Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I'm home again, home again, jiggety jig....and off island time, which sucks. Here are a few pics of my trip to The Royal Cancun in Mexico. The wind blew 40+ mph the entire time, making it impossible to do any water activities (snorkeling, parasailing, beachcombing, etc.) The hurricane pretty much wiped out the beach along the hotel zone, so there was very little beach in front of our resort. The pools, however, were immaculate and spectacular! The food was great, and the hotel was amazing. I managed to get my hair braided halfway, and we had a swim up bar, so all was not lost! (HAHA!) I had many observations during the trip, but I'm too busy catching up at home to delve into it at the moment. I'm glad to be home, but it was definitely a nice, relaxing trip.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Spent the last few weeks being very frustrated over Mas being 'voiceless', since his Palmtop hit the toilet for the second time in 4 months. We were hopeful on Friday when we discovered it was in his backpack, only to find out the therapist had been unable to get Mason's personal info on it. So, she sent along 2 cds, a flash drive, and a cord to connect the Palmtop to the computer. She said we needed to "sync it." (How hard could this be, right?) The answer is, very hard. For example, did we want to 'reconfigure' or 'reset'? Did we want to wipe out all the old info, or was the old info actually the framework that Mason's info fits into? Should we treat it like a 'first time setup'? (There was nothing in the book that said what to do when the Palmtop swims in the toilet, gets sent into the company, and is repaired.) Dynavox, it turns out, only has customer service lines open from 8-5, Monday through Friday, and then there is a 5-hour window from 10 am-3 pm on Saturday where they will answer 'specific questions'...but, you have to leave a message and wait for them to call you back...since it was 64 degrees Saturday and we were set to go pick out some patio equipment, we missed their callback. So, another sad weekend watching Mas look at his Palmtop and wondering why we won't turn it on. ARGH! Again, just so much easier to get your voice from God, than to try to deal with a manufactured one. Here's hoping mas will be back to his computerized voice as soon as possible!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Well, one of my top 4's from Idol is GONE! Wow. I am shocked, but I will concede and say that song was not such a great pick, eh? (I did hear they had to pick from songwriters that were members of the Grand Ole Opry, which probably limited their choices, and I also heard rumblings that there have been "deals" made every year in Idol to get particular songs on the show.) Whether that's true or not, no one can argue that the "deer-in-the-headlights" "sing-for-your-life" last chance that Alexis had was excruciatingly painful to watch. She was trying too hard, with a song that was not going to be there for her. Ouch. I do think she is far more talented than the majority of the people who are left, and now one of my top four faves is gone. I still say my top ones are: Alison, Adam, Danny. Alexis was number 4. I'm not sure who I would put up in her place now. My faves are based purely on raw talent, not based on clothing, personal life, personality, etc. I just like to know who can SING! I will listen to music on the radio that I like, and I usually don't care much what those people do in their spare time. If Idol were a radio show, the entire contest would be decided by raw talent. Anywhoo, I'm sad Alexis is gone, and I hope she takes about 2 weeks off and then hits up some agents. She is talented and I think there was more to her voice than that song showed. I think Michael Sarver's days are numbered, and I think the girls have a lot of refining to do and they especially need to learn how to control their voices, in both the loud and soft parts; as well as the high and low registers. I think the rest of the men just need to be a lot smarter about picking out songs. Next week is Motown, so the majority of this years' Idol wannabes will definitely be more in their element.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Here's my quick two cents for the Randy Travis-assisted country night:
Michael Sarver--To me, this was wordy and weird, and a really strange choice for Idol. I didn't feel he was really singing. Also, historically, it's never a good idea to disagree with Simon. I'm just sayin'.
Allison Iraheta--I felt she was oversinging a bit, (the very first time I've thought that of her) and maybe just a tick overconfident at times. That being said, the girl can SING, and Randy nailed it when he said it was "dope."
Kris Allen--I felt his voice was thin and hollow-sounding. (I actually wrote "meh" in my notes on him.) To sing such a feeling-laden song with such awesome lyrics and still not be able to emote, well, wow, what can you say about that? It should have been easy to make us believe him, but I didn't buy it.
L'il Rounds--It was like watching Stevie Wonder at a hoedown. Ouch. Out of tune and she didn't believe it herself.
Adam (RangeMaster) Lambert--His falsetto should be called a "truesetto." Wow. Whether you liked the song or not, the boy can sing. S I N G. Johnny Cash may not have liked the version of his song, but he would have appreciated the fact that Adam didn't sell out, and also Adam's attitude and ability to stay true to himself. Props.
Scott McIntyre--His enunciation leaves me scratching my head at times...his low register was just plain rough and he was out of tune a lot....again....:o( I was again sad that he wasn't better. His piano playing is smooth and amazing, however.
Alexis--Her Jolene was pretty cool; I do think I bought where she was coming from with it, but I'm not sure about that song for Idol. I do love her voice, though.
Danny Gokey--(See earlier post about Stevie stuck on the haybale.) He seemed very uncomfortable and I also didn't like the harmonies of the background vocalists. The arrangement sounded weird to me. I did like his energy later when he got to the "power vocals in the money key." (They should keep him there as much as possible.)
Anoop Desai--This was nice, in tune, and controlled. Yeah!
Megan Corkrey--She is finally starting to show us her voice in there...she just has to be careful of certain pronunciations and believe in where she's heading vocally. Amazing that she had the flu and did this. I still dislike that hip movement.
Matt Giraud--This, for me, was out of tune, often...maybe I heard a different version than the judges? I didn't care for it. I think he needs to listen to himself sing and maybe not believe his own hype so much. He doesn't seem to be singing from a quiet, thoughtful place, as much as a "here I am!" place. That doesn't work for me.
All in all, I'm glad country week is over! I do think they all passed up opportunities to do some far better songs; I am amazed that some of these songs were cleared for Idol. Here's hoping next week shows some smarter song choices!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Well, we're still here; trying to make the best of it without the Palmtop. Of course, we lived for years without it, but since we got it back in November, it has become a part of Mas. The hardest part is watching him without it. He will use the ol' dinosaur Go Talk, too, but you can tell he doesn't care for it. We are hopeful that we will see it by the end of the week.
14 had parent-teacher conferences today. It sounds like she is on-track and kicking' butt on the grades, so it was an easy 30 minutes. She even has 106% in Math! Thank goodness she did not inherit my mathematic gene pool...or, my dyscalcula, as I prefer to call it! (Sounds fancier, not?) When her English teacher asked what she was thinking about becoming someday, she paused a moment and said, "Maybe a doctor." (!!) Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. I was glad to hear she is aiming high and thinking about all of the possibilities.
We were able to go outside and play with bubbles after Mas got home from school today, so that was awesome! With a high of 65 degrees, it felt wonderful and almost felt like spring had sprung...unfortunately, I am all too familiar with March and April, so I'm not expecting it to last for very long! Grandma came today and cut Mason's hair, so he is ready and rarin' to go back to school tomorrow. He was able to go outside for recess today, so that was a monumental event for him. He's happiest when he can be outdoors; like the rest of his family!
All in all, a great, (if not a very quiet) day. Here's hoping for a speedy return to the little man's voice!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Palmtop 3 still has water sloshing around inside of it...so, it's off to Dynavox for a complete overhaul. I have yet to hear how it happened, as the therapist has not contacted us. Kind of a frustrating set of circumstances. The worse news is, his ol' dinosaur Go Talk is also not working...so, we have no backup communication for Mas. To say he is frustrated is putting it mildly. Yesterday he was home due to weather, so I was able to see the frustration build up in him all day long; as he tried to tell me things, but was unable. I guess, to look at the positive side, it makes me realize how fortunate we were before. The soonest the Palmtop will be fixed? Maybe by the end of next week. (!!!!) (And no phone call from the person to tell us what happened? Or how she knows it won't happen again?? HELLO?!) We are thinking maybe the school will have to buy their own $5,500 device, and then they can be out when it hits the toilet. Hmmmm....something to ponder. In the meantime, it's back to the olden days, watching Mas struggle to share things with no way to do it....ARGH!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Idol got a much-needed infusion of energy tonight, for the most part. Perusing the Jackson catalog is like letting a four year old run rampant in a candy store...they may come running out with milk chocolate, gummi bears, or anise candy. Regardless of where Jackson and his family fall on the popular vote right now, the man could sing and dance back in the day; in a way that many cannot. His songs, while sounding easy and effortless, are for the most part, tricky lil' devils to reproduce.
Lil' Rounds started the night by oversinging (shrieking at times) The Way You Make Me Feel...Lil', you make me feel nervous about your future on Idol. That's how you make me feel. She is better than that, and whether it was a mike issue or a nerve issue, it was unacceptable.
Scotty Boy sang Keep The Faith, I believe; which was a song I was unfamiliar with. He was okay, but not what I was hoping for with the keys under his fingers. He was also off pitch quite a bit, which was sad to hear.
Danny Gokey, one of my early faves, nailed PYT, which was so energetic, I thought I was tuning in to a different show! He was brave to pick that song, I thought, and I did think his movements were real, which I appreciated. Is he going to be a great choreographer someday? No, but I do believe he was moved by the music, so he was great in my book!
Michael Sarver, while doing better than usual, is still not my fave. His voice is....what is the best explanation...lacking in timbre?? Thin? I'm not sure I've found the descriptor yet, but it leaves me wanting something else. I like the guy, and my hubby is a fan of his, but I don't think he has what it takes to make it much farther.
Jasmine tried to sing I'll Be There...here's the thing...when Mariah Carey, (in her pre-raspy days when she used to BELT the songs straight from her SOUL) sings a Jackson Five song and knocks it completely off the map, there is no reason to repeat it...ditto for a young MJ singing that with his brothers. Leave it alone, baby! I know Jasmine is as cute as a button, and she is marketable, but I do not think she has the chops. To me, she was flat on many of the longer notes, and just left me uncomfortable to listen to her.
Kris Allen did Do you Remember, and I would just say I wish I could forget. Blech. He was yelling, his runs were way off pitch, and it was just yucky.
Allison? Yeah. AMAZING. You can hear how much more she has in her voice, and she KNOWS how to REIN IT IN. She should give lessons on voice control to everyone else in the Top 13. I don't know if she has had extensive vocal training, or if that is innate ability, but, HALLELUJAH! She is in my top 2, for sure!
Anoop did a horrendous version of Beat It, in my mind....another song which should just be left well enough alone. It is really MJ's song, and to try to get up there and yell it, (even with cool green background stuff going on) is not doing it for me.
Jorge just made a poor choice in song, and I did not like him in that key. He looked uncomfortable, unsure, and I think that song really threw the viewers. My two cents.
Megan did Rockin' Robin; uncomfortable to watch, wrong type of song, just weird. I like her, but I hear in her voice what she is hiding in there, and I wish she would let it out. I think the more nervous she gets, the more she shakes her hips...unfortunate.
Adam Lambert! HELLO! It is definitely black and white who else is in my top 2! Adam has that "Jagger Swagger" that grabs your eye and does not let go. The boy can sing, he can move, he can penetrate with that gaze; he is definitely the package. (Note to whomever is running the show, though...turn Adam's mike down just a tic, will ya? He is not oversinging, he just projects....he needs a different volume than the rest!)
Alexis finished out the night with Dirty Diana, which I thought was a brave song choice, and I think she did pretty well, although not as well as I anticipated she would do.
All in all, a great night in scary territory. My rankings tonight would have to be: 1) Adam, 2) Allison, 3) Danny, and 4) Alexis....5) - 13) is just everyone else! If I had to guess who would be voted off, I would have to say either Kris, Anoop, Megan, Michael, and Jasmine are up for it.
Fun night, though, and I appreciated the fact that the judges are starting to pull away from who they would like to see win, and instead listening to what is being put in front of them at the moment. As it should be.
Here are some views from my world this morning...the top pic is the view from my computer chair, obscured by ice on the window. In the short time it took to me to take Riley up to school this morning, my (completely clean when I left) windshield became coated with ice. I couldn't keep it clean! Mason left for school in the van, only to turn around about 10 miles away from home. When they dropped him off, their van was coated in ice...very thick ice. I am listening to the freezing rain hit the window, and am waiting for the wind and snow that is coming behind it. Could be a long, cold, miserable day! At least Mas is home and we are a short drive from Riley. I saw one accident up at school, and the van driver told me that ten cars were pulled over trying to remove ice from their windshields. Ahhh, March...what a lovely month in Minnesota!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Gather round, gather round, and hear an astounding tale of woe....
Mason's Palmtop 3 (that pesky little $5,500 piece of equipment that dangles between his legs and provides his "voice") landed in the toilet at school today....again....that would be the second time in the past five months.
Not sure what to say about it, but I can report that there is "water sloshing around inside the device, and water under the screen...." That can't be good, folks.
Howard and I are very upset, but not so much at the therapist who was taking him to the bathroom when it happened, but just that universe will not release it's firm grip on Mason lately. ENOUGH! I don't mind if I need to pay the proverbial karmic piper, but why does Mason keep having to cough up money for him?
The good news is, it is covered by our insurance, since it happened within the first year of ownership. The bad news is, we still can't seem to get across to people to be incredibly careful with this very expensive only form of communication. We have talked about it until we're blue in the face, but we haven't come up with anything. The interesting part is, what happens next November, when we've owned it longer than a year and it falls into the toilet again?
In the meantime, imagine how you feel when you get laryngitis and can't talk. Take that times 7 or so days....(add to that having laryngitis your entire life except for the past 1 1/2 years)...and being very upset to watch your speech therapist take your "voice" out of the classroom today...and trying to show your sister something outside during the freezing rain episode this afternoon; pointing out the window, and then leaning down to "tell" her about it on your Palmtop...and remembering it's gone. I guess that's why they call it the blues.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Some funny Masonisms to share, from the world of the Palmtop 3:
This weekend, after throwing his flashlight down the basement stairs (and over the keep-brother-out-of-sister's-stuff-gate) Mas went to his device and pushed, "I'm", then it goes to another page, and he pushed, "mad", then he went back a few pages and pushed, "I want the flashlight." Hee hee. I guess he told us.
This was related to me by Mason's teacher a few days ago. While in Music class, the teacher was singing in front of the kids. Mason pushed, "Change channel." ;o) That's my boy!
So nice to know what the little man is thinking, and even funnier to know that sometimes he is just as frustrated and mad as we can be....so glad he has an outlet to share that now!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
In lighter news, we finally got around to watching Idol tonight...from lastnight as well as tonight. I would be lying if I said it was exciting or if I heard tons o' talent...I was excited to hear from Scott, though, as I was hopeful he would be spot on with his pitch, due to his being blind. I wasn't blown away by him, but am looking forward to seeing him back behind the piano to get the big picture. Yes, I see the judges put Tatiana back into the wild card program; I suppose I can't argue based on her singing, but I can tell you that in this house, at least, we will be fast-forwarding through any interviews! Other than that, there were lots of issues tonight; from picking the wrong song for the voice to oversinging to disagreeing with Simon. (Note to your bad Idol selves: Simon is right. Period.) I do wonder who helps these people choose their songs...they should never let their moms in on that decision, eh? This, for me, was the lowest of the three weeks as far as raw talent and excitement goes. I have to give props to Scott for asking Seacrest for a high-five, though, that was a beautiful moment! Hopefully Seacrest never lives that one down! D'oh! We are excited to see the wild card round, and hopeful that the people will shake the nerves and get a little more creative/edgy/daring/SMART about choosing a song!
Sunday, March 1, 2009
We were checking out at Wal-Mart lastnight, and the checker was a young man, probably mid-20s, complaining about being at work on a Saturday night. I was making small talk, commiserating, telling him I'd rather be anywhere but there on a Saturday night, as well. As I went to swipe my card, I noticed a plastic bag over the machine. I said, "Is this broken?" He said, "We prefer to use the term 'special.'" I was kind of taken aback, thinking, doesn't he see Mason right beside me? I mean, I know I have his bib off, but I think it's pretty apparent he's a special needs kiddo. I thought a minute, and said, "Does calling it that make it any less broken?" He looked at me kind of funny and said, "I suppose not."
The experience got me to thinking about terminology. Calling Mason special needs versus handicapped versus broken versus messed up versus disabled versus our little angel with biparietal polymicrogyria doesn't really change a thing. He's still broken, no matter how you slice it. You can put fancy designer names over whatever the hell is wrong with him, but it's still the basic truth that his brain is messed up and always will be. I think it takes families that are in it to see the utter absurdity of being pissed off over someone using the wrong name. Although I do dislike the word retarded, it's not because I disagree with the textbook definition of the word retarded, just the negative connotations that have come to be associated with the word. But, if someone were to refer to Mason as retarded, (in a clinical or education setting, not just someone yelling, "Hey, retard!" from across the parking lot) I would have to agree.
I'll admit I used to think positively of the word "special." Now, all I can think of is special needs, so it takes on a whole other flavor. I do hate the way special needs implies things are all rosy and perfect and these kids just need a different approach. Ahh, as if it were that easy. I think it can be, for mildly affected kids. Maybe a different approach to test administration, a minor environmental adjustment, and they're good to go. Not in our world, though. I sure wouldn't refer to Mason's brain damage as "special" in any way. I love the way Robert Rummel-Hudson refers to his daughter's polymicrogyria as a "monster." Exactly. That is coming from a family living with, dealing with, and trying to tame the monster on a daily basis. That's a lot closer to describing my son's brain damage than any terminology involving the word "special."
I think there's an absolute difference between meaning and terminology. My nephew used to say, "I bloke it" when he broke something. He knew what he meant, and so did his mom and dad, so even though the meaning was there, the terminology wasn't exactly right. Mason's speech therapist said she wouldn't give him applesauce the other day at lunch because he wasn't requesting it; he kept pushing "apple juice" instead. Finally, she checked his device and found that, lo and behold, applesauce wasn't on his device! She said she was impressed that he was able to substitute the closest thing he could find to request what he wanted. I have often paused when people ask what is up with Mas, always struggling to find the terminology that felt the best on the tongue....disabled? Handicapped? Special needs? I just prefer to call him Mason, and go the medical route when people ask, such as...."He is 11 years old and has biparietal polymicrogyria. He is mentally stuck at around 3 years of age. He is undiagnosed but has developmental delays. We don't know how it happened or whether it is genetic. We have no idea what his future holds." People, of course, cannot stand this description....they have boxes to check and forms to fill out and this does not do. It just does not do! But, there it is. That is what he has.
The whole politically correct terminology never did fly with me. We are what we are, regardless of the moniker you attach to it. I'm still not sure if the checker was messing with me, kidding around, or didn't see Mas, or what the deal was, but he did get me thinking on what terms we use to describe things. And while people can get caught up in demanding that those around them use the "right words", we have bigger fish to fry in this house. Call it what you will; it's here, and it's not going anywhere.