Lost – Possible Reward

There has been a feeling creeping in on me for a few weeks now. It has been coming closer and closer. Until this morning I didn’t have the exact wording for the feeling.

I feel lost.

Not in a “Where did my GPS lead me this time?” way. (Mine has a sexy Australian voice. I tend to just listen to him talk, not actually pay attention to where he is leading me…but I digress)

In a “Where is Allison?” kind of way.

I have spent so much time over the last 20 years being what I thought everyone else wanted and needed me to be that I have lost sight of what I want to be. Of who I am.

A mom? Well yes, I am a mom. I enjoy being a mother most of the time. But that is part of who I am, not who I am.

A wife? Well yes, I am a wife. I have a wonderful husband who is my partner in almost every sense of the word. But that is part of who I am, not who I am.

A daughter? Well yes, I am a daughter. I have parents, step parents, in-law parents. I am certainly a daughter to many. But that is part of who I am, not who I am.

A sister? Aunt? Cook? Housekeeper? Friend? Blogger? Tweet-a-holic? Teacher? Tired? Lupus patient? Failed gardener? Reader?

I have lost me. If asked to define who I am, I would only have a blank stare to offer as my answer.

If you find me, please leave a comment. Possible reward.

In which Global Giving blatantly disregards a basic request

I don’t even know what to say. Global Giving is refusing to answer even a single question that the Pepsi Pups families have asked. Not. A. Single. One. And they are blatantly disregarding our simple request for communication in writing. They have begun calling the families and demanding that the families provide an answer of yes/no to being in the Pepsi Pup program BY FRIDAY. Without answering a single, simple request for more information.

Below is a post from Stinker Baby:

AND IN THIS CORNER

Recently, this whole Pepsi Pup mess has taken on a new level of ridiculous.  The “Powers That Be” in this drama have gotten out their big brooms and are looking for a ginormous rug.  Instead of answering even one of our requests in our response letter (found here: letter in which we ask simple questions and clearly ask for written contact), Global Giving representatives have begun calling the families and telling these parents they need an answer by the end of the week.

Um, what?
The families are being required to request to stay in the program?  And instead of answering any of our questions (Not. Even. One.), we’re supposed to just trust what they say?  Yeah.  Right.  Any other service dog organization would be happy to answer those simple questions immediately and, most likely, we would not have had to ask in the first place.  But instead, our requests for written contact are ignored, they are refusing to answer even one of our simple questions, and the demands are being placed on us.

Instead of a simple apology or an admission of…gasp…an honest mistake, they’re ready to take it to the mat.
Well, AFA / Pepsi / Global Giving…Since you’re obviously looking for a fight, you should get to know your opponents.  We’ll start with just two so you can really get to know these foes.  Maybe you’ll be able to find some weakness you can use to your advantage.  Are you ready?  Take notes!  You might need them.
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Meet Faith C. from Washington.  I’ll let Faith’s mom, Allison (who also blogs at Mommy Rambles), tell you about her amazing daughter in her own words.  Take it away, Allison!
Faith was born in Charleston, South Carolina. She was a much anticipated, most welcome addition to our family of five. Her brothers and sister anxiously waited with friends while Mom and Dad went to the hospital. All was well, with everything right on schedule as we checked into the hospital. I could say that everything else went without a hitch but that wouldn’t be entirely true – shortly after her birth, Faith stopped breathing and was resuscitated by our delivery nurse. We still vividly recall her call for help into the intercom. During the first several weeks, we noticed that Faith wasn’t nursing and was developing a full body rash that would not go away. We switched from one formula to the next, trying everything we could, but with no luck. Allergy testing revealed life-threatening allergies to dairy, soy, egg, wheat, corn, oat, peanut and all tree nuts. And through it all, she fought on. Just when we thought we had a handle on our daughter’s medical issues, we were given the news that she had suffered a stroke just prior to birth as the developmental and physical delays became more and more evident.
She began a rigorous therapy program to include Early Intervention services and private Physical and Occupational Therapy. Each developmental step achieved, each milestone gained, was a blessing. We truly did not know what the future held for our little girl. Our daughter is still a medical mystery. She has many diagnoses, among them Autism, mild hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, hemi facial micro soma, global developmental delay, Familial Mediterranean Fever Syndrome, left ventricle hardening of her heart, reduced kidney function and kidney scarring. She has recently graduated from being G-tube fed. It has been quite the journey so far, a scant 7 years and yet through it all she has brought so much joy and happiness to our world. During hospitalizations she was known to bring her nurses to tears with her thank you’s. Her heart goes out to those she feels are hurt or abandoned.
We recently visited her grandparents. During our visit the inevitable meltdown occurred. The complete change in routine was just too much for her to handle. Within moments Grandma’s dog, a sweet little corgi, is over by Faith. A few nuzzles, some nudges and the meltdown begins to subside almost as quickly as it had started. Watching the interaction between animal and child made us realize how important it could be to Faith.
You might be wondering what a service dog would do for a person, let along a child with autism. For many disabled people, service dogs bridge the gap of disability and ability. Service dogs help their human partners become more independent by providing assistance walking and navigating their environment, retrieving dropped items and returning them, helping to open doors, providing a sense of security by acting as a barrier between their partner and the rest of the world. They also provide emotional support when needed most; interrupting self-harming behavior, alerting others of wandering, and easing transitions by providing a constant calming presence.
Here we are, with this loving child who wants nothing more than to be part of the world as best as she can. She becomes easily tired, wants constant contact with her Mom or Dad (mostly Mom – Dad is an active duty Navy Submariner) who becomes overwhelmed if presented with too much unknown all at once. She is a creature of habit, with a strict adherence to the plan as it is laid in her mind. A buffer, in the form of someone familiar, helps to ease her fears. And this is where the service dog would begin to make the greatest impact. Allowing her the security to transition between the familiar and that which is new, giving her the additional support to keep moving forward, the extra hands to recover those things that she could not hold.
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Meet Caleb from Florida.  The pediatrician tells me that he’s going to be about 6’2″ when fully grown.  I’m torn between pride and terror.  At 5 1/2 years old, he’s already big for his age and getting stronger every day.  And, good grief, is he fast!
We are desperate for a service dog because Caleb is a wanderer.  I wish I knew the thoughts or feelings he has just before he bolts, but I don’t.  And he’s unable to tell me.  I’m unable to walk from the front door to the mailbox without Caleb escaping and running right into the street.  We have high locks and DIY alarms on the doors at home.  And yet, he is so incredibly smart that he figures out ways around them.  I remember one time, I dared to use the bathroom while home alone with the kids.  (I’m home alone with them most of the time while my husband is in nursing school.)  All the locks and alarms were set.  When I walked back into the living room, I was met with silence.  The kind that makes your blood run cold.  The kind that means trouble.  I called for Caleb with no response.  Again and again, I called his name, thinking that even if he was in the next room, a chance of response was slim.  That’s when I noticed the front door lock was open.  I ran out and found Caleb and his two-year-old sister roaming the front yard.  He had managed to get the high lock open by opening and closing the door in rapid succession.  I didn’t sleep for a few days after that.
He’s been in four schools in the last two years.  He has escaped from every single classroom until his current placement (a contained ESE classroom with a 1:2 ratio of adults to students).  At one school, gates were installed halfway through the year.  I can only imagine that we might have had something to do with that decision.
The last time I attempted to run errands on my own with both kids, I decided to make one of those “normal” memories and take the kids to McDonald’s for Happy Meals.  Caleb had had a much improved day at school and I wanted to reward him.  While I was struggling to get both kids and the tray of Happy Meals to the table, Caleb broke away from me.  He ran down an aisle of occupied tables towards the exit.  Not one person tried to stop him.  Not one person attempted to help.  I was faced with the decision of leaving my two-year-old daughter alone inside McDonald’s or my five-year-old son running into traffic.  I caught up to Caleb just in the nick of time, right at the curb as a giant SUV came tearing around the corner of the building.  I walked back in to get a scared and sobbing Grace and we walked out, leaving our “Happy” Meals right where they sat.
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These are just two of the children of the Pepsi Pup fiasco.  There are 11 more.  I hope to feature all of them as their stories come in.  And as tempting as it is to play by the rules of others and just show 11 pictures of the same child dressed in different  colors, I won’t insult your intelligence.

United response from the Pepsi Pup families (And why I have a headache)

Over the past 6 months, I, and all the other families, have been raising concerns and asking very specific questions. The replies we get are full of plenty of words, but never an answer. And each family has been told a different story. They range from “The dogs are in shelters because I could no longer afford to feed them” to “Everything is great, the training is right on schedule!” Those two statements were given to different people on the same day. Below is the letter from Lea, our united response to it, a letter from Global Giving (in which they still don’t get it) and our response again. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a moment to read. 

HERE IS THE LETTER LEA KAYDUS SENT TO MOST OF THE FAMILIES:

Over the past several months, there has been a lot of misinformation shared about my Pepsi Refresh Project, and I regret the heartache that it has caused you and your family. I am sorry that I was not able to be as communicative with you, the person this grant is meant to benefit, as I would have liked. Many of your concerns about the animals could have been alleviated during this journey had additional lines of communication been in place. We live in an “off the grid” location, and unfortunately getting an internet connection took far longer than anyone could have anticipated. While I am grateful that my internet access has been recently restored, I am a bit old fashioned – so even with email and Facebook restored, phone remains the best way to reach me. I would enjoy speaking with you at any time, so please feel free to call me at 217-415-4868.

I would like to assure you that absolutely no grant funds are missing, have disappeared or been misappropriated. After I became a finalist for the Pepsi Refresh Project, the Grant Administration Agent, GlobalGiving, and I structured my project plan and budget to cover tangible expenses associated with raising and training ten autism service dogs. This meant building a facility designed to accommodate the individual training necessary to making sure that the dogs are ready to go for your child. The grant agreement I have with GlobalGiving outlines this, and the expenditures are being monitored and reviewed by the grant administrator on a regular basis. Although the line items on the project budget have changed from my original program proposal, the result remains the same. The grant is being used for the placement of service animals with eligible families who applied and elected to participate. The grant status has always been and remains in good standing, and I am moving forward accordingly.

Please know that I can empathize with you. I applied for this grant as an individual, and not as an organization. As such, all participants are being served by me, and not by a nonprofit. I care deeply about the safety and quality of life of children with autism, as my inspiration for this project was driven by my own experience raising my beautiful daughter who has autism. I have seen the incredible difference our huskies have made in her life, and I am impassioned to share this with other families who might be able to benefit from a service dog as well.

Regarding the photos of the animals, all pictures were taken in 2011 or later, and they are photos of the actual animals who entered and continue to be trained in the Pepsi Refresh Grant program. The most recent pictures posted are also of the actual animals, and they are not random dogs. I will happily share photos of your individual pup – something that has not been easily accomplished until now. I realize how important it is for you and your child to see your dog, and I would love to do that for you and send them to you individually. I would also like to plan a moderated conference call every month with you, the other Pepsi families, and GlobalGiving to discuss the progress that the dogs are making. Hopefully this will help everyone be on the same page surrounding the next steps in getting you your service pups. I am still planning to place the dogs beginning this spring. Each dog will have a slightly different timeline, and we will still require at least 20 hours of one-on-one training when you come to pick up your service dogs.

While it is my deepest hope that you will remain in our program to receive the pup we have here for you, I understand that you may not feel comfortable continuing as part of the Animals for Autism project. In respect to all who will benefit from this program, may I ask that you please reply to this email to declare your intention to remain in this program, or if you’ve decided this is no longer the path you’d like to take so that I may find another family. Please feel free to call me with any questions you may have before you make your decision, and I sincerely hope you will choose to receive the service dog we’ve been training for you.

Again, I welcome any questions you may have and I thank you so much for your patience. Please call me at 217-415-4868, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Lea Kaydus

THE PEPSI PUP FAMILIES UNITED RESPONSE:

Dear Lea, Global Giving and Pepsi,

We are grateful to have some form of communication from you; however,
we are sad that this came about only after many months of asking and
waiting. It is disappointing to all of us that communication was only
initiated after significant media attention. We all expect a fully
trained and suitable service dog for our children, reserving our right
to move forward and comply with investigations currently underway or
opened in the future.

Due to lack of consistent answers when posed a question, a history of
lack of communication and removal of Animals For Autisms website, we
feel there has been a major breech of trust. We are offering a chance
to re-establish some trust by once again asking a few questions.
Before we commit to any answer regarding our place in the program, we
would like to have our questions answered.

1. We would like the easily verifiable canine training credentials of
Lea Kaydus and each individual trainer who has contact with the dogs.
These dogs are possibly coming into our homes and we have a right to
know the specific verifiable credentials of those training them.

2. We would like to know if during the 5 months Lea Kaydus was “off
the grid”, did she maintain contact with Pepsi and Global Giving?

3. We would like to see the line by line budget of what exactly
Pepsi’s grant is funding. Many of us feel very deceived since we voted
for one grant (training fees) and only much later found out that it
had been switched after the voting ended.

4. We would like to know specifically if Pepsi and Global giving are
concerned with the safety and appropriateness of the service dogs
attempting to be placed with our children, as promised in the original
voted upon grant, or if they are only concerned with the “facility”?

5. Was there a service dog training expert on hand during Global
Givings inspection that took place 01/23/12? If so, who was it and
what are their credentials?

6. We would like to know the verifiable age and the sire and dam (with
AKC numbers) for each dog that began training. We would also like
immunization records from a third party veterinarian for each dog who
entered into service dog training and we would like the current
location of each dog who entered into service training including phone
numbers of any shelters utilized.

7. We would like to see a video showing all the dogs together,
introduced individually, with a demonstration sample of training
achieved in the past 9 months by each dog.

8. All the families that paid money into the program would like the
requested, but still not received, financial statements stating what
came in and from whom, with full amounts listed.

Being “off the grid” does not trump basic decency. There are many
other ways to keep in touch, none of which were exercised.

We kindly ask for your response to be in written form so all families
are told the exact same thing and for easy referral in the future.

Thank you for your your time and attention to this matter,

The Animals For Autism Families
Pooser Family, DeWitt Family, DiRedo Family, Andrade Family, Creighton
Family, Williams Family, Johnson Family, Spencer Family, Ristau
Family, Podkowka Family

GLOBAL GIVING WRITES BACK:

Please give us a call anytime on Monday between 9 am – 5 pm Eastern. 202-232-5784. Please tell whoever answers that you are calling regarding the Animals for Autism project so that we can transfer you to the right person. Thank you! Global Giving

OUR RESPONSE:

I would ask that someone within the addressee of this message take notice of the line “We kindly ask for your response to be in written form so all families are told the exact same thing and for easy referral in the future.”
Response may be sent to pepsipupfamilies @ gmail .com
Otherwise it is my belief that you intend to continue along the path we are currently on with no care for our concerns.

A letter to Global Giving and Pepsi

Followers on this blog know that I have been voicing my concerns about Animals For Autism since August. Our concerns have been brushed aside by Pepsi and Global Giving. After all “How hard can it be to train a dog?” and “You must just have a personal problem with Lea Kaydus.”

I will be the first to admit that I was a total novice going into this mess. I was naive. I overlooked glaring red flags in my hope to help my daughter. 

Global Giving and Pepsi seem to be doing the same. 

Red flags. They are all over this.

Today I would like to share with you a letter sent to both Global Giving and Pepsi by another Service Dog Organization. This organization has seen first hand the results of “Animals For Autisms” attempt at placing a service dog. Are you listening….?

 

I am writing you on behalf of the community of true service dog providers for children with Autism and the ten children scammed by Ms. Kaydus (who also goes by 3 other names). I know that it was the intent of your company with this grant to do something good, to make a difference, and certainly not to do harm. I believe you are good people, you must be to offer up so many wonderful grant opportunities for organizations needing funding. I imagine, you had no idea what would happen when you made your grant to Ms. Kaydus, and no concept of what service dog placement truly is, what it typically costs, what is involved, and what breeds are most often used. I am sure her proposal sounded like a wonderful thing, to take 10 puppies and raise them up to be life changing service dogs for 10 children with Autism! What a noble endeavor. I know your hearts were in the right place.

What I am having a difficult time with though is what is happening now. I am certain you have seen the stories on the news; heard the anguish of the families given pictures of puppies that were promised to them as service dogs. Pictures of puppies who did not even exist, at least not as the puppies she was promising for one if the pictures was several years old. I wonder have you seen that she pulled her website from the internet? Have you read about the families plights? Do you know they have been calling and emailing Ms. Kaydus to find out what is happening with no response at all? Do you understand that some of these families have even given their own money to Ms. Kaydus and will never see it again nor receive a service dog as promised?

I believe you are intelligent people. Take some time and google Lea Kaydus and read the many new stories and postings from the heartbroken families. Please pay attention to the letters and emails you are receiving from those of us in the community who make the placements Ms.  Kaydus was promising in a correct manner. Do some research. Google Autism Assistance Dog and call the agencies which come up and ask if they would use a Husky as a service dog for a child with Autism or any disability or for that matter, any type of service dog work at all and see what the answer is. I can assure you it will be no. Ask them what the cost is to train a service dog appropriately and you will get answers from $10,000 up. It costs our agency $22,000.00 for every dog we place.  Ask the agency if they can raise one litter of 10 puppies and have every puppy graduate as a service dog. I can assure you even with the best breeding program they can’t be sure the dogs will all graduate. We place over 100 dogs a year and must maintain more than 200 dogs to do so with quality placements.

I hope that Ms. Kaydus did not intend to do harm. She loves her dogs and does not look at her dogs and breed with an open mind. I do know though of at least one placement she made having taken $3,000 from the family and placed an under socialized dog, afraid of everything, and with little to no training with a disabled teenager who had serious mental health issues. I am also working with one of the families who was scammed by her. We are providing them a dog and asking nothing from them in return. I wish we had the resources to help all 10 families. Please consider taking this grant you hoped would do so much good for these children and giving it an agency who can now offer hope to these families. I know you would like to see the faces of these children when they meet their new service dogs, true, well trained, quality dogs for the first time. Help us to help these children by putting your money to good use with an agency who can actually do good and not bring more harm with your funds. Building Ms. Kaydus a facility will only bring even more pain to future families who put their trust in her, I know you do not want to see that or have your name associated with such bad press. Do something good with your money as you intended and let one of us who has a good track record bring a smile to your face and good press for your name.

Please know I am not writing this email hoping you will in turn offer the grant to our organization. We have 13 years of stability behind us and while we as all nonprofits need funding, I am not asking you to provide us any funding. My only intent is that you take an honest, open look at Ms. Kaydus and her service and do not continue to support her. I wish she was the only illegitimate agency out there providing poorly trained service dogs to people to gain a buck but unfortunately she is not. If Ms. Kaydus has anyone who is truly a client and not just a friend pretending to have a dog from her offering support, the family has no idea what a quality trained service dog is and what they can do. I say this because I have seen firsthand the type of dog she produces and am dealing now with one of the families whom she threw to the wayside after making promises she now has no intention of keeping. Honestly, they are much better for having been tossed aside because now they will receive a true, quality trained service dog from our agency. Had Ms. Kaydus delivered one of her husky’s to this family it is at best certain that the dog would not have been a true quality trained service dog and at worse that the child may have been harmed by the dog. This breed has not been bred for such a highly specialized field as Autism Assistance Dog work.

I know mine is not the first correspondence you have had begging you not to help Ms. Kaydus bring harm to even more families already struggling to raise a child with autism. Please listen and learn from those of us taking the time to try to reach out to you and educate you on why it is wrong at every level to support this woman. She simply does not have the experience, the knowledge, the education, nor the ethics to be working with these families and training service dogs. Please do some research and if you can find it in your hearts, please help the families she has already harmed.

With respect,

Karen Shirk, Executive Director 4 Paws For Ability, Inc.
Service Dogs for Children with Disabilities!
253 Dayton Ave. Xenia, Ohio 45385 karen4paws@aol.com
937-376-2781 937-374-0385 937-708-6677 937-376-2720 Fax
www.4pawsforability.org www.4pawsdogs.org

 

No winners

In some “battles” there is no score keeping, no one-upping, no points for the wittiest comeback.

In some “battles” the participants are children. Children who sometimes can not even speak for themselves. Who need help from those around them to speak up when something is wrong.

Because they can’t.

To make standing up for a child who is unable to do so into a win-lose situation is wrong.

In some issues there is no winner or loser. For the ones who have “lost” have nothing to lose. They are simply amazing children who have been dealt an additional roadblock called autism.

It’s beginning to look a lot like… #Cbias #Searsrealcheer

Several years ago I found an amazing artificial Christmas tree at an after Christmas sale. It was 7 ft tall and so life-like. And it was 75% off. It was poofy and full and green and I love it! At that time we had a house with a huge living room. The tree worked beautifully.

Then we moved. The tree wouldn’t fit in our other house’s living room. But the library! It worked wonderfully there. It fit and looked amazing.

Then we moved again. No library. Our living room is open but oddly shaped. We still made it work by only assembling part of the tree and placing it in a corner. But…it felt pretty cramped and it didn’t look as pretty. We made this work for 3 years.

But this year, I’m just not feeling it. We have to make a change. I usually put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving. We usually all pitch in and decorate together reminiscing about the ornaments as we hang them up. It is now mid December and it’s still not done. My motivation has left the building.

We looked at narrow/slim Christmas trees. They look like they would work, but I don’t really want a second tree. I love the one we have, it’s just not working for us right now. We also know this is our last Christmas in this house. I don’t want to buy a tree to fit here, when I know next year we will be living somewhere else.

I have also been missing South Carolina quite a bit this year. I’m missing warmth, and white sand beaches. When I spotted this, I KNEW what we were doing this year!

I’m going in a whole new direction this year! And I can incorporate this palm tree into my year-round decor. Score! But….I need decorations. Not my usual ones. This tree calls for new ornaments. Happy ones. Maybe pink, green and blue. And more lights!

One thing I just found out is that Sears has a huge holiday decorating section. Did you know that? I didn’t. They are also having some amazing sales right now! I also learned about  this Sears website, http://realcheer.Sears.com. It has great inspirations for Christmas decorating. You can even upload your pictures to help inspire others. They have fresh, live trees and greenery and they even have a new Platinum shop that has amazing, unique ornaments.

I’m really excited to get some new and happy decorations for this palm tree. I’ll post again in a week or so to show the final result!

{This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias All thoughts and opinions are my own.}

A 2nd look at Lupus from #Clever2ndMD #spon

Thank you to 2nd.MD for providing me with a $200 stipend to test-drive this revolutionary online medical service.

It’s no secret to my readers that I have Lupus.

Lupus is bullshit. In a normal body, the immune system is an amazing machine. It identifies bad stuff (virus, infection…) and attacks it.

Bing. Bang. Pow. Done.

In a person with Lupus, the immune system thinks it’s own body is the bad stuff. The immune system launches an attack on the offender. It’s self. And it sucks. Sometimes it attacks the skin, sometimes the kidneys, sometimes even the brain.

My Lupus, that I have nicknamed “stupid lupus” or SL for short, thought it would be awesome to go after my brain a couple years ago. Whoa nelly, that was some fun.

Seriously, that was a bad time. Luckily I have a really great, traditional doctor that has been on this SL road with me for the last 4 years. He recognized what was going on and quickly sent me off to UW for several other consults with the top docs in the area. They all worked together and halted the damage SL (or in this case Central Nervous System Stupid Lupus) was doing to my brain.

Unfortunately, they way they stopped the attack on my brain was by using a super-strong, ninja-kick-your-butt immunosupessant. Immunosupressants work just like they sound they would. They suppress your immune system. Which is awesome if your immune system is busy kicking the crap out of your brain. Not so awesome in day to day life when surrounded by sneezing kids and coughing adults. The immunosuppressant I am currently on also has the side effect of making me feel like I am always sick to my tummy. Not cool.

I love my doc, I really do, but he is very traditional. He sticks with what he has worked with for a long time and feels comfortable with. It is also somewhat awkward to bring up different therapies with him. I have been on my ninja-kicking immunosuppressants for 2 years. And at times I wonder if I am always so sick because of them. I am ready to try something new, but I wanted to have more information before broaching the subject with my current doctor.

When given the opportunity to try 2ndMD, I jumped at it.

The concept is simple. Video appointments with top doctors around the country. No referrals, no traveling, no long waits. Log on. Make an appointment, see your doctor!

Check out this video: Peace of Mind – http://vimeo.com/24934042

I made my account, logged on and looked at the available specialists for Lupus.

After reading the extensive bios for each doc, I chose Dr. Chaudhary. Making my appointment was simple. I chose the times that would work for ME, then I received an email letting me know which of MY available times would also work for the doctor. Talk about convenience!

I logged in to the virtual waiting room on the day of my appointment and at 2pm right on the dot, Dr. Chaudhary appeared on my screen.

I was having a virtual doctor appointment! Dr. Chaudhary asked several questions and listened to each of my concerns. He was calm, patient and explained several complimentary therapies I could try. He even suggested an antiacid taken with my ninja-kick med. Simple. He brought up a couple supplements I had not thought to try. He asked about diet, about my sun exposure (a no-no for lupus) and exercise. He also discussed a couple other ninja-kick medications that would have the immunosupressant power but might be easier on my tummy. The entire conversation was calm and low key. I felt very comfortable with the process.

I logged out of the 2nd.md website after the appointment and almost immediately received an email notification that Dr. Chaudhary had posted a note.

After my appointment on 2nd.md, I have several new ideas and options that I will be bringing up with my regular doctor at our next appointment.

My appointment had a fee of $120. That seems like a lot until I really thought about it. We live in a somewhat rural area. Most specialists are in Seattle and a trip over to see the specialists = all day trip. Here is a breakdown: Gas $15.00, ferry fee to and from Seattle $25.00, lunch $25.00, babysitter since I won’t be back to meet the bus $15.00, co-pay of $30.00. That’s $110 and a whole day wasted!

I would not hesitate to contact 2nd MD in the future for a specialist consult.

My John Hancock

Thank you again to 2nd.MD for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about 2nd.MD. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own. #Clever2ndMD #spon

We are wild and crazy around here

A local carpet store went out of business. They were selling off the carpet samples for $1 each So I went and bought 20.

What? Wouldn’t you?

We are currently about a year from owning a home again. Homes come with fun things like renovations. Usually (for us at least…) renovations mean decisions. Do we want this color or that? This faucet or that? This carpet or that?

The problem with “this carpet or that” is you don’t have much to go on. You can run you hand over it. If the sales guy isn’t looking you can grab the sample, toss it on the ground and stomp on it a couple times. Not that I have ever done that.

:looking innocent:

But what about the REAL stuff. How does it look covered in dog hair? How does it look when you don’t vacuum? If I dump red popsicle on it, how easy does it clean? And for those of us with sensory affected children…how does it feel under foot. While barefoot? While in socks? While wearing shoes?

We, being the wild and crazy family we are… Cough…. Took this opportunity to grab a bunch of carpet. Different textures and colors. Then I tossed them out and we went about our lives.

I had my favorite, Jimmy had his, Faith even had hers.

Over the weeks, one became a clear  favorite. It didn’t show cat or dog hair. It was just the right amount of soft. It vacuumed great. It cleaned up fantastic. And….. it was one NONE of us would have picked.

I realize this doesn’t sound very wild or crazy but if you ever get a chance to grab some carpet samples, try it. Especially if you are not in the middle of renovating.

And now Jimmy is making scratching posts for the cat. 😉

My John Hancock

Sharing a cup of joy and a giveaway #PeetsCoffee #Cbias

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to try Peet’s Coffee for the first time. That stuff is GOOD! Now, just in time for the holiday and for gift giving, I thought we would give Peet’s Holiday Blend a try.

You can follow along on my shopping trip HERE.

Once I had this yummy coffee in my hands, my next mission was to try and figure out for whom to make a gift of coffee.

You know how I love my coffee.

And I love giving gifts.

Giving the gift of coffee? Yes please!

Gosh, who can I chose to give a gift of coffee to? I want to give the gift of Peet’s Coffee to more than just one person.

What if instead of giving the gift of coffee I gave the gift of something made with the coffee? Then I could give the gift to many people!

Yes!

I am going to make Peet’s Coffee shortbread cookies. Can you say yum???

I have all my ingredients, ready to go.

Look at this amazing Peet’s Coffee! I wish you could smell this!

Have you ever tried the ziplock method? Talk about easy!

Cut into cute squares. The coffee is so aromatic, it really smells amazing while baking.

Cooling. It wouldn’t hurt to sneak one… Or two….

Packaging up, with cute ribbons.

I can’t wait to hand these out! Peet’s Coffee makes more than just a great cup of coffee, it is perfect to cook with!

Would you like to win a Peet’s Coffee gift pack worth $75?? I thought so….

Mandatory Entry

Hop on over to Peet’s and then come back here and tell me what blend of Peet’s you would most like to try. (One entry per person)

Extra Entries

“Like” Mommy Rambles on Facebook then leave me a separate comment below telling me you did so. (one extra entry per person)

“Share” this giveaway on Facebook  using the buttons below. Then leave me a comment below telling me that you did. (one extra entry per person)

This giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 9th, 2011. I will use Random.org to chose a winner from all comments. Winner will be contacted. Even though there are several #PeetsCoffee giveaways are running right now, each person can only win once in the #PeetsCoffee Holiday giveaway.

“This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias However all opinions and yummy cookies are my own”

My John Hancock

Reach for the sky!

This past Sunday we did something I did not think we would ever be able to do.

We reached for the sky….

When our oldest three children were younger, we thoroughly enjoyed attending events and special productions. Fireworks, movies, concerts, even amusement parks. It was fun for all of us and made for some amazing family memories.

But then Faith was born and things got a lot more complicated. Suddenly we had to factor in so much more into “simple” family fun.

Would the time interfere with medication schedules?

Did it involve any waiting?

Loud noises?

Bright lights?

How fast could we get out if needed?

One of the places you DON’T want to be with a child in sensory overload, screaming, thrashing, and vomiting is on a tiny passenger ferry in the middle of Charleston Harbor. Trust me on this one.

Faith is 8 now and we have made some great leaps this year. Her ability to reason has increased greatly. Imaging trying to reason with a 2 year old and a 3 year old. You can fa-get-ta-bout-it with the 2 year old, but you might, just might have a slim chance with the 3 year old. This year Faith has been more like a three year old.

When we were given the chance to see Disney on Ice – Toy Story 3, my knee jerk reaction was “No”. We don’t DO things like that.

But then a tiny, probably heavily medicated, part of me thought….”Why not try….?”

We chose not to tell Faith about our upcoming adventure. We know that time is very hard for her to understand and if she is anticipating an event, it becomes an obsession. She will hyper focus on the event and to be honest….make it pretty miserable for all around her.

The morning of the event (We chose the 11:30 showing since it would not interfere with any medications) we told her that we needed to get dressed and she needed to choose a few toys to take in our special travel bag because we were heading to the city. We reassured her that we were not going to the doctor and that it was just a fun trip. She willingly got in the car – that can be a challenge at times – first hurdle cleared!

She was anxious during the ride to Kent because going in the car on a Sunday morning is not part of our normal routine.

The drive to Showare Center is about 1 1/2 hours. Right at the very end we began to lose her. She was starting to stim and repeat “comfort” phrases. That usually means we are at critical mass and about to explode. Right as she began make the squeaky noises that we know precede a full blown meltdown she spotted this:

“It’s Jessie! It’s Woody! It’s Buzz! Mommy look! Look! Look!”

As we pulled into Showare, we hung Faith’s handicap tag up and were immediately directed to the handicap parking. Easy and fast. As we stopped, a parking attendant approached the car to make sure we were ok and could handle unloading. What great service! At this point we chose to not bring in Faith’s wheelchair. The distance to the door was manageable and we felt that Faith was rested enough to manage that walk. We walked to “Will Call”. It was a very short, easy to manage walk and we encountered no line.

However, by the time we reached Will Call, Faith was struggling. At that point I asked at the window if we could change our seats to ones with no steps to help Faith as much as possible. I offered to show the ticket person our disabled card but she didn’t need to see it. After a small switcheroo, we had our ADA seats and we entered.

The lights and noise and general commotion caused some hesitancy at first. Faith was moving slowly and seemed very anxious.  In order to refocus and direct her I used the old parenting standby…..the bribe.

Look! A Jessie dolly! Just what you were going to ask Santa for! Would you like one? 

She handled the commotion around the vendor very well and even, with some prompting, asked for the Jessie all by herself.

Jessie in hand we resumed our walk to our ADA seats. The directions and signs were very clear and we found the right section with no issues. As soon as we showed our tickets, the usher walked us right to our area and made sure we had what we needed to be comfortable.

At this point she was calm but it became apparent that we were on thin ice. Lots of yelling, excited children, vendors walking around with spinning lights and food, loud music. Faith began to hyper focus on the hats for sale. It seemed that every kid there was either wearing a Woody or a Jessie hat.

“Where’s my hat? Mom? Where’s my hat? Dad? Where’s my hat…….”

Don’t judge me.

When the lights went down, she reached for my hand. Scared but excited. The bright lights were not too much of a distraction and while they did move around a lot, did not seem to bother her as much as I thought they might. The music and voices were at a loud, yet tolerable level. She only had to cover her ears a couple times. And her wonder….her wonder was infectious.

“Look! It’s my toys! They came to alive!”

My only real complaint about this entire day is this….this picture below is what the view is for a handicap child who is unable to stand up for any length of time. This is what Faith’s view was:

The ADA seating was right at the ice, however there were several additional rows of seats actually on the ice. And the children in those seats, like the rest of the arena, were encouraged to stand and dance part way through the show. Once they rose from their seats, the ADA seating was blocked. Faith was able to see tiny snitches and glimpses of the show, but since she was unable to stand, she mostly listened.

The voices were dead on for the movie and the story line was right on with parts of all three movies. The special effects were fun and not scary. The “fog” was not overpowering and did not have a funny smell. The cast tried very hard to engage the crowd and made a point to wave and smile at the kids (who could see….).

As we exited she saw a flyer for Phineas and Ferb On Ice. A little voice beside me asked….”Can we see Perry?”

Maybe kiddo…..

{disclosure: Mommy Rambles was given tickets to Disney on Ice – Toy Story 3. However I was not asked to write a review and all thoughts and opinions are my own}

My John Hancock