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!