Friday, November 20, 2015

#GivingTuesday is Almost Here

It's that time of year again...
Yes, the holidays are upon us. We hope your holiday is going as swell as pumpkin pie! And we also hope you'll help us share our #GivingTuesday campaign. This is the first year CCA will participate in Giving Tuesday and we hope you will help us reach our BIG GOAL of raising $5000 to send more kids to Retreat. You see, just like the holiday lights decorating towns across the country, just like the twinkling tinsel on your tree, and the glowing candles in your menorah, CCA Kids SHINE all year long, especially after our Annual Family Retreat.

From the moment a CCA Kids peeps out from behind her parent’s protective grip and see another kid that has “her same face,” there’s only one word to describe what happens: she shines.

During our annual four-day event, CCA Kids’ smiles never leave their faces and “can’t” is not a word you hear. At Retreat, CCA Kids’ confidence beams so brightly that even the parents in attendance breathe in the joy.

Darryl and Deena Dyson, proud parents of Teresa Joy (now age 8), describe their first moments at their first Retreat, with Deena saying, “While holding tight to TJ, I was scanning around at faces, curious about who might also be with CCA. I shortly noticed an adorable girl a few years older than my daughter jumping in the pool, splashing around, and having the time of her life… I was dumbstruck to observe this courageous and fun-loving girl was swimming with a tracheostomy!”

Though they had been having second thoughts about coming to the Retreat even just 24 hours before the family was set to fly out, Dyson continues saying, “I realized in that instant that nothing negative could come out of what we were about to experience at Retreat. This was not going to be a weekend of limits, sob stories, or holding back because of fear.”

Our Annual Family Retreat is life changing for every family member involved. Parents are able to see their children in a new light – in a setting where they excel at making friends and trying new things … something our kids often struggle with back home. Siblings who attend can make friends who “get it” – what it’s like to grow up in a family that often gets more stares than smiles. And of course, the children with facial differences in attendance find a new confidence and zeal for life that is sometimes hard to cultivate apart from such an accepting and welcoming community. The Dysons sum it up beautifully, saying, “At Retreat, we arrived at a place of joy, bravery and miracles beyond what we had ever seen. No one we encountered over the next days is living their lives as if being ‘different’ is a tragedy.” Indeed, these kids are shining examples of a fulfilling, happy life.

This year, please plan to give a gift that shines in the lives of others. Give to CCA on Giving Tuesday and change an entire family’s life. You can contribute to our campaign to raise $5000 to send more kids to our Annual Family Retreat on December 1, 2015 at

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Overview: Pain Management in Children

We have a new Overview to share with you!

As part of CCA's commitment to providing resources for families affected by facial differences, CCA publishes several "One-Sheet Overviews" each year. Our newest overview concerns pain management for our cranio kids. Thanks to Dr. Earl Gage at Kids Plastic Surgery in St. Louis, we are able to share this overview on the Pain Management in Children -- A Surgeon's Perspective with our families and communities.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Caregiver Grief & Joy

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Over the course of our lifetime, many of us will find ourselves taking care of a loved one with a disease or disability who may need temporary or long-term assistance with daily activities. Being a caregiver, or what is often referred to as a "care partner," can be fulfilling by offering the opportunity to provide a loved one, friend, or neighbor with needed help and reassurance. However, this role can also affect the life of the care partner in significant and often challenging ways. Today, we have guest blogger and CCA Mom Jeannie Ewing here with a little more insight on the topic. You can see her previous post on caregiving here

Most caregivers freely talk about what they have learned and how enriched their lives are because of their medically fragile children.  We share with others about how we have positively changed despite challenges, and people listen to these stories of overcoming adversity.  But what do we do about the sometimes hidden grief that lurks around the corner every day?  We seldom admit that we are overwhelmed, struggling, and entirely depleted.  It’s far too awkward to mention this to our family and friends, and yet the grief is present and needs to be acknowledged.

Caregiver grief often differs from other types of grief, because it is chronic rather than acute.  Unlike a sudden death, caregivers grieve over the course of time due to the reality of facing mortality on a daily basis.  The grief can sometimes conceal itself as physiological maladies or psychological diagnoses (most commonly depression and anxiety), but the source of these manifestations is often unresolved grief.

We must remember that grief isn’t merely sadness and differs from depression in many ways.  Grief is the collective experience of memories, emotions, hopes, and dreams that collide in a way that produces different responses in each individual.  Grief can be complex and difficult to describe, but essentially it includes both sorrow and joy.  We might lament the child we dreamed we would have had as we face the reality of his or her medical condition while at the same time feeling grateful for being blessed with someone who has taught us so much about love and life.

Essentially it’s important to be authentic in our encounters with others who aren’t caregivers.  Naturally we want to accentuate the positive aspects of caregiving when conversing with non-caregivers, but the real, raw struggles are equally valid to acknowledge and discuss.  Chances are, people will admire you for being emotionally transparent and perhaps may be able to relate to you on a deeper level.

Find one way today that you can connect authentically with someone in your life: perhaps a long-lost friend, an extended family member, or a neighbor.  Write a short note in a card, offer a lunch date, or call to talk (and listen) for a while.  You will feel revived and refreshed, and the other person will feel loved, as well.

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach.  She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers.  Jeannie was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace.  For more information on her professional services, visit her websites or

Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.

Image Copyright 2015 “Flower” by PixelAnarchy on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

10 Tips for Raising Eco-Conscious Kids

Today we have a guest post from Amy K. Williams.  Williams is mother of two and a former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral issues. Parenting is her passion and she is especially involved in spreading the word about positive parenting techniques and preventing both bullying and cyberbullying. Today, we have a new topic on our blog - raising eco-conscious kids. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it's nice to step back from the hustle and bustle and consumerism of it all to refocus on important topics like conservation and conscious living. We hope you enjoy this post!

10 Tips for Raising Eco-Conscious Kids

“Not my circus. Not my monkeys.”

This is a little phrase that many children are taught by their parents. By repeating this we are encouraging kids to mind their own business and not to worry about others. While it might come in handy with quarreling siblings, we might be sending our sons and daughters the wrong message when it comes to the environment.

Seeing Green? Why Children Need To Take A Stand

Global warming and pollution are two serious threats looming over our children’s futures. These issues are very real and will have to be tackled within their lifetimes. Unfortunately, society can no longer ignore the environmental crisis that continues to grow as our populations keep taxing nature. Raising children who are conscious about their environment is vital if we want to leave our children a promising legacy.

We have all heard predictions about the dilemma facing our children, but there is hope. Raising children in our homes provides a great classroom for raising eco-conscious children and instilling earth friendly values. Parents are given unique opportunities to foster a love for miracles our earth holds.

Ten Tips For Raising Eco-Conscious Kids

Thankfully, we don’t have to possess state of the art equipment to carry out this task. By starting at home, we can teach simple techniques and implement fun activities to our daily routines to help children develop the desire and skills to reduce their imprint on our planet.

Listed below are ten suggestions for parents to take advantage of the time we are able to influence our kids’ habits and beliefs:
  1. Get outside. If children are playing outside or experiencing nature on a more intimate level, the chances are increased they will value the environment. We don’t have to channel our inner Bear Grylls, but we can take family walks, visit the park, tour the local nature preserve, or go camping.
  2. Reclaim family dinners. Family dinners benefit our children in countless ways, but planning meals teach kids about nutrition, clean eating, wastefulness, and how much work really goes into feeding people. Seek out local ingredients, seasonal products, or visit nearby farms to deepen this insight and whip up something good to eat.
  3. Take advantage of your local library. Many libraries are great resources for helping families become more eco-conscious by enabling us to check out books, movies, and periodicals without creating more waste. Libraries even offer classes or workshops to help families on this journey.
  4. Volunteer. Look for opportunities to pick up trash or clean area parks. We send the message that we care about the world and by working together we can make a difference.
  5. Repurpose everyday items. While sorting through the recyclables or cleaning a child’s room, look for ways to repurpose old belongings. Pinterest is a great resource for helping kids see new life in old containers, sweaters, books, and more. 
  6. Teach children how to reduce, reuse, and recycle! Have your sons and daughters help sort your recyclables. Look for ways to reduce your trash and begin composting food waste.
  7. Start a garden. Whether you choose containers or do a traditional plot, working the soil is a great way to learn about the environment first hand. Allowing kids a hands on lesson in sustainability will impact their health, understanding of science principles, and provide great opportunities to bond as a family.
  8. Embrace second hand stores and garage sales. Teach children how to shop for used items before buying new. This saves items from going into the landfill and it allows you to find new treasures or clothes while saving a few pennies.
  9. Plan DIY projects that include the whole family so everyone is involved and having fun. This can be as simple as installing weather stripping around windows or learning how to seal gaps with caulk. Children love using tools and display a lot of pride when they complete a task.
  10. Challenge your children to make a difference. In an effort to reduce electric bills and consumption, dare your kids to keep the electric bill under a certain amount each month. If they are successful, treat them to the difference saved. For example, if you challenged your family to keep the bill under $150 and the bill was only $130, the kids get $20 to use for a family activity or to split equally. It’s a win win- the kids will take more of an interest in shutting off lights or unplugging devices and you will be able to budget.

By working together, we can show our children how one or two acts, when combined, can make a huge difference. What is one thing you will do today to raise your child’s eco-conscious?