A Blog About 3 Kids, Life Off the Grid, Disability and Travel - A Blog About 3 Kids, Life Off the Grid, Disability and Travel
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two thirds of the planet collage of wheelchair user, hearing aids and top of a woman's face
My Big News (& A Little Housekeeping)

3 years ago or so I started a site called “Two Thirds of the Planet”.

It was called “Two Thirds of the Planet” because the site was all about disability, and that’s what they say, you know: that two thirds of the planet has a connection with disability in some way.

Well, (like many of my ideas), the timing was off – it was a little too early for me to truly dig into another site, and it was placed on the backburner in my head, where it’s been simmering and stewing.

I think the time is right now. I moved it to a front burner, dusted it off, and polished it a little:

two thirds of the planet

Two Thirds of the Planet 

is now where I’ll be posting my disability posts, the Voices of the Disabled Community series, and an exciting new Instagram project called 365 Days with Disability that I’m partnering with the Disability Visibility Project in producing. More on that in a bit.

In the meantime, here on this blog, I’ll be focusing on family, travel and life off the grid. A little bit about disability, but not that much.

If you like reading my disability-centred posts, the guest posts and all, please “like” and follow Two Thirds of the Planet on Facebook

And definitely subscribe on the site to receive posts via email and all that good stuff.

Two Thirds of the Planet

So there it is! I’m nervous and excited and happy – and it all feels very right.

All the Links:

Site: Two Thirds of the Planet

Facebook: Two Thirds of the Planet

Twitter: @2thirdsofplanet

Instagram: 365dayswithdisability

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Motivation: You’ll be Loved

This is one of those blog posts that are just like… sorry! Not a lot going on here with this. Or rather, nothing new, nothing sparkling. Nothing fancy. Just my head down, plodding along in a daily dance with the elliptical (I love that thing) and BeachBody stuff, if I have the energy. Doing the 21 Day Fix as best as I can.

I’m eating pretty well.

It’s all as it should be.

Okay, so this post is really about motivation, and the piece of motivation I’ve been thinking about is how we can lose weight to feel good about our bodies or fit into clothes we like, yada yada yada, but this is the thing: no amount of fitness is going to transform the way that I feel about myself. I mean, if I don’t love myself when I’m fat, then I’m not going to love myself when I’m thin. I’ll just find different things about my body to pick on. This, I know for a fact because I’ve been very skinny and very fit as well as very fat in my life and I can’t say that I loved myself better at any one of those stages.

So it’s really, really important to me to be in a good space with my body right here, right now, regardless of whether or not I lose 50lbs.

My friends are not my friends because of how fat or thin I am, and I don’t think yours are either. My husband isn’t with me because I’m the size I am and my being skinny won’t make him love me more than my being happy and smiley will. He loves my smile. My kids don’t think I’m the cat’s meow because I’m more or less toned. They love me being fun, they love my heart and they love my arms that hold them.

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I’m in this to love myself better – to be fit and fine and to realize that I’m already there, where it counts the most.

 

shark with teeth
The Law with Teeth: the Reason I Won’t Live Outside the U.S.

I’ve lived all over the place, and traveled past that. And while I deeply love the countries that raised me (namely, Fiji and Japan), I don’t think I will ever live outside the United States again for any great length of time. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is why.

What does the ADA mean, exactly?

People get the ADA confused with all kinds of other equal-access laws. I did too, before it mattered all that much to me, or rather, before I realized that I had been putting up with a lot that I didn’t have to.

The ADA – in a nutshell – means that people with disabilities have the legal right to what everyone else (without a disability) has. It seems like a small thing until it’s not – like, when I want Moxie to have access to an education. Or when I want to work, and someone won’t hire me because I am deaf, or because I need a particular phone to do my job.

The thing about other countries is that while the culture in other countries might be more accepting of disability, point blank, the laws are simply not present. So while I might be able to find a school that would welcome Moxie, or find a job myself, there is nothing to bite with if there isn’t.

teethThe ADA Has Teeth

Stella Young said that the beauty of the ADA was that it has teeth. She famously said that wheelchair users can sit and smile at stairs all they want and have the best attitude in the whole world, but it won’t turn the stairs into a ramp. You are at the mercy of your great attitude without the ADA, you need to rely on the kindness and charity of others in order to be included and have access.

But with the ADA? You have an actual legal right to participate. You have the wherewithal and right to say, “hey, NO! I need to have an interpreter/ramp/large print/what-have-you in order to participate!”

We don’t need to feel apologetic about putting people out anymore. Access is a legal right. We have the legal right to participate. We have the legal right to buy and sell and work and engage in mainstream American life.

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I love Mexico and I think we may have thought about living there if we didn’t have two people in the family with a disability. I need services like captioned telephone systems. I need interpreters at conferences and I need closed captions on videos, movies and all that good stuff in order to laugh at the jokes. Moxie’s needs will be more clear with time, I’m sure – for now it’s support in school and speech therapy.

But I’ll tell you this: I know how easy it is to acquire a disability. In one second, your life can radically change. You can be a kid – like I was – bouncing around on your seat in the car and in the next minute, you can go through the windshield and voila. You have joined the largest, most welcoming minority group in the world.

So while both Moxie and I need certain specifics related to our particular disabilities, I have my eyes on other disabilities as well. It’s far better for us to have our feet firmly planted in the United States – the country in which we have actual legal rights related to disability. If we should be unable to walk at some point in our lives, or lose our vision or whatever else might happen, we’ll be okay.

Because we have a right to access and participation here.

And I treasure it.

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Happy Hump Month!

We came back from Mexico in March and we’re leaving again in November.

That means that this month – July – is our “hump month”. It’s like Wednesday is in a working week.

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Hump Month just draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaags for me, like molasses in winter.

It’s hot. It’s slow. It’s hot. I miss Mikey.

Meriah Nichols -3-2We ALL miss Mikey

mikey tickling mac while sitting on dirt stairs child with fatherIt’s such a toss up, you know?

Spend all this time away from him for months – we only seem him usually for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so at night. 7 days a week.

But then we get to be full time families for FIVE MONTHS.

mikey holding a bucket with fruit in itAlthough we might be changing that too.

We love the Lost Coast so much and Mikey and Dana are doing well with the farm, so we will probably stay here year-round if the (still unfinished) yurt gets finished and we can actually live in it through a Humboldt Winter.

baby alligator lizard sticking under mirrorYep.

And we think if THAT happens, we’ll live here, year round. We’ll travel someplace that we’ll fly to, and stay for a shorter time. We’ll do more work on the farm, and start building a retreat center here too. Cuz you want to come and visit, right?!

lizard tail sticking out of the sheets

Hell yeah! You know you do!

We have alligator lizards galore and hummingbirds that come into the house!

Meriah Nichols -4And by the time you get here, I’ll have hummingbirds dripping off of me, sitting on my shoulders and eating from my hand. “The Hummingbird Whisperer”, that’s what people will call me!

Moving on, The Kids.

We have happy kids.

Meriah Nichols -13 Meriah Nichols -11-2 Meriah Nichols -10-2 Meriah Nichols -9-2 Meriah Nichols -8-2 Meriah Nichols -7-2 Meriah Nichols -6-2 Meriah Nichols -5-2While I might feel like July is Hump Month and drags from here on out, I sincerely doubt they do.

They are just… fun loving little light seekers that wring the hell out of every drop of joy they can find.

Meriah Nichols -11-3 Meriah Nichols -10-3 Meriah Nichols -9-3 Meriah Nichols -7-3I feel like my kids are the most interesting, interested children in the world

Meriah Nichols -8-3 Meriah Nichols -3-6 Meriah Nichols -2-6I’ll bet you think that about your own kids too, don’t you? Which goes to show that we all really do get the kids that are perfect for us. Sometimes whether we realize it or not.

Meriah Nichols -1-9Micah is back to normal  – thank you SO MUCH for all the support

Meriah Nichols -5-3His voice is solid, he is happy and back to his typical level of examining how the universe works. And bionicals. And Legos. And craft/cooking/making/stuff and being complicated and yet still a little boy.

Meriah Nichols -6-3It’s all going to work out.

Meanwhile…Meriah Nichols -2

Hump Month!

I have too much to do. I hate all the (neverending) housework that sort of grates on my soul but if I neglect it, things are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay worse, so better to just flow into oneness with drudgery.

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“oneness with the drudgery” – not bad!

naked childing bending down

So, too, is life here, overall.

Even in Hump Month.

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xoxox hope you are having a good one, too

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Meriah Nichols Salad in a Jar #MotivationMonday
Motivation Monday: Salad in a Jar

very messy food prep stationLast week I prepped like a wild woman.

It was nuts, but there is nothing like opening the fridge door and seeing this:

Salad in a Jar

jars filled with food line the shelf in a fridge

And an arsenal of healthy food that visually assaults.

It’s Motivational.  (“Motivation Monday”, as opposed to “Transformation Tuesday” – that’s cuz “Motivation Monday” is becoming a *thing* and ever since I learned the Marcarena approximately 5 years after everyone else, I love the idea of being with a thing at the time the thing is happening. The end.)

Being motivational, I thought I’d tell you about the best thing of the bunch that I prepped*.

Salad in a Jar

It’s another macarena moment, for sure. Everyone else has been doing Salad in a jar for probably most of my lifetime, but I only *just* heard of it. WHERE HAVE I BEEN?! This stuff is amazeballs. You gotta try it if you haven’t already.

It goes like this:

Meriah Nichols Salad in a Jar #MotivationMonday

This is the thing: THE LETTUCE STAYS FRESH. The key to keeping it fresh is making sure that the dressing and the lettuce are on opposite ends of the jar and well buffered by the filling stuff.

A few things:

  • The holy grail of Salad in a Jar: dressing at the bottom and greens at the top, preferably with buffers of other things in between. Keep them as far away from each other as possible.
  • Add grains/protein (or a mix of both) in the buffer area – it makes the salad really filling and allows you the chance to lively it all up, big time. Think, chicken, beans, quinoa, etc.
  • Pack ’em tight: don’t allow wiggle room for the sections to move around
  • For the 21 Day Fix, just measure out the components in your salad using the colored boxes! So. Easy.

I used pint-sized mason jars – perfect size – and I dumped it out into a bowl, mixed and ate. It was absolutely delicious.

I also made LARGE sized “Salad in a Tub” for the family, because I wanted to be able to have one healthy item for dinner each night pre-made so it would motivate me to carry it forward. Totally worked – we ate better last week than we have in a long time and it felt great. More motivation for keeping it up!

Meriah Nichols Salad in a Jar #MotivationMonday


* The other great thing was the Overnight Oats, and cutting up veggies for snacking.

Hang out with me on Pinterest for more Salad-in-a-Jar ideas and motivation for this

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**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

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To book an appointment, visit: http://www.modcloth.com/fitshop-sf Or call us: 1-844-FITSHOP

Meriah Nichols 61
We’re Talking, Happy! 365 Photography Challenge (60-70/365)

365 Photography challenge

I’ve been a little frustrated recently because I want to study my photography books more and have the time and space to really focus on programming the camera… but I just don’t have that right now. When I get to bed, I open my kindle and start reading and invariably, I’m asleep before I’ve finished the page.

In  November, we’ll be heading back down to Mexico and I won’t be solo parenting anymore. It’ll be a good time to get caught up!

Here’s some forward movement in the Photo Challenge:

61/365

Meriah Nichols 61
Photo Story:

If you just say, “bath”, Moxie’s hopping in! The only thing she just can’t stand is having her hair washed, so after making SURE that I won’t wash her hair, she floods out with joy over some bathing time. It’s pretty adorable.

Photo Details:

ISO 1000 85mm 1/800 sec at f4 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

62/365

Meriah Nichols 62Photo Story:

Micah loves cooking. LOVES IT!

I don’t know why I’m always so surprised by that, given that both Mikey and I are total foodies. We both cook, we both love cooking, we both love watching cooking shows and we revolve a good portion of our travels around food and culinary adventures. So it makes sense that our kid would love it too, right?!

Mikey’s taught him to make perfectly poached eggs. Here they are.

 Photo Details:

ISO 6400 35mm 1/320 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

63/365

Meriah Nichols 63Photo Story:

Part of the drive on the way back home. It’s nuts here, you know. I doubt I’ll ever be able to really capture it through the camera, because there is so much more to this than the jaw-dropping view. It’s the tiny road that leads down. It’s the deer that are hanging out. It’s seeing a car waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down there, moving forward and it looks like a toy or something. It’s the smell of salt and the feeling of power simply from the combination of elements present.

Photo Details:

ISO 100 35mm 1/3200 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

64/365

Meriah Nichols 64Photo Story:

 

Mack ran into a little house on the playground. Moxie around it and starting “huffing and puffing” to blow his house down!

Photo Details:

ISO 560 85mm 1/800 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

65/365

Meriah Nichols 65Photo Story:

It was one of those times in which I was left quiet by his beauty.

Photo Details:

ISO 160 85mm 1/800 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

66/365

Meriah Nichols 66Photo Story:

He needed the dose of confidence that being in camp in town for a week brought him. He surged with bright energy, joy in a sense of belonging and being included and made this mama smile.

 Photo Details:

ISO 14600 60mm 1/800 sec at f3.8 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

 67/365

Meriah Nichols 67Photo Story:

Moxie has ALWAYS loved the fastest, highest, spinniest of slides! I remember when she was barely walking and she’d climb up the top of something SUPER high and fly down and laugh her ass off. Other moms in the playground would give me that “oh, you horrible mother, you” look, “how could you??” and withering stares but they didn’t know Moxie.

And Moxie… was born with moxie. Lots of it.

Photo Details:

ISO 160 85mm 1/1600 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

68/365

Meriah Nichols 68Photo Story:

gotcha!

 Photo Details:

ISO 200 56mm 1/800 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

69/365

Meriah Nichols 69Photo Story:

Maybe one of the photos I love most of these two.

 Photo Details:

ISO 450 85mm 1/800 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

70/365

Meriah Nichols 70Photo Story:

 

I have to record his laugh sometime. And then sell it as a ringtone or something (and make a million bucks)

 Photo Details:

ISO 6400 56mm 1/30 sec at f3.8 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Follow the real time photos:

on Facebook and Instagram

Never Too Late!

It’s always a fresh day to start a 365 photo project, challenging yourself to take one good photo a day, for a year. Join me! Tag your photos on IG #photoswithmeriah, you should be able to upload in the comments here too. Let me know if you can’t.


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The Beauty of the ADA, by Susan Henderson

susanIn the spring of 1977, I took a quarter off from college, quit my job, and with my best friend bought a 1966 VW camper van to explore the United States. Before we left we spent a warm April day (California was in a drought and Jerry Brown was governor, how odd!) practicing the manual shift on the hills of San Francisco. We figured that if we could manage the hills of SF in the bus, we could manage it anywhere.

As we drove into the Civic Center we noticed a protest—not a rare occurrence in the Bay Area, but this protest was unique because the people protesting were people with disabilities. I admit that as an abled-bodied teenager, I didn’t have a clue what the protest was about but learned from the local news that protestors were demanding that the Carter Administration issue regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It made perfect sense and it opened my eyes to disability discrimination.

Fast forward 38 years to 2015, and we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the glorious result of the disability community’s historic campaign to expand the protections of Section 504. In those intervening years I acquired a disability and had the incredible fortune to go to work at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), first as its administrative director and now as the executive director.

DREDF was instrumental in the passage of the ADA, with Pat Wright as the leading political strategist, Arlene Mayerson drafting language and providing legal consultation to members of Congress, Marilyn Golden organizing people with disabilities nationwide, and Mary Lou Breslin providing the vision, intellect and historical context to DREDF’s work. In 2014, Senator Tom Harkin said about DREDF, “No group has been more instrumental in advancing the cause of civil rights for all people with disabilities than DREDF.”[1]

The ADA is beautiful—what it has accomplished is spectacular.  It has led to the removal of many, many architectural barriers, more accessible public transportation, made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, an increasingly accessible Internet, more equitable delivery of health care, and much, much more.

I have savored the ADA’s impact on our social consciousness in small but beautiful personal moments:

  • In 2005, when my oldest son called from college to tell me that after an overhaul of the online game Star Wars Galaxies wiped out the ability of many players with limited dexterity to use “keyboard-only” commands, there was a major outcry on player forums to correct the programming so that players weren’t excluded.

Players with and without disabilities recognized that the upgrade had usurped the perhaps inadvertent though nonetheless universal design of the original game. I was so happy about the gamer community understanding access and inclusion that I barely even questioned my son about why he was spending time playing video games when he should probably have been studying.

  • In 2010, when my stepmother called to say that it dawned on her that she could insist (gently, according to her) that Amtrak allow my father to sit on the lower level of the train because he was no longer able to safely climb or descend the stairs.
  • In 2012, when my youngest son, who was working at a movie theater called to tell me that after he heard that the chain’s management had moved “The Sessions,” a film based on Mark O’Brien’s essay, “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” from the first floor accessible theater to an inaccessible upstairs theater, he had called the Los Angeles headquarters to let them know that they were moving the film back to the first floor theater.

It is beautiful that the ADA has been used to:

  • Enshrine the right of people with disabilities to receive public support and services in the community instead of institutions pursuant to the Olmstead decision;
  • Keep families together (see the National Council on Disability’s 2012 report on the rights of parents with disabilities, Rocking the Cradle);
  • Ensure that online streaming videos (see the case that DREDF brought against Netflix) include captions so that people who are deaf and have hearing loss also benefit from and enjoy their content;
  • Promote inclusion in school for children with diabetes through a state Supreme Court opinion that determined that trained personnel or volunteers who do not hold a medical license can administer insulin in schools. The decision also means that people can remain in their homes and have attendants administer medication instead of being driven into a medical facility; and
  • Spark the enactment of disability rights laws around the world, and be a model for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

There are so many more remarkable outcomes that I could add to this short list (I invite you to add to the list by using the Comments feature), and undoubtedly there are more to come.

I am excited to see how disability rights advocates and activists, in the tradition of the 504 protesters and everyone who worked to pass, implement and enforce the ADA, will use it to expose and eliminate lingering discrimination, increase opportunity and secure equality for people with disabilities.

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susanhenderson1About the author: Susan Henderson, Executive Director, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Susan Henderson joined Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) in 1997. In addition to her executive director responsibilities, she directs DREDF’s Parent Training & Information Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2004, she started DREDF’s Foster Youth Resources for Education (FYRE) project to heighten awareness and protect the rights of children with disabilities in the child welfare system. In 2007, she established DREDF’s Disability and Media Alliance Project (D-MAP) to address the misinformed disability coverage that undermines public policy and legal advances to coverage that raises public awareness and helps to end disability discrimination. She works internationally with other disability-led organizations to conduct workshops on disability and human rights in Bahrain, Columbia, Guam, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam.

Susan worked for 13 years as part of the cross-disability team that planned, designed and constructed the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC), a universally-designed building in Berkeley, CA. She currently serves as the president of the ERC board. She has worked in non-profit and law firm management and finance for over 20 years and has an MBA and a BA in Anthropology.

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[1] Senator Tom Harkin, Remarks at an Event Honoring the History and Legacy of Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller, Berkeley, California, September 3, 2014.

This post originally appeared on Disability.gov


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Transformation Tuesday: Why PTSD Was Great for Me

Transformation Tuesday!

Today I wanted to talk with you a little bit about the creativity and the body and how PTSD actually helped me realize my creative self.

[Deep breath. This next paragraph isn’t a fun one to talk about, but it is an important part of the story.]

I was abused as a kid and my trajectory following abuse was pretty typical: I did a lot of self-harm in various forms. I was able to function though, and had a tight lid on my closet life as a cutter/chain smoker/promiscuous addict. But then! I met Mikey and got pregnant with Micah! When I found out I was pregnant, I quit smoking and drinking.

Well, not drinking meant that I was not blacking out every night, and had me clear-headed for the first time in years – and in a good enough space I guess, that my suppressed memories came, along with PTSD.

It was really, really bad.

But the point of this is not to talk about how bad it was to have memories hit me along with PTSD; the point of telling you about this stuff is that it was only then that I realized that my creativity saves me. That is, engaging in whatever that is creative will literally take me from this paralyzing abyss of pain, or panic attacks and lead me out. It’s photography or painting or writing or anything, really. Anything that is about the actual craft of creation.

This whole entire blog is the direct result of PTSD. My being a “prolific blogger” is the direct result of PTSD.

The pain of PTSD is no joke – and the healing and transforming power of what works for me isn’t either. I take it extremely seriously. I wake up as early as I have to in order to engage in it, I write when we drive, I edit photos at any and all odd moments. “I don’t have time” does not apply to my creative engagement because my creative engagement is my ticket to being present right here, right now.

NIchols_Meriah_s-Sr6DMIGHPTSD was good for me

PTSD was good for me because I love creative engagement and I had always wanted to spend more time with it, but I was always one of those people who “doesn’t have time”. Everything took priority over my creative action. I would never seriously think of a job that tapped into the stuff I loved – the writing, painting, photography, dance, drumming, etc.

What PTSD did, was it snapped me right around in a way I could not ignore. It was my soul, bitch-slapping my body to PAY ATTENTION. It woke me up.It made creativity an absolute, un-ignorable priority in my life.

As good as I have woken up to being firm about my creative engagement, I am still sleeping about being firm in the care of my body.

This bothers me, because my body is the tool of my spirit. I mean, it’s my ultimate tool, right? – and I take better care of my camera – something that I can replace – than I do of my body – which is irreplaceable.

That’s the root of this Challenge right now for me. I want to care for my ultimate tool. And I suppose there is an element of nervousness about it. I mean, if it took some pretty horrific PTSD to bitch slap me to really making my creativity a priority, what will it take for me to care for my body better?

Ack.

Moving on.

Accountability This Past Week:

Oh hello there, Doritos!

Yeah. What I learned was this:

  1. When solo parenting (as I am now), I absolutely must have delicious food around me
  2. If there is no delicious food, I will go the junk route
  3. The junk route will make me feel like I’ve failed anyway, so why even bother with the exercising?

BIG PROBLEM. 

So, after straggling through last week, I went to town and bought out Costco and Winco (- remind me to write the post on shopping with all 3 kids while trying to weigh grains at Winco sometime! It’ll be fun!). I then spent FOUR HOURS PREPPING food for the week, so we’ll see next week how that all goes.

The 21 Day Fix Extreme DVD:

I think it’s honestly too much for me. I hurt so much the next day, I don’t want to do it again. I think I have to go back to something that is easier for me – like T25 or the regular 21 Day Fix (not to be confused with “extreme”).

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Handy Links that Friends Shared with Me:

15 Lower Carb Whole Food Swaps (I printed it out and put it on the fridge)

Skinnytaste – I have her cookbook coming through our mobile library (really! the librarian drives the bookmobile all the way out here! God bless her. And libraries. And Skinnytaste)

The Pleasure Principle – I love this. It’s honestly the root of what I’m trying to do here. I’m only use the 21 Day Fix to integrate in these concepts and have a better sense of portions.

If you do want to join the 21 Day Fix with me (or anything BeachBody related):

Just click here, make sure I’m listed as your coach (I’m thehumboldthousewife) . My coach ID is 627640. That’s it. Then I can add you to the fantastic group on Facebook that I’m already a part of.

imagine
Imagine This: The Case Against Jessie Lorenz

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disability Act. I’ll be celebrating it in various ways on this blog for the remainder of the month, but today I want to talk about one thing that is NOT covered under the ADA.

The rights of parents with disabilities.

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Imagine something with me for a minute.

Imagine you are blind. Close your eyes for a moment, take a breath.

Feel yourself in this skin, you are as capable and intelligent as you’ve ever been, you have drive in your given profession, motivation and you are successful. You have friends, you belong in a community, indeed; you help create community.

You have worth.

And you are still blind.

Remember?

You are blind.

Now imagine that you give birth to a child, Your child is sighted.

It doesn’t matter in the least to you that you are blind; as a capable person, you have braille books, you have assistive technology at your disposal. You continue to work and support your child despite your separation from your partner.

It’s a life that has beauty and meaning; so much joy!

And you are still blind.

Here – this is a glimpse of what your life is like:

Now, imagine this.

Your child’s father, the one whom you separated from, says that you are an unfit parent on the basis of your blindness.

And that is it. Your ex-partner has nothing else to grasp at – you are a professional, you earn a decent income; the only thing that is arguable about your very existence is your disability.

In the United States of 2015, a person with a disability can have their custody of their child challenged purely on the basis of their disability. “The fundamental right to parent without interference is protected by the U.S. Constitution and balanced by the judicially recognized power of the state to interfere to protect the well-being of its children… Nonetheless, these rules have not been objectively or justly applied to parents with disabilities.”*

“Parents with disabilities are the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain—or even gain in some situations—custody of their children”

Can you imagine?

Being put on the line and having to prove – PROVE! – that you are a fit parent from a malicious challenge from someone? It harkens back to when someone could call the authorities on a gay parent and they would automatically be suspect.

Can you imagine what this entails – not to mention effort and expense to prove yourself fit in order to keep your child?

This has happened to countless people with disabilities – and is currently happening to Jessie Lorenz. It’s unthinkable, a travesty of justice and fairness that is hard to believe – in fact, I think a lot of people want to believe there is some catch, she must have done something, right? – But NO. She is a great mom. Her only real mistake in her life was in her choice of a baby-father: but should she have her child removed simply because of that?

Imagine what this is like for her right now.

Her child is on the line. Every material possession, every cent she has saved, every thing that she has will go to fight this accusation that is only able to fly because of the legal discrimination that exists against people with disabilities.

Please consider doing what you can to help battle this unimaginable situation.

Jessie’s Indie-GoGo

More Information from Jessie


More Information: 

From the American Bar Association: Can Parents Lose Custody Simply Because They Are Disabled?

 

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Voices from the Disability Community: Eliza Riley

Restarting the “Cool Cats: Voices from the Disability Community”, in which people with disabilities are featured. The point of this is to share different slices of different lives. For people to hopefully connect over shared voices, experiences or disabilities.

Please welcome Eliza Riley!


Getting to Know You

Your name:  Eliza Riley

What’s your connection with disability? 

I was born with a disability, Cerebral Palsy. Or it might not be – I have never gotten the official word.

Star Trek or Star Wars? 

None of the above

If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go?

I would say let’s go to Ireland! I want to see where my ancestors lived, I want to thank them for the Irish humor and the grace of a true woman.

What dish would your bring to our community picnic potluck?

My famous Banana Bread made in a crockpot, oh the cooking lessons we learn in life. Crockpot is your best friend.

Now That We’ve Been Introduced…

What do you do:

I work in development at a local high school. I specialize in alumni activities

How did you come to doing what you do? How has your career trajectory flowed?

With a degree in theater arts I felt ready to take on the world, lol. I took a bit of time to just devote myself the stage, only to realize that I needed more out of life.

So what is a girl to do with a degree in theater arts? I started to work at an employment agency that specialized in working with people with disabilities. It was an interesting job and got me looking into disability advocacy as an employment path.

I then signed on for a year with AmeriCorps. This was very meaningful to me. I spent the year working at the volunteer center of Silicon Valley where I worked with Santa Clara County Collaborating Agencies’ Disaster Relief Effort (CADRE).

One of the primary goals of CADRE was to create a support system to better serve the many vulnerable populations in Santa Clara County and create a system to organize the different types of CBOs who may help with response and recovery in a disaster.  I then was able to put on an emergency conference by and for people with disabilities.

It was the first of its kind, where we took conference materials and geared them strictly towards people with disabilities. I then transitioned to work at CONNECT Job Seeker Center. I was able to work with people with disabilities as they looked for work, advising them on what questions to ask, when to disclose and other employment related questions.

During this time I was able to serve on Silicon Valley Independent Living Center’s (SVILC) Board of Directors. This position let me take a closer look at disability advocacy as a movement. I was eventually hired on as a Youth Leadership and Outreach Coordinator. I enjoyed this position as it let me increase my ability to connect with a broader audience.

I was also able to be an ambassador for Abilities Expo, San Jose show. This opportunity allowed me to recruit both audience members and possible exhibitors. I then was able to work for College of Adaptive Arts as an office manager and registrar.  This position allowed me to experience the birth of a brand new organization and the celebration that the arts brings to a community.

I now work for my old high school, Saint Lawrence Academy as where I am able to hone my fundraising skills. I would say looking back at it, that I was given many invaluable tools that I will continue to put to use in my everyday activities.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

That is a very good question. In five years I would like to see myself still living in my own house, still having the drive to get up and work. I want to get back to swimming and eventually walking again. I will spend time exploring the world of art and that piece of me I lost, most importantly still advocating for myself, victims of abuse, and people with disabilities.

Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone?

Above all that I had a wicked sense of humor. “Life is shit, you get over it, then you die” Most of my story is here.

Who or what inspires you?

I would say that would be my mom, Mary Beth Riley. She lives such a great life. Being a mom of a disabled female was tricky. What were you supposed to do? She let herself get caught up in the world of CP. She successfully managed to balance being with me for every step and keep a good grasp of her career. She is now a principal of Notre Dame High School, San Jose and still have time to laugh and live life. I always strive to follow her example in life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

About Disability

If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?

Get over it, there is so much that you are not going to know, ever.

Science and doctors will be absolutely no help and you just need to consider yourself a medical mystery. Relax about it, it is a problem that you just cannot solve. Go and solve some real issues!

What do you like about your particular disability?

That is a rather tricky question. I like the sense of self it has given me. The sense that you just never know, what have you really got to lose? I like the listening capabilities it has given me. Somehow I am able to talk to people and have no fear of exposing too much or coming off harsh.

Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability?

Nothing really, I’m just like everyone else it is just I have been waking up with this exciting notion that using a wheelchair would make life so much easier.

What single piece of technology makes your life easier?

That would have to be my bed, it is a Tempur-pedic massager. There is nothing like coming home after a days work and get a full body massage.

elizaWhere else can we find you online?

https://www.facebook.com/Eliza.Riley

http://redefiningdisabled.org/eliza/

 

 


 

If you would like to share your Voice, please send me an email (meriahnichols@gmail.com)

Guest posts are also welcome. Please read this, thank you.

 

 

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4 Things the Gay Rights Movement Did That Us Disabled Haven’t

The gay rights movement and the disability rights movement both started around the same time. They were fighting similar battles, struggling for equal civil rights, for justice, and for an end to discrimination.

Some 40 years later and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage is legal, while people with disabilities still face a marriage penalty if they receive SSI benefits. The gay rights movement has come far and away stronger than the disability rights movement has, in the same amount of time.

Which led me to wonder:

What are  Gays Doing that us Disabled Aren’t?

What’s working with the gay movement that isn’t with us disabled? Some thoughts:

1. Titles: “Gay” vs “Disabled”

“Gay” being another way to say “happy” and “disabled” being another way to say “broken”… well… yeah.

I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

2. A Rainbow vs. a Wheelchair

meriahnicholsgay1People like happy and nothing says “happy” like “rainbow”, right?! The emblem of the gay community is synonymous with joy, with brightness after gloom and a whole lotta smiles.

On the other hand, we in the disabled community have a personal mobility device. A wheelchair. Which is definitely a symbol of freedom to people who use it, but is perhaps not as universally-loved as an emblem like the rainbow.

3. Allies

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The gay community cultivates it’s allies well.

From the badges to the cool rainbow tulips, from the pieces that staunchly proclaim support (“we’re not gay but we stand by you”) – these are BRILLIANT.

And why on earth don’t we have these in the disability community???

I mean, we need a way to spread the love, let people show their support and alliance with us, even when they don’t have a disability themselves. Right?!

4. Fun Stereotypes

So, we’ve got the broken, angry and pitiable – but inspiring! – disabled and the fun, clever, good dressers who can dance!

Was it Will and Grace? Another show? Pop culture had a big hand in it, didn’t it.

I hope that shows like Glee are going to do the same: help transform some of these super outdated stereotypes. Cuz, I gotta say, I’ve met plenty of gay people who can’t dance and plenty of disabled that are bad asses on the dance floor.


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The gay community has a tremendous amount in common with the disabled community.

For one, we are both rampantly discriminated against and basic human rights have been denied us by dint of who we are, by the signs and expressions of our bodies, minds and feelings.

And we are both everywhere.

The gay slogan of “we’re queer, we’re here, get over it” could easily apply to us in the disabled community. We are here. We are not going away, we never will. May as well get used to it.

Moreover, we really ARE everywhere. If you count the full spectrum of disability – which is enormous, including the blind, low vision, d/Deaf, people with developmental, physical, learning and sensory disabilities. The ally communities which we have built in with our friends and families is marvelously gigantic. Pretty much everyone is said to be connected in some way, some how, to someone with a disability.

The gay community learned from the Civil Rights Movement and copies many pages from their books.

There was some serious strategic breadth; some unflinching uncompromising that went in the decades of hard-core gay rights activism that has led to theirs being the fastest of all civil rights movements.

And now I think we need to learn from the gay community.

Stay tuned: I’m starting a series by and for Allies, and get going with some Toolkits.

 

Meriah Nichols -2-3
And then He Lost His Voice…

Micah has been having a really hard time with school. Oh, not the academics (never the academics), but with pretty much everything else.

If you have ever had a situation in which your kid is struggling to fit in, you know exactly how heartbreaking that can be. If you’ve ever seen something like your kid chasing after other kids because they won’t play with him, you know that particular brand of pain, don’t you. It’s like no other.

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Things reached a tipping point at the end of the year, and Micah’s voice, always kind of raspy, simply went away.

I thought he might have a cold or something, but I was suspicious because it was weird to me that his voice was gone when there so much hurt happening with him. It was weird to me that he lost his method of communication right as he was told by some kids that they didn’t want to communicate with him.

Meriah Nichols -8-2

We left and some time passed and his voice came back, but I noticed that in any situation in which he was scared or nervous or his mojo was gone – so was his voice.

It just left.

I signed Micah up for a week-long day camp in town and had him interact with other kids there. He had a blast. He made friends. His voice was back.

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I am leaning strongly on homeschooling Micah next year.

For one, if he goes back to school, he’s going to be with the same teacher in the same class with the same dynamics. I simply don’t think he should go through that again. There are some things you want to struggle and persevere in life for, but I don’t think pushing through a situation like this with a kid as sensitive (and young) as Micah is one of them. I don’t think you should push through that when there are sure alternatives that will give him friends, a solid education and creative freedom.

This is what my gut says, but it’s hard to not out-guess myself.

Deep breath.

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21 Day Meal Plan, Emotional Eating and Getting. It. Done

It’s Transformation Tuesday!

I love the idea of those alliterative things, or some day that I set aside to just blog about ONE. THING. It’s hard to keep it going if noone else joins me though, so PLEASE JOIN ME IN THIS! Okay? Please don’t leave me sitting at the cafeteria table all by myself, terribly vulnerable and talking about my weight, butt, and emotional eating!

21 Day Meal Plan

images (3)Yesterday was my first day re-starting the 21 Day Fix.

It works like this: you get a certain number of little colored containers depending on your weight/gender/etc and you fill the containers with the approved (- read, “clean”) food types.

It all makes perfect sense but it’s not easy when you are just getting started again. Oh, and when you are an emotional eater, like I am.

When I am upset, angry, sad – it’s the doritos I reach for. It’s my comfort piece.stress eating

I don’t think it’s bad necessarily to do that, and I definitely don’t want to give up my deep love for food. But I do want to change what I reach for, how I reach for it, and why. I don’t think those reasons of mine are too healthy.

I also don’t want to over analyze this!

So I created a few simple goals for the next 21 days:

  1. I want to stick with the 21 day meal plan and exercise dvd
  2. I want to focus on my belly fat and butt (see butt chart below)
  3. I want to be able to fit into my jeans

Here’s my “before” picture. Gotta have that, right?!

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unflattering “before” picture!

The 21 Day Fix –

The only reason I can post this knowing that at least 1000 people are going to be looking at this and knowing how much I weigh is because I also know that the 21 Day Fix works. Like, it really, really works. I can post this because I know the scale is going to be sliding down and it’s going to make a great comparison for my “after” photo.

And besides, I like making people smile. My need to please.

Which brings me back to my emotional eating.

Soooooo hard for me to get over this. Since I don’t want to wreck my love for food and I also don’t want to not appreciate what I’m eating, I need to PLAN. Not easy for me to do this because I am not a meal-planner-type of person. I don’t do what my friend Meredith does, with her extensive shopping lists all circled into meals and tight-like.

But I need to, because it will help keep the emotional eating in check to have my meals planned, have only good stuff on hand that won’t break my eating plan or swing me off track.

I’m taking a long look at this post here: How I Prep Food for the Week (thanks for posting this, Kimberly!), and I also ordered these Reditainer things from Amazon (- we were low on containers anyway and I saw them on Autumn Calabres’s facebook page) to help with the prep planning. I need to find all of my mason jars for those salads.

And so –

That’s where I’m at right now. It’s all a mess. I am struggling to get the systems in place, get my body moving and get to that happy place in the whole fitness plan where it’s flowing. You know what I mean?

Want to sign up with the 21 Day Fix too? Or something else from Beachbody? Just click here, make sure I’m listed as your coach (- and again, I’m thehumboldthousewife) . My coach ID is 627640. That’s it. Then I can add you to the fantastic group on Facebook that I’m already a part of.

If you don’t want to do Beachbody but want support, holla. I can start a group.

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Butt chart:

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embracingwade
Why It’s Time to Start Telling the Truth about a Down syndrome Diagnosis, by Leticia Keighley

I was listening to a story recently of a woman who became pregnant with her first child when she was just 16. My mouth sat open wide as she explained how hard she had to fight to keep her baby, being a “good Catholic girl” in the 1960s.

It was the norm back then. Young mothers pulled out of society and whisked ‘away’ somewhere to either have a termination or disappear for a while until the baby was born only to be forcibly removed and given up for adoption. These sorts of practices were commonplace and considered to be ‘for the best’. This woman had all sorts of so-called experts in her ear, from the local priest, the doctors, family and friends weighing in on what was best for her, the baby and ‘good taste’ apparently.

It’s not like that anymore.

Society has realised over the past 50-60 years that it’s not the end of the world if a young mother has a baby, actually. We know that tearing children from their mothers and raising them in foster homes or boarding houses away from them is not the recipe for a well-rounded upbringing.

We know that so we don’t do it anymore.

In the story, the woman recalled how her son was called a “bastard” purely for being born to an unwed mother. She talked about how little support she had and how hard it was back then. This woman was a trail blazer, refusing to be told what was best for her and being a part of change that would bring us to the better place we live in now.
No one looks back at those times and considers it ‘Best Practice’. No one looks at the damage done to young mothers and their children as a result of forced separation and uses that to advise young mothers today.

We know it is better to support parents through challenges rather than demonising them for their choices. We know that when we stop telling children they are ‘worthless bastards’ who should never have been born, they grow up having more pride, confidence and control over their lives.

When a young girl becomes pregnant at 16 today…we don’t go looking to the 1960s for advice…

….so why are we still doing it with Down syndrome?

A Down syndrome Diagnosis

When parents receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, the information and advice given by many health professionals is wildly outdated and skewed heavily on the side of Doom and Gloom.

When parents get their results they are told all about the physical, developmental and health conditions that MAY come with the extra chromosome. They are given the worst case scenario even though it probably won’t be their reality…just in case it is.

It is important that doctors tell parents about the increased chance of medical conditions and the likelihood of intellectual disability. It would be negligent not to. Parents need to know what may over the horizon for their child medically and be best placed to intervene or treat it.

The problem is, health professionals are not giving the other side too. I have heard people in the medical world describe how it is considered to be ‘painting too rosy a picture’ or ‘romanticising’ Down syndrome if they tell parents about the potential positives or about the support services available before they have decided whether to continue with the pregnancy.

As though it is ‘for the best’ if people don’t get their hopes up about what their child may be capable of before they make a decision.

Potential difficulty and heartache?….think long and hard about it even if it might not happen.

Potential happiness?…..best not to think about it in case it doesn’t happen.

If it is prudent to give parents the worst case scenario about health and development, it should be equally prudent to give the information about what help and support they can access. It’s not biased to give positivity and hope as well.

Why do parents have to wait until after they have decided to keep their baby before they are allowed to discover that the vast majority of families love and cherish their kids and wouldn’t change them for the world. To learn that early intervention principles, health advances and inclusion means that the kids born today will have longer and healthier lives than those born 50 years ago? To learn that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad and people with Down syndrome can and do live happy, meaningful lives.

The positive and negative information should go hand in hand…not handed out separately after parents have chosen their path.

Yes, by all means, tell parents that if their child has Down syndrome, it may take longer to reach developmental milestones and speech may be difficult….but also tell them that there is early intervention available and with regular physio and speech therapy, their child will develop and learn. Tell them about the state based Down syndrome organisations that are there to support them. Tell them about funding packages, respite, support groups, therapies and help lines.

Yes, tell parents that Down syndrome brings a higher chance of congenital heart problems….but also tell them that many issues resolve themselves or the surgery has an extremely high success rate with kids going on to flourish afterwards.

Tell them that some children have many complex health issues….but also tell them that many have no health problems at all. Tell them that everyone with Down syndrome is different and unique and not everything on the long list of ‘maybes’ will apply to them.

Yes, tell parents that their child will have some degree of intellectual disability and may face challenges….but also tell them about how much we are learning about how the brain can learn and make new connections. Tell them that there is a new family of incredibly supportive parents out there who can help them see how amazing our kids are and show them what is possible. Tell them that Down syndrome won’t define who their child is.

Yes, tell them that their child has Down syndrome….but don’t use the stereotypes from the 1960s as examples. Parents need current up-to-date information to understand what Down syndrome is today. Tell them about the army of pioneering parents who fought to keep their children at home and out of institutions.

Tell them about the parents who demanded their children be taught in mainstream schools or receive therapies that would improve their development.

Tell them that in the 1980s, the life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was 25. Today it is over 60.

Tell them how much has changed since the 60s and is continuing to change.

But tell them before they have made a decision….not after.

Don’t withhold this equally important aspect in a sealed envelope only to be handed over once a parent has decided to proceed. It’s not up to health professionals or the media or anyone else to decide what information is ‘for the best’. Parents should be respected enough to have all the facts in order to make decisions for themselves.

It’s not the 60s anymore.

It’s not ok to tell parents that their child will never walk, talk or learn anything. Mainly because we know it is not true for the vast majority of people with Down syndrome but also because it’s not ok to set parents on this path with dangerously low expectations of what their kids are capable of. No one can guarantee any child’s future but they have a much better shot at a bright one if people invest in and nurture their talents instead of expecting absolutely nothing from them from the day they are born.

A lovely couple came over to chat with Wade and I recently and tell me about their son who is 26 and has Down syndrome too. The man said the most beautiful thing to me…

“People always talk about how bad the world has become. They’re wrong. The world is a much better place for the kids now, much better than when my son was a child.”

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leticia keighleyBIO:  Leticia Keighley is a writer from Melbourne, Australia.  She writes at her blog Embracing Wade about the lessons learned from raising her son Wade who has Down syndrome.  She also advocates for change as well as showing how very very normal her life is at her Facebook page too.

 


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Meriah Nichols 56
Deaf Pride, Woes, Friendship and Joy: 50-60/ 365 Photography

365 Photography challenge

I adore my camera. I absolutely love that thing, and I love my lens too.

It’s a full frame and I kind of second-guessed my way through buying it. “Why a full frame?”, “what makes sense about a full frame?” “It’s so much more expensive, should I really…?”

All I can say now is, WHAT THE HELL WAS I WAITING FOR????

Good grief. I wasted so much time trying to figure out my last Nikon with it’s incompatible lenses, then the Olympus, which was fine but lopsided with the tiny body and heavy lens – and… ugh.

One good lens. One good camera body. It’s all anyone ever really needed.

I love so much about my camera, not least that I love the fact that it can actually capture things as I see them in my head. I still miss painting, but I can see that photography is becoming closer to my heart than ever before, thanks to this camera and lens.

51/365

Meriah Nichols 51
Photo Story:

It rained. We are still in a drought here in California, so rain is always a big deal. The droplets congregated here in the succulent and I swooned.

Photo Details:

ISO 6400 85mm 1/200 sec at f4 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 52Photo Story:

Katherine and I went through security and headed straight for the gate in which we were to fly out of (to Atlanta). We told the guy at the gate that we are deaf, we showed him our tickets, we said that we wouldn’t be able to hear any changes from an intercom, etc, etc. He said no problem, you are set, come back in half an hour for boarding. Okay.
So we had this delicious coffee and chilled out. Went to our gate and THE SAME GUY said, whoops, there has been a change – you are leave from this gate ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AIRPORT IN TEN MINUTES.

Dammit!!! I mean, DAMN IT!

This picture reminds me of that – and how pissed off we were. And how nice it was to commiserate with someone else and not feel so scared and alone, like I usually do when this stuff happens (and it almost always happens…). Also, how much deaf access is still needed. I mean, why is it so hard to have captions by the gates? Why can’t an airline staff member tell us the change, seeing as we went and introduced ourselves and so forth?
‪#‎deafproblems‬

 Photo Details:

ISO 6400 85mm 1/640 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 53

Photo Story:

The view from the top of the hotel in Atlanta.

I like this photo because it captures the beauty of the lights, the movement of the room in which we were, and the general feeling of liveliness. I was feeling SO ALIVE – my day to day of struggling to get 3 bodies washed, fed, clothed and 3 minds educated and 3 spirits and hearts nourished – was on the shelf. This was all about my own heart, spirit and mind, it was about my own re-connection with my self, a self that I honestly kind of forgot about but missed terribly

Photo Details:

ISO 1600 52mm 1/5 sec at f3.8 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 54Photo Story:

Katherine and I shared a room with Fiona, a lovely woman who we made fast friends with. We spent hours talking together, covering just about every subject under the sun.

Here, we arrived at our room and housekeeping was still making our beds. We just plunked down and continued talking.

Photo Details:

ISO 1600 35mm 1/60 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 55Photo Story:

At the end of our visit to the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, Katherine and I came upon a place in which visitors are encouraged to add their own story. It’s (another) powerful piece in this already incredibly powerful place. We took our picture, typed in “I am deaf”.

I think I would change it now if I could, though, to: “I am proud to be deaf” #‎deafpride‬‪ #‎noapologies

 Photo Details:

ISO 1600 66mm 1/125 sec at f5.6 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Photo Story:

4 days away from my babies had me on my knees and crying when I scooped them up in my hungry arms. Bliss.

 Photo Details:

ISO 1600 35mm 1/40 sec at f3.2 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 57Photo Story:

Micah – a regular cooking geek – whipped up some pancakes for breakfast with his Nana. I got the first one. I felt pretty honoured, and those were pretty fine. I think it was the blueberry goat cheese that he added in the batter.

Photo Details:

ISO 1600 35mm 1/60 sec at f3.5 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Photo Story:

We drove for 7 hours, stopping for groceries along the way…stumbled out of the car, and the kids were overjoyed to be home!

 Photo Details:

ISO 1000 85mm 1/125 sec at f9.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 59

Photo Story:

This is a photo I like because of the story, not anything to do with the quality of the light or composition or whatever. The kids wanted a snack. I gave them a plum each. They just walked outside and sat down, companionably. I love that about them; that they seem to genuinely love being with each other and just choose to sit together and munch plums in quiet.

 Photo Details:

ISO 400 80mm 1/320 sec at f10 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Meriah Nichols 60Photo Story:

Love bug.

On another note, I’m interested in that line between blur and movement – the one that is about storytelling and purpose, not about a lack of control over the camera. It seems some photos can really work with blur – and the blur helps tell the story.

 Photo Details:

ISO 1600 85mm 1/120 sec at f4.0 Nikon D750 with 24-85mm f/2.8 lens

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Follow the real time photos:

on Facebook and Instagram

Never Too Late!

It’s always a fresh day to start a 365 photo project, challenging yourself to take one good photo a day, for a year. Join me! Tag your photos on IG #photoswithmeriah, you should be able to upload in the comments here too. Let me know if you can’t.


and –

(affiliate-linked)

Smugmug is having a sale that’s worth it – 19% off of any new SmugMug plan between now and 7/7/2015. Perfect for showcasing your own 365 Photography Challenge..?!

What is Smugmug, you want to know? It’s a site that covers everything from hosting your photos to selling them. Check it out –

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Beachbody…Could be YOURS TOO!! (featuring Tina Fey)

I love Beachbody. Their products and programs actually work, the DVD’s that I have are ALL captioned (and captioned well) and the workouts that I have are 30 minutes or less.

I hate Beachbody. Their customer service is beyond bad – every time I order something, they send me something else and I have to return it AND pay the $8 for shipping. This has actually happened three times for me, so paying $24 to return things that I never ordered in the first place PISSED ME OFF.

I love Beachbody. Their products and programs really work.

I hate Beachbody. Their customer service is unresponsive,cheerful in that asinine way that makes me want to reach through the screen and smack them. Everything is up to someone else and livechat is hidden under a billion links.

But I love Beachbody. In a world full of diets and products that are impossible for me, theirs really work. 


Soooooo… I was on the fence about being a coach with them. I wouldn’t be able to face myself if I said anywhere on this blog that they are completely fantastic and you should join too. Lying isn’t one of my many flaws.

I can say this instead:

Join me!

Join me in a love/hate relationship with Beachbody!

You’ll love their products and love what they do for you and you will probably hate customer service as much as I do! Maybe we can make a fun page in which we copy/paste all the stupid stuff customer service says?* All of the inane ways in which they do not help?!

But most of all, we can support each other in weight loss and getting fit and fly.

I’ll be posting regular weight loss/getting fit and fly stuff here, so if you want to tune in, please do, regardless of whether or not you want to join Beachbody under me.

About joining:

You sign up HERE – create your free basic membership Beachbody account, and list me as your coach: thehumboldthousewife – My coach ID is 627640.

download (4)There will be a new 21 Day Fix challenge on Facebook that starts on July 6th.

You just want to have enough time to get your stuff if you do want to do this. And by “stuff”, I mean:

  1. shakeology (- the drink that Beachbody makes that has something in that makes you skinny?) (which sounds awful but it’s actually got an excellent ingredient list, not scary at all)
  2. a program – like either the 21 Day Fix program, or the T25 program, or Pi-Yo – whatever you like, it’s all good (I have some reviews at the end of this post on the different programs)
  3. light and heavy weights, both (whatever is light/heavy for you)

You also want some time to CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE

It’s so much easier to do a clean eating program when you only have clean food around. Stock up on healthy food! Give away the doritos!

The last thing I would recommend is:

Get the 21 Day Companion app

This thing is an app of awesomeness – it helps you keep track of how many containers you’ve consumed, your exercises, water, your weight and inch loss – and also has quotes that I like.

It’s regularly $2.99 but on sale this week for .99 – I have found it to be extremely helpful


beachbodyAbout the programs:

Check out the comparison thing on their website (- HERE), or my summary of the ones I’ve done:

21 Day Fix: it’s really an eating overhaul. You work on portions, clean eating and daily exercise (with the included DVD). Great for people that have been off the fitness grid for a long time.

21 Day Fix Extreme: I’m doing this exercise one for this round but I’m personally not ready for this eating program (yet). I’m sticking with the plain 21 Day Fix eating program.

T25: this is JUST an exercise DVD with booklet on clean eating, but it’s not a program like the 21 day fix is. It has a lot of workouts and moves you gradually from easy to very hard. The lady who does the “modified” workout (- meaning, the easier one) looks exactly like the girl from Barney, but all grown up.

Pi-Yo: it’s the love child of Pilates and Yoga. I find the hairlessness of the guys kind of disturbing, but it’s a good program with great attention to detail.

ALL PROGRAMS have excellent captions.

All programs that I’ve done are absolutely terrific. That’s why I put up with the crappy customer service. That actually says a lot if you know me, because customer services means so much to me.

So!

Just select whatever, make sure I’m listed as your coach (- and again, I’m thehumboldthousewife) . Then that’s it. You can also sign up to coach under me – just list me as YOUR coach and then voila, everyone is scratching each other’s backs. My coach ID is 627640


* Joking about the page, but I’ll do it in a heartbeat if you want to. 

I would like to note these handy dandy tips regarding customer service to kind of save you some trouble:

  1. Triple check what you DO order: is it just one? where is it being sent to? what flavor shakeology? what size? Make ABSOLUTELY SURE it’s what you want because you will walk through the seven levels of hell before you get Beachbody to change anything after you order it
  2. Your order is ready? Take a screen shot. Save it.
  3. Receive the order confirmation? Take a screen shot. Save it.
  4. Livechat: the direct link is HERE

 

Meriah Nichols Effort-2
Sponges

I don’t know about you, but I remember a bunch of weird crap from when I was a kid. It’s so random – like, those 25 lb bags of carrots that my mom used to buy for us to snack on, and how I ate so many that I could see in the dark something fierce.

I have no idea what my kids are going to remember from this lushly weird childhood that we are giving them. I sure hope it’s going to be good stuff.

Like… I hope they remember how they enjoyed saying, “hi!” to each and every person as we waited to see the doctor – and how the faces of those that they greeted lit up in surprise and delight by their cheerful friendliness.

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I hope they remember how much FUN they made each and every playground visit. How they ruled those small spaces and absolutely wrung out every bit of joy they could.

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I hope they remember stopping to look at flowers with me. I hope they think of me when I’m old, and think of flowers.

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Like I think of them and think of sunshine and bright light.

I hope their memories with one another blend together in a long stream of togetherness and solidify like colorful jello.

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In the midst of all this, I hope they know I tried.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m herding, yelling, nourishing, dressing, praising, admonishing them. It’s like this endless –‘ing. I feel like “no” comes to my lips faster than any “yes” and that bothers me a lot.

I don’t want to be that kind of mother.

But I also don’t want my kids eating crap all day long while being tethered to some device.

“no”, “no”, “NO!”

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I honestly try. I try to rise above my “no’s”, I try to get things going and keep them moving in a happy way. I don’t know if this will be the one thing that they will just happen to remember, you know? Like my bag of carrots.

Meriah Nichols Effort-5 Meriah Nichols Effort-21 Meriah Nichols Effort-18 Meriah Nichols Effort-16 Meriah Nichols Effort-15 Meriah Nichols Effort-14Solo parenting kicks my ass and I don’t know how single mothers do it.

At least I have Mikey around SOME of the time; at least I have him full time for 5 months of the year.

Meriah Nichols Effort-9 Meriah Nichols Effort-8 Meriah Nichols Effort-6 Meriah Nichols Effort-7But it’s lonely. And it’s hard.

Then somehow we slip into these grooves – like, where the kids just seem to understand me (and I, them) so well – we are on this higher level of intuitiveness. We just seem to gel and I don’t have to actually say much anymore.

Meriah Nichols Effort-13 Meriah Nichols Effort-12 Meriah Nichols Effort-11And then… oh, it’s so sweet.

Like they are sponges dipped in water, soaking it up, soaking it up. And when I need it, they just pour it right back.

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The Forgotten Color in the Rainbow

I care about marriage equality.

I posted stuff about it on Facebook, even changed my profile photo. I did everything that was happening, as it was happening. I did this in part to be an ally to my friends who are gay and also, to be honest, because I’m old fashioned. I did it because I believe in marriage.

I did it because I want my kids to marry. I mean, when the time is right for them, I want them to settle down with ONE PERSON and grow deep roots with that ONE PERSON. And that desire of mine for them does not change according to who they are attracted to. If Micah or Mack want to marry men, that’s fine with me but I want them to be MARRIED.

I feel the same way about Moxie – when she decides the time is right for herself, I don’t care if she wants to marry a woman; I just want her MARRIED.*

But this is the thing: Moxie and most others with Down syndrome can’t marry without being penalized by their disability benefits. And most people who need the safety net that disability benefits bring, really do need those benefits. That net is absolutely crucial and I cannot state that strongly enough.

If they get legally married, their income will be halved, and disability benefits are already below the poverty level. There is no way a couple could live on half. So there are these pretend marriages in the Down syndrome and disability communities, and more often than not, people just live together.

So yesterday, I cried.

I cried so fricking hard, all day, every time I opened Facebook, every time I thought about it. I cried for joy for equality, I cried that justice has been seen to. I cried because this has been a hell of a long wait, a lifetime of struggle for so many people. I cried because I’m proud of my country.

I cried because it’s now absolutely fair of me to expect all of my children to marry, whatever their sexual preference may be.

Except one.

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And I cried some more.

This victory will be perfect and complete only when we are ALL afforded equal rights and opportunities with marriage, when people with disabilities no longer face a marriage penalty with their benefits.

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* This is with everything understood of course, that marriage is the most important official connection to another human being you can make – it is not something to be done for the sake of doing it. It’s to be done because you have met the person you want to grow old with, you are physically, mentally and spiritually attracted to. ://end sermon

Star-Trek
Disability Word Policing (With Star Trek Gifs)

I’ve only been a member of the Down syndrome community for 5 years and I’ve already seen this cycle repeat itself countless times:

Something happens with a word: someone famous says something offensive (- usually involving the word, “retard”)

  • The Ds community bellows
  • The famous person or situation or whatever apologizes
  • The Ds community simmers down.
  • …and repeat

I know parents from with the Ds community are sick of it, but I also know that there is a certain amount of weariness that is felt by members outside of our community. That is, people who care about us and our kids, people who want to be our friends and allies, people who want to do and say the right thing.

And the weariness easily switches to wariness.

Like, nervousness about saying something offensive. When is a word okay? How is a world okay? If the word is okay with YOU, will it be okay with THEM? Is that person over there going to jump on me? But wait – YOU said it was okay, YOU say that yourself -? Arrrrrghhhh!

I completely get it and I don’t think there are easy answers because I think so much of this depends on individual preference. There are no universal agreed-upon guidelines. That makes it tricky, you know, for allies to the disabled/Ds community.

They say “people with disabilities” and you say “disabled.” But that girl using a wheelchair says “gimp” or “crip”. You are not a “person with deafness”, you are a “deaf person” but Moxie is not a “Down syndrome child”; she’s a “person with Down syndrome.”

It’s person first language…until it’s not.

Then you get the really fun stuff: Archaic Words!

Those are words that have evolved but still carry some of their original meaning. Moron, idiot, cretin, mongo all fall under that – as well as retard. So, what do you do? Do you say none? What if you want to use the actual meaning of the word in a correct context, like “retard growth”? What if you forget? What if you never knew? What if you SUCK and just MESS UP and someone catches you and you are proved to be a COMPLETELY INSENSITIVE and HURTFUL HUMAN BEING?!!!!!!

Oh, you monster.

YEAH.

No easy answers. I don’t know what to say, really, because I know if I tell you something, someone else will be telling you something different. And then the person over in that group over there is going to tell you it’s all balderdash anyway

In the end, it’s your call.

You have to suss it out in your gut, do what feels right. Because it really is like Eleanor Roosevelt says, “do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

PS.

Some general advice and definitions though. Me to you.

  1. “special needs” is an educational term, not a disability term
  2. “disability” is a particular way of seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, moving, learning, sensing, being
  3. deaf first (- deaf lady)
  4. saying ‘disabled’ is fine; ‘person with a disability’ is fine too.
  5. slurs… why slur anyway? just stick with good, solid English cuss words. Can’t go wrong. Cuss, not slur!
  6. when you don’t know… ASK