Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe A Trip to Cincy Ain’t So Bad….

Looks Like A Nice Enough Town, Unless You Have To Go Play Soccer There!

Looks Like A Nice Enough Town, Unless You Have To Go Play Soccer There!

I’ve tried to remember the good advice my father once gave me that my children’s worries are as important to them as mine are to me.  This way I’m neither patronizing nor disengaged…my only real wish is that the boy could better communicate his concerns and worries on an ongoing basis.
But we get by on what we have, which is often less of a discussion than an eruption (as I am sure each of you have with your children?!?) when we decide we don’t like something and need to let Kim and I know the level of displeasure.

As you know, Demetrius isn’t really keen on playing soccer and when we told him he has a soccer tournament in Cincinnati in a couple of weeks he belts, “I Hate Soccer!  I Hate Cincinnati!”

Kim and I kinda predicted this would happen, so we pull out our Ace of Spades and throw it right down on the table, only after playing a little cat-and-mouse.

Daddy: “Demetrius, what do you know about Cincinnati?”

Demetrius: “I hate it!”

I explained to him that it wasn’t a thing or person, but a town, but this made him even angrier.

Demetrius: “I don’t want to go there, it will hurt my brain!”

Daddy: “Okay, but we won’t stay at the Embassy Suites afterwards if we don’t go to Cincinnati.”


Maya: “Do they have an indoor pool?”

Daddy: “Yes.”

Demetrius: “Do they have a game room?”

Daddy: “Yes.”

Maya: “Do they have free Sprite?”

Daddy: “Yes.”

Maya: “And we get to sleep on a pullout couch?”

Daddy: “Yes.”

Maya gets up and does a jig.  Demetrius still ponders, but isn’t really worked up any more.

Demetrius: “Does the room have a DVD player?”

Daddy: (I spin an answer, quickly) “Probably not, but they’ll have Cable or On Demand, I’m sure.”

Sold!  Both soccer and Cincinnati received the Demetrius and Maya stamps of approval!

Well, Cincinnati does, soccer is still up for consideration….

Posted by Jerry in 19:00:02 | Permalink | Comments Off

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Photos For S&#(s and Giggles

Posted by Jerry in 21:20:22 | Permalink | Comments Off

Saturday Change Of Plans

We decided this weekend that we’d turn Mommy loose for that antiquing day (you know, the one she didn’t get due to the fish) and the kids and I made big plans: breakfast out, walk around the the arboretum with Buddy, Chuck-E-Cheese…you know, big plans. Well, one down and two to go…maybe.

Once we got back from Magees Kim pointed out that the Volvo has a flat tire.

Great.  So I’m banging away at the keyboard while the kids moan about maybe not going to Chuck-E-Cheese as we wait for Triple A, and I tell them – its not you that suffers, it is Buddy not getting to go to the arboretum.  He’ll just have to do a regular around the neighborhood walk/bike ride.  Riding bikes? Not bad, but really, lets get down to it. We are still going to Chuck-E-Cheese, right?

Drive on that spare Dad, priorities. :-)

Posted by Jerry in 15:12:43 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nervous Energy

Tonight the kids had an ‘open house-PTA-cookout’ at the school, where we could come and find out how to get involved and the kids could run around and act like monkeys.  Though at about 4pm, Kim calls me and tells me the kids are acting out – Maya had been sent up to her room and Demetrius was pretty much on his way.

The long and short of it all is this is the first full week of school (Mon -Fri) and the kids are tired, they don’t have any friends of the sort yet where they can just drop their backpack and run to play at so-and-so’s house, and other nervous energy/I just moved/angst and apprehension fears (ex: Maya wants a little girl to come to our house and play, but she won’t go to her house to play because she scared of not knowing the parents or the neighborhood, etc…).  The pandora’s box kind of just opened up this afternoon and tonight.

I watched them run around the playground as the cookout was obviously outside, they didn’t really socialize with any kids that I could tell (I kind of expect to herd cats with Demetrius, but Maya’s shyness is a bit surprising for both Kim and I), but they played hard. That in itself is a good sign, it is only a matter of time before Maya finds another wild one to run around with, and Demetrius did attempt to talk to a few kids, but he was just more interested in being able to run at will (he did at one point join another group of boys who all took their shirts off.  Why, I don’t know, but a gaggle of us parents swooped in to put an end to that!).

The patience part of finding a new friend(s) is the hard part, but by this time come next May, I would expect the playground scenario to be a bit different, as they make a few friends and the energy they have won’t have to be spent because of fear of the unknown, rather, it will be spent having a blast with some good, ‘relatively new’, friends.

Posted by Jerry in 02:12:22 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lexington Blue Thunder!!!!

Below is the kind of email I really like getting.  Read here about this program that Super D is in (I do  hope he likes it!).


Hello TOPSoccer families!

We hope you are as excited as we are about our first official practice this Sunday! We will be sending you more detailed information this week about our TOPSoccer fall season, but in the meantime wanted to remind you about this Sunday’s practice.

Where: Masterson Station Park Soccer Complex, Field #3 (next to concession stand)
Map to fields:
Date: Sunday, August 30th
Time: 2:00pm to approximately 3:30pm

What to bring: Each athlete should have on shin guards and bring water. Soccer cleats are desirable, but not mandatory.  We will have plenty of extra water.  (and don’t forget your lawn chairs for the parents to relax on the sidelines!)

At this first practice, players will meet their buddies, coaches and teammates.  We will be dividing into teams and the players will participate in the very first practice of the Lexington Blue Thunder!!!

We are all excited to be working with your children and teaching them the “beautiful game.”  Thank you for giving us this opportunity!

See you out on the pitch!
Jessie, Jason, Lindsay, Rod & Robbie
LYSA TOPSoccer Coaches

Posted by Jerry in 19:16:50 | Permalink | Comments Off

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to successfully get little girls to pet you, by Buddy Grasso

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Maybe I’m starting to get it?

I spent the past few days in Seattle; I attended a social media conference that a few years ago was fantastic.   This year, not so much.  I think the ‘what’s next’ for social media is unclear, and it is ill defined how to talk about the future.
It seemed most of the discussions were around the individual contributor and how he/she is impacting the Web in some sort of  ‘hyper’ format, and that impact was a wide ranging discussion from raising awareness of causes, to philanthropy, to trying to duplicate what I’ll call ‘virality’ of a the small Web site or personality.  I was hoping to hear and find best practices about what’s working to grow that awareness from a business point-of-view.  One of the viral discussion dived into a talk, literally, about how the numbers for a site jumped off the page when you record yourself farting naked on video.

Yea, this isn’t a strategy that we’ll be undertaking at the office.

So I think this proved a theory I’ve been swilling in my brain that we are at an inflection point that is moving beyond the emergence of social media. There really isn’t the fundamental need to listen to the self-made social media experts, regardless of genre anymore and how they are innovating – this is all now too well known and understood.  What’s now needed for the business community is a best practices on using these tools and applications to move all these small niche audiences.  The ‘how to’ is known but the measurement of moving the needle is less so, and can it be done holistically to improve aspects of a company’s brand or customer satisfaction?  A conference like that is where I now need to go to learn. The take away is I think, still, is I was lucky to be at this show to have this epiphany. You have to be in the moment to see the shift, don’t you? Of course, the shift is pretty clear when one of the presenters is discussing growing your passion about knitting online.

She has a huge following in a very small niche, and presenting in genres of knitting makes sense, but again, can she be juxtaposed with someone from a Fortune 1000 company using her strategy on a mass scale, and can that presenter match the knitter’s success? That’s what I was hoping to hear and discuss.

Ah well.  We have another show upcoming other employees are attending, maybe they’ll find a bit of what I’m seeking and report back on it.

While I was disappointed professionally, I was fulfilled personally, as I reconnected with a number of good friends from our years out in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve seen these friends on and off over the past few years (as getting to Seattle is not an easy trip to regularly make) and I’ve met their kids, but most have not met mine (not since Demetrius was literally ‘months’ old), and none have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Maya.  Last night I had dinner and I watched their kids run and play, and I watched my friends’ ‘parent’.  What a hoot.  It was a dramatic shift for me as I have been around them a lot since their pride-and-joys have entered the world.  That said, you see which child works which parent, and the tone of voice that is subtly used with the apple of one’s eye.  It’s fun to see that I’m not the only one wrapped by their child.

Even though we stay in touch, it is hard for me not to fall to the frame of mind that we are all still 29 years old, taking on the world, enthused about what’s next, and drinking wine until 1am.  That’s when we left, just after we turned 30 and Kim was expecting Super D.  So when I see these friends, this is often where they are in my mind’s eye.  And I know better, but is still a juxtaposition when the 40 year old discussions take place, talking about job security and fulfillment, time management between work and family, concerns about public versus private education, etc…  These little worries do hide behind the smiles, chuckles and gentle barbs in the catching up conversations.

I wouldn’t say anyone isn’t happy or disillusioned.  It is just so obvious that the definition of happy is different.  Mostly, a job is a job, the literal and figurative big trips in life have been taken at some level, and the next ones for each of us, lets face it, involve the little voices and their discoveries – but right now that big discovery probably needs to get to bed or he/she’ll be really grumpy tomorrow.  So we need to wrap up by 9:30 because we’ll be up at 6am.  So much for discussions over claret and pinot noir at 1am, eh? Another inflection point, no?
So I laid in bed in my hotel room, feeling the red wine that I drank a sip or two too many of, lining up a week of inflection points, I’m perplexed about the maturation of social media professionally and soaking in the maturation of my life and my friends lives personally – all in the course of a week.

Heavy stuff, then I said, “What the hell Jerry, you have a 6am flight, be deep some other time.” So I turned off and thought about what a great friggin’ movie Inglorious Basterds was.

Posted by Jerry in 21:38:21 | Permalink | Comments Off

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Well, it works for us

Gluten free really works for us, we hear it all the time. Click here for a gluten-free story.

Posted by Jerry in 18:11:48 | Permalink | Comments Off

Support Dogs?

Schools fight families over autism service dogs

CHICAGO – Like seeing-eye dogs for the blind, trained dogs are now being used to help autistic children deal with their disabilities. But some schools want to keep the animals out, and families are fighting back.

Two autistic elementary school students recently won court orders in Illinois allowing their dogs to accompany them to school. Their lawsuits follow others in California and Pennsylvania over schools’ refusal to allow dogs that parents say calm their children, ease transitions and even keep the kids from running into traffic.

At issue is whether the dogs are true “service dogs” — essential to managing a disability — or simply companions that provide comfort.

School districts say they are not discriminating, just drawing the line to protect the safety and health of other students who may be allergic or scared of dogs.

“The school district has 650 students, not just one. So we have to balance,” said Brandon Wright, attorney for the Villa Grove district in central Illinois, which objected to 6-year-old Kaleb Drew’s plan to bring his yellow Labrador retriever, Chewey, to school.

Kaleb’s family won a judge’s order in July allowing the dog to come to class until a trial, set to start Nov. 10. That means when Kaleb starts his first full day of first grade Monday, Chewey will be by his side.

Service dogs have long been used by the blind, but training them to help those with autism is relatively new. While there’s little research on how these animals affect autistic children, families like Kaleb’s say they have seen marked improvement. And the support group Autism Speaks includes a list of dog-training groups among resources on its Web site.

Autism is a developmental disorder that involves behaviors such as poor eye contact, trouble communicating and repetitive movements such as rocking or hand-flapping. Those with the disorder are prone to outbursts and may have trouble with changes in their environment.

The dogs are trained to be a calming influence, providing a constant between home, school and other new places. Sometimes, as in Kaleb’s case, the dogs are tethered to children to prevent them from running off in dangerous situations.

“It’s done so much more than we thought it could,” said Kaleb’s mother, Nichelle Drew. “We want Kaleb to be able to experience more of life,” and the dog has helped him do that, she said.

Chewey does not react when Kaleb “throws a fit” during times of transition from one activity to another, which calms him much more quickly, Drew said.

The tether fitted around Kaleb’s waist helps the dog stop Kaleb from running into traffic at pickup time, as he is prone to do.

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, “a person with autism would be considered a person with a disability in nearly all cases, and a service animal is any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to someone with a disability,” said Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Department of Justice.

Miyar declined comment on specific cases but said schools are required to make accommodations for disabled students to use a service animal. Illinois is among several states with similar laws.

Schools, though, can argue that the animals do not provide a functional service. Wright said Kaleb’s school already provides him with adequate special services. Officials believe Chewey is more of a companion or comfort dog, not a true service dog.

Elizabeth Emken, vice president of government relations for Autism Speaks, said her 17-year-old autistic son has used a service dog for about two years.

Emken said the dog helps control her son’s pacing and circling, but the family opted against allowing the boy to take the dog to school because she did not know if he would be able to manage the dog effectively.

“Personally, I can see the pros and cons” of allowing the animals in schools, Emken said, though she believes schools should not ban the assistance.

Families of autistic kids elsewhere have fought similar battles, including recent cases in Manteca, Calif., about 70 miles northeast of San Francisco, and North Franklin Township, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

And cases involving other disabilities, including deafness and diabetes, have cropped up in other states.

On Thursday, a judge sided with a family in Columbia, near St. Louis, that sued over their school district’s unwillingness to allow an autism service dog in a special education pre-kindergarten classroom.

Still, 5-year-old Carter Kalbfleisch will not have the dog with him when he starts classes Monday. A hearing is scheduled that day so the school can work out the logistics of accommodating the dog, which his family credits with helping stop the boy from running off and keeping him from eating things like rocks.

The case still could head to trial, though the family’s attorney, Clay St. Clair, said Friday the initial ruling is based on the Illinois law allowing service animals in school. The district did not return calls.

“I don’t know if it would have been a simpler issue if we were dealing with a guide dog or something the school board was a little more familiar with,” St. Clair said.


Associated Press Writer Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.

Posted by Jerry in 17:07:47 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Nod

Your mom told you not to stare, right?  We tell Maya this, alot (in fact, a few years ago, at Whole Foods, we were behind a guy missing an arm, and we told her not to stare, and she got real confused and asked why not, because he doesn’t have an arm and he’s interesting to watch.  Interesting take on staring, no?).

However, when you have an autistic spectrum child, you recognize the small signs in others, right?  I figure this is very much fun for psychologists – that guy has OCD, she has four personalities, etc….

But this morning, I saw a Mom with her 13-14 year old daughter in a lobby of the hotel.  The daughter held tightly to her mother, stared up to the left, and held a little stuffed purple monkey in her hand.  The Mom was getting some coffee, while pouring she whispered to her daughter, and the girl smiled, and giggled, but she never looked down.  But when the seniors group collected and the ladies let out a big laugh before they got on their bus (and the laughter reverberated loudly in the atrium/lobby), she squeezed her monkey and the mom whispered to her quickly.

The mom and I caught each others eyes. I nodded in the best way I possibly could that I knew what was going on with her daughter.  She understood.  Brief smile.  The nod back.

Insiders Nod?  I think so.  The signs are subtle that her daughter has autism, and its not obvious to others, but we had the parents who know moment, the nod…

Anyone else experience this?  With the severe cases it is easily detectible, no? But for the rest, you give the nod that I get it and I get the small things. I get the small monkey and the stare off to the left.

Do you?

Posted by Jerry in 18:43:21 | Permalink | Comments (1) »