Saturday, December 20, 2008

Graduation: Bringing People Together - The Tribute

This past week has been one of the greatest in my life. Approaching commencement, I grew increasingly nervous about being the center of attention. I am a person who loves recognition for the accomplishments I produce - period. For the past four years, most major events have centered around the kiddos. I continually pull the masses together to celebrate them.

I have obviously graduated from various scholastic accomplishments before - though the entire concept was an obscure symbol which meant little to nothing to me. I guess I just don't get the ritualistic phenomenon. I swear I was not born a hippy - it just came naturally with age.

After reading this, perhaps my irreverant graduation announcement is begginning to make a little more sense. For the record:

*I am not a Catholic Sister (by any means!)


*I am not Catholic (by any means!)


*I am not Pregnant (that's a PROMISE!)


I attended Regis, a Jesuit Catholic University, because the College for Professional Studies appealed to me. I would not have suffered through traditional college as a mom - I just would have never done it if I had to attend classes everyday and sit with a bunch of little rich kids concerned about their nights being wild enough. Gosh, I feel ancient! So CPS gave me a fast-track, and allowed me to be home with my family, only attending class 1-2 evenings a week. Granted, each course required 20-35 hours of homework per week, but at least I was home.

Alas! I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, as funny as it is to say...I'm proud of myself!

I decided to do the whole "walking" ;-) thing because this is IT! I worked incredibly hard to accomplish this degree, and I have absolutely no desire to continue my education formally.

Still, I struggled with the ritualistic aspect of commencement, clear up to two days prior to the ceremony. My dear friend, Lori, occasionally much wiser than I ;-*, laid it out like this: The ceremony is just that, a ritual. The wonderful thing about ritual is that it brings people who love you together. I thought about this, and yes, indeed some of my dearest and truest friends were traveling, not to watch me take the diploma cover from Father President (and drop the damn thing!), but to share in my pride, and show their love for me.



IT WAS WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!! SOOOOOO WONDERFUL TO HAVE SO MANY OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE TOGETHER AT ONCE - at the same dinner table even!

Meet Lowell and Julie

Lowell points out my name on the graduation program!
These two youngsters have been in my life longer than anyone at my festivities! Lowell was my independent living instructor when I transitioned from nursing home to independence in January 1998. His grooviness kept me outta a lotta trouble, and he and his vibrant wife, Julie, kinda took me under their wing until I fled for Big Sky Montana. As I left, Lowell said, "You'll be back. I bet'cha within ten years!" A wise hippy he is! Seven years! - Frew, glad I fullfilled his prediction! I came back as a team of five (Sophie included), and Julie and Lowell are a part of our daily lives! My favorite thing about them is they have a crazy ability to love without passing judgement!

Meet Dustin and Tammy
Met in 1999, married in 2003, and still best friends today :-) Need I say more?!

Meet Lori

Ms. Lori is one of my bestest friends. We met in 2001 while serving as Americorps*VISTAs at the Disabled Rights Action Committee. Probably unlikely friends, I am a strict soldier; Lori's a very resistent soldier, A.K.A. Rebel! LOL! At one point, I was even her supervisor...we have been through a lot together! Our relationship blossomed post DRACian-era, as I began to settle as wife and mommy. I can't imagine my life without this Buffy-lover (yuck!) now! I love Slayermouse to death, and Lori is part of our family. Technically she lives in Salt Lake, but she does have her own room in our home!

Meet Chantee
It was love at first bath! We met in 2002, she was a CNA for a Home Health company, and I stole her away. Chan was my lesbian lover (LOLOL inside joke!), best friend, roomy, assistant, maid of honor, birthing assistant, and my accomplice (according to her ever-so-worried Mother!). Some of my fondest memories include Chantee, as well as some of my most disgusting memories (I'm soooooo sorry I looked like a dying green whale at your wedding!) I dumped Chan for Dustin, and she then dumped me and Dustin for a guy name "Pugsley" Pugh ;-).
Bottom Line: I love this Chica, and if Dustin and I croak, she is the Baby Mama of our children.
It has been very hard, at least on me, being so far away from her. One of the three highlights of my grad weekend was we got alone time! We are still lesbian lovers!

Meet Grandpa Cutler
What do you say about a dude like Grandpa Cutler?! I met him in 2002 - he was the Bishop of an LDS ward for Single Young Adults. His unconditional love for me and my family makes him Grandpa Cutler. He, his wife, and his family adopted me and each new member of my family. I love being around him, and wish we could be around him more - he just makes us feel good! It's funny, you might think he's some kind of strict old judgemental fogie because he is a Bishop, but we know otherwise. He's pretty darn hip, and we love him.

Meet Grandma Cutler Not the best picture of her (again!), Grandma Cutler is a one of a kind lady that everyone just wants to know! We love her so much, and she is a hoot. She can be so silly, and has made me almost wet my pants many times! I guess because you don't neccessarily expect her to mistake baby poo for spilt chocolate and eat it, etc, etc. I'm laughing so hard right now as I type this! I'm sorry!! LOLOL!
The Cutlers were another highlight of my weekend...They were flying in from Vegas the morning of my graduation, got snowed in at SLC airport, and after several hours waiting, flew into Denver. They missed me getting my empty diploma cover, but they were there to give me huge hugs when it was all over! They came for me - that's all I cared about! The following night, when getting together didn't work out, Benny was devastated...That touched my heart. :-( But we will see them soon!

And last but certainly not least...
Meet Kim A.K.A. "Mee-maw"
Though it definitely felt like I knew this lady since I met Chan, I honestly don't remember really meeting Kim until June, 2003, at our open house (wedding), held in her backyard, which she threw! I kid you not! Chan convinced her mom to throw the event for us because we moved our wedding up a month, and lost our original venue. This is hilarious because I was under the impression that Kim thought I was the Crip Devil - enticing her daughter to be crazy, leave home (to our apartment!) and travel! When I got knocked up, Kim and I fell in love (huuuge love triangle! ;-) and Kim transformed into Mee-Maw, adopting our family. Mee-Maw is the grandma my kids know most intimately - meaning it's much more real to them than not. Mee-Maw tended both kids regularly, but especially Benny, as a grandmother. She loves to spoil them, and hates to return them (usually!). "Mee-Maw lives over the mountain," and our lives seem to revolve around the kids visiting Mee-Maw. Mee-Maw this, Mee-Maw that.......WE LOVE THAT MEE-MAW! And she loves us enough to get on the dang plane, fly over those big mountains just to see us! Someday she might even forgive me for leaving "the Great Valley"! ;-)We sure miss her!!!

I had a bowling party; it was freeeeeeeeeeezing, the roads were icey and it was just a miserable day to leave the house. Notwithstanding, all of us that were able to make it to the party, had a blast! My children are natural bowlers; we are definitely destined to be a bowling family! Destiny bowled a 92 and an 104, with Benny not too far behind! Benny started our rolling the ball, then he advanced to throwing it like everyone else.

I must say, the thing that truly made the bowling party for me was the arrival of two of my closest friends, Robin and Laura. I was so sure that they wouldn't be able to come because of the awful ice. BUT THEY CAME!!!!!! and it meant sooooooooooooooooooooo soooooooooooooooo much to me!!!!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately, I have no pic to post LOL!

So many friends sent their blessings to me, and I do declare to have the greatest friends on earth!

Here is a complete album from the weekend...
Graduation Weekend

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the Court

After a long silence, The Life and Times of a Mom On WheelZ is ressurected! I have much to say in the coming weeks, but today, I wish to pay tribute the GREATEST SPORT OF ALL TIME - the one, the only

POWER SOCCER!
We are the

Some of us have been kickin' balls since September; others joined the team more recently. We all love the sport and are commited to the team.

Check out these clips from our latest practice...

video

(This is my favorite Scrimmage clip because the ball is in play for so long, and every player touched the ball)

video
(Coach Ashley gives us the station scoop)

Coordinating Power Soccer has been very different than any other organizing I have ever done. The only support we get is some advertising and free gym time through Boulder Parks and Rec. Considering the cost of one hour of gym time averages $80-$120, this is something to be grateful for! The problem is getting consistent gym time. The courts at Boulder's Rec Center are like merchandise on Black Friday. Ideally Power Soccer teams practice on a weekly basis from 2-3 hours per session. A consistent schedule (day and times) is very helpful to the development and ongoing success of any team. We have practiced twice a month since September, but have no dates in January, and two weekdays in February. Weekend practice time in the late morning or afternoon is generally best for power soccer athletes. This accommodates athletes with jobs, long attendant routines and/or extended travel time, and so allows for the greatest potential numbers to participate. I have spent hours and hours and more hours approaching gyms in the Denver Metro area only to get thoroughly frustrated, and discouraged.

LET FACE IT - I am not the stereotypical athlete - even disabled athlete. City adaptive rec directors think I'm crazy - period. I have been blatantly disregarded, and lied to in numerous instances. One person even went out of her way to hide from me - kinda hillariously. It's been reeeaaal fun! ;-) Imagine if I was asking for a free gym! LOLOL I'm not! I can only assume these folks think I lead a very boring life to be making this stuff up!

To rent a school gym, there must be a student on the team, but it's outragiously expensive...

I laugh because going into this, I expected our biggest challenge to be getting and maintaining the equipment. We are verrrrrry lucky to have a volunteer engineer who can do magic in record time - he's unbelievable! I have footguards coming out my ears.

We have terrific coaches and volunteers!

Colorado ROCKETS totally ROCK!

The whole team is working on getting a gym now...WE WILL GET A GYM!

Over 45 teams in the US have made it work. We can too!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baaaaaaack!

Hellooooooooo! I am alive! This is my first work of substance since being down for the count, so it should be interesting. My thoughts and feelings are scattered today as I proceed to re-group.

Yesterday I thanked my new nurse practitioner for probably saving my life last Friday. But, today I thank my very funny Robin-friend (LOLOL)for caring enough to force me to think about my health. She nags like crazy...Her nagging forced me to make the doctors appointment. Good thing because one hour before the appointment, my oxygen level dropped. It was scary, and I am one lucky Radical Mom On WheelZ!

I must laugh as I reflect on what a big deal I was at the hospital. We love Boulder, but I do think I will look into Denver for health care. A little confidence from the providers is comforting to the patient...They were either going to pic line me or send me home. LOL I opted for home. Monday I did wonder if I made the right decision, but now I'm sure I did. Every day gets a little easier.

I was devastated to miss Halloween with my kids, I'm still sad, but I am thrilled that they had a blast! Check out the album........

OCTOBER 08

Julie, Bonnie and Lowell took great care of the kids, so that Dustin could stay with me all fifty hours at the hospital.

Luckily, by Friday the kid's antibiotics had them feeling a ton better, and they got a good night's sleep.

Many friends are asking about graduation...I am still rolling at commencement on December 13th, but I'll finish my final class during the first eight weeks of Spring. It sucks for us, but the hospital refused to release me to go to class :-)~ Just kidding! The program that I'm in, because it is a crash program, is very strict and the professor dropped me when I did not show. I'm okay with it - I need a break, and the professor was rude to me anyway.

With Benny back in school, and me stuck on my caboose, Desty is getting loads of motherly attention.....LOLOL POOR GIRL! We had a Princess morning, and I'm ready to get her an agent!






Regarding the election, I will leave it at:

We shall NOT be McFrozen!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stayin' Alive

The title says it all...We are sickos, have been for three + weeks. It began with Benny - LOL - everything begins with our boy, doesn't it?! Ugh...His annual seven month hack has returned. But, because of this, a three year mystery has been solved....Benny is not just a really baaaaaaaaaad sleeper! He has aggressive night terrors, coupled by nocturnal "seizure-like"activity. Frew.....When he is sick, his sleep problems are frequent and intensified. The good news is now we know how to help him, and us, to get through it. He will grow out of it.

The hack continues. He coughs so hard he vomits. Put night terrors (where we're not supposed to wake him up) with a violent cough and it spells:
HELL
But that's just the brink of it.

Then mommy breaks out in hives, and is rushed to the ER for a magic shot. Cause unknown.

A few days later, add a fever to Benny's cough.

The following night Desty breaks out in hives and visits the ER. Cause unknown.

The next day, Desty appeared fine. Just before 7p.m. my baby girl collapsed into her daddy's arms and had a seizure for five + minutes, and forty minute recovery. As the medics were prepping to take Desty to the ER, Benny was barfing all over the neighbor. Dustin went in the ambulance; I chased behind in my wheelchair. The ER chalked it up to a febrile seizure and released her. Since then, her fever has been on and off, she now has a bad cough, and now we are all sickos.

Finally, a nurse practitioner listened to us yesterday and now both kids are on antibiotics, and Desty has a referral to a neurologist, because, in her opinion, Desty's seizure lasted too long to be a typical febrile seizure. In my opinion, Benny has needed a neuro for a long time....Think Benny could be passed off as Desty's conjoined twin? no, probably not!

While all of this was happening, we discovered a poisonous plant, Mertle Spurge, all over our yard.

It has been wild at the Burton house! Desty's 3rd birthday celebration has been posponed until we are up to partying. Hopefully, we will be able to enjoy Halloween.

We are going to have the cleanest carpets, as we invested in our own Carpet Shampooer, just in case something is being tracked in.

And last but not least, we are investing in a lifestyle change:

GOODBYE HARSH CHEMICALS, HELLO NATURAL PRODUCTS!

It's not a big deal; i.e. the baby bath and bubbles are heavenly soft, the oatmeal soap is glorious and we looooooove Mari, my dear friend, and Mari's Magic butter salve. We will work on the food when they make a natural Dr. Pepper that tastes like the real thing! ;-)

The Bee Gees come to mind of late.........

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Many Colors of the Colorado Rockets

INTRODUCING...
...a great opportunity to support a DYNOMITE new team, an inspirational and aspiring artist, and to get a headstart on your Christmas shopping for as little as $20.00! It couldn't be simpler!

PURCHASE Kane's ARTWORK to support POWER SOCCER in COLORADO! Kane, a local artist and Colorado Rockets player, is generously donating 100% of all art sales for the next 30 or so days to the Colorado Rockets. Order an 8 X 10 print or a box of cards from the web (mention POWER SOCCER in Comments during check-out) or order directly from me.

If you purchase directly from me, it will be discounted...

My prices (shipping donated by myself):
A package of ten cards is $30 (on the web $40 + shipping)
8 X 10 print is $20 (on the web $25 + shipping)

If every one of my readers were to buy one 8 X 10, the Rockets would make $2,100!

5...4...3...2...1...

BLAST-OFF!!! GO ROCKETS!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We Looooooove Sunflower Preschool

video

Where's Benny?!

In the YELLOW and BLACK jacket in front of the trailer!

Today was Benny's first field-trip - EVER! Sunflower Preschool went to Munson's Farm for a fun-filled morning of hay rides, pumpkin picking and a picnic. While we did not volunteer as a driver, we were not gonna miss out. AND though Desty couldn't go on the hay ride, she did get the wildest mommy ride of her life as we followed behind it!

video


LOL Benny started at Sunflower Preschool in August and I do believe --> 'tiz the PERFECT fit! Benny is having so much fuuuuun and learning and growing, and he loves all his teachers, too. The curriculum never ceases to amaze me! The teachers are great with Benny, and all communicate very well with me, which is definitely key. Benny does struggle - he's quite the 'Big Boss Man' at Sunflower - but the teachers deal with it appropriately and continue to nurture him and seem to really enjoy him. And frequent reports confirm that he's improving in the bossy pants area.

My Facebook update reads: Tammy LOOOOVES Sunflower Preschool and is fighting urges to poo bomb Benny's old nazi preschool.

LOLOL Sorry, I am mad that it seems we get what we pay for in education. Even if Benny actually had a great teacher last year, the difference between a public school environment versus private is disgusting. Vote major school reform! Kids are worth it!

I'm just sooooooo...
RELIEVED
RELIEVED
RELIEVED

to have found Sunflower!

:-) Tonight at dinner, Benny said, "Mom and Dad, remember when we went to the cemetary in Washington DC? When can we go back and see the dead people again?"

Monday, October 6, 2008

SSI 'Marriage Penalty'

Generally I steer clear of news stories on here, but this is more than a news story. I want all of my friends, family and supporters to know what the government/the system has been doing to people with disabilities. No, the ADA was not the cure-all that many people think. YES! - WE ARE STILL OPPRESSED!!! Until people with disabilities can marry and still earn money to support themselves, while keeping vital Medicaid, the goverment is dissing marriage and the family. The government is, in fact, contributing to poverty in America.

This is not just a news story, this is my reality, our reality. We were discouraged from getting married because of the disincentives you will read about below. We would be much better off financially if we were to divorce -- atleast then we could earn enough to provide for ourselves. I have seen people do this. A spouse becomes disabled, but cannot qualify for assistance because the non-disabled spouse has some kind of income, or they have even a couple thousand in savings. The medical costs are astronomical - and first priority obviously. They have no choice but to divorce! A family breaks...and this couple will probably end up living a lie, or out of fear, completely sever ties. And if they have children...... "Honey, we love each other but mommy and daddy can't live together" just doesn't cut it.

Sorry, I am a bit conservative here.......this is a crime and our system/the government is the villian. The system needs to support SUCCESS, FAMILIES and MARRIAGE, not OPPRESSION, LIES and BROKEN HOMES.

All my life, I've been told this one issue is too big to change, it's not gonna change in my lifetime. (except the brief time I lived in MT!)

Today I thank Montana for taking the issue into their own hands and forging on to conquer the SSI Mariage Penalty!

THANK YOU FOR FIGHTING FOR ALL!!

Readers, please read the brief story and the detailed press release below...

Missoula, MT--- In a packed room, with U.S. Senate Finance Committee staff linked in by phone, Montana People First members and others offered personal testimony about the pain and suffering caused by the SSI "marriage penalty." Following the testimony, they presented over 2500 petition signatures they had collected from citizens all over Montana to a local staff member of Sen. Max Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. In addition to the monetary penalty suffered by SSI recipients who marry, those presenting testimony cited additional penalties such as;

* Not being able to openly celebrate their love and commitment to one another in the company of friends and family
* Not being able to inherit one another's estates as a spouse
* Not being able to get information when their partner is in the hospital
* Not being able to make end of life decisions for their partner when necessary
* Not being able to make funeral arrangements for their partner
* Not being able to live openly as husband and wife
Montana People First members hope that their efforts will inspire others around the country to join them in asking their Senators and Representatives to take legal action to remove the marriage penalty from the SSI program. More information is available below in the Media Advisory issued on Thursday by Disability Rights Montana, which is supporting the Montana People First Senate in the campaign to end the SSI marriage penalty.
Rocky Hughes, President of Montana People First, hands Holly Luck, local staff of Sen. Max Baucus, a book containing over 2500 signatures gathered by People First members all over Montana to request removal of the SSI 'Marriage Penalty'.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2008
Media Advisory
Contact: Raylynn Lauderdale, Disability Rights Montana, (406) 449-2344
E-mail: raylynn@disabilityrightsmt.org

Montana Couples with Disabilities Take on SSI Marriage Penalty

Who: People First of Montana

What: Present personal testimony on the SSI “Marriage Penalty,” and a petition with 2500 signatures to Montana’s Congressional delegation. The testimony and petition ask for Congress to change SSI policies that discriminate against people with disabilities who marry, and that punish them for celebrating marriage and family values.

Where: Jorgenson’s Inn & Suites, 1714 11th Ave, Helena, Montana – large downstairs meeting room

When: 3 p.m., Friday, September 26, 2008

Why: Many people with disabilities live on a $637/month federal SSI benefit, an amount that is about 75% of the poverty level. When two unmarried SSI recipients live in the same household and share expenses, each continues to receive a full $637/month SSI benefit. However, when two people with disabilities of the opposite sex marry, and one or both receive SSI, their combined benefit as a couple ($956/month) is reduced to 75% of the total of their two individual benefits($637/mo + $637/mo = $1274/month)

As a result, SSI recipients with disabilities who wish to marry like their typical peers, in accordance with social convention and/or their faith, hesitate to do so, or choose not to marry at all rather than risk the loss of precious dollars needed for basic food and shelter, as well as for disability related expenses.

Seeking to challenge this policy that treats people who share households differently based on their marital status, People First of Montana enlisted the assistance of several other groups to form a Montana Marriage Penalty Task Force. Members of the Task Force come from Disability Rights Montana, Montana People First, the Montana Advocacy Coalition, the State Independent Living Council, the disability rights organization ADAPT, th e Rural Institute at the University of Montana, and the general citizenry.

Why is there a marriage penalty?

The original reduction in benefits for a married couple, or a couple deemed to be married under Social Security rules, was put into place on the premise that there are “economies of scale” when two or more people live together. This “economies of scale” premise in SSI was patterned on the “economies of scale” present in the TANF program (originally ADC/AFDC) for families. When Congress implemented this “economies of scale” concept for married SSI recipients, they did so with no consideration for the extra costs faced by people with disabilities because of their disabilities.

And since SSI monthly benefit amounts have not kept up with the steadily rising costs of food, shelter and transportation, etc., an SSI dollar buys less and less every year. “Priced Out in 2006,” a national housing study published in 2007, found that the national average rent for a studio/efficiency apartment was less than a full SSI monthly benefit.

A further complication exists for people with disabilities because the definition of "married" under the SSI program is broader than the common definition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may deem a couple to be “married” for SSI purposes if they “hold themselves out as20husband and wife to their community,” even though they do not meet the legal definition for marriage in the state in which they live. The expanded definition of marriage applies to situations where either one or both members of a couple are receiving SSI.

Typically when applying for SSI, proof of marital status is not required if the person does not live with an unrelated person of the opposite sex, and claims not to be married. However, if a person lives with an unrelated person of the opposite sex, each must explain their relationship and answer certain questions. Some of these questions include what names the two are known by, whether they introduce themselves as “husband and wife,” what names they use on their mail, who owns or rents their home, and if there are any bills, installment contracts, tax returns or other papers that show them as husband and wife.

How people answer those questions, along with other factors, is used by SSA to determine whether two individuals have “held themselves out to the community as married." Therefore, SSA can consider a couple to be married even if the couple has never been legally married.

Too often, people with disabilities who rely on SSI choose to live secretly with a partner to maintain vital benefits at amounts that barely cover basic food and shelter costs.

The U.S. Supreme Court has found that SSA’s marriage penalty does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prevents the government from depriving citizens of property, without due process. Unless another avenue for legal challenge emerges, Congress is the remedy for any potential “fix” that would change SSA regulations so that each beneficiary is treated as an individual.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Up Close & Personal – Michelle Obama Visits CU-Boulder!

A word from Tammy: I try to keep my blog pretty neutral concerning a handful of topics. Politics at the top of the list! But I must post this one! And trust me, if McCain's wife came to my town...we would have a different message, but....we'd go! :-)

Sorry this is a bit outdated...

----------------------------------

Dustin here. I am filling in for Tammy as blogger on this one because she is way too busy with babies, school, homework, Power Soccer, and other stuff.

It all began Tuesday, when we got word (about the same time the rest of Colorado did), that Michelle Obama would be speaking at The Rally for Change at our very own University of Colorado (hereafter referred to as CU, and no, for those out of state readers, I didn’t transpose those two letters, it’s just how it is) in breathtaking Boulder, Colorado!

We of course took immediate action to prepare for this event located walking distance from our home. Tammy arranged for Bonnie to watch the kids. Wednesday morning while I took Benny to preschool, Tammy put together Power Soccer flyers to hand out to all users of motorized wheelchairs we might encounter (which turned out to be seven). As soon as Bonnie arrived we hurried out the door with a hastily prepared bag of snacks and water (forgetting Tammy’s sunhat and sunscreen).

We did RSVP Tuesday with the Obama campaign but this did not guarantee us entrance to the event – it was first come, first serve. Doors were to open at 10AM . We arrived at Farrand Field at about 9:30AM. There were several long lines with campaign volunteers at the end of each making sure no one else was added to the line. We would ask “where do we get in line?” and were pointed half way across campus. Luckily we eventually asked someone who knew there was ADA designated seating (which is really close to the stage) and we were among the first ushered into the event. Wow! They had those dogs busy sniffing for bombs and whatever for a long time! How much can you sweep the same area before deciding it’s clean?

We got sunburned waiting for the event to start, even after barrowing a baby’s sunscreen. It was a very sunny day! At one point, Tammy decided to have me tape the “reserved” sign, with a picture of Obama’s logo and the wheelchair symbol, on her head to shade her face.

Maggie Udall (Representative Mark Udall’s wife) came over, shook our hands and talked to us. Our friend Julie told Maggie to thank Mark Udall for supporting the Community Choice Act (ok, I admit I whispered that in her ear – Julie didn’t realize at the time that Maggie was Mark Udall’s wife – it was funny!). Governor Ritter’s wife was also there but she wasn’t as eager to mingle as Maggie and Michelle.



video


After her speech, Michelle took ample time to shake hands and speak with individuals. It did get kinda scary because as Michelle got closer to us, the crowd did also. Luckily Tammy’s chair protected us from most of the pushing and shoving. One woman did get pressed against Tammy & wheelchair (causing only minor injuries but inducing a fair amount of screaming. Only one individual in the crowd was met with a gurney after being knocked down, but alas I digress…

As I said, Michelle took plenty of time to shake hands and greet the crowd – I shook Michelle’s hand and she listened to me while shaking other people’s hands.

“Please tell Barack Thank you for supporting the Community Choice Act for people with disabilities.”

“Barack has the disability vote. He is a real advocate for people with disabilities”.

“This is my wife; We’ve got two kids too” and she asked what their ages were.

She shook hands with Tammy, and I guess Tammy scratched Michelle. Tammy says Michelle didn’t seem to notice, but Tammy is still traumatized. I told her if we see Michelle on TV with bandages on her arm, we’ll know why. I didn’t know that Michelle’s father had MS until today. I guess everyone else already knew that.

I was really impressed with Michelle and I think she’ll make a great First Lady.

The pictures/ video clips I took were great if I do say so myself. It’s amazing what footage you can get standing on a folding chair! Move over Press and Media, Dustin is here!


Monday, September 29, 2008

Introducing....The Colorado ROCKETS!

My Power Soccer virginity was lost abruptly on March 8th of this year. It is Robin who got me into this, funny, that woman gets me into all kinds of things. She urged me to attend something called a Power Soccer clinic right here in Boulder.

My pertinent adaptive sports background…..

I thought Robin was nuts, and it would be da-ja-vue of my fairly isolating adolescence. I would go to these adaptive sports camps, and be completely left out, as all of the older folks with six packs and groovy sports chairs shot baskets, played racketball, tennis, softball, etc., and even battled it out at rugby. Nobody really wanted me to be there, I was pretty useless to the other players and the coaches, and I needed to be fed and helped in the restroom, etc. I should mention here that, in reality, power wheelchair users are generally excluded from these wheelchair sports, expecially in competition. Why did I go to this camp if it was emotional torture? Two reasons:

1) I did not want to sit at home all summer, and it was either go to this yearly sports camp or attend this other day camp where I could become skilled at watching people make crafts for me and a skilled movie-watcher, and go on ridiculously boring field-trips.
2) I am naturally competitive (LOLOL) and a perfectionist and really truly wanted to play a sport! DAMIT!!!!!!!!!!!!
It gets even sadder. As summer approached, and each night during these sports camps, I would fantasize that magic was just waiting for me, that I’d show up on the court and VWALA, I would be able to kick some wheelchair ass! This was my life for years…Until I was old enough and smart enough to give up on sports altogether.

But in 2001, I discovered individual sports, such as rafting, horseback riding, skiing, swimming, and cycling. I often dis Utah, a personal hobby, but I do have to give it up for two awesome organizations – SPLORE and the National Ability Center. I became a serious jock in my own right!

End of background!

I was curious, and Robin’s cool, so I decided ‘what the hey, we can be isolated together’. I am rolling with laughter as I type this! It was Robin and I, and two other peeps in powerchairs, ripping the court up playing soccer! IT WAS US!!!!!!!!!! Not the guys in the sports chairs with the six packs. WE WERE PLAYING A COMPETIVE TEAM SPORT! Basically, if you can drive a power wheelchair and track the ball, you can play this sport independently! Whatta concept!!!!!!

Okay, well, we gave playing our best shot that day! Robin, who used to play on a team, and the coach that Boulder brought in for the clinic from the Bay Area, knew what they were doing. Myself, and two other players, just tried to make contact with the ball without ramming each other too badly. It was incredibly frustrating for me because I had never even seen a regular soccer game, and my chair was not programmed with the best settings to play.

Nonetheless, I saw potential!

And my mission began!

My mission: To bring Power Soccer to the Colorado!

Yesterday was the Colorado ROCKETS first practice, and let me tell ya’all…WE KICKED SOME MAJOR BALL!!!!!!!!!!! ;-) It was such fun for all involved! Truly, practice was better than I ever dreamed it could be, because of the individual skill and drive that each player brought to the court! We have an incredible blend of both talent and personality in our midst, and the Colorado ROCKETS are destined for blast-off! Six strong players is an unbelievable start to making this a big-time deal. We have the best volunteers ever supporting us!

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Just one week ago, we had just two guards, two balls and three dates for the court. Yesterday we had six guards (four of which were made by a volunteer!), and fourteen dates for the court. And by next practice, we will have nine guards and four balls, and I’m expecting perhaps eight players!

WE ROCK, WE ROLL
WE’RE GOING TO
TEAR THE HOUSE DOWN


Check out the many faces of Colorado ROCKETS......... click on pic to enlarge/slow down

A finalized practice schedule is below. If you know anyone in Colorado who might be interested in Power Soccer, please have them e-mail me!

Autumn 2008 Dates

- Oct 5th 3-5PM Sun

- Oct 19th 3-5PM Sun

- Nov 2nd 2-5PM Sun

- Nov 22nd 2-5PM Sat

- Dec 6th 3:30-5:30PM Sat

- Dec 20th CXL'D


Winter/Spring 2009 Dates

- Jan 11th 5-8PM Sun

- Jan 25th 5-8PM Sun

- Jan 11th 5-8PM Sun

- Jan 25th 5-8PM Sun

- Feb 1st 5-8PM Sun

- Feb 15th 5-8PM Sun

- March 1st 5-8PM Sun

- March 15th 5-8PM Sun

Friday, September 19, 2008

ADAPT Action Day 5: TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!

Wednesday morning:
The call went out for volunteers to “Tear Down the Walls of the Nursing Home” and I was all over it!


As I sat in front of the replica waiting for the go ahead to bash the sucker, these were my thoughts: This is MY time! Desty is over with Tim, Dustin has the good sense to keep Benny outta the way. This is MY time! I allowed myself to explore my mess of feelings, and really get into it.

Mostly, I was excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had been waiting for this for ten years!!!!!!!!!!!! It has been ten years since my very brief incarceration. It was very brief but it changed my life forever. And over the years the countless victims of nursing homes that I have met with, and my fears of losing services....sigh....I can’t go there.

“TEAR DOWN THE WALLS! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!


TEAR DOWN THE WALLS! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!


TEAR DOWN THE WALLS! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!


TEAR DOWN THE WALLS! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!


TEAR DOWN THE WALLS! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!
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LOL My boy was cheering me on! I was again trapped by the nursing home!

Unfortunately, my exhaustion conquered my will-power, and, as you see in the next video, the kids are a much better demolition crew than I am!


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From there we went on the Hill to meet with public officials – basically, a lobby day. It was boring, and not enough action for the kids, so we returned to the hotel.

AND look at what a little protesting did to my Angel Boy! ;-)Wednesday evening’s meeting (minus some folks that had to leave early)… The groovy chick with the mike is my friend Anita - I LOVE HER CHANTS AND SONGS!

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Day 5 Album.....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ADAPT Action Day 4: Hello Senate, Good Coppers

Tuesday rocked! Out by 7a.m., and marching towards DUH City to relieve the night shift by 7:45a.m. Okay, Dustin did have to drag my limp body outta bed, help me pop two Maximum Strength Excedrin and chug a Dr. Pepper to convince me that I could survive on less than six hours of sleep in two nights, but, lo and behold, we were present and accounted for when the time came!

We spent the morning at DUH City. Dustin continued designing signs for the City, and solicited the help of Benny and Desty. Check out their work in this album...

I love the Capitol Police! At ~11:30 our group went to Senator Chris Dodd's (D, CT) office, as he is one of the leaders with power to fix the housing crisis for low-income people with disabilities. A mom of an inquisitive preschooler couldn't have asked for a better sit-in situation! Until a complaint was filed, no law was being broken. We sat there all afternoon trying to get a committment, talking to staffers, chanting and singing. The four of us (and a few others) who needed to be clear of trouble, stayed right outside Dodd's door. Benny made many Officer Friends and gave dozens of high-fives. "You gotta excercise your rights little man and we're here to protect you." One huge copper even took him to the restroom. Benny sat and relaxed to the Jungle Book 2 mid-protest! Desty slept until the last 25 minutes! The 1st arrest warning came after ~3 hours, and we scooted. Dodd received hundreds of calls from around the country while we were there in support of Affordable, Accessible, Integrated Housing.

Video clips from the inside......

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And that evening......

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I did less hovering and more trusting on this action - LOL! As a good friend said on the first day - "Allllllll these folks have your back." I knew in Chicago, I knew in DC last Spring, but it helps that everyone knows us now, that Benny is older, and that Desty isn't one to run off. Instead of hovering, when they are interacting with others, I get to breathe and socialize! - Cool concept for me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ADAPT Action Day 3: DUH City, the Hunt and Desty's Improv Show

Monday morning began very early for Dustin and I – 2:15a.m. to be exact! At 3:30a.m Dustin tucked the kiddos into their charriot and by 4:15a.m. we were marching the streets of D.C.! Not a very long march, HUD, aka DUH City, is conveniently located just two blocks from our hotel. Desty was out cold, but as tired as Benny was, he wasn’t going to miss the first parade of the week!

For the sake of not re-inventing the wheel here, to understand the technicalities of exactly what we did and why, check out this little video or the DUH City Times, and also see Desty's debut. I will say that I have been on nine actions since 1998, and this was truly an amazing experience. The plaza outside of HUD became our home in minutes, right before our eyes tent city became a reality.


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Some of the ADAPT kids had found each other by the second hour!

DUH City is like a huge powwow, with press conferences, concerts, theatre, and incredible unity and power. Occupied 24 hours a day Monday thru Wednesday – the Burton’s have the day shift! An album from Monday........


The day was perfect! That is until ~6p.m. when we noticed a Boulder ADAPTer was lost in D.C. and probably needed his medication. Ugh! With no idea of where to look, I combed the National Mall and all around DUH City by myself. I went right past a hold-up in my search. Finally, Tim and I got the police searching, and not long after they found the guy lost in China Town. He is a wanderer. Twenty-two hours after the police and medics returned him, I’m fighting frustration and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I'm just glad he is okay...not that I don't wanna kill him myself! My stomach is in a knot.

And that is the reason this post is a day late!

Today, though I’m exhausted, etc., was an absolutely fabulous day! More tomorrow…….
WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't bring myself to publish without including this video from tonight! (LOLOL We didn't bother with a hair-do today!)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

ADAPT Action Day 2: The Big One and the White House

Today was a day of prep work - lots of meetings that we needn't attend. We did attend the "Big Meeting". It's taken us three actions to figure out how to be able to enjoy these big meetings, and I do declare that we are pretty darn clever!LOLOL Scooby-Doo to the rescue! Beyond those doors was the meeting, and we heard all of it! I was really relieved to find that our friends from Missoula are in our group this time. We lovingly call them our "ADAPT family advocates" - when in doubt regarding the kiddos, we hunt them down.

This evening we walked/rolled/ran to the White House! Benny ran from the Smithsonian to the White House! We arrived in time to catch this patriotic moment........
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Here's a small album......


Tomorrow the work begins! Very, Very Early!!!!!!!!!!!

I am having the time of my life with Desty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

ADAPT Action Day 1: Traveling and Illegal Wading

We're in the Nation's Capitol - Washington D.C.! We left our home yesterday at 5:30a.m. mountain time, and checked in at ~4pm eastern time. I could have kissed the floor at the Holiday Inn! The kids were great on the flights, but it was a loooong time to travel. I was exhausted. Dustin was charged! We went to the national mall and did some illegal wading at the World War II Memorial on the way to Lincoln's Memorial. We saw other people doing it :-)!

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Once done, we saw the sign! LOL Memories!


Check out photos from Day 1...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fishes Of Our Own


On Tuesday, Desty swam for the first time in the big kids class! Mom and Dad were very anxious, but our princess was a STAR! She listened, and had a blast. She looked so big to me!

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Benny swam on Wednesday...(the guy is in training)

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The next time I post, we will be in Washington DC! Benny packed himself days ago.........I must go pack! LOL

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Dead Lift

My van lift hit the dust over the weekend. Well, it actually hit the dust many months ago but we've been doctoring it and threatening it with its pathetic life to survive for our family. Let me say, the lift worked great for approximately six months - we loved it! NO, that is a lie - we truly loved the van, not the lift, and we loved having so many seats for our helpers and visitors. For those of you that don't know, this lift hung off a hitch on the back of our van. It was literally an Out-Sider. We tried to love the lift, because to the best of our knowledge, it was the best option for our needs. Besides, we had no vehicle from the end of December '06 thru March '07, and no lift until late April, so the lift brought a sense of freedom to our family that we had missed. Both the van and the lift were purchased with a lot of effort and love from many people.

LOLOL STORY-TIME!!! The lift and chair flop/shake/jerk around on the back of the van. In June, on our way to Denver, we were being honked at, shouted at and waved at. I was frightened - I thought the drivers had gone mad! Off the freeway, we discovered that my wheelchair's remote had fallen off and had been dragging for several miles. It was charred!

The weight of my chair just wore the lift out. I can't blame it. Getting rear-ended two weeks ago definitely didn't make it any stronger. And, It is getting much more difficult for me to climb into the van with my bad hip. I keep falling and it's ugly. It's hard on me and whoever is trying to help.

Adaptive Automobility fixes our lift. We frequent their waiting room. Four months ago we discovered our Dream Machine - the Chevy Uplander LS conversion that seats SEVEN people, with one wheelchair (or two, if the backseat is up). We tried one that had already been sold, and it was perfect. My chair fits right between two bucket seats where the carseats would go. For weeks we considered pursuing one, but having to pay for Benny's preschool squashed our far-out fantasies. AA got a another Pre-Owned 2007 Chevrolet UplanderLS on the lot - they say with us in mind LOL - and we took it out for a long spin. It may not be the sexiest thing on the market, but it's a nice ride! It drives like an SUV.

Watch these video clips.....

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The back seat easily folds up securely to allow the wheelchair to pass through. It remains up unless needed to seat additional people.

It doesn't look like it from this angle, but the backseat actually has plenty of leg room.



Since our lift is dead, and there is a better option, we're going for the gold! As soon as the Department of Voc Rehab authorizes payment of the conversion portion, we'll get as much as we can for our van, and come up with enough to pay the chassis of the Uplander
Wish us luck!