Posted on

Target Finds: Halloween Allergy Friendly Candy (Mackie Approved)


Snoopy and Pumpkin 2017

Halloween is approaching and slowly people are beginning to learn about Teal Pumpkins and non-food alternatives to Halloween Candy. Last year here in the “Little Town That Would” our town went Teal so that Mackie Could be Included.
This year I have decided to stock up on the Allergy Friendly Candy starting to hit the shelves as an alternative as well.


Learn More About Teal Pumpkin Project 

Finding Allergy Friendly and what we call “Mackie Approved” candy can be a challenge.  Last year I found a few candy items that fit our “Dye Free”, “Dairy-free”, “Gluten-free”, “Nut Free”, “Soy-free” and packaged in a facility that does not cross contaminate with gluten. We are fortunate that Mackie’s peanut allergy is not so severe yet and so we can sometimes let him have products that share equipment processes with nuts. But not gluten.   Target had a few options and they SOLD OUT FAST and Targets that carried it were Rare.

Mackie Approved Candy
from Target

I went to Target Monday and picked up the Candy that Mackie can have.  The shelf was already looking empty and it isn’t even October yet.  At Christmas and other Holidays the selection often does not contain candy that he can have and those are very expensive.  But Halloween is Mackie’s favorite Holiday and when I find it I stock up for the year and his birthday. I checked the expiration dates and they are will make it almost to Halloween next year or longer.   But the shelves will be empty very soon.  I was to Walmart and Walgreens and found nothing he could have. FYI:  The Welchs Fruit Snacks for Halloween contain dreaded Food dyes.

But fortunately Target you Rock!  I also found a hidden secret, I can order it online from and save the disappointment of Empty picked over allergy friendly candy shelves.  Besides we do not live in the land of Targets and it is 36 miles to Dubuque and 85 or more to Madison.  I cannot stalk Targets!  Besides it is rough on the budget to go there! Doc will be happy, Mackie not so much.  He and Furry can spot a Target despite not seeing well from the window in the Sequioa.

Mackie has been begging for Sour Patch Kids, but they are loaded with food dyes and just one piece of candy with Red Dye will create a monster we do not want to see. Ask his therapists or teachers when Doc accidently let him have some or Mac stole it when too fast for us to intervene.

Mackie’s favorite find of the season.  Black Forest Organic Sour Heads. $6.99
The Characters and in Orange, Lemon, Raspberry, Fruit Punch and Lime. ** This is from a factory that uses shared equipment with milk, eggs, almonds, coconut, peanuts and soy.  We are letting him try them and watch for any reactions with his behavior or allergies. 

More Allergy Friendly Candy Choices from Target:
* Check Items Allergy Status on the Target Website
I have included the links to the differing items we purchased.

Plan ahead as they sell out quickly. HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone. 

Wholesome Organic Halloween Lollipops  (30 count)

Surf Sweets Organic Halloween Spooky Shapes (20 count)


Yum Earth Halloween Organic Candy Corn (24 count)

Yum Earth Halloween Fruits (24 snack packs)


Yum Earth Halloween Organic Fruit Pops  (80 count)

Thank you Target from a very Happy Mackie and a Special Needs Mom who doesn’t have to stalk the Target shelves for the very elusive Allergy Friendly, No GMO, Dye Free Candy this Halloween.

Anny and Mackie and of Furry the Penguin











Posted on

Educate the Teacher About Your Child: A Back-to-School Introduction Letters-free download

Writing a “Dear Teacher” letter is an important tool to start the school year.

I learned early on that writing a letter to Becca’s teacher was an important tool to help her with starting school.  I continued the tradition with writing Mac’s Dear Teacher Letter at the start of the school year.  A simple version of the letter is contained within Furry and Macs story.

Back-to-school introduction letters

I found this valuable resource from
Download your FREE Back-to-school Introduction Letters.

“Writing a back-to-school introduction letter to your child’s teacher can help get the school year off to a good start. It’s also a great way to start building a positive relationship.

You can use the letter to share important facts about your child and the strategies that have worked in the past. For example, you can call out any accommodations your child may use.

Involving your child can help him build self-awareness, too. Tell him, “Your new teacher may not know the same things about you as last year’s teacher. Let’s write a letter to give her an idea of what you like to do, what you do well and where you may need some extra help.” (Filling out a self-awareness worksheet can get your child thinking about it.)

Use these back-to-school-introduction letters as guides. There’s one for older kids and one for younger ones. You can use the one for older kids to gather information to write a more traditional letter if you and your child prefer that approach.”

I hope you have a great school year!

Posted on

The Night Before School Starts (Trauma Informed)

Trauma Edition

It Was The Night Before School Started
By Ann Yurcek

 It was the Night before school started

And all through the house,
Not one person was sleeping not even the mouse.

The children were anxious and worried with fright.
While Mom was all worried things wouldn’t go right.

The backpacks were packed and set out with care.
While visions of morning haunted Mom with a scare.

Her children were anxious and for them school was tough

Would the teacher understand or makes things too rough?

For children of trauma, school can be drama.

Or was it school can be drama for children of trauma

School is anxiety and too much change.

They cannot learn when all is not arranged.

When everything’s new the children are blue.
Mom checked her list for fidgets and chewls?

The IEP papers were approved but Mom has her doubt.
Would the school help her children or cause them to act out.

While Tommy cannot sit still, and Sally can’t read,

Mom knows that they have different kinds of needs.

Would her children find empathy and understanding

Or would they be bullied and met with demanding?

Mom woke up the children and into the pack I went,
to help the children was the job I was sent.

Mom kissed the children and hugged them goodbye,
The children put on their courage and tried not to cry.

One foot in front of another, off the children, went.
To be met by a smile that was heaven sent.

Each school can make a difference for those who are left out.
With trauma-informed teachers and accepting students with FRIENDSHIP throughout!

Everybody Matters.

Wishing everyone a productive and calm school year!

©2018 Furry The Penguin

Posted on

Telepresence Robot Buddies for Home Based Students

“BUDDY DOUBLE ROBOT” can provide a telepresence into a classroom for children who must remain home due to illness, injury, or disability. This “Buddy Double” can move through the classroom and record learning experiences providing in classroom participation when you cannot be in class.

In addition, studies show that humanoid robots can act as peers and help give autistic children the social skills they need…

For children like Mac, Stuffies can become Emotional Support Partner and for some children, Robots as buddies in a similar way.

Maja Matari,a professor of computer science, neuroscience, and pediatrics at the University of Southern California, who has done several studies on humanoid robots and how they can act as peers and help give autistic children the social skills they need states, “Something very special happens when you put a machine and person together.”

Plus, Double saves schools money.



Posted on

Craft – Paint a Waddle of Furry Penguin Friends


Special thank you for Chester Zoo
More ideas can be discovered at

To make your own perfect penguin, you are going to need an empty toilet roll.

If you don’t have one right now, maybe wait a few days and keeping checking around the around. One will appear sooner or later! You could also find an empty kitchen roll and just cut it in two. The more toilet rolls you collect, the more penguins you can make. You’re also going to need some black and white paint, a few google eyes, and black and orange paper.

Here is your list

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Google eyes
  • Black paper
  • Orange paper
  • Black paint
  • White paint

Got everything? Let’s get started!

1. Lie your toilet roll flat and draw two straight lines upwards from one edge. Draw a curved line to connect the two straight lines. This is the outline of the penguin’s white tummy fur.

2. For the feet, use a pencil to copy our design (above) on to some orange paper. Then cut them out using scissors.

3. For the beak, draw and cut out a kite shape from the orange paper.

4. Fold over the shorter half of the kite to make the top part of the beak.

5. Cut a pair of penguin flippers out of the black paper. The look a bit like long leaves.

6. Paint the toilet roll body of the penguin, keeping within the lines you drew earlier. Do the black paint first so that you don’t accidentally get any in the white tummy area.

7. Use some glue to stick on the googly eyes and orange beak. For the beak, only put glue on the larger bottom half of the kite shape, so that the top half still folds over.

8. Use the glue again to stick on the flippers and feet. Attach the flippers to the back of the toilet roll so that they point outwards. For the feet, fold over the back of the paper and stick this to the inside of the toilet roll. It’s a lot easier than trying to stick the paper to the thin toilet roll rim!

Posted on

Inclusive Playground in Lancaster, Wisconsin

Yes, we can! Kids and Volunteers can do BIG THINGS

Inclusive playground ribbon cutting

Winskill Elementary School students celebrated a ribbon cutting for their inclusive playground in September.

Winskill’s inclusive playground dedicated

By Robert Callahan

Lancaster Community Schools celebrated the addition
of inclusive playground equipment when the
2017-2018 school year began.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held near Winskill Elementary School’s Kids Courtyard on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 5. Winskill Elementary School students and staff attended, joining members of the Lancaster Community Fund Advisory Board and Lancaster Mayor David Varnam.

Joe Krantz is a member of the Advisory Board. The night before the ribbon cutting, his son asked him what “united” meant.

“When everyone comes together as one,” Krantz told Winskill students prior to the ribbon cutting. “A perfect example is today, when all of you are united as one. We have the inclusivity with this playground and together all of you will be able to play together now.”

Winskill Elementary second grade teacher Melissa Sperle explained to students what a ribbon cutting ceremony was.

“It symbolizes that this playground is now ours,” she said. “It is a playground for all, for everybody to play side-by-side together, which is what it should be all about.”

Discussion of an inclusive playground began a few years ago.

“We had talked about just making the playground more inclusive for a while. We do a 5K every year, so I think it was three years ago we talked with the kids about trying to raise money to make our playground more inclusive,” Sperle said. “That is kind of how it started. We ended up raising I think it was about $5,000 or so.”

The Lancaster Community Fund supported the playground effort through grants. Approximately $60,000 was raised through grants, the 5K fundraiser and pizza sales.

“It was between the Friends of Winskill and the Community Fund and basically our kids. Our kids are the ones that sell the pizzas,” Sperle said. “Our kids really had a huge part and they are the ones that raise the money for the 5K. It really was a combination effort of our kids and the Lancaster Community Fund. It was awesome.

“When the Community Fund agreed to the grant I remember I am pretty sure I cried.”

Furry the Little Penguins That Could book and Furry Stuffie
Click photo to purchase. Inclusive playground story is included.

Sperle credited Lancaster Community Schools Maintenance Supervisor Dan Yoose for his assistance on the project.

“Dan Yoose was a huge help. Dan Yoose was the one that knew what we needed to do to prepare the site, what we needed to tell the people when they come to set it up, etcetera,” she said. “Without Dan Yoose, there is no way the project would have happened.”

Sperle said the playground has earned rave reviews to date.

“The kids love it. It is really cool to see all of the kids playing together,” she said. “You don’t have to be in a wheelchair to enjoy it, but you could be in a wheelchair and enjoy it. It is not just a playground for our kids with special needs, it is for everybody. That is the one area of our playground every kid can enjoy.”

It only makes sense an inclusive playground was truly a community effort.

“Everybody that I ever talked to made it work. Everybody believed it was something not just our school, but our community, needed,” Sperle said. “We look around our school and community, and there are a lot of kids with special needs in our community. You take for granted being able to push your children on a swing. What parents shouldn’t get to push their child on a swing or play with them in a park? That is something so many of us take for granted until you have a child that can’t do that.”

Posted on

All Inclusive Playground In Lancaster

Play and laughter is a vital part of childhood.

An all inclusive playgroud has become realy because of the Lancaster Community fundraisers and through grants.

Approximately $60,000 was raised by Lancaster volunteers through:

  • grants,
  • the 5K fundraiser
  • pizza sales.

Yes, we can!
Together we can do it!

“It was between the Friends of Winskill Elementary, the Community Fund and basically our kids. Our kids are the ones that sell the pizzas,” Sperle said. “Our kids really had a huge part and they are the ones that raise the money for the 5K. It really was a combination effort of our kids and the Lancaster Community Fund. It was awesome.

Learn about playground equipment for different ages and stages so ALL CHILDREN can play with friends.

Thanks Landscape Structure – Inclusive Playgrounds – we love you!

Posted on

Grand Opening of Furry the Penguin

Red Shoes Rock International Campaign to Start the Conversation about FASD

Meet Mac, an amazing boy with an incredible storyLet’s Start The Conversation —
FASD is REAL. And so am I. And so is Furry The Penguin.

Mac is off and running, or should we include, teetering, tottering, wobbling and rolling, with Furry. Last year, Mac and Red Shoes Rock, reached over 1/2 million people through Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, Tumbler and Snap Chat. We reached 63 counties in 45 language – MAC WANTS TO REACH THE WHOLE WORLD.

His big buddy, RJ Formanek started the movement of Red Shoes Rock in 2013 and we are forever grateful. This is a world-wide effort.

Hello, my name is Mac and I am now eight years old. For the past five years, I have been putting on my RED SHOES and running to build awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Some people still do not believe FASD it is real. I promise you it is REALY REAL! And I am sure if you take time to get to know me you will learn A LOT about FASD and how it changes a person’s life. FASD is more prevalent that autism.

Thankfully, we are no longer hidden or hopeless. Furry and I are going to make sure of that. I also live with autism and some other challenges (over 100 of them, just to let you know).

I am still Mac. And normal to me is JUST LIKE I AM!

Furry The Penguin Shoppe is Now Open

Check out my friends here. You will meet adults, children and their families. Kind comments are appreciated. In Kindergarten, we worked on Manners!

Now you can your own Furry, penguin gear and his little friends that join us on our International Red Shoes Rock campaign. And ta’da’ this could be day we OPEN OUR STORE to share our new book Furry: The Little Penguins That Could. 

We had planned on opening on July 15, but as would be expected Squirrel and Monkey came in and messed everything up. So we are busy cleaning up their mess. 

Full curriculum coming in September 2018.
Meanwhile you can enjoy our “FREE” CAN DO FUN PAGES.

  • Coloring Sheet
  • Dot to Dot
  • Maze
  • My Ideas