Monday, April 25, 2011

Down Syndrome: What We All Should Know, And What We All Can Learn.

From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down SyndromeFrom Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome by Margaret Bender
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fall in Love with Alex . . . AND Gary
I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this book, From Grief to Celebration: How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome. It is extraordinarily well written from the heart of a mother with three children, including one who happens to have an extra chromosome.

The child--who is actually now a young woman--is named Alex. And through the pages of this book you'll fall in love with her. But I think even more, you'll fall in love with the author, Margaret "Gary" Bender. In these pages, Gary bares her soul. She shares every painful, joyful and revolutionary moment of her experience as a parent, and she does so not only out of love for Alex--and her family--but also out of what appears to be a need to advocate for all parents who have children with special needs.

This book must be added to the bibliography Gary provides in the chapter titled "Research," which includes a list of books she sought and read when Alex was born in 1993. If you indeed have a baby with Down syndrome, please put Gary's book at the top of your list. You will learn many things, but you will especially know that you are not alone; you will learn how to advocate; and you will learn to embrace and celebrate your child/situation. And as any parent will tell you, just like kids without special needs, our babies grow up very quickly. You will learn your Down syndrome child might not do everything like walk and talk and potty train according to what you thought was normal, but she/he will learn. And she/he will also teach YOU things you never imagined.

What makes this book additionally noteworthy for parents with and without children of special needs, is that Gary allows us to see how universal the experience of parenting truly is. In other words, I found Gary to be not only an advocate for parents of children with Down syndrome; but also, she helps us recognize and remember the individual needs of all children. In a particularly moving segment of the book, she shares the feelings of Alex's sister and brother. Her sister's college essay is well written and very poignant.

The book--a quick read--is organized according to a list of verbs that Gary believes has defined their experience. As the title suggests, the verbs begin with "Grief" and culminate in "Celebration." The verbs she uses numbered from 1-10, plus the bonus, are relatable to parenting and, frankly, life in general. I give this book my highest recommendation.

View all my reviews

Chemtrail Monday

On this Easter Monday morning, the Chemtrails have risen. They have risen indeed.

I don’t know what they’re spraying out of the back of those little, white planes but they’ve turned our perfectly blue, spring desert sky into a plaid pattern of cottony-white clouds. The effect these clouds have on the weather can’t be attributed to God, nor can Mother Nature take credit for flying those planes.

Who is?

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Chemtrails, but it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve seen them THIS close to my house and they practically screamed out to be documented. Regardless of whether or not you think there’s some kind of government conspiracy to spray the population with harmful chemicals, or that these planes are flown by aliens writing messages with their plaid patterns, or there’s a villain (ala Batman comics) trying to change the weather, you can’t help but notice them. And I, for one, can’t help but question why they’re there.

NOTE: These are NOT typical “contrails”—or condensation trails—the rapidly disappearing “jet streams” that we see shooting out of passenger planes at high altitudes with extremely cold temperatures. There’s a distinct difference. These trails, known as CHEMtrails, (“chem” suggesting they consist of chemicals such as barium), and they do not disappear. On the contrary, they linger for hours and eventually turn into low-level cirrus clouds. If you read anything about barium toxicity in the atmosphere and its harmful consequences on mammalian systems, it’s enough to give you a headache.

I took the top photo while standing in my backyard at 8:20 this morning. The photo below, taken an hour later from the same spot, shows how the trails linger, spread, and to the unsuspecting viewer, ultimately resemble simple cirrus clouds.

There are many people across the world questioning Chemtrails and studying their toxicity—and just as many debunking these questioners as alarmists and freaks.  But I believe there are far many more people who not only don’t notice that these trails are regularly in the skies above us, but also don’t think they’re important enough to question.

I think it’s time to take notice, ask questions and GET SOME ANSWERS.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Lilies: "They tasted of hope and life."

An Excerpt From The Novel "Irish Twins" For You on this Easter Sunday.

“I took my mother’s outstretched hand and we moved through the wall of windows and across the expanse of lawn toward the long, narrow pier reaching out to the waters of Mitten Lake. Behind us, my father and my sister stood on the deck and waved. We passed the plot of rich soil where I first saw my father toiling with a small spade in his hand, digging holes and planting bulbs. As we drifted by, one-by-one, white, trumpet-shaped lilies shot up. Their sweet fragrance permeated the air.

I filled myself with their beauty. They tasted of hope and of life. “Michael brought me lilies just like those every Easter Sunday.”

Irish Twins, Chapter 20, page 235

He is Risen. He is Risen indeed. 
Happy Easter to all.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Real Soccer Moms

“Soccer moms drive minivans . . . but this girl drives a Bentley.”
—Peggy Tanous from the Real Housewives of Orange County, BRAVO TV.

Peggy Tanous, you can kiss my sweet, round soccer ball-shaped ass.

What I mean to say is good for you and your new role as a “Bravolebrity” on BRAVO TV’s Real Housewives of Orange County. I hope you have a lot of fun, make a lot of new friends and have many opportunities to support your darling little daughters. But please, do us ALL a favor—particularly the REAL soccer moms who might tune in to watch you every once in a while—stick to what you know: Namely, your fake blonde hair, your fake big boobs, your babies’ modeling careers, your bullets, your bling, and, of course, your Bentley.

Bravo has cast you as a real housewife and you are a good fit for your region not only due to all of the above, but also because in a series that spans across the country—focusing on Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, etc.—you’re one of the few women who actually is a housewife!

The Housewives series has become very popular and many dub the shows a “guilty pleasure.” For me, they’ve been mildly entertaining in the mindless television department that helps put me to sleep at night, and I’ve found that even though I can’t stand most of the women on these shows, I actually like some of them very much. Heck, if they want to put their lives out there for all of us to see and judge, like them or not, you have to admit these women have guts. And I really like that Andy Cohen guy, who regularly interviews all of the housewives on his series, Watch What Happens Live. He tries to make sense of their antics and pokes fun at the same time. Talk about having guts!

Ultimately, I feel many of us watch shows on TV, reality or otherwise, not only to be entertained but also to feel some kind of empathy. We want to relate and, perhaps justify or learn about things going on in our own lives. It occasionally happens for me when watching the housewives, but a lot of it is about competition, gossip, fighting, and bullshit behavior more suited to middle-school girls than middle-aged housewives. So, I mostly sit back in judgment and thank God for my “normal life.”

In my normal life, I am a soccer mom. So this is why this Peggy chick from O.C. struck a nerve from the first minute I heard her make a seemingly derogatory comment about soccer moms. (You can hear her say it too as it’s her defining statement each week in the show’s opening segment).

Listen up Peggy, while you’re freaking out over your daughter’s miniscule cut from a plastic sandwich container and rushing her to the emergency room, each year 220,000 real SOCCER MOMs are dealing with their daughters’ ACL injuries, and facing reconstruction surgery and months of rehab. I happen to be one of them. And I, for one, would appreciate it if you didn’t make sweeping generalizations about ANYTHING having to do with who we are or what we do.

And one more thing, bitch . . . FYI: I don’t drive a minivan. I drive a BENZ.

Bookmark and Share