Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Have you heard about vision therapy? Not us until someone approached to us giving this information and later on doing more research about it.

We look back five year from now and we were approach by an educator friend with important information about vision therapy. Genesis was only 2.5 years  old and also wearing glasses at that time.  We were excited to learn more about this type of therapy.  One thing she did mention was that Genesis need it to be 7 years old in order to start vision therapy and that she was too young to start therapy since her eyes are still continue to develop. We let time pass and waited until Genesis could turn 7 years of age. By this time we were already aware of the symptoms and things to look at. Many of her performance started to make more sense and know that this can be corrected with vision therapy. We create a written observation and a letter to school addressing our concerns. We were able to identify those areas as a team and provide appropriate service to Genesis.  Genesis wears prescription glasses throughout the whole day.  She practically never takes them off.  Here are our visual indicators of areas of concern:

  • Constantly tilts her head when looking at front of the class or looking at TV screens
  • Poor ball skills (catching ball)
  • Tends to hold things very close to her
  • Loses place when reading
  • Short attention span when copying and omits letters, words & numbers
  • When counting she skips the number or object.
  • When reading, her finger follows at different speed two lines below from where she actually is reading
  • Reverses numbers when writing
  • Writes her answer in the incorrect place
  • Erases excessively
These are just some of the indicators that we will mention at this time.

Vision therapy is a visual/vision training, is an individualized vision therapy program designed to correct visual-motor and perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision therapy trains the entire visual system which includes eyes, brain, and body.  The goal of vision therapy is to train the brain to tell the eyes to receive information effectively, comprehend it quickly and react appropriately. Her Vision therapist focus intensively on her tracking and convergence.

We would like to share how vision therapy worked for our daughter to achieve her full potential in academic performance. We have experienced about a total of 26 sessions and always making progress. The vision therapy sessions included procedures designed to enhance the brain's ability to control eye alignment, eye movements, eye tracking and focusing abilities.  Parent presence in therapy sessions was welcome which works for the communication piece and also home therapy activities were assigned to be performed on a daily basis.

Ocular Motility Function, Genesis had inaccurate eye tracking. Just to mention a few examples of how vision therapy have made improvements in the area of tracking. Reading, has been always Genesis top priory, our area of concern was when reading she will skip lines and loss her space. She would also track with her finger at the wrong lines ( 1 or 2 lines bellow from where she was reading) but reading correctly.

After receiving  20 therapy sessions we have seen Genesis not skipping lines or using her finger to track her reading. Even if she uses her finger at times is still an improvement since she now points on the correct spot or rarely doesn't need to use her finger to track.

Now, she has excited readiness fluency on age appropriate grade level and after 30 therapy sessions accomplish she no longer feels the need of tracking with her finger. She is more consistent to what she is reading. She now enjoys signing the story and is able to express her reading thru American Sign Language using her hands and tracking with her eyes only.
She has improved in this skill by about 50% compared to her initial exam.

Another example on the area on focus, it's a challenge to copy information from the board down to her paper.  She would loss her place when looking away and close to follow instructions. I learn this is called convergence, is when your eyes convert from focusing on something from close to far distance. Also, copying information from one sheet to the other was a challenging task for her. Now, her writing has improve by being more consisted on the lines and more . We have seen overall improvement. During this process experience she have received an award from her school for outstanding achievements in academic effort. She is 50% more stable than her initial exam.

In terms of accommodations the Doctor has recommended for Genesis to use a slant board and is included in her IEP. Viewing things at an angle has help her be more comfortable visually and perform more efficiently. Also, use highlighted marker to highlight middle broken line paper for better writing alignment and focus on writing. We continue to support our daughter at home with doctors accommodations for homework assignments.
highlighting the middle breaking line to stay on the line as a visual guide 

If you are interested to get a checklist of Behavioral Indications of possible vision difficulty you can ask you (OT) Occupational Therapist at your school  that can also assist you in supporting this area of concern and implementing it towards the child IEP as goal.  Search your options or any further questions I might be able to answer or forgot to mention please comment and we can all keep learning.

Our personal experience was above and beyond expectations.  Vision Therapy has helped Genesis become more confident.   Fun games and unique strategies was use in each therapy that I have never seen before. The treatment makes all sense to me and I'm able to see the purpose of each technique being used. The outcomes were all positive.  Her most notable improvement has been in the area of convergence, the ability of her eyes to come together. Tis skill is important when it comes to near tasks, like reading and homework. She improved by about 75% since her initial exam.

The team always pay close attention to Genesis interest and motivation. The  Optometrist Doctor and the Vision therapist were very attentive and explained with detail the procedures, therapy sessions, evaluations, and results about our daughter visual needs. Even front desk clerk and every employee in the office will greed my daughter by her name and ask to clean her glasses before sessions. Very friendly and welcoming experience on each visit. Thank you Pack and Bianes Vision staff and the team!

Thank you to that friend, teacher, for approaching us with this piece of information that ended up being part of our daughter's  IEP and plan of life and it could also be for others reading this post.

Monday, August 1, 2016


I am very thrilled to bring you today Alisa Amber as my blog's guest writer.

In support of Down Syndrome and American Sign Language, we are happy to present this guest post from Elisa Ambre. She is a parent of Carmen Marie who is 2 years old and has Down syndrome and loves signing, music, and animals especially her dog Ari. Elisa is a former Catholic school teacher and Pro Life advocate. She is currently a Stay at Home mom and is excited about this new journey. Her Facebook page, “Carmen Marie” covers a variety of topics related to special needs and can be found on Facebook.

Did you know it’s Respect for Parent’s Day today? I have a lot of respect for my parents and other parents, even more so when I became a parent 2 years ago.
Two years ago I gave birth to my daughter Carmen. I knew from genetic testing that my daughter had 99% chance of having Down syndrome. 

My knowledge about Down syndrome was minimal. As a former junior high Math and Science teacher I taught my students about the Down syndrome but never knew anyone personally that had the syndrome.

I think back on that 45-year-old mom who was unsure of her daughter’s future. What would I tell her today?

First, I would say that everything was going to be AWESOME. The path will be different but so much fun. Your daughter will work through the low muscle tone with the help of early intervention programs. The benchmarks like sitting up, crawling, walking and eating solid food will take longer to reach. Be patient and know your child will hit them. Enjoy every moment.

The next thing I would tell her is that there will be angels that light a path along the way. Embrace them and incorporate what you learn at home. The therapists will teach her how to blow bubbles, work on lip closure, feeding, fine and gross motor skills. The teachers will hold the lantern and illuminate her mind. The social support groups will be your shoulders to lean on.

One particular angel was Alma.  I was concerned about Carmen not being able to communicate with me and others as she got older. I shared this concern with Alma whom I met at San Diego Down syndrome parent support group meeting.  Alma told me the best thing I could do for Carmen was to teach her sign language as a means of communication.  I had seen Alma and her husband sign to Genesis never thinking I would ever learn or use American Sign Language. 

I was a full-time teacher and a mom to a two-year-old. Would I have the time and the opportunity to do this for Carmen and give her a chance to communicate with me? When you love your child and desire the best for them, you make the time.

Fast forward two years later, my daughter now says and signs over 50 words and can now formulate simple sentences to communicate her needs.  Through American Sign Language I am giving my daughter an advantage of learning another language aside from English and Spanish.

Carmen was born with Down syndrome, but she is a person first. People with Down syndrome experience the same emotions that you and I do. My life has changed for the better as I shout for joy with each victory. Carmen stole my heart and the hearts of others she has met and meets along our journey. My daughter gives me a unique perspective of seeing the best in every person I meet.

I look forward to sharing our adventure called life.  Don’t forget…call your parent/s! It’s Respect for Parents Day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Looking back a year ago, Genesis was in Kindergarten she manage to read/identify 60/100 sight words. Now a year later she manage to read and sign 243/200 sight words by the end of 1st grade. All students in her school must reach the goal of reading 200 HFW by the end of 1st grade. She not only went over that expectation of reading HFW but also sign them. She was able to learn 43 words extra from the next level which are 2nd grade level HFW.

What did I use for this learning experience? The strategies I used was using flashcards, Jenga wood block game and giving her the sign for each word as a memory hint. She practice, practice, practice at least 15min per day. For motivation awareness I add a sticky to each word that she does not know. That helps her to visually see that she will get back to it and practice more.  When she is able to identify the word (say and sign) she is aware and motivated to remove the sticky on her own.

Can you guess what is the new game for next year? I choose a game that she is highly interested on and enjoys the most.  I decided to go to the next level and decided to create a GIANT Jenga wood block game to play it outside.  For this game I simply write the HFW on the block and every time she moves it to the top she needs to read it and sign it.

Tip: use black color to paint wood blocks for a chalk look then use colorful chalk to write the words on both sides. Using chalk can be re-use and keep editing words as she keeps moving up to the next grade level.

Reading her HFW has help her with her reading fluency and decoding words (128/142 end of the year proficient)

Sunday, May 15, 2016


We are very proud of Genesis for been presented with a certificate of recognition for "Outstanding Achievement in Academic Effort". Thank you to her Teacher and her Interpreter for everything they do with Genesis in class and in school. Special Thanks to our school Principal for presenting her with this award. A warm thank you for those that came to congratulate her.

Genesis was very honor to received this award and she was happy for her friends that also received a certificate.

video is able to be view only on laptops or desktop

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


 Starting Date July 11 to September 24

Registrations STILL OPEN!

Classes are offer under the City of Chula Vista Recreation Department in Heritage Community CenterLesson Plan Designed by Alma & George owner of along with TINY-HANDS team, partner Mr. Garabrant  Fluent ASL Instructor, and collaboration of the City of Chula Vista Recreation Department. To register or/and for more details click the class bellow. To contact us post your comment here or on Facebook

Our goal is for every child to have the opportunity to communicate with our hearing non-verbal and minimal-verbal friends in our community. With the help of our team and our fluent ASL instructor  we ensure that every child  and parent will experience the beauty of Communication using their eyes, hands, ears, voice and heart.

ASL for Kids (This class starts Saturday July 16 10:30-11:15am)
Ages 6-12
This class is designed for kids only ages 6-12 to learn Basic American Sign Language.  Each student will have the experience to communicate with fluent ASL instructor being profound deaf. You will get to experience total communication using visuals, objects, voice, games, and activities.  This is a very interactive, fun, and hands on learning experience.  This class will also cover fingerspelling, numbers, colors, and vocabulary. At the end of this class student will have the confidence to communicate and approach individuals that are non-verbal or minimum-verbal in their community, school or/and home.

ASL for Kids with Special Needs (This class starts Saturday July 16  9:30-10:15am)
Ages 3-12
This class is specifically designed for kids with special needs along with the parent to improve communication skills using American Sign Language. This class is focus to accommodate the student, we allowed breaks as necessary and one to one teaching time with parent involvement. with   A Total Communication Approach using visuals, voice, objects, and hands on experiences to meet the needs of the individuals daily routine.

ASL for Tots (This class has been cancelled. Re-open with further notice)
Ages 2-5
This class is designed for tots and parents to learn Basic American Sign Language using a Total Communication approach that includes voice, visuals, objects, music and games. Our goal is to expose tots to see other ways to communications at an early age. This class will also prepare tots to retain memory educational information . When attending in a inclusion (all included) class  in their public/private school, the Tot is more willing to make friends and try to communicate with other student that are earing and non-verbal or minimum verbal. Teaching our Tots in a early age we are preparing them to accept and to be aware that there is a way to communicate with others that can't speak clearly, hard of hearing or deaf.

ASL for Babies (Monday July11 10:45-11:15)
(This class have already started, but registrations are still being accepted.)
Ages 4m-1yr
This class is designed for parents to learn early communication using basic American Sign Language to communicate with their baby.  A Total Communication approach is used including voice, music, objects and toys.

*All our classes teaches real signs meaning is not invented sign. We incorporated 100% American Sign Language and other components to reach our goal. Total communication can be continued to be used in future. Example: ASL in high school, college and around America. It is consider as a second language.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


A day before our daughter asked, "What is St. Patrick's day?". She was hearing it from school so we had to find a way to simplify it. We used images, signing and asked her W's questions.

We started by showing her a picture of St. Patrick. We said to her that every year on March 17 we celebrate it.

We also showed her a picture of Ireland and told her people wear green on this day. If someone is not wearing green, they get pinch.

A picture of a shamrock was shown to her like the one above. I signed the number three and counted the leaves with her and told her to find one at the back yard.  She had a lot of fun with this. Once she found a pile of them, I asked her, "What is it?".

We showed her a picture of a leprechaun and was very excited to see it. She said that her school teacher showed her one and that she was wearing a hat as well. We knew that she was connecting everything.

We added a short video clip of Genesis signing and voicing today's Day (March 17 "St. Patrick's Day).


                                                       Have fun sorting colors and counting.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Genesis qualified for special education services under Speech Language Impermanent (SLI). Genesis has a total of 8 goals and one of them is Written Language.  In her Individual Educational Program (IEP) this goal is written as follow:

When given a text type (Informative/Explanatory/Opinion/Narrative)and a topic to write about, Genesis will use text type appropriate anchor charts and sentence frames to write an introductory sentence, three supporting sentences, and a conclusion sentence with correct transition words, capitalization, and punctuation on 3 out of 4 trials as measured by teacher recorded data and/or student work samples.

How are we supporting this goal at home? We are using an app from ABITALK called "Sentence Builder for Special Needs Children" which is recommended for ages 4-9 and is available in a free version. This has offered the flexibility of using different techniques for writing and has helped Genesis building sentences. Genesis has been using this app from "ABITALK" for about two years. This app has been ideal for self-paced learning. It teaches Genesis the awareness of grammar, sentence structure and develops listening skills. Genesis is highly motivated every time she uses "Sentence Build App" a different fun way to practice building sentences. Along with Sentence Build App, she reinforces her skills learned on wide line paper, white board and the Boggy board. We talk about the topic, she listens to the sentence in the app, she builds the sentence using the app and finally she writes on paper.

At school, Genesis receives 30 minutes of service on Writing Language once a week to support written goal.

drag word to complete sentence

Listen to the words while the sentence is being build.

You can create your own sentence with your own pictures/images that your child/student is familiar with and has high interest.  You can also use your voice to record your own sentence. A familiar voice like mom/dad, a close friend or a special family member is always a special touch to fun learning.  Finally, the student can move the words around to build the sentence themselves.

click the speaker icon top right corner to listen over and over

add a real picture to your sentence

Remember to ask the child what they want to write about. Give the child choices about topics to write about. You can also use topics already use in their classrooms to re-enforce learning. Have fun building!

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Genesis has had ongoing symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness. In the past, Genesis would tell us that she was tire during the day numerous times. Even if she didn't have a long day at school and with very few activities, she would still say that she was tire. One of the concerns we had was that she would at times loose focus on what she was doing. As we've mentioned in the past, Genesis is very persistent and enjoys school so much.

A recent overnight sleep study showed evidence of severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). She was diagnosed with OSA and we would like to share about:
  • How we suspected that she might of had sleep apnea
  • The procedure towards the diagnosis

How we suspected that she might of had sleep apnea

Genesis shares a room with her little sister and sleeps on her own bed.  How I notice she was having difficulty breathing at nights? Genesis started waking up 2 to 3 times during the night and at times she would come in to our room.  I would ask Genesis, "What's wrong?" She would answer "I don't know" and I would ask, "Did you had a dream?" and she would say "no". I would just walk her back to her room and tell her to stay in her bed.  After continuous wake ups during nights, we started to suspect that something may be wrong. We focused our attention to her sleep patterns. After sleeping next to her a few nights, I noticed that she would go back to sleep with no trouble but her breathing pattern was not normal. She would hold or stop breathing for a long time.

I was fortunate to be reading a blog about a young girl with Down Syndrome that was in and out the hospital because of Sleep Apnea.  It definitely got my attention and made additional research. After learning more about it, we contacted her pediatrician.

The procedure towards the diagnose

The process was easy.  First, we contacted Genesis's pediatrician and immediately referred us to the sleep Clinic Medical Center  where she was first evaluated.  The evaluation qualified her for a sleep study and was referred to an overnight sleep study.  A parent was advise to stay with her in the room. The doctor recommended us to show Genesis pictures of people doing the study and talk to her about the procedure in a fun way before her sleep study. The night of the study, we were directed to the room and comfortably filled out questionnaires. The technician was very knowledgeable and professional while explaining the process. Sticky patches were put all over her body. Genesis was comfortable and enjoying the attention. I read her a bedtime story and she also mentioned that it didn't hurt before falling asleep.  During her sleep, she was being monitored with a camera along with wires attached to her body that recorded sensory waves of her breathing and dreams. The study was over the following day around 5a.m. The technician informed me that the results would be sent to the doctor. By that time I had already scheduled an appointment to see the doctor to talk about the results.

Sleep Apnea is very common in individuals with Down Syndrome. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain and the rest of the body may not get enough oxygen.. The main types of sleep apnea are:
  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common from that occurs when throat muscles relax.
  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also know as treatment emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Monday, February 1, 2016


We are back to blogging! Busy, Busy Months a lot to catch up. Also,with new updates about Genesis to share with you all. Keeping this Blog alive does require time. There is couple of reasons why we started this blog and also couple of reason why we held back on starting it. We have been surrounded with a lot of positive people and we didn't know what to expect on starting this blog in a public life. After analyzing and praying about this, we decided it to go forward!

Our Goal is to encourage and share what Genesis has done to improve her style of life.  We keep learning from her and we are growing along with her as she grows.

Here, we are taking a moment to put words together for others  and hoping the reader will benefit. We love hearing positive comments of how this blog has helped and has been a blessing to others. People all around the world have pick in on this blog and is encouraging to see numerous of positive viewers.

Just to mention a few, from all around the United States in one single week we had 2622 viewers. Also, to our surprised people from different places around the world have visit this tiny blog all the way from Mexico, Peru, Moldova, Greece, Argentina, India, Brazil, Italy, Costa Rica, Germany, France, Netherlands, China, Japon, Lucembourg, Russia, Bushia, United Kingdom, Papua New Gunea, Hong Kong, India, Chile, Colombia...

We want to thank Mrs. Janice, a current Pre-school teacher, who inspired us to start this blog. Also, very thankful to Mr. Chuck, our Sign Language Mentor Teacher, that motivated us to write and introduced us to the Deaf Culture.  Finally, the most rewarding words from Dr. Nunes, MD a Genetic Doctor has change the way we see things.  When Dr. Nunes asked us on a genetic general visit "how we did it?"  " What are you doing"?.  He seems very surprised to see how Genesis has developed.  He asked Genesis at the age of 5yrs old "what number is this?" pointing to the number 21 on a Cytogenetic Report sheet. Genesis responded correctly verbally and in Sign Language (21).  His impression from Genesis was as follow...

"Wow!! Genesis is a healthy girl with Down Syndrome. She is exceeding expectations, above average with respect to typical developmental potential.  Parents pursued early intervention, and she is in a typical school curriculum, 400 ASL words, sight words reading, writing, and counting."

Sure his Question of "how we did It?" with Genesis did surprised us. Especially coming from a Genetic Doctor that has dedicated himself  caring for individuals with Down Syndrome and even more having a daughter himself did made us believe that we are doing something different.  This experience absolutely affirmed us that what we are doing is working.  Our answer to Dr. Nunes was... "We have try many things,  we would never know how far she can go if we don't try" We are absolutely proud of Genesis of her persistence in learning.

This are the reasons behind this blog of why we decided to write about Genesis. It will absolutely  be worth sharing and to envision a bright future and to improve the quality of life of each individual with Down Syndrome.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


When we started this blogging journey not too long ago, we didn't know how big this blogging world was. To be honest, I (wife) thought blogging was just  for teachers. It wasn't until a teacher mentioned to us that their was also other types of bloggers. It came to our attention to read blogs about  parent's who have children with down syndrome. We found their blogs to be very impressive. Reading about them has been very inspirational and motivational and even very touching. Today, we found the importance to take the time to click "Google+ followers" to keep following amazing parents that are on the same journey. We want to take the time to let them know that their stories have been worth sharing.

Photographer Destiny Denise Sarmiento

Before Blogging, we were getting our information from the web, books, support group, friends, teachers, advocates and people that have been supportive with Genesis. We have found that there are different recommendations and methods to put in practice. My husband is open minded, he thinks out of the box and takes the time necessary to analyze. On the other hand, I'm very expressive, love talking, like to keep things moving and get things done at the moment. We definitively do a team effort in taking decisions together. Taking opportunities presented to our daughter, has lead us to better understand what works for her. You will find many different answers out there, but keeping in mind what works for your child will definitely give them the opportunity to discover new horizons.

Photographer Destiny Denise Sarmiento

A year blogging and still learning. What a surprise!  We have found beautiful blogs about Down Syndrome. Parents that are doing the same by doing their own research and sharing the outcomes. There are numerous families out there that are sharing their stories to the world. We have found blogging a great resource for sharing experiences to learn from them and celebrate together the uncounted blessings that we all share.

Photographer Destiny Denise Sarmiento

We have never stop learning and we wish to continue to learn from these parent blogs.  Each day is a different moment and now it feels like one of those days. We are following families using Google around the world that we never saw ourselves doing.  This is an example of how productive media (blogging) can be. We use it to learn, advocate and spread awareness. Thanks to all Down Syndrome Blogs that have share their stories.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Learning the Alphabet in American Sign Language has brought a lot of benefits to our child with speech impairment.  Being able to learn the basic skills (such as American Sign Language- ASL) of signing the alphabet has improved her spelling skills. Signing has given her another visual support for spelling sight words that are expected to know at school.  Its  has definitely helped her to leave a large visual imprint in her brain.
I have created two fun and colorful sets of ABC cards for girls and boys.  I created it keeping in mind of few of our sweet friends asking to learn Sign Language for their kids and others for the kids room display.  I've been wanting to replace my old ABC Cards with pastel colors ABC cards with Sign Language included.
Any child that is learning their ABC can benefit from using ASL as visual support.  Using hand movements can be fun, interactive and can be effective memorizing the alphabet.

It's never too early or too late to begin Sign Language. It does take time for a younger child  to produce the exact sign than an older child, but exposing Genesis to sign language  early has been the greatest decision we have made. Being expose at a young age did help her understand the signs receptively before she was ready to do it expressively. We have experience great communication relationship with our daughter and overall able to understand her needs, wants, and feelings.

If you are interested to learn the alphabet with a fluent ASL instructor and much more, we will review all this in one of our 10 session ASL Class for Kids this Summer 2016! Join the fun with other kids and learn something new. For registration information check out "ASL class for kids" post.

Enter here for the giveaway for the opportunity to WIN your ASL flashcards.
Follow us on Facebook to see who is the winner!

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Friday, September 25, 2015



Hello There!

Our goal for this fall break is learning the doubles.   We watch couple of videos on You Tube with cute rhymes and riddles.  I was also thinking what other learning styles we can try out without making circles or counting fingers.

Adding doubles, such as 2+2 or 6+6, is one important strategy for learning addition facts.  The great news about learning doubles is that are just 10 of them to learn. Learning these 10 doubles will eventually carry over into kids being able to add numbers like 22+22 with no problem.

This week the girls have been playing board and table games with daddy.  To be honest I think they were having too much fun with this two games "Candy Land" and of course "Jenga".  Girls have been practicing to take turns.  Now,  after observing how much fun they were having I decided to follow their interest and create flash cards and a board game  for counting doubles using her favorite color "yellow". 
I couldn't wait to share with all of you, so here it is. This is what we will be playing next.  The strategies we will be using  first are the" flash cards with the answers".  We will practice first flashing the cards until she memorize it. 

Then I will cut out the problem cards and stick them into a dice using velcro or use a clear pocket dice to put them in there.

Now we are ready to play! Everyone in the family will have a turn to roll the dice.  The person's turn will unstick the problem from the dice and put it on top of the board in the correct answer.  Keep rolling until the board game is fill up with all the problems.

If you are interested to have the complete "Flash Cards" and "Board Game" for your child, save your time! I can create it for FREE for your child with his/her favorite color.

First 10 visitors to e-mail me at and comment with your child's favorite color, It will be all yours.  Have Fun Playing!