Saturday, June 21, 2014

The T21 Blog Hop - June 2014

It is with great delight that I greet summer today.

Most people at this time of year kick back, take vacation and generally take things a little easier.   Or if they  choose, use longer days and sultry nights as an excuse to raise a little hell. 

Unfortunately summertime, with all it's activities and sunshine and whatnot, is not a respite from discrimination. There are a lot of really good active advocacy campaigns going on at the moment; in lieu of a specific theme, I encourage all to post.

For June, let's kick off the summer by making a little noise.

Add your post(s) to the linky below by clicking the link and following the instructions. If you need further instruction for adding a reciprocal link to your blog post, follow this link.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Not So) Idle Hands

I woke up yesterday morning to the sounds and smells of a summer that is almost here.  I lay there, delightedly breathing in wet-grass-laced-with-peonies while four separate bird songs rang out against the background hum of early morning traffic.  It was a beautiful kind of morning, one that I have not only found again, but also re-learned to appreciate.  The gentleness.  The sweetness, made extra so by the sense of stolen time as these moments were fleeting and would end suddenly as soon as the twins woke up.   My regret for leaving my bed faded as I slipped on my gardening clogs and headed outside to plant before it got too steamy and our morning too busy.

Normally my garden would be in by now.  Although our growing season is shorter than our southern neighbours, we generally have things in the ground after May 2-4 weekend (Victoria Day--the third Monday in May) as that is usually a good landmark for last frost.  Usually.  This year wasn't the case so initially it was good that I was behind schedule, but now that we are looking at the middle of June, those extra three weeks could make the difference between an extra batch of canning or not.  Normally, I would be panicking and in full grown "shoulda/hafta" mode... I should do this... I "shoulda done" that... I hafta do this... I DEFINITELY hafta do that... and so on.  Not this year.  Not this year by far. 

This year I wouldn't even have a vegetable garden if it wasn't for my brother and my Mom.  My mother starts all her seedlings herself and she sent some leftover plants down.  My brother also had a few left over that he had purchased commercially.  Most of them had sat on my front porch, "hardening" well beyond the point that they should have.  I decided on this gorgeous morning that I was going to take the time and put them in once and for all.

I carried my seedlings out back and took stock of what I had.

Plants from my Mother
[Photo description:  many tomato seedlings in labelled plastic drinking cups.  They are very green and healthy.]

Plants from my Brother [Photo description:  Several tomato seedlings in two square plastic commercial pots.  They are not as green and healthy.]
From Mom I had a couple Roma tomato plants, several Glamour (bright red, medium tomatoes), and a some called Canabec (which is a shorter growing, pinkish tomato), a black cherry tomato plant and something called "Matt's Wild Cherries".  I'm not sure who Matt is and why his cherry tomatoes are wilder than other people's, but hey.  Free tomatoes.  My brother gave me some Sweet Million cherry tomatoes and five Yellow Boy tomato plants.

Usually I have vegetables and herbs but this year I am just doing tomatoes.  First rule of gardening:  only plant what you desire and have time for.  I divided the tomatoes from the cherry tomatoes and started pulling weeds and preparing the soil to transplant.  As I was doing so, my mind wandered.  That's one of the best parts about gardening actually, the ability to allow your thoughts to meander gently in all directions as you connect yourself physically to the earth.

As my mind drifted, I thought about my kids and my advocacy work and how lately, my heart has not been into maintaining my online efforts.  They too have gone fallow in spots, overgrown with weedy spam in others and not as tended to as they should be.  Again, I would normally launch into another round of "shoulda/hafta", and a lot of guilt and self-loathing but not this time.  Not this time by far.

I started thinking that my garden is a larger metaphor than I ever imagined.  If I cultivate here, put my efforts there, something else is going to do without.  It's a metaphor for my own life, and in turn rather a microcosm in a much bigger one.  I know a few of you are now scratching your heads and wondering what I've been smoking, but bear with me for a bit.  Right now, I'm taking the "English Garden" approach to most of my online efforts, hacking away at major issues here and there and generally leaving them alone for a while to divert my attentions elsewhere.  I just make sure there is a path through the taller foliage.

Instead, I'm cultivating my family and myself. 

It's an exciting time for all the kids:  Wyatt is just on the edge of walking and comes up with new words every single day.  Zoe continues to astound us with... well, everything about her, really, while Quinn is finishing second grade and constantly offering up facts about the most random things that amaze all assembled. 

Me?  Well, I'm coming along fine, thank you.

There will be plenty of things to write about and this blog will not slowly recede into the creeper and the ivy.  However, the subject matter will continue to blossom beyond my son's chromosomes, to include disability, mental health/illness and more.  As it should, because ultimately this blog is about a family, not just one boy with a diagnosis.  Many things grow in our garden, some exotic, some more familiar, some toxic, some therapeutic.  It's really just a matter of perspective on each of these things as well, as what is poisonous to some is healing to others.

Before I leave you to work on the other two pieces of writing that occurred to me as I pulled weeds, transplanted, prepared the soil and marveled at the warming breeze that cooled the sweat on my back, I told you all of that to tell you this:  Life, especially mine, is very much a garden.  Some years you have good weather and a long growing season, some you don't.  Sometimes you get hail or high winds or blight that takes out your whole crop.    Sometimes you have to leave the soil fallow for a whole season, barren and naked to the elements and allow for renewal.  Some years you have to pay for the excesses of others and nurture the soil, adding nutrients, destroying pests and cultivating a rich medium in which to grow.  You grow what you can manage, sharing the excess with family, friends and neighbours.

You get some surprises too:

There will be those that volunteer to help:

My surprise "volunteer" tomato [Photo description:  tiny tomato seedling that grew in the garden of its own accord]
 Those that visit for a time:
Feral kitten that hung out with me before vanishing through the fence [Photo description: tiny grey striped kitten calmly sitting upright underneath a child's raised sandbox]

Those that you thought gone, yet make a surprise return:
Rosebuds on the bush I thought I lost [Photo description:  rosebush stem with 5 rosebuds on it]
 And those perennial friends that are faithful no matter what.
White peonies [Photo description:  White peony bloom with bud surrounded by green leaves]
There are also spiders and ants and earthworms and other somewhat icky things that have their role, just as much as the dirt and sweat.  But together, this garden, this life is a beautiful thing.  You just have to take a deep breath of the morning air, step back, behold the wonders that it offers... and occasionally prepare to get your hands dirty.

[Down Wit Dat Will Return...]

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In the News - May 2014

A collection of news articles, blogs, stories and information about Down syndrome, disability and special needs, from Down Wit Dat's Facebook page.  These are from May 2014.

AUDIOindicates an audio clip
APPEAL indicates an online petition or plea
BLOG indicates a blog post
CASE indicates a lawsuit or proceedings
EVENT indicates a scheduled event
IMAGE indicates a graphic, image or comic
LAWS indicates a new piece of legislation
LINKS indicates links or resource materials
PHOTOS indicates photos
POLL indicates an online survey
POST indicates an advocacy statement made through social media
PRESS indicates a press release
QUOTE indicates a meaningful quote
STUDY indicates a study or discovery
THREAD indicates an online discussion thread
VIDEO indicates a video or movie clip
VLOG indicates a video blog post

BLOGWhy I Fight For Inclusion For My Kid (and Your Kid, Too)
Learning With Disabilities: One Effort To Shake Up The Classroom
Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits and Activists
IMAGE"Being complicit in ableism is what allows it to continue. If this isn't about you, then..."
BLOGScared? Me? Kind Of. Its Open Season on the Disabled.
Sheltered Workshops
‘It wasn’t fair’: Why an Ontario school isn’t letting a sick girl go to prom
College Access for Students with Intellectual Disabilities is in jeopardy
BLOGThe neurodiversity fence
IMAGE"Disability deserves the same attention as other civil rights struggles."
It's time to stop using the 'R' word
POLLAWN Survey for Autistic Women
IMAGEYour favorite pages are not gone they are just hidden
IMAGEOne Example of CBE...
IMAGE“I don't even understand why it's surprising that when a child is told persistently, and by..."
BLOGPutting the "Health" Back in "Mental Health"
BLOGMotherhood: Now and Zen
BLOGForgetting not an option: Horrors at Willowbrook State School remembered at annual CSI lecture
VIDEOSh*t People Say To Non-Verbal Peeps
IMAGE“Functioning Labels Are: Arbitrary, Ableist, Limiting, Meaningless, Dehumanizing..."
BLOGYou Are Not Alone
BLOGI never meant for you to know
BLOGJust Another Typical Comedian, Daniel Tosh
BLOG“Rethinking Your Beliefs About Autism”
EVENTThe T-21 Blog Hop - May 2014 - Advocacy Rewind
BLOG"She Won't Get Anything Out of It" and Other Mainstreaming Blunders
IMAGE"Speak up. If it doesn't come from us, it comes from people who don't have an intellectual..."
BLOGAutism, Competence, Adding Kemal to Mustafa
BLOGPicking Rocks
BLOGOn beauty
BLOGWhat not to say
BLOGYou Are Not Alone
BLOG"I Don't Care About You": Thoughts on Accessibility and Disability Sensitivity
BLOGA different kind of Autism Awareness: We are here, Be Aware.
7 Reasons Why an Autism Advocacy Organization Would Oppose the Combating Autism Act
BLOGWhen He Grows Up
BLOGProud To Be A Grad School Drop-Out: #AutismPositivity2014
BLOGIntellectual Disability and a Path to Overcoming Stigma: My Conversation with Sam
BLOGPass The CRPD ... For Spite
BLOGI Am More Than An Empty Wheelchair: Speaking Up Against Ableism
BLOG4 Lessons Peacocks Can Teach Us About Advocacy
BLOGMy Plan B is… Stick to Plan A!!
BLOGI’m Not Here for Your Inspiration, and Neither is Michael J Fox
IMAGE"Inclusive: It does NOT mean "If you want to participate, conform to the cultural/social..."
Cops: Autistic student abused with push pin
APPEALWithdraw the police caution given to my 19-year-old with Downs Syndrome.
BLOGThe Narcissistic Parent of the Special Needs Child
BLOG"Autistic people are significantly more likely to be bullied and stigmatised than they are to..."
BLOGBirds and why they're sometimes flipped
BLOGFlash Blog: Autism is Not a Crime
BLOG Statement on Isla Vista Murder Incident
A Revolutionary Approach to Treating PTSD
IMAGE"Aspergers is:" "Not having friends, Being withdrawn, A lack of empathy and..."
Councillor accused of complaining that voter with learning difficulties 'shouldn't be voting' in local elections
VIDEOChildren of Darkness
Autism, allyship and Autism Speaks
BLOGVIDEO: School cop fired for beating child with cerebral palsy, dumping him out of wheelchair
BLOG“Are You Even Capable of Running This Program?” : A Response by Sonia Boue.

May also saw another edition of the T-21 Blog Hop...

Thanks to all who participated.

The T-21 Blog Hop will take place every month on the 21st, for three days and will continue to feature advocacy posts from across the disability community. See you on June 21st!

...And that's the news.  Keep the stories and information coming!
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