Over the last three years, we have shared over 500 business cards and now we have run out. These cards were given to people who either needed information or were so curious, they’d ask questions I didn’t find appropriate answering. Besides, I don’t believe we should talk about someone in front of them, it’s rude. With Jess’s permission, the cards allow us to share her story. [Read more…] about She found her voice by Chance
Argh, computers and plugin updates. As soon as I realized the phone interface was not working well for the blog, I reached out to my brilliant web support person. She made the fixes and then said, “you know, the interface is old…” and then I knew it was time for a make-over.
So, the blogs face will change but it will be easier to navigate and the message will be the same: Presume competence, model, model, model AAC, the life of an Angel and whatever else I’m compelled to write about.
Changes, they are a comin’
Mary & Jessie
Right now our favorite movie is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2. At first, I thought there must have been a wager involved when this movie was made, something to the effect.. “any movie can be made better if it has a good soundtrack.”. Actually, the producer wanted to connect the mainstream audience with those that love science fiction. The end result was the 1980’s Walkman has much of a starring role as do the actors.
There are some people who only like to watch a movie once but Jess and I both enjoy watching our favorites repeatedly till we know the lines. Where I find Chris Pratt charming, Jess is enamored with baby Groot, We both love the music and the opening scene with Groot dancing gets her dancing too.
Where the audience hears the same phrase, “I am Groot”, the other characters understand the literal meaning of each utterance. Jess has a few words. She often says “Mom, Mom, Mom”, however, she does produce specific sounds in place of words. I’ve caught myself filling in the blanks based on her inflection. Of course, I can’t read her mind and we rely on her AAC device for her to communicate. How cool would be if in the next movie Groot has his own AAC device!
Of all the characters Jess has seen over the years, baby Groot is the first one that she has taken a shine to. I’m venturing a guess that she relates to him because he is non-verbal. Even though he only says the one phrase in every situation, it shouldn’t be assumed that he doesn’t have complex thoughts. Jess can attest to that.
Baby Groot does have problems following verbal instructions. When Yondu asked him to find his prototype fin, he returned with underwear, a space rat, and Vorker’s eye. After a few more attempts, he finally got some help. When Jess was younger, if she was asked to get something that was in the other end of the house (her shoes or socks), she’d either get lost along the way or return with something that caught her eye. This isn’t a problem for her now. In fact, she rarely gets sidetracked and has become the finder of my glasses and keys.
The scene where baby Groot is pressed against the spaceship window gave me the idea to get a Groot for my car. It would help me identify it in a parking lot because there are always at least three cars the same make and color. Unfortunately, as soon as Jess saw Groot, her eyes got big and she claimed him for herself. I have to admit, Groot is pretty cute in his own way.
Yesterday, Jess came home with a slight cough. This morning, she felt warm and I’m guessing it’s the beginnings of a cold. The best medicine is to stay home and rest. She’s laying pretty low right now. It’s probably going to be a movie day. I betcha can guess what we will be watching!
It’s summer and who doesn’t like a good shark tale?
When Peter Benchley wrote the book Jaws, he happened to live down the street from my parents. I babysat for his family a couple of times and his kids even rode one of my ponies. After his book came out, they moved from our small town to Princeton. Thanks to him, no one wanted to go in the water in the summer of 1975.
Years later, I was living on Maui and spent as much time as possible in the ocean. My girlfriends and I raced outrigger canoes and the local boys took us night fishing. We oohed and aahed at the site of Humpback whales but when the fishermen spotted barracuda in the water, we decided to get out of the water. My diver friends saw manta rays, Moray eels and the occasional sea turtle (they were still being hunted at that time, however, now they are showing a resurgence). The only time I ever thought about sharks was after hearing about a surfboard being bitten. The joke was not to wear a swimsuit that was the color of yum-yum yellow.
On our last visit to Maui, we went to Olowalu reef. My friend had suggested it because the water is shallow and the waves tend to be flat. Jessie and I stayed near the shore and my husband snorkeled out a bit farther.
Later that night, as we were sharing our day with my friend, she turned to another guest and asked, “how long ago was that shark attack?”. I don’t recall if the answer had been five or ten years, it was a detail that didn’t seem very important. All I could think of why did she send us there? cue music.
With July 4th weekend nearly upon us, they are showing movie trailers for Jaws. I don’t believe Jessie has seen that movie. I’m not sure if it is a good idea or not. We just got her comfortable swimming in the ocean and I don’t want to alarm her. She freaks at the sound of E.T. and I’m sure theme music for Jaws will haunt her too, just like it does everyone who has seen the movie.
Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about sharks in the pool, at least not until we hear the music.
And one more thing, don’t feed sharks. This woman just learned this lesson the hard way.
My favorite day is Monday. This is when everyone goes back to where they belong. Husband to work, Jess to her program and I do the voodoo that I do. In less dramatic terms, my job consists of all those things people pay others to perform. Except for balancing the checkbook, mowing the lawn, oh, and working on the cars, my to-do list is everything else not named above.
Sure, being a stay at home mom sounds glamorous, and working mothers have looked at me with envy, but don’t think I’m eating Bonbons on the couch. All I’m saying is the grass isn’t greener. In fact, my private pasture is rather isolating. At least my job isn’t as stressful as those who have to juggle home with work, however, it’s a FACT that they get paid better. (I get paid in hugs and kisses so…not complaining).
Though it may appear as though I make my own schedule, it really revolves around her health and the families needs. When Jess first started attending school, it seemed as though she was sick at least once a week (along with the rest of her classmates). We spent our spare time either visiting specialists or going to therapy, some of which I could only get appointments during the day. Even so, I was able to work part-time when Jess was in school and my boss did not grief me when I needed to be home. Not everyone is so fortunate.
As soon as Jess recovered from the flu that kept her home all last week, I came down with a cold. Disrupted sleep, long nights and being “hands-on”, my resistance was low and it was only a matter of time. When the nasal drip started, my paranoia, fear of what was to come, ran rampant. Fortunately, I only developed a summer cold. I felt lousy but it could have been much worse.
The first time I had the flu was years ago. It happened within a week of having my one and only flu vaccine. That strain of flu was rather violent compared to our recent experience. I remember asking my husband, “can you please stay home?”
“No, I can’t, I have meetings”
Fortunately, my sister drove two and a half hours to help me off the floor and into the bathroom.
A day or so after I recovered, my husband came down with the same virus. The sweetest words I ever heard were, “I’m sorry, I had no idea, I was wrong”. From that day forward, he never ignored my request for help.
Today’s thoughts upon waking were about taking a nap. I took this as a sign that I needed more rest and canceled my obligations. By 8:30, Jess’s ride hadn’t shown. Her Program told me that staff had called out and they were short handed but a ride was coming. 45-minutes later, I learned that the driver had forgotten Jess and they were sending a car for her asap. At 9:45, her ride arrived. I’m not upset with the driver. She was picking up the slack and this wasn’t her regular route, however, in her rush she didn’t have a complete list and Jess was missed. Once a month they have early dismissal and, of course, that happened to be today. This is the first problem we’ve had with this group. The school buses were famous for not showing up at all. I’m happy those days are behind us.
As much as I wanted to rest, I ended up dealing with SSI (for Jess). Last week I received a second notice that I had missed an appointment, however, I never received the first notice. The letter threatened to end her services if I didn’t respond. All previous calls I made had gone into voicemail. The third time was a charm and did get to a person. It was then I learned my contact person only works part-time, so I was fortunate that she answered. A phone meeting has been scheduled and the problem resolved. That’s a win.
Even though today wasn’t great, we are all on the mend and Mondays are still my favorite day. As I read this, I realize my life is ordinarily boring and I’m okay with that. These are times I can catch my breath.
It had been awhile since we attended Church. Crisis, illness, and travel kept us away. As we drove over the river and through the woods, Jess rocked out to Swingtown. When the song was over, I turned the radio down and she then began to tap on what seemed to be random words. To anyone listening, it would appear there was no method to her madness.
This is what Jess does in her spare time. She taps words she hasn’t used in awhile so she can refresh her motor planning. Jess also does this to warm up before she starts a conversation.
It’s hard to explain this to people when they are seeing an AAC device for the first time. They don’t realize how long it takes to put sentences together. They also expect longer sentences. Jess, can and will, but only when she is not pressured and is given enough time to form her thoughts.
Later, I don’t remember what Jess did to prompt me to tell her “she’s the smartest” (she said something pertinent and clever) but she told me I was “right”. There are no random words…she knows exactly what she wants to say.