Halloween - a Sensory Success!

Halloween is another one of those holidays that requires special planning when it comes to having a kiddo with SPD. Technically, I can’t think of many holidays that don’t require some kind of planning on my part…maybe Veteran’s Day? (Actually, that is a NO, because my father served in Vietnam and my boys are concerned that we honor him appropriately, so I don’t even get to take that holiday off. Ugh.)

All of that aside, my kids love Halloween. Which has made me start to like it too. : )

I don’t think it is just the candy (especially since we don’t eat it, but I’ll get to that in a minute), I think it is being up past bedtime, running around with their friends in the dark while pretending to be, this year, Police Officers - all three of them formed their own SWAT Team.

This guide is aimed at those of us who actually want to have a Halloween, similar (not exactly) to the one we grew up loving. There are obviously better ways to handle sensory overload if your child can't do this (example being go to a friend's house so out of the way no one will ring their doorbell).

That said, here is what we do to make sure that Halloween is a success for everyone.

Is the Art of Parenting Lost?

I have regular conversations with people who are seeking my advice on parenting, something I have grown accustomed to over the last 14 years (hard to believe I was teaching parenting before I had children of my own, but alas, I was…).  That doesn't surprise me anymore, but what does continue to surprise me is that the definition of parenting (not to mention the execution of it) seriously seems to be lost.

The misconception I see the most is that parenting is just a mixture of supervision and discipline – perhaps sprinkled with a healthy dose of ‘eat your vegetables’ and ‘take your medicine’.  But that’s not parenting.

Parenting is not supervision alone.  Parenting is not discipline alone.  Parenting is not simply giving rules and enforcing them.  Parenting is what happens in between rules and discipline.

Let me explain.

Most people parent the way their parents parented them (for better or worse) which is usually a Behavioral based model of parenting.  It works, loosely, like this:

If you like your child’s behavior – reward it.
If you don’t like your child’s behavior – punish it.
Up the ante on both rewards and punishments until you have achieved the behavior you want.

Does this sound familiar?  Here’s an example in case you are unsure if you fit into this group:

Nick isn’t doing his homework after school.  He would rather play with his friends, or be on the computer, or just listen to his iPod.  So, his homework isn’t getting done, and he is behind in school. 

You walk in his room, “Nick, you need to do your homework.  Put your iPod away.”
You leave. 
You return in 30 minutes, “Nick, I said it is time to do your homework.  Put away your iPod and get your books out NOW.”
You leave.
You return in 30 minutes, “NICK!  I told you to do your homework NOW!”

Parents that fit into the Behavioral based parenting model usually start down one of two paths now:

Sensory Diet for School

With school starting back up for many people in the next few weeks, I thought this would be good to re-post!


Many people ask me what a good sensory diet for school is, and unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. But, in light of how many people are interested, I am going to breakdown what we do/have done for Gabriel in an effort to give you a starting point in determining the best fit for your own child.

PLEASE remember that I am offering mom to mom advice, which is in no way shape or form medical advice, and of course, should not be substituted for your own good judgment. Now that you have my disclaimer, here we go.

Day begins (Gabriel awakes low):

Eat breakfast with input. Offer breakfast items that provide input, like crunchy granola, yogurt through a straw or chewy dried fruit. We focus on high protein and low sugar. Use weighted lap pad or allow standing (or any other at-the-table option) to make sure he finishes his entire breakfast.

Get ready for school. Dressed, teeth brushed, things packed, lunch ready, etc. This is all good linear movement for Gabriel, so I have included him in doing these things since he was very young. The goal here is to get his body moving and his blood pumping.

Heavy work (10-20 minutes before school). To get him the proprioceptive input he needs, I usually have him do chores (I am big on that more since he is older).  Carrying, moving and lifting chores like reshelving books, carrying laundry upstairs, pushing the dining room chairs in, carrying the trash, are all good options. Younger kids might require more 'fun' like a quick game of Simon Say, short obstacle course with pull ups, stretching/yoga/dancing, pulling/pushing with a door frame, carrying a loaded backpack around, or jumping on the trampoline.

NOTE: We do NOT watch TV in the morning before school. Gabriel gets too low, and even with his heavy blanket for proprioception, it is just a bad idea. I highly recommend against TV watching first thing in the morning. Just a personal opinion.

Bus ride to school. This is where individualized seating arrangements are helpful. Gabriel could very well be over-stimulated by the bus ride (too much noise), so we have him sit up front by the bus driver, and allow him a designated seat (eliminating the potential argument over 'his' seat). He is also first off, is always ‘line leader’ when he gets off the bus. Alternatives would be to wear headphones or MP3 player with quiet music to help control noise during the ride.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

I have started dating someone recently, and along with the awesomeness of having a man in my life who adores my boys (quirks and all), he has DAUGHTERS!!  Yes, daughters, as in PLURAL little girls.  Squee!  For those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning (really, are there any of you out there still?), you’d know that I have always wanted a daughter, not suggesting I am not totally satisfied (and fully overwhelmed) by my boys, but I have always had an emotional attraction to having a daughter.

Now I have two-psuedo-daughters, both are 5 years old (‘Irish Twins’ – 10.5 months apart) who are not only physically beautiful, but funny, smart, sassy and genuinely great to be around.  What could be better than that?  I’ll tell you… :-)

There are small sandals adorned with flowers, coloring books with kitties and ladybugs, purple hair bands, pink barrettes, and drawings of me as a ‘Queen’ scattered about my house for the first time.  Which warms my heart and soul in a new way.

We’ve all heard what girls are made of, you know, ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’, well, I’ve also learned some girl-lessons along this journey so far, and so I thought I’d give a long-over-due shout out to all of you GIRL MOMS who I don’t enough air time to here on HLW3B – turns out there are some twists to having girls I hadn’t anticipated (damn reality! Lol) – and I could use some insight from you all.

Things I’ve Learned From Being an Honorary Girl Mom:

1.       Little girls have way too many shoes.  Those flower adorned shoes are seriously cute, but it turns out that once they leave their neatly lined up place in the Nordstrom shoe department, and end up on your living room floor, they lose their charm.  Picking up 5,467,343 shoes is a pain in the ass – no matter how cute the shoes are.  *NOTE - This is not a rule that applies to adults (aka Moms), because we pick up our own shoes and put them in the closet. 

Murphy’s Laws of Special Needs Parenting

Murphy’s Laws of Special Needs Parenting…

         1. If you think you have 3 hours to yourself, your child will have a meltdown at school and have to come home early.

      2.  If your oldest is a sensory seeker, your youngest will be a sensory avoider.

     3.    If you dress your child in a button down shirt for pictures, they will eat the buttons before you get to the photographer.

4.    If your child will eat spaghetti it at the OT’s office, he still won’t eat it at home.

5.    If you say ‘Don’t play in the hose’, your child will flood the bathroom.

6.    If you put your child to bed early, he will be up until midnight playing Legos.

7.    If you put your child’s shoes on to leave the house in a hurry, he will take them off before you even find your purse.

8.    If you wear a white shirt, your child will get a bloody nose.

9.    If you ask your child to use the restroom before leaving the house, he will still have an accident on the way to the park.

10.   If you clean up the hotwheels cars lined up on the staircase, your child will have an hour long meltdown that you messed up the ‘race’.

11.   If you convince your child’s teacher to allow your child a fidget toy, she’ll go on maternity leave.

12.   If you make a detailed visual schedule for your child’s first birthday party, the party plans will change.

13.   If you take the day off of work to attend your child’s fieldtrip, they’ll change the date.

14.   If you have time to take a shower today, your child will dump out the bean tub, empty the shaving cream cans and draw in Sharpie marker all over his walls to make sure you don’t get to shower tomorrow.

15.   If you clean your child’s room, he will insist it now feels ‘too big’.

16.   If you make your child’s bed, he will insist on sleeping on the ground.

17.   If you wash your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket, he will have a meltdown because it doesn’t smell right.

18.   If you make a special holiday dinner, your child won’t come downstairs because of the smell.

19.   If you hire a babysitter, your child will start to throw up the moment you’re wearing heels.

20.   If you buy anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup, fake dye, or allergens of any sort, your child will find it – and eat ALL OF IT.

“Accidents and Bed Wetting”

There are few other subjects that are more difficult to talk about, more confusing to deal with, or more frustrating to a parent than a child who is still bed wetting or having ‘accidents’ after being potty trained for some time.  It seems being able to teach your child to control their bladder must be written into the imaginary ‘good parenting’ handbook and if your child is over a certain age then he shouldn't be wetting the bed or having accidents pretty much EVER.

But we all know that just isn’t the case.  It is not how typical kids work and it sure isn’t how sensory kids work.

I got into a conversation with a friend of mine just the other day about this exact thing.  His daughter, who is typically developing (although I suspect some minor non-responsive and/or under-responsive sensory issues) turns 5 in just a few weeks, and had ‘regressed’ from his point of view (OMG I hate that word) and started peeing her pants again.  He wasn’t happy.  As a matter of fact, he was kind of angry with her.  So, you know I intervened – respectfully and in private – but I had to bring some things to his attention.

The biggest thing here is that it is part of NORMAL development for kids to have bedwetting or pants-peeing episodes after they’ve been potty trained (even for years without accident).  In my experience, it is extremely common for this to occur around age 5-6 or just about Kindergarten.  Why?  A couple of reasons I think…

It's Mother's Day

Mother’s Day – an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how terrific our kids are, no matter how challenging, and remember that we wouldn't trade them for the world.  Or a million dollars.  But maybe we would loan them out for a day or so… you know, because we’d really like some time to ourselves. 

This morning I started the day just as I do every other Mother’s Day:  Nick at the ready to make my traditional breakfast which consists of toast (this year he remembered the butter!), a chocolate chip cookie, and a Diet Pepsi.  Served on a tray.  Along with a chocolate croissant he got my mom to buy at the French bakery for me (he’s learning!).  It could not be sweeter – since he has been making this since he was literally three years old, and not only on Mother’s Day but any day he is feeling especially thoughtful. 

But today I also have the reality of having challenging kids.  Gabriel is in a Manic state.  This pretty much means he doesn’t sleep enough, is irritable, obsessed with food and requires a great deal more attention than usual.  Which often takes the form of non-stop talking.  For hours at a time.  No exaggeration.

And although Matt and Nick aren’t able to hold a candle to the kind of challenging Gabe is this time of year, they are still holding their own. 

Since it is Mother’s Day, I kinda wanted a day off.  Like a free pass.  I even hoped that maybe they would be so excited about Mother’s Day they wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever.  Ya, that didn’t happen.

Turns out even on Mother’s Day I’m the mom.

Finding the Right Word

When I found out I’d be in Nashville TN for a non-special needs related conference last month, the first thing I did was text my friend Jennifer.  She lives near Atlanta, and although Nashville isn’t exactly a block away, I had to ask her to come see me.  Jennifer and I have been friends for years – but I couldn’t tell you when or how we met – well, not exactly.

You see sometime in the last couple years, Jennifer started reading my blog, we became friends on Facebook, and that turned into a friendship.  We’ve emailed, texted, talked on the phone, and found a connection instantly.

As you might guess, Jennifer is a special needs mom.  That connection – that core understanding of another person’s life – goes far beyond your typical friendship building.  And I found myself trying to explain this to numerous people when I would excitedly announce I was going to meet her.  Some people were even concerned that we wouldn’t be as close of friends as we had made up in our minds.  But I wasn’t concerned at all.

It was true, I didn’t really know Jennifer.  I didn’t know where she grew up, if she has siblings, her favorite color, what kind of car she drives, or honestly much of anything practical about her.  Why?  We hadn’t talked about that much.  

When we talk it is always straight to the heart of what really matters in life – our family, our feelings of grief and struggle, and checking in with how we as moms are doing.  Sure we do have a significant number of conversations about shoes, and planning what to wear to dinner on our first meeting was a hot topic leading up to the trip, but I knew that regardless of what we had or didn’t have in common, we would be instant friends.

And we were.

We sat in a crowded Nashville country bar, listened to music, laughed, sang, drank beer, and of course, talked about our kids.  And as we marveled at the families with children inside this bar and grill, we joked at how their kids obviously DIDN’T have Autism or sensory issues, and it was fun.  It was if we’d known each other forever. 

The night ended and Jennifer went back to her home in Georgia, and I got on with the conference.

Come see me! Awareness Event in Tacoma - TODAY!

Are you in the Puget Sound area?  Come see me signing books and spreading awareness today at the Barnes and Noble in Lakewood!  Here's more information about this great Autism Awareness Event in Tacoma, WA!

From the Exceptional Families website:

The Exceptional Families Network and PAVE are excited to announce their partnership in bringing you the second annual Autism Awareness Day! 

Friday, April 27th 

3:00 - 7:00 pm

Barnes & Noble
Lakewood Towne Center


        This family-friendly event will feature:
         - vendors that serve the local autism community
         - book fair fundraiser...all of your purchases in the store and online will raise money
         - demonstration of helpful apps on the Nook tablet device
         - book signings by local authors
         - children’s activities
         - giveaways
         - scavenger hunt

On the day of our event, please enter our voucher number when you shop! All purchases made online, in the store, and at the on-site Starbucks will help raise money. Proceeds will go toward local families affected by autism and served by the Exceptional Families Network and PAVE. We thank you for your support!

                      VOUCHER # 10719128

We are grateful for the opportunity to once again have Autism Awareness Day at Barnes & Noble and we anticipate a great event!  

A DOUBLE Good News Day!

I love days that have good news and I DOUBLE love days that have DOUBLE good news!  And ya know what, I got me one of them. :)

Yesterday my dear friend Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy posted on my Facebook letting me know that I had the honor of being included on Babble.com's Top 30 Autism Blogs.  I was, in all honesty, totally surprised and very flattered!  So a big thank you to the Babble panel who nominated HLW3B and selected me for the list!  If you have not seen the full list, please take a minute to go through each blog - it is worth the time!

Oh Ya Baby!
I am going to add to their list though, so please forgive me.  There was one blog I love that should be included on that list, in my (not so) humble opinion, and I feel it deserves a shoutout.  Any guesses which one?  Yep, that's right...

Try Defying Gravity written by the talented and insightful Alysia Butler!  So, as far as I am concerned, her blog is the UNofficial #31. :)  Also, in case you are wondering, the hilarious Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy isn't on the list ONLY because she was on the panel for Babble nominating and judging, and it is just poor form to insist you make your own list.  Bummer.

But being included on the Babble.com Top 30 Autism Blogs list is just the first part of the DOUBLE good news!

"Sensory Issues for $1000"

I’ll take Sensory Processing Disorder for $1000, Alex.” 

I like to pretend that my self-taught ninja-like parenting skills in Sensory Processing Disorder will someday help me win a bunch of money on Jeopardy, but it’s not likely.  That’s OK, because in many ways, I’ve already won.  I just didn’t realize how lucky that first diagnosis was.

The Lucky Diagnosis

When my oldest son Gabriel was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in 2005 I was honestly relieved.   I had finally got an answer that explained his insane meltdowns, his obsession with eating hot salsa (while tears rolled down his face and he begged for more), and some enlightenment for all of the crashing, climbing, jumping and falling.  But more importantly, the diagnosis gave me direction on how to help him.   At the time I had no idea that it would be the first step in learning how to help all three of my sons.  What a stroke of luck.

The Education Begins

That year I began learning all I could about SPD.  Google became my best friend and I relied heavily on parenting groups and websites for information.  First I had to learn what exactly Sensory Processing Disorder was.


According to the SPD Foundation, “Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.”
The messages from my son’s senses were not being processed correctly by his brain, which caused what pioneering sensory Occupational Therapist A. Jean Ayres called a ‘virtual traffic jam’, leading to my son’s often inappropriate motor and behavioral responses (like giant meltdowns or running away).  This revelation gave me a better perspective of my son’s behavior.  Another piece of the puzzle was recognizing there are eight senses (Surprised? So was I!).  Learning their names and how they were affected gave me a deeper insight into what my son was going through.

One More Step Forward

Last week I got so upset at a friend of mine that I was forced to get up in a packed restaurant and walk out as to prevent from having a full blow public meltdown:  The kind of meltdown that is NOT a tantrum, but a GIANT emotional response to my feelings of being hurt, judged, misunderstood and totally overwhelmed at the injustice of it all. 

I’ve lost it before.  Primarily in doctors’ offices when advocating for my kid(s) was being completely missed and my impulse to protect and defend my boys was pushed to the limit.  Then, I am happy to speak my mind.  Which is usually met with less than the best of results.  :-/

This time the boys weren’t with me.  This time it was just one adult, who for all practical purposes meant well (don’t they always?) and was attempting to make a point – just as I was doing.

The difference is that my boys and I do not live in the philosophical world that non-special needs parents often do.  We do not have the luxury of philosophical debate.  We do not live in the land of ‘ideal’ and the place of judgment so many parents who simply have not been down this road do.  I live my life. Not someone else’s.  Not even the one I thought I would have.  But the one I actually do have.

Now you’re wondering what the issue was, right?

What started out as a friendly discussion about whether or not to medicate children turned into war when I was challenged with the blind statement that children don’t need medication, including my son – who has Pediatric Bipolar Disorder I.  The justification for the blanket statement relied on my friend’s personal experience with a family member’s children (nieces/nephews).  The argument was that we as a society over-diagnose and over-medicate our kids, and yet that isn’t an issue other countries, but rather something associated with the US. 

I wasn’t going to argue that.  Whether or not we over-diagnose, over-medicate, or have lazy parents who want a ‘pill’ to solve their children’s problems here in the US (or abroad) is not something I’m interested in debating.  Mostly because quite simply it has no impact on whether or not *my* child needs medication.

Parent Teacher Meeting Tips

A friend of mine with a child that is undiagnosed - but clearly has OCD/ADD tendencies - is attending his first parent teacher meeting today.  His son is in the 9th grade, and let's just say his grades were well below average last semester.  Hence, the meeting was called. My friend was looking for a bit of a 'road map' on how to proceed.  So, I wrote out my advice.

Since I am guessing he isn't the only one out of all of us to attend a 'your child's grades suck' meeting, I thought I would publish it here to see if any of you are interested! :)


No need to stress about the school meeting - even if you hear tons of stuff you don't want to hear, it will allow you to help your child succeed - and THAT will make the meeting a success no matter what.

Try to ...

  • TAKE NOTES - really good comprehensive notes 
  • Note all of the people present - their names and position - write them down so you remember!!
  • Having the school counselor, psychologist or resource room teacher there would be a good thing (not necessary to ask for them, but indicative of their view of the situation if they show up)
  • Ask lots of questions - Gather information - What do you think the problem is?  What is bringing down his grade the most?  Do you think he understands the curriculum?  Is he testing well? Are there outstanding assignments? Is he engaged in classroom discussion? What are my child's strengths in your class?  What are his weaknesses?  
  • Treat the teachers like experts on your child (they are)
  • Ask the teacher(s) for solution(s) - What does my child need to do to get a better grade in your class?  
  • Refrain from offering solutions yourself - instead ask things like - How can I help my succeed in your class? What things outside of the classroom might he benefit from?  Study club?  Peer tutor?
  • Set up a time to revisit this issue in a month in person and ask to be kept informed via email
  • Be sure to leave the meeting with a 'team' feeling - they should see you as a resource, not a parent who expects his child to overachieve.
Try to avoid ...

  • Blaming the teacher (My child says you just don't like athletes - or - It seems that you aren't being fair to my child)
  • Being defensive - if the teacher says your child is acting over social in class, or not paying attention, or whatever, just take the information and attempt NOT to get defensive.  

Misconceptions ....

Parents often go into these kinds of meetings thinking the meeting is the 'solution' or the 'answer' and that somehow magically when they leave, all will be good.  That NEVER happens.  

The meeting isn't the solution, but hopefully you will leave it with more information than you currently have which will allow you, and your child to come up with a plan to succeed, which is the solution.  If your child isn't on-board with the plan, it won't work, so you need to set a time to talk about what the teachers said, get your child's take on it, and decide how you two as a team are going to address the issues.  

Clearly state expectations ...

I encourage you to tell your child at that time what your expectations are.  Set the expectation for good grades, help him achieve it (this is the parenting part) and offer an incentive if it is achieved to show how his hard work (school is his job) pays off.  Example would be, "I expect your grades to be a 3.0 or better - that is a B average. You need to earn a 3.0 this semester in order to play football next fall, as grades come first and I need to know you can balance your class schedule with sports.  Also, you must continue to maintain it for the next two semesters in order for me to pay for you to take Driver's Training when you turn 16 ($800).  I want to help you accomplish this, so the best way for that to happen is for you to be honest with me when you have a problem in a class.  Just let me know how I can help you and I will."  

Obviously this is just my way of doing things.  

I hope I've helped....

"We're Getting a Divorce"

I sat next to my husband at the kitchen table, looking at all three of my boys eating their lunch, wrapped in multicolored towels, still wet from their swimming lessons, and I began to choke up before a single word left my mouth.

“Boys,” I began, not sure if I would remember all I planned to say, even though I had my notes and a book tightly in my grasp.  When I had their attention, I just said it, plain and simple, “Dad and I are getting divorced.”

My husband and I had only been separated about two weeks at the time.  The word ‘divorce’ was almost as foreign to me as it was to my children.  Having to tell any child about divorce is heart-wrenching, incredibly difficult and probably one of the only times in your life where each word you say truly matters.  But, throw in special needs children, who see the world as black and white, without the grey area that divorce falls into, and who are often confused by language, relying heavily on semantics, and each word carries exponentially more weight.

I scoured the internet for guidance on talking to your children about divorce in the days that led up to that moment.  There was a lot of information out there, but I couldn’t find anything geared specifically towards special needs kids.  As far as I can tell it is a subject that has not been covered in depth in any searchable location.  So, without a guide to follow, I started filtering information from each article I read, putting together the pieces I would need to help my sons.  As most special needs moms can relate, this is something I have practice doing.

Since my kids each process information differently from each other, and differently from most typically developing children, I needed to not only decide what to say, but how it would be said.   From experience, I already knew that I would be best served to give them limited information that was practical and timely, and then be prepared to give them more when they asked for it.  The divorce conversation is huge, so I knew they would be processing bits and pieces at a time, and their questions would come later.  Because of their varying processing abilities, it meant the conversation would be need to be short, to the point, and limited in its scope and direction.

Almost immediately the decision was made to not use the word ‘separated’ when talking to them.  It wasn’t a term they were familiar with, and since we knew we would not be getting back together, it seemed unnecessary to add another transition:  Married to divorced was black and white compared to attempting to explain married to separated to divorced.  It also offered a small amount of protection from daydreaming about us getting back together, which I wanted to head off at the pass if possible.   The challenge here is that my boys wouldn’t really know what the word ‘divorce’ means.  Like all new words, it would require a definition and practical application in their world for them to understand it fully.  The application of the word would come over time, but the definition needed to be the conversation opener.  It was what came after that I needed to figure out.

Lessons in Water Fountains

Last month a friend of mine’s daughter came to stay with me for about ten days.  She was dropped off by her mom’s friend late on a Tuesday night.  My oldest son Gabriel was already sound asleep, and my two younger boys should’ve been in the bath and shower, but they were downstairs to greet her. 

She came in, put down her things and I made her a late dinner.  As she finished, I said to Nick and Matthew, “Boys, go upstairs and get in the shower/bath, I’ll be right up.”  And off they went.

You might think I am crazy to send my 6 and 8 year old upstairs to get themselves into the bath routine, but since we’ve been doing this routine for their ENTIRE lives, it is something they have done successfully on more occasions than I can count. 

Usually, Nick heads upstairs, to my bathroom where the shower and bathtub are next to each other, runs his shower, runs his brother’s bath, and by the time I get upstairs minutes later they are both getting naked and entering their respective bathing locations.

That’s what I expected on that evening as well.  But it’s not what I got.

As I gathered my friend’s daughter’s things, including her plate and a glass of water, I instructed her to grab her smaller suitcase and start up the stairs.  I followed her.  Once I made it 4 stairs up, I could hear water running.

….but it wasn’t coming from my bathroom.

“Move out of the way!” I commanded as I began taking the stairs 2 or 3 at a time.  I barreled upstairs and into our hallway, following the sound of running water – not the sound of a bathtub filling, but closer to the sound of a fountain – all the way to the hall bathroom.

I looked at the door, which was ajar about 3 inches and was shocked to find it was covered from top to bottom with dripping water.  Oh Em Gee.  If the outside of the door looked this bad, what on earth would the inside look like?