Frumpfighter

Archive for May 2009

So, Susan Boyle didn’t win Britian’s Got Talent. And judge and crowd favorite Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol. Both results were fairly shocking but not at all similar.

While Lambert came to American Idol with experience performing on a live stage, Boyle did not. Lambert’s flamboyant style didn’t just develop overnight while he was in Hollywood on the Idol stage. He has been doing this for years. That’s why he was so good and such a natural with the judges and the press. Whether he’s the lead singer of Queen or a solo sensation by the end the year, his fame will continue to skyrocket.

Boyle, on the other hand, was not used to performing or its subsequent sudden fame. Yes, there is a theory out there that she was planted on the show by Simon Cowell. Whether that’s true or not (I don’t believe it), is irrelevant. In two months Boyle went from total obscurity to international fame and scrutiny.

Going into the competition, she had no expectations and nobody had any expectations of her. As she stood on the stage for the first time, everybody expected her to sound just horrible. Then, she began to sing “I Dreamed a Dream.” From the first note, everyone was blown away. Then came the YouTube video. In the past two months the video of her performance has been viewed more than 200,000 million times. 200 million.

The cameras came. The rumors started. Everybody wanted to know more about this plain-looking woman from Scotland who has the voice of an angel. All of a sudden, the 48-year-old who claims to never have been kissed was a superstar. Talk about pressure.

I suppose after all that attention, she did feel a little overwhelmed and entitled.  Now the expectations were high and the whole world was watching.

In the semi-final Boyle’s performance of “Memory” started out shaky but ended fairly strong. In the final, she again sang “I Dreamed a Dream,” the song that made her famous. Neither one compared to that first performance when she proved doubters wrong. How could they?

She came in second to a dance act, Diversity. Just like Lambert, she’ll be just fine. She’ll need to get a better handle on the press and the pressure, but her voice will carry her. For all of us who were inspired by her courage to shake off the skeptics in the beginning and then shake of the critics in the end, Susan Boyle is still a winner.

The Flood of 2008 in Vinton came full circle today with the first of 16 planned demolitions of homes damaged beyond repair.

Zach and Michelle Rogers' former home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, before its demolition Thursday, May 28.

Zach and Michelle Rogers' former home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, before its demolition Thursday, May 28.

The first to go down was 201 E. Third St., where Zach and Michelle Rogers lived for nearly a decade before it was overtaken by the Cedar River last June.

As the flood became more and more serious that fateful week, I walked the three blocks from my Vinton home (thankfully, on a hill) to the area near the river to see what the fuss was all about.

I saw the Rogerses and their neighbors sandbag their homes on Second Street as volunteers feverishly tried to protect the nearby fire station and county jail. At that point, Tuesday, June 10, there didn’t seem to be a sense of panic.  

But over the course of the next few days, everything went seriously wrong. The power plant was wiped out. The jail was destroyed. The Rogers’ house was destroyed, as well as many other houses and properties in the area.

Here’s my recollection of that week: https://frumpfighter.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/flooded-vinton-homes-set-to-be-demolished/

One of my most profound memories of the flood was when Michelle Rogers joked about me getting worker’s comp for my dirty shoes as I walked around their flood-ravished house.

This morning as I watched their home being demolished, I realized I was wearing those shoes. They were easily washed off and saved. Unfortunately, their house was not.

Workers from D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford work on the demolition of Zach and Michelle Rogerses' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, on Thursday.

Workers from D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford work on the demolition of Zach and Michelle Rogerses' home at 201 E. Third St., Vinton, on Thursday.

With the Benton County Courthouse in the background, demolition of homes in Vinton begins.

With the Benton County Courthouse in the background, demolition of homes in Vinton begins.

A worker with D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford takes precaution with the debris from the demolition of a flood-damaged home in Vinton.

A worker with D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford takes precaution with the debris from the demolition of a flood-damaged home in Vinton.

The area near Vinton homes slated for demolition is blocked off due to safety reasons.

The area near Vinton homes slated for demolition is blocked off due to safety reasons.

Homes along Second Street in Vinton await the fate of 201 E. Third St. - demolition.

Homes along Second Street in Vinton await the fate of 201 E. Third St. - demolition.

The Benton County Courthouse rises above in the background of the site of the first demolition in Vinton.

The Benton County Courthouse rises above in the background of the site of the first demolition in Vinton.

Ritalin – strike one; Strattera – strike two; and now on to Risperidone to try to tone down my son’s anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autistic tendencies.

My son, Sage, had a big week losing a front tooth and getting his first buzz haircut. Here he is with his Daddy, my husband, Jeff.

My son, Sage, had a big week losing a front tooth and getting his first buzz haircut. Here he is with his Daddy, my husband, Jeff.

After explaining to the child psychiatrist that the Strattera (atomoxetine) did somewhat lessen Sage’s hyperactivity but altered his personality, she immediately said to discontinue its use. When we first decided to use Strattera in early March, the doctor said the side effects may include depression, insecurity and mood swings so we needed to closely monitor him.

Sure enough, shortly after Sage started the doses, his kindergarten teachers began to recognize he was more argumentative and just not his sweet, happy self most of the time.  At home, he started crying for no reason. We thought he just needed to adjust to the new medication. But after two months, and one dosage increase, we knew it wasn’t the right treatment for him.

A little to our surprise, the doctor readily agreed. She said the typical steps of treating ADHD and autism spectrum disorders include first trying stimulants like Ritalin and then antidepressants like Straterra. If those don’t work or have negative side effects (Ritalin use was stopped after a couple of days due to aggression), the next step is Risperidone or Risperdal.

Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat bipolar disorder in adults and autistic disorders in children. The doctor explained that it is used in children with Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS. Sage was diagnosed with PDD-NOS in 2005 when he was 3 ½ and the child psychiatrist he is seeing now recently reaffirmed the diagnosis.

All these medical terms get confusing to me, to the point while I was asking the doctor questions, I confused her. She explained that patients with PDD-NOS have characteristics of those with classic autism, but not all. Impulsivity and hyperactivity are common characteristics. I did know that.

What I remained confused about was why Sage was not diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning disorder similar to autism. In 2005, specialists at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital could not diagnose him with Asperger’s because he was not verbal enough at the time. I assumed that was still the case, but his current doctor said he was too communicative to have Asperger’s. He can carry on a conversation and look you in the eye – which is typically lacking in those with Asperger’s or classic autism. That was good to know.

So tonight we begin the new regimen. The biggest side effect is drowsiness so we will give him a small dose with supper. After a week, we will add a morning dose to the evening one and see how that goes.

Do you have experience with Risperdal or Risperidone? Please e-mail me at ajh1109@mchsi.com

CEDAR RAPIDS — After the Ellis Boulevard home they were renting flooded last June, Patty Blackwell and her family camped and stayed with relatives until they were able to move back.

This disruption in their routine took its toll on the family, especially on Blackwell’s 3-year-old daughter.

“She threw temper tantrums, was non-compliant,” said Blackwell, 46. “I let her walk all over me.”

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

Charts are kept for each child's progress on specific tasks.

At her wits’ end, Blackwell enrolled her daughter in the TIES program when it first became available in Eastern Iowa in October. TIES, Teaching Interventions to Empower and Strengthen Families, is a proactive parenting program for children under 6 with mild to severe behavior problems.

What makes the program unique, according to program coordinator Craig Meskimen, is that parents and children go through the program together.

Parents are taught eight strategies focusing on positive interaction with the child. The key is telling children what they are doing right rather than what they are doing wrong.

The eight strategies include:

  1. State expectations in advance.
  2. Catch your child being good.
  3. Limited reasonable choices.
  4. Say “when,” “then.”
  5. Plan ahead.
  6. Know what’s reasonable.
  7. Stay calm.
  8. Use neutral time.

Blackwell said her daughter is a success story of the program.

“Thank God for this place,” she said at a recent open house at the Resource Center Building on the St. Luke’s Hospital campus, 1026 A Ave. NE. 

Blackwell is in the “payback” phase of the program. Funded by a grant through Linn County Community Empowerment, the program is offered at no cost to parents. In return, parents who have completed the program with their children pay back by training new families.

Aaron Jarvis, 31, of Marion, also is a charter parent who is now in the payback program. He was referred to the program by Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

Skeptical at first, he now says he’s a firm believer in the program.

His daughter, now 4, experienced separation issues after her mother left when she was a baby. Her aggressive behavior escalated when she was 3.

“She would scream for two, three hours at a time,” Jarvis said.

He could see a difference in his daughter within three weeks of the program.

“She wanted attention and knew bad behavior worked,” he said.

But parents need to ignore the bad behavior, as long as it’s safe, he said.

“They can get the attention they want by being good.”

With his daughter’s behavior under control, things are less stressful at his house.

“Behavior problems with a child are the last thing you need with the flood and recession,” he said. “You want to be able to go out and have a good time.”

He believes in the program so much he plans to volunteer after his payback time is completed.

“It is so gratifying to see changes in other children,” he said.

He distributes fliers at preschool and day care to spread the word about the program.

The program originated in 1969 in Tennessee to treat children with Down syndrome and those on the autism spectrum. However, Meskimen said there is no minimum or maximum behavior for a child to qualify for the program.

Keith Pitts, 33, of Cedar Rapids, said 90 percent of the program is focused on changing the parent, not the child.

He and his wife, Emily, adopted three children from foster care, making the bond even more difficult from the onset.

His son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Pitts wanted to try this program before medication.

“He’s an amazingly different kid,” he said.

Ignoring the bad behavior is difficult at first for both the parent and the child, he said.

The child needs to realize that “no matter how I act out, I’m not going to get attention unless I’m being good,” Pitts explained.

Parents need to be consistent with the program’s skills or the information will not be retained, he said.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kenny and Kim Petersen check out the charts marking their son's progress at home.

Kim Petersen, 32, of Cedar Rapids, came to TIES “pulling my hair out” fighting with her husband, Kenny, about their son’s behavior problems.

“Now he’s done a 360,” she said of her son. “It’s not just us teaching him, he teaches us.”

Parents are encouraged to keep a tally of every time the child does something negative. Parents also are encouraged to be consistent with ignoring bad behavior and recognizing good behavior. 

Once the program is completed, the families take the strategies home with a written plan. Andrea Dorn, of the Abbe Center, said the home program is written in three phases. First, the TIES staff writes a home program for the parents, then the parents and staff write a program together. Finally, the parents write their own home program to fit their child’s needs.

Ernie's Pub owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Ernie's Avenue Tavern owner Alex Anderson enjoys the crowd at Czech Village's Houby Days on May 16. The pub reopened in November after being destroyed by the Flood of 2008 last June.

Staycation adventure of the week: Beer Fest at Benz and Houby Days in Czech Village.

In my attempt to keep my vacation dollars in Eastern Iowa, especially places recovering from the Flood of 2008, I stopped in at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, and Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on Saturday.

Both of these areas were ravaged by last June’s flood and have made tremendous strides in the past year. Seventh Street was blocked off in front 0f the refurbished Benz Beverage Depot for the benefit for the Cedar Rapids Downtown District featuring samples of more than 75 beers.

Czech Village along 16th Avenue SW has come to life over the past few months and featured vendors, food, a carnival, polka dancing and a vibrant nightlife.

Here are some photos to best describe the recovery of these areas:

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest benefitting the Downtown District on May 16.

The area around Benz Beverage Depot, 501 Seventh Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids SE, came to life during the Fifth Annual Beer Fest on May 16.

 

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids.

Millstream Brewing of Amana was one of the vendors at Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot in southeast Cedar Rapids. Beer is poured at Benz' annual Beer Fest.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Microbrewed beer was flowing during Beer Fest 2009 at Benz Beverage Depot on May 16.

Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Vendors lined the streets of Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids during Houby Days this weekend.
Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

Dancers enjoys the live Czech music during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

Mikey Murphy pours a beer at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village during Houby Days on May 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Pub in Czech Village on May 16.

Lisa Kemmerling talks to a patron at Ernie's Avenue Tavern in Czech Village on May 16.

The mighty morel mushroom was on display durind Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend.

The mighty morel mushroom was king at Ron Takes' display during Houby Days in Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids this weekend. Houby is the Czech word for mushroom.

It wasn’t too long after my son, Sage, was born in 2002 that his day care providers alerted my husband and me about delays in our son’s development.

He didn’t respond to sights and sounds like a typical 4-month-old. So we had his hearing (which was fine when tested right after birth) and sight checked, including a MRI to check for any abnormalities in his brain. The hearing and MRI results came back fine but it was discovered he had a small, gray optic nerve. He was diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia which can range from mild to debilitating.

Soon after, we were referred to an early intervention program through Kansas Infant-Toddler Services. Thus began my dread of evaluations. In my mind, my baby was just a little behind in some areas and everyone was blowing things out of proportion. In one of his evaluations at day care, a teacher’s assistant said he didn’t smile at people or show affection. Are you kidding me? He always smiled at me and was a cute, cuddly baby.

As the evaluations continued, so did my annoyance. At 13 months, his displayed skills of a 6-month-old. At 18 months, he was more like a 10-month-old. I felt once he finally learned how to walk, things would be fine. It just took him a little longer to learn things.

When we moved to Iowa in 2004 when Sage was 18 months old (and still not walking), we were referred to Grant Wood Area Education Agency for early childhood services. Within a couple months he started walking and I didn’t think Grant Wood’s services were longer needed. But they were. Sage still had delays in his speech as well as gross and fine motor skills. The fine folks at Grant Wood worked with him and made sure we knew about other available services.

A year later when Sage was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified on the autism spectrum, we weren’t all that surprised. Jolted, yes, but not surprised. The evaluations kept coming and kept breaking my heart. Now he wasn’t just months behind in certain areas, but years.

A year ago while preparing for Sage to enter kindergarten, my husband and I went through our first official IEP meeting.  Mandated by the U.S. Department of Education, the Individualized Education Program is designed to fit the needs of each student in special education. There were five or six people at the table discussing my baby. All of these professionals are good, caring people but in that setting it seemed like I was sitting in front of a firing squad listening to everything that was needed for my son’s special needs.

Last week we met with almost the same group of people to discuss Sage’s progress in kindergarten and prepare his IEP for next year. I no longer felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I don’t know if that was because I knew everybody in the room or by now, I am getting used to these evaluations. I was pleased with his progress. He is at grade level academically but still behind socially and behaviorally. Since I am quite aware of the second part of that statement, I’ll focus on the first part. Grade level.

Trust me; I know these evaluations are tough. Nobody wants to hear their 5-year-old has the skill level of a 2-year-old in some areas. But if somebody is trying to tell you something about your child, listen. And then let them help you and your child. Because being at grade level by the time they are in first grade is a lot better than ignoring the problem or waiting too long.

During these tough economic times, people are cutting back on entertainment expenses, including travel. Instead of jetsetting across the country, people are opting for staycations closer to home.

But is that really so bad?  Sometimes we are so focused on getting away that we take for granted what’s available in our own backyard.

Next Sunday, the annual Explore section will be distributed with The Gazette. I have been this section’s editor for the past four years. This year’s edition will feature six daytrips: Amana Colonies, Decorah, McGregor-Marquette, AnamosaMonticello, MaquoketaDubuque and Galena, Ill.  As an Eastern Iowa native, I have been to most of these places, but look forward to visiting all of them this summer.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette Bluesmore is just one of the popular annual events at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids.

For Mother’s Day, I met my parents Saturday at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids. The historic site was holding its annual spring plant sale. Although a little chilly, it was a beautiful day to wander around the estate. If you haven’t been to Brucemore or attended any of its events such as Classics at Brucemore (featuring “To Kill A Mockingbird” this summer), Cabaret in the Courtyard or Bluesmore, do so. It’s serene setting makes you forget about the rest of the world, even if it’s just for a few hours.

After checking out another plant sale at Corner House Gallery and Frame just down First Avenue from Brucemore, we were ready for lunch. I suggested going to Czech Village. Yes, there were other places a lot closer to First Avenue and Collins Road, but I am so impressed with Czech Village’s resilience after being devastated in last June’s flood, I wanted to support their businesses.

Although not completely rebuilt by a long shot, Czech Village has come a long way in the past 11 months. We ate at the Bohemian Café and Pub in the heart of the village on 16thAvenue. It just opened Monday; it was an antique shop pre-flood and has been renovated into a restaurant/pub/bakery featuring Czech dishes such as a pork loin sandwich topped with sautéed apples and cheddar cheese. In the future, it hopes to attract busloads of tourists visiting the museum which plans to relocate to the Music Loft building next door.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

Photo by Cliff Jette/The Gazette. Sykora Bakery in Czech Village recently reopened to large crowds.

We then went to recently reopened Sykora Bakery down the street. I hate to admit it, but that was the first time I’ve been there. There was a line, but I didn’t mind the wait for freshly baked kolaches and turnovers.

At every place we visited, the owners and employees graciously thanked us for coming to their rebuilt business that was destroyed less than a year ago. They also invited us to come back to Czech Village next weekend for Houby Days.

It was questionable whether the annual festival celebrating all things mushroom would proceed due to continued clean-up efforts in the area. But it has been decided the show will go on. I highly encourage you to attend some or all of Houby Days next weekend, May 15-17. The residents and businesses of this Eastern Iowa treasure have put their whole lives into rebuilding this area the so love. While we can’t control the weather or the river, we can ensure the vitality of Czech Village’s future by throwing our support and dollars into it.

I plan on taking all sorts of stay-cacations over the next few months. I’ll write about them and take some pictures. I invite you to share your stay-cation stories and photos here. Please e-mail me at ajh1109@mchsi.com


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