Monday, April 23, 2012

Building an Accessible Home Day 1

We have searched for a couple of years for a home that would fit our family and the needs of our children. We quickly realized if someone builds an truly accessible home they are probably going to live out their life in that home. There are just not any on the market.   It is really frustrating when you go to look at homes on the market that advertise "handicap accessible".  I laugh every time I read that statement.  If they have one aspect of the home that is "accessible" they put that label on there. Yes, this home is handicap accessible but you have to WALK up three stairs to get into the home.  OR Yes, this home is handicap accessible because it has a ramp into the house but the doorways are narrow so then you are stuck in the entry way and cannot go anywhere.  My favorite are homes where ALL the bedrooms are on the second floor and they advertise "handicap accessible".  I guess the home is accessible if you don't plan to sleep or take a shower.

We decided the best way to meet the unique needs of our family would be to build a home. Custom homes are EXPENSIVE so we just could not go that route. However, we are so blessed to have found a home builder who was willing to work with our family to make our home as accessible as possible. I am pleased to announce that this weekend we were finally able to sign the final contract on our home with Ball Homes.   Here is a picture from today of us standing in front of the site where our future home will sit.

(it was a very winding day!)
I have decided I want to chronical the building of our home here on my blog. It will be great to have to look back on.  It will also be an opportunity to share with others what we learn through the process and give some tips along the way.   We are trying to build an accessible home without the prices that go with a custom/speciality home.   I do want to clarify that our home will not meet all ADA standards.  First, that is really expensive to build but also it is not likely our children with physical disabilities will be independent enough to need access to a completely ADA home. If by chance God provides a miracle then I will be more than excited to make those adjustments to our home.

Tip #1
Before you do anything make a list of your child's needs and then make a list of things you think would improve their quality of life. 

Here is our initial list:
1.  Bedrooms on the first floor
2.  Full bath on the first floor with accessible shower
3.  Doorways and hallways widened
4.  NO carpet (Jacob can not maneuver his walker on the carpet)
5.  No steps into the home

Tip #2
Take that list to a couple of builders and see if they are willing to help you meet your child's need.

We met with our builder a couple of times before we finally felt comfortable.  One of the most important aspects of this home for us was that it be an place for our children to flourish and grow, not a place of limitations.

Today we met with the "foundation guy".  Before they started building we wanted to talk to him about making the entry to our home as low as possible.  He was very knowledgeable and helpful.  They will not be able to make it zero entry(no steps) but he said they would do the best they can to have as few steps as possible.   With just a few steps we should be able to put a ramp there.  He even said he would brainstorm with the owner and see what solutions they could come up with.  THAT my friends is great customer service!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Don't forget to vote today!!!    We are going to have to ramp it up a few notches.  There are some people with over 15,000 votes. I have NO idea how they are doing it.  I am hearing of local media getting involved and they are spreading the word.  They are getting the word out through the internet and in their community.  PLEASE spread the word to your family and friends.   I am so grateful for each and every person who is voting for Jacob. YOU GUYS ROCK AND WE LOVE YOU!!!!

If you have no idea what I am talking about go back and read this POST.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I did good today!

This is my sweet, active, full of energy little man Gabriel! Gabriel joined our family when he was 20 months old. Since day one Gabriel has been a little hypersensitive and overreacts to EVERYTHING. A couple of years ago he started showing some major indications of sensory processing disorder and ADHD. At his last physical the doctor looked at me and said, "you know he has ADHD, right?" Of course the doctor's observation was not a surprise to me.

I have done my research, attended trainings, talked with therapist, but still not very good at putting it all into action.  Gabriel has had a rough week and by this morning I was about to loose it.  Before 8:00a.m. he had already been banned from playing with just about everyone.  He had been in time out three times and was, at the time, screaming in the bathroom.  I could just feel my blood pressure rising. 

In a desperate act I took Gabriel outside and told him to run as fast as he could to the trampoline.  Then I stood out there with him and give him direction after direction of things to do on the trampoline.  He jumped as high as he could, he jumped and touched his toes, he jumped and fell on his bottom, he ran around and around on the trampoline.  With each minute that went by you could see him relaxing and he started smiling and laughing.  When I could tell he was out of breathe I told him to run as fast as he could to the house and I would chase him.  When we got up to the deck he turned to me and wrapped me up in a big hug as if to say THANK YOU.   Gabriel was able to sit and watch TV and play with his siblings for a couple of hours after.

Man, I learned a lot today.  Too many times I would rather put him in timeout then to stop what I am doing and give him what his body needs.  I am learning but I did good today!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jacob is my HERO

This is Jacob at 10 months of age when we received his referral.  Jacob weighed just 10 pounds and was on the verge of death.  I still cry every time I look at this picture.  I cannot picture my son like this. 

This is my Jacob almost four years later.

He is a survivor and a fighter.  Although Jacob is non-verbal he continues to make strides in communication.  He is using eye gaze and grunts to say yes or no.  He is working with a communication device on the ipad to begin more advanced communication.  He does not give up. He is working really hard to control his body and gain controlled movement.  He is starting to roll over and is walking with a supportive walker for a short amount of time.  He is beating the odds and doing it with great joy.  This is why Jacob is my hero!

Last fall Jacob got a wonderful sturdy wheelchair that gives him the support his body needs. The picture is of him in his new chair.  Unfortunately, this chair does not fit into our passenger van so when we go out he uses an old stroller type wheelchair that is too small for him and that also does not give him the support he needs.  He is getting too big for his car seat and it would be safer for him to remain in his wheelchair during transport.

I am entering Jacob is a contest to win a handicap accessible van. National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association is giving away handicap accessible vans as part of National Mobility Month.  Click on the link below to vote for "Jacob Maas" beginning April 10th.  When you vote use dealer code 968 to get Jacob extra votes.

Jacob is the most joy filled child you will meet.  Very rarely will you find him without a big smile on his face.  Thanks for taking time to go vote for my hero!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Picture of Isaac & Update


We have given our kids learning combined with therapy. Our main purpose is to help children with their speech and muscle of lower limbs. He can walk alone but not quite stable. He is easy to fall down. He can hold to walk up and down stairs. He can climb up and down of crib or couch. He can take his shoes off and put his shoes on with a little help. He can use cup to drink water. He is learning to feed self. He is always happy and he loves to do therapy with his teacher.

He can imitate very well. He can follow teachers to do many simple actions. He even joined the performance of “I Love You” during our show. He can wave to say bye. He loves to go to class very much. He knows how to follow the routine during class time, such as find his seat to sit down first, raise his hand when his name is called. He knows his pictures, tilt his thumb to show good. He can say Baba, Mama. He likes to pick up the phone and pretend calling someone. He can understand many simple instructions, such as “sit down, stand up, go there…” and he knows the meaning of NO. He will stop when you say No. He is in the process of potty train. He knows to sit on baby potty to pee.

He is a very active child. He loves to play ball. He is also very curious and wants to try every new thing. He doesn’t like stuffed animals. He feels scared when he sees them. Since the therapy program, He has changed so much. We will keep working on his speech, physical development.

Look at that smile!  I could just eat him up! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More on Lifesong for Orphans in Zambia

***Impact Zambia Update: 30 commitments...4 days to go. Needing 70 more Impacters!
Impact children like Bwalya Bwayla & have your gift MATCHED!!
As you saw in the video, Bwalya Bwalya became a double orphan because of HIV/Aids when he was only five years and now he, too, is HIV+.  Thankfully, Bwalya Bwalya lives with his grandparents and is able to attend the Lifesong Zambia School. Despite his uncertain past, he has a hopeful future because of the presence of Christ in his life and the opportunity to receive an education.

We have launched an Impact Zambia 100 campaign that will help build a high school for Bwalya Bwayla and other children in similar life situations.  We are nearly 1/3 of the way there and have only 4 days left.  
We are looking for 100 people to make a monthly commitment of $20 for one year to help complete this building project.

(that's right--gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a generous donor!)

Sixty-seven cents a day from 100 people for a year can make this vision a reality for children like Bwalya Bwalya.

4 days left 70 people to go...Will you join us?

To join Impact Zambia 100, email

To learn more about Impact Zambia 100, click here

For every person who joins the Impact Zambia 100 team and mentions my name, Rebecca Maas, I will be entered into a drawing to win a trip to Orphan Summit VIII