Thursday, June 19, 2014

Boat Yard Fire - San Diego Bay

Boat Yard Fire - San Diego Bay

Boat Yard Fire - San Diego Bay

Posted: 19 Jun 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Happening now (6/16/2014 950am pst) a boat yard fire along the San Diego Bay.


A 110' yacht caught fire in a dry dock at Marine Group Boat Works in  Chula Vista.


Check out raw footage.

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Weekend Lightning storm over Paris

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 11:10 PM PDT

On a weekend trip to Paris with fellow study abroad students, I snapped this by chance with nothing but my IPhone (no filter and no editing). We had just come down from the top after seeing the storm start to roll in and had to stop and marvel at what we were seeing. This photo was taken June 8th, 2014.

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Lightning Strikes

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 09:15 PM PDT

This location is frequently imaged. However, there is nothing quite like being there in person. It is simply an amazing sight to see. While trying to image the left and right mittens at dusk, I was fortunate enough to catch a lightning strike to the valley floor. This place is a must see for all. Hope you enjoy viewing this image as much as I enjoyed capturing it.

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Boy Monk in Bapuon, Angork Thom

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 06:39 PM PDT

I was visiting Thailand and had to take a side trip to the 8th wonder of the world; Angkor Wat/Angkor Thom. This 11th century temple is amazing with a 172m long entrance and 5 levels high.

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The storm before it passed

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 06:12 PM PDT

Was out doing our search for Zaden McKnight and had seen the strom as it approached over the tops of the trees. Amazing clouds..The rains and winds were strong and blowing hard.

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The Unexpected Journey

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 12:36 PM PDT

My husband and I welcomed our first born son into the world on July 20, 2010. We were over the moon excited and blissfully unaware of how much our life was about to change over the next few months.


It didn't take long for us to notice that something was a little different about Parker. His eyes didn't track the same way as his peers and his development was delayed. After meeting with doctors and early intervention centers we had an MRI done and at 7 months Parker was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome.


Joubert Syndrome is the absence or underdevelopment of the cerebellum and a malformed brain stem. It is a rare genetic disorder characterized by decreased muscle tone, difficulties with coordination, abnormal eye movements, abnormal breathing patterns and cognitive impairment. It can also disrupt eye, kidney, and liver function in individuals with Joubert Syndrome. (


When we received the diagnosis our hearts were shattered. Our dreams of what the future would look like for our child were completely altered with this diagnosis. Instead of being able to watch Parker play baseball, we were told he may never walk. Instead of having meaningful conversations with our son, we were told it was likely that he would never talk. Everything seemed so grim and hopeless as they went on to explain all of his limitations and what reality will look like.


But it didn't take long for Parker to blow past those limitations. Each day it seemed he would do things that the doctors never expected of him. Despite his limitations, Parker has excelled and reached milestones we never knew were possible. His determination and drive to reach the next milestone have surprised us and he is the happiest little guy around.


After Parker was diagnosed we found out that because this was a recessive genetic disorder, each pregnancy has a 25% chance of having Joubert Syndrome. Knowing our chances, we were undecided as to if we would have any additional biological children. Our decision was made for us when we found out we were expecting again in January of 2012. This pregnancy was not planned, but we were estatic about growing our family.


With this pregnancy we did some prenatal testing. Some blood work, ultrasounds and lots of doctor appointments. During all of our testing it did not appear that this baby was affected with Joubert Syndrome, so we remained cautiously optimistic. We were optimistic that their findings were true, however, we did know that there was a chance they could have missed seeing something and we wouldn't know for sure until the baby was born.


Lane was born on October 18, 2012 and was a happy and healthy baby! He showed no signs of Joubert Syndrome and was developing and growing as a typical baby would. It wasn't until about 6 months old that Lane started to fall behind in his milestones. We voiced our concerns to doctors but because there was no other symptoms or signs indicating Joubert Syndrome, the doctors didn't feel he had it. It wasn't until he was 10 months and continuing to fall behind on his milestones that the doctors finally ordered an MRI and he was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome as well.


We went from having no kids and dreaming of a future with lots of healthy babies, to suddenly facing reality of life with two boys with special needs. Lane's diagnosis was devastating in the fact that we had been told and believed for so long that he was unaffected, that when we finally were told the truth it was hard to shift your mindset.


The biggest obstacles both boys seem to face is the low muscle tone (hypotonia) and coordination. At almost 4 years old Parker is not yet walking independently, and Lane at 19 months is not yet crawling. This makes for a lot of physical labor on our part, but with the help of occupational and physical therapy and equipment like walkers, compression suits to activate muscles, and various other items, both boys are making huge strides in gaining independence and acquiring these skills. They are extremely bright little boys and amaze us every day at how much they know and are learning.


Needless to say, raising our children has taken us on some different paths than we expected. But those unexpected paths have been some of the greatest blessings we could have ever imagined. Celebrating milestones are such a big deal because they are so significant, life takes on a new meaning, and our purpose as parents has changed and shaped us into better people. The smiles these boys give us and the love they share is deeper than anything we could have ever imagined.


We try to raise them as we would any child, but have to take into consideration their specific needs in different circumstances. We still put them in new situations, leave them with babysitters, and have high expectations of what they are to achieve. Because if we don't believe they can achieve it, then who will?


We've learned to advocate, to teach, to extend grace, and to grieve as we are walking this unexpected journey.



It may not be the journey we would have chosen for our boys, but we cannot help but feel like the luckiest parents in the world and know that our boys are set out to do big things for this world!


You can follow our journey at

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A Dance With The Devils

Posted: 18 Jun 2014 08:04 AM PDT

Passionate Belgians fans gathered in the Sportpaleis Arena in Antwerp, Belgium to watch the Belgian national football team play in the World Cup. The event was called "Dance with the Devils". The Belgian team played Algeria for its first match. The action was slow in the first half of the game, but once the first Belgian goal was scored, the energy picked up. Towards the end of the match, Dries Mertens scored in the 80th minute, and the arena exploded with cheers. This picture is of the celebration at the end of the game where the crowd danced to Netsky's techno music set.

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Deployed Superhero Daddy

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:11 AM PDT

My Husband SSG Michael DeGeorge is currently serving his third Deployment. He has dedicated many years to serving this Country and I have had the honor of standing beside him and supporting him throughout it all.. We have four amazing Children all with special needs and my Husband has balanced the needs of his family and the military so courageously and effortlessly.. Even being thousands of miles apart he is still the first person I seek out and his positivity brings a sense of calmness to the chaos around me.. During his deployment our Children would undergo surgeries, hospitalizations, and countless appointments and a lot of setbacks, and he made me feel that I was never alone throughout it all. I felt him with me even being a world apart.. He is an amazing NCO to the Soldiers he leads.. A wonderful loving and supporting Husband, and the best Father in the World.. Homecoming countdown is in full effect and I can't wait to finally have my Husband home and for our kids to have their Daddy...Its been a long Deployment!! And I just want to say Baby Thank you for all that you do for all the sacrifices you make and for being the Amazing Man that you are.. You are appreciated more then you will ever know.. And we love you more then there are words to describe... And remember I love you more!!!!

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Special Needs Parents Group Wants Feds to Reschedule Cannabis

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 03:38 PM PDT

For many with the Parents Coalition for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis life doesn't revolve around soccer matches, dance recitals, and play dates. It's consumed by their kids' violent seizures, trips to the emergency room, and now – trying to convince the federal government to remove cannabis from the list of banned Schedule 1 controlled substances.


Schedule 1 is reserved for drugs the United States government says have no medicinal value and are too dangerous for use, such as heroin and LSD. Yet, these parents question cannabis's restriction among such harsh drugs, given research from other countries suggests the plant may be a safe and effective treatment for a host of conditions, including epilepsy. They watched Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN profile a child whose intractable seizures reduced significantly when taking Charlotte's Web, a non-psychoactive hemp oil extract high in the substance cannabidiol, also Schedule 1. They read the report from Stanford University on epileptic children using the oil that suggests side effects are minimal to none. With time working against their own children, this group of special needs parents from across the country decided to take action.


These parents believe the solution lies in the removal of cannabis from Schedule 1, which would allow medical research on the plant in the United States. They say Schedule 3 or lower is ideal because that would enable regulation and safe access. President Obama and Congress each have the authority to reschedule cannabis, but neither appears willing to make the move.

"The government believed synthetic THC was okay to schedule in the class with Vicoden, Schedule 3, but when the rest of the plant is added to it, the non-psychoactive components, it gets put with heroin and LSD.", said Dr. Thomas Minahan, an emergency room physician from Corona, California whose epileptic daughter, Mallory, experiences dramatic seizure reduction on the oil. "As a physician, I know this plant has medicinal value; we need to research it. If the scheduling could be changed, we could do the necessary studies. If the scheduling was changed, thousands of kids' lives would improve. The financial benefits for insurance companies and parents would be astounding."


Schedule 1 status has also proven problematic to places trying to implement state sanctioned medical cannabis programs. Since the plant is still federally illegal many doctors, hospitals, and universities in legal states refuse to order these products for patients, fearing licensure risks. They only want to use FDA approved cannabis based medicines, but research and development of such drugs for epilepsy could take years.


"The fear of living with refractory epilepsy is not something people should have hovering over their days in the sun, especially when there is such a promising, natural treatment on the horizon.", said Annette Maughan, President of the Epilepsy Association of Utah and mother of an epileptic son. "While politicians regurgitate the same unsubstantiated rhetoric, parents are holding their children for the last time. Instead of mothers putting their daughters' hair in pigtails, they are taking clippings of it as keepsakes. Fathers who should be using their hands to play catch are using their hands to lift their boys' caskets. This is life and death and it is very real to us."


In Kentucky, where the state legislature voted unanimously to legalize Cannabidiol Oil this year, parents have been unable to obtain it for their children. Neurologists Dr. Chris Shafer and Dr. Karen Skjei expressed their frustration to Louisville's WFPL citing, "federal prohibition of the oil" among a list problems delaying access to product in that state.


It is much the same in Utah, where similar legislation was enacted earlier this year.


"Utah lawmakers sent a strong message with HB 105: let the doctor and the patient or caregiver decide what treatment option is best, and if that includes an oil from cannabis then so be it; we will not be involved.", said Maughan. "Our Department of Health is developing a program with us, and yet our doctors are being told that there still may be ramifications because it's all Schedule I."


Nevertheless, the Parents Coalition to Reschedule Medical Cannabis remains undeterred. These mothers and fathers have beaten the odds before, helping pass medical cannabis legislation in their home states. The group operates from sheer will to save their children and no budget. It meets with federal legislators and is participating in an Epilepsy Foundation sponsored letter writing campaign to Attorney General Eric Holder. The parents also plan to take their cause to the nation's capital later this year.


"We are parents of children with devastating illnesses.", said Jill Swing, a lead Coalition organizer from South Carolina. "We are fighting for better quality of life for our children. We will not stop until this plant is federally legal for medical research and compassionate use. That means rescheduling."

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Adopting From Foster Care - What is it Really Like?

Posted: 15 Jun 2014 09:53 PM PDT

Before adoping two awesome kids who came into my life through the foster care system, I had this idea in my mind that the whole ordeal would be kind of like what happened in Annie. We would just be handed a precocious, well-adjusted child that we would rescue from their dire straits through love and perseverance and possibly a few well-timed choreographic musical numbers. The truth is that it's infinitely more complicated than that, although it is equally thrilling and wonderful – minus the giant mansion and, sadly, Punjab. We could all use a little Punjab in our lives.


So, if there is someone you know (maybe you?) who is going through – or considering going through – this glorious insanity, here are some things to keep in mind.


1. I am my children's "real" mother. My husband is their "real" father.   People, I know what you mean when you ask who their "real" mother is. I get it. In the minds of a non-adoptive parent, especially a woman who has birthed babies out of her own loins, motherhood means that your ovaries made an egg, which was fertilized and grew within your own womb, and then pushed out of your nether regions. But please understand that biology isn't the trump card in motherhood. I didn't give birth to my kids, although not a day goes by that I didn't wish I could have had that experience. Instead, I met my children when they were toddlers. I worked at my relationship with them – not through biology, but through sheer determination. I became their "real" mother, and even though it didn't happen at birth, it happened. I am real, we are real, this is real. Really.


2. Their lives and their circumstances are private. A lot of adoptive kids have stories that aren't easy to tell. I may choose to share some of the details, in broad strokes, but this is their story to tell – if and when they choose to. Most of our close friends and family know the quick and dirty about what our kids' lives were like before coming to live with us. We're not ashamed of them and we don't pretend they grew up in a golden castle with a snow leopard as a pet and had nothing but loving, magical experiences. On the contrary, we accept and recognize their past. We just don't want to explain it to everyone we meet.


3. Sometimes, we need to do things a little differently. There is no such thing as one size fits all parenting, we all know that. What works for one kid or one family might not work for others. But, sometimes, kids who have come from really shitty experiences may need things that kids who don't come from really shitty experiences may not. It's that simple.


Yeah, you don't let your kids graze for snacks between meals. That's awesome, and I'm glad it worked for you. But my kids? Food wasn't always a constant in their lives, and so providing it is a form of trust. Letting them know it's always there is important. You put your kid to bed at a certain time and then don't let them leave their rooms? Okay. But my daughter needs to know that someone is there, because she was left alone so much as a baby. She needs me to lie with her and rub her hair until she falls asleep, even if it takes an hour. And, so, that's what I do.


At the end of the day, we all want our kids to be happy and healthy and safe. Adoptive parents sometimes take a different path to get there.


4. Kids adopted from foster care aren't messed up kids. An idea exists about kids in foster care – that they're completely and totally damaged. They'll steal from you. They'll hurt you. They'll reject your love and ruin your life because they're just rotten to the core. Someone messed them up, and now they'll be that way. Forever.


Let's get real for a moment here. A lot foster children have come from extremely difficult circumstances. Abuse of all kinds, neglect, exposure to drugs both in utero and during their daily lives, squalid conditions – it happened. And those sort of things have a profound effect on kids, even if they were very young when it occurred. Their minds may or may not have memories of what happened, but their bodies always do. Sometimes these circumstances lead to difficulties in their lives – difficulties in forming relationships, difficulties with trust, and, yes, as a result there are sometimes difficulties with behavior.


That being said, there is no such thing as messed up kids – there are just kids that come from messed up places.And that's where we come in – their adoptive families, friends, communities, schools, churches, neighborhoods. We come in and we love them and we care for them and we do everything we can to make this part of their lives as amazing as we can. We show them their worth, help them learn to trust, and provide the stability that serves as a foundation for healing.


Love works, but not by itself. These kids with messed up circumstances need support, guidance, stability. Sometimes therapy. The road there isn't always paved with gold and lined with daisies, but the road exists. They just need someone to follow them down it.


5.Nothing is different. Everything is different. Nothing is different. Adoptive families are families, and for the most part we operate in the same way biological families do. Sure, some things are different by design, but we just want to be treated the way we feel – like normal, everyday, crazy, complicated, normal groups of people who love each other. I don't know of any families that have adopted who introduce their children as "my ADOPTED son…." or "my former foster child, now adopted…" Please don't ever introduce us as such.


6. You can't replace relationships. Not ever. This has been one of the hardest things for me to accept. Subconciously, I viewed myself as a replacement Mom to my kids. Oh, that lady who used to be your Mom? She didn't do a good job, so I'm here now, and I love you, and it's all good! But it's not that simple. I can't ever replace the woman who gave birth to my children, and I don't want to. No matter what happened, no matter how things were, she is the woman they bonded to when they first entered the world. She is the woman who gave them life. I am not her substitute, I am not her replacement. I am the mother who continued to give them life, who nurtured them next, who will see them into their future. And that is enough.


7. Adoption is born of loss. As wonderful and beautiful and amazing as adoption is, it starts with a loss, especially in foster care. A mother and father lost their children. Grandparents lost their grandchildren. Siblings are separated. My children lost countless family members, most of whom they will never see again.


Early on, I let anger rob me of my empathy. It was their birth mother's fault that she lost her kids, why should I feel sorry? If any of those family members wanted the kids, they would have stepped up to the plate and taken custody, why should I feel sorry? The truth is that it's always more complicated than that, and assigning blame might feel good in the moment, but ultimately it will just crush all the good we've worked so hard to build up. As a mother, I feel like I want to claw the eyes out of anyone who has ever hurt my kids. As a human being, I know that forgiveness is about letting go, recognizing the loss, and working to heal it.


8. This is work. Imagine if the moment that you met a new person – literally, the first moment you laid eyes on them – you were expected to live with them, trust them, rely on them for your every need, respect them, bond with them emotionally, and follow their rules. This is what children in care go through when they're placed in a new foster home.


As adults, we don't build relationships that way, not even friendships. We start small – "Hey, let's get a coffee!" and then we get to know each other before we care, trust, and love. Kids in care don't get that luxury. They are thrust head first into new places, with new people, new rules. Sometimes they're in a new town. They sleep in unfamiliar beds in unfamiliar houses and eat unfamiliar breakfasts at unfamiliar places.


I get chills when I think about how terrifying that must have been for my kids, the first night they spent our home. It takes work to build trust, especially with kids who are scared, alone, and confused. You are strangers, in a strange world. They have no reason to depend on you, and every reason not to. As new foster parents, our kids were just as foreign to us as we were to them. We didn't know them. We spend so much time worrying about their health and safety, shuttling them to doctors appointments and therapy and speech evaluations. We introduced ourselves by our first names.


And so we worked. We worked on building a relationship. We got to know the kids; what they liked and didn't like, what they needed, who they were. We continue to work - to iron out the kinks that hold them back emotionally, to prove to them that they are safe and loved. We will always work.


9. You are important in our children's lives. Yes, you. You, and everyone around you are essential in the upbringing of kids who have come from care. Every single person they meet will have an impact on them, positively or negatively. See, when kids are just learning to trust and love and be comfortable again, every single person they encounter can have a profound effect. Thanks for being so awesome.


10. You can do this too. Promise. I can't tell you how many people have told my husband and I that they admire what they do, but could never do it. And to each and every person who has said that, my response has been the same: sure you could. Being a foster parent or an adoptive foster parent is, at its core, very simple. Anyone who has ever parented has already done what you need to do. Can you make a kid feel safe? Provide for them? Care for them? Advocate for them?


There are over half a million kids in foster care across this country this year, and not enough families to take them in. Chances are that you have what it takes, you just don't know it yet. Choose to make a child's life extraordinary. Be a foster parent.

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