List Your Virtues and Values

If put on the spot what virtues would you say you admire and/or possess? What values guide you through life? This was harder to do than I expected. There are so many directions to go. Initially my mind went to serious virtues ( discipline, strength, humility) until I realized that sense of humor is very important to me.

Virtues can be fun like creativity, friendliness, enthusiasm. I think I have those and I am proud of that. They don't always help me "get things done" in the traditional ways so I have shied away from owning them as my own. I've decided to get over that. I encourage all of us to truly embrace who we are with each characteristic honored not judged as good or bad.

Values are trickier. Again there is a tendency to get overly serious. But values are the guidance system for how we live. Love is my primary value and I send my loving thoughts out to all I know and the world at large. Truth is indispensible but truth within ourselves as well as speaking truth to others.

Our latest and greatest Thumball design was created with this exercise in mind. It challenges you to consider the three words on each panel and determine which ones you have, would like to have or that you see in another person. It creates stimulating dialog, surprising interactions and true moments of self reflection. Yet it is accomplished through a game of catch with a playful attitude. I think that is what makes it work so well. It can be enjoyed at home, in school, during rehab or at work.

An attribute I continue to develop is my ability to laugh at myself and resist the seriousness I lean toward. I don't know when exactly that happened but I know from this moment on I will go for the lighter side of life and bless this world and myself with an attitude of love and acceptance. That is a value, a virtue and a victory for me. Wanna play?

Grads Get Together; Parents Start to Let Go

Life is a buzz as every town everywhere across the USA gears up for Graduation ceremonies and ways to celebrate it afterwards. These young men and women are all at different stages of emotion, with those thrilled to be OUT and those quite comfortable with this next step in life and those that are looking around thinking how did I get here, is high school really over?

I have seen all of them and seen many parties from the over the top extravaganza to the simple family gathering to acknowledge their accomplishments and to cheer them on to college, travel, relationships and this experience called life.

As a parent I just never thought this rite of passage would have such a strong effect on me. I expected to be ready for it, anticipating some reduction in stress and the number of things on the to do list. But alas, life has different plans as it so often does. It is a new feeling, a pull on the heartstrings and a longing for those toddler days of cute and cuddly.

We are blessed with one in college, one graduating today and one with 10 years to go to her high school end. Each one is so unique, so dear to us and tucked in the pockets of our hearts and throughout the expanse of our thoughts.

Thumball will be played at our party and allow us to focus on our current and future focus which fills our hearts and minds. Nothing compares though to the fullness of knowing you have had a hand in raising a fine person in this complex world which is worth celebrating every moment of everyday. Congratulations to all of us!

Move Your Body Is Fun For All

Another of our latest designs is the Teal and Yellow Thumball titled MOVE YOUR BODY. A spontaneous game erupted with our family on Father's Day and it was a blast seeing everyone from our 8 year old daughter to our 77 year old father acting out movements and interacting with enthusiasm and humor.

This Thumball has suggestions such as "Flap your wings and soar; March proudly and salute; Lift your knees to your elbows." So you respond to the direction under your thumb in your choice of ways:
  1. Perform it one or more times for the physical activity. Multiple sets of each action really is an excellent all over workout.
  2. Act it out and let others guess what you are doing, like Charades.
  3. Give direction to another player. Add difficulty by using the Simon Sez format. They must remember to hear "Simon Sez" before they do that action.
  4. Discuss an experience they had such as "Cast your pole and reel in a fish" will prompt great fish stories.
The goals worked on with Move Your Body Thumball are numerous:
  • Physical exercise, body language, vocabulary development, listening skills and oral expression.
  • Players can perform the actions while seated, standing or move around in a gym or outside.
  • A great icebreaker when a meeting goes long and everyone needs a release and a laugh.
Even people not overly physically active, enjoy using Move Your Body Thumball to get the creaks out and get the blood flowing. This Thumball will not fail to impress, excite and bring friends and families together in a new, interactive way. The physical benefits are inherent and the cross generational experience is priceless. Move Your Body Thumball will become available September 15, 2008.

Radio Land at Startup Nation

Very fun and exciting day at Thumball Central today. We were invited to speak on Startup Nation's radio show. Startup Nation is an online community of entrepreneurs and it is free and jam packed with useful information.

Three years ago at our inception, Thumball was a concept, the first name was Catch32 Ball because each ball has 32 panels of information. One of the first places I found online having credible resources for inventors was Startup Nation.

The site gave steps to follow when licensing and patenting a new idea. It had us really understand why we wanted to start our own business in more than just financial terms. They suggest a Life Plan and that is what we try to maintain. It is not the cash that is the attraction, it is the freedom for us that the money can allow.

So today we spoke with Rich, Troy and Melanie about Thumball, where we have been, where we are and where we are going. They loved our product and shared the vision of Thumball's multiple uses. Publicity is essential they advised and they believe Thumball has all the elements of an interesting and news worthy story (we agree).

Recommendations included: Call news outlets directly; videotape people playing Thumball and post on Youtube; stress the opportunity to the press you are giving them to produce an inspiring and interesting piece about inventions, entrepreneurship, incredible progress and our Thumball dream coming true.

Timely issues such as Autism, Alzheimer's, Rehab and family fun activities all relate to Thumball and the meaningful ways it contributes to these topics. When learning and play go hand in hand, you have a sure winner and when it can be used by everyone Thumball can't miss. That being said, PR is essential no mater how great the idea so Oprah get ready we are coming to see you.

Expected to air June 27, 2008. Check for details at

Friday the 13th

The 13th and a Friday have been considered a bad pair, an omen of danger. These are just thoughts of course and the more people that think them and the more they believe in them the more it becomes a truth. Next thing you know we are all looking for the superstition to hold true and we find a way to see the something bad or gone wrong or down right awful about the current Friday the 13th.
Imagine if that combo meant the best day ever, the most superb experience, the best luck and you were told it was true and you knew it was coming and bam! You get several compliments, you make every green light, you win a raffle, you find money, get a promotion, get engaged, find your dream house. Imagine that.
Well that is my lesson from today, the day of supposed bad luck, imagine anything and that is what you will get, so go for it. See all you would like to see, really see it, feel it, know it and it will all be there looking back at you, no matter what the day or what the date.
So...I'm looking at a beach in Fiji, 3 blissful children, Thumball sales X 10,000, successful businesses, hefty bank books, cheerful friends/family, and me with a healthy body and a creative mind going to concerts with my handsome happy husband holding my hand.

Meet and Greet Icebreaker Business Style

I am jumping the gun as I am prone to do. My excitement for our latest Thumball design just gets the better of me and I get all giddy and spill the beans.

Our most popular Thumball used by the most age groups in the most settings has been the Icebreaker design. Great at the high school/college clubs, orientations and parties to put players at ease, increase meaningful communication and generate fun.

Our Human Resource customers use it to start meetings and play again half way through to keep everyone perked up during a long presentation. HR leaders tell us again and again how Thumball play improves the feeling in the room and keeps employees more alert and responsive.

The Icebreaker travels to senior centers, nursing centers and long term care centers to stimulate older brains, create interesting conversation and recreate memories from long ago.
Often rolled across the table, instead of tossed about, recreation therapists report more participation from members during group activities.

Drum roll please, "Introducing the next great Icebreaker: Meet and Greet!" Interesting questions to ask others or answer for yourself. Increase the fun by predicting another players answer.
Many questions relate to personal preferences or experiences. Others panels relate more to the workplace and ways to work efficiently. It is easy to adapt to every kind of business, educational settings, clubs, organizations and even home parties.

The 6 inch size makes it easy to catch and toss. There is something about a ball that makes everyone smile and feel a little more playful. A round of catch is simple fun, are you ready to play?
Meet and Greet Thumball will be available in August 2008. We will provide a list of stores and catalogs which carry Thumball products on our blog.

Read to Your Womb

Reading to your child while still in the womb is either encouraged or scoffed at. I believe it is a worthy practice from a speech therapist's point of view and a mother's experience. The cadence of a voice reading has it's own unique rise and fall.Hearing the rhythm and rhyme in a story lays critical ground work for later language development.. The rate of reading is slower and more measured than the typical speed of speech and consequently received in an important way.

Changes in volume can be both subtle and significant depending on the story. Emotion comes through whether relating a cheerful story or a sleepy bedtime tale. Now the new life curled inside may seem to know little of these things and yet can recognize these changes in pitch, tone, speed and volume. There are studies out there (which I should be referencing but it is late and I am tired) that can confirm changes in the fetal respiratory, muscular and circulatory systems when being read to.

I really observed the effect when my own daughter was born as she readily stopped, looked and listened in a very natural way when a story began from the earliest moments after her birth. Her language skills advanced extremely quickly being my little speech and language experiment and I felt proud of her early accomplishments as she beat milestone after milestone.

Other studies show precocious youngsters usually even out in these talents with their peers by second or third grade and this followed suit with my daughter. I never intended to get caught up in what appeared to be a gifted learner but at times I found myself imagining the full scholarship award ceremony and our first visit to an Ivy League school.

So in retrospect I believe reading to my womb had a positive impact on my daughter's language development and continues to this day with her true love of reading and learning. It is a great way to lay a foundation for learning and should be a pleasurable experience for its own sake. Stay in the moment as much as possible and know that too much emphasis on future plans can steal golden moments right in front of you.

To those that see reading to a fetus as a laughable concept I say try it and you may be amazed what a wonderful way it can be to unwind. Reading a children's story in a slow, soft way, the duties of the day float away and there you are with a cat in a hat or three little pigs. Better still create daily reading habits before the birth and you are sure to keep this nighttime ritual for many treasured years. Both you and your child will have sweeter dreams to share together and piles of stories to plan for the future.

It's Like Christmas! New Thumball Samples Arrived

As we travel the country exhibiting Thumball we are pleased when our customers share their own ideas for what would make a great Thumball. Literacy skills are essential to every student's development. Teachers, speech pathologists, English as A Second Language instructors and educational experts everywhere encouraged us to create a fun meaningful way to expand reading comprehension and written expression. We are proud to unveil our latest designs.

Parts Of A Story Thumball:
  • Teaches key elements of stories including plot, setting, characters, conflict etc.
  • Improves verbal expression and organization of thoughts.
  • A Book Report on a ball increases motivation and participation.
  • Stimulates discussions, comparisons/contrasts and fact vs. opinion
Tell The Tale Thumball:
  • The perfect companion to the Parts of A Story Thumball.
  • Retell familiar fairy tales, fables and modern classics.
  • Develops sequencing skills, brain mapping techniques, and verbal/non-verbal expression.
  • Use for dramatic play, improvisation and cooperative team building.
Have a catch and then respond to the panel under your thumb. It is fun and challenging to recall the particulars of a story. The bright shiny colors add extra appeal. Parts of a Story Thumball facilitates verbal explanations of story elements and when combined as written prompts offers the ideal literacy building activity.

Every age group can enjoy these language building exercises. Tell The Tale Thumball promotes the oral tradition of storytelling. Some of the fables have us scratching our heads at first but then they come back to us and we can even recall the morale of the story. It is especially useful for children to listen to adults tell and describe the stories as it provides a model for them to emulate.

New additions to our Thumball family of products is a cause for great celebration for us. I am wearing my Santa hat and everything. Observing the simple yet powerful way children and adults become engaged in learning is a true reward for our hard work. This is a smart way to play in every sense and will build a base for a lifetime of reading for business and pleasure. What favorite children's story can you recall?

Fish Gotta Swim, Kids Gotta Move

Parents, It's hot out there so the kids will be indoors more and they need activity, lots of it. Post-its have become a terrific teaching tool to me. In a matter of minutes I can jot down the names of our family, pets and friends, one on each post-it. Then I place them through out the house.
Now the kids get to hunt for the names. Older kids can carry a clip board and when they find a name they put it on the paper and write down where they found it. They must find all the names (throw in a few funny ones, Sponge Bob etc) and where they found them specifically (in the kitchen,on the counter under the microwave) before they can come back.

I tell them how many name post-its are out there. They can work as a team or take turns. The one with the most names found now gets to conduct the next hunt. They can choose to write letters, words, sentences or draw pictures and place them around the "approved rooms". The other kids get to hunt. They will be active mentally and physically and will come up with their own creative ideas in the process.
A fun twist is to pick 10 compound words (football, airport, snowman etc.) and write each word separately on a post-it. Once they find all 20 notes then they must sort them and make 10 words.

If you have younger children learning to read you can place 10 post-its all with the same word and it will help them build sight word vocabulary. Go to
for lists of these important words.

The value I get from a pack of post-its is fantastic but I attest that the 3M post-it people are not giving me a kick back.
Kids love to hunt, search, explore and discover even if it's small slips of sticky paper in the house. Language skills grow and hearing "I'm bored" fades away. Enjoy some lemonade and a day inside until the cool evening air lifts the heavy heat and the kids can hunt for lightening bugs instead.

Blogs, dreams and New Ideas

I awoke groggy and a bit grumpy this morning and needed time to remember to count my blessings. I was feeling overwhelmed negotiating my new interest in the world of blogging. Well the big world of blogging got nicer, friendlier and more accessible today.

Jeremiah McNichols of shared thoughts and recommendations useful to a new blogger such as myself. He was kind enough to answer my questions about the multitude of purposes a blog can serve and better still is reviewing our creation Thumball.

From the start, my intention was not to create a self serving blog concerned only with marketing our invention (even if it is the greatest thing since sliced bread). Jeremiah helped me recognize I wanted to create a place to describe the many ways Thumball can be played in order to serve every age and all ability levels whether in school, at home or in the office.

I am recognizing it is my expertise as a speech therapist that I want to share. Thumball was born during my work with students diagnosed with autism, communication impairments, learning disabilities, ADHD and emotional disturbance. I watched as their attention and motivation increased with the introduction of a ball and they began to get along with each other in positive ways.

So I literally had a dream in Dec of 2004 that told me "You must market this concept." So my husband and I listened to my dream's command and took the leap into the world of entrepreneurship and manufacturing. We have been living this dream for 3 and a half years now and I have learned more than I can believe possible.

Techniques flow from me on ways to facilitate communication and build learning skills and foster relationships that I forget not everybody can generate as easily.
This blog hopes to contribute to improved connections between brothers and sisters, teachers and students, employers and employees by playing with a purpose.

I look forward to sharing our experiences from the road at trade shows. I plan to continue my development of seminars that provide usable ideas which encourage and empower people. Expanding my technology skills while patiently learning how to offer a stimulating blog is a new goal.

We never stop learning and that gets me up in the morning and when I interact with an intelligent kind person like Jeremiah I sleep better at night.

Amusing Way To Describe Thumball, we love it!
Check out this site if you are in need of cool kid stuff and clever gift ideas. From funny to practical, new parents will assuredly find useful information, trendy products you may have missed and a place to enjoy parenting even more.
Thumball, our invention which educates and stimulates from birth to old as the hills was charmingly referred to as a soccer ball on acid (fun) but we have lots of other designs too, less acid more conversation and coffee.

The Shvoong: Business based on a ball. A Thumball that is.

The Shvoong: Business based on a ball. A Thumball that is.

Yoko Ono Has Our Balls!

Gwen Owens, a reporter for Comcast Channel 8 is one of those terrific, thoughtful, kind and intelligent people. A person we were lucky enough to meet because of Thumball. Gwen came to my elementary school in September 2007 to do a story on Thumball as an effective new learning tool which allows typically developing students to participate with non typically developing students in a fun way.Developing social skills is a natural consequence of a game of catch. The questions on Thumball take it to the next step and students are verbally expressing themselves to each other.

Our reporter Gwen, she was friendly and approachable and our conversation led to the peace tower which Yoko Ono was dedicating to her late husband John Lennon the following month in Iceland.

We recalled that anchor Larry Kane one of the first reporters to travel with the Beatles in the 1960s also worked at CN8 so we took a chance and asked Gwen if she knew him and if he might have contact information for Yoko Ono. Well she did and he did so we did the only natural next step and sent her the Catch Peace Thumball. It has the word peace in different languages and Yoko loved it. She decided to order 48 Thumballs to give as Christmas gifts in her continuing commitment to peace.

We were thrilled with our first (of we anticipate many) celebrity endorsements. Now my husband can proudly report "Yoko Ono loves my balls." I apologize if that is crude but ball jokes are inherent in our business. Gosh we love the Beatles and we miss John dearly. Thanks Yoko for everything. Peace.

Alzheimer's is bringing me down

My mother has it and so do some of yours. Alzheimer's disease is a tireless thief. It steals memories, family connections and energy. Visits to my mom at her specialized living center can be so drab I leave with my head hanging low and end up with my face in a pint of Ben and Jerrys.

But to my own surprise it is my own invention that has brightened our days. Using Thumball even the ones originally intended for 'early learners" have given Mom and I a place to focus. Asking her to name the animal, shape or letter under her thumb can be fun. Just when I think she has lost all her skills she comes alive and says "Oh that's a cat, we had a cat named Snowball but he ran away." She needs prompts and cues but she is doing something and we are sharing a memory and learning together.

I tell her my own stories, show her how the shape of things is all around her and name words which begin with b or m or p. Mom likes it and so do I. I leave now with more hope and look at her with a comforting Thumball in her hand and think, today I can drive past the market because I don't really need the ice cream I just needed my mom.

At a Loss for Words? Thumball can provide some.

A friend of a friend is Uncle to a youngster diagnosed with Autism. "At times it can be difficult to know what to do. He doesn't communicate verbally and I am at a loss for words when I am with him." Uncle reports. He took a chance on Thumball™ and bought the Animals design and the Emotion Mania Thumball™. His nephew readily received them and began turning it all around and looking at each panel.

Now there was a place to start so Uncle said "Can you show me a dog, the mouse, an animal that flies or has a tail? To his sweet surprise his nephew could do all of those things, smiles began to show and the fun continued for hours.

The Emotion Mania Thumball™ gave Uncle the chance to be silly and act out facial expressions and body language which mesmerized his nephew and soon he was trying to make faces too (a challenging concept for some) and this lasted through the day.

A simple ball engineered to stimulate communication had done it's job. The creativity that flowed on came from Uncle and nephew and a meaningful way to play and interact. Ready to play? It's your turn!

Thumball At Work? What is it Good For?

Thumball is ideal for trainings, meetings and teaching. Employee inservices become more interesting with the introduction of ball play. Audience participation increases. An alert brain retains more information. Co-workers from different departments that may have never met are now talking together. The Icebreaker Thumball is perfect for sharing preferences and experiences in a casual yet stimulating way.
Workshops turn into word play with My ABC's Thumball. Throw it, catch it and respond to the letter under your thumb with a word relating to the topic that begins with that letter. Challenges our brains and creates a lively interactive learning experience. Human Resource directors praise Thumball as the easiest most useful tool ever.