing session, Jordan earned a digital sticker. She has a chance to earn 24 different stickers for the Ariel character. That’s 12 days of brushing twice a day with something new to watch. There’s a new digital sticker book for every character the app connects to with a different toothbrush or toothpaste.

The app has all kinds of different character options and the potential to hold attention and motivation for kids in many different ways. Along with stickers, we can follow a calendar that tracks each time Jordan brushes her teeth. Jordan actually went to bed looking forward to the chance to try the app out all over again… And woke up ready to try it out again in the morning.

Disney Timer App by Oral-BThis paid post is brought to you by the new free Oral-B Disney Timer App as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post. Featuring sixteen of your favorite Disney and Marvel characters, use this app to seamlessly encourage your kids to brush longer. Collect a new digital sticker after each successful two minutes of brushing; track progress with stars and milestone badges on the Brushing Calendar. Longer, happier brushing for your little one is just a download away!

Download the Free App Here

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Taking Risks All the Time – Top Five Favorites Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:03:03 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

Over the past week, Jordan returned to softball practice and it made me think back to a bunch of different times when Jordan has surprised me by taking risks with her activities. Why not share my top five favorite risk taking moments so far in Jordan’s life? Here you go.

Number 1: Rock climbing
Jordan has never been afraid of climbing rocks. For years, we worried about Jordan climbing the rocks of Maine during our yearly visits. It’s never phased her nor been a problem. I think all that core strength work is why climbing is so easy for her.

Jordan isn't afraid to risk climbing rocks.
Number 2: Softball
I know this post was inspired by the new softball season. I constantly admire Jordan’s love of sports that typically require two hands. Jordan is working on mastering her catch and release technique when catching and throwing the ball and her backhanded swing is pretty darn strong.

I'm so impressed with Jordan's risks on the softball field.

Number 3: Kayaking
Last summer, we bought our family a kayak for the first time. It’s big and fits three people. Well… Two adults and a kid or one adult and two kids. Jordan surprised us by finding a way to paddle with her hand and her little arm. We can’t wait for this summer when she can try out her first kayak hand and see if she can paddle even harder.

Kayaking like a pro and one hand.

Number 4: Roller skating
Balance isn’t always Jordan’s best friend. It was really cool to see Jordan take a risk and try out roller skating. Since her first time, she’s gone back a few more times. She hasn’t mastered skating without this handy-helper system, but I think she’s getting close.

I love how Jordan risked roller skating.
Number Five: Basketball
I’m so super proud of how hard Jordan worked to play basketball this past season. She has incredible defense skills and she scored a few times throughout her season. Jordan loved basketball so much this year, she’s planning on making it her focused sport during Nubability Camp this summer.

Jordan risked trying basketball and loved it.

I didn't get a digital version of Jordan's official basketball picture.

Anything is possible. Jordan proves that to me time and time again.

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Finding Community When It Is Everywhere Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:44:46 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

I’ve mentioned a few times before how I founded Born Just Right because I didn’t have many resources when Jordan was born. All I had was my doctor using the term “amniotic band syndrome” and sent me on my way after we left the hospital. We knew Jordan’s joints were loose (they still are) and she didn’t have a left elbow or hand. In the years that followed, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve seen a lot of changes.

There are dozens of limb difference groups on Facebook. There are multiple websites and blogs. There are more and more people who are public figures who help represent limb differences to a larger mainstream audience. It’s pretty amazing. But how do you find the information that you need for your family? Read eight years of blog posts on this site? That seems like a lot of work.

I’m trying to wrap my head around the best resources out there and see if there’s a way I can collect and share the information that is available in an easier way for you. There are questions I see often: How do I help my child become more self-reliant (getting clothes on, potty training)? How do I help prepare my child for school (pre-school, Kindergarten, a new school district)? How do I deal with questions and how do I help my child deal with questions? Should my child go to physical or occupational therapy? How do you get the best prosthetics? Should my child use prosthetics?

The questions go on and on.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to start working on a content analysis of the information I have on Born Just Right. I’d love to hear from you and learn what resources you feel the limb difference world is still missing. What information are you struggling to find?

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Music Continues to Rock Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:27:30 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

Jordan is now into her second semester of piano. It is so cool to watch her figure this out. Her teacher has been so cool about helping Jordan learn how to read music for the right and left hand. She has found a consistent collection of beginner music that only needs one note at a time on the left side. It’s so cool to see Jordan’s pride in learning how music works. She surprised us last Fall when she proved to her teacher and I that she didn’t need to learn one-handed piano. She even kicked butt during her very first piano recital.

As she’s grown as a piano player, she’s also grown to love music of many kinds. And now Jordan wants to get better at singing. It’s really cute. So she asked her piano teacher if she’d be willing to teach her some voice skills. I’ve learned Jordan has to get bigger to get serious voice training, so instead, Jordan gets to work on voice during the last 10 minutes of piano lessons. I took voice lessons as a child and eventually made a little side cash as a teen and in my early 20′s singing at events and in coffee shops. I have to say I’m really excited to see a little bit of growth in the last few weeks as Jordan has had a chance to learn and sing with a great teacher.

Music has always been a special outlet for me and I’m thrilled to see Jordan confident enough to continue to push her limits and continue to learn new things.

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BEARS Fun For All and Tickets for St. Louis Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:05:44 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

There are two things you will easily find our family doing when we are crashed out on the couch together – We’re either watching a Disney movie or a nature show on TV. It’s super cool when those two things merge… Like with the new movie, Bears. Disneynature releases the movie on Earth Day, April 18th, but there’s a chance for readers in St. Louis to see an advanced screening. All you have to do is sign up here, go to the Weherenberg Des Peres 14 early to make sure you can snag a seat, and enjoy a really sweet story about momma bear, Sky and her cubs.

It looks super sweet.

And since not all of Born Just Right’s readers are in the St. Louis area, I have something fun for all of us… Bears activity sheets! Just click on this link and you can download a bunch of fun for the family to learn about bears and their habitat. I’m bummed we can’t check out the movie for ourselves, but if you get to see the advanced screening, I’d love to hear all about it!

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That Time of the Year Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:59:42 +0000 Jen Lee Reeves

It’s that time of the year when all of Jordan and Cameron’s activities collide. Jordan has dance, physical therapy, piano, softball and all kinds of birthday parties scattered throughout this month. Each activity has a reason: Dance is something Jordan loves and it helps her work on her core strength, physical therapy is another important appointment to help her continue to be strong and balaned, piano is great for her mind and love of the arts and softball is a sport she has grown to adore each year as she gets better at playing it.

But dance… I tell you, dance is special.

Jordan goes through waves of loving it and just liking it. But when she gets into her performance mode and turns on that smile. I tell you, it’s kind of magical. I don’t see stage fright, I see confidence. It’s pretty awesome. This year, Jordan is in the bigger kid classes. She’s performing in two different dances: jazz and tap.

Now, if I just sneak in some extra time for her to practice her dances outside of class… She’s golden. But wow, we’re busy. Maybe one year, she’ll make a few more decisions about which activities matter the most to her. But for now, we’ll continue to play with the arts and sports until Jordan has a better idea of what activity she loves more.

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