Thursday, November 26, 2009
I get more and more thoughtful about Thanksgiving each year. It really is my favorite holiday. I guess as we age we begin to realize just how lucky we are.
Again, this year, I am thankful for family the most.
Jake who can build anything and who together we have built this beautiful life.
Molly who is the brightest, sweetest, bubbliest, funniest daughter a mom could ever hope for.
Shea who has taught me so much about patience and kindness and hope and acceptance.
Thanks goes to my generous parents who are an active part in their grandkids lives and are always up for an overnighter.
I am thankful for my brother and his beautiful, warm and gracious new family.
A give particular thanks for my dear friends on this sparkly rock in the middle of the sound. My live is rich with talk and ideas and laughter and love.
And, I am thankful for this sparkly rock itself! Somehow we managed to find the best place in the world for us.
I am thankful for my readers and the friends I have made through my blogs. I am thankful that I have found such a healthy, creative way to share some of life's quandaries. And, for all you great folks who actually read it. Bless your hearts!
Finally, this year I am thankful for our new pussy cat, Lulu, who has melted the crunchy exterior of our hearts and leaves only the ooy-gooy center with her crazy antics, purring snuggles and obliviousness about how hard to bite or whether that tea cup with tip or not.
I guess I am a pretty simple person. It doesn't seem like all that much now that I write it all out but I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
Hope your holiday is warm and wonderful with friends and family.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Hmm…telling adult woman NOT to do preventative screenings? What is wrong with this picture?
After the news hit, there has been quite an uproar. Woman everywhere are say, "This doesn't add up!"
Those screenings through your 40s can be baseline information for anything that pops up in your 50s. Mammograms are still one of the best early detection tool for breast cancer.
And just today I read from ABC news, that women have been getting too many pap smears too? Why?
Because they are just so darn fun? I don’t think you need to be a woman to detect my sarcasm on this subject. Pelvic exams are one of the most invasion, annoying and embarrassing procedure to get done. Yet, woman who take their preventative health seriously get them done, year after year.
So why the big change? Good question but I doubt if we will get a cogent answer from on high very soon.
Call me a flaming skeptic but does this have anything to do with the contentious health care reform debate bubbling forth all over the country?
Is this a way for the insurance companies to not cover preventative screenings? Yes, to me at least, it looks like it is.
So, to be clear - I am not a doctor and I am also not a lobbyist for the health care industry. I am a 45 year old woman who has been having mammograms on a yearly basis since I turned 40. And, I will keep on doing it even if those extortionist insurance “providers” won’t cover it!
Call me a skeptic but I don't think I trust my long -term health (or anyone else's for that matter) to the obvious monetary dictates of the insurance industry.
What do you think?
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
For the record, I thought he did an okay job but the threat is a little annoying and predictable.
What do you think?
Misconceptions abound about grinding
I am a 17-year-old senior at Vashon High School and have followed the discussion in The Beachcomber in regards to “grinding.” I have found some of the arguments made to be inaccurate and even offensive.
There seems to be a widespread misconception among adults on the Island that grinding is completely about sex and nothing else. However, when asked if they’d ever felt that their dancing partner’s actions towards them were disturbing or unwelcome, only 16 out of 359 who responded to a survey I issued at school on Monday said yes.
Most dancing partners at VHS are either dating or are friends and have agreed to dance with each other. It’s seen as inappropriate for a guy to simply walk up and start grinding on a girl. This week’s survey revealed that the students who are uncomfortable with it are by far the exception rather than the rule.
There’s no denying the fact that there are some students who choose not to participate. I didn’t even go to dances during my freshman year, but over time I gained the confidence to join in. Grinding is the chosen dance style of our generation, which explains why 70 percent of VHS students surveyed said they would not support a ban on the dance.
This is a common issue among high schools in the United States, with parents concerned about the alleged sexual nature of grinding. At Sequim High School, a new edict called the “face-to-face-and-leave-some-space” rule is being enforced, and dance attendance has plummeted. Their student body is over 1,000 strong, more than twice the size of VHS. Even with that many kids to draw from, they only sold 190 tickets to a recent dance.
At VHS, a similar drop would equate to the sale of around 80 tickets. Besides the fact that most kids just have a lot more fun at well-attended dances, these events are some of the biggest moneymakers for our student leadership cabinet. Programs would suffer if dance attendance fell so dramatically.
Referring to grinding as dry humping and clothed sex is a gross jump to a wrong conclusion. Similar objections were raised in the 60s and 70s because of dances like the Twist that involve little to no physical contact. Attempted parental control of those dances was unsuccessful and only resulted in kids seeking alternative opportunities to dance the way that they liked. When surveyed as to whether or not grinding was offensive or inappropriate, only 22 out of 359 students surveyed responded in the positive.
Some of us at VHS thought that the meeting Sunday at the elementary school to discuss grinding was meant as a good opportunity for the students to get in touch with the adults, and we were under the impression that a compromise was to be reached. But during the opening remarks, Superintendent Michael Soltman announced that “grinding is over.” Speaking for the students who attended, an absolute statement like that certainly didn’t set the stage to work out a deal.
A number of parents felt that grinding was an exclusive dance that left many students standing on the sidelines. For many VHS students, eliminating grinding will mean they no longer wish to attend the dance and will be effectively excluded. This seems hypocritical to me. I think that in this case, alternatives must be brought to the table in order to avoid a parting of ways between the student body and VHS-sanctioned dances.
— Eli Hoyt, a senior at Vashon High School, is active in student affairs.
Monday, November 16, 2009
It was the entire ASL alphabet with a bunch of signs for common words, a big thick heavy xeroxed thing that was psychologically weighty. She gave me 3 actually.
At the top were the words that Shea could say at the time:
Those were the days when he was basically a non-verbal 3 1/2 year old.
What a difference 2 years makes. Shea speaks full sentences now. Yes, slow and lilted with articulation issues, but FULL SENTENCES!!!!
Shea tells joke, not very funny ones but he does tell them.
He actually sings now and can sort of carry the tune of Happy birthday but he really likes to dance.
Shea tells his sister at the dinner table to "Be quiet. It is my turn to talk."
He asks his buddy, "Did you like the movie, Honon?"
Shea is trying hard to make his mouth work, I watch him focus on it. He wants to connect with the world in a verbal way and gain confidence. He isn't afraid to try.
When Shea only had a handful of words, I looked everywhere for some story and anecdote that would describe how kids with Apraxia progressed. What does 2, 3, 4 + years of therapy and working hard on speech do for a kid? The lack of prognosis drove me to distraction.
That is why I want to show other parents with kids with speech and language issues what is possible and there is always reason to hope. We may not see big jumps on a day to day basis but it all adds up. I have to remind myself of that every once in a while.
When Shea had only a handful of works, I would have kissed the feet of the person who could tell me that Shea would speak full sentences at 5 1/2.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Diana Harrison Biorkman (friend of a friend) has a 5yr. old son who is in the last stages of a 2 1/2 yr. battle with Neuroblastoma Cancer. The family is celebrating Christmas next week and Noah's request is to get lots of Christmas cards. If you have a moment could you send an extra Christmas card to:
1141 Fountian View Circle
South Lyon, MI 48178
Such a small and simple request that we can do for someone. If you know anyone else who might be willing to send Noah a card, please share his address. Wouldn't it be neat to receive so many well-wishes and Christmas greetings from around the US?
Tomorrow is a holiday but I am going to get one put together to mail on Thursday.
What do you say folk?
Can we surprise a brave little kid and give him his wish?
Check out the latest edition of Parenting Special Needs, a wonderful free on-line magazine! It includes a piece I wrote called, "Apraxia; when the words just won't come".
I wrote a blog post about the magazine some time back and have stayed in touch with how the magazine is doing. Apparently subscribers are up and the message is building.
So head on over and give them some love, and take a minute if you can to read my piece.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Apologies for gloating but for me finding a good GF recipe is reason to celebrate. And, if I happen to create one of my very own? Considering my usual lack of natural baking skills? Well, that is: time to celebrate - cubed.
I have managed to customize a pretty generic Pumpkin Bread recipe but first we need to address the pumpkin issue. I hear you saying, "Do I have a can of pumpkin handy?" NO! This will not do.
In a pinch, perhaps we can let is slide, but the fresh stuff is so much better. And, it isn't too hard once you figure out the best method. Trust me on this, I have tried a few different methods this season and will share only the successes.
Use sugar pumpkins or those old fashioned Cinderella pumpkins as they have a very high sugar count.
Slice in quarters, remove seeds and that stringy stuff. In large pot, place a streamer rack and a little water and stack the pumpkin pieces meat side down. Steam for a good 10 minutes or until the pumpkin meat is soft to a knife. Let cool.
Scoop out pumpkin (avoid the outer skin) meat into large saucepan. Add some water to the pumpkin meat and put a lid on it. It will continue to steam and break down into mush. Make sure it does not burn and keep adding liquid as needed. (I used the water that was left from the steaming as it was all orange and pumpkiny. Had to be good for something, right?)
When the pumpkin has broken down, use a potato masher to further smooth the mixture. Puree with immersion blender for very smooth consistancy. Let cool. Freezes well.
Now you are ready to bake!
Shelley's Garden Fresh Pumpkin Bread
2/3 cup rice/soy/hemp milk
2/3 cup apple sauce
1/3 Virgin Coconut oil, melted
4 eggs - I know it is a lot of eggs but it makes 2 loaves!
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cup GF All purpose flour
1 1/2 cup Brown Rice flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In mixing bowl combine apple sauce, milk, eggs and pumpkin. In separate bowl add dry ingredients. Pour melted Coconut oil into liquid and everything to dry ingredients. Mix well.
Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350F for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Tooth pick should come out clean. Let them cool a bit before trying to get them out of the pan.
I was shocked at the light and fluffiness of this bread. More like cake really. I guess it must be all the eggs but it does not have any of the weird heavy, denseness of the usually GF baked goods.
We are quickly eating one loaf but I wrap the 2nd in a good foil envelope and pop it in the freezer. Freezes well then thaw at room temp.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Different people can see the same thing and get something very different.
Autism Speaks, an advocacy group promoting the research for a cure, released a video for a World Focus on Autism event that coincided with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in September. The video is called "I am Autism" and has raised concerns in the autism community.
The video as written by Grammy-nominated songwriter Billy Mann and directed by Academy Award–winning director Alfonso Cuarón who both have children with autism. The video shows a series of images of children with autism, accompanied by an ominous voice-over: "I am Autism ... I know where you live ... I live there too ... I work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined ... And if you are happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails."
The tone of the video has added strain to an already touchy relationship between many adult with high functioning autism and the largest autism advocacy group.
According to a recent Time article, some autistic "self advocates" are furious over the tone of the video. "We don't want to be portrayed as burdens or objects of fear and pity," insists Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, a 15-chapter group he built while attending college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "Apparently, should my parents divorce, it's all my fault," says Ne'eman, who received a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism, at age 12.
Ne'eman's group has organized protest rallies around the country. These advocates argue that if Autism Speaks had more people with ASD on its board, its messages would be more sensitive to the individuals it seeks to help, and it might also devote more resources to improving services to people with autism now — as opposed to basic research and genetic studies that may not pay off for years.
"Groups like Autism Speaks choose to use fear and stigma to raise money, but very little is going toward services, research into improved educational methodologies and things that have a practical impact on our lives," Ne'eman charges. He notes that other disability groups have moved away from using fear and pity in their media campaigns.
Peter Bell, executive vice president of Autism Speaks, said the video got plenty of positive responses from the autism community. "But we realized it did hurt a certain segment of the population, which is why we removed the video link from our website," he said.
The video, Bell said in an interview, is a personal expression by Mann and Cuarón, each of whom has a young child with autism. "They are at that stage of life where they are grieving and unsure what the future holds," he said.
Bell admitted that Autism Speaks does not have any individuals with autism currently serving on its board. "We are looking at adding individuals with autism to various advisory committees," he said. The group is also initiating a better outreach to adults with autism.
It is obvious that both sides are really working toward the same thing; working to raise awareness and assure help for all people with autism. In future let's hope their good efforts can be combined.
What do you think? Did the video go too far?
What about these spoofs? Did they go too far?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Marie Myung-Ok Lee's 9-year-old son was so violent, aggressive and destructive that she describes it only as the "dark time". He would repeatedly scratch himself bloody and was continuously covered in scabs and wounds. The school was logging up to 300 aggressive episodes a day with teachers wearing protective padding on a regular basis just to deal with his violent tantrums. It had gotten so bad that the school was pushing hard for here to medicate him with a pharmaceutical, such as Risperdal, to calm him down.
Last year, Risperdal was prescribed for more than 389,000 children—240,000 of them under the age of 12—for bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, and other disorders. Yet the drug has never been tested for long-term safety in children and carries a severe warning of side effects.
From 2000 to 2004, 45 pediatric deaths were attributed to Risperdal and five other popular drugs also classified as “atypical antipsychotics,” according to a review of FDA data by USA Today.
Disturbed by the reality of Risperdal, she decided to try something else. With the blessings of her doctor, she applied for and got a medical marijuana license and began to provide marijuana to her son and has been able to see and document the life changing difference.
She baked cookies and made a weak infused tea and has worked hard to find an appropriate dosage and way to administer that worked the best. But the direct evidence for her is how her son is reacting to the new treatment.
"Since we started him on his "special tea," J’s little face, which is sometimes a mask of pain, has softened. He smiles more. For the last year, his individual education plan at his special-needs school was full of blanks, recording “no progress” because he spent his whole day an irritated, frustrated mess. Now, April’s report shows real progress, including “two community outings with the absence of aggressions.”
An eloquent writer, Lee teaches at Brown University and is the author of the novel Somebody's Daughter, and is a winner of the Richard Margolis award for social justice reporting. She has been bravely writing about her first hand experience with this treatment and generously shares them here and here.
Her experience brings up some good questions for our "war on drugs" society. Why is it ok to pump pill after pill into our kids? And more pills to deal with side effects? We don't even really know what the long term side effects are going to be. Yet a mild natural herb is still taboo?
I am not saying every parent should try this for their child with autism but clearly Lee has found something that has helped her son. My hat goes off to her and to all warrior parents who try again and again to find something that will bring some relief for their child.