Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Diverting from what I am supposed to be blogging about seems to be a constant theme with me. But a tree not only has a trunk—it has many, many branches. This tree that I’m creating may have too many branches but let’s throw caution to the wind and go with it! Eventually all the branches lead back to the trunk anyway, giving stability to whatever branch we decide to venture out on.


Being sick can give you lots of time to think and ponder. It also makes you wonder if being hit by a semi would be less painful. I’ve had the flu recently. In between feeling sorry for myself and long hours sitting up at night making deals with God that I will be much nicer if I can just get some relief from this flu, I kept hearing in my head, “People in your Neighborhood,” the beloved Sesame Street song from my childhood. I am sure many of you remember that song too. This lead me to think of all the people that Chris and I have met due to experiences in life, and I want to write about these amazing and life-changing relationships that I have been fortunate to be part of.

So I am venturing out on this branch to tell you about some of these people, and every now and then in the future I’ll write more about the people in my neighborhood. Hopefully this will prod you to think about all those people that you have included in your neighborhood of friends.

When our son Jack was about three years old, a friend introduced us to a very special woman by the name of Lori Krasney, a speech therapist specializing in children with disabilities. We were able to get into her practice and start down the road of trying to help Jack talk.

At this point in his little life we really did not know what the future would bring and how Jack would communicate. Lori spent countless hours introducing sounds, words and the picture exchange system to him. There’s actually a cool art piece in Howdy that represents the pecs system; you will have to come in to see it.

All of these aspects of speech were just part of Lori’s job. What her job did not include was loving my child and loving me (and now I’m crying…all I seem to do is cry when I am writing these blog posts). It was at this time that I realized that if Jack had not come to this earth special, I would not know so many of the most quality people who walk this planet.

A pediatrician named Jessie Fox, at Jack’s sickest point, promised me he would solve these issues and give Jack the best life he could. Other nurses and doctors spent countless hours loving and taking care of baby Jack.

Then as he grew and thrived there were special teachers who would not let anyone tell us Jack had limitations. One teacher, Jen, devised testing to show how smart Jack was even though he was non-verbal. These are all people we never would have met without Jack and his special needs!

If you asked me, “Would you change Jack if you could?” I would tell you in all honesty that I would never change Jack. In addition to loving Jack exactly as he is, I would have never met the Lori Krasneys of the world. And there would be no Howdy Homemade without Jack.

At Howdy we meet the best of the best. This includes everyone that walks in our front door or side door if you prefer that entrance. People changing lives, accepting the idea of total inclusiveness and supporting a dream that we can all work and eat ice cream together. So many unexpected relationships have developed from sitting next to someone you didn’t know and sharing your favorite flavor.

So sit tight on this branch and you will read about the people in our neighborhood who have made such a difference in the lives of the Nielson family.

Heidi Nielson