Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Disclaimer post

I hope to share with friends and family around me and others who may be interested in what happens and what occurs with balancing a family and having ushers syndrome, as well as being a guide dog handler.

Upon receiving a phone call from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, regarding the post here:

The above linked post has been edited and I ask that you review that post and I want to reiterate my disclaimer of the following:

Upon leaving the school, I do have 100% ownership of Rei and am fully responsible for her care, continued training and upkeep/good health. Tthe school is there to support and assist me in any issues that I may have, to ensure our bonding and success as a working team, hopefully for many, many years to come. The postings on this blog are completely my thoughts, opinions, and how I have viewed things to happen in my life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Still alive and kicking- but been insanely running around like a chicken with it's head cut off....

Well, I'm getting emails asking if I'm ok, so figure I'd better answer to something! ;)

I had my SSDI appt on Monday the 15th and here's a quick and dirty run down of what's happened since. I promise, let me get through Christmas and I'll do a proper post to update with pictures and start giving good descriptions about the awesome guide dog I have. She's really, really been a blessing and is there for me in so many ways, even if she is a booger at home. LOL!

So here is the run down starting with Friday a week ago:

Friday- got the call that Mike's uncle had passed away.
Saturday- Cookie Baking with Sue and her mom
Sunday- Host bible study at our house- cleaned house all afternoon, prepped cookies for a spread. :)

Monday- SSDI appt at 8am
- Went to office depot for labels and such
- Lunch with Aunt Nancy & Uncle Mike (THANK YOU again for lunch!)
- Katie's Christmas program that night at the school at 7pm

Tuesday- fielded emails on SSDI appt
- did a ton of cutting out of Christmas presents I've been making for the kids of our friends and so forth.
- trip to the police department with Anne Marie with the playgroup for a tour of the police station and for the kids to meet a police officer.
- worked on printing, folding, stuffing envelopes, putting labels and stamps on of Christmas letters.

Wednesday- Family dental appointment: Myself and all three kids. No cavities! YAY!!!! First good exam of Alex and did get the news that his teeth are in there pretty tight and crowded, so we are probably going to be looking at braces when he gets older and the permanent ones come in. ehh...
- Afternoon: Katie had pioneer day at school, where the 2/3rd grade class did thier "living history museum" for the studies they'd been doing. They were in the cafeteria and presented thier journals, thier pioneer toys they made, dressed up in costume, and had thier wagons they made as well. was pretty cool to see all the stuff and after, the kids went back to the room and Meaghan, Rei and I hung out until school was out about a half hr later. Rei got a lot of loving from the kids and it was neat to watch the class room work.
- night: Mike worked on demo'ing the girls closet, tearing out the partition wall in thier closet so that he could repair the wall and do the wiring to put in lights. After kids went to bed- stayed up until almost 2am, to finish up Christmas presents to go to college friends on the north side of Indy.

Thursday- wanted to take a major nap! Double checked mailing lists/letters maild out & paid bills
- Im meeting with Laura Thomas- the IN, OH, IL, MI regional rep for Helen Keller National Center about InDBA and about a few other things too, including some info on contacts and people I need to contact to see about getting some services for myself.
- Alex went to Dad and Sue's for his turn at thier house, so Mike went up Fry's and spent quite a bit of $$$ for a couple of LARGE hard drives for our computer. An internal and an external one to be big enough for my picture taking addiction. ;) *whistling nonchalantly* We only have just over 50 GB of pictures on the harddrive... So it was a necessary thing since I've been maxing out the hard drive with each holiday/outing that takes place and we have deleted most of the "junk" that we think we can. Plus we have more soccer and other things coming up, so it was a needed thing!

Friday- Mike worked on the girls closet some more, I kept kids entertained and did a lot of sewing of the remaining Christmas presents.

Saturday- Our 11th wedding anniversary. :)
I worked on christmas presents and keeping kids entertained/out of Mike's hair as he continued to work on the wiring for the girls closet.
- went to church

Sunday- Got up way too early after staying up too late the night before- worked on finishing up the last of the Christmas presents. Mike worked on mudding and spackling the holes in the closet from removing the shelving system that had been there.
- tried to get a nap in, but kept being awoken by kids.
- supposed to Bible study at John & Karen's but since it was just the 4 of us, we took the time to enjoy some adult interaction, catch up on what was going on in our lives. We got home really late for us- kids getting to bed about 9:30 pm and Mike and I crashed.

Monday (today)- Got up with Rei- letting the girls sleep in and started to try to catch up on the 400+ emails I have in my inbox- many needing answers and promised answers.
- Ann Marie called and asked about taking the girls to the chidlren's museum, so I hurriedly printed out some stuff for another christmas present I'm making and cut out the stuff for that. Fixed lunch quickly and then got myself and the girls ready to go.
- left for the Chidlrens Museum about 1pm and left there after lots of fun, but really crowded and got home about 5:30. Kids were super tired, Rei did AWESOME through the whole thing and poor puppy was exhausted when we got home. She didnt even get up to even look at the food we sat down to eat for dinner, she was out cold on her blankie snoozing.
- So tonight, I finished cutting out pictures, wrote all the 2009 dates in Mike's calendar so he's up on whats going on, and downloaded the pictures off the camera from today.
- Lastly Im posting here to update- to show I *am* still alive. LOL! And I promise- I'll post pics and such later and talk about my beautiful girl! :)

Well, with staying up so late for so many nights now, it has caught up to me and my eyelids are getting too heavy, so I am going to sign off here for the night and will talk at you all later!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Why does the hearing have to go too??? SSDI appt today

A LOT has been happening in the last week and will be this week, will try to catch up soon, but not sure how soon I can do it.

Home from my hearing test. *sigh* that was seriously depressing.

I have 20% speech recognition in both ears- from what I understand, to qualify for a cochlear implant, you have to have 30% or worse. Well- I certainly fit that bill...

I've lost a bunch more hearing too. No wonder Im missing so much. I wasnt able to get the office to give me a copy of my audiogram, which is illegal, but wasnt going to push it there. I think the Dr. may have thought I was asking for a copy of the report, instead of the audiogram, so will try calling and see if I can get one.

I have no high tone hearing at all and in my right ear, I drop off the chart at 95 decibels where there's just nothing heard. in my left ear, I am in the 105-110 decibel range- which complete deafness is 120. I was in the 95 range after Alex was born. To put this into perspective- normal is 20-25 decibels. and 95 decibels is the loudness of a chainsaw.

The dr commented as others have that I do really well with my HA's. He was surprised at how well I communicate and asked if I lipread. I said yeah. Which honestly really scares me, as my vision keeps getting worse as I lose the ability to lipread.

Will be calling the HA specialist to come out and re-program my hearing aids. *sigh*

Off to take a nap and hopefully wake up in a better mood before Katie's school Christmas program tonight....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 2 of counter surfing busts.

Well, so far no puking or runs, some reddish poop, but this dog must have a GI system of steel, literally!

Ok, so Meaghan didnt finish her lunch, which was a hot dog on bread- another one that Rei has made off with in the past.

So I pulled out the hot sauce, the crushed red pepper and the butter and peanut butter. first I mixed up some butter with a lot of hot sauce and mixed in some red pepper. Next I slit the hot dog down the middle and "stuffed" it with the butter concoction. Then laid it on the bread and doused it all with hot sauce til the bread was pretty good and covered. Then sprinkled some more red pepper over that. I took a small spoon full of PB and mixed in to the butter concoction to make it a little bit thicker.

I then got out a plate and put a couple of spoonfuls of PB on it, and put a big spoonfull of the butter/PB concoction on either side of that so that she has to get into that stuff to get to the PB.

I then left that plate on the stove, put the bowl with the remainder of the butter/pb concoction over to the right of the sink and then brought the hotdog plate out to the playroom and looked at her and told her sternly, NO! Leave it!

She went up to it and walked and walked and wanted it badly but left it alone after sniffing at it and then sneezing. Proabably from the crushed peppers.

She's definately thinking about it before doing it. Tonight, Mike is supposed to pick up the actual cayenne pepper and I'll probably start using the long lead I have for working with her in the yard too and going to start agressively correcting her on it. Hoping that the combination of the two- the burning sensation and the corrections will get through to her.

Monday- So the war is on with Rei's counter surfing

Rei has a passion for Peanut butter, so with some research and some past experience with pet dogs, I've decided to try an approach that I don't like to do, but she's getting out of hand. So I am baiting her with Peanut Butter, an irresistable food to her, with Cayenne pepper/hot sauce mixed in. I have some hot sauce here that Mike likes and and I used a bunch of it in some peanut butter and added some crushed red pepper to the mix as well. The stuff was orange and hopefully nice and potent to make her think twice!

I then cut 2 slices of bread in half and spread the mixture thickly on the halves and then laid them on the counter tops/stove close to the edge. I laid two other pieces on the coffee table/lego table on plates and told her to LEAVE IT! and walked away.

Well, she immediately went and gobbled the one up on the coffee table and then came to the playroom and went for that one too. I then took the bowl with the remaining stuff in it and laid on the plate in the playroom too, and again told her No! Leave it. With this, she's thinking about it, but her previous steal is getting to her, so she's not wanting it as badly.

Twenty minutes later we were quite an unhappy puppy and very remorseful- rubbing her head on her blanket and trying to get the taste out of her mouth...

Poor puppy! (head buried in her blanket with very sorrowful eyes)

Now while it slowed her way down on wanting to take foods and she was very subdued and very well behaved last night- not even really coming close to the kitchen or to the dining room as we ate (she probably had a tummy ache too), We will continue a regime of loaded food in various places that she's not to take from as needed. I hope that with 4-5 days of getting a hold of stuff that doesnt taste good, she'll just plan to leave things alone. Will update on how things go as we go along with this!


Contents from this post has been removed due to a complaint to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind about the practices I have used.

This methodology of training has been used after using other milder methods before this without the desired results and after thorough research and careful instruction on using these types of methods in order to keep my dog from stealing food when we are out in public places as well as here at home.

This method should not be used by just anyone, but with the assistance of a professional dog trainer and careful instruction.

While the school instructed me on using foods to work on training Rei, I researched and implemented on my own the methods and practices of using the cayenne pepper to teach Rei to not countersurf.

One of the resources that I used to gain more information on this included the following:

And as a reminder- upon leaving the school, I do have 100% ownership of Rei, but the school is there to support and assist me in any issues that I may have, to ensure our bonding and success as a working team.


Today was a semi laid back day, though it was the culminating point to the kids christmas programs at the church.

We had pictures taken of the kids and Rei with Santa at 10:30. I wish I could afford all of them but we were really doing good to buy the package and couple of individual shots we did.

Kim is Mom to one of the little boys that has been on Mike's soccer team and her oldest has too until he moved up to the next age group. She took our family pictures last fall and did such an awesome job! Check out her website here and highly recommend her if you are in the central IN area and in need of pictures at a pretty reasonable price!

We got there and Meaghan immediately pulled her stubborn streak out of the bag and didn't want any part of having her pictures taken, which is pretty typical of her. With some manuevering and Mike and I moving to the sides and close to Santa holding Alex and Katie, we got her closer and closer to Santa. I then placed Rei at Santa's side and was able to get Meaghan to be ok with holding Rei's leash and hugging Rei and ultimately warming up to being in the pictures. We realized that Rei wasn't showing up hardly at all against the black background, so Kim and Mike pulled up the backdrop to a lighter colored one and got some pictures there.

After this, I moved across the room over behind Kim and after a set of shots, Rei came back over to me, and Santa was able to tickle Meaghan or something so that she started laughing and then decided to warm up to him! So Kim started snapping pictures again and got some cute ones of the kids with Santa, which turned out to be the better one of them. So I was a little bummed, I was hoping to have a really good Christmas picture with Rei in there, but we did buy a couple of individual shots of the better ones of her in the picture too.

After pictures, we came home and had lunch and then the kids and I laid down for naps. We were all needing it, thats for sure. Not sure what's up with me, but really been overly tired lately, though guessing it's the cloudy days we are seeing right now.

After we got up from naps, we packed a PB & J dinner, with applesauce, fruit snacks, and drinks to take to the church and eat dinner there. Katie was to be there at 5pm, Meaghan at 5:30, and then Alex at 5:45. So we decided to head to the church, arriving about 4:30 and eating at one of the tables in the foyer area. This worked really well, as Mike took our coats in and saved our seats on the front row and was a good thing, as it filled up really fast shortly after 5pm, even though the program didn't start until 6pm.

So I took a lot of pictures and videos, more videos since our camera really struggles with taking pictures indoors of things that are moving a little bit, there's some blurriness there. :(

Here is all three kids in front of three beautiful tall and skinny decorated christmas trees. Meaghan is standing on the left in her dress with balck velvet top and red bottom. Katie is squated down in the middle, wearing black pants with a white frilly satin top and a black velvet jacket over it. Alex is on the right wearing his suit, with black pants, white dress shirt, a greyish vest with red verticle pinstripes down the front of it, and a red tie with silver accent dots on it. They all three are so pretty and handsome!

The Toddler Program:
Alex in the center, surrounded by other little ones and looking to the right and clapping his hands to the song he's singing.

Alex looking directly at the camera, arms cradled in each other as if holding a baby as he sang Away in the Manger.

A video of the kids singing B-I-B-L-E

The Preschoolers Program:

Meaghan looking at the camera with a big smile on her face!

A video of Meaghan with the other preschoolers singing go tell it on the Mountain. I also zoomed in on Jenna, John and Karen's youngest too. :)

The natvity scene with little ones dressed up as Mary & Joseph, shepherds, wise men, animals, angels and so forth. All completely adorable!

A video of Meaghan and other little ones singing a marching song.

Meaghan surrounded by little ones, looking out into the audience.

Elementary school program:

Katie has changed into the themed red T shirt with the logo to "Mystery of the Manger" and is on the top row of the risers. She's looking straight into the camera and smiling. :)

A video of the first song of the story they did:

A snapshot of the two main characters of the story, a boy in a white shirt and tan pants and a blonde girl in a red shirt and black pants.

Katie in the upper right looking down on the story being told:

Another song and part of the story being told:

Katie in the upper center, singing and looking to the center stage:

A video of the song telling the manger story, and Katie at the microphone with a speaking part. Various people are speaking though she is the third or forth one to speak.

After the program while Mike was running Alex to the bathroom, Dad took a couple of pictures of the girls up on the stage:

Meaghan on the left, Katie on the right, standing under the decorations of the stage set for Whooville, the main sermon series this year.

And then the girls kneeling by the manger with the baby Jesus in the manger, Meaghan on the left, Katie on the right.

And Lastly, a picture of Rei laying quietly on the floor. She was a very good girl through the entire program at our feet!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Alex's Preschool Christmas program

Alex's preschool had thier christmas program tonight at the beginning of the church service. When we got there, he promptly melted down and cried not wanting to be left with his teachers, making it clear that it was STAY HOME DAY! After a lot of talking in the hallway and looking through the sanctuary doors at the seats and people in the seats, I was able to re-assure him that he wasn't going to be staying all day, and that we had front row seats to watch him sing with his class. I finally took him to his teacher, and while he was still upset, he wasn't melting down as he was when we first got there.

So I made my way to our seats and Rei immediately plopped down at my feet:

The kids came out as the normal music people sang a song and thankfully, Alex was fine nad not melting down still. He was wearing a black shirt with a vest- red on the upper portion, black on the bottom and snowflakes. He also looked really adorable with his grey matching tie. :)

Here are a few snapshots and a video:

Tomorrow we have pictures of the Kids and Rei with Santa in the morning, and the tomorrow night is the church christmas program, in which all three kids have songs in that, so that should be fun. :) Katie has a speaking part for that one and she's excited. :)

Time for some ZZZZ's, so have a good night all!

Ok, it's back to the tie down we go... *sigh*

One of the things I'm really learning with Rei, is that she is PERSISTANT and sneaky when it comes to the possiblity of food. *sigh*

Rei is AWESOME as a guide dog, but I'll be honest, I dont know if she's ever going to earn her freedom in the house at all times. I guess I sure was spoiled with Honey, and while we knew she would try to snatch things if they were left out in the open, but she didn't tear things open if it *smelled* like good.

I'm kinda stuggling with this, as I dont like the idea of keeping her tied down so much, but she's not giving me much choice, she's getting into things and doing it just when I turn my back or just when the kids call my attention to something else. She's too smart for her own good!

Sooooo, let's talk about the things Rei has helped herself too in oh the last week? Or shall we just go with the few days? We'll do the last few days since Thursday morning. And yes, smack me up the side of the head and say "uhm, why haven't you tied her down sooner" Don't bother, I know I should have, so working on being more diligent now about it.

Soooo, Rei has consumed or attempted to consumer in the last 36 hrs:

4-5 bananas (tonight)
pulled down and ripped open a 4lb bag of powdered sugar
(thank goodness she didn't get the 4lb back of chocolate chips that was right under it)
Wax tarts scented as foods/fruits
Helped herself to the dog food drawer for a smorgasboard until she could eat no longer.
Katie's pail lunch- which consisted of sliced ham, 2 hardbolied eggs, 2 crescent rolls, a dill pickle slice, and an orange (she didn't get the orange)

And we busted her tonight for attempting to clean the dishes in the sink and on the countertop with the sharp carving knife used for dinner tonight.

Gosh, this dog is going to be pooping bananas all morning long tomorrow. And unfortunately, whenever she gets into these things, it seems to cause quite an, uhm lets put it nicely, a flatuance problem.

What is hard though, is she's good most of the time, behaving, quiet on her blanket, but in 30 seconds when she sees me tied up with the kids, she makes the dash for it. So as much as I don't like it, I'm going to have to go back to the basics and tie her down until she can re-gain that independence and hopefully with some continued independence.

I'm going to give Lisa a buzz too to see how much of anything I can do after the fact can be done too. My philosophy, as well as what Lisa had voiced while on class was to treat them like a toddler and only correct when caught in the act. The problem is, she's making sure she doesn't get caught in the act. grrrrr....*stinker*

So we are still a work in progress! That's for sure!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Katie is studying history right now- the pioneer days and such, having learned about Thanksgiving last week and the first Thanksgiving and all that. So today they are going to the next town over to the one room school house to visit and they were to dress up as close as they could to the period and take a pail lunch if you will.

We had the lunch all packed and my *lovely* dog (note sarcasm here) thought it was so good that she helped herself to it *DOH* just as Katie was supposed to leave, so we were rushing and scrambled to make a second lunch quickly- wrapped in wax paper and in a pail.

Anywho, for dressing up, I didn't have any white skirts, honestly I only have one skirt at all, so she's in a hodgepodge of stuff, but we tried to dress her as close to it as we could. She has a long black skirt of mine on- pinned in the back, an apron that my grandmother had given the girls in the past, the top part folded down for a waist apron (I didn't have the time or energy to make her an actual white pleated one last night), and she has a white blouse on with the purple shrug that I'd made her back in January. Since her hair is still pretty short, I took a flour sack cloth (which we used to wrap her lunch pail in too) and folded it as a triangle and tied it on her head to work as a bonnet. So here she is, with Meaghan and in front of the christmas tree too. ;)

I guess the kids are going to be doing a presentation next week, Wednesday, December 17th for the rest of the school and then to family from 2:30-3pm. So family, if you want to come, let me know and we can go together. Meaghan and I will probably walk over.

They will be doing a project where they have to complete a Pioneer Journal, make a Pioneer Toy, a Wagon Model, and recite a poem. They will be presenting thier items at the 19th Century Living Museum Celebration, and dress up for that day as well. :)

Sounds like fun! :)


I got home late last night after the conference, and crashed hard!

This morning, we got up and got breakfast for the girls and I. Meaghan and I got dressed and ready to ride with Kathy, who was driving the wheelchair accessible van, picking up both Richard and Diane to go to So Italian! for lunch. The church disabilities leadership team was meeting for lunch and there was quite a discussion about partners and so forth.

Upcoming in March, is Disability Awareness month and we are hoping to re-vitalize the Disabilities ministry by having a table in the foyer area and hoping to be able to give out brochures from the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disablities, as well as of information about the different areas of the Disabilities Ministry. I'll be honest, I'm really excited about it and have been brainstorming different ideas to talk at our next meeting about.

I did get some pictures of Meaghan this morning with Rei, as she insisted on wearing a dress, as she normally does, and figured with the season, I'd let her do so. :)

I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow of the Christmas decorations and post to share. :)

Well, Im off to bed, I've done my partners emails I need to do for the night and up late having updated things here, but have a good sense of accomplishment for the night. :) Guess I better go accomplish some zzz's though. ;)

Partners in Policymaking December Session

Partners normally meets on Friday/Saturday, but for December, the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities puts on thier annual conference. Mission Ready: Countdown to Change!

DAY ONE: Tuesday, December 2

8 – 9:30 a.m. Registration/Exhibit Viewing

9:30 – 10 a.m. Mission Control: Welcome and opening remarks
Unveiling of the 2009 March Disability Awareness Month campaign and poster

10 – 11:30 a.m. Keynote Session
Present Reality: Future Journey
Status Check: David Braddock, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Colorado’s Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, will report on the State of the State in Disability Services and how Indiana compares with other states and national trends.

Quest for New Worlds: A panel of Indiana experts will respond from their particular viewpoints on the direction of Indiana services.

11:30 a.m. – noon Break/Exhibit Viewing

Noon - 2 p.m. Lunch
First Encounters: Federal election results and the disability agenda
Curt Decker, J.D., executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, will discuss the impact of this year’s federal elections and what is likely to happen when the new crew takes their stations in January.

2 – 2:15 p.m. Break

2:15 – 4 p.m. Concurrent Workshops
Transportation: Riding the Comet’s Tail
With gasoline prices reaching outer orbits, there is renewed interest in public transit options. What is in the works and how can you ensure that the disability community is part of the planning?

New Frontiers in Assistive Technology
For many people with disabilities, assistive technology is the key to employment, education and to just being part of the community. Staff members from Indiana’s new Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) program will provide information about innovative solutions, let you get your hands on some assistive technology and discuss policy issues in assistive technology and resources.

YouTube and Beyond: Using the Social Web to Transform the Future
The Internet is more than just documents floating through space. The Social Web is about connecting with other people and sharing information, news, opinions and media. This workshop will explore how you can use social Web sites like YouTube, Digg and Facebook to shape opinion about disability issues and promote the causes most important to you.

Systems Go: Influencing the New Congress and Administration
If you want to help make change happen, you need to know how to identify the key people and the effective ways to get your viewpoint across. Lunch speaker Curt Decker will offer an interactive workshop that will explore the art of negotiating, interacting with policymakers, and understanding power and how to influence it.

4 – 4:15 p.m. Break

4:15 – 6 p.m. Concurrent Workshops
The ADA: Mission Community Access
Improving community access and opportunities is not always easy. Hear from representatives of two Indiana communities and ADA Indiana about tools and resources that can help you successfully advocate for change in your community.

Waiver Services: Navigating New Worlds
New priorities insure that eligible students leave school with a Support Services Waiver in place. Hear from advocates and families about creative ways to use the Waiver to support an inclusive lifestyle.

March Disability Awareness Month: Stand by for Blast Off
A new Web site and new materials for the March 2009 campaign will inspire you to begin your planning. Join us to learn more, as well as to hear from a panel of advocates who have implemented exemplary campaigns.

ArtsWORK Indiana: Exploring the Universe of Arts Careers
Discover new opportunities through ArtsWORK Indiana. You will learn from Indiana artists with disabilities who will discuss how they have achieved success. Come and hear their advice on how you can launch your career.

6 – 6:30 p.m. Exhibit Viewing

6:30 – 9 p.m. Universe of Stars Reception
Come as your favorite space alien; astronaut; Star Wars, Star Trek or other science fiction character. Dance to Rock ‘N Roll music and enjoy light refreshments.


National Speakers

David Braddock, Ph.D.,executive director of the University of Colorado’s Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, is nationally recognized for his contributions in the field of cognitive disability research and policy. He has published more than 200 books, book chapters, articles and technical reports. David has received career research awards from The Arc of the United States (1987), the American Association on Mental Retardation (1998) and the University Scholar Award from the President of the University of Illinois (1998). He received The Arc of the United States’ Franklin Smith Award for Distinguished National Service to the Field of Mental Retardation in 2000.

Curt Decker, JD, is the executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, a membership association comprised of 90 protection and advocacy agencies and client assistant programs that provide legal representation to people with disabilities. Curt is also the chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition that includes more than 100 national consumer, advocacy, provider and professional organizations that advocate on behalf of people of all ages with physical and mental disabilities and their families.

Dale DiLeo, president of the Training Resource Network in St. Augustine, Florida, is a widely sought-after speaker and consultant, and well-known advocate for people with disabilities. Dale has trained more than 75,000 people over the past 30 years throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe on community inclusion for persons with disabilities. He is the past president of the board of the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and is the lead author of that organization’s highly respected Ethical Guidelines in Supported Employment. His latest book, Raymond’s Room, focuses on ending the shameful segregation of people with disabilities from community life.

Juliette Rizzo, Ms. Wheelchair America 2005, speaks and advocates nationally about the needs and achievements of people with disabilities. She has proven through her experience that personal dreams and goals are within reach for people with disabilities when the appropriate supports are in place. Juliette currently is director of exhibits and events planning in the U.S. Department of Education, raising awareness of educational opportunities for all Americans. Among a long list of accomplishments and awards, she is most proud of receiving the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport.

Partial Presenters List

Emily Abel, INDATA Education and Outreach Coordinator, Easter Seals Crossroads
Peter Bisbecos, Director, Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services, FSSA
Sheri Caveda, Executive Director, Fifth Freedom Network
John Dickerson, Executive Director, The Arc of Indiana
Ric Edwards, Director of Safety and ADA Compliance, Department of Natural Resources
Tom Gallagher, Executive Director, Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services
Mike Garberg, INDATA ReUse/Distance Education Technician
Carol Girt, INDATA Equipment Specialist
Amy Hanna, Vice President, Borshoff
Chris Karson, Chair, ArtsWORK Indiana
Kassie Mills, Account Associate, Borshoff
Juli Paini, Coordinator, Indianapolis Mayor’s Office of Disability Affairs
Vicki Pappas, Ph.D., Center Director, The Center for Planning and Policy Studies, Indiana Institute for Disability and Community
Peter Schauer, Principal, Peter Schauer Associates
Ewart Solomon, INDATA Information, Referral and Funding Specialist
Stefanie Walker, Account Associate, Borshoff
Nanette Whightsel, Director of Family Education and Community Resources, The Arc of Indiana
Betty Williams, President, Self Advocates of Indiana

The first day on Monday, we as the 2008-2009 class had our afternoon class session. Curt Decker came and presented to us as well as Mary Pedevilla from IPAS. Mr. Decker worked with us in groups of how to meet with and how to interact with a congressman or woman. It was a VERY educational session for me, as all the sessions have been so far.

The Conference itself was just amazing and mindblowing as well, to network with so many organizations and to learn so many places of resources that I never knew was out there. I am really proud too to be able to help others and have done so already with the knowledge that I've gained from these sessions.

I met many past Partners grads and they were more than happy to talk with me and have so many influential positions within the advocacy world and we are all working and striving to improve things on an ongoing basis.

Again, I know I've said it before, but really, anyone that wants to make a difference the world of disabilities, you should really go through this program! For those that aren't able to give the time, they do have quite a bit of information, including free online courses through the national Partners website based out of Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

TG weekend

We got up and Mike and the kids pretty much took it easy most of the day. I worked on cleaning house and getting things picked up for Bible study on Sunday night.

I was really irritated though, as I was wanting to finish up the Christmas decorating, since as history has had it, if it's not up by TG weekend, we tend to not get it done. So with going to church, hearing the service put me a lot better mood. We came home and ate dinner and just took it easy for the evening, Mike and I talking and so forth.

Sunday, we got up and worked on finishing up the Christmas stuff, which was really a relief to me. We finished cleaning up the house and were sitting down to dinner when we got the call that we were needing to cancel Bible study since we had some sickies in the group. So really, it was a good thing, as I was able to chill for the evening, as I was kind of not looking forward to going to Partners for Monday and Tuesday, though I had a GREAT time after getting there. :)

We did have our first snow for the season, when we got up Sunday morning, so here is Rei in her first snow in Indiana. :)

Black Friday

Friday morning we got up and Mike went out and cleaned the gutters one last time and mowed the yard for the last time. As he did this, the kids and I worked on picking things up in the house before we got the christamas stuff out to put up later on during the day.

We ate lunch and then put the kids down for naps. Mike and I got the Christmas stuff down out of the attic and then put all of the Halloween stuff back up for the year. Mike got the tree out and set it up and got the lights on it.

After dinner, we set up our tradition of Mike being by the tree, the kids lining up and I would hand them an ornament to take to Mike and tell him where to place it on the tree. This way I could give plastic ornaments to Alex, and more delicate ones to Katie, but all three were actively taking part in decorating the tree.

After decorating the tree, we got the kids into bed and Mike and I just took it easy for the evening. :)

Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving day-

We went over to Dad's for dinner and it was a really enjoyable day. The kids had fun, Rei got along really well with Dad's dogs, and got to play outside too. It was good to see family again and eat lots of good food too. :)

I did get pictures of the kids and Rei outside, but when I went inside, I'd put our camera down in the kitchen, so I just grabbed Dad's camera that was close by and took picturs of the kids inside with it. So will have to get the pictures from them at some point. ;)

Here's the kids and Rei outside with Dan:

Important business!

Honey Visits and Plays with Rei!

I posted several of the snapshots in my last post, but here are a few videos and a few more snapshots:

At the petstore- Honey and Meaghan checking out the ferrets:

Everyone came in for like 30 seconds and Honey made a B-line for the doggy door back outside, so Rei of course followed.

The chase is on!

We then all headed inside, for a rest and here's another shot of the one of them together. :)

All too soon, Dan was back to pick her up, which Katie started to throw a fit and pretty much ignored Dan as he left with Honey.

All in all, it was really good to see her again, much easier this time than it was the last time.

I will be honest though, I found myself wishing she was still my guide, I love Rei, but the bond just isn't there yet as there was almost instantaneously with Honey. There's just something about the personality that is different.

However over the TG weekend, Rei did well and we are growing together with time. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today was a really busy day, as Katie had weird hair day at school, where she got to wear her haire weird if she bought a can of food in for the donation drive So here's her WILD hair:

Then for the afternoon, we had a follow up appt for Rei's ears. She had a yeast infection in her ears, so have been treating that. That's what we did last Monday= took Rei to the vet. ;) Since Dan was coming out to take us to the vet, and had to take Sue to pick up her car after that, I asked him to bring Honey out with him to let Rei and Honey play together, as well as to spend some time with her. He agreed to do that and brought her with. :)

Here's a couple of snapshots, but I'll post more tomorrow, as I'm dragging and falling asleep here in the computer chair...

Honey visiting her old buddy, Wilson from behind us:

Katie got them both to sit and stay while she threw the toy:

Honey missed Katie too:

Both my Puppies!

Ok Im off to bed, I'm wiped. Will share more pics and videos tomorrow sometime, but these were my faves! :)