Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Aeir Apparent


How've you been?

I haven't really had much of a chance to post here, we have been dealing with so much lately. For me, it has been a multifaceted medical mystery, for Heather some very scary and painful visits to the ER (but also a super cool announcement of an engagement), and Eric has had some stuff going that you can read about at his blog too. We are all super busy. Always seems to be that way, huh?

All of the iPads for Missions 3 and 4 have been delivered, we have some iPosts to get written, and we will. It's been a bit of a slow start to getting Mission 5's rocket off the launching pad, but if you have seen my MRI or the photo of Heather's toe on Facebook, well...I think you will understand that we both (and I am smiling as I type this) are still committed to this, we are just making sure we pace ourselves, know what I mean?


In the meantime, a good friend of mine who is, surprisingly, from outside our SN Community, sent me a link to this article, called Aeir Talk Gives A Father’s Autistic Kids A Voice. The App for Communication looks very promising, and when I get some time I intend to download it and give it a shot.

How can you NOT do it for only $1.99!?! Hell we paid fifty bucks for iCommunicate, which we think is pretty groovy, and if this is as cool as it looks like it could be then hey, two bucks is a freaking STEAL!

Hope you all are doing well. We'll be back with more soon.

PEACE.

Monday, March 26, 2012

One Small Step


As we wait for some of the iPost materials to trickle in and for some Verification stuff to get sorted out to ship out the last of the M:4 iPads, just want to take a moment to point you in the direction of something that is, without doubt or hesitation, worth a few minutes of your time.

In our world, in the universe of the Special Needs community, we seem to spend much of our lives as parents picking up the pieces. Trying to patch holes in our lives. Trying to keep our families together, trying to put out this fire or that, and battling obstacles both within ourselves and put before us by systems that seem to care so little about the children they claim to serve.

Moment of Purity seem so rare sometimes, don't they?

They happen, they really do. And it is important that all of us stop and take a second to bathe in the warm wonder of those experiences when we happen to be fortunate enough to be granted a gift of such a treasure from one of our own children. But isn't it equally as important, as members of this community, when we become aware of one of our own who is savoring the beauty of something that will be timeless in their lives, to also bear witness?

Do we not owe it to them, and to ourselves, to stop, turn our heads, and take heed?


I say yes.

PEACE.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Updates. Everybody Loves 'Em


A message just arrived in my Inbox. Sending me a link to the USPS website, which is looking REALLY good these days, in case you have not been in a while. I'm liking it a lot more than I ever have. The latest news on the iAndrew shipment?

Arrival at Post Office
March 22, 2012, 8:13 am
SOMEWHERE, USA 12345

That means that hopefully today it will be signed for.

The grin, it is so toothy. :)

Some iPads await paper, others are at various stages of their Verification and/or shipments. But this is always the fun part, yes? It's the old Heinz ketchup commercials on steroids. After the dust settles this weekend time to dig the heels in on some fund-raising.

PEACE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

M:4 Results


Not going to have a bunch of fanfare or hoopla, just going to get right to it.

Since Mission 3 was very distinctively about trying to choose Recipients ourselves based on our own reasons individually, we wanted to go another route entirely for Mission 4. Also, since it had been so long since we had fired up Mission 2 back before Christmas, we decided to attack the Candidate List sequentially.

Ultimately, the decision was made to do it in Absolute Sequence, from those who signed on the earliest.

Therefore, the Recipients for Mission 4 are as follows:

WILLIAM
GRACE
SWEET PEA
DAVID

Parents or other sponsors, if you have not already started the process of Verification, please do so at your earliest convenience. The iPads are already here, they only need to be shipped after completion of that process. Andrew's, from Mission 3, is en route. His Mom, Rebecca, sent an IEP instead of #1 and #2 on the Verification Page, and that speeds things up dramatically.

Congratulations to the new kids on the block. It will be great to see everything unfold.

Now let's get cooking on Mission 5, and remember, this is a group effort, a community effort. It is always worth keeping that in mind!

PEACE.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mission 4


Long time no...hey wait a minute. Don't have to say that this time around, cause we are on a ROLL.

Mission 3 is in the process of fulfillment. The Recipients have been contacted, it is a matter now of just getting all the Verification worked out. I reached out to all three Parent Contacts today and heard back from everybody, now it is a matter of connecting the Recipients to each of the people who selected them.

That is a bit different than how it has gone down before. In the past it was always me handling all that kind of communication.

Taking a different approach this time.

We'll still ship out the iPads when the time comes, but wanted to have this third Mission be personalized between the family and the person who selected that family. Made the most sense, especially since the person making the selection is going to be writing the blog about it.

Now, regarding Mission 4.


We plan to do something involving sequential order. Exactly what, I'm not sure. Whether it is covering the first four on the list, or a different type of sequence generation, we haven't decided yet. There wasn't enough time for all of us to confer with each other.

The real news here is that we are focusing on the list as it stands, with no new Candidates to be added for the time being. Want to get some progress going and get some families taken care of.

Talk to ya Monday...

PEACE. (I think?)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Candidate Page and M:3 Results


Thanks to each of the contacts who got back to me on the messages that we sent out to all the Candidates on Sunday and afterward in an effort to do a check-up on everyone's status. It was appreciated. We've re-organized the Candidate page on the site to reflect the responses, and tightened up the organization of it.

After some discussions, we decided to be sure we had it in sequential order from the start of the list to the end according to the sequence of when each individual person posted in each of the various Mission posts. Not that it will necessarily reflect any results of any selection processes, but it was brought up internally and I think it is important to know where everybody stands, especially from a timing perspective.

Helps as a motivational tool too, I think. You take a look at the list and you go...hmm...gotta get cracking on this and that, need to go out and spread the word and try to hook this family up. Things like that.

As far as the how the list will change...whenever a Candidate becomes a Recipient, the name and info will simply move off the Candidate list and everything sort of slides into the proper position. That's why I took the numbers out. It would be a pain in the butt with that system to constantly change the numbers, and besides, rather than have an HTML code for that I'd rather not have the numbers anyway because the numbers are too confusing to begin with. They suggest things that are not there.


The four Candidates I could not get in touch with I had to slide into a special category at the bottom of the page. They are not off the list entirely; they are just out of the 'queue', so to speak. In other words, any new person coming into this whole system takes the slot above that group and gets entered into the Distribution List, we establish contact through the e-mail privately, etc., and if any of the four reach back to us then they can certainly get put on the list but they would have to get slotted in at the end. This whole exercise does becomes a factor if we decide to do a fulfillment based solely on sequential order.

Let's get to the Mission 3 results. The Candidates who have been selected to become Recipients for the Mission 3 iPads are:

ZOYA
ANDREW
NAMADI

We will need to have the Parent Contacts get in touch with us at mip@blogzilly.com to begin the Verification and Eligibility Process. You can download everything you need on the Verification Page on the website. As soon as we can complete that stage, we can ship out the iPads to you. If for any reason we cannot complete that stage, each of the selected Recipients has an Alternate which we can slide into place should the need arise.

How were the Recipients selected this time around?

For Mission 3 I felt it was important to have each of us who are currently behind the scenes (myself, Heather and Eric) choose one of the Candidates personally. I believed, and still do, that it was an important thing, especially as an educational experience going forward, to really have to sit down and think measure a decision like this, and have to weigh all the responsibilities.


When you are on this side of the computer, it is sometimes easy to forget the power that this position can give you. I never, ever want anyone here to forget it or abuse it. Not that I feel like anyone ever would, mind you. Because I don't. These people are all here for a reason. But I thought, what better way to really teach each one of us the raw meaning of the phrase 'With great power comes great responsibility?' than to put each of us into a position where we had to choose from a group of equally deserving people? All the while knowing that there was risk in upsetting some, alienating others, and knowing that some people will, because it is simple human nature, be disappointed. So I suggested this as the selection process and it was a unanimous decision to proceed.

The simple act of making the decision to DO that has its own risks. Or certainly the act of informing you all of it does. But I have always lived and died by the motto of 'full disclosure', and while that can never be 100%, I still believe in being as open as I can be, and it would be very easy to just say 'We've selected the Candidates based on merit.', which we did, and leave it at that. Most of the time, that type of disclosure works fine for most people. AND that is not a bad thing. It just is not how we choose to roll, or how we've chosen to have this group be. We don't like to have to keep secrets.

If we do that, we learned nothing from our past.

And in the end, this is both about the fulfillment of iPads for children with communication-related disabilities but it is also about our community and how we communicate with each other. Because you have to always remember that this group and her missions were born because of secrecy and a dismal failure of communication. These missions will not fail to thrive because of a lack of it. Not on our watch.


That about covers that. Each of us will have more to say about their Recipient specifically in each 'iPost'. I know I speak for all three of us when I say that it was, without question, one of the most difficult things any of us have ever had to decide. Why do you think it took so long? :)

Tomorrow, we'll go over Mission 4. Yes, that fast. Why wait? :) (This one will have different selection parameters, 'natch!)

Besides, the key factor here is that I want to mention that after Mission 3 and 4 are complete we'll have 15 iPads, for sure, to deliver. Maybe a couple more depending on the stragglers who I can't get a hold of. I would like to urge the rest of the Candidates and those who care for them not to lose hope or momentum since some of you have reached out to ask me things like ‘What can I do?’

To me, 15 iPads is not a lot. I believe, as I did last year, that we can clear that out in no time at all. So while it may not be immediate, I am confident we can get this list, and beyond, taken care of rather quickly. We are not as big as I'd love to be, but we are not as small as we were, either. And we can always grow.

This is, as we've always said, a work in progress, and a community effort. We are open to any and all suggestions about lots of things, so have at it if you ever want to let it fly.

PEACE.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Aligning The Ducks


OK, so we were getting set, we are getting set, to pick the kiddos who will be receiving the iPads for Mission 3, when it occurred to me that the best thing to do is to make certain we get all our ducks in a row BEFORE we actually do any selections and notifications.

Call it a brief pause to review.

Glad I did. Because I consolidated the info from the Mission 3 new candidates (ONLY THREE? That's not only ironic, it is SAD...however, I am going to look at it as a blessing, it means we can get a better head start to getting all the people who have been waiting cleared off the list and not feel so bad about the wait). Anyway, as I was doing the consolidation I noted some stuff.


For example, the ping I had sent out to Candidate 14, E-V, is still unanswered, and I sent that inquiry on February 17th on her Mom's blog. That blog has not been updated since December 20th of last year. SO I am not sure if they are even around right now.

Yesterday, I put together a mailing list and send it out to all the Candidates and asked for an affirmation that you are all still out there before we begin the selection process. As of the time of this posting, the following Candidates have not responded, including Dani, E-V's Mom, who did not get the e-mail because I do not have her e-mail address:

(UPDATED MONDAY MARCH 12 11:48 PM)
ANNA (for GRACE) - CONFIRMED!
NORIKO (for KAI)
SUSAN KEISER (for RANDY/BRAYDON/JASON)
DANI (for E-V) - CONFIRMED!
STEPHANIE (for VINCENTIO)
LAURA (for SOPHIA) - CONFIRMED!
VICTORIA (for NAMADI) - CONFIRMED!
SHERI (for CAMERON)

I am hoping to hear from everyone soon. All Candidates who have not yet responded back need to do so with an update on the status of your child. Those that received the e-mail can just reply letting me know that you received the e-mail and that your son or daughter has or has not received an iPad, and those that did not can send a message to mip@blogzilly.com and I can resend the message to you using the Distribution List. I’ll need to know by Wednesday at 12:00 PM EST if your e-mail is valid and if you still need the device or we'll have to pass you up for these rounds of selection.

I think that this is the right thing to do in order to make sure that A) people are still available at the same contact addresses and B) folks have not already received devices through other sources. With the amount of time that happened between Mission 2 and 3, I think this is the most fair way to go for the people who are still waiting to get one, don't you think?

One parent did message me yesterday and bow out, stating that her daughter Rowan has been making tremendous progress and doesn't have the same need for the device she had before, which is terrific news.


One other subject I need to bring up to everybody is in regards to Verification and Eligibility, something that might seem new to some of you since that page has been down for revision for a long time, but it has actually been around since the very beginning, ever since we started this project as a whole.

We wanted to revise some elements to it and we skipped some of the more formal aspects of this process for Mission 2 because we wanted to get those 2 iPads shipped for Christmas, but now, if you are selected, we will need to go through the same processes we did with the first 20 Mission One Recipients. We have to dot the i's, cross the t's, etc. We'll need to request the info regarding physicians, therapists and such so that we can reach out to them if needed, so I will be re-establishing the Verification Page shortly. It's pretty easy to understand, but if you have any questions about anything there feel free to hit us up at any time.

That about covers it. It's going to take a couple of extra days to get everything in the house here in order, but in retrospect I think it is a good thing to do.

The GOOD news though is that the distance between Missions 3 and 4 is not going to be nearly as wide as the distance was between 2 and 3. Why? Because since Apple has decided to introduce the iPad 3, which is HARDLY even an upgraded device, if you ask me, because I have read all the specs, the iPad 2 is currently $100.00 less than it was a month ago.


Because of that, we had JUST enough funds in our account to cover the purchase of 7 iPads. SO..what is 3 + 4? If I remember my basic math, even though I did get a 'C' in Algebra 101 in college, it is 7. So Mission 4 is covered, we do not NEED to raise any scratch to get the extra little bit we needed. As soon as we wrap up the details on 3? We go right into 4.

Nice, right?

PEACE.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

iLiam 2: Electric Boogaloo

Well now that Ken is finished giving us all a good scare I suppose now is as good a time as any to jump in with my first post. Before I do that though, I first want to make sure that you all remember there is still a little less than 12 hours to enter the Mission 3 iPad Giveaway. Simply head over to this post to read the rules and leave a comment to enter. Just go do it, you know you want to.

Okay. Now that that’s taken care of. . .

Hi. I’m Eric and I’m the newest member of Mission iPossible.



The handsome gent in the photo? That’s my son Liam. He’s watching his favorite program on his ipad. His ipad which he received in the first ipad giveaway put on by Mission iPossible.  Mission one. Yep, Liam is one of “The Twenty”.  

I was planning on a big post outlining how I came to be mixed up with the likes of Ken and Heather but it’s a pretty simple story and Ken outlined it pretty well a few posts ago. So instead I'll give you all an update on how the ipad itself has helped Liam and how we have integrated this wonderful tool into all of our lives so far.

When I sent in my email to enter that other contest I didn’t really have high hopes of being selected. With the severity of some of Liam’s special needs (both physical and developmental) I was sure that there would be plenty of more, … let's say “qualified” candidates that would then be able to use this technology quicker, or more effectively. I knew that I wanted to try working with Liam and this technology as early as I could but I didn’t really think I’d get the chance.

Low muscle tone, global delay, vision impairment, each one a reason to need and experiment with touch screens but what if the sum of those parts were just too much to overcome? What if like almost all toys, books and even TV screens we had tried it was too much for Liam to grasp? 





What a bunch of nonsense.

A few months after receiving Liam’s ipad I was emailing back and forth with Ken about this and that when he asked me how we were getting along with our ipad. Was Liam using it to communicate? How were we getting through any of Liam’s physical limitations? Was the iPad able to help Liam interact with us? All great questions, so I’ll just tell all of you exactly what I told him.

As far as the iPad and Liam, let me say this. While we are far, far away from him using it to interact with US. He is interacting with IT. And right now that's more than I could have hoped for.

Low-muscle tone. Global delays. Compromised vision. All of these obstacles.

I'd never seen Liam PLAY with a toy in any meaningful way. Toys are heavy for Liam. Toys are complicated for Liam. I'd never seen Liam REACH for something in a meaningful way. My face maybe at times, but not something inanimate that HE had to manipulate. I'd seen him stare at the TV before but I'd never seen him REACT to the TV before.

It's all changed now. Smiling at fireworks displays. shouting oohs and aahs as he realizes that it's HIS hand making notes when he touches that digital piano. Cartoons and netflix videos are much more engaging when we can place the ipad right into the "sweet spot" of his vision (18-24 inches away).

So to answer your question again. Using the ipad to interact with Karin and I? No. Not yet.

Using the ipad to interact? Yep. That in spades.



So there you have it. My first post here is in the books. It may not be a new mission announcement but I think it's appropriate use of the space. I hope you'll all follow Liam's trip through learning and play using this wonderful technology. Maybe I can get a few more of you to add your stories. I'd love to hear how it's helping you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Headed Home


So...how's things?

Thanks to Heather for posting in the blog for us about my trip to the hospital. I'm still in the Unit, and I have full laptop access now, but the good news is I am getting out today. Thanks for fingers crossed and your praying and well wishing. Appreciate the comments, notes and everything else. It's been sweet as always. Love this community.

I think we won't need to delay our Friday deadline. It does not appear that I had an actual heart attack yesterday, none of the evidence suggests that. So I won't require any 'rest period' from this thing (though I do need to solve this 'pain mystery' and I am on the case), but we won't need to have any delay on Friday's deadline for entries and we can still wrap up the selection process and get the iPad's arranged I would think very shortly after that.

I'll just need to be sure we allow time get the actual devices in OUR hands, but the selection process itself should move forward as originally scheduled with no hitches. Then we'll roll 'em out and get Mission 4 up on the board to start getting the funds together to complete what we need for that. We're short, but not by much.

Cool? Cool. :)

Heather and I and Eric all agree...we don't want to get in the habit of doing this 'delay' thing. Reminds us too much of, well, of something else. But things DO happen, which is why I wanted to have an announcement go up as soon as I went in here, because you never know, you know? And I had no idea how long I might be down for the count. That tonsillectomy was a thing that really sucked the life out of me, but my overall health was much worse then. Things are different today. Still...I didn't want yet another thing to start mucking with our plans. Thankfully, this time, it won't. That's terrific.

Next time you hear from me, it should be from home!

PEACE.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Important Mission 3 update with a side of medical drama

So, you most likely won't get very far before you notice that this post here doesn't jive and flow quite as smoothly as they normally do. Be forewarned that it may likely be filled with a few grammatical errors and, it definitely will be missing that beloved and unique humor usually attached. No catchy images to tie in the thoughts being conveyed. Although I need an 'A' for effort because I spent the longest time finding the perfect photos only to find out that the usual author of posts here must have some tricks of the trade in uploading because mine would so not work. Absent are some of the nifty little things that you have become so accustomed to here at Mission iPossible. The reason being, that I, Heather, cohort in crime here at MiP, am being forced to unexpectedly step way out of my comfort zone and update you on the happenings of the day. Yep, I do write my very own blog but here at Mission iPossible, Ken is definitely a hard act to follow in the writing department. However, seems like the aforementioned Ken, has decided to shake things up a bit with a little itty-bitty medical emergency.

News came today that Ken thought that today might be a good day to take his first ambulance ride. After experiencing some "odd sensations" in his chest this morning, that he could not quite put his finger on, he decided to err on the side of caution, and called 911.  Smart man, wouldn't you say? Looks as if that move has yielded to an overnight stay at his local hospital for observation. Not the kind of much needed get away he more than likely could use or would like, but a vital and necessary one anyway.

The great news is, that all indications at this point are, that he has NOT suffered a heart attack. Phew, right? However, additional tests are being run and barring any unexpected results from those, he most likely will be released tomorrow. With that said, there is the very real possibility that we will need to extend the Mission 3 deadline to the end of next week. We need to make sure that Ken gets home, rests, follows discharge orders and revamps things a bit, to maybe relieve some of the stress that can bog us all down from time to time, and rear it's ugly head, in unforeseen and sometimes, scary ways. For instance, not to steal my partners thunder, but I have been sporting an oh so lovely case of shingles this past week. My point being, sometimes life sends us little messages requiring us to sit up and take notice, or otherwise, we will be of no good to anyone. Especially those who need us the most.

In the mean time, send Ken some love in the form of some healing thoughts, vibes and prayers, for a quick and uneventful turn around. And, we promise to be back shortly, or hopefully Ken promises to be back shortly, for another update on Mission 3 and any necessary detours that may need to happen at this juncture. Once again, thank you one and all for your continued understanding and support of us here at Mission iPossible. It does not go unnoticed, and is greatly and humbly, appreciated.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Get That Man Some Pants!


Just wanted to get your attention. ;)

A long time ago, around these parts, we had our Mission One going, and one of the Recipients (as they came to be called) by the name of Eric Olson (whom I have mentioned before in various places) was here on behalf of his son Liam.

It was a bit unusual to have a Father to interact with. There aren't that many of us out there. Well, not Father's. Of course there are plenty of those. I mean, Dad's who write blogs. And so since there are not that many of us, there were not that many of us who entered the original MB contest, and there were not that many who wound up as part of The Forty, then The Twenty, which we ended up calling our final group who were a part of that first Mission.

Naturally, because of that whole Testosterone and facial hair thing, Eric and I started up a bit of an online friendship.


And despite his New England Patriot affiliation, that friendship has been maintained. He's good people, so I can look past that type of flaw in his personality. Besides, I have to admit, just don't tell anybody, that I have a deep respect for Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization. To me? He is a God in the NFL.

In fact, I look at Belichick much the way Eric looks at Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox, who Eric idolized as he wrote about a visit to Fenway Park last summer in an incredible post on his blog Pressure Support, where he clicks and clacks about his family and their journey with Liam. I love the tagline of Pressure Support. It is classic. 'My boy's ventilator really blows.'


So why am I singing the praises of Mr. Olson to you right now? Because it is my pleasure to officially announce that he is joining our little group here at Mission: iPossible. What exactly does that mean?

Nothing! I'm joking, it does mean something. It means a new era begins for us, but what I mean is that nothing is changing in a major way, so now Eric can take a breath... he doesn't need to worry about any sudden changes in his own life and write me any notes. ;)

This is an all-volunteer little band of Brethren and Sistren, and we are always open to more people contributing anything to this community effort, and it is my hope to set this place up as a sort of 'contributor type' site, where we start to get folks other than me writing here, get some regular, repeat content and other types of things going, etc., etc.

This is the first eensy-weensy, teeny-tiny, baby step in getting that going, and I think it is great that Eric is the first one taking it. I admire that as I admire him and his blog.


So welcome Eric, glad you're here, even though you have always been in one way or another. And outwardly most of you probably won't notice much of anything for a bit, because as we've talked about to each other, most of this is all just behind the curtain type of stuff for the time being.

In the meantime, the Mission 3 deadline for Candidacy is still open, so be sure to tell your friends and neighbors and get the info in for it before we start the selection process on March 09. By week's end we'll have the goal up for the Mission 4 numbers.

Oh...why the pants reference in the title? It's SEMI-interesting. You can stop reading now if you want, this next part is just for funsies, but it does come back around to Eric if you are curious.


In 2009, I entered two very different worlds. One was this world of being a Special Needs Dad. The other was being the VP of Product Development for a company called The MVP Collection. The plan for MVP was to make NFL Statuary, very high end stuff. We did pre-production development on a handful of items. We produced only two actual products. Sadly, due to a myriad of reasons, the company went under and by 2010 I was out of a job. Again.

When you do this kind of work, you need good reference. For a Tom Brady Premium Format Style Statue (here is an example of that kind of format, cloth and polystone or resin in a mixed media style, around 18-inches tall) I needed to find parts of a New England Uniform. I got a pair of official pants directly from the Patriots because I could not find them on the open market.

When I turned in all my materials after my layoff, I could not find one box of stuff that had a handful of stuff in it. In that box was this pair of pants. Found it recently because of this problem I am having with my basement. Now...the NFL is super freaky-deaky about eBay and what gets sold on there. And the last thing in the world I need in my life is the NFL breathing down my neck.


So...I wondered, what in the heck am I going to do with a pair of New England Patriots NFL Pants? They are cool, but they are not Baltimore Ravens pants. If they were, I would not be writing this post now. They would be framed on my wall. But Patriots pants? Cool, but not something I really want to display.

Enter...Eric.

I told him I would send them to him. Thought maybe he could frame 'em. Heck, he could even wear 'em, pretend he's Tom Brady, whatever. Have some fun. Lord knows we all need a little Pressure Release, right?

And THAT'S why I mentioned the pants.

I guess it isn't that cool of story after all? OK, point taken. I'll leave that stuff out next time. It DID get your attention though, yeah? ;)

PEACE.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mission 3


You may have heard me say before that we had acquired the funds over the winter, thanks to a rather large donation from a single donor, for around 6 iPads, give or take. That is absolutely true. But after some internal discussions, we decided not to go with 6 iPads for Mission 3, and we also decided not to hold up Mission 3 any longer than it was already being held up.

Lemme explain.

First about the delay. I've been trying to get an HTML form put together for a few weeks now in my spare time. Some type of an interface that would make entering data for your child a snap. Well, suffice it to say, even HTML for Dummies isn't helping this dummy, and I am having a little trouble getting it to work right.

But time just keeps on passing and this is REALLY gnawing at me. It wasn't gnawing at me so much while my son was gnawing at me while his behavioral problems were in massive overdrive. But now, since his behavior has started to seriously calm down, and I mean seriously, I have had a bit more time to think and I want to get things moving again.

And having things held up by something like an online form is just...well, it's silly. We can still do the giveaways the old-fashioned way while we have the means to do so, while we work out any of the other junk, know what I mean?

SO...why keep waiting, let's start Mission 3 now, shall we?


Now about the QTY of iPads. Mission 3 will be for 3 iPads. Mission 4 will be for 4 iPads. And so on and so on and so on. That puts us short for the amount we need for Mission 4, so we will simultaneously start an external and internal fund-raising effort now.

This helps, in fact it is HUGE, to keeping us motivated to work on something, have a GOAL, which we all agree is part of what we need as a tool, and it also helps to have something UP to sort of all have as constantly striving forward. Otherwise it is just always sort of hanging. Does that make sense? Hope so, because it makes perfect sense to me.

With no definition of where we wanna go there is no real path and with no path there is no journey. I just made that up...gonna be a big, big hit. ;)

The Mission 3 Recipients will be selected from the group of Pre-Qualified Candidates on the Tabbed Page on this website and any new Applicants who enter in the Comments section below. Selection will not be by Random Selection Process as before. I was not comfortable with that after all was said and done. I do not think any of us were.

We are simply going to make the selections internally and announce the Recipients. During that announcement process we'll talk about what led us to the decision regarding who was chosen in this particular round. It is not as 'easy' as a Random process, it is infinitely more difficult. I believe in this world we live in it is an opportunity to take the element of 'chance' out of the equation...something that, in a Special Needs setting is, at least in my mind, a good thing.

As before, we'll be giving away the same type of iPad.


You know the drill...the 16GB, Wi-Fi models that we gave out in Missions 1 & 2. Not the 3G capable kind.

In order to become eligible to enter this giveaway, unless you are already on the Pre-Qualified Candidates Page, you need only do the following:

Take a photograph of your child or use an existing one you already have and host it somewhere on the Internet. Then you can copy/paste the below into the comments section because you can use it as your guide to creating your entry, that way you won't forget to include what you need and have to make a second comment or, God forbid, forget something entirely and end up with a disqualified entry like the last time.

If you just copy/paste and change the below to have all YOUR INFO, you will be GOLDEN...just set up your entry like the following sample and there should be no problems at all. If you do not have a blog then just write N/A in that field.

CHILD'S NAME: BENNETT
PARENT CONTACT NAME: KEN
E-MAIL: kenlilly@blogzilly.com
BLOG: http://blogzilly.blogspot.com/
PHOTO LINK: http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d191/residentlilly/Z-Random_Stuff/ben.jpg


STATEMENT: Write a statement here, can be long or short, totally up to you, regarding what your child's communication-related disability is and why you believe your child would benefit from this groundbreaking technology. Why the request for the photo and the text? WE WANT TO GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE WE SERVICE. Plain and simple. We like pictures of kids, and it is important to not just be names and numbers. This is still about community.

You do not have to INSERT your child's photo. I only did because this is a blog and I am trying to make it visually interesting. And Bennett is damn cute in that little PJ outfit. And I am just glad he is SMILING again instead of trying to rip my face off.

Anyway...if you are selected as a Recipient, you MAY be asked to fill out an Eligibility Form, Release Form, etc., similar to the ones we had up previously on our site, and this may or may not include various documentations such as a letter of need from a Speech Therapist or Physician in your child's life. (But don't sweat any of this kind of thing PLEASE...and remember...full Privacy applies to this part, any of that kind of info stays private.)

These types of things are vital so that we can verify that any Recipient is a child in need of an iPad and that said child does indeed have a communication-related disability. We are, after all, trying to fulfill a Humanitarian mission here, and we don't want to just give out iPads to everyone, though that would be great if we could.

Because of our new format, submission of Application for Candidacy is always open now, and the acceptance for entries will remain open indefinitely, but the deadline for announcement of Mission 3 Recipients will be Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST. It is open to anyone...anywhere.


A FEW BASIC GUIDELINES
- Only one entry per household, even if you have more than one child with a disability.
- Entries must follow all specified guidelines or they will not qualify.
- These rules are flexible, as in subject to change and variate as the giveaway progresses.
- As always, there is no fee for entry.
- It would be much appreciated if you are on the Pre-Q page, as one has already done, to let us know if you have already picked up a device for your kiddo so we can clear a slot.

That about covers it I think...pretty self-explanatory right? Easy-peezy, yeah?

If you have any questions at all...ANY...just hit me up at mip@blogzilly.com with MISSION 3 QUESTIONS in the Subject line and I will get right on them.

But other than that?

PEACE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting a Handle on the Candidates


I need a bit of a helping hand. Two...if you have 'em.

You, and by 'You' I mean, 'You-The-Members-Of-The-Community-At-Large', are always saying to me...'Hey Ken, you don't need to shoulder all this by yourself, if you need some help, by all means ask for help.'

Well, I needs me some help.

I'm trying to consolidate our list of Pre-Q Candidates before we start opening it up for new Applicants. And I want to open it up, get the revised single-page Application/Verification process up and get everything rolling on Mission 3 as of, like, yesterday.

From our little Mission 2 giveaway, this is the list I was able to put together so far, and if you don't mind, can a few of you just put your eyes on it, check it against the entries and say 'Yeah that looks about right, dude.' for me, please? It would help me a lot.

01 EMILIA
02 ANNA
03 SWEET PEA'S MOMMY
04 NORIKO (NK)
05 NICOLE
06 PRISCILLA
07 JENNIFER
08 SUSAN KIESER
09 CHARISSA
10 STEPHBRAUN
11 STEPHANIE
12 CATHY
13 COLEY
14 DANI
15 STEPHANIE
16 ALICIA
17 KELLY
18 LAURA
19 SARAH
20 REBECCA
21 ANTHONY

Please note that Anthony is on this list because after the giveaway the person that entered him in the contest reached out to me and communicated with me, explaining the faux pas regarding the e-mail snafu, and now I have a viable way of reaching her. It was too late to get him entered into the drawing on Mission 2, but he is a PQC from here on out.

I need to go in and...enhance the list, actually do it as Child Name, Parent Name, and then info/pic, and I will do that and make it all purty and such before I put it on the main tabbed page but this I just grabbed off the Randomizer List I had so that I could make sure I had everyone.

Now...over the last six months, since this venture started, there were a handful of people who sent in physical paper or e-mail inquiries. I have a standard language response I send out to everyone who inquires about any iPads for that. I suggest to all of them, when we are not running anything, to subscribe to this blog via the feedburner or whatever method they choose because here is where they will always get the latest updates as to when we will be running any news about any giveaways.

There isn't any way to cross-check those folks, I always had it as a sort of 'We're still sort of a 'Mom & Pop Shop' and we don't have the resources to track down every person who may send us a note. Gotta stick to that (because it is truer now than ever). SO...if you do not see your name on this list, and you sent in something before, just reach out to me, let me know you did, and if it was an e-mail send it to me again. If it was paper send me an e-mail telling me about it. I keep all that stuff on file, I'll pull it and I'll get your child's name into the PQC list.

Make sense?

If not, let me know if there is a question and I'll get on it.

PEACE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Big Time


There are those people in your life, who live in this community and who take leadership positions in it, who often send you lifelines when you are floundering about with your difficulties, even though often their OWN difficulties are massive by comparison. Elizabeth, a very vocal supporter of the Mission: iPossible group, and a dear friend, is one such person.

Elizabeth will be a part of a Webinar, a Live Question and Answer session, on Valentine's Day, entitled Using Technology to Communicate with Your Developmentally Disabled Child. You'll note that when you click on the link in the title, that it is a reference to Part II.


The first Webinar, the one I did not post about, you can find at this link.

Unfortunately I've been a bit saturated with things on the home front, as you may have noticed, and I missed that one, at least the participation of 'spreading the word', and for that I apologize, to Elizabeth and to you, the community to which I owe a bit more in the way of being on my toes.

But hey...there is also something to be said about the notion of putting on one's own margarine cup oxygen thingie and getting it secured, before putting it on the person in the seat next to you. Or something like that. ;)

I'll do better in the next plane crash. Promise.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alive & Kicking


Hi. Yeah I know. Been a while.

In BOTH places. Which is why I am simultaneously posting this in both my blog and at Mission: iPossible. It probably violates some blogoverse rule and will cause the world to implode, so sue me. To me? Whatever gets the wheels of progress turning. That is what is most important.

It occurred to me, while trying to figure out how to best serve the current Mission 3 parameters, that there are quite a few parents out there who have already done the whole 'send in the story' thang. Who have already sent in their child's information, the history, the e-mail, the whole shebang.

Why go through it again?

We don't think they should have to. So currently I'm working out something that can fit into this blog format with fairly simplistic ease (not an easy task...blogger is not as user friendly as you might think) for this and future giveaways so that anyone who enters and doesn't get an iPad and maybe who doesn't find one through other means can have their info stored here. You'll see a tabbed page now called 'PRE-QUALIFIED CANDIDATES', probably a temporary title for now, and I will work it into there somehow.

Of course, that will also require some work on our part to make sure that the people who are still eligible haven't found one already, but we'll work that out as we go.


Work in progress, work in progress. I keep telling myself that...not just here, but as we try to figure out how to work through the behavioral nightmare that is my son Bennett's latest...what's the word I should use? Shitstorm?

Hey! This, at least the Mission: iPossible site, is supposed to be a FAMILY-friendly blog, mister! It still is, don't worry...show me a family with a disabled child where an S-bomb hasn't been dropped, from time to time. ;)

We'll make it through. We always do. And to those of you who have been reaching out with severe concern for my well being? Thanks. I do appreciate it. My psychiatrist has increased my medication, sadly, to try and level me off...dammit, that was something I had hoped to avoid. But waddya gonna do? Sometimes, you have to choose paths that go through very thick weeds to get to the oasis, know what I mean? Consequently for the past several days I have been trying to adjust.

Groggy? Meet Foggy. With a dose of Sleepy and Out of It.

That very same psychiatrist, who is a true diamond in the rough doctor, a rare gift, was asking me about Bennett...trying to find out who was managing his care on the Behavioral Psych side of things. I told him no one at the moment. At Cleveland Clinic, his Behavioral Psychiatrist had retired, and we have not found one here to replace him, and we are not able to take him to the local hospital for a lot of reasons, many of which I shared with the Doc.

I did tell him that we contacted 14 Behavioral Psychiatrists here in the area...FOURTEEN, and none were taking new patients. But I also told him that things were completely out of control and I told him some of the things that had happened.

He just looked at me and said.

'I'll see him.'


And in three and a half weeks, he is going to. He said that it will require a little more work on his part, and some research into Bennett's background and some info from me, but he wants to help, as much for Bennett as for me, since I am his patient too and helping Bennett helps me too.

Don't find 'em like that much anymore, do ya?

It isn't long term, but it was something very...nice, in what has been a very long stretch of dark these past few months.

That's about it for now. Back in a bit with some more on the giveaway, an intro to a new member, and a shout out to one in our community who has a way cool webinar to share.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Setting the Table


Hey everybody. Been a while. Not too long, but we're about ready to get things started on our third Mission.

You'll start to notice, if you tend to notice these types of things, some little tweaks and such happening on the pages that are on this site as well as to our Facebook page. It is all some prep we are doing as we get ready to begin Mission 3.

Already I've gone in and started to re-work some of the info, and will continue to, to get it a little more streamlined. If you have any suggestions, feel free to give us a shout at what will be our new address for a bit, mip@blogzilly.com. We have the domain name missionipossible.com and .org, and I am working on e-mail addy's for that, but one step at a time.

Mission 3 will involve 6 iPads, and the good news is that we have the funds in place, for the most part, for all 6 already, so a new donation drive will not be required. Just like Mission 2. We will need to get some ducks in a row as far as some of the odds and ends for fulfillment, but there should be adequate time for that, because we still need to get the parameters put together for how we will be handling this Mission and obviously the application part will have to unfold.

Stay tuned for that, it will all be coming to you over the next few days. I need to get some of those old forms looked at with some fresh eyes (and brain), decide what we need and what we don't, and move on from there. It's been...rather hectic in our household (to say the least) but I at wanted to put the word out there for anyone who was interested to know that another run at some iPads was imminent, because it is.

And that is never bad news, NATCH!

I'll check in again soon with more.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

iHelene


I must have started this blog a half a dozen times, then gone back and erased the few paragraphs I had written.

Evolution of self is a crazy thing. If you are open to it, it can lead you in some wonderful directions in your life. If you are closed to it, if you find yourself bogged down by fear, anger, aggression...well, before I start sounding too much like Yoda, let's just say that you can very easily just miss out on so many lessons Life tries to teach you.

The reason I kept erasing the text was that I kept starting this post with apologies. I kept apologizing for the delay in getting it written, the delay in wrapping up this Mission 2, the delay in getting set to go with the announcement of Mission 3, for the this and the that.

And I realized...I have done that, and continue to do so, quite often, and not just here. I do it on my own space, I do it on other spaces where I might be invited to guest write. I do it a lot...in my everyday Life.

I think I am beginning to have an understanding as to the 'Why', but I'll talk about it somewhere else since I don't plan to make this post all about me. I will only say this about this place and this space. It's always been and always will be an Open Book. And it will remain so.


It is a reflection, perhaps, of who Heather and I are and whoever else comes to the table, and I like it that way. It is a perpetual Work in Progress, it is in its infancy, and it has much growing yet to do, because it, like all of us, is evolving too.

But it is Good. It does Good. And I think that I don't need to apologize that I can't give it the time I want every day, or every week, right now. I give it what I can, and when I can I'll give it more.

Because I do love it, and man-oh-MAN does it give back TEN-FOLD.


When I first read Suzie's entry regarding her daughter Helene, I recall some of her statements LEAPING out at me. Reminding me, strikingly, of my son Bennett.

'Helene...seemingly flourishes in the confines of a genetic disorder in the family of overgrowth syndromes, while the specific syndrome cannot be pinpointed (probably a mutation of one or more). Helene has Autism, a very limited vocabulary of one-two word phrases...a disregard for many social norms, and unbridled enthusiasm for all things related to sugar.'

'She is clearly creative and funny, with limited avenues for expression. For instance, she recently seemed to find it amusing to watch us find toys she had hidden in food. A small plastic baby found in the simmering tomato sauce, a tiny plush cookie monster upside down in a glass of milk, Dr. Doom staring up at me when I opened up the sour cream.'

I can't explain why, because Bennett does none of those things exactly, but the sense of humor, the ability to HAVE humor, is something that Bennett does not lack, despite his tremendous disabilities. And I just had an...impression, that Helene had a similar disposition.


Humor certainly helps, a lot...and I wish that all of us had more of it in our lives. Especially with our kids. Those of us that do...it is a very special gift. The sound of laughter, especially from a kid, does it get better?

We need to have it as well. Us, the parents I mean.

Suzie certainly does, as this little passage from her e-mail she sent me when they first got the iPad indicates. She was telling me a little about Helene, they had not yet given her the device but were waiting until Christmas. (And again...her description...sounds like she could be writing about Bennett, at least to me.)

'Helene is really beside herself about Christmas, in both good and trying ways. She is a veteran tree-decorator (on and off with those ornaments, again and again), holiday dancer, repetitive Grinch watcher, (Oh, those Whos down in WhoVille, the tall and the small...), cookie tracker and eater, and is exhibiting rather stunning and remarkable self-control over the mailing boxes that are coming in the door. Somehow she is fully aware they are presents, and must wait.'
 

'On the other hand, she has had an alarming number of tantrums, including the lay-on-the-asphalt variety at the Zoo the other day. The gang of kids and moms in attendance labeled it Helene's version of 'Occupy Zoo' behavior.'

'I sat on a bench and sighed...deeply...'

Sounds like a Mom you would want to hang with, right? I think that you ought to write a blog, Suzie, I really do. And of course, there was this little ditty that I got shortly after the iPad was given to Helene as a Christmas present.

'Helene has been waging a passionate love affair with the iPad. I (somewhat haphazardly) loaded some apps that I thought would be useful for her: a few movies, read along books, and several communication apps that include puzzles, word scramble, etc. She has already become so proficient at the word scramble, I have to research one with harder words.'

'She's been running around the house yelling opposites: Up! Down! Inside! Outside! Open! Shut! And spelling p-e-a-c-o-c-k and w-a-t-e-r-m-e-l-o-n! (Well, honestly, the end of watermelon gets lost, but you get the idea.) Mind you, this is from a girl who has VERY little to say generally.'

'The iPad has been a wonderful boon to her, and by extension, our family, and I've signed myself up for an apps class via an Autism task force so I can better meet her needs. We thank you again for making this possible for us. It has all been, as Helene would exclaim, DE-LICIOUS!'

Indeed it was.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Friday, January 6, 2012

iDaniel


If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times.

The best part about this...experience, for lack of a better descriptive term, is that moment when, after having sent out the iPads, we get the pictures in of the children using the devices with their families.

Never gets tired. Never gets old.


It's like during the winter, when you are blessed with a slightly warmer than average day (if you happen to live up here in the Mid-West or other cold climates), and you have been trapped WAY too long inside your home. Cooped up. Contained. Forced to breathe re-circulated, dry, manufactured air from your heating system. But on this day, this special day, you get to go outside in something less than full Hoth Gear, and you feel a blast of crisp cool, FRESH air and it caresses your face when you walk around and you feel...renewed.

Yeah...that's what it's like. Kinda sorta.


Carolyn, who writes the blog Daniel's Gift, sent me some photos of her son Daniel and the iPad they received as one of our pair of Mission 2 Recipients. Carolyn timed the iPad to give it to Daniel for his 13th birthday. She wrote a bit about it on one of her posts about the birthday itself, and she shared this with us as well.

Daniel doesn't talk, but man can that boy play. His favorite toys when he was a tiny kid were anything with lights and music. He had a little jukebox that played tunes and lit up when he spun the roller in the middle. He wore the color off the plastic making that thing go!

When I started hearing about the iPad and all of the applications for learning and special needs, I knew he needed one. He loves grabbing cell phones away from anyone within reach. He likes the way the screen lights up, and his fingertips can make it DO things (although some of the accidental calls haven't been convenient).


Daniel doesn't have a formal diagnosis, but he's been assessed as autistic. His fine motor skills are something he works on everyday. Just holding his cup can be challenging at times. The iPad is already a big motivator for him in this area. He loves the apps that allow him to make colors appear (with sound, no less) and bubble wrap pop with a flick of his finger. There is so much potential for learning and eventually communicating that it can't be overstated just how valuable a gift this was for him on his thirteenth birthday.

Thank you for making this possible for him!

It was and always will be our pleasure. Can't wait to see more updates on Daniel's progress, and wish him and your family nothing but the best in the coming year.


These two iPads both came to be given to Heather by some very interesting circumstances. Perhaps if we lean on her enough she'll agree to do a write-up on the history of both of them and their 'stories'. It's fascinating stuff.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Monday, January 2, 2012

This Is How It's Done!


For a long time now, I've always said how we never could have pulled off our Mission One project without the help of the Strong family. Taking us under their wing and offering us an opportunity to take shelter under the umbrella of The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation for purposes of collecting donations for our venture? It was game-changing.

It restored so much trust and faith in this community after what happened with the allegedly fraudulent contest that led to the creation of this group, and I believe it was by the grace of The GSF that the first Mission was accomplished in only 76 days. And though I know that at some point MiP will need to go its own way and become its own separate entity, its own non-profit group, I don't think there is any way I will ever be able to express my gratitude to the Strongs for what they did and continue to do.


Today they announced a new initiative of their own called Project Mariposa, where they will be giving away 50 iPads in 50 weeks to children with SMA. You can find all the details regarding their program over at their site, and for your convenience I have linked to today's blog post here. Be sure to read about a new app they are designing.


You heard me. An app THEY ARE CREATING. You can read about it by following one of the links on the Project Mariposa page. Its exciting stuff.

This...THIS...is inspiring. But then again, most of what Bill, Victoria and Gwendolyn do is. It will be fantastic to watch it all unfold over the course of the next several months.

PEACE.

-Ken
On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group