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January 28, 2008

Autistic tot needs an assistance dog

I am Tyler, a four-year-old kid with autism, and my mom and I are raising money to get me an autism assistance dog from 4 Paws for Ability. Mom is a cop in the military, so moving is a way of life with us, and she thinks having a service dog will make me feel a lot more secure. Especially when she has to go on trips and when I'm around other children. I know the dog will make her feel better too, because he can help keep me safe!

My older brother, Caleb, went to stay with family while my military parents prepared for deployment to the Middle East. He drowned in a swimming pool, so I never got to meet him.

While making arrangements for the funeral, Mom discovered she was pregnant with me. She and dad went through some rough times and they divorced just before I was born. I know my daddy loves me but he lives halfway around the world and I only get to see him a couple of times a year...

If you look at my picture, you'll see that I love to laugh. I grew up in Germany and I had a best friend, Addison, and we spent the first 18 months of our lives getting to know each other. She and her family lived upstairs. It was real bad when they had to move, because I felt so safe when I was around Addison. After she left I felt very lonely and scared. I don't understand when people like my best friend or my dad just disappear. Where do they go? I look everywhere and can't find them.

Moving all the time is hard for me, except when my mom is really close. I do better then. It's one of the few times when I'm quiet. I don't "get" things like travel and distance. New daycares are always tough too, so I get pretty upset at first. I'd like to make more friends but I guess it scares other kids the way I get too rowdy. At least that's what my mom says.

Mom wants me to understand our community, and she takes me to museums and aquariums and zoos. I love animals and fish, so we really, really have fun. I've learned about the bank and the library, but my favorite place is the bakery.

If I behave, she lets me wait in line, order a blueberry muffin, and pay for it all by myself. Then we go over to the fireplace where we sit while I eat my muffin. If I don't behave, we leave, and believe me, that is not cool. Let's just say I have learned how to be real good whenever Mom says we are going to Panera Bread.

Lots of things change in our lives when we move: homes, day care, and therapists. I'm pretty much okay with just one or two other people around, but I haven't exactly learned how to act when I'm with a bunch of kids. I guess running around, screaming, laughing, and crashing into things isn't cool.

I'd sure love to have my own assistance dog that will be trained to help me do better with kids. And since I like to run a lot (Mom calls it "running away"), a dog will keep me safe from running into streets or getting lost at the store. Plus this dog will become my best friend (other than Mom). I want to make new friends, and I want to feel like everything's okay when Mom goes on trips or when we move again.

My mom tells me I am going to grow up and understand things like other kids. Hey, she even thinks I may go to college some day! Getting me a dog is a good start, don't you think? Could you possibly help?

If you can help Tyler, go to this site and click on "How to Help." Thank you.

Parents seek service dog for son with epilepsy

Alexander LeBlanc  Let us tell you about our son Alexander who is now 5 years old. Alex was born on our seventh wedding anniversary, Oct 14, 2002. He was a healthy and beautiful 9lb 14oz baby boy who was welcomed into our family by us and his older sister Jennifer.

For the first three years of his life, Alex was a perfectly normal, healthy child. That all changed abruptly on July 17, 2006. As we were standing in line at a store, Alex went completely limp and crashed to the floor. Unbeknownst to us, he was having his first seizure.

After several agonizing visits to a variety of neurology specialists, we were told that Alex has a rare form of Epilepsy called Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy (MAE), also known as "Doose Syndrome." Alex has spent countless days and weeks in the hospital as doctors attempted to regulate his medication. Each trip began with such hope, but unfortunately resulted in little change to Alex's condition.

Over the course of the past eighteen months, Alex has been treated with 9 different seizure related medications. He was also started on a strict medical diet called the Ketogenic Diet, which allowed him to eat only high fat and high protein foods. Cookies, bread, cereal, juice, and even milk were not allowed while Alex was on this diet. One year and five months later, Alex's condition is still not responsive to treatment.

Currently, Alex has anywhere from 10 to 30 drop attacks a day, and several "tonic-clonic" seizures at night while sleeping. Because of the number of seizures he experiences in one day and their threat to his safety, Alex's day is limited to certain activities. He is unable to do simple things such as ride a bike, play at the playground, go swimming or even take a bubble bath. All of these normal activities could result in him sustaining a serious injury should he fall. He has experienced many bodily injuries due to his falls and must wear a helmet during most activities. As a result of this, Alex needs 24-hour supervision and protection.

With that thought in mind, we are asking you to make a tax deductible donation to "4 Paws for Ability" in honor of our son, Alex. We have been accepted into the "4 Paws" program. This program will provide Alex with a dog that is specially trained to protect children from harm should they have a seizure. In order for Alex to receive his dog, we must raise $11,000. "4 Paws" feels this is necessary to help defray the costs they incur while training their dogs. This is no small task, so every penny helps!

This dog will assist Alex in leading a more normal life, and help keep him safe from serious falls. It will also provide moral support to him during his frequent hospital stays at Children's Hospital (Boston). In September 2008, Alex will be entering Kindergarten, and we hope to receive the dog by then to help with this big transition. Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes and any and all help you can give.

Please feel free to visit Alex's website.

If you can help Alex, go to this site and click on "How to Help." Thank you.

Seattle Snow

While the sun peeks through the clouds in the Phoenix area, Seattle is a different story. This morning the skies dropped buckets of snow on Greater Seattle, including my son and daughter-in-law. Here's a shot of their driveway. But that's not a problem when they have a 4WD!

There's one member of the family that loves this weather; she was born to...

revel in the snow.

This is Nellie, my sweet granddog who's still recovering from her second surgery (Tibial Patellar Leveling Osteotomy), and was thrilled to be able to romp (carefully) in the snow! Go, Nellie!

January 26, 2008

Suspended Hyphens

Ever seen a word in a group followed by a hyphen and a space that looks strange? Like this:

ABC Mortgage Company offers special rates and handling of fifteen- and thirty-year mortgages.


Studies have determined the distinctions between right- or left-brain functions.

Welcome to the world of suspended hyphens. When one or more hyphenated adjectives** has a common basic element and this element is shown only with the last term, insert a suspending hyphen after each of the incomplete adjectives to indicate a relationship with the last term.

Here are more examples:

* A three- or four-color glossy cover
* Two- and four-wheel drive
* Pre- and post-war
* First-, second-, and third-graders
* 25-, 35-, 45-, and 55-year-olds

If you don't like using suspended hyphens, why not re-cast their sentences to avoid them? Example: using the heading of this article, you could recast to say, "There will be a delay of between two and six days."

** Adjectives: Word that describes what kind, how many, or which one. Adjectives can be single words or a group of words. Modifies the meanings of nouns and pronouns.

January 09, 2008

Carter Martin's Family Seeks Autism Assistance Dog

Born January 20, 2004, Carter Martin was first diagnosed as delayed at two-and-a-half years in the areas of speech and social development during the summer of 2006. Then, just a few short months later, we were given another diagnosis of Sensory Integration Dysfunction. In February of 2007, Carter was diagnosed again with severe ADHD. Then in September of 2007, Carter had an MRI on his brain and we were told he has a Type I Chiari Malformation in the base of his brain.

And now, we are facing yet another diagnosis with Carter, Autism. On the surface, Carter appears to be a normal four-year-old little boy, but once you spend just a few moments with our son, you too will see just how special Carter is. He can make just about anyone laugh with his comical expressions and his hilarious antics-he's quite the entertainer and he knows it! He also is such a lover-he absolutely will steal your heart away when he asks if he can give you a hug and a kiss in his sweet, little boy voice. However...

...that Carter can quickly turn into another child all together when he has a meltdown. Unlike other, "typical," four-year-old little boys, Carter struggles desperately with certain things that cause him to act out and to have meltdowns. Because Carter has Sensory Integration Dysfunction and ADHD, changes in his routine and structure and public situations are very overwhelming for Carter: all of the new people, sounds, sights, and smells overload his little body and he cannot process them all.

When Carter is overwhelmed, he has a meltdown and his meltdowns can range from normal, four-year-old tantrums to full-on emotional breakdowns that have lasted as long as two hours, leaving Carter and us exhausted. Carter's dog will be such a miracle for him. His dog will help Carter initiate peer interactions-something that Carter has a very hard time with.

His dog will help him cope with all the sights, sounds, and smells around him while keeping him safe. I will finally be able to write a check at the check-out line without wrestling Carter to stay in the cart at the same time! This dog will also save precious amounts of time if he does wander off because he or she will be trained in tracking Carter. And, when Carter does have a meltdown, his dog will be trained to help calm him down and in some instances, stop his meltdowns.

Our 4 Paws dog will be a true God-send...a miracle for our family and especially for Carter. This dog will be Carter's guide to the crazy world in which we live and he needs your help to get his dog. Please consider making a donation in Carter's name and helping to make a miracle come true for this special little boy.

January 07, 2008

Chicken Sopa

During the holidays, my niece and nephew decided to celebrate one evening with a Mexican feast, and it was wonderful. One of the best dishes was Chicken Sopa, and I'm sharing the recipe with you. It's a very flexible recipe...

1 chicken, cooked, boned   1-2 cans cream/chicken soup
3-4 cans diced chiles      1 pkg corn tortillas
1-2 pints sour cream      1-2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Chicken is best if shredded/pulled apart. Combine all ingredients except tortillas. Layer in a 12x9x2" pan, starting with tortillas and following with the mixture. Repeat. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until bubbly and the tortillas are soft.

January 06, 2008

Child with Autism, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder has No Fear

Justin Spencer is a 6-year-old (almost 7!) boy with beautiful blue eyes who looks like any other 6-year-old boy with glasses and skinned knees; however, looks can be deceiving.

Justin has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder -- quite a scary combination. He loves to play with his "castle guys" and dragons, go swimming, and jump on the trampoline, although he does them alone.

He is also a flight risk and has managed to escape from teachers, therapists, and his mom. He has absolutely no fear...

Justin has been accepted into the 4 Paws for Ability program to receive a multipurpose service dog in order to provide him with the following:

* Safety (tracking and tethering)
* Behavior disruption
* Mood stabilization
* Socialization

You can help make this little boy feel a part of this wonderful world he doesn't feel a part of by making a tax deductible donation to 4 Paws for Ability in Justin Spencer's name. Thank you!

Asperger's Syndrome Makes Life a Challenge

Hi, I'm Josh Woosley and I have Asperger's Disorder.

Mom tells me this means I think differently than other people. I guess she's right because I have a hard time in school. There are so many noises, and smells and people and lights. Blech.

My mom and dad are hoping to get me a new friend who can go to school with me. My new friend can help me by being with me all the time, I can lean against my new friend so I don't have to lean against my teacher as much, plus my new friend can help me make other friends (I have a hard time making friends, you see)...

My new friend can also help meat home by sleepingwith me. I hate to sleep by myself, I get scared (but don't tell anyone, ok?). My friends at 4 Paws have said they will try to find a special Autism Assistance Dog for me to take to school with me and be my new friend.

If you would like to help me get my new friend that would be GREAT!! You can send money to 4-paws for ability and put my name on it and it will count towards me getting my new friend. Thanks so much for reading about me. Love, Josh.

Sentence Spacing Quandary

The subject of using one space or two between sentences, especially for people used to typing exclusively on typewriters or in following a style guide that is sometimes required, often creates colorful conflict.

Here's the history: when monospace (fixed-pitch) fonts, like Courier, were in wide use, it was traditional to leave two spaces between the period and the start of the next sentence. There were definite rules for people who typed documents, but the rules have changed..

Today, we generally use proportional fonts (in which the width of the characters varies). Monospace fonts are more often used in databases, tables, etc.

Here's the latest commonly accepted standard in the world of typography: choose one space as a rule unless two spaces are needed to create an adequate visual break between sentences.

There are exceptions. When the fonts are quite small (for example, a 9-10pt serif font like Times New Roman), using only one space after the period may not always provide a clear visual break between sentences. Generally a larger point size does provide that visual break. When in doubt, use your own judgment.

There's always a way to work around your problems. And you're never too old to learn. I'm living proof of that trite but true phrase.

Tip: if you're tryng to use the new style, but don't want to check one sentence at a time and you haven't used periods (or other punctuation marks) for anything but ending sentences, try Search and Replace. Highlight your entire document, then go to Search. Type the period ...the go to Replace and type the period and . One space bar. That will delete the extra spaces in your document...if it's mainly text rather than figures and tables.

January 05, 2008

Saturday Morning Playtime

What is as cute as a little kitten interacting with another cat? Let me re-phrase that: I love to watch my new kitty, L'il Bear, interacting with the newly senior cat, Shadow.

The little one just worships Shadow. In fact, he is Shadow's shadow...

This is just the start of a beautiful day for me, even if it's gloomy outside!

January 04, 2008

Help Hailey Meusch Get an Autism Assistance Dog

This is Hailey Meusch, at two years old, she looks like any average toddler. But, at 21 months old, Hailey was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, an Autism Spectrum Disorder that makes her life difficult.

Because of the disability, Hailey has no speech, she cannot point, she shows little eye contact, she shows no imaginitive play. Hailey does not understand simple commands such as sit down or come here. Hailey also has sensory issues that result in her throwing her head back against anything if she becomes overstimulated or angry; she has meltdowns daily where she screams, arches her back and is inconsolable for an hour or so. She bites herself as well as pinches her stomach if she gets bored.

Hailey has no fear of danger such as traffic or water. She will gladly go with a stranger. When we go to the store, we have to force her to stay in the cart or she will bolt away the first chance she gets...

Hailey does not respond to her name and if she wanders away, that is a very frightful experience. All of this has had a big impact on Hailey's life.

Before the age of two she had MRI's, EEG's, evaulations, testing, and more doctor appointments than we care to think about. Each week she has an Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist and Special Education teacher that come to our home for therapy. She also has behavioral therapy out of the home.

All the therapy, testing & doctor appointments can be hard on Hailey because sometimes they disrupt her routine. Hailey thrives on a routine and has a meltdown when they are interrupted.

An Autism Assistance Dog from 4 Paws For Ability would be a blessing to Hailey & her family. It could help to improve our lives in so many ways, allowing Hailey some independence of being able to walk without the constant fear from her parents that she will wander away. This dog would be a true friend & constant companion for Hailey, helping to calm her if she should become overstimulated.

Any and all donations are greatly appreciated. Every penny gets us closer to our doggie miracle coming home! You can make a donation to 4 Paws with Hailey Meusch's name in the memo. Thank you so much!

Why can't I end a sentence with a preposition?

Are you frazzled because you've heard that you must never end a sentence with a preposition? Wrong! You may end a sentence any way you choose to. I chose to write the previous sentence so it ended in a preposition. It's called a terminal preposition.

There are lots of rules out there that were never really, truly, rules. They were often the personal preferences of people who liked to speak out on the subject.

These are often the same people who say we can never begin a sentence with and, but, or, also, or however. They get very upset when their rules are broken, suggesting the writer has committed a crime against humanity...

First, let's define a preposition. It's a connective word that shows the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and some other word in the sentence. Examples: at, by, for, from, in, of, on, to, and with.

If clear communication is your goal, then make sure that the sentence sounds good. Effective. Sometimes using a preposition at the end is awkward, but sometimes it's better to use a preposition at the end. For example:

AWKWARD: It is not easy to know that about which you are thinking.

NATURAL: It's not easy to know what you're thinking about.
Ending sentences with prepositions was something I looked into. In depth. There's nothing to worry about. Now get up off the floor, stretch yourself out, dance a little jig, and cheerfully continue with your life!

...Judy Vorfeld

From Jennifer Stewart, Write 101

Language is littered with "rules" - many of which seem to have been dreamed up by crazy people (let me pause for a moment to remind you of the "-ough" words).

So there are plenty of times when it's quite acceptable to break these "rules" - it sounds just plain silly to write something like, "For whom is that pizza?" We know what you mean when you say, "Who's that pizza for?" and we'll think no less of you for saying it, despite the preposition on the end.

Winston Churchill's rejoinder when told that you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition was: "That is nonsense up with which I shall not put."

Then there's the child's complaint: "What did you bring that book that I don't like to be read to out of up for?"

Remember that language is your tool, not your master.

Jennifer Stewart

January 03, 2008

My Best Friend, by DJ Standley

Close your eyes and imagine your best friend. Now, imagine your best friend has four legs, a long tongue, and a wagging tail. My friend is like that. His name is Nitro and he helps me with a lot of things.

Nitro helps me calm down when I am angry. He knows two good ways to help me. the first is to nuzzle me with his nose. Nuzzle is when I put my hands in a circle and then he puts his nose in it. The second way is to tell him "lap". When Nitro does a "lap" he puts his head on my leg or lap and I calm down. nitro really helps me calm down.

Nitro cheers me up when I am sad. He helps me cheer up by playing with me. We usually play fetch. He also helps me cheer up by letting me hug him. I hug him when I am sad and crying. Nitro really knows how to cheer me up.

Nitro is my best friend. He loves me no matter what I do or say. He sleeps with me and this makes me happy. I also talk to him because he is a good listener. Talking to him makes me feel good. I love him!

I love Nitro because he helps me when I am angry. He cheers me up when I am sad. Nitro is my very best friend.

Sincerely, DJ Standley

Note: DJ wrote this speech for 4 H. He won 26 out of 27 points. The evaluator took off one point for not making eye contact! Considering that is a typical autism trait for DJ, we were very proud of him!! DJ's Mom

Note from Judy: Nitro is one of the many highly trained Autism Assistance Dogs provided by Xenia, Ohio nonprofit, 4 Paws for Ability.

Webmasters: Automate your copyright date!

Need to have your website automatically print the current year? Every year...without your having to make annual changes? How about all your Web design clients?

Will Bontrager created three easy scripts to make the annual year's copyright dates easy. And they're free.

Perfect for using in the copyright area of your website. One of them allows a bit of a promotional comment in the footer area as well. These scripts are clean, simple, and (as always) have more than a touch of Willmaster creativity.

Go to Willmaster.com for these dandy scripts. You're gonna love them!

Lubrant Family Seeks Autism Service Dog for Alex

Meet Alexander Lubrant. Alex is six years old and is Autistic, and has a second diagnosis of Mood Disorder. Alexander struggles with all the transitions within the many programs, doctor appointments, and with his behavior out in public.

Sometimes we have easy days, but many times he's curious about what it might be like to vault a railing at the mall, or step in front of a moving car so he can knock on its hood. I have the gray hair to show for this.

We are seeking through this awesome opportunity, a trained Autism Service Dog from the nonprofit organization 4 Paws for Ability.

Please help give Alexander the opportunity for a better life, a safer life, a sense of security that would also help him to become better at socializing in the general public.

These kids look just fine, but are judged as odd or a discipline issue when really, they just see our world through different eyes and are deserving of patience and acceptance. An Autism Service dog would help Alexander tremendously with this. Your help no matter how great or small will go a long way. Please help make our wish come true, for Alexander to be given this blessing of an opportunity.

We are so grateful! God Bless...The Lubrant Family

Note from Judy: "Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that interferes with normal development in language, intuitive thought and social interaction," says Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center. "The incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has literally exploded in the past decade with the latest studies revealing that approximately 1 in 150 children are affected by an ASD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In the early 1990s, the incidence level was 1 in 10,000."

Thanks for considering a donation to help change the life of Alex Lubrant and his family.

January 02, 2008

Let's get an Autism Assistance Dog for Erik!

Note from Erik's family: This is Erik. He is seven years old. Erik suffered a major brain bleed at birth. When Erik was 2 ½ he had a bad weekend and we noticed he had stopped talking and started losing his balance. Last year Erik was diagnosed Pervasive Developmental Disorder, part of Autism.

Last summer Erik wandered off while we were playing in the yard with some friends. We searched desperately for him...

...the police had to be involved to find Erik. Thank goodness they found him unharmed 1/2 mile from the house.

Erik is non-verbal and has seizures, making this incident even scarier. I have been looking for some way to prevent this from happening again. After much research, I found a way to help him and give him some independence as well: with an Autism Assistance Dog from 4 Paws for Ability!

Thank you so much for your prayers and any donation you feel led to give. Erik is going to greatly benefit from having his special four legged friend and he cannot wait for the day he gets to meet his new friend and bring him/her home.

Note from Judy: Consider a donation to 4 Paws for Ability in Erik's name. One of the things we can't measure is the powerful influence service dogs have on the entire lifestyle of a disabled child's family. As the family members see the child calm down and building a secure relationship with an animal that is committing his or her life to the child, stress diminishes. It will never go away, but the changes are significant.

Please help Erik and his family by donating toward an Autism Assistance Dog.

Welcome, L'il Bear

Less than two weeks after Shadow and I lost our senior cat, Bear, I decided we'd mourned long enough. The house was a bit gloomy. Shadow moped. There's an animal rescue shelter not a mile from where we live, so late on a Saturday afternoon I hopped in the car and headed for the shelter.

I sat and watched cats and kittens, and when I spotted L'il Bear, I knew he was just right for Shadow, who was now the senior cat. The little guy was four months old. At first, Shadow hissed just as I expected...

...but gosh, that didn't slow down L'il Bear. He wanted to get better acquainted with Shadow, so he kept marching right up to him. It was no time at all before they became best friends. At first, L'il Bear couldn't get close enough to Shadow, and Shadow loved it.

They adore each other, and once again we have a house filled with laughter. Mine. That little guy not only worships Shadow, but he chases him all over the house. And they tussle. Carefully. Several times a day.

One day, I caught this picture. The roles were reversed: L'il Bear was cuddling Shadow. And Shadow loved it. He loves to take naps with Li'l Bear and chase him all over the house, and he also loves being worshiped!

I hadn't had the new baby quite two weeks when I had the chance to fly to Washington State for Christmas with my family. I found someone to care for the cats, and flew off to the Pacific Northwest for a week filled with family, new friends, frolics in the snow, and lots of interaction with some of the cutest nieces and nephews in the world.

When I got back, I transferred my photos to the computer, and L'il Bear thoroughly enjoyed watching the snow scenes.

Braeden Needs an Autism Assistance Dog!

Braeden Allen is a beautiful, happy, and loving four year old who has autism. He struggles with the everyday language that comes so easily to most people. He also has behavioral problems and odd mannerisms that cause him to be shunned by his peers...

Braeden is in need of an autism assistance dog to help him understand and avoid dangerous situations, interrupt problem behavior, and serve as a social connection with peers...not to mention just being a good friend and Braeden desperately needs that.

Please help us reach the volunteer credits we need to have an autism assistance dog trained just for Braeden.

We really need your help.

Note from Judy: 4 Paws for Ability is an amazing nonprofit organization located in Xenia, Ohio. It provides highly trained service dogs in many areas, but does require that approved families raise funds to train the dog. Please consider this lonely little boy whose life will change significantly upon receiving his dog. Read the testimonials. Reading them could change your life. It changed mine.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2008 to you! On December 31, I was in Mossyrock, Washington with family. My brother, David Crook, took this picture of me in front of a huge tree that presides over Christmas Hills Tree Farm.

When my nephew, John Burton, started his Christmas Tree business, he deliberately left some of the old, large trees on his acreage. The property is fairly quiet right after Christmas, but with trees in various stages of growth, it continues to be a perfect place for wholesalers wanting the finest Noble firs for their customers.

Here's one of the many scenes I came upon just three days ago. That's Mt. Ranier in the background, peeking through the cloud cover. More later...