Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My first Freebie!

I made my first "element" for digi scrapping! Granted, not all of you will be able to use it. This is for all of us twins moms, or moms of multiples out there :) It's word art, the poem I used in the previous lo. Simple and pretty basic, but, I'm quite proud of it! I'll post a preview, and a link where you can download it if you like. Now I'm off to pick the twins up from school!



You can click here to download it.

Just HAD to share!

Ok, so I just finished this one and I HAD to share it! This was for 2 challenges on SBB, the font challenge and the newbie challenge. So, I killed 2 birds with 1 stone :) Here ya go:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I finally figured it out!

Well, I have finally decided what this blog will be for! More than random musings, I'll now post my scrappin' layouts and when I get around to making freebies, those too. I am so excited to do this! I knew this blog would come in handy, LOL. So, for now, here are my first 2 layouts (lovingly referred to from now on as LO). Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me how you think they are.... be brutally honest. But, remember that these are my first. I do hope they'll get better, lol.




Sunday, March 26, 2006

April is Autism Awareness Month

This was posted by a friend of mine, whose twins daugthers have ASD. I am hapy to pass it along and share this wonderful article to all of you. Thank you, Susan, for sharing it with me.


April is Autism Awareness month. Unlike cancer or diabetes which can kill, autism does not shorten the affected person's life span (mercifully). Because my beautiful and awesome little girls have this disorder and because I think they are wonderful and dazzlingly unique creatures perfectly designed by God, I have always struggled with the language around the disorder. "Cure Autsim Now!" etc. When I see my girls or their affected peers, I find myself thinking, "Cure them of what? What needs to be cured?" At times I have thought that the world needs to be cured for how negatively and dispassionately they view autism and the people who have the disorder. At any rate, I understand that rallying behind acceptance would not generate nearly the interest or funds for research that looking for a cure does so I have no beef with the use of the term, nor am I offended by it. But there are adults with the disorder who are very, very offended and I can see their point. What if being brunette was an anomaly and the world was always rallying to "cure brown-headedness." If you were a brunette, and managed to live a satisfying life as such, that would sting and probably ruffle your beautiful russet tresses. Do ya'll see where I am going with this? I want to share this essay. It was a speech given by Estee Klar at a NAAR rally recently. I think she sums it up beautifully.

Quote:"The Economy of Pity

My background is unique in discussing the economy of pity. I began my circuitous career as a curator of art, later a director of a large event, then a corporate fundraiser and marketer for two major health charities. I also summized that art made me an effective beggar of money (not many love to fund art, to my chagrin). After Adam was diagnosed with autism and NAAR came to Toronto, and coming from Jewish family entrenched in the Hebrew ideal of tzedakah (helping those in need), it seemed natural for me to raise money for the cause that was dear to my heart: autism. At the NAAR Kick-Off Luncheon, I was asked to speak about autism. I sat and waited for my turn as Corporate Chair, becoming agitated already with what I was hearing. I was listening to leaders talk about how they "lost" their child, how devastating it was for them, poems elicting a tremendous amount of pathos from the audience. In my speech I instead spoke about research to help us understand our children with autism better. I did not talk about cures – I spoke about awareness. It was my hope that others would share the same optimism. I quoted Paul Collins:

"Autists are described by others - and by themselves - as aliens among humans. But there's an irony to this, for precisely the opposite is true. They are us, and to understand them is to begin what it means to be human. Think of it: a disability is usually defined in terms of what is missing. A child tugs at his or her parents and whispers, "Where's that man's arm?" But autism is an ability and a disability; it is as much about what is abundant as what is missing, an overexpression of the very traits that make our species unique. Other animals are social, but only humans are capable of abstract logic. The autistic outhuman the humans, and we can scarcely recognize the result." -- Paul Collins, Not Even Wrong.

I was approached afterward by educators and parents, who said they thought my speech was the best. While I am a very good speaker, I considered that my words about acceptance was the source inspiration as opposed to those mothers weeping at the "loss" of their children. It didn't take long - a meeting with Glenn Tringali, a phone call with Alycia Halladay, appealed for my continued support to sit as Chair of NAAR. I remember sitting at The Four Season's Hotel with Mr. Tringali, saying that if I joined, my mandate would be to raise awarness - the brand that I was selling. I addressed a consideration when Dr. Buxbaum made a quote about being able to prenatally test for autism, and to what end. A snarky email later, addressed to me by Joseph Buxbaum, and no return call from NAAR agreeing to my wish, I quickly realized that NAAR's marketing appeals are not acceptable, if in fact inflexible. This is not to say I haven't met scientific researchers funded by NAAR who are themselves questioning the marketing and the research, and in order to protect them I will not reveal their names. Believe it or not, there are scientists out there who have come to the same conclusion that I am revealing here. Similar to the difficulty of pulling away from ABA to try other methods of teaching Adam, leaving the gods of research initially made me uneasy. Afterall, what might the research tell us? Who was I, not scientific in the least, to question the gods? Once looking carefully at the bulk of research, I realized that it will go on with or without my support. It doesn't need me. There are people who will find the genes, who will sell the pills, who will abort the fetus. The only thing I can keep doing, we can keep doing, is to keep talking. Give speeches, make exhibitions, run media campaigns. Did you know that eighty per cent of fetus' with Down Syndrome are aborted? Isn't that number shocking? I think of little B running down the hall of Adam's integrated nursery school, a huge smile on her face, living life to its fullest and wondering what is wrong with my wiring that I've missed out her type of joy. Having children who re "different" is an unexpected experience, a positive one, and I keep trying to figure out how to impart a message of experience to others who have never had the challenge, and ergo, the ultimate benefit of one.

NAAR recently posted a book about accepting autism on their website. While it's an attempt, I still appeal to them to change their fundamental error - to suggest that autism requires a cure at the utter dismay and disagreement of those with autism. I've asked NAAR to consider giving me an opportunity to voice these concerns, to change their semantics, and to conduct research only directed by autistic persons and to keep one ultimate goal in mind - the acceptance of and quality of life for families with autism as they are. Change, if it happens at all, will be slow. Now partnered with Autism Speaks, NAAR has an annual budget in excess of $30 million, with CIBC World Markets in the US trying to raise more "miracles," and Home Depot is doing their part donating $25 million to the cause.

I certainly can't offer a matching grant of that amount to get NAAR to listen to me, but I am a parent who "can speak up for my child," and do so by listening to others with autism as well. I can't compete on the same playing field with cause-marketing thrusts to make companies appeal, with their good intentions, to customers. What I suggest companies are missing is a due-diligence. Do they know what brand of pity they're paying for? In War Against the Weak, Edwin Black writes about the first three decades of the 20th century when American corporate philanthropy "combined with prestigious academic fraud" created the pseudeoscience of eugenics that "institutionalized race politics as national policy. The goal: create a superior, white, Nordic race and obliterate the viability of everyone else….How? By identifying so-called 'defective' family trees and subjecting them to legislated segregation and sterilization programs. The victims: poor people, brown-haired white people, African Americans, immigrants, Indians, Eastern European Jews, the infirm and really anyone classified outside the superior genetic lines drawn up by American raceologists." We always have to ask ourselves what is the end to this means of genetic research. Must we simply accept the good with the bad in the name of progress? War Against the Weak By Edwin Black discusses how American corporate philanthropies launched a national campaign of ethnic cleansing in the US.

It seems to me, after having made hundreds of solicitations to corporations myself over the years, that no one thinks twice about the brand of pity they disperse. Pity is one and the same and it just makes us plain good. There is little discrimination going on the world about who is soliciting for what. So long as the message is filled with a little bit of logos and a whole barrel of pathos, the cause is whitewashed under the guise of "doing good." It is a problem with altruism, actually. This is how Nietzsche felt about so-called 'benevolence':

Is it virtuous when a cell transforms into the function of a stronger cell? It must do so. And is it wicked when the stronger one assimilates the other? It must do so likewise: it is necessary, for it has to have abundant indemnity and seeks to regenerate itself. One has therefore to distinguish the instinct of submission in benevolence, according as the stronger or the weaker feels benevolent. Gladness and covetousness are united in the stronger person, who wants to transform something to his function: gladness and desire-to-be-coveted in the weaker person, who would like to become a function. The former case is essentially pity, a pleasant excitation of the instinct of appropriation at the sight of the weak: it is to be remembered, however, that "strong" and "weak" are relative conceptions."

Therefore, the whole idea of charity segregates people into strong and weak and forever keeps the "weaker" members of society at a disadvantage, serving only to marginalize them. On the other hand, where would the Stephen Hawkings of the world be without the help, the selfless behaviour, of others? Love from his caregivers was what kept him alive, and archeological digs have revealed the remains of people who evidently lived for long periods of time being crippled.

I will posit here, in this initial draft, that Autism is the one "disability" that may change the course of philanthropic history, that may be able to jolt citizens into giving with knowledge as well as with heart. Autism is neither a race nor a disability, it is a way of being. It may even be viewed as a course of human evolution, and most illustrative of all human difference. On the surface, it appears alien, and from within people with autism maintain huge capability and intellect, often able to communicate themselves through alternative means, if presumed competent, if given the chance, much like Stephen Hawking. Organizations that seek to fund this "difficult and mysterious disorder," to "cure it," as a war waged against the autistic population, instead of listening to them, may become baffled at the ability of autism, despite its superficial dysfunctions. It is finding itself at an intellectual and philosophical divide with those they are seeking to cure. Parents are baffled, or angry. Afterall, aren't they just good people trying to help others? Shouldn't parents who struggle day in and day out, whose expectations have been taken from them, have pity bestowed upon them?

I say no. I say that as difficult as it is for many families, who experience a "spectrum" of challenges, this is life's test. "The best thing about the future," said Abraham Lincoln, "is that it comes one day at a time." We have time to reframe our expectations and to find joy in autism.

Corporations, innocent and unknowing of this divide and the abilities of those with autism are giving money - perhaps one day to find themselves confronted with violations against human rights. I don't think they are prepared. People with influence (those in control of the media), appear shiny and credible in the eyes of fellow CEO's. Logos - the rational appeal of statistics and numbers manipulated for Pathos is the thrust of this economy. The most "underfunded disorder," "1:166 children affected," mixed with a little "epidemic" lingo is enough these days to convince a CEO to give. On top of that some media profile, signage and press releases for being a "responsible corporation" -- another rational and economically sound reason to give.

Autism requires donors to do their research. It requires others to talk to people with autism as the experts of it. It requires philanthropists to fully understand the motives of charities asking for money for the sake of a cure.

"Autism is finally speaking," says Suzanne Wright.

"Now the world will listen...Be loud, be brash, be emotional, be angry," added Bob Wright.

"Don't accept it," Ms. Wright continues.

Yes, Mr. And Mrs. Wright. Autism is speaking. But not through you. "

original source

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Courtesy of my husband, http://www.wx-man.com/blog/


As Spring Begins; is the weather really that Bizarre?

THE CALENDAR SAYS SPRINGS! BUT IS THE CURRENT WEATHER REALLY THAT BIZARRE?

Watch the cable news, go online to news sites and one of the top stories today is the snow and cold on the first full day of spring. Over a foot of snow fell in many parts of the Midwest into the Dakotas and up to 6 to 8 inches of snow are falling in parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio today. Here in Erie and most of Pennsylvania we are well below average and seeing some light snow ourselves. So, is this kind of weather really that BIZARRE for the first of Spring? No, no its not.First day of Spring is more Astronomical than Meteorological. Start of Spring, or the Vernal Equinox, is the point when the Sun rays are directly over the Equator and then begins to move north increasing the amount of daylight. With any start of a new season there is always a lag meteorologically. Winter Starts in Late December, but the coldest time of the year is January and February. Same with the rest of the seasons.Although we have had a fairly mild winter, many of us are ready for warm spring weather, and look forward to when spring starts and get annoyed when it stays cold longer than we want it to. Unfortunately around here we can still see snow into Early April and sometimes into May...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Crayons, snacks ... & HIV

Kindergartners will learn about virus come Monday

BY KATHLEEN LUCADAMODAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Along with the ABC's, kindergartners will now learn about HIV.

Beginning Monday, kindergartners in public schools will be told that HIV is a "germ" and "not easy to get."

The kids also will learn that HIV could lead to AIDS, which is hard to "get well" from, according to the city's new HIV/AIDS curriculum.

The changes are required by state law - but some parents and teachers fear kindergartners are too young to talk about the deadly disease.

"I don't think it is appropriate. It's scary for kids in kindergarten," said a Manhattan mom whose daughter attends kindergarten at Public School 166 on the upper West Side.
"How do you talk about AIDS without talking about sex and drugs?" she asked.
Elementary school teachers in all grades have been instructed to teach beginning next week from the updated lessons, which include a project that tells kindergartners to play "doctors" and discuss HIV.

Teachers won't mention that HIV is transmitted through sexual contact until students reach the fourth grade. At that time, teachers will provide little specifics, telling kids, "When you are older you will learn more."

Many parents got letters this week from their children's schools alerting them to the changes. Parents can opt their children out of the mandatory HIV discussion by writing a letter to the principal.

School officials said they have been required to teach students about HIV and AIDS for the past decade, but the specific language in the new lessons was created in December.

"The curriculum is absolutely developmentally appropriate and contains positive messages about staying healthy," said Education Department spokeswoman Kelly Devers.
Still, some elementary school teachers said they don't think students younger than 8 will understand what they are being told about the fatal virus.

"You can tell a second-grader there are different illnesses, colds and viruses, and they'll understand. But they don't understand the difference between cancer and HIV," said a fourth-grade teacher in Queens.

A third-grade teacher in Manhattan plans to ignore the new curriculum.
"They might understand to some extent," the teacher said. "But in kindergarten and first grade, it's impossible."

Originally published on March 17, 2006

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/story/400421p-339244c.html

Thursday, March 16, 2006

AFRICA'S NEW OCEANA

Something interesting I came across while checking in on one of my twins boards. I can't say where it came from, but the writer is credited. I must thank Susan for posting this on the board. This should be something very interesting to follow. I'll update when I hear more, if I hear more :)


AFRICA'S NEW OCEANA

Continent Splits Apart

By Axel Bojanowski

Normally new rivers, seas and mountains are born in slow motion. The Afar Triangle near the Horn of Africa is another story. A new ocean is forming there with staggering speed -- at least by geological standards. Africa will eventually lose its horn.

Geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues from Addis Ababa University were amazed -- and frightened. They had only just stepped out of their helicopter onto the desert plains of central Ethiopia when the ground began to shake under their feet. The pilot shouted for the scientists to get back to the helicopter. And then it happened: the Earth split open. Crevices began racing toward the researchers like a zipper opening up. After a few seconds, the ground stopped moving, and after they had recovered from their shock, Ayalew and his colleagues realized they had just witnessed history. For the first time ever, human beings were able to witness the first stages in the birth of an ocean.

Normally changes to our geological environment take place almost imperceptibly. A life time is too short to see rivers changing course, mountains rising skywards or valleys opening up. In north-eastern Africa's Afar Triangle, though, recent months have seen hundreds of crevices splitting the desert floor and the ground has slumped by as much as 100 meters (328 feet). At the same time, scientists have observed magma rising from deep below as it begins to form what will eventually become a basalt ocean floor. Geologically speaking, it won't be long until the Red Sea floods the region. The ocean that will then be born will split Africa apart.

The Afar Triangle, which cuts across Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, is the largest construction site on the planet. Three tectonic plates meet there with the African and Arabian plates drifting apart along two separate fault lines by one centimeter a year. A team of scientists working with Christophe Vigny of the Paris Laboratory of Geology reported on the phenomenon in a 2006 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. While the two plates move apart, the ground sinks to make room for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Bubbling magma and the smell of sulphur

A third crevice cuts south, splitting not far from Lake Victoria. One branch of the rift runs to the east, the other to the west of the lake. The two branches of this third crevice are moving apart by about one millimeter a year.

The dramatic event that Ayalew and his colleagues witnessed in the Afar Desert on Sept. 26, 2005 was the first visual proof of this process -- and it was followed by a week-long series of earthquakes. During the months that followed, hundreds of further crevices opened up in the ground, spreading across an area of 345 square miles. "The earth has not stopped moving since," geophysicist Tim Wright of the University of Oxford says. The ground is still splitting open and sinking, he says; small earthquakes are constantly shaking the region.

Scientists have made repeated trips to the area since the drama of last September. Locals have reported a number of new cracks opening in the ground, says geologist Cynthia Ebinger from the University of London, and during each visit, new crevices are discovered. Fumes as hot as 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit) shoot up from some of them; the sound of bubbling magma and the smell of sulphur rise from others. The larger crevices are dozens of meters deep and several hundred meters long. Traces of recent volcanic eruptions are also visible.

In a number of places, cracks have opened up beneath the thin layer of volcanic ash that covers the region. As there is no ash in the fissures, it's clear that they opened up after the volcanic eruptions, most of which took place at the end of September or in October, 2005. A number of locals who fled the eruptions have reported that a black cloud of ash -- spewed out of the Dabbahu volcano -- darkened the sky for three days.

A new ocean floor on the Earth's surface

Basalt magma has risen into some of the crevices. For the moment, Ayalew explains, the lava seems not to be rising further. A number of recent eruptions, though, have left layers of new basalt lava on the Earth's surface. And it's the exact same kind of lava that spews out of volcanic ridges deep under the ocean -- a process which slowly pushes older lava sediments away on either side. The process has only just begun in the Afar Triangle -- and scientists for the first time can witness the birth of a new ocean floor.

The source of the African magma looks to be a gigantic stream of molten rock rising from beneath the Earth's crust and slicing through the African continental plate like a blow torch. It's a process that began thirty million years ago when lava broke through the continent for the first time, separating the Arabian Peninsula from Africa and creating the Red Sea.

Now, it's the Afar Triangle's turn and it's sinking rapidly. Large areas are already more than 100 meters (328 feet) below sea level. For now, the highlands surrounding the Denakil Depression prevent the Red Sea from flooding these areas, but erosion and tectonic plate movement are continually reducing the height of this natural barrier. The Denakil Depression, which lies to the east of Afar, is already prey to regular floods -- each flood leaving behind a crust of salt.

Africa to lose its horn

The chain of volcanoes that runs along the roughly 6,000 kilometer (3,730 mile) long East African Rift System offers further testimony to the breaking apart of the continent. In some areas around the outer edges of the Rift System, the Earth's crust has already cracked open, making room for the magma below. From the Red Sea to Mozambique in the south, dozens of volcanoes have formed, the best known being Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Nyiragongo.

These fiery mountains too will one day sink into the sea. Geophysicists have calculated that in 10 million years the East African Rift System will be as large as the Red Sea. When that happens, Africa will lose its horn.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life in drive

Never slows down. If it's not one thing it's another. Can I stop? I'd like to have an out-of-body experience to be able to get a better grip on my life, kwim? Well, not literally. I'm not into the whole supernatural thing. Oh, sure, I believe in ghosts, just not things like that. I'm sure it can happen, but, I guess I'm a skeptic. Anyway, I digress.

Who coined the term stay-at-home-mom? Whoever it was must not realize that we really don't stay at home. 3 days a week, I'm running the twins to preschool and home again. In between, I'm working out and entertaining the baby. Then there's the laundry, the grocery shopping, cooking the meals, the library, playdates, errands, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, post office....you get the picture. I think we should re-coin the term SAHM to something more appropriate. I don't know what it should be yet, as this thought just occured to me. But it should be something to reflect that we don't really stay at home.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Well, here I am again

Turns out I don't actually have to know HTML to post on this blog, LOL. It will still be a way to teach myself. Eventually I'll get around to that. Someday, when I have hours to spend teaching myself. AS IF!

I've really gotten into blogging lately. I don't know what it is that draws me in, but it's something. Maybe it's the feeling of being technology "hip", if you will. Maybe it's the lure of being able to have one more thing to discuss with dh. Who knows.

Did you ever get the feeling that you're drowning in paperwork? And not the work kind. I have so many papers from the boys' school, I think they must harvest their own trees! Most of them go right into the recycle bag. At least the city has recycling! I don't feel so guilty throwing it all away!