When Your Husband Returns

A sketch done of Ron, the artist was Europeon and didn't want his glasses on because she wanted to see his eyes.  Not my favorite, but he likes it.

A sketch done of Ron, the artist was Europeon and didn’t want his glasses on because she wanted to see his eyes. Not my favorite, but he likes it.

My husband, Ron Grogan, is battling his third round of cancer and decided that he wanted to take a trip west to Sante Fe, New Mexico, because he read that it is a photographer’s paradise.  He is retired (I work a full-time job), so he packed up his car and left on the 7th of August, delaying his next chemo round until August 26th.

Ron had a great time, I believe he said he took something like 11,000 pictures.  He visited Sante Fe, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Carthage, Missouri (home of the Precious Moments Chapel, I’m a collector), and Hocking Hills, Ohio.  He took a jeep photo tour, train ride, hot air balloon ride, and a glider ride.    Ron attended events, estate sales, auctions, and anything else that captured his eye.

When Ron pulled in on Monday at approximately 11:00 pm his car was loaded…trunk, back seat, and passenger seat and had newly tinted windows, another thing he had done while gone.  He didn’t even start to unload until the next morning as I was leaving for work.

Some of the items Ron acquired at estate sales and/or auctions.

Some of the items Ron acquired at estate sales and/or auctions.

So, now my house is overrun with items we have to figure out where to put.  A huge box of vinyl records…why?  I don’t know.  About 8-10 books he purchased for me, plus 3-4 for himself.  Neat paintings of male and female Indians, plus an Indian blanket we are going to use as a bedspread/comforter on our water bed.    Antiques he got in auctions, including an antique train book, two antique ice buckets and a wine/champagne chiller, vases, cruets, train cars, accessories, and I believe a model train to add to his set-up, plus a large box of Previous Moments figurines he purchased for me, and much more.

11 New T-Shirts for Ron.  Photo by Ronald Grogan

Eleven New T-Shirts for Ron. Photo by Ronald Grogan.

Before leaving for his trip Ron had approximately 115 T-shirts.  I was constantly having to re-stack them to fit them onto the shelves in the closet.  He came home with eleven (11) more.  Now I will admit some of them are very cool, but where the heck am I going to fit them?

Indian paintings obtained in New Mexico

Indian paintings obtained in New Mexico

So ladies, be aware.  If your husband is retired and takes a trip which you don’t participate in because you are still working, you have no idea the things they will bring home.   Fun for him, clutter for me.

3 Comments

Filed under travel

Unable to Shoot–a Photographer’s Dilema

Nikon-D750-2I am a photographer.  I have an attachment to my favorite camera, which is a Nikon D750 that I received at Christmas.  My husband and I both upgraded to them at the same time.  Two weeks ago I was taking a walk and it started giving me a beam of light across all my pictures, then locked up and gave me an ERR message.  A quick check of the owner’s manual on my phone told me that such a message means it must be sent in for repair.  What!  I have to ship it away!Nikon D80

That is exactly what I did, I took it in to the Camera store to be sent in for a warranty repair.  The shutter had locked up.  Now every photographer has a backup camera, and I have mine…the D80 I was shooting with prior to the D750.  Ron (husband) was leaving for a trip and made sure my batteries for the D80 were charged, and he took one charger with him as he carries a D90 for backup.  We weren’t worried about not knowing where the other charger was, as I had my D750 to shoot with anyway.  Then it locks up.  Now I’m not doing as much shooting because I am trying to preserve battery power.

PhotographyWhat I can’t figure out is where the charger went.  I swear I will never let that man put away anything important again.  One year he handled hiding a Christmas present for our son, we didn’t find it until almost a year later!  Now he knows he put the charger in a box, doesn’t remember what box, doesn’t remember where the box went.

So, that is my past two weeks.  The frustrations of a photographer who has temporarily lost their favorite camera and is trying to preserve battery power on their back-up as they have no charger.  It has to get better from here…

4 Comments

Filed under hobbies, Photography

A Punch in the Stomach

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember my post called Slippery Surgical Stress in which I talked about my husband’s esophogectomy in January 2015.  After the surgery he tested cancer free, although they had removed several lymph nodes and three of those were suspect.  He recovered quickly, but continued to loose weight.

At his three month follow-up and Petscan it was determined that he now has two cancer spots in his right lung.   He had a permanent port surgically put in and every two weeks he is hooked up to a chemo pack that he wears for 48 hours, then he has a two week recovery period, then back on the chemo for 48 hours.  After a three month period they will do another Petscan to check his status.

It is the cancer that prevented him from gaining weight, and instead caused him to lose more.  Prior to having the tumor he weighed approximately 180 lbs., then due to the blockage by the tumor in his esophagus he was on a thin liquid diet, which caused him to lose a tremendous amount of weight.  When he completed his surgery in January 2015 he weighed 133 pounds, he is 111 lbs now.    While the doctors have not given him a time frame, if he continues to loose weight he will not survive.

Given that information he began checking into our finances, what money I would have coming into the home if he passes as he is retired and collects social security and a pension.  He is putting all the financial records in order, looking at headstones, cemeteries, and planning his own memorial service.  Hopefully it will be a Murphy’s Law situation and by putting everything in order he will end up in remission and live a long time.  Life is a Melting Pot, and sometimes the mix isn’t what you hoped for.

Leave a comment

Filed under cancer, Coping, Life is a Melting Pot

Peaceful, Relaxing, Happy

Everyone needs a favorite spot close to home.  A place that makes them feel peaceful, relaxed, and happy.  I actually have several that are anywhere from about two minutes to 20 minutes from my house.  Places I go just because I enjoy being there.

St. Clair Board Walk.  Photo by Grace Grogan.

St. Clair Board Walk. Photo by Grace Grogan.

My favorite spot is the boardwalk in St. Clair.  It is the world’s longest freshwater boardwalk and overlooks the St. Clair River, the world’s busiest shipping channel.  More freighters go down the St. Clair River than the Panama and Suez canals combined.  The water is a beautiful blue, and across the river is Canada.

I love the boardwalk in both summer and winter.  The summer months you can view freighters, boaters, kayaks, jet skiers, kids jumping off the boardwalk into the river, and the beautiful park it is located in.   Winter is also special, with freighters moving though the frigid waters amongst ice floats, Christmas garland strung on the rail, and the snow covered walkway and park.

St. Clair Boardwalk.  Photo by Grace Grogan

St. Clair Boardwalk. Photo by Grace Grogan

My second favorite spot is the Thomas Edison Parkway.  This is where you will find a walkway along the St. Clair River and Lake Huron where they meet under the Blue Water Bridge.  A perfect viewing spot for freighters and boaters traveling along the channel.   If you are feeling energetic you can walk from the International Flag Plaza just north of the Blue Water Bridge south into Pine Grove Park where the Huron Lightship Museum is located.

In addition to those two favorites I also enjoy Lighthouse Beach.  The beach is located on Lake Huron and offers views of the Blue Water Bridge and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza. Photo by Grace Grogan

Fort Gratiot County Park is also located on Lake Huron and includes a path through a small wooded area, a boardwalk lets you walk out onto the beach close to the pavilions without actually walking in the sand, and of course the beach itself.  You will also find the 1971 Tunnel Explosion Memorial in this park, a construction accident that claimed the lives of 22 men.

Blue Water Bridge in Winter.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Blue Water Bridge in Winter. Photo by Grace Grogan

Kettelwell Pond in Fort Gratiot is a great spot for viewing birds, turtles and other wildlife.  The pond has a paved walkway all the way around it with benches placed periodically for sitting back and enjoying nature.  This is a peaceful place good for a leisurely stroll, but is also popular with people who enjoy jogging the path.

DSC_0063

Turtles in Kettelwell Pond. Photo by Grace Grogan

These are only my favorite spots here in the Blue Water area.  There are so many, too many, to go into detail on.  You may also find me on the river walks in Marine City or Algonac, at Chrysler Beach in Marysville, Lakeside Beach in Port Huron, or Desmond Landing in Port Huron,   So much water, so many relaxing spots.

I hope each of you has, or finds, a spot to relax.  Somewhere that is peaceful, relaxing, and makes you feel happy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blue Water Area, Life is a Melting Pot

Swallow Big and Plunge Forward

Life is tricky.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out it will throw a curve ball at you.  Then in the midst of dealing with one dilemma another pops up.  Not huge, the type that makes you say “Seriously?  Why can’t people deal with this?  Why can’t people just take on one small task?  Why are they leaving it for others to handle?”

That is the point where I took a big swallow, plunged forward and said what I thought.  I think my comments shocked a few people, but in the end I achieved the results I was striving for.    I don’t know if it was the stress of what I was already dealing with on a personal level that made me plunge forward, or if it was frustration over people who have already taken on duties trying to juggle more while others sat in limbo doing nothing.

Our Secretary had said if no one volunteered she could try to handle the job, but secretary in itself is a monthly obligation and I thought that was ridiculous.   I am Vice President, Newsletter Editor and Webmaster (although I fail drastically at the last one), and our President has taken over numerous committees as the chairs left and no one volunteered.

That is when I swallowed big and plunged forward with my thoughts on the situation.  I stood up and said that it isn’t right that every time a board position or committee chair position opens up no one volunteers and the existing board members end up adding it to their own list of duties.  We have a sufficient amount of members and if no one is willing to step up to the plate than maybe we should just dissolve the club and be done with it.

I think I shocked more than a few of the members with my announcement.  No one knew I intended to do that except for the exiting treasurer.  It was like pulling teeth.  When no one volunteered the Secretary said she would take over as Treasurer if someone would volunteer to be Secretary.

Again no one volunteered, so I said that I would take over as Secretary if someone would take the Vice President’s position.  The position of VP is one of the easiest, as your only obligation is to run the meeting if the President isn’t there (which has never happened in the 11 years I have been a member) , and putting together a collection of all committee reports for our Annual Report once a year.  Not only did no one volunteer, but one member went so far as to keep pushing forward with reasons no one should take my Vice Presidency job!

It took a bit of coercion, but a fairly new member agreed to take on the job of Treasurer, so the Secretary and I retained our current positions.  Was I nervous about announcing we should dissolve the club if we couldn’t get volunteers, especially when I had not discussed that thought with other board members?  Absolutely!  Am I glad I pushed forward and got the job done?  Without a doubt.

Leave a comment

Filed under Activities, Coping

Boat Week

I love Boat Week.  There are numerous activities working up to the main event, the send off the sailboats on the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.  Boat Week is fun and energetic.

Fireworks at Vantage Point.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Fireworks at Vantage Point. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The kick-off is actually on a Wednesday night with the Rotary Parade.  This is an event  I have never attended, but those who do attend the parade really enjoy it.  That is followed by Family Night on Thursday, where families can walk up and down the Black River and view the boats, visit the midway, ride the zip-line, climb aboard the large Ferris wheel, enjoy some great food from vendors, check out the live manikins, and participate in many activities especially designed for families.  The night is topped off by fireworks.

Friday night is Boat Night.  This is a party night, and the later it gets, the more crowded it gets.  Many of the same activities available on Family Night are repeated on Boat Night.  Beer tents let attendees celebrate, bands play on stage, and the walk along the Black River gets more and more crowded as the night rolls on.  This is the party before the Saturday morning send off of the sailboats.

Boat Night in Port Huron.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Boat Night in Port Huron. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Saturday morning starts with the Boat Parade.  As the boats head out of the Black River and onto Lake Huron for the start of the race they are out on their deck, waving at the hundreds of spectators lining the river.  We normally watch the parade, but this year we were on a press boat to take photos of the start of the race, so in a sense we were part of the “parade” trying to maneuver out of the river.

Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Port Huron to Mackinac Race. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

The starts are timed for several hours, with the smallest boats starting first and the largest boats being the final ones to start.  This year was great with spinnaker starts and a boat captain that put us into some great positions for photographs.  As the day wore on the boat owners were watching the reports of a incoming storm and we could see the black clouds moving in.

Racing to Beat the Storm.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

Racing to Beat the Storm. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan

As soon as everyone had taken all the photos they needed of the final race the captain had everyone sit down on the boat as he announced we were going to make a fast paced ride back in an attempt to get off Lake Huron and into the St. Clair River before the storm hit.  It was a fast ride with a bit of rocking and rolling as the storm moved closer, and we were in good company as numerous boats were running the same race we were.  The rain started to hit just north of the Blue Water Bridge.  We made it safely back to dock.

A fun-filled week of activities and an exciting ride back to put an end to it all.  Actually the activities for boat week end Saturday night with a Lighted Boat Parade, which we did not attend.  If you are ever in the Port Huron area during Boat Week, I hope you take the time to enjoy at least some of the activities, if not all.

2 Comments

Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, events

Furnishing Our House One Scrap at a Time.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my husband, Ron’s new scrapping truck in Treasures From Trash.  Since that time he has been bringing home tons of stuff that we use in our house or yard.  I thought it would be fun to share his finds with you so I took a walk around the house and yard and took photographs of things that we use obtained from scrap.  I know as soon as I post this I will realize I missed a few items, but I think you will be amazed at the things people toss away as garbage.  Keep in mind that these photos do not include all the Halloween items, Easter items, or Christmas items that are stored in our basement.

2 Comments

Filed under Life is a Melting Pot

Bear of a Week

Photo taken at Oswald Bear Ranch.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Photo taken at Oswald Bear Ranch. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing 4th of July and are rolling into what finally feels like some summer weather here in Michigan.  My life has been a whirlwind.  I haven’t processed the photos from our trip north to Newberry, in Mchigan’s upper peninsula, where we visited Oswald Bear Ranch and Tahquamenon Falls.I’m including a couple teaser photos in this post just for fun.

Tahquamenon Falls.  Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Tahquamenon Falls. Copyright 2015 Grace Grogan.

Of course we had 4th of July last weekend, and now I am only working 1/2 day on Thursday (July 9th) and then heading straight from work to Grayling, Michigan for a girls weekend with my sister and two cousins.  It should be a fun, relaxing weekend and I am looking forward to it.     Here’s wishing everyone a great week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, vacation

Celebrate Independence Day

St Clair Fireworks 2

Photo by Grace Grogan; copyright 2014

Wishing everyone a safe and happy 4th of July.  I am glad that I live in a city that still believes in having their 4th of July Fireworks on the appropriate day, so on Saturday evening I will be enjoying bursts of color shot from a barge over the St. Clair River.   With Ron and I being photographers, we watch with cameras on tripods to capture the event.

My weekend is kicking off with a visit from my best friend, Vicki, who lives four hours away.  We haven’t seen each in several months.  She and her boyfriend are taking a motorcycle trip along the eastern coast of Michigan this weekend and are stopping in for the night.

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair.  Photo by Grace Grogan  Copyright 2014

Fireworks as viewed from Palmer Park in St. Clair. Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2014

The Blue Water Area is full of things to do on this weekend.  The Blue Water Sandfest, an amateur and professional sand sculpting event is being held at the Ft. Gratiot Lighthouse, Algonac is having their Pickerel Festival, and there are numerous other events throughout the area as well.

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Happy 4th of July.

1 Comment

Filed under Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Photo Seminar and Seven Ponds Nature Center

A couple weeks ago my husband, Ron, and I attended the Seven Ponds Nature Center Photo Expo.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had the opportunity to take classes and enjoy taking photographs at the nature center.  We split up, taking separate classes to fit our own personal interests and so we could share information from as many sources as possible.

Class subjects we participated in included Travel Photography, Subject Elements and Composition in Nature, Night/Low Light Photography, and Shades of Gray (visualizing your photograph in black and white when shooting).  Extended and overlapping break times allowed us to meet up and eat lunch together in the car before once again splitting up.  We even walked areas of the nature center separately, which is sometimes beneficial so that our photographs are not all alike or of the exact same subjects.

There were several drawings for door prizes and Ron was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to Camera Mart in Pontiac — a place that we frequent.  While at the seminar we purchased a new mono-pod for Ron and a new tri-pod that converts to a mono-pod for me.  I had been having trouble with my tripod and the Benro dealer informed me it could be sent in and re-worked/repaired at no charge by using his name from the seminar.  Needless to say I was very pleased to hear that, and Camera Mart handled getting that sent in for me.

Nature photography is something we both enjoy.  Everyone taking a walk in a wooded area or nature center should always have some form of camera available to capture the things that make those walks beautiful to you.  Take the time to look and enjoy the small things.  There are times I have taken walks with others who are not photographers, and they traverse the area much faster than I, because I am spotting and photographing many subjects that they never see.   I’m including some pictures taken the day of the seminar at Seven Ponds Nature Center.

~~ ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY GRACE GROGAN ~~
~~COPYRIGHT 2015 GRACE GROGAN.~~

Leave a comment

Filed under Life is a Melting Pot, nature, Photography

Caught up in Life

The past couple weeks it seems like life has been in a whirl and I can’t seem to catch up.   But then, how boring would life be if it were always the same.

Some of you who have been readers for a while know about the struggles of my husband, Ron, and I trying to adopt our two granddaughters.  We were denied the youngest, Kae-Lee, and she was adopted by her foster care parents almost a year ago.  We were still hoping to get Kiley, who is seven and severely handicapped, but we recently received the denial that they are giving her to complete strangers who live in northern Michigan, ironically in the very area where Ron’s parents retired to and we have spent a lot of time.  That adoption will most likely go through in the near future.  I did put in a call to the attorney that was trying to help us before to see what the retainer would be and what she thinks the chances are of winning a Section 45 hearing, but I already know from reading numerous appeals decisions that it is very hard to win.

Life is like a bicicleWhat is very frustrating is CPS/DHS denied us contact with the girls, both before and after the termination of parental rights.  Then when Michigan Children’s Institute wanted us to have supervised visits for MCI to make a final adoption decision, DHS fought against that as well and the judge ruled against us getting the visits.  So what is one of the reasons we are being denied?  Lack of contact for over three years — and yet they are giving her to a complete stranger.

When the adoption agency wrote their recommendation that we adopt, they recommended we get only the older one, not the younger.  Why?  Because the younger had been with the foster care family from the time she was an infant and they wanted to adopt.  As for Kiley, they said she should be adopted into a family as the only child — but they are awarding her to a family that has other handicapped children in it.

Their third reason was that we do not have experience in caring for a child with severe handicaps requiring 24-hour care.  The time we spent caring for her prior to being kidnapped by CPS apparently doesn’t count.  That’s okay, because I had started a book about this situation and was taking my time to see what the outcome would be.  Now that I know, I can delve into my writing more intensely and obviously will have a lot of time for promotion of the book once published.

I know we are not the only family this has happened to.  Kidnapping by Child Protective Services/Department of Human Services is a nationwide problem, no family is safe.  Removal of children from loving homes, placing them in foster care and then giving priority to non-family members, rather than biological relatives, has been going on for at least 15-20 years and needs to be stopped.

If you were not reading my blog at the time I wrote in more detail about our situation you can check it out at Attempted Adoption.  I would love to hear from others who have had experiences with this type of situation, good or bad.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adoption, Family, grandchildren

Re-Connecting with Old Friends

Friend - meeting after a long time and nothing has changedWhen I saw this image I instantly made a connection with it.  This has happened to me twice.  Once several years ago and again within the past couple months.

While it is always fun to have a wide assortment of friends and to make new friends wherever you go, there is something of value that cannot be replaced with a long-standing friendship.  A friendship that regardless of how long you have not spoken or how long you have been apart maintains an unexplainable level of comfort.  Those are the friendships to be treasured.

I have a friend I met when we were both attending business college back in 1978.  We quickly became friends and although I was only at the school a few months we remained friends.  All of our lives we have lived about four hours apart and contact was limited.

Once I left college we only saw each other a few times.  Vicki got married and I attended her wedding.  Then I got married and when I became pregnant she brought her daughter, a toddler, to my baby shower.  That was the last time we saw each other for several years.

There was no internet, so communication was either phone or snail mail.  With us snail mail was all we did, long distance calls were expensive.  Eventually computers and internet became a way of life and we connected via email, sending each other lengthy emails on an almost daily basis. We were email friends, but still had not seen each other in about 20 years.

When my youngest child was going to be attending a camp in Indiana I realized I would be traveling through Vicki’s area to drop him off.  I inquired about hotels in the area where I might be able to stay on the return trip and then visit her.  Vicki’s immediate response was that I could come stay with her.  I accepted.

Neither of us were concerned about re-connecting in person after so many years.  The man she was dating at the time was, and asked if she wasn’t concerned that we would run out of things to talk about and get bored.  She wasn’t.  We didn’t.   We had a great time, I taught Vicki about scrapbooking, a hobby of mine, and got her hooked  After that we spent years meeting halfway between our homes several times a year to do scrapbooking crops at a large store, then later at her mother’s house.  Recently she came and stayed at my home a couple times to scrap.

We have once again reached a point where we are not getting together as often due to certain commitments in our respective lives.  Sometime in the near future Vicki will be moving out of state to live near her daughter and grandchildren.  However we have a fast and firm friendship.  We have to stay friends, we know too much about each other to ever become enemies!

My more recent connection was on a much different level.  It was someone who I met when I was in 7th grade, 11 years old and he was in 8th grade, 12 years old.  Brad followed me home from school to get my phone number and from that point on until I was 19 and he 20 we were boyfriend/girlfriend off and on, but more on than off.  Everyone assumed we would eventually marry, but we didn’t.  I was the one that made the final break when I met the person that is now and has been my husband for the past 33 years.

I only saw Brad twice after that, once at a mutual friend’s home, and once when he came over to exchange belongings.  When I married I moved two hours away.  I would get updates, or mutual friends would make comments about him on occasion, but we had no contact.

About two years ago we connected on Facebook.  I don’t remember who made the friend request.  However I am more of a Facebook fanatic than Brad is, so most of our communication has been through IM messages.  We have extensive periods of time when there is no contact.  Although I occasionally traveled to  my old hometown, that was for the purpose of visiting family and we never saw each other.

Two years ago my mother passed away, and then my father six months ago.  That left an entire house for my sister and I to empty out, and it is the house they moved into in 1966, the one I grew up in.  A lot of things to go through, so I began making trips home on alternating weekends to do clean-out.  Brad was aware and suggested on one of those trips we get together for dinner or coffee.

About a month ago we did just that.  Brad came to my parents home to pick me up, which was a bit of deja vu.  We had a nice time at dinner reconnecting, and I invited him into the house to continue the conversation after dinner.  It was an enjoyable evening talking about our parents, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren.   We ended the evening agreeing we would have to do it again sometime.

Brad and I had not seen each other since 1980, but it was a comfortable interaction..  I am glad we reconnected and value the friendship, which I anticipate will grow stronger as time passes.  A friendship developed from old memories of times gone by, but continuing to build through the sharing our current life accomplishments and challenges.

True Friendship is something to cherish, hold dear, and enjoy.  Strong, long-time friendships are the best.

Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

2 Comments

Filed under communication, Life is a Melting Pot

Feeling the Energy

I felt the challenge and I couldn’t resist.  My sister called up and said “when you come up this weekend, we won’t be eating out, I’ll be providing all the food because I started a new diet”

Okay, that intrigued me and challenged me.  My sister is on a diet.  I need to diet.  Don’t want her loosing and I’m not so I found out what the diet was and went out and purchased the book.  Of course I was at a disadvantage as I had not read it yet, but not wanting to be left behind I found and downloaded a cheat sheet off the internet I could use to muddle my way through the first week or so till I finished reading.

I am now on Week 3, and although I haven’t lost as much as I would have liked, probably due in part to my start without a full understanding of the diet, a couple flub-ups here and there and my refusal to give up coffee 100%, I must say it is a great plan for energizing your metabolism and the information in the book in and of itself is fascinating.

The book provides information on the reasons why she eliminates certain foods from the diet, such as wheat, corn, soy, dairy and caffeine.  It makes sense.  The book says that it resets your metabolism and I believe it does.  I have more energy and feel better than I have since a bad accident I was in five years ago.  I am wondering if that intense set-back got my metabolism out of whack and it never corrected itself.

This plan has an all-around health benefit.   I am more relaxed yet more energized all at the same time.Fast Metabolism DietI find I am sleeping better, more sound.  I have degenerative arthritis in an ankle that was severely injured in the accident and prior to starting this diet was taking a considerable amount of ibuprofen in addition to my prescription anti-inflammatory medication.  I have only used ibuprofen once, maybe twice in the three weeks since I started the diet.

The diet is easy to follow.  It is a 3-phase process through each week to keep your metabolism guessing and active.  It is eating all fresh, non-processed foods, and only sprouted grain products.  It is a bit of a stab at the grocery store, but the food tastes so much better and is amazing.  No chemicals, no nitrates.  Just good flavorful food, and nothing canned; fresh or frozen only.  Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, grains that meet criteria such as sprouted breads and wild rice, and a variety of meats, just make sure they are nitrate free.

The hardest adjustment to the diet is having to consume water  equivalent in ounces to 50% of your body weight, so if you weight 160, you have to drink 80 ounces of water per day, if you weigh 180 you would drink 90 ounces of water per day, etc.    I don’t find getting the water down hard, but it takes a while for the body to adjust so trips to the restroom are dramatically increased.

One surprise, I am down from drinking a full 10-cup pot of coffee plus about 32-48 ounces of tea per day to only 1/2 of a pot, the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee in the morning.  No more caffeine the rest of the day.  Even more surprising was that I never experienced the caffeine withdrawal headaches.  I assume another benefit of this eating plan.

One thing I failed to mention, this is a 28-day plan.  You can do as many 28-day cycles as you want.  You can do the plan for 28 days, take a break then start back on it again.  The plan is to re-set your metabolism so that you have more energy and when you do eat high sugar, consume alcohol, eat a high-fat product your body’s metabolism is working at its peak and can digest and process the food through your system properly.

Whether you are in need of loosing weight, feel sluggish, or want to eat a healthier diet, I recommend reading The Fast Metabolism Diet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diet, Life Changing, Meals

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

Leave a comment

Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography

Treasures from Trash

You drive down the road, passing the bins and bags of trash people have set out for the next day’s garbage collection.  Have you ever wondered what great things might be in those bags?  Have you ever thought about people you see going through someone else’s trash and what items they find?

Treasures recently found while scrapping

Treasures recently found while scrapping

It is amazing what valuable items people throw out.  I often wonder why such valuable stuff ends up in the trash instead of being donated.  However each person that chooses to toss instead of donating can be a benefit to me.  My house is filled with items that people threw out as trash.  My computer printer sits on a small 3-drawer wood dresser, picked up from someone’s trash.  My family room contains a Little Tikes Bookcase filled with books, Large Little Tikes toy chest filled with toys, and a Little Tikes car track table for hot wheels, all picked up from someone’s garbage.  My kitchen contains a large decorative bowl on my table, dinnerware, some bake wear, and miscellaneous other items picked up from someone’s trash.   We have vases and figurines, baskets, bags, antique cameras, stuffed animals, and a metal twin-size bed, all picked up out of someone’s trash.  There is a bookshelf, 2-drawer solid metal filing cabinet, 2-drawer wood filing cabinet, 4-drawer fire-proof filing cabinet and a Lifestyler CardioFit machine.  I have numerous holiday decorations including a lighted, moving carousel that plays your choice of Christmas or other music.  I even have shelves of brand-new hardcover books. In my backyard you will find a Little Tikes Coupe, Little Tikes Slide, Little Tikes Tree House/Swing combination, Little Tikes Pool, Little Tikes Picnic Table/Sand Box combination, and  Little Tikes House.  All Picked Up From Trash!

IMG_0658

Ron home from picking up his new scrapping truck – complete with scrap in the back

 How did I obtain all these items?  Because a few years back my husband, Ron, got into scrapping — the process of driving around, going through people’s trash looking for scrap metal.  He runs different routes different nights of the week, and can take apart sofa sleepers, washers, dryers, water tanks, fans, and numerous  other items to separate out the various types of metals, wires and motors.  In the process of looking for scrap he comes across tons of valuable items that he brings home.  We have provided entire Christmas gatherings with “white elephant” gifts picked up when he was scrapping — and even wrapped them all in Christmas wrap he had picked up.

Things were going well until about a year ago when Ron’s scrapping truck diedat the scrapyard.  So he did what every good scrapper does – he scrapped it!  Then began the search, looking for a truck of decent quality but not too expensive to use for scrapping.  He found one about a week ago.  A 2007 Chevrolet Silverado with an 8-foot bed.

Scrapping Finds 2

Ron’s truck after his first night of scrapping

Ron claimed he wasn’t going to get into scrapping again, but I believe once a scrapper, always a scrapper.  Last Monday he picked up a piece of metal scrap on his way home from picking up the truck.  Then my daughter called and told him where a couple items had been set out in our town and he went and got them.  On Saturday Ron asked me if he used to run a route on Sunday nights and I confirmed he did.  On Sunday he announced that he was going to go scrapping that evening.  Do you think I was surprised?  Not at all — and he came home with the truck over filled.  He also went out a couple other days during the week.

Ron's scrapping truck painted by graffiti artists

Ron’s scrapping truck painted by graffiti artists

Ron's Truck

Ron’s truck in the process of being graffiti painted

Now all we have to do is get his truck graffiti painted like his old one.  It was an eye-catcher, and everyone knew where he was.  But for now, it is just an ordinary white pick-up, and will most likely have something in the back end at all times.

1 Comment

Filed under Activities, Blue Water Area, Life is a Melting Pot

Living The Quote

We see them on Facebook.  Those little “images” of quotes that make you laugh, smile, or remind you of something about yourself or others you know.    I love those quotes.  I will spend time searching for them on various topics, saving them so I can repost them later.     Here are a few thoughts, quote style.

Trip over nothingI was born a klutz, there is no other explanation and as a result this quote fits me perfectly.  I can live in a house for years yet forget where the walls are and walk right into them.  I even walked into a clear glass window at the mall one time, thinking it was the exit from a store.  Just like in a TV show, full force impact with the glass, glass shakes, people stare, I feel stupid.

I even fell at my own wedding.  I stepped down from the alter, put my foot into the hoop of my wedding gown and although my husband tried to hold me up, it was useless and I went to my knees.  Luckily I am the type of person that laughs when embarrassed, so those wedding pictures of me coming down the isle show a huge laughing smile.Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

I have a best friend who fits this quote perfectly.  We live three hours apart and maintain our friendship through occasional get-togethers or phone calls, but the majority of our contact is via email.  We became friends in 1978 and have had periods in which contact was almost non-existent, but when we re-connected it was great and we were not at a loss for words.

Photography - a love affair with lifeMy husband and I are both photographers, and anything and everything is a photo subject.  I believe photographers do have a love for life, and the ability to see beyond what the average person sees.

A non-photographer will take a walk down a path and enjoy the view and nature.  The photographer will walk that same path and find small, overlooked objects to photograph.  Fungus on a tree, moss on a log, spiders spinning webs or butterflies on weeds.  Photographers have a keen eye for seeing what others pass by.  I have started out on paths with people I know, but they ended up far ahead of me because I kept stopping to take pictures.  A lot of the items I captured with my camera they admitted they never noticed.

nothing is really lost till mom can't find itMoms have the ability to locate the lost, misplaced, items of life.  When my kids were young I would get a call at work, “mom, where is my __________?”  You know what the amazing thing is — I usually knew!  Why is it they are in the room and/or building where they item they lost is at, but I can find it through a telephone wire faster than they can find it standing in its location?  Why? Because I’m a mom!

walk in my shoes and end up at barMy husband and I have endured many things throughout our 33 year marriage.  Some people know what we have encountered, others have no clue.  When I met him he was in the midst of a very nasty divorce, we went through an entire custody trial regarding his daughter, we raised two children with ADHD, children who got into legal trouble, a severely injured grandchild and the dealings with CPS and DHS that followed, our son’s termination of his parental rights, our attempt to adopt our two granddaughters and the battle with DHS, health issues, and multiple other things.  A friend once said when you read my Christmas newsletters you have no idea the turmoil that is brewing beneath the surface.  I think the quote “walk a mile in my shoes” should be taken to heart with anyone you deal with, because you may not really know what they are coping with below the surface.motorcycle - you haven't lived till grin and bug

I used to ride motorcycle, until an unfortunate accident five years ago  made that impossible.  I do miss it though, and I think people that have never ridden do not understand what they are missing.  it is an intense sense of freedom and relaxation that cannot be met my any other means.  I must say this quote reminds me of the times when I have captured a bug in my throat — and why is it always when cruising down an expressway at 70 mph, never on a surface street where you can stop and force it down with some water out of a saddle bag.    Swallowing bugs is just one of the side “benefits” of riding motorcycle that does not accompany other fun activities.

I can’t believe I have already shared six quotes, and there are so many more I would like to share that fit into my life.  They will have to be saved for another time and place.  However I do want to remind my readers of my favorite quote, the one that hangs on the wall in my house, the one on which this entire blog is based.Life is like a camera

Never forget that Life is like a camera.  The quote that hangs on my wall of this saying is accompanied by photographs that depict each statement, and the display can be seen on this website.  Simply click on the link Life is Like A Camera to view it.

Quotes - Life Isn't about Quotes about lifeIf all else fails, search through quotes and find one that fits your life, makes you smile, or stirs a memory.  After all, there are quotes about everything, including the fact that Life isn’t about Quotes About Life — or is it????

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, children, communication, Coping, decisions

Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

Leave a comment

Filed under birds, bugs, nature, Photography

HAVE A FUN NEW GHT

Text messaging is something that many of us have mastered, that is until auto correct began.  Now intelligent messages that make sense are taken over and possessed by this great invention called auto correct.  It always makes life interesting. I seriously wonder what people 30-50 years from now are going to think if they come across our communication data.  Between the abbreviations we do ourselves such as BRB, BTW, BFF combined with auto correct, our decedents are going to think we were a hopeless bunch of illiterates.

Even more hysterical are the messages you get from people who try to voice text.  A friend of mine who NEVER swears used voice texting to send a message to her daughter, which came across as her having said F***K — it wouldn’t even spell out what it thought she said, and regardless it was dead wrong.   I once received a voice text that was supposed to be a serious message and related to work, but came across saying something about a bikini and the beach.  Not even close to what the message was.  It did give us a good laugh when the person walked in and said “did you get my message?” and I responded with “yes, but what does it mean?”

Now all we have to do is learn how to prevent our computers and phones from sending the messages they think we want to send, but on a positive note “…you’ll never be nored, bired, bored” when trying to get a message across, even though “I get accused on a public ER page by a paranoid food of being g a troll with multiple profiles.”  For the record, those are messages I have received, not sent.  Sometimes depending on the message I get to laughing hysterically at what has come across, or what I have sent.

For now, Have a Fun New GHT — which should have said Have a fun night!

1 Comment

Filed under assumptions, communication, Family, friends, Life is a Melting Pot

Doing the Michigan Dance

Yes, this past couple weeks we have been going through the steps of what I am going to term the Michigan Dance.  What is it?  If you live here you should know, it is the back and forth, two steps forward, one step back, motion of our weather.

We have had a bitter, cold winter with plenty of snow.  Then 2-3 weeks ago the weather warmed up.  The sun was shinning, people started getting out and riding bikes, walking paths, cleaning yards and other spring activities.  Our grass has turned green and the trees and bushes have started to bud out.  Spring has arrived — or has it?

Weather - sunburn and frostbite in same weekA couple days ago the temperature dropped, winds picked up, and it was cold again.  Not freezing, but cold enough that some people went back to wearing winter coats.  This morning when I got up there was a skiff of snow on the ground.  Not massive proportions, and I assume by midday it will all be gone, but the point is, it is there.  We are on the one-step back motion of the Michigan Dance.

I am tired of winter, tired of the cold.  I want spring to hit us full-force and move into a heat-blasting summer.  I want to move this Michigan Dance from a slow moving waltz to a fast-paced polka and spin forward around the dance floor several times in a row.  Is that too much to ask?

What am I thinking….I live in Michigan.  Nothing is predictable, especially the weather.  Two steps forward, one step back.

Leave a comment

Filed under spring, summer, Weather

Learning to Live in a Language Based World

I am not a big fan of “Awareness” months, but I am going to make an exception.  I have a 9-year old grandson, Austin, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  When I was in college a few years back I was required to write a paper for an English and Culture class.   I chose to write about the difficulties people with Autism endure as they typically struggle with both social skills and communication.  Autism is a spectrum disorder, no two people are the same.  Each person is unique in which areas they are most challenged and to what degree.

Austin is doing well.  He is in a special needs class in second grade.  He is learning to read and has greatly expanded his ability to communicate and express needs since I wrote the paper.  What people need to understand is that although people with Autism have learning difficulties, they are intelligent people who are misunderstood and frequently have their abilities underestimated.  The trick is figuring out what needs to be done to communicate and get the message across to them.

I hope you will take the time to read the article I have posted below.  I would love to hear from those who deal with people who are autistic, people who themselves are autistic, or anyone who has read and learned about the struggles these people encounter in their every day lives.

Learning to Live
in a Language Based World

Imagine you need something but are unable to formulate the words to express your needs. How do you get someone’s attention? How do you communicate your wishes? This is the frustration a person with autism spectrum disorder deals with their entire life.

Cultures throughout the world are based on verbal communication and social interactions. A person with autism struggles to learn language, has difficulty holding a conversation, and lacks social skills. The inability to communicate can leave a person feeling lonely and isolated. An autistic person’s ability to live successfully in a language based world requires them to adjust to living outside their comfort zone. To help people with autism accomplish that goal, society needs to develop an understanding and compassion for the needs, feelings, frustrations and learning style of people with autism spectrum disorder.

As many as thirty percent (30%) of people with autism are unable to speak (Apps for Autism, 2011). Children with autism are found to have hyper-acute hearing that creates an inability to filter out and properly process ordinary everyday sounds. Buzzers, alarms, a dishwasher running, a lawn mower being used, and all the other miscellaneous sounds that the average brain filters out may sound as if they are on a super high volume and jumbled together to the autistic person.

The inability to properly process auditory input results in an inability to understand the meaning of words, an inability to express needs and wants, and a lack of social skills that leaves the autistic person feeling detached and unconnected to “normal” people (Notbohm, 2005). As Temple Grandin, who is autistic, said “There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to communicate” (Valentine, 2006, para. 11).

Ellen Notbohm, author of Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew, stated “The ability to communicate, whether through spoken language, pictures, signing/semaphore or assistive technology, is bedrock” (2005, pp. xvii-xviii). “Words are the essential building blocks of spoken communication…” (McGregor, 2008, para 2). A child who lacks social skills, including the ability to read body language and facial expressions, finds communicating and fitting into society very difficult. The autistic child often stands out in society as a social oddball (Notbohm, 2005).

Children with autism are considered social outcasts because they lack the ability to communicate verbally and display behaviors that help them cope within their environment. People make negative assumptions that a child with autism is unwilling to cooperate, temperamental, and lacking in intelligence. Autistic children are known for their “meltdowns”. A meltdown is an autistic child’s manner of communicating to the outside world that there is something wrong. The child can be hungry, thirsty, cold, tired, or any other range of things. The adult has to figure out what the trigger to the meltdown is because the child is unable to express their need. It is important to remember that behavior is a way of communicating, and that a child who lacks verbal skills is unable to tell you what is wrong (Notbohm, 2005).

As the grandmother of an autistic child I have witnessed meltdowns and how they can easily be remedied by analyzing what the trigger is. Meltdowns in public can be exceptionally frustrating when people who do not know the child feel free to make rude, insulting remarks about their behavior. When my grandson, Austin, was two years old I was trying to put him into his car seat and he was arching his back, crying and kicking. “All behavior is communication” and “all behavior happens for a reason” (Notbohm, 2005, pp. 21, 22).

Austin’s behavior was because he hadn’t said goodbye to grandpa, who had ridden to the park in a different vehicle. Austin’s behavior confused me; what upset me was a man parked beside us. As I lifted Austin out of the car during the meltdown the man said very clearly “what a spoiled brat.” Looking back I wish I had taken the time to express what I thought of his rude behavior and assuming comments about a child he did not know. The man’s behavior is best summed up by Temple Grandin, “Normal people have an incredible lack of empathy…they don’t have much empathy for the autistic kid who is screaming at the baseball game because he can’t stand the sensory overload. Or the autistic kid having a meltdown…I’m frustrated with the inability of normal people to have sensory empathy.” (Valentine, 2006, para. 24 ). A child who lacks the ability to communicate normally in a social situation needs understanding and assistance. They should not have to endure insults and rejection from adults.

It is important to create circumstances where the autistic child can practice social skills with success. “Social navigation is necessary at every turn in our lives: at home, at work, at school, in our travels about the community, in our shopping, recreation and worship.” (Notbohm, 2005, p. 71) It is important to understand that fitting into society socially requires a tremendous amount of effort from the person with autism. The autistic person must learn to cope with the demands of society while trying to understand what is expected of them and using what abilities they have to make those adjustments. (Notbohm, 2005).

In Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew the seventh item on the list is “Help me with social interactions” (Notbohm, 2005, p. xxviii). A child with autism may feel lonely and left out because they lack the social skills to enter a play situation or start a conversation. They may not be able to talk to the other children and are unable to read facial expressions, body language or emotions of others. It is easy to assume the child doesn’t want to participate in activities, but what they really need is guidance on how to join the fun.

The way to successfully teach a child with autism spectrum disorder is to focus on their positive abilities. The autistic child may lack the ability to process verbal information, but they are usually very good at paying attention and are visual learners (Gordon, 2007, para. 3). The sixth item listed in Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew is “Because Language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me.” This is followed by the seventh item, “Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do” (Notbohm, 2005, pp. xxvi, xxvii).

A child cannot learn and function well in an environment where they are made to feel that they are not good enough. Often peers, teachers, siblings, and relatives focus on what the child is not doing, rather than what the child’s strengths are (Notbohm, 2005). A computer can help an autistic person with both learning and social skills. The computer is not critical and has unlimited patience, allowing the child to repeat skills as needed until the task is mastered.

The Apple iPad and other tablet computers are offering special applications that allow people with autism to communicate. By using pictures or characters on the computer screen the autistic person is able to make selections and use the computer to “speak” on their behalf. The computer allows the autistic person to voice their thoughts and needs, helping them to function in society.

A 60 Minutes episode called Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad featured the utilization of computer applications for people with autism. The use of tablet computers was demonstrated by Joshua Hood, 27 years old, who was unable to communicate until he received the Apple iPad. Joshua is now able to go to a restaurant and use the picture apps on the iPad to order his own meal. Prior to receiving the iPad Joshua rarely looked at people, but the iPad has given him the ability to interact with others. His therapist, Tammy Taylor, said “He’s part of the community. I mean, communication is the essence of being human. And here he is, communicating fully now” (Apps for Autism, 2011).

The use of computer applications is allowing professionals to realize how intelligent people with autism are, people that were once considered to have below average intelligence. At the Beverly School in Toronto, Canada half the students are severely autistic. The impact of the iPad is demonstrated by its effect on the attention span and willingness of those children to socialize. Ten year old Nuno does not talk and was believed to have the intelligence of a toddler. An iPad vocabulary application was used to test Nuno. The school was amazed at Nuno’s vocabulary and learned that he has a love of classical music and opera (Apps for Autism, 2011).

Whether a person with autism is learning to communicate through the use of a computer or through traditional learning methods, it is important to understand the stages of their learning and the need to guide them in developing social skills. Speech and language deficiency are defining characteristics of autism spectrum disorder, but it is important to remember that each person is an individual, with their areas of difficulty and ability to learn unique to them. An awareness of whether the person is mindful of being spoken to, if they try to communicate in any form, and whether they are attempting to use speech is important. If they are talking, are they speaking naturally or are they echolalic? A child that is echolalic will repeat sounds or words that are spoken to them, which indicates that the child can perceive and articulate speech (Gordon, 2007, para. 5).

A child that is using echolalia to communicate can create the impression that they are understanding and using language in a comprehensive manner, when in reality they are not. Temple Grandin was teased as a teenager because when she talked she reused the same phrases, and kept talking without letting other people respond.

Some people with autism do not have a problem with the mechanics of language, but they do not understand the process of having a conversation (Hamilton, 2006). Echolalia are messages that are memorized from the world to compensate for language deficits. These can be groups of words they have heard people say, or phrases from TV shows or movies. The person with autism does not necessarily understand what they are saying, but they know that a specific set of words can be used to provide a reply, ask for something, protest, or deny requests (Notbohm, 2005). This was used by my grandson when he needed help. It started when Austin would need assistance on the computer, he would come up and rub a person’s hand or arm and say “sorry”. We would respond “what do you need?” and taught him to reply “help on the computer”. It wasn’t long before that memorized set of words was used for anything he needed help with, be it the computer, opening a door, or getting something from the refrigerator. “Help on the computer” was a set of words that got someone to come and give assistance.

Whether a person with autism is learning to speak, using a computer for communication, or exercising echolalia to converse, it is important to remember that “…having a means of functional communication, whatever it may be, is what’s truly essential, to any child, but even more so to the child with autism” (Notbohm, 2005, p. 42). It is also important to reward the autistic child’s efforts to communicate in a positive way. My daughter always asks Austin if he wants chicken nuggets, then she makes the decision on whether to get him just the nuggets or a happy meal. A few weeks ago she asked Austin if he wanted chicken nuggets and he said yes. When she pulled into the McDonald’s drive-thru from the backseat she heard “chicken nuggets, French fries, chocolate milk, trick-or-treat”. His statement was rewarded with a full happy meal, all the items he requested in the Halloween trick-or-treat bucket. Verbal interactions and positive results help the child learn not only the mechanics of speech, but also how to use them to function in society.

Understanding the way an autistic person processes information and the way they are best able to learn is imperative to helping them fit into their community. Whether the person is able to converse, speaks in echolalia, utilizes a computer application, or demonstrates coping behaviors, it is important to recognize and accept them as a growing, feeling, human being who is trying to adapt to the world around them. As Temple Grandin said, “normal people find it difficult to put themselves in an autistic person’s shoes and see the world from their perspective” (Valentine, 2006, para. 4). For a person with autism spectrum disorder to live successfully in a language based world, society must learn to recognize the needs, feelings and frustrations these people experience on a daily basis and make appropriate accommodations for them to function within their community.

References
*  Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad. (2011, October 23). 60 Minutes. New York, New York. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7385686n&tag=contentmain;contentBody

*  Gordon, B. (2007, April 2). Speech and Language Problems in Autism Pectrum Disorders. Retrieved from Kennedy Krieger Institute: http://www.iancommunity.org/cs/articles/speech_and_language_problems

*  Hamilton, J. (2006, July 9). Autism Reveals Social Roots of Language. Retrieved from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5503688

*  McGregor, K. B. (2008, October 6). Learning Word Meanings. Retrieved from Kennedy Krieger Institute: http://ww.iancommunity.org/cs/articles/wordmeanings

*  Notbohm, E. (2005). Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew. Arlington, Texas: Future Horizons, Inc.

*  Valentine, V. a. (2006, July 9). Q&A: Temple Grandin on Autism & Language. Retrieved October 2011, from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5488844

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, children, Coping, decisions, disabilities, Family, grandchildren