Travelling with special needs: Roadtrips!

We’ve always loved to travel and when kids came along special needs or not we also brought the kids along domestic flights, overseas and more recently interstate road trips.

When they were babies we thought why not they’re still free and we discovered that airlines allow you to bring portacots, prams and car seats at not extra cost. The amount of things we had to pack and brings was the same as any other family.

Before the age of two children who travel on your lap travel free. So we tried to take advantage of this when possible.

Now that the kids are over two, it costs a lot more to travel by air. Also now that my daughter who has cerebral palsy is a lot older and bigger she relies on a wheelchair for mobility.

We also purchased a secondhand vehicle and modified it with a wheel chair accessible a lift with the assistance of VOSS funding.

Having the modified vehicle has made it so much easier to do short trips and also those tourist type trip when you stop on many places along the way because

1) Its a lot easier to simply unstrap the wheel chair and wheel her out if the car (instead of unloading and assembling her pram/mobility chair;  getting her out of the car; strapping her in). It’s made quick stops easier and possible where as we wouldn’t bother before or we would leave her in the car and take it in turns to see the sight.

2) I have worked out how to feed her in the car! Now this might not be possible for everyone, when we had the car modified I chose the configuration so that

Heres a few tips that made our road trip easier:

  • Bottle warmer – what an amazing new invention this plugs into the cigarette lighter – we have them in the back of our van so I will use it to heat packet food or bottles and can still manage to follow her normal eating schedule.
  • Thermos food flask – heat before I go and it keeps warm for a good 4-5 hours. It means I can feed her in the car or stroller as we go.
  • Thermos – for hot water – we’ve used this to make up formula (mix with cold bottled water) on the go to or even for instant coffee.
  • Contigo – for myself – easy to use auto seal makes it spill proof and keeps drinks hot which means I can have hot drinks around the kids.
  • Tissues, Wipes, paper towels. lots of them have them stashed in handy places. Also have an old Huggies travel case that I refill with the cheaper Aldi wipes. I just take the plastic cover off and pop inside the residue glue helps it stay in place. The buggies travel case has a strap so it hangs from her accessible stroller and it’s always there when I need it.
  • Plastic bags – nappy bags (compact), just hang them on the side of her pram and it’s handy to throw rubbish in.
  • Barf bags – the ones with the plastic ring that you get in hospital. Very good to have on standby as our girl is a chucker – one bad cough and it’s round two with the food. To make it useable I line it with a nappy bag. It can double as rubbish in and when she vomits it all gets wrapped up and in the bin. No mess.
  • Packet food – doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is great on standby. We will still use our own cooked food first but if she’s vomited or we forgot to bring some, we can still give her a meal on the road or when out and about.
  • Esky in the car – packed all the frozen meals in the bottom and the cold snacks/ drinks you need at the top.
  • Packing the car so that all the things needed during the trip was within hands reach.
  • Snacks portioned for everyone eg sandwiches in individual sandwich bags, tubs of nuts, etc. means that you can just pass them around the car as needed without having to stop and makes it easier to juggle over bumpy roads
  • Bag of toys, books and iPad to keep the little ones entertained which were rotated one by one.

With these tips we were able to drive for the entire day with only a few short stops for the toilet and lunch. I would be interested to hear your tips as well.


Product review: munchkin bottle warmer

Last Christmas our wonderful carer gave us a car 12 volt bottle warmer which plugs into the cigarette lighter. I never knew of such inventions but our upcoming interstate road trip was the best way to try it out. I had already worked out that I could feed my daughter in the car. This bottle warmer meant we could heat food while driving and I could continue feeding her without having to stop and look for a microwave on the way.

It also meant we could just stock up on food pouches and didn’t need to dip into our frozen food stores.

This is great for long car trips, camping. If spending the day out and about and you are unsure you will have heating facilities.

Disclaimer: I don’t receive any money for publishing this review.

DIY breathe easy air vapour stick bar – attempt #1

The other day we ran out of our doTerra Easy Air stick which we’ve been using daily on the kids to get them to sleep at night through their congestion.
I had some beeswax on hand and decided to try making it from scratch. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t have any cocoa butter on hand but instead found a blog post about the basic ratios for beeswax and virgin coconut oil then just ‘winged’ it.
Since the weather is still quite warm, and virgin coconut oil is still liquid at room temperature, I thought I would start with a 1:1 ratio. Last minute, I decided to add a few tablespoons of jojoba and olive oil making this more into a 1:1.5 ratio.
Here’s my first attempt:
1. Add to a small pot equal parts of beeswax and virgin coconut oil. I used in this batch:
35g beeswax
35g virgin coconut oil
2. Heat and melt over low flame. Let it cool for 5min.
3. Stir in liquid oil (any oil can be used here – should be increased to a total of 1/2 cup oil)
1 Tbsp jojoba oil
2Tbsp olive oil
60 drops of easy air or any other combination of pure essential oil
Note: If it starts to solidify too early, just melt over low heat.
4. Stir and immediately pour into ice cube tray or any other moulds.
5. Set in the fridge and then pop out and store in a cool dry place.

6.  Can be stored separately in a small container for easy use. I found the sistema 35ml dressing pots a good size to store one cube.

Makes approx 6 cubes.


It’s now 26.5 degrees Celsius and found that it was still a little too hard for use, and parts of it took a little longer to melt into my skin. The great benefit of making your own is that you and tailor it to your own preference and needs. If you were to use this for massage, it might be nice to have a more solid bar, but for those with sensitive or thin skin, a softer bar (with more liquid oil) would be beneficial.
Next time I will try increasing the amount of oil vs beeswax using a 1:3 or even 1:4 ratio and possibly try it with shea butter and/or cocoa butter. This will mean an increase to 70g of virgin coconut oil.
This is quite fragrant but because it is so solid it takes longer to melt and so only a small amount comes off at once. I’m also thinking of boosting this other single oils next time.
This still turns out to be cheaper than buying the breathe stick plus I can make a tray of cubes at a time and have it stashed around in multiple places instead of hunting around the house for that elusive vapour stick.
Now that I’ve tried it once, it’s inspired me to think of other combinations of oils – I could use it as a lip balm, foot balm, healing salve, eczema salve… this also makes affordable gifts that can be easily be made in bulk (thinking end of year Christmas presents…) and you can play with the packaging and set it in a little lip balm pot or tin, or lip balm stick.
So there’s still some tweaking to do but I hope that this inspires you to give it a go. There are heaps of recipes out there and sometimes it can be paralysing to choose and then collect all the ingredients, so I like the fact that this has minimal ingredients and it still turned out ok. It wasn’t that hard after all and worse comes to worse, you can always melt it down and adjust the proportions (although it would be best to do this before the oil is added so you don’t accidently evaporate the oil off).
Well, good luck DIY-ing and let me know if you find any great recipes for me to try!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease

Top 10 essential oils for traveling 

We travel a lot as a family and having a child with a disability hasn’t stopped us travelling as a family. So when I joined doTerra I naturally wanted to bring my oils with me. After seeing a doTerra purse, I decided to make my own just using an old case (from a thermometer) and elastic. If you prefer, you can also buy handy little purses from doTerra or everyday miracle. Since then it has evolved somewhat and I’ve discovered rollerball bottles which I can dilute my essential oils so they’re ready to use. Since coming home from my travels, I now take them everywhere and use them on a daily basis.

my first doTerra personal travel kit

Personal travel kit


Here’s my kid’s travel kit that I’ve put together using the official doTerra wellness advocate pouch with keychain.

doTerra Kits travel pouch with keychain using 2-3ml roller balls or 1ml sample vials.

Kid’s travel kit

Top 10 list of oils for travel

  1. Lavender – my go to oil for itchy bites and burns. You can use it on its own or blend your own itchy bite blend and bring this in a roller bottle.
  2. Deep Blue, the soothing blendgood for muscle pain and tension headaches. I often use this on my neck and shoulders before sleeping to help relax them so that I can get a good night’s sleep. Using with Serenity or Cleary calm can also help promote sleep.
  3. Serenity restful blend or Clary CalmHelps calm the mind and body enough to sleep. Great for adjusting to different time zones or when sleeping on the flight. This also smells amazing so I sometimes just use it as perfume. Clary Calm also has clary sage in it with eases comfort during menstruation.
  4. Easy Air, the respiratory blend – this is a great blend for clearing the nose due to allergies or cold and flu symptoms.
  5. Infection blend is a blend was passed to me from my Sister to help boost the immune system in times of flu and cold like symptoms. I like to massage it gently behind the ear starting from the temple, behind the ear to the base of the neck sometimes continuing to the back and into the shoulder blade. When I have even a slight runny nose I often feel the mucous draining. Alternatively, you can simply use the protective blend which is great to use to prevent and support healing. It can be made into a natural hand sanitizer that doesn’t contain carcinogens.
  6. DigestZen – great for soothing the occasional upset tummy or to help bring up gas. If you prefer to use this internally, it’s best to bring it in a sample 1-2ml vial.
  7. Balance, the grounding blend for those stressful flight connections, to help you feel grounded. It also doubles as a great perfume. Can be used combined with Serenity to make the ‘Tantrum blend’.
  8. Elevation – helps me wake up and feel energised in the morning and in the afternoon. This is great for jetlag, to help you stay away when you land to adjust to the new time zone.
  9. Frankincense – the king of oils, very versatile can be used to help calm the mind, for boosting the immune system and also to help the healing process with scratches or bruises.
  10. TerraArmor (aka TerraShield) – a natural barrier when outdoors – I find it needs to have even coverage for best effect, so it is good to make this up as a spray.

Other oils you could consider, depending on your needs:

Tea Tree (melaleuca) because it can be used as an antiseptic as well as great for pimples.

Smart & Sassy is a blend to help you feel full and is useful before exercise and in the afternoon for a pick me up. I was a bit sceptical at first but recalled that the Biggest Loser recommended using grapefruit or lemon in water before exercise. This seemed to be consistent so I thought I would give it a go and was surprised to find that my hunger pains went away immediately.

Purify – as a spray helps neutralise bad odours and leaves a pleasant smell. Great for musty rooms or cars.

Kit combinations

To give you an idea of how affordable these oils can be, here are some of the kit combinations I’ve put together and an estimate of the cost price including materials (bottles, pouches etc) with the doTerra member wholesale price vs the retail price. Click here to order or join my doTerra to access the wholesale price.

Travel Kits

Diluted in 3 ml roller balls in Fractionated Coconut oil, cost price includes a handy travel pouch with keychain.

Wholesale Price (AUD) Retail Price (AUD)
Personal starter travel kit (10 oils – 8 diluted oils 3ml bottles in FCO  -Infection blend, Balance, Breathe, Digest-zen, Serenity, Elevation, Deep Blue, On Guard. Plus 1ml of pure Smart & Sassy (10 drops sample neat), and 1 ml of Cleary Calm (10 drops sample) $35 $45
Kids starter travel kit + frankincense (10 diluted oils 3ml bottles in FCO  -Infection blend, Tantrum blend, Balance, Digest-zen, Serenity, Elevation, Deep Blue, breathe, lavender, On Guard, Melaleuca) $33 $43
Essential Collection travel kit in 3ml rollerballs (costs $174 for pure 5ml) – (10 diluted oils in 3ml bottles – Easy Air, Digest-zen, Frankincense, Ice Blue, Lavender, Lemon, On Guard, Oregano, Peppermint, Tea Tree) $30 $40

Alternatively, if this is all too much you can also buy the doTerra Touch kit which consists of 9x10ml roll on oil blends already diluted in fractionated coconut oil at $225.33 USD ($169 wholesale) – this contains all the oils in the essential collection kit and is also available as an enrolment kit.

For more information head over to Joining my doterra team.

Note: Prices are based on 2016 doTerra price list. 

Information is only based on my opinion and experience and is not to be taken as medical advice. Please see your doctor if symptoms persist and also discuss your current situation with your doctor if you intend to use this alongside western medication.

Social Capital – Community Inclusion for people with a disability – Al Condeluci 

What does inclusion look like in the community? How do I help my daughter with CP to engage with others and be socially included if she can’t hold her head up and can’t talk? I know that exclusion from society is bad eg group homes, special programs etc but I couldn’t quite explain exactly why. On the other hand, specialised programs are great because it meets the person with a disability where they’re at, gives them and their families the support they need and we’ve been personally been enormously blessed by them. These were the questions that were buzzing around the back of my mind when I heard that Mamre had invited Al Condeluci to talk about inclusion.

Updated: Full Video:

Here’s a “summary” (a little longer than intended) from my notes. Note: I only came half way through the session (the doorbell you hear half way through was me). 

The Good Life

When we look at what it means to have ‘the good life’ every person regardless of their ability, race, gender would say that it is to have a

  • job (means to earn an income and contribute to society),
  • a house /place to live/to call their own; and
  • relationships (friends and family).

When it comes to supporting people with a disability it’s easy to provide jobs and housing with funding and support. However, to assist them to make friends and be engaged in a community is more challenging.

Historically people with disability have been devalued by society with their disability seen as a punishment from God or less than human. This has improved over the years with

– charities – to care for them

– medical institutions – to fix them solely focusing on their medical needs.

– social institutionalisation – to watch over them and provide services that cater for their disability but not fully include them in society. This was in the form of group homes, supported apartments, special education, sheltered workshops, work enclaves, separate recreation and separated transportation.

These approaches have their merits in meeting people’s needs to a degree, what was missing from was community (beyond the paid agency/ support) – having friends, social opportunities, people who call and places to go.

“If you belong to no community and decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying in half over the next year.” – Robert Putnam

Having relationships reduces stress and improves the immune system to help ward off bacteria and viruses. This has shown to be true in real life examples such as the Roseto community, who were studied by medical professions to find out why everyone lived longer than the norm despite poor health, eating and exercise habits. They ruled out all the factors and only one they could conclude was that they all belonged to the same Italian community for generations. It was only when the younger generations started to move away for work that their lifespan came down to normal. In the same vein, Hispanic communities are also found to live longer despite harder jobs, lack of exercise. All of this could be traced back to being part of a strong tight-knit community.

Al Condeulci and Rachel Drew (Mamre) also shared their experiences on how this might be created, having just come back from a trip to New Zealand to visit an intentional community called Earth Song. This community of 32 likeminded families built a housing estate with sustainable living and community in mind. There is a community center where the families take it in turns to host a dinner twice a week. Cars are parked on the perimeter to promote walking.

On the flip side when there isn’t community the life expectancy is less and for a person with a disability, it is 15 years sooner. In UK doctors are treating loneliness as an illness. During hurricane Katrina a few thousand died, however, most was not from the direct consequences of the flood, it was because no one knew they were trapped, didn’t know to come and so no one found them.

So how do we help people build communities when there are challenges?

The Power of Social Capital

There are two ways of looking at change:

  1. Micro change – changing an individual’s circumstances – this is about changing the focus from deficits, labels, the differences,  to ‘fix the problem’ and instead focusing on what we might have similar with the person to start building bridges at the personal level.
  2. Macro – community – is made of rules and relationships. There are social norms in each community and rules of engagement. Macro change attempts to change social attitudes through formal ways (laws) or informal ways, through relationships. And how do we do this? By starting the conversation.

What was interesting was when community does not happen organically we create systems to generate a marginal reality. So for people with a disability when they cannot participate and engage in community, we create artificial community’s such as group homes, sheltered workshops, special programs all of which cater to their specific needs but the effect is that they are excluded from society.

The community model for macro change see the problem is not the person, but the assumptions. Instead of focusing on ‘what’s wrong’ with the person, it is about shifting the focus to similarities and shared interests. By doing so bridges can be built, friendships forged and builds social capital – essentially it means that there are people that care about the person with a disability who will be there for them when things go wrong, not because they are paid but because they genuinely care about them as a person. This is fundamental to all human beings we all need to love and be loved.

“One of the biggest flaws in our approach to life is the Western belief that competition creates strong and healthy systems. But competition among individuals is not hte dominant way life works. It is always cooperation that increases over time in a living system. Life becomes stronger through systems of collaboration and partnering, not through competition. ” – Margaret Wheatly

We discussed the exclusion that occurs when there is competition. There is only ever one winner and each time the competition is repeated, the winner is called to somehow ‘defend’ their title or else they are perceived to not be a winner. This ignores the fact they have already won and the reality is that they should always be considered a ‘winner’. There is only one winner and that makes everyone else give up and opt out. We don’t see the best out of everyone when there is competition, infact it often brings out the worst particularly when winning becomes the sole focus at all costs. Often we perpetuate this notion by focusing on ‘who is winning’ rather than how we are playing the game. When it comes to life it is apparent that how we play is much more important than who has ‘won’. However, when we work together we bring the best of what we have to offer and leverage each other’s strengths in synergy to create something greater than what could be achieved individually.

“It’s not differences that divide us. It’s our judgments about each other that do.”

We discussed different ways that might isolate people from engaging in the community and found that it’s not simply other people’s attitudes and judgments they have made about a person, but also the person’s on ideas or personality.

For example, those on the autism spectrum often want to engage in social interactions, however, they don’t know how or can’t bring themselves to because they feel they may violate the social norms or have to be someone they’re not in order to fit in. It essentially boils down to the fact that we all want to socialise with whom we want to socialise with, when, where and how often we want it. We all want the choice to opt in or out and so shouldn’t people with a disability be given that same opportunity?

We first need to get past differences by

  1. Regularity
  2. More similarity

We then talked about different examples in the media where we have seen this done successfully – some examples were:

  • Big Bang Theory – practical guide to making friends
  • Community – ahbed – protrayed as eccentric but normal
  • Speechless – quest to live a ‘normal’ teenage life despite having a carer to assist with communication.

Building community

Firstly a person needs to identify what community they want to be part of, visit with regularity, then find a way to contribute to the community. This can be done by:

  • Look to (or help others) find their common passions (similarities)
  • Look for places (communities) where these common passions are celebrated and try to visit with regularity.
  • Find out what is important in how this community behaves (rituals, patterns)
  • Look for (or become the Gatekeeper) to other community members.

So what is the role of the paid support worker? How can people with more severe disabilities hope to make friends and maintain them?


Gatekeepers are simply people that have the power to allow or prevent people from accessing and/or engaging in the community. So there can be good and bad gatekeepers. When used well, paid funded support workers can be used as a conduit for building social capital. This doesn’t mean getting a certain number of likes on facebook (someone mentioned that this was an actual goal on someone’s plan and used as an example of how the concept of social capital is easily misunderstood). Discussing the place of social media, I discovered it can be good to help strengthen new relationships – keep regular contact, provide information to find similarities, provide topics of conversation to help build bridges in person. However, it is not to be used as a replacement or an indicator of social capital.

Where to from here?

Let’s start the conversation. This is the best way to effect real social change, with one conversation at a time. There is a lot of new ideas to think through and I would be interested to hear more about how others have applied this in real life before. Here’s some further information that I will also be reading. Keen to also hear your thoughts of what you found helpful.


Disclaimer: this is a summary of my view of the workshop given and represents my view of what was said. The full session of the Mamre session is now available on YouTube: