Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Kids Grow Up So Fast

Dateline August, 2008
Charlottesville, VA
Part 1

When do our kids grow up so fast? This year Alex figured it all out. I mean, ALL. First, he comes to me with the Tooth Fairy. Then Santa and the Easter Bunny. The icing on the cake of growing up was to hit me square in the face on a sunny summer afternoon in Ruby Tuesday’s in Charlottesville VA. We headed out there for Ellie’s pre-op visit for her upcoming sleep study. That’s a whole ‘nother story. Stay tuned.

So, we are sitting down to eat a late lunch after our visit to University of Virginia’s Hospital. “So Mom, if in 2nd grade we learned how to make salmon babies when we went on that field trip. You know, they showed us how the male salmon swims over to get his white milky stuff near the female’s eggs which she lays in a safe area. And then they wiggle their tails around and swish it all up and they get together and a baby salmon grows?” Mom is swallowing hard, and starting to look for the well worn parent manual in her brain. It’s got some coffee stains on it, and the binding is broken now, but the pages are usually full of up-to-date information. Usually. Sometimes they are blank. Like Today. Rats.

“So Mom, are you listening?” Mom smiles brightly, “Yes, dear I’m listening.” Shifting nervously, and looking around to see just how crowded this restaurant is right now. Good, no one is sitting near us. All of the sudden a really late lunch is just perfect, I don't mind the empty pit in my stomach!
"So, Mom, if that’s how a baby salmon is made. How EXACTLY, does a human man get his white milky stuff to be near enough to a human female’s egg to make a human baby?”
THUNK! After I pick my jaw up off the table, I furiously look for that manual. Where could it be? “You don’t want to answer this question do you Mom?”

“No, Dear. I think that question, since you thought it out so thoroughly and asked it so well, deserves an answer. I just wasn’t quite prepared for it. I also wasn’t prepared to answer it here, in a public restaurant.”

Alex’s face falls. “But dear, since it’s not crowded, and you deserve an answer...I’ll do my best. I’ll answer just what you ask, and not go into too much detail. I don’t want to gross you out at lunch.” Too bad we live so far away, I could really use a drink with this lunch!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I think therefore I run

My small steps in running have grown over the past few months. I started out in March only being able to run 1 mile, and slow at that (12 minutes). Today I finished 7 miles at a 9:45 minute/mile pace with lots of hills and a head wind for the second 1/2 (it was a 3.5 mile road - I ran out and back). I set my sights on a goal - the Blue and Gray 1/2 marathon. I try to have patience and persistence. I also keep track of my progress. Each time I run, I log it. And when I couldn't run for 16 looooonnnnnnggggg days while some stitches healed, and I got a cold, and it became a sinus infection, oy vey! Well, I ate a lot of chocolate and forgave myself :). Then I got back out there and started running again, as soon as I felt good. I've been back at it for about 2 weeks and I am amazed that I didn't lose any conditioning. Woo hoo!

So, for those of you who are feeling disheartened by the enormity of whatever faces you. Try to keep it simple. Break the enormity into small steps. Then, chin down. Dive into the work. Track it. Be patient. Be persistent. Don't get ahead of yourself. Stick to the small steps you broke out. Then wait awhile. Really! Imagine you're making a loaf of bread and it needs time to rise. Did you ever bake a loaf of bread from scratch? It really does take time to rise. So, wait awhile. Keep at your planned small steps. Wait awhile longer. Then, look back at where you started. Look at where you are. You will be amazed at what those small steps can accomplish.

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama 08 Hooray!

Change - Seasons - Always
Growing, Dying, Rebirth - Time
Heals All Wounds. Rejoice!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

12 Steps to vote Against McCain/Palin

Ok. So, I've never done a 12 step program before. I did quite a 2pack a day smoking habit 18 years ago. But I just slowly cut back till I couldn't any more and then one day I just didn't buy anymore cigarettes. I ate a lot of chocolate, and apparently, I was really grumping, moody, and down right bit&%y! Go figure.

I'm going to just lay this out on the line in 12 reasons - it may be hard to limit it to 12, but I'll try.

  1. McCain and Palin are against protecting women's rights. And this has nothing to do with abortion. In fact in this issue I can list an additional 5 ways they are against women's equal rights and healthcare without mentioning that a-word. You want to see me try? Really? Ok. Here goes. I have this friend named Cecille. And she really cares about women's healthcare. Alot. Her mom was Ann Richards, the former Republican governor of Texas. And Cecile was kind enough to make this list available to me and lots of my friends. I've cut and pasted some of it:
    1. John McCain opposes equal pay legislation, saying it wouldn’t do "anything to help the rights of women."
    2. John McCain opposes requiring health care plans to cover birth control.
    3. John McCain opposes comprehensive, medically accurate sex education.
    4. John McCain opposes restoring family planning services for low-income women.
    5. John McCain said he was "stumped" when asked whether contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV. (Thank you to Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood - my primary health care provider when I had no insurance).
  2. Socialim. Ok. So I have a Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science from Penn State U. Which may explain why I get so freakin' frustrated with Sarah Palin, and John McCain for picking her. I'm a Political Science geek and I'll admit that. But let's get back to Socialism. For those of you who aren't poli sci geeks I'll forgive you and help you out here. From Wikipedia a simple definition of socialism: "refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society." So, if you look at all the states in America, do you ever find an example of socialism? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Let's see. I lived in Alaska for 4 1/2 years. Yeah. I think everyone in my family received a dividend check, even the baby! For what? What's that? Oh, we were citizens of the state of Alaska, which means we were all collectively, owners of the oil resources of the state of Alaska. Collective ownership? Socialism? Hmmm. Sarah Palin is the governor of this great socialist state. And this year, she sent an EXTRA check to each and every citizen-owner. Ummm. Can you say "hypocrite" boys and girls? Yes, that's "hip - o - crit". Or, maybe, we'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she really didn't know what socialism means. Hmm. so I want to vote for a leader of my country who knows less than I do, better yet, less than my 9 year old son does, of general political concepts. How can she be respected on the world stage with other world leaders?
  3. On to the next topic before I need some Tums. Ayers, Kahlid Rashidi. So, I'm going to say what my mom used to tell me, "When you point your finger, 4 are pointing back at you." So, John McCain's campaign has been pointing it's finger at Barack Obama for this "relationship of palling around with Bill Ayers, that terrorist, and Rashidi who is so vehemently opposed to Israel." It was coffee and donuts night. Puh-lease! Let's look at John McCain's relationship wtih Kahlid Rashidi. McCain sat on the board of a conservative Republican group that gave almost 1/2 a million dollars ot Rashidi! I can't amke this stuff up folks!!
  4. Constitutional Law 101. part 1. yes, as I said, I'm a poli sci geek. So I have 3 copies of the constitution, not including those that are imbeded in poli sci books. I think everyone should have a copy and read it. But that's me. I do think that every Federal government official should have a copy, read it regularly, and maybe even read a little bit about what Constitutional Scholars think about it too. Duties of the Vice President. What does the Constitution have to say????? She was asked 4 times, and got it wrong. The Veep is to wait and be ready to take over as President in the awful event that the President is no longer available to fulfill his office ("through death, resignation, removal from office, or inability to perform the duties of his office"). Secondly, the Veep also has a role in the Senate - but this is where she really got it wrong. Just ask Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a senator, then became Veep. He attended a Senator's luncheon as Veep and was shown the door! Article 1, Section 3, "The Vice President of the United States shall be the President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." That's it. No interpretation, Governor. No mixing it up with the Senators to create legislation. Let's keep with the Framer's Intent. That is how you read the Constitution, isn't it???
  5. Constitutional Law 101. part 2. First Amendment protections. As Keith Oberlann just said, "Read the Constitution Governor. It's FUN!" Since she didn't, I'll reprint the 1st amendment for you, "Amendment 1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment if religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." What this means is that Government can't block the press's right to speak/write, not the other way around.
  6. Constitutional Law 101. Part 3. Federalism vs. States Rights. Ok. So if you're going to throw around poli sci geek words from Poli Sci 101 you should know what they mean. So, Sarah Palin says in an interview that she is a Federalist. She then goes on to explain that she means that some things need to be decided by the states. Well, if you are a follower of George Bush and his policies, then I guess you are a new Bushie Federalist. Because W. went ahead and in his total dunceness turned the definition of Federalism inside out (which ticks me off but that's another story). But, to sit there and say that you are a Federalist in the tradition of George W. Bush means that you are lock-step with him philosophically - ergo we can expect 4 more of the last 8 years. Unless you are part of the ubber-rich that doesn't sound so good.
  7. healthcare. John McCain's Economics Advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin says "why would young healthy people leave their healthcare provider when their credit won't buy them anything better." If young healthy kids can't do better on the free market, how are the rest of us going to survive? Even his top economics advisor knows that his healthcare plan stinks. enough said.
  8. Not understanding programs that are designed to help people with special needs, and ridiculing them at a rally. Sarah Palin went on the record to families of children with special needs that they would have an advocate and friend in the White House if John McCAin and she were elected. Well, you don't sound like an advocate to me when you go ahead and make fun of fruit fly research aimed at helping people who have autism. What it makes you sound like to me is an a$$. If you are interested in more about my dislike of pandering to the special needs community read my blog about that.
  9. Lying about being an open book. Governor Palin said she was an open-book and that her health records would be released. Well, I'm going to have to call bull-$hit on that one. In her interview with NBC, she said they would be released - but where are they? She is aware of the questions regarding her pregnancy and why would she risk her baby and her life to travel back to Alaska after her water broke when there were excellent hospitals in Texas (arguably better than in Alaska).
  10. Ethics violations. Enough said. She has been found to violate the State of Alaska's Ethics Laws. And then she looked at the camera and said she was glad to be found not in violation of those pesky ethics. UGH.
That's all for now folks. I need to go find those Tums or Rolaids, or maybe just a good bottle of wine. Thanks for reading and thinking. Don't forget to vote.

Hi My Name is .....

Well, it's official. I have OCED. I need a 12 step program to break free from the vicious cycle of news media, blogs and online news outlets. My children look at me and ask, "mommy when are we going eat again?" My husband wants to know when we get our life back. It's gray and dismal, and bleak here in the black and white world of American Presidential Elections. I'm going to be politically incorrect here: what's so interesting is that the black man is the man who offers hope, courage, promise, and when he speaks I feel better. The white man offers fear, hatred, anger, war, agression, you name it, and when he speaks I feel my blood pressure rise. And don't even get me started on that woman - ugh! I need a whole other 12 step program about her.

So here's my 12 step program. I am going to list 12 new reasons why McCain and Palin are not getting my vote, and they shouldn't get yours either. But, you know what, Obama has so much going for him. I'm going to do one better. I'm going to end on a message of hope and promise and the American Dream just like my candidate, Barack Obama. So in my next blog, I will list my 12 reasons why Barack Obama and Joe Biden are my candidates, and why you should vote for them too.

And if you still think that Sarah Palin is the most popular governor with 80%approval ratings (which by the way her ratings dropped to 68% Oct 1), riddle me this: Here's A-Nother Great Rally for Obama in the city of Anchorage Alaska, at 7am (not a popular time for Alaskans in my experience) and 20 degrees (which by their standards is darn right warm). They made a human Obama Logo. I want to make an "I heart Alaska" sign! That same Palin Ratings poll showed very interesting numbers for Democrats and Independents (the Republicans still support her 93%) "Among Democrats, her approval rating dropped from 60 percent to 36 percent, a 24-point drop. Among independents, it fell from 82 percent to 64 percent, an 18-point drop." I haven't seen a more recent poll. I'm keeping my eyes out but this was what google brought me.

So, thanks for stopping by. Now you know why I haven't written much lately - that darned pesky OCED. I'l be back real soon with the first part of my 12 step program.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Parents of Children with Disability don't need Pandering!

I am so angry with John McCain for choosing Sarah "I have a child with DS" Palin and pandering to parents of children with disability. So she has a baby with DS. Big Deal. He's 6 months old now. If she's dealt with Early Intervention already - then wow, she's ahead of the game. But she hasn't dealt with school and much in the way of therapy yet. My daughter was born with DS in Alaska. She was seen early by a PT (physical therapist) privately because our Early Intervention program in my town didn't have any PT's on staff and we didn't want to wait for them to fill the slot. It wasn't until Ellie was almost a year old that I learned she could qualify for Medicaid through the TEFRA program (Katie Beckett Act). She was initially denied because her initial eval at 2 months old didn't show any delays. That's becuase 2 month olds don't do any thing but sleep, poop and eat. Ellie had those down pat.

So Sarah "I use my children when they can help me politically" Palin has been carting this adorable little baby who will be delayed (you can see his low muscle tone in every picture) all around the country - especially New Hampshire and the Great Northwest there. When is he getting therapy? When is he seen by his Early Intervention Team? I worry for that little boy - being used in such a way for politically expediency and votes.

Thankfully a freind on my DS listserve sent a link to the comparison of McCain and Obama's positions on People with Disability. Please read this. It is eye-opening. I was voting for Obama before I read this. Now it just reconfirms. But for those of you who didn't know their positions and just assumed that Sarah "I have a baby with DS" Palin would be a strong advocate - ha. I doubt it. Now, what has she done for children with disability in Alaska? She is the aunt of a child with Autism. So before she became a parent, she knew about the struggles. Yes? But it's arguable that she has truly helped the disability community in Alaska. She line item vetoed six appropriations for community disability services or for accessibility modifications to public accommodations as governor. It saved the state less than $800,000 - when they had a huge budget surplus. Not to mention, as a previous resident of that state, I can tell you it is not accessible for disabled persons. It is difficult to get around. Read this blog from distinguished professors of Disability at the University of Kansas to get a second opinion.

I'm also Angry with Sarah "I didn't blink I said yes" Palin who left Alaska to be run by ???? the RNC???? while campaigning instead of taking care of her state and her children. I have the utmost respect for working moms, and even greater respect for working moms who have children with disabilities. It takes a lOT to be a parent of a child with disability and to add to that working full-time is an incredible juggling act. My hat goes off to those parents.

That being said, Sarah does NOT have the experience to be VP of the US. Maybe of, I don't know, Turkmenistan? But let's get real folks. She should have said, "no way. Are you high right now? I"m out of my league here." But she didn't. In her fantasy land she thinks somehow that mayor of a town of less than 9,800 and 20 months as governor of a state of only 650,000 makes her somehow qualified? And she's using her kids to try and get votes. How pathetic and cruel is that? Just to give you an idea, Chicago, Illinois has 2,836,658 people in 2007. And representing those constituents for 8 years in the Illinois legislature is less qualifying than being the mayor of Wasilla? IS she nuts???

Not to mention, that Obama has also taught constitutional law to Law Students for years. So obviously he knows a little bit more than just the name of the case Roe v. Wade. Like maybe how there is a Right to Privacy in the Constitution. And maybe, even the difference between states rights and federalists?! I am so fed up with the pandering of the Right and their assumption that average americans don't pay attention to their words. Both Palin and now McCain have claimed they are Federalists and in the same sentence have said they believe in strong states rights on issues like Roe v. Wade. They can't have it both ways. Federalists believe in strong Federal Government and weakened states rights. The first Federalists wrote the Federalist Papers: John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Obviously, Sarah "Education is not Important to me" Palin didn't pay attention during civics class.

So let's show the Republicans that we won't be pandered to. And that we pay attention to their words, just as John McCain suggested we pay attention to Obama's words. If we americans don't pay attention during the next 19 days, we will get what we deserve, again. Please, don't accept pandering. Don't accept the negative bullshit ads. Ask yourself why is the McCain campaign focused on negative bull shit ads and not the economy? Read their websites. Read the news. Main Stream Media is not the enemy. Ignorance is. And most importantly, on November 4 - go and vote!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barack Obama is so cool!

I was really impressed with how he has handled himself during these three debates, and the whole campaign so far. If someone were throwing that many curve balls I'd be swinging in the dirt. But not Barack. He calmly corrects the worst of the crap, and ignores the rest of it. I loved that he said the American public doesn't care about their (his and Sen. McCain's) hurt feelings but rather the economy and what the two candidates propose to do about it. He says the things that we are all feeling, but he says it in a way that isn't crass.

Originally I was unsure who to vote for. Then John McCain went ahead and did something really stupid and picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. That clinched it for me - Barack Obama had my vote from that moment on. But still, I had been missing Hillary, and didn't know much about Barack, so my support was lukewarm. After 3 debates and many hours of news: papers, blogs, radio and tv, I feel excited to be voting for Obama. I am PROUD to be an Obama Mama! When he speaks, he doesn't sugar coat the problems or the solutions but I have hope when I hear him. I just get high blood pressure when I hear John McCain. And don't even get me started on Sarah "New Hampshire is in the Northwest" Palin. UGH!!

Barack Obama made a fantastic choice as a running mate - Joe Biden is awesome. He was cool as a cucumber during his debate with Sarah "you betcha" Palin. Far more cool than I would have been. My 9 year old could out-debate her on the issues. The running mate pick says more about character, choices and the direction the candidates plan to take our country. Sarah "dinosuars and man walked the earth together" Palin would take us back to the stone age. I'd like to head to the future not the past.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear, loathing and the Republican Party Politics

I received one of those viral emails that asks you to suspend your intelligence, take what has been written on faith and forward it to everyone you know. As my confirmation class teacher at my United Methodist Church would tell you - I don't take anything on faith alone. I left him exasperated and frustratred beyond belief on every class meeting. "But how do we KNOW for certain?" "Where's the proof, the evidence?" So in the internet age, one of my favorite sites is I don't want egg on my face if I'm forwarding crap around to my friends and family. If I'm sending something alarming to someone I want to know it's truthful, so that I can have confidence in what leaves my laptop.

What, pray tell, is the email I received that started this train of thought barreling down the line? Funny you should ask. My husband received an email from someone close to him (I won't name names) about Sen. Barack Obama. It alleges that in two of the books he has written, Lessons From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, that there are frightening and dangerous passages. These speak to the dangerous nature of his thinking and judgment. Would you want someone likke this in the White House? My husband had been aware of this b******** for a long time and fired off a quick email reminding the sender that most of the quotes were inaccurate and all the accurate ones were taken out of context. He also asked the sender if he had actually read the books.

Here's the shocker. The sender had read the books! And, he feels that the senator is "a far more elliquent [sic] man than Mccain [sic].... but that is not the measure of a leader." Now, I'll admit to not reading the books. I haven't read much at all in the last year with moving across the country, settling my son in one school, only to have to pull him and settling him in a new school, and of course having Ellie and getting her qualified for pre-K, through the first IEP, settled in school, evals for private therapy..... guess I didn't need to go on there. In any event, life is finally settling down and I am finding time to read and so this to me was a great recomendation for a book! So I will be curling up with The Audacity of HOpe which I just got from the library - the last copy available. All of the copies of Lessons From My Father are out right now.

But what really bothers me is that this well educated person could read these books, know that these passages - if true - are taken out of context and do not mean what they sound like, and send this hate-filled message of fear out to who knows how many? Hopefully it was only to his brother - my hubby.

Last night while sitting at my son's swim team practice, someone noticed I was reading a book. "Oh, what are you reading?" I showed her the title, The Audacity of Hope, by Barack O'Bama. (I got the last copy at the library!) "Oh! You're one of THEM!" she exclaimed. Just what in the H#?! is that supposed to mean? That I'm one of those "free - thinkers" who doesn't just take the right wing pandering pablum at it's word? Then she said, "that explains why you weren't so excited about Sarah Palin over the summer when I mentioned it. You being from Alaska I thought you would have been more excited." Well, I had to explain to this very nice person, that the information being passed around down here in the lower-48 is not accurate. I explained that Sarah is not so popular in Alaska anymore. "Well she has 83% approval." I said, "that's dropped over 20% since she was nominated as the VP candidate." "Not to forget, she has been found guilty of ethics violations in the Troopergate." "Alaskans on all sides of the political fence are unhappy with her." "Even right wing politcal pundits have said she is unqualified to be the VP, let alone, God-forbid something were to happen to elevate her to the Presidency." It was falling on deaf ears. I was "one of THEM."

For those of you who want to know what Alaskans think check out these two blogs: Shannyn Moore: Just a Girl from Homer and The Mudflats. Enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Garden of Wonders.....

Finally, after a long, hot summer I am getting to my gardens. I have looked at them for the last 10 months (since we moved in) and dreamed of what they might look like. I have a long way to go, but my first day out in the garden was quite wonderful and productive.

As the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I kind of "assume" that Ellie will take longer with everything. I just "assumed" that I would have to wait longer before I could productively garden with her at my side. I was able to do this with her brother at a young age because it was dirt! What boy doesn't like to dig in the dirt. Not to mention, he didn't mind taking a bath, and well, Ellie can scream like a banshee when I bring a cup of water near her head. So, I just figured, "oh well, next year." But today, I got back early from my run and the weather was perfect for me to garden, so after a quick shower (I get really gross after a 5 mile run) I headed out. I made good progress in the 2 hours she was still at school, but it wasn't as much as I figured I needed to get done given my time limits tomorrow, and the impending rain on Thursday and Friday.

When Ellie hopped off the bus, I took a gamble. "Ellie do you want to go inside?" "No." "Do you want to ride in your red car?" "No." Do you want to dig in the dirt with Mom?" "Yeah!"
Well, there, I had it. So I got her little yellow plastic pail and shovel. She followed me to the garden and plopped down in the middle of the dirt with a big smile. She had fun with her shovel for a little bit, but kept eyeing my big shovel. I suggested a plastic children's trowel from her brother's earlier years which she happily worked with for an hour. She filled her bucket and my big bag of potting soil, and her shoes!

I was able to double the amount of garden completed, and then she started to rub her eyes. So off to the bathroom for an almost totally happy bath! I was thrilled for her. She has hated her baths since moving here, but today's bath was mostly happy with lots of soapy bubbles and scooping and pouring with her cups. The only tears shed were over the hair washing but they were much fewer and ended quickly.

After the bath it was off to take a nap?! Another unheard-of event in my house. Tonight I checked. Surprisingly, the moon was still yellow.

Tomorrow we won't get a repeat as Ellie has therapy right after school, and then we have shopping at Costco. But Wednesday is looking like a great day to repeat this wonderful gardening adventure with Ellie. Wonder if we'll get another nap? The moon will have to turn blue for that!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome to the 21st century Sen. McCain.....or

what about MacSpeech, or Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9 Preferred?

It's been widely reported that Sen. McCain can't use a computer due to the injuries suffered while a POW in Vietnam. However, as the parent of a child with a disability I have to call phooey on that. I have a lot of respect for the Senator's heroism but to cloak one'self in disability strikes me as wrong. I have a far greater respect for those who work to rise above that. We live in an age of technology which can be used to augment our abilities and amend for our weaknesses.

Technology can do amazing things. I have seen children who desperately want to communicate with people in their world use Assistive Technology to "speak" for them. The joy in their faces is palpable. Two weeks ago I was so blessed to witness this sort of event unfold in front of me. I watched a mother of a young boy with Autism "speak" to his mom through this device. The joy on her face brought tears to my eyes. I know that feeling down to the core of my being. When your child who has all these thoughts and feelings bottled up inside and no matter what you do they don't come out, until [pop] the top comes off! Out they flow and you are just so amazed and grateful.

So I have to ask myself why an educated person who works and functions in this highly connected world would not take advantage of the technology available today? I read a blog posted recently from an Astro Physics Professor, Dr. Pamela Gay, who's website I enjoy reading even though I don't always understand it all. She "wrote" an entire blog using voice recognition software without her fingers having to touch the keyboard at all. It did a fabulous job. This is not the voice recognition software I was familiar with, but a much improved product. I have admittedly been out of the tech field for about 9 years - or as long as my oldest child has roamed the earth. That's a lifetime or two in technology. Heck, I'm a dinosaur (don't tell the young earthers!).

So, back to the question. Why would the Senator not use a product that would improve his abilities to communicate with his constituents, his colleagues, his staff, etc? This is the computer age. I don't know. But I do recognize this as a failure to "change" or embrace change around you. I see this as something of a metaphor for clinging to the old ways even though newer and better ways are available.

just my 2 bits tonight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

As An Ex-Alaskan, what Do I Think of Sarah Palin....

what do I think of Sarah Palin? Of course, the day after her acceptance speech to the RNC, I think that everyone who asked that question was assuming a very positive response on my part.

Ummm, I had to hemm-and-haw a bit. Especially with folks I just barely know. But even with people who knew me in Alaska, ummm, well, uhh, can I get back to you?????

In fact, my family will confirm this, my political opinions have changed dramatically throughout my adult life: from far-left, to middle, to right-of-middle, and back to left-of-middle (if not more left than that). Parenthood, and stay-at-home-mom-hood helped to forge a more conservative view. Then there was the parenthood of a child with special needs.... definitely a more conservative view.

However, although I am against eugenics, I applaud the Kennedy-Brownback Bill (and Patricia's website), but I can not be against Choice. That issue requires thoughtful expression, and a blog all it's own. Look for it soon.

In the meantime, here are 6 of the reasons why John McCain's choice to use Sarah Palin in an attempt to garner this woman's vote has totally backfired. And so my conservative friends, I hope you understand...this mama is for O-Bama!

So what do I think of Sarah Palin? In the words of Borat, "Not so much." There are a variety of reasons and so in no particular order I begin with the most outlandish thing I've ever heard in politics...

1. "Witchcraft??!!??!!" OMG!!!!! I just finished watching the news tonight (MSNBC w/Keith Olbermann discussing Sarah Palin's old minister) and I am beyond shocked. The VP of a major world super-power should be beyond witch hunts. I don't know about you, but I have no desire to return to life in Salem circa 1692.

2.I like to call this "Palintology" (but I did see that first on Keith Olbermann's show tonight). Science. The scientific method. The Vice President of a world super power should believe in science, evolution, global warming and carbon dating. She should not believe that the world is 6000 years old. She should agree with her Presidential running mate that humans have played a role in global warming, and that it is a real challenge facing our world. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Creation Science ( a complete oxymoron) do check the link out, and scroll down to the section "Characteristics and Beliefs" where it describes the beliefs of Young Earth Creationism. They discount the scientific method when it is inconvenient to their belief structure. Their beliefs colminate in the idea that dinosaurs and Man roamed the Earth together about 6,000 years ago. Essentially, the Flintstones as reality TV. That is the end of their Great Waterslide down the slippery slope known as "faith as science" hill. I am unapologetically critical because I have Faith in God and I understand the basic principles of science and they work together. I believe He is Just, Kind and Honest. I don't think for an instant He would need to Lie to us. And that's what Creation Science requires. A BIG LIE.

3. This isn't really a reason, as naming your children is a very personal thing. But this is pretty funny: I found a link to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. I would be Wrangler Tractor Palin. After #2, we needed something a bit light hearted :)

4. Truth about Earmarks. She says she's against earmarks, but what she does is ask for and accept them. Gladly. I happen to agree with Sen. McCain about earmarks, but I think that he sold his position out entirely when he chose Sarah Palin. I don't believe his position on fiscal responsibility and Earmarks any longer.

a. She claims to have said "no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere. But we all know she was for it. I lived there, and remember that she was for it, before she was against it. But only after it became so politically unpopular (in the lower 48) . Now there is a road (love the picture!) to nowhere. (it's finished now).
b. Here's what she had to say about Representative Don Young, "And our congressional delegation, God bless 'em. They do a great job for us. Representative Don Young, especially God bless him, with transportation -- Alaska did so well under the very basic provisions of the transportation act that he wrote just a couple of years ago. We had a nice bump there. We're very, very fortunate to receive the largesse that Don Young was able to put together for Alaska." –Sarah Palin, on federal pork and earmarks secured by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) (I lost this link and am looking for it...check back)

5. Aerial Bear and Wolf Hunting. Ok. I lived in Alaska, and although my husband and I are not and could not be hunters, I get that hunting is big there. I don't have a problem with traditional hunting....but I have a huge problem with aerial bear and wolf hunting. Read the link - enough said.

6. Geography. Ok, so she never said, "I can see Russia from my house" but it sure did make you laugh!! Thank you Tina Fey!! But, really, she did claim to have some foreign policy knowledge because Russia is a neighbor, and you can see it from part of Alaska??!!?!! This link is to the interview with Katie Couric.

These are just a few reasons why I won't support Sarah Palin, and why John McCain lost my vote.

Friday, September 19, 2008

DSD's and their cure

My husband and I termed THOSE days, and any parent of a child with disabilities knows what I'm talkin 'bout. In our house we call them - Down Syndrome Days. For the rest of you, it's those (thankfully rare) days, or moments in a day, when I lose my positive outlook for Ellie's future, and all seems bleak and hopeless. There is no rhyme or reason to why those days/moments happen. All sorts of things have triggered them. And what causes the feeling to go away is the same thing that I use to get through every teaching moment with Ellie - patience, love and time.

It's odd that I should be having a DSD(Down Syndrome Day) moment today, or right now. Earlier today when Ellie slowly climbed down the bus steps with only a little help from mom. I can't say she hopped off the bus. Someday, yes. But certainly, not yet, even in a figurative sort of way - just ask the folks who wait very patiently in their cars.

Anyways, after she got off the bus, we played ball in the front yard for a bit. I am trying to get her to be more active, as she has put on some weight this year around her middle. As we were playing catch I "caught a glimpse" of our past when she was about a year old and receiving physical therapy in our home. Our PT at the time was wonderful, and also the parent of an adult son with DS. So she was more than just a PT. She was a mentor, and a tremendous support in those early days. She helped me to develop an ability to see the future for Ellie.

One of our sessions she had Ellie in a supported standing position (long before Ellie was standing and walking on her own) and attempting to catch and play ball. Ellie was trying to grasp the idea, let alone the ball, and got very frustrated and tired out quickly (insert crying, screaming here) so we changed activities quickly. But, I got an idea that some day, Ellie would be standing on her own two feet and playing catch successfully with other people. At the time, I REALLY had a hard time invisioning that. Ellie seemed to be so slow to pick up the gross motor skills, and fine motor skills I thought, "yea, right. That's years away. If ever." I had a lot of DSD's back then. But today, I saw her. And it wasn't that many years later (2 1/2 really). She's actually been able to play ball for a while now. But today she seemed especially accomplished at it. She does still need to be prompted to catch (the motor planning is a little slow for her, but not by much) and you need to throw an easy ball to her. Once she has the ball, her throwing ability is really awesome. She loves to look at you, and throw it in a different direction. And then, while she races you to the ball, she just gigggles, and giggles and giggles!

The memory of that moment has lifted the DSD. Her giggles are miraculous. So is her smile. It's infectious. Like I said, patience, love and time lift the DSD's away. Especially the love :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When will the Republicans and this Administration Get It?

We need new energy sources, not more oil drilling. UGH! I just read the headlines about the House of Representatives Energy Bill finally passing. Exciting news as it includes incentives for alternative sources of energy. But the Administration and the Rebublicans don't get it. And are threatening a veto if the Senate can get their bill off the ground. I have to do more research in to the specifics of these bills, but at least the House has gotten somewhere. I sure hope the Senate gets a bill passed quickly and they get a compromise pushed through to put the Administration's heels to the proverbial fire. It would shake up this election and get the candidates focused on the issues.

Republicans scare me. We need to get off of oil. Plain and simple. It is NOT renewable. Using it contributes to Global Warming. We are responsible for our energy crisis and our environmental crisis. We can solve both if we act NOW.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dress for they teach this anymore?

I hate to sound like I'm from an "older generation" complaining about the "young whipper-snappers" but, I'm going to. I attended a mandatory orientation for all Substitute Teachers in my school district today. It was very well attended, and I hope that means that there will be sufficient substitutes available for all of the schools in our county through the year. I know that at my son's school last year, they were desperate some days to find a substitute. And, so I look forward to the (hopefully many) calls in the days and weeks and months ahead to substitute.

One substitute teacher asked, "Is there a dress code?" Well, I have to say, "if you have to ask, maybe you should look for a different job." As I looked around the room, I realized you could see the generation gap as plain as day. Now, I may be pushing 40, but most people think I'm in my early 30's. However, not this day. I was dressed as if I were going to work. In theory, I was, even though I wasn't getting paid. This was Orientation, held at my employers offices, and run by their H.R. It was work, plain and simple. So you dress the part. That's what I was always taught by my parents. However, you could the early 30 something's and younger, had missed that lesson, if they even got it. Some folks had nice jeans and tops on, with closed toe shoes. But, many had t-shirts, faded, or torn jeans, flip flops. One "dude" was in a t-shirt, bermuda shorts and flip flops! He looked more like he was headed for happy hour with the boys, than work. There is no way you will ever command respect from your students if you dress like them, or worse.

When I was a teenager, and a college student, my parents used to constantly remind me that "the clothes make the man." Guess I needed to hear it often, as I was going through a punk, black-only wardrobe crisis. As much as I hated the nagging, I'm glad they never gave up. It stuck with me. So, when I showed up at my son's school this morning before my daily run to let them know I'm now available to sub every morning - they offered me a job right then.
Unfortunately, some of the attendees didn't look like professional anythings.

Friday, September 12, 2008

unplug your run

Well, today was supposed to be a 4 mile run, and I had just headed out on my road with my ipod securely strapped to my arm. Yesterday I bought a new arm band for it so it wouldn't flop around on my waist, and I wouldn't have to carry it. I test ran it yesterday at the gym for 4 miles on the treadmill - worked great!

So, cloudy weather, still air, rather humid, turn on my generic workout playlist and hit the road. I was rather tired, and not so into running till my feet hit the pavement. It always feels good to me - that rhythm, the feeling of my whole body working hard for something good. About 1.4 miles into the run my Ipod freezes on me! Ugh!! I've struggled with this ipod and this error before. So I try to reboot - it does, but *lost* my playlists, and all my music! So after cursing it, I just pulled the ear buds out of my ear, and, listened to the world around me.

I live in the woods, and so my streets are alive with mother nature. I chatted with a garter snake who sought the road for some warmth. I mourned the loss of a frog, who didn't hop away from the oncoming car in time. I cheered on my neighbors who were out for a run with their dogs. I marvelled at the sight of a dozen gold finches flocking together, and enjoyed the blue birds in flight and song. Later after my run I delighted in a glimpse at the common flicker looking for bugs in one of my trees.

So the next time you head out for a run, I leave this thought:
unplugging your run, nature awaiting rejoice, wings carry away

Thursday, September 4, 2008

small steps in so many directions

Well, this blog started as a blog about raising a child with a disability and the small steps she and I and the whole family take each day. We learn a little more every day, and she progresses a little more, lately it seems like every day. Which is very exciting!

But as Ellie grows, and truly becomes more independent I have time to get back to the other parts of my life and interests. Of course I don't have much time in any given day or week, so there too I make small steps. The big area of interest for me right now is running. I love to run, although I'm not fast, I just love the feeling. I tried to get back into running last summer and forgot that I was older, and training on hills (really big Alaskan sized hills). So, it felt good and the next thing I knew I was over training and blew out my hamstrings. Well, mostly my right one. So, I took it easy and then we got orders to move and I REALLY took it easy. With running at least. I had lots to occupy my time otherwise.

Now that we are settled, and my hamstring feels better I started running again. But this time not so fast and furious. I am learning to take small steps here too. I have finally learned the benefits of rest - maybe. It's hard to take a day off of running - the weather's beautiful. But I have goals and I don't want to hurt myself again. In 1 week I have my 2nd 5k of the season. My goal is a sub 30 a big improvement from June. As I said, I'm not fast, and 8 months off hurt my time. After that I hope to successfully train for my first 1/2 marathon in December. It feels good to run, but I can tell that I am older. I listen to my body better now, or maybe it just hollars at me louder.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back to School


It's hard to believe summer is over. Well, especially when the high was 95 today. We are on day 3 of the new school year. I have to say it's amazing - so far. The kids are getting up early, everyone is happy and ready for school. Well, as much as 9 year old's can be excited for school. Tonight he told me he'd like to go to college at a young age like 15 or 16. I reminded him that he'll attend at 17, like his mom, dad and grandfather. But that's not early enough, hmm. I'm thinking it's because he wants to get school over with so that he can get on with his life.

It goes by so fast as it is. But you don't realize that till it's too late.

special needs advocate in the white house?

As an as-yet-undecided-voter, I just watched Gov. Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC. Wow, she's a great speaker. Even as a previous resident of Alaska, I hadn't heard her speak, so I was very curious.

I must say, it's quite tempting when she said to parents of children with special needs' that they would have an advocate in the White House. But as a citizen, I have to weigh all the issues. I can't, in good conscious, vote based on a single issue.

Now I'm wishing I had watched Biden and Obama speak at the DNC. And maybe Michelle Obama and the Clinton's as well. This election appears to have posed a good challenge for Americans. We have real issues facing this country and two sets of intriguing candidates from which to choose. I hope, as a country, we choose wisely.

BTW - she has a great looking family and Trig is just a cutie!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good stuff for people with intellectual disabilities

So, I forgot these in the last post, and wanted to add them here.

First, I've added my voice to the Special Olympics campaign Pledge to the Stop the R-Word

I encourage you to Pledge as well

Second, this is a fantastic PSA for the Arc of Northern VAIt was produced by the Arc of Virginia and the Arc of Northern Virginia, plus Blueberry Shoes Productions

Third, this is a fantastic site and their tv spot called homecoming aired during the Olympics - it brought tears to my eyes. Kudos to the Foundation for a Better Life!!

Fourth, this is amazing. What a great self-advocate!! Jill Egle, Co-Executive director of the Arc of Northern Virginia, has a bone to pick with Ben Stiller over the movie Tropic Thunder. Jill, who has an intellectual disability, sets the record straight.

Why I won't see Tropic Thunder

My 3 year old daughter is beautiful, smart and so incredibly sweet and kind to others. Where ever we go, people come out of their way to visit with her. She shares her smiles with almost everyone she meets. She also has Down Syndrome.

Since the day we received her diagnosis, my husband and I have worried about how society would treat our little girl as she grows up and becomes a young woman. She has had to work so hard in her life to achieve milestones we all take for granted. She is still struggling to meet milestones most three year olds have mastered, but she is persistent, and perseveres, and she is so patient. Since her birth I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people; all of whom have a variety of disabilities. They are all individuals as unique and special as any one else. Seeing adults with disabilities reaching their full potential, living and working and volunteering in their communities has filled us with hope for our daughter's future. We are also encouraged when we hear great stories of acceptance and RESPECT like the one memorialized in the tv spot about Shelley Eyre produced by The Foundation For a Better Life.

But the release of the movie, Tropic Thunder, has been a slap in the face, and what's worse is that the actors, especially Stiller (whom I used to admire, but no longer) don't get it. Maybe you need an education, maybe you are slow. So, I'll keep it simple:
1. You make movies with characters that people emulate.
2. Insensitive, rude, cruel people will continue to perpetuate the awful stereotypes and rude behaviors demonstrated in this poor excuse for entertainment.
3. Instead of promoting acceptance, tolerance, compassion and most importantly RESPECT, the movie encourages cruelty, intolerance, rudeness, and a complete disregard for individuals and their feelings.

As a parent of two young children I try to educate them on the values of our society, including, but not limited to: acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. They are supposed to become productive members of society someday. But how can I compete when a movie like Tropic Thunder comes along? I mean seriously folks, you have some popular actors that children admire and want to emulate. These actors are behaving and talking in ways that are completely unacceptable. Free speech aside, did common sense go out the window when someone pitched this movie? Didn't anyone along the way say, "hey this is wrong. Why don't you go pick on someone your own size?" Or are you all stooping to the level of the school yard bully, and picking on those least able to defend themselves? Is this how you want to be remembered?

Ever since my daughter's birth, I have been told that I am too sensitive. When I have commented to a friend or family member over the use of the R-Word, somehow I'm made to feel like I'm the one who is wrong. I hear, "we wouldn't call your daughter a Re****". But they'll make stupid jokes about how they did something Re****ed, or call each other Re**** when someone makes a mistake or does something stupid. But my daughter, and people like her, are the foundation of the clinical and original definition of the R-word. It comes from the Latin retardare So when you use that word in slang and fun, you are demeaning all the people that word clinically defines. And somehow, this isn't supposed to bother me?????

So, I don't know what the writers, actors and directors were thinking, but I do know what I am thinking. I'm thinking that I will use my daughter as a role model of persistence, perseverance, and patience. I am not too sensitive - the R-word is wrong and mean. I will continue to stand up for her, and all the people who are hurt by the derogatory use of the R-word.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Happy 91st birthday!

1917 - The year my Honey (she never wanted to be known as "Grandma") was born, also was the year that the Russian Revolution breaks out; the first jazz record is recorded; the 1st NHL championship game ever played the 1st time American Hockey team wins Stanley Cup (Seattle Metropolitans beat the Montreal Canadiens); British troops occupy Baghdad; U.S. enters WWI; Mary appears to 3 shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal; the Raggedy Ann doll was invented; 1st class mail now costs 3cents an ounce; New York State now allows women the right to vote; twice this year suffragists were arrested for picketing at the White House; and, Boys Town was founded by Father Flannagan in Nebraska. What a busy year, and those were only a few of the headlines from 1917.

Andrew Wyeth, Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Dean Martin, Indira Ghandi, John Kennedy, Jr., Katherine Graham, Phylis Diller, Robert Mitchum, Dizzy Gillespie, Robert Bloch, and Zsa Zsa Gabor were all born this year. Some are still with us and some have gone ahead.

What did things cost when my Honey was born? Wow! I googled and found that in Morris county NJ (thanks!!) ketchup was $0.12 a bottle, and sugar was $1.89 for a 25 lb. sack! There was a 12-room house for sale, only $4,400.00. Times sure have changed.

Last year we celebrated Honey's 90th birthday with a fabulous family reunion. We came from all over the US to celebrate and reconnect. Honey and my Pop Pops had 4 children and they were all there, along with 11 grandchildren and several spouses, and 6 great-grandchildren! Although Pop Pops passed away a few years ago, Honey was fortunate to meet a widower who shares her life now. The most recently married grandchild and his wife hosted at their new house which also has a pool, so it became a wonderful pool party for the great-grandkids.

What a difference from family gatherings of old. Instead of being the kids playing the games and swimming all day, we were the grown-ups standing around chatting, taking kids to the potty or changing diapers, switching off parenting duties, for a chance to grab a bite to eat. Our family is lucky that we have such a rich history of family gatherings since all the cousins were kids. My mom and her sisters all settled to raise their families near each other. Only their brother headed out to explore the world beyond Lancaster County. He and his girls would come back to visit most every year though. What great memories of old - the extended family meeting after church at Honey & Pop pops house, taking turns hosting holiday meals and birthday parties. These memories call to mind the images Norman Rockwell captured.

The last time many of us were all together was a wedding 4 years earlier. Before that, it had been many years; since the last big family gatherings occurred when we were in middle school. My grandparents moved away to Arizona when I was in junior high, and we all got very busy with the active lives that teenagers have. We still had Christmas and Easter, but it wasn't quite the same.

But now that we are all getting married and raising our own children, we feel the need to reconnect with our past and share it with the next generation. So much has changed since my Honey was born. Even since I was born! I long for the simpler times of my childhood. Our kids don't have the same luxurious freedoms we had at the same age. However, when we all get together again, it's like recapturing that Norman Rockwell moment all over again. And we have the opportunity to share that family feeling, that freedom feeling with the next generation. To give them that connection to something bigger than they are.

I'm not always certain all of the changes we've seen in the last 91 years are for the better. And, thankfully, some things never change. I'm grateful to have my Honey and hear the stories of her childhood and life with my grandfather when they were young parents. Their adventures, trials, tribulations, and most especially the funny, heartwarming stories of their children (our parents) being, well, children, bring a smile to my face, and bolster me when I'm facing tough times. Somehow we manage through the worst of times, and hopefully we savor the best of times, and find shining moments that stay with us forever.

I realized as we celebrated Honey's birthday last year, that she gave us the the best gift of all. These fabulous family gatherings and the wonderful memories we treasure. I hope we continue her traditions so that our children and their children will have these treasures to hold on to through their lives.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's the same at the beginning and the end.....

Today we took Nona (grandma) to visit DC, where she grew up. We visited two musems, and had lunch at a favorite haunt.

Walking through DC with Nona, I realized just how much we regress physically as we age. Don't mistake me: my Mother-in-Law is a wonderful lady. She's lots of fun to visit with, she loves to spend time with her grandkids, and she loves to help out. She is full of life and energy, but after a few broken bones and arthritis her get-up-and-go is not the same as it was 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed taking her on a romp through her old stomping grounds and listening to her stories of days of old. I pushed Ellie in the stroller to and from the museums and carried her to and from the restaurant. We had a 3 1/2 block walk to the restaurant, luckily some of it was shaded. On that walk I realized how I'd become used to traveling at the frenetic speed of an 8year old. Nona walks at about 1/3rd our speed. Surprisingly, so does Ellie! Her small steps and Nona's are the same. Luckily I can still pick Ellie up and high-tail it when needed. Like when the meter runs out on your car :)

Since I can't carry Nona, :) I have to plan better for the next trip so that we can spend more time enjoying the musems and less time walking to and fro.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Social Services Buzzword Bingo

One day, I will finally have all the social services paper work filled out, filed with the appropriate departments, approved applications for Medicaid and the EDCD and MR Waivers and be able to sit back and relax with a beer on the front porch and my feet up knowing that I have done all that I can to address and protect my daughter's needs. One day. But not to-day.

I am a small step closer to that One Day. I now know that Social Services is the intake office for the EDCD Waiver, and Medicaid. They need to hear the words, "I am requesting a screening for the EDCD Waiver for my child" in order to schedule the home interview and screening. It was not offered, exactly. Apparently 3 weeks ago when I called the same Social Services person I neglected to mention that sentence, and so I did receive a Medicaid application (that is rather confusing to fill out) but we didn't get an interview or screening scheduled.

To-Day I felt as though the colander that is metaphorically "my brain" was placed by some unseen government workers into a giant salad spinner, and they then proceeded to spin my colander whilst adding a bit of greenery to the salad spinner. This was the way the information regarding EDCD and MR Waivers along with Medicaid, and the CSB, the disAbility Resource Center and the Department of Social Services were bandied about in conversation. I still can't seem to wrap my brain around any of it with clarity.

I did get a bit of good information which I will be collecting to share with all who must traverse this crazy trail of Waiver and Medicaid paperwork. That is that on the Medicaid application you should indicate that "yes" I do want to speak with a social services person regarding specific issues. Namely those issues are "Long Term Care (L.T.C) and the EDCD Waiver". I had unknowingly checked "No" for that box initially. How was I to know otherwise?

When we were in Alaska this entire process was amazingly easy. I was given the contact name of our counselor. She provided a packet of information on how to fill the Medicaid forms out, and explained what each part of the form was really asking. Government-ese is a whole different language than English, and you really do need a few courses in it to become fluent. I never learned it, and it seems that since we are closer to the source of all government-ese it becomes more complicated to understand.

I will blog more about this process of applying (hopefully successfully) for Medicaid in VA and the EDCD and MR Waivers. At the least I can share my pain and misery with others :) If I can help anyone avoid my pitfalls and mistakes I will feel successful.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Our changing world, or what's a reformed Republican to do?

Our changing world, or what's a reformed Republican to do?

Funny, first I was a Democrat. High school, college, I was really liberal actually. My later in life Republican friends would have called me a tree-hugger (or worse). I wanted to save the environment, back before it became popular, or urgent.

Then I eventually got married, had some kids, and somehow got more conservative. I identified with the compassionate conservative, and forgot all about the world at large, focused as I was on my own little corner of it. I figured smarter people than me were paying attention to it, and they wouldn't let us down.

Then I woke up. From this horrible dream. Only it wasn't a dream. It was real.

June 3, 2008 - 'Arctic sea ice still on track for extreme melt' This is from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

June 27, 2008 - 'Rising seas threat to coastal towns', from iol in South Africa

July 1, 2008 - 'Canary in a tux? Penguin woes signal problems; Research shows that global warming, ocean pollution present challenges' from

June 28, 2008 - Arctic's First Ice-Free Summer Possible Even This Year

These are just a few examples of recent headlines.

And then of course, I finally saw An Inconvenient Truth, and the 1 year later followup that Al Gore put out.

I must say, wow, do I owe him an apology or what! I can't believe I was so blind to all of this. Sadly, so many people still are, and the news is out there. But too many people are not interested. They bury their heads in the sand.

Although it took me a long time, I am glad that I am not one of those people anymore. I have made a conscious effort to change my, and my families, impact on the
planet. We are starting with several small steps. A few things we are doing immediately to reduce our impact are simple and easy things to do.
  1. We have begun to recycle - curbside isn't offered where we live, but we can take ours to recycling centers throughout our county on the weekends. It's amazing what that has done to reduce our trash each week. It's been more than cut in half!
  2. Also, we put up a clothesline in our backyard and since the weather is nice (summertime :) I haven't used our dryer in two weeks. I'm interested to see how that affects our electric bill!
  3. I have made a 3 week menu for the family, and am shopping in bulk and freezing much of what I can. We don't eat out much - I mostly cook from scratch. But we had been throwing away too many leftovers. We discovered that we can stretch one well cooked meal into about two extra nights of dinners for at least one or two of the family. So, I don't have to cook every night. If I cook 2 or 3 nights then we have leftovers for 2 or 3 nights. It has actually made my life easier. I'm also looking at creative ways to use fun summer meal leftovers. Like bbq chicken can be chopped up with red grapes and mayo and made into chicken salad, or sliced bbq chicken and layered with letuce and tomato and blue cheese on fresh bread for sandwiches. It cuts the number of times I use the stove or grill and saves me time too!
Like my blog says - small steps. But if each of us makes a few small steps, imagine what we can do. The cumulative power of those small steps can equal giant milestones. I've seen it with my kids as they learn and grow. I am an eternal optimist so I know I can see it with the human race. But we need committed leadership to help the recalcitrant. People have to want to make those small steps.

It's like watching a child in a therapy session. When it's something that's hard for that child to do, the therapist has to find a way to make the child want to work hard. Who really wants to get out of their comfort zone and push themselves? A good therapist finds the motivator for that child. Our leaders need to be like those good therapists. They need to find the motivators for people and businesses to become good care-takers of Planet Earth. And it takes small steps. Work on adding one or two little changes a week to your routine. You can feel the success easier with small steps. You get those to be second nature, and then add more small changes. Pretty soon you've made major changes and it wasn't as hard as you thought it would be.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Who's on your list?

I've often wondered, when I hear husbands or wives complaining about their spouse. You know we joke about our "list" the 5 people who, if we ever actually met them, we could , you know, shag or something, and we couldn't get mad at the person.

But, seriously, to keep our relationship strong and healthy through the trials and tribulations of modern life, we are #1 on each other's lists. And we have fun with it. If we didn't (and there've been those times too) then we each suffer for it. My list of priorities got really switched around after Ellie was born. I was homeschooling her brother (which had already changed my list) but then DS became #1, followed by Ellie, and then came Alex and homeschooling, and then cooking and bills, then the house, somewhere in there I needed some sleep, and somewhere after that was my husband. He felt it too, and it drove a wedge in there. Eventually we talked a lot, and I rearranged my priorities and got some respite care for ellie and stopped homeschooling Alex, and started dating my husband again. I took time to make myself look as pretty as he always knew I was, and that made me feel better about myself too. Later I started working out again, and that really made me feel better, and look even better. That helped my hubby know in a concrete way that he was #1 too.

We stopped feeling like room mates and started feeling like lovers again. Although we couldn't recreate the beginnings of our relationship again, we could take it to new levels. The excitement you can have when there's a level of trust and committment that years of marriage bring to your relationship allows you to try anything. It's almost like having that new relationship excitement all over again.

I have to wonder, when I hear someone repeatedly complaining about their spouse. Have they mixed up their lists? I think if people worked even half as hard at keeping each other #1 where they started out, then there'd be more happy marriages. My mom used to tell me that marriage was hard work. Until we went through those times, I didn't quite understand. I wish more people would communicate with their spouses. We have such a great marriage now, and so much fun together, because we talked about those hard times and feelings. Forgiving each other allowed us to move forward. The fact that we don't entirely forget what we did and didn't do, keeps us honest and encourages us to work at keeping the right person at #1.

Of course we still have those other lists. So, if Captain Jack Harkness (from BBC's Torchwood) ever shows up on my door step ..... :)

.....just breathe.....

good advice for anyone. Especially when you are freaking out about something. Like your telecom provider STILL goofing up your bill 5 months after you moved in. "No, I wanted to be in the One Bill program. I asked to be enrolled in it. How can you un-enroll me when I never was enrolled?????!!!!!" Ugh. (telecom rep) "I'm sorry I can't help you with that. Can I help you with anything else?" UGH!!!!!! As if! "Yes, please fail to help me with more things?!"

But, when that happens I try to remember the advice I give my husband, and most recently, my mother-in-law, "Just breathe". I remind my husband that I used to smoke primarily for that reason. I got to take a complete break from work; walk outside; and breathe. Now, granted I was inhaling toxic fumes! But, I was breathing deeply and that usually helps to clear your mind and calm you down. I remember missing that when I quit smoking. Of course, I didn't miss the yucky smell on everything i owned. I also enjoyed the increased lung capacity! It's amazing just how deeply you can breathe when you don't smoke :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

IEP - Doesn't it start with the Individual?

So my 8 yo son wants to know? Why isn't his sister a member of her IEP team if she's the individual it's all about? Well, that is a great question. But not one the Virginia Department of Education probably wants to hear.

They have proposed changes to the State Regulations on IEPs. Some of these are very upsetting to parents of children with special needs. Like me. I was shocked to find that the State DOE wants to effectively remove parents from the IEP team. The school members of the IEP team can ..... I will ahve to finish this later. Life .....

Friday, March 21, 2008

all-nighter's - relieving the college years?

technology has brought back my youth. now I have a reason to stay up late, way too late into the wee dark hours when the house creaks and groans in unforgiving ways. Just like my almost middle aged (won't admit it - ever!) body. Hmm. Let's google something to take our minds off that.

Sadly, it's like when you finally get to go on a date with your husband after months w/o. (should we even admit how many?????) What do you talk about? The kids. Of course. Don't we all :) And they are great kids. But, you got married for a reason that had nothing to do with kids. Even if the kids precede the marriage date, you still had fun together before the kids.

How to rebuild that fun? It's not as hard as searching for the fountain of youth. And it doesn't require a baby sitter. Just a lock on your door :) and the ability to step out of your every day, mom and dad, same stuff different day shoes.

We do have to remind ourselves about it though. Because, I'd say I'm pretty good at all of that, I am with a free night on my hands and what am I doing: I am googling mom and kid stuff. The issues in our own little world today: signing time, CogAT, moving with kids, etc. Where did all the exciting things of my youth go? I could google them, but first I need to remember where I put them. Someplace safe I'm sure.

But then there is light - I can always blog. it will force the stream of consciousness to clear out the old habits and allow the new ones to take hold. If only for a little while.

It's like when you are gardening. If you have an invasive weed that wants to take over your garden you must be vigilant, diligent in your weeding endeavors and gentle to your native plants. If not, you will destroy the fledgling native plants and be stuck with only the invasive ones.

Monday, January 7, 2008

moving. through the eyes of an 8 year old

So, we've moved across the globe (Alaska to Virginia) - 4 time zones and major differences in temperature and amounts of daylight. Alex has started a new school and we've been in the new house for a month. We've gotten to do some fun things as a family over the last month, and we settled Alex into a (second) new school just today. We think this new school will be a great fit for him. So on the way home from school, I asked him how things were going and his answer surprised me.

"you know mom where we lived was like a best friend. I really understood and felt comfortable with my school and home and the area. It all fit me. I really liked living there. But I had to leave that friend and make a new friend. I like this new friend ok, but it's still a stranger to me."