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.