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From Both Sides of the Table: The World of Special Education as Seen Through the Lens of a School Psychologist Who ALSO is a Parent (Part 1)

I originally was going to write a book titled, “From Both Sides of the Table”. It was to be a chronicle of my experiences with the special education process as both a parent and a school psychologist.

In truth – the task of writing a book just seemed too overwhelming. Plus, by the time I finished the book, the information may have become outdated. That happens when you are writing about education, especially the “special” side of this arena. So, instead of writing From Both Sides of the Table as a single book, I am going to write it as a series of blogs. Not as a weekly series – but dolled out over the course of a few months or perhaps a year. I want to start by introducing my story, actually our story. So, this first blog may seem familiar to some as it contains reprinted materials from previous entries. So without further adieu the first entry starts now…


Hello and welcome.   First and foremost, this series of articles are written from my heart to all who are seeking support or guidance as they enter and learn about the world of special education.  I know a lot about this world as both a parent and a seasoned psychologist who works in schools (or virtually with school districts and charter programs).  In essence, I have put my “tush” in chairs on both sides of the special education table.  Depending on what role I am in at the time – I have learned, listened, cried, and offered my best expertise. I have ridden the emotional roller coaster known only to those who have parented a child with special needs. 

It is to those parents and hard-working professionals I dedicate this series

And so it begins…


Books. Lectures. Listening.

In 1984 I completed all the necessary requirements to receive my certification as a School Psychologist.  I was one of the youngest graduate students in my class, if not the youngest. So, to say that I had limited “life and family” experience was an understatement.  But, I studied, watched a lot of interactions between parents – teachers – and children, and, became the ultimate observer of child development.  After a few years, equipped with a hefty dose of “book knowledge” and my heavy testing kits, I ventured to my first permanent paying position at the Delaware School for the Deaf (aka “Sterck”).  A dream position that combined my School Psychology expertise with my sign language skills.   It wasn’t until years later that I truly valued what I learned between the covers of all those books and in the various university lecture halls. But my expertise was most garnered sitting around a table listening to parents and other professionals, as well as watching children when they played, learned, and even struggled. But, my BIGGEST lesson arrived a bit after I started my career. It started in all place – “Holland”.

   Our Trip To Holland?

(Previously published on this blog – but with new information below)

The poem written by Emily Perl Kingsley was cut out and pasted on the refrigerator from February of 1992 until we moved to a new home in 1995. It was titled, “ Welcome to Holland”. In essence, it was a snapshot of what it is like to be unprepared when you give birth to a child who has challenges, such as medical or cognitive disabilities.

There is one section of the poem that I read over and over again, “After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.”

My husband and I wanted to go to “Italy” but ended up in “Holland” on February 7, 1992. I should have known that our trip to second-time parenthood would be bumpy as we were told that our second born was to be another girl. “Two girls, so nice”, my OB-GYN told me. Guess what? –  We had the first boy born in 28 years in my family as he arrived over a month early via an emergency c-section!  

“We need the scan for the Sattler baby” I heard being yelled at by the attending physician across the labor and delivery recovery suite.  “What? ” I yell back – “I need to talk to a doctor – NOW.  That baby is MINE! ” So, the nurses came rushing over to remind me that I just had surgery and to lay back down.  “Nothing serious” they try to assure me – just that our little guy was not quite breathing as expected and a “few other things”…

What?

Where is my husband?  Did I hear that right?  Our hour-old baby is sick because he is not breathing right.  AND his sugar too low?  Plus his heartbeat too high?  I could already feel the plane veer off course.

Days later we were allowed to go home only to notice that our little “fella” was turning the color of a Sunkist orange. Not good. Not good at all. Rushed back to the hospital to be told it was simple “jaundice”. Nope, nothing in this child’s life would be simple, I found out. Days go on and before the first actual tulip bloomed that year we were in intensive care with our young guy. Jaundice ended up being a “liver problem” – not yet determined, but possibly very serious and could lead to severe developmental delays.

Let’s just say when you hear this kind of news you take a moment for a big pause.

“Mental Retardation” were words I heard the medical staff use. WOW. This was a term used back when our little fella was born and before.  Now there are “softer” words, more palatable.  Such as developmental disabilities or cognitively delayed.  Doesn’t really matter. The result will be the same if our little fella does indeed have any or all of the disorders that the doctor is preparing us for.  The list seems endless. My head is ready to explode. But, I know I have to stay calm and rational. Plus, we have another child who needs her parents to be present and steady. But, you can’t always be the “present and steady parent”… so we were about to find out.

We blinked, it seemed, and we really found ourselves flying the hell away from Italy and nearly on a crash course… Our little guy was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus/ RSV. This nearly claimed his life. 

What did that mean? Well, he was really sick – with a serious flu-type illness compounded with reflux that choked him every third breath. Our nightmare continued. You know you have a very sick baby when you can’t find room to stand in the isolated PICU suite because of the number of doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists working with your child to keep him alive. You also know your baby is very ill when the nurses come and ask you questions such as, “Is there anyone we can call for you?”  

Does God have a hotline, I wonder?  But, I respond – “No thank you.”

For any new parent who has a baby in distress, you know the worst part of this scenario is waiting. You wait to see if the tests are positive for illnesses that are unimaginable. You wait to see if the insurance will cover the rare and complicated blood work, machines that are helping your child stay alive, or special therapy sessions ordered. You wait to see if you will ever have a “normal” life again for yourself, your family, your work, etc. Will your child walk, talk, eat normally, have friends, etc.? You truly begin to HATE Holland with every fiber of your being.

Then little by little, the waiting ends. 

Test results come back. Therapies begin. Hospitalization stays end and you go home.

But, for many of us, this is when we start a new journey into the realm of Special Education

Here is the most ironic part of this story and the reason I am writing it for this blog. I am a special educator. I am a full fledge, certified School Psychologist that is trained with helping parents and children with special needs. All my training flies out the friggin’ window as my mind is trying to process the months of evaluations, reports, and recommendations from specialists. 

Ironic indeed. I have now changed teams! 

Instead of being the intervention specialist I now am the one calling our local school district asking for help from the Early Intervention Team! And I am so grateful when they appear at my door. But, I still have problems with paperwork and understanding all the information. How can this be? I do this job every day and I am still wading through it because my head is so full of grief and confusion. The team helps me. Every day gets a little better. Clarity arrives with every meeting or visit from a team member. 

Now fast- forward, our son improves with therapy as he starts to talk, walk (actually run) and become quite sociable. He has more hospital visits but he is deemed fairly healthy. His liver has a benign disorder and we are told he shouldn’t go without food or enter the military. We can live with those two stipulations to have a benign liver disorder vs. the alternatives. But, no worries – he will be ok. He will just need a little “special education” for his speech and language development, perhaps. And maybe when he is older he may need additional support (That saga we will save for future articles).

I give thanks that he will survive. And, I am ready and willing to take my seat comfortably on the parent’s side of the table. We will be OK.


Here is your “Introduction Guide” to Special Education – Starting with a few questions and answers.

What is Special Education?

Special education is multi-faceted. In essence, this term refers to when instruction is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a student eligible to receive special education services.

IDEA has much to do with special education as we know it. That is because IDEA is short for the  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Special education services, including instructional and related services, are deemed the public school’s responsibility for students who are eligible by meeting the criteria of at least one of the 13 categories. By the way, a child who is struggling is not necessarily eligible for special education. There are many processes necessary to determine eligibility. . (More about this later!)

How old does a child need to be to receive special education?

You may be surprised to find out that special education eligibility can start as young as birth through the age of 21.

What are the categories for special education eligibility consideration?

These are the 13 specific categories*

Autism
Deaf-blindness
Deafness
Developmental delay
Emotional disturbance
Hearing impairment
Intellectual disability
Multiple disabilities
Orthopedic impairment
Other health impairment
Specific learning disability
Speech or language impairment
Traumatic brain injury
Visual impairment, including blindness

*Note it is possible to meet the criteria for more than one category. I will delve deeper into each of these categories in future articles – so keep checking back!

Are there other supports for a student who is struggling that are not special education?

Yes, there are. We will be covering items called “504 Plans” and also “Response to Intervention (RTI)”.

How do I get the process started?

Keep reading this blog – I promise to cover that soon! Simply- it starts with a written request.

What to expect during the special education process?

You can expect many forms, formal papers, and meetings. But, most of all I hope you receive support and your child receives help, whatever form it is offered, that will assist your child.

Are there suggested resources?

Yes – there a many resources. I always ask readers to do their “due diligence” as not every resource is legitimate or accurate. (Careful of misinformation). Here are some trusted resources for you:

National Organization for School Psychologists (use the search bar)

Center for Parent Information

IDEA resources – guidance from the Department of Education


In closing, this is just the first of many, many blog entries regarding special education and so much of what it entails. You will find out that special education is a very broad world and there are many, many facets. You also will discover that “our little fella” grows up to be an honor student and successful in his chosen career that involves helping others.

Have a question? Want to share your experience? Respectful comments are always welcome.

Thank you for reading!

~Louise

Using Furniture Transfers to Create a Special Look!

Yes, this is another blog about my love of refinishing furniture and what I have learned using designs known as “rub-on transfers”! I promise I’ll try to make it both instructional and funny…

A year ago I didn’t know a “furniture rub-on transfer” from a “train transfer ticket”. But now I am well versed (maybe) with creating art on furniture by using an assortment of furniture transfers and techniques. None of what I am about to show you is very costly or difficult. So, feel free to try it yourselves!

BLUSHING FLORAL

While I prefer to create a simple look with words and quotes interspersed among an interesting modern design, many of my “customers” like to have a virtual garden popping from their furniture. Below you will find examples of the most recent designs I have created – many by special request. Also, a few hints and links. Want a closer look? Just click on the images!

A simple 5 drawer dresser- painted blush pink with Benjamin Moore paint didn’t last long in the garage. I spotted it all tattered looking at a resell store. I knew I had to have it! The shape alone! The dresser is so unusual that I wanted to leave it without much “redo”. An uncomplicated “shabby chic” look. This piece sold to a family and was a gift for their daughter. Apparently, she likes everything “pink”.

A little deeper dive into this piece. The floral designs in the drawers and on the side were just enough to make it extra special and are becoming a “signature” of my refinished items. To create the floral design in the drawer I had to cut the flowers out from a much larger design on the transfer sheet that I purchased off Amazon – called Pressed Flowers by Thymeless Designs. Honestly, this set of transfers is one of my favorites and the ease with which they go on and stay embedded is fabulous! If we were giving scores this brand would easily be a 9 out of 10.

This is what the three panels of the THYMELESS DESIGNS look like when they arrive. Each panel is an individual sheet with a backing that needs to be removed or portions cut away.

Under the Sea!

Yellow, teal, and lots of sea creatures and sea shells make this look VERY popular. I have made chairs, two small dressers, a desk using this design available from Re-Design (again) found on Amazon. My only wish was that there was less “rope” in the package and more fish of different colors. I also mixed on one of the dressers a second design by PRIMA resulted in a rather interesting look and I think it will be a winner. My score would be a 8/10 for ease of applying but a 9/10 for the final look they help to create!


Let’s hear it for the color teal!

For as long as I can remember, teal and shades of aqua have been my favorite. Perhaps it is because I am a Pisces and my birthstone is aquamarine? Regardless, I find myself dipping into various shades of these colors over and over again (pictured Tropical Teal and Hummingbird). Oh- and items made with these colors usually sell like hotcakes! They are part of their Coastal Palate (and no I am not an ambassador for them – oh how I wish!) The transfers pictured are a mixture of some of my favorites. The “Cottontail Bunnies” on the child’s chair are paired with the Polish art designs. The picture frame’s art and some of the large expansive designs on the desk came from Maika Daughters via Etsy.

The floral transfers can be tricky to apply if not careful and the words also are a challenge from time to time. So, I give these transfers a 7.5/10 for ease but a 9/10 for the look and response from others!


Helpful Hints!

When using furniture transfers you need to be CAREFUL. I have yet to meet a design that doesn’t rip if not given lots of TLC during the transfer. Be sure that your surface is clean and dry. Do not transfer onto surfaces with gloss or semigloss unless the transfer is made for those finishes. Some are. Some are not.

Transfer with the support of a flat surface – so use a strong table or workshop bench when transferring to smaller objects (like boxes) or dresser drawers. If transferring directly to a piece of furniture make sure it is secure and kept steady.

Practice on something you don’t care about first so you can get used to how much pressure is needed and the type of instrument to use. The “sticks” they often send in the kit are in my humble opinion not very helpful with larger designs. I tend to improvise with other objects such as paint stirrers.

When I am working on a very large design I cut it into pieces. This helps to keep it manageable and also to create some interesting designs. You can overlap by completing one portion of the design and then cutting and laying on top of another portion. Be sure to complete the transfer of the first part before starting the second.

The hardest of all transfers for me to apply involves quotes or letters. These tend to be very delicate and need much patience. I tend not to have a lot of that – so I often goof. I have learned to be better – but again – patience, patience, patience!

If you goof, try adding a “surprise” element. It is amazing how handy a butterfly transfer can be when you goof! Or a fun flower! I buy packets of butterflies just for this reason!

Oh and buy a big container of baby wipes to get the “oops” of designs off your fingers. You will thank me later.

Keep unused portions clean and tucked away for another day! And lastly…just have fun and let your creativity flow!

Thanks for reading!

~Louise

p.s. Feel free to pop a link to your furniture refinishing projects in the comments!

Visiting Dog Friendly Paso Robles and Morro Bay, California

Confession. Our recent trip to Paso Robles was the first vacation with our 65 pound dog that entailed staying in a hotel. Our adventure was a four- hour drive along the California coastline to Paso Robles – aka “Wine Country of the central California region”.

First off, Paso Robles is extremely dog friendly. And, thanks to BringFido.com we were able to download a list of attractions, restaurants, and hotels that were open to dog guests. After much consideration (and due to pup size limits at some hotels) – we decided to stay at the La Quinta – located a few minutes from downtown Paso Robles. The room was spacious, lots of areas to walk our dog, and there was NO extra charge for a dog that left the room in the same condition when entered. The people were very friendly and accommodating. Our unit had a kitchen and a large sitting area – so we had plenty of space. Bonus- we backed up to a small petting zoo with cows, sheep, and a few emu that provided endless hours of entertainment for humans and pups, alike!

Of course we didn’t drive all that distance to stay in the hotel. So explore we did!


Good Eats!

While there are many restaurants that we visited – these establishments were found to be very dog friendly and we would give them high marks for both food/ wine and flexibility.

Blast and Brew – right in the heart of the Paso Robles main square. The food (salads and pizza) were very tasty. The “pour your own brew” feature was a winner with hubby. Bayla loved the ongoing attention and treats!

The Hearst Ranch Winery – If you take a side trip to the lesser explored areas surrounding Paso Robles I hope you stumble upon the Hearst Ranch Winery. Here you will find delicious wines and cheeses. Dog friendly, quiet, comfortable, and staffed with super kind and knowledgable people. Ranay, our designated staff member, was extremely helpful with educating hubby and I about the area, wines, and history of the ranch. A ” must do” if you are “winery hopping”. Plus, dogs are welcome and spoiled here!


The Backyard at Thirteenth. This is an open air restaurant that does not provide indoor seating. So, come prepared if it is very hot or looks like rain. The food was good as I thoroughly enjoyed my veggie burger with a spicy sauce. The fries were standard. Several dogs were in the area – all leashed – so there was peace in the “backyard”.


Dog Friendly things to do in Paso Robles

  1. Wineries. There are a reported 200 plus wineries and tasting rooms with a short distance of Paso Robles or within the town itself. Pace yourself. Click here for information.
  2. Urban Adventure Quest A scavenger hunt that takes you around key areas in the downtown area of Paso Robles. Both family and fido friendly. We had a blast. All three of us!
  3. Antique shopping. Depending on the store and if there is an outside shopping area – Dogs are sometimes welcome.
  4. Visiting the Mission of San Miguel. We kept our Bayla confined to outside areas only – out of respect and also we believe it is a rule.
  5. Visiting Morro Bay – a must! This place at sunset is simply gorgeous.


Recommended Resource: BringFido.com is invaluable as a resource for where “Fido” is welcome when traveling

TripAdvisor – The Forum (TripAdvisor.com)

FAKE. FAKE. SUPER FAKE.

I want to preface this post by saying I usually don’t post with an extremely negative tone. Yes, I may write about a subject that I am passionate about – such as equality with education. But rarely do I target a select group of folks. But I am – for a rare instance. I will try to end it on a positive note. Thank you for reading my rant.

Today was one of those days. The kind where you keep shaking your head and reciting aloud, ” I don’t get it!” What is it that has me in such a tizzy? Simply stated, I don’t get why people create fake social media accounts, including ones using my likeness. Truly, it defies any definition or intent of this medium – SOCIAL and/or MEDIA.

Fake accounts are like the Rorschach® test of the digital age – exposing the current mental health status and values of the account holder perhaps. Need to make yourself feel important? Seems that is a reason to start a fake account. Want to snoop, troll, or indulge in other behaviors that you know are not “kosher”? Yep, go ahead and create an account with a fake persona or steal someone else’s. And, then there are people who seem to have a zillion “likes” on a benign post. That is when I go into detective mode and more times than not figure out that all these LIKES are really by fake/imposter accounts for the sole purpose of self-promoting. (Alexa– play You’re So Vain by Carly Simon)

Here is what makes me giggle. Does the person creating these fake accounts really think they are outsmarting, outwitting, or getting to the top of the influencer food chain by populating “trash” across an assortment of timelines? Don’t these people know that in due time people who are smarter, more clever, and have better digital analytic tools will uncover their game of “let’s pretend”? And that’s where it gets ugly. Because those who trusted them believed they were “super cool”, or thought they were a respected and reliable source to promote brands will walk away and cancel this person when the truth is exposed. Ouch!

So think twice or maybe a dozen times before you make an account with a celebrities’ likeness, or a “borrowed” a photo that is “a headshot (not)”, stolen content from someone who has their life more together than you, or post body parts we don’t need to see. And I am curious – what is the “end game” suppose to be here? Because when the truth unfolds – and it always does- there will be nothing but negative energy and zip in the bank account that was actually respectfully earned.

Most of all you probably are hurting someone or many people with this behavior and that is simply unacceptable. We are talking about real people, real lives, and the chance that someone could be hurt or worse.

Oh, and it is more than likely that what you are doing is an infraction of social media website “terms of agreement”. You know the thing you bypassed before you pressed the “Make my Account” button. It is only a matter of time before your fake and real accounts are suspended. So enjoy the “Magic Kingdom” while you can. You aren’t fooling anyone – but yourself.

Here are just some imposter / fake accounts using my name and/or image on TikTok. Just one issue- I closed my actual TikTok account a long time ago. Geez – the idiots (or computer) who set up these accounts could have picked better pics or spelled my name correctly! And yes, I do recognize that a fair number of “make believe accounts” are generated by some computer that speaks in code. But, someone has to be programming this computer- right??

If this blog is hitting too close to home – it is not too late to change your ways. Delete the fakes and let people see only the real you. Better yet. Put down the phone and go outside. Engage in real conversation. Unplug.

And… for those of us who are more than a little tired of the fakeness that surrounds us in social media just remember there is a BLOCK button and a REPORT feature on every social media platform.

Thanks for reading my tirade. I feel better now. Time for me to unplug, maybe for a good long while, and create something that is offline – Hmmm… I wonder what color I will paint my newest furniture project?

The Surfer and The Sage by Shaun Tomson and Noah benShea (Bonus- amazing photography!)

This Summer I had the privilege to be invited to preview and review a new book – The Surfer and The Sage by Tomson and benShea. Please see the opportunity to get a copy for yourself – FREE – below. (Limited offer)

Sometimes life gives you smooth waters to navigate everyday situations. But, then there are times when a huge WAVE comes and knocks you down. You are disoriented, in disbelief, and perhaps feeling defeated. You have a choice – be resilient and keep trying or never ride another wave – play it only safe. Shaun Tomson, the former professional and medal-winning surfer, knows how real-life waves and those from grief can be life-defining. He shares his story alongside pearls of wisdom and beautiful photography in The Surfer and The Sage. Plus the photography is OUTSTANDING! This book is a keeper for your shelf (and get a second copy to share!!)

From the publisher:

Sometimes life’s waves knock you down; other times, life might seem to sweep you along powerless. But the choice is always yours to swim back up to the light. Legendary world champion surfer Shaun Tomson and international bestselling poet-philosopher Noah benShea join forces to offer you insight on a path of purpose, hope, and faith. This timely guidebook alternates between Tomson’s inspiring experiential essays and benShea’s spiritual commentary that lift the soul, all accented with stunning full-color surfing photographs.

After losing his son, Tomson walked the bitter road of loss and crossed from darkness into the light. The Surfer and the Sage addresses the eighteen relentless, breaking waves of life, from loss and aging to relationships and depression, and guides you to transformation. It is not a list of rules to follow that guarantee success, health, or wealth, but rather a collection of advice from two guides who have traveled far and wide and suffered deeply, but still look forward to tomorrow with faith and hope. 

WHY I DIY?

As a mental health provider, I am keenly aware that the mind needs to keep busy during times of global “crazy”. Let’s face it – collectively we all have been wading through nearly three years of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our lives. Everyone has had their own way to deal with stress, especially when we were “sheltering at home”. Some wrote books. Others explored beyond their backyards. My “stress reliever” was to learn how to refinish and refurbish furniture. So, with some paints and brushes that we had at home and a few extra cans I acquired from my local ACE Hardware store (double-masked, of course) – I started to de-stress with every paint stroke.

At first, I made hubby and me a small cabinet for cans to hold the endless amounts of plastic containers we accrued from take-out. Then I moved on to “estate sale finds” that I repainted and made space for in our home. A turn of events happened when neighbors would stop by asking me if they could purchase the piece I was working on.

This last week I gifted a little table to a hard-working woman who always helps me out at the local Goodwill. Now that stores are reopened and we are “free” to move about I find myself wandering the aisles looking for a few fun pieces.

This table below is a Goodwill find and it intrigued me. Small enough to be a desk, large enough to be a dining room table. I had to have it. So, for a mere $60 I took this home and started to work. My first vision was to make it all white-washed. I started to get rid of the old finish, sanding, and scrubbing. And then applied the white wash to it. Nope. I just didn’t like the effect. I then went and bought some grey wood stain. Nope. Didn’t love that either. Back to the store I went and this time I came home with a dark espresso stain for the base. Then I opened a can of soft blue paint. I discovered that “DIY accidents” sometimes happen with the best results as I dipped my grey-stained paintbrush into the bucket with my light blue paint. FINALLY, a color combo that seemed to work. Next step… I placed some flower furniture transfers on the leaves of the table. I didn’t even notice the leaves until I got the piece home. Below are photos of the steps from “love at first sight” to the finished product.


It is all about looking unique!

I have figured out in a short amount of time that people want unique pieces of furniture. “Statement” pieces. And, during these difficult times where stores can take months to deliver, people really are finding different avenues for their decorating needs. These few pieces – again from Goodwill, ReStore by Habitat for Humanity, Beacon House in Long Beach, and your neighborhood estate and yard sales finds – all flew out of my garage. Some before I could even put the finishing touches on them.


Let’s talk “embellishments”…

I have found that people like the little “extras” when I redo a piece of furniture. The furniture rub-on/in transfers (found on Etsy, for example) are super popular.

Next is the type of handles or drawer pulls you use. The one I have on the left and right side pieces is a sea turtle in a shabby chic motif.

Color is important, too. I use almost exclusively Benjamin Moore paint. I know that a lot of people love chalk or special order paints. I buy high-quality paints that last. Popular colors seem to be shades of teal, light sage greens, dark purple, greys, and basic cream. Using more than one color can lead to a dramatic effect.


Don’t forget that kid furniture is fun, too!

I LOVE creating fun furniture for kids! Especially if I can add an “educational lesson” to it, too!


How can something so labor-intensive be relaxing and help to lower stress?

I am not a runner. I don’t even like to run. But, I do like to give myself challenges, and learning to refinish furniture and play with power tools was exactly what I needed to do to help muddle through a pandemic. And guess what, I decided to keep it up even after the pandemic settles – although from the looks of things I may have dozens more pieces of furniture ahead of me.

I also decided to expand. Why stick with just furniture. I can make smaller items that will help channel some creativity differently.

So, I started decorating boxes, picture frames, and just about anything that can be morphed into art and/or a gift. Here are some of the early designs. Oh – in case you haven’t figured it out – blues and purples are my fave colors.


You are never too old…

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here – you are never too old to try something new. It may at first seem impossible … but you will never know until you try. For me, “challenge accepted!”

You can find many of the products used on my designs via ETSY. Links below:*

Fairy Designs on the chairs, etc. can be found here

Several of the designs were using products from this Etsy store – MaikaDaughters

* I am not a brand ambassador for these stores at the time of writing this blog.

Say Hello to Palm Springs, California!

Before I ever visited Palm Springs, California I had envisioned it to be stuck in the 1960’s. I had thoughts of old cars with “fins” riding up and down the palm tree-lined streets. I assumed that every home was painted pink or neon green (or both). And, that the sounds of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin were heard on stereos everywhere you turned.

You know what? I wasn’t that far off with my “visions”. You see Palm Springs is a quirky city. Parts of it are hipster 2022 while much of it seems stuck in the decade of Marilyn Monroe. In fact, the streets are often named after presidents who lived or vacationed in the area or mega-watt celebrities of past eras. And… I love it!

If you decide to visit Palm Springs (or are returning) – here are some tips on how to maximize the fun factor.

Book ahead. You can save a heap of $$ if you book ahead using one of the many discount websites. You know that I love TripAdvisor for just this reason.

We stayed at the Shadow Ridge Resort in the Palm Desert/ Rancho Mirage area, a Marriott property. This is a timeshare resort that offers apartments, when available. You can always trust that a Marriott will be top-notch with quality amenities – like golf, pool, spa, and more. For more information go here.


(Plus, many more suggestions below)

#1 PIONEERTOWN

This place is actually 45 minutes or so outside of Palm Springs. Known for being an old movie set converted to part artist colony and part honky tonk village – Pioneertown is sure to please most people. Please note that there is a lot of sand in Pioneertown. This will make mobility carts/ wheelchairs tough to get around. But, you can access the fun and delicious Pappy and Harriet’s restaurant without any problem. This place is reason alone to go to the high desert. Plus, you are very close to Joshua Tree – so consider that a bonus to your visit!

Scenes from Pioneertown


#2 The PALM SPRINGS TRAMWAY!

I absolutely love this tramway! The people are exceptionally nice and knowledgable. (A Shout-Out to a staff member – Gil!) The ten-minute tramway ride takes you to over 8 thousand feet above sea level. There are two restaurants at the top building. Plus, you can see miles and miles from the balconies and the building. The gift shop is really chocked full of fun and interesting items for all ages. And, the tramway is accessible for people who need mobility equipment. On the way down to the base building, our tramway conductor put on music, and collectively the riders sang to Neil Diamond’s, Sweet Caroline!

Call ahead for your tickets here.

Ride the tramway in this video!


#3 THE LIVING DESERT

The Living Desert combines a wonderful eco-friendly zoo with lovely botanical gardens. It is small enough to visit in just a few hours or discover in small bites. We went with friends when it opened because the Palm Springs afternoons can be brutally hot. Easy access and multi-lingual information is available. Great for couples, families, or solo travelers! Visit their website here.


Runner-Ups for my “Best of Palm Springs” list:

The Cabazon Dinosaurs. A fun park intended for families with young children. Great for Instagrammers!

The Palms to Pines Scenic Ride (and a visit to Lake Hemet)

Agua Caliente Casino – Actually there are three! Photo credit: Agua Caliente

Whitewater Preserve This is a great place to rest, relax, and have a picnic!

Wait there is more!

Click on the links below to discover more about Palm Springs

Great Restaurants on Palm Canyon Drive

Village Fest

Antique and Thrift Shopping

Traveling with disabilities to Palm Springs

Palm Springs Road Names (yes, many are in memory of celebrities!)


For more about Palm Springs and area hotels, restaurants, and more go to VisitPalmSprings.com

I will not be silent about THIS

I know that THIS blog will stir a deluge of controversy. So be it. I won’t remain silent on a topic so important as why we need to not reverse ROE vs. WADE. If you have decided to just skip to the comments, please do me the favor of at least reading this blog before you type.

The year was 1981. I graduated college early and before going to graduate school decided to take a job as a counselor in a girl’s residential facility. About a month after I started working there a 14-year-old, “Macy” showed up. She was quite “peculiar”, as the other teens described her. She often would sit quietly in a corner of the main room – never speaking. Day after day there she sat, apparently deep in thought. Finally, one day, when it happened that we were the only two in the room – she started to talk in a very soft, almost nonaudible – whisper. “Macy” slowly and steadily explained her reasons for being selectively mute. She didn’t bother with any idle chit-chat but seemed in a hurry to tell her story before others returned to the room. She described in detail how her mother’s boyfriend repeatedly molested her. His first assault was when she was only 11. She became pregnant shortly after her 12th birthday and delivered a baby that would never make it home from the hospital. She talked about the devastation of having to go through labor and then the grief to find out the child died upon birth. How the doctors lectured her and never suspected that “the father” lived under her roof. Instead, they believed her mother who made up a story of her daughter being “promiscuous”. No counseling was offered to “Macy”. Instead, she was sent home – with interior and exterior bruises.

Her horror didn’t stop there. Her mother continued to shame and blame “Macy” by restricting her from going any place alone – but school. Even when she became pregnant for a second time, – by Mom’s monster of a boyfriend (shocker!) – her mother refused to believe that she was a victim of ongoing rape. Instead, her mother forced her to carry the baby to term and then placed “Macy” in the residential facility for her “deviant behaviors”. She arrived days after her second baby was unceremoniously taken away from her. “Macy” was not given a chance to hold him or her before it was placed “in the system” for foster care. Her grief and shame were so overwhelming that she retreated inward. Not speaking. Not able to function. Just existing.

After she told me her story I contacted child protective services. “Macy” was able to get therapy and the mother (finally) came around to the fact the boyfriend was indeed the father of these two children. She deeply regretted her actions and indicated that if she had believed her – different options, like ending the pregnancy, would have been considered. She also would have left the boyfriend. Sadly, a younger sister suffered the same fate before the mom had this epiphany. I honestly don’t know what happened to the monster.

Why am I telling you this story? Because 40 years later I still remember the vivid details about Macy and her anguish. And, I want to advocate for all the Macy’s in our world. I STRONGLY believe that victims of sexual crimes who become pregnant should have options. They are victims. And, in the case of young girls, like “Macy” – they are at risk of medical issues or even death for having to give birth when they are barely out of elementary school.

I am by no means saying that all who have unwanted or unplanned pregnancies should run out and have an abortion. Do not misconstrue my words or intent. I simply am asking to keep ROE vs. WADE as a viable LEGAL and SAFE option.

Respectful comments are always welcome. Those who are disrespectful will be blocked.

Thank you for reading.

My Journey with the making of “The Salon” – Culminating with a Win! (Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble- Comedy)

It has been more than four years since I sat with my friend Roxanne Messina Captor at the Yellow Vase in Redondo Beach to discuss a possible extension of her short film – A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser. This older film with the not so politically correct title, told the story of the comings and goings of “frenemies” who routinely met at their upscale hair salon. Loosley based on Roxanne’s own experiences, the film became popular and award nominated. Fans of of principle actor, Harry Shearer loved it. Fast forward a few years to when Roxanne was being urged by her friends to continue the “chicks” storyline. With much consideration and more than a few cups of coffee- the ideas for “The Salon” began to percolate (oh come’on it was too easy to make that pun).

For me, meeting that day with Roxanne was my baptism into how one creates a digital series. This week, I found out that the arc of digital series making also can be a like a rainbow- with a pot of gold at the end. For on April 7th The Salon won the Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble – Comedy.

I have a confession. I didn’t expect us to win. The competition was fierce! In fact, I was so lackadaisical about us winning that a few minutes into the ceremony I took off my shoes. Only minutes before our category was announced by Jason Stuart and Mitch Hara did I think to put back on my shoes. That was a good call.

And the winner for Best Ensemble – Comedy goes to … The Salon! “, announced Stuart and Hara

I couldn’t believe it! With aching feet, but exhilerated, I joined Roxanne and members of the cast, Kate Linder, Luis Jose Lopez, and Akende Munalula to receive the award on stage. When we hopped on the stage we were met with lots of cheers from the audience. Roxanne began her eloquent speech that touched on how important inclusion was to her for this project. She told the attentive audience about how she used humor juxtapose with pathos in The Salon. She added her admiration to the ensemble cast who she remarked brilliantly brought the characters they played to life. She thanked the cast and crew – who worked for SAG deferment – and gave a shout-out to all who took this journey with her.

What a night! WOW oh WOW!

What next? Well, now we are on to the next chapter for The Salon.

When an award is given as a recognition of the caliber of a project- it is the hopes of the creators that there is a “something next”. In this case, the hopes are that The Salon finds a permanent home on a streaming network in order for a large audience to enjoy it and for the story to continue with a Season 2.

I hope I piqued your curiosity. And before ending this article let me give my own thanks to all who were involved – most of all the visionary – Roxanne Messina Captor.

Here are related links followed by photos from the Indie Series Awards and behind the scenes.

TheSalonDigitalSeries.com

Last press release

Meet the cast:

Official poster:


Indie Series Awards 2022 – The Salon photos


Behind the Scenes of the Making of The Salon