A 24 Day Challenge

My weight and I have been in a battle for as long as I can remember.

And it’s not fun.

As an adult my weight has fluctuated between a high of 240 pounds and a low of 125.

I like myself at  about 135. I feel good, my clothes fit well. I try not to go by a number, but that seems to be the weight that I truly feel good. I’m not one to step on a scale daily or even weekly. To be honest, I like to avoid the scale and go by how my favorite pair of jeans fit.

Over the last month or so, I’ve notice that my clothes are not hanging quite right. My favorite jeans a a bit snug. My face looked a bit rounder. I said a quick Hail Mary then took a deep breath and stepped on the scale.

Yea, I put it out there. I’m showing my honest, no fudging, really really true weight.

(covering face with a blanket and whimpering)

Why? Because I have been given an amazing opportunity to try the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. Not only do I get to try, Jimmy gets to try with me! Yay for not doing it alone!!!

Advocare 24 Day Challenge is not a diet or a miracle fat melter.

It is a jump start to a healthier lifestyle.

And y’all are going to help keep me on track! I will be posting once a week with an update of how it is going and my thoughts. Jimmy will be popping in with guest posts also.

I am so excited for my box with all the awesome Advocare goodies to get here! :)

Days 1-10 Cleanse Phase:

The first ten days are about cleansing your body of toxins and preparing for optimal nutrient absorption, and you may enjoy weight loss as well!

Days 11-24 Max Phase

Give your body the best tools you need to achieve your next weight management goal during days 11-24!*

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.

Focus

Today I would like to direct you to an awesome post by Stinker Baby’s Ashley. In the midst of all the pointing of fingers and passing the buck, Ashley is reminding us of what is really the whole point of this. The kids.

Rather than spending time playing Hot Potato with responsibility, maybe some one just needs to step up and get the promised job done in a trustworthy, open manner.

We need a hero.

http://stinkerbaby.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-need-hero-hypothetical-ohhh-snap.html

Read it and pass it around. Maybe someone out there will step up and provide an “Oh snap!” moment.

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

 

My first bloggity thing – part 2. I did it! #ACTIgames4girls

Part 2:

If  you have been following my adventures so far….

Thanks for reading! You are awesome!

BIG GROUP HUG! Mwah!

So, we made it to the Hyatt, handed the (please don’t run out of gas) van over to the valet and after taking a deep breath…walked inside.

We found the elevator and made it to the right floor. Then we proceeded to try and join the veterinarian conference also taking place on that floor.

Uhhh…wrong group.

A very sweet waiter pointed us to the right conference room.

Walking through those giant, fancy-schmancy doors was one of the scariest things I’ve done.

OMG. OMG. OMG. I can’t do this. I can’t not do this. I can’t do this.

Then I’m pretty sure Alane pushed me inside.

 I must have been sporting the “deer in the headlights” look because as soon as Jenny spotted me, she  came right over and gave me a hug.

You have NO idea how much I needed that.

Ok, I’m through the doors, still breathing, I have a few familiar faces….

You know the scene when the new kid goes to the empty cafeteria table? Yeah. That was me.

But it’s all good….because I was there!

Now on to the important stuff, why the heck was I there anyway?

The Activision Games For Girls Summit is exactly what it sounds like. A summit of people, mostly moms, getting together to talk about video games for girls. This particular summit focused on 6 games in particular: LalaloopsyZooblesWappy Dog, ZhuZhu BabiesMoshi Monsters: Moshling ZooSquinkies 2: Adventure Mall Surprize! . I will review the details about each game one by one in upcoming posts. During the summit we learned quite a bit about the positive side of gaming for girls. Some of the facts that stood out the most to me…

  •  Games provide us with the 4 ingredients that make for a happy meaningful life
    • Satisfying work
    • Real hope for success
    • Strong social connections
    • A chance to become a part of something bigger than ourselves
  • Games create a positive mindset and making them more resilient in the face of failure
    • Gamers spend 80% of their time failing
    • We like and trust someone after we’ve played a game with them
    • More likely to help someone in real life after we’ve helped them in an online game
    • 40% of time on Facebook is spent playing social games

(40%????? Really? Wow, that’s a lot of Mafia Wars and Farmville!)

Video games aren’t just hard, they’re adaptively hard

  • Keep people at the edge of their abilities and push them further
  • Adaptive challenge is stunningly powerful for learning, according to John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at MIT.
  •  Faster reaction times
  • Increased hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity
  • Increased spatial skills
  • Ability to divide and switch attention, pay attention to more than one object/person

Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life study (Feb 2011): girls who play video games with a parent enjoyed a number of advantages.

  • Behave better
  • Feel more connected to their families
  • Have stronger mental health
Did you know all that? I had no idea. I just knew that Faith had a lot of fun playing. :)
Watch for some FUN giveaways in the coming weeks!
Want one?
{Mommy Rambles received a bag of goodies at the Activision Games for Girls event. I was not asked to write about my experience, nor was I compensated for this campaign.} 

My first bloggity thing- Part 1 – What an adventure! #ActivisionGames4Girls

Part 1:

When I began this adventure about a year ago, I didn’t know where it would lead.

Faith was in need of a new car seat, but due to her size, she had outgrown all conventionally produced seats. That narrowed my choices from 4000 seats, to about 4 special needs seats.

To be honest, not a one was cute, or looked confortable. But how would I know…..I could not find any real reviews.

“Real-life, this is my kid, in my car and this is what I think of the seat and this is what my kid thinks of the seat.”

If I am spending upwards of $2000 to keep my  special needs child safe, at least give me more information than a boring line-by-line fact sheet. I want to know what other real moms, of real special needs kids, think of it.

I was never able to find real reviews on any of the seats, and we had to make a choice based on pictures.

That got the wheels turning….

I had been blogging since 2005 but I felt it was time to add more elements in. If I was searching, and failing, to find information on how products work for special needs families, it was also happening to other special needs families.

I did an informal poll on my personal blog, and of my Twitter and Facebook peeps. Would a review blog focusing on how products work for special needs families interest you? The response was overwhelming and immediate.

YES!

Armed with that knowledge, and on coffee wishes and valuim dreams, Mommy Rambles began.

I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, I just try and do right by you, the loyal readers who I hope I am helping. I try to show you parts of our life, good and bad, and try to get to know you, my readers.

What this recap is leading into is….. Today I was invited to, and actually attended my first Bloggity Thingy.

I have severe social anxiety. Awful!

I am scared to drive. Terrified.

When the invite to Activision Games for Girls Summit arrived, my first response was ….no. I can’t. I can’t drive there. I can’t walk into a room with people I don’t know. I just can’t.

But a tiny, probably heavily drugged, part of me said….”You have to.”

If I want to keep Mommy Rambles on the right track, moving into bigger and better things, to be able to help you, my readers, find out the information you need, then I need to take the next step. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and actually start meeting people.

This was the perfect place to start. I knew the wonderful lady I was invited by, Jenny. I knew that one of my close friends Alane was going. I could do this…..I could……

Oh goodness…..what did I get myself into?

The day before the Activision Games for Girls Summit, I received the dreaded call from the school. Faith was sick, throwing up, and I needed to come pick her up. Right Now. And she needed to be out for at least 24 hours.

I managed to get our respite care worker scheduled to cover from 9 to 3. Which is all fine and good, but I needed to leave at 8:45 to catch the ferry…. Hubby looked at his schedule and was sure he could sneak home from 8:30-9

The morning of the summit arrived and my tummy was in knots. I was ready to back out. I felt a major panic attack just moments away. 8:30 – no hubby. 8:45 – no hubby. If I didn’t leave at 8:45 I ran a risk of missing the ferry! Full panic starts now. 8:50 hubby calls…stuck at work. (Deep calming breathes….I can do this. No I can’t.) 9am the respite worker arrives. I literally run out the garage door as she walks in.

Crap, crap, crap….I am late. So late. And WHAT THE HECK? My van is on Empty. My GPS says we have 15 miles to go. I’m not proud of it, but I have driven 20 miles with my gas light on before so I think I can make it to the Hyatt 8, then get gas afterwards. Right? Right?

I stopped by to pick up Alane. Knowing how late we were, and how close I was to a nervous breakdown, she did her best to keep the conversation flowing. She also spent the ride to the ferry terminal talking in the “soft, soothing, everything is fine, ooooommmmmm” kind of voice usually reserved for dangerous people holding weapons.

With 2 minutes before sail time, we got through the ticket booth, flew up to the holding line, and watched the gates close.

We missed the ferry!

We did some rerouting, Google mapping and plain ol’ cursing and came to the realization that the fastest route to get us to Seattle would be to just stay right here and wait for the next ferry.

Okie-dokie. Put in a movie for kiddo, got our electronics charging for the trip, got the car warm and waited. While we were waiting, Alane briefly mentioned something about her battery having died in the ferry line. Whatever…my Scarlett had never failed me before. The conversation was good, the tweets were good, the movie was good, the next ferry arrived and unloaded right on schedule. My anxiety level was waaaaay down. I COULD do this.

Then the movie stopped, then my GPS stopped. Oh nooooooooo! 

My battery was dead. In the ferry line. Seconds from loading.

I jumped out of the van and ran to the car next to us. It happened to contain the sweetest older guy. He was so sweet that I want to adopt him and keep him as my grandpa.

He helped us jump the van in literally minutes. Less than 5 minutes later we rolled onto the ferry and were on our way. Thank you Grilled Cheesus, thank you!

I spent most of the ferry ride calming my racing heart and reassuring myself that I COULD do this. Every cell in my body wanted to turn around and just go home, but dang it….I needed to do this to help my blog grow. And make the connections I needed to make in order to keep reviewing the products that my readers are looking for.

As we approached the Seattle ferry dock, the adrenaline started. Would the van start? Would we have enough gas to get to the Hyatt 8? When I reached my van down on the car deck, who should be there? Sweet guy I want to adopt as my grandpa. He wanted to make sure the van started. (Can I please hunt him down and keep him? Does that sound too stalkerish and strange?)

I said a quick Hail Mary and…..Scarlett started right up!

Perfect! This day was turning around! We made it to Seattle, the GPS was locked on to the Hyatt 8, we were only going to be 10 minutes late!

Docked….cars rolling off into the wilds of Seattle….but…our lane wasn’t moving. Dang it people, I have things to do, fears to get over, challenges to overcome…..why are we NOT unloading?

Because the car in front of us broke down.

Of Course.

A multitude of muscular Ferry workers appeared out of nowhere and finally pushed the car far enough out of the way that those of us stuck behind could drive around and off.

Then I was doing it. I was driving in Seattle. Alane did resume her calm speech and helpful directions and…..we made it! We pulled into valet parking, handed over my keys, said another prayer to Grilled Cheesus that my van would not run out of gas while the valet was parking it, took a calming breath and headed to my very first Bloggy Thingy!

My John Hancock

Holiday sendCheer(ios?)

I am a military wife.

My husband is a submariner in the US Navy.

He does what he does because he loves it. I’m along for the ride because I love him.

The life we have chosen is a rough one.

We say goodbye…often.

We move…often.

We spend holidays apart…often.

It’s not all sunshine and bunnies and rainbows and hot guys in uniform.

Sometimes it’s downright lonely. Luckily, being part of the submarine community, we tend to run into the same faces over and over at different duty stations. We also do our best to support each other during deployments. Husbands who are home are sometimes sent to another house to fix a leaky pipe or mow the lawn. But we know the favor will be returned when our spouses are deployed. Support is crucial to keeping our day to life running smoothly. And knowing our “at home” life is supported, our deployed spouse is more at ease and able to focus on the task at hand of protecting our country.

When I first saw the first commercial for Cheerios sendCheer, my first thought was: “What a great idea!”

I hopped online to see what it was all about. The more I read the more I liked it!

Cheerios® and the USO are partnering to send “Cheer” to military families to thank and encourage them for their commitment to our country.  Specially marked boxes of Cheerios cereal will feature “Cheer” postcards, which can be cut out and mailed to military families through a partnership with the USO.  Even more, for each postcard received, Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO to help support programs for military families.  Cheerios has already donated $150,000 and will donate up to an additional $100,000 based upon the number of postcards received by November 30, 2012.

What could be easier?

Buy. Cut. Mail. Support.

Give the linky below a click to learn more about how easy-peasy this is. And if you are on Twitter, you can RSVP for the #sendCheer Twitter Party. During the party we will also share great “giving back” ideas, and give away two (2) $25 Walmart gift cards, two (2) $50 Walmart gift cards, and one (1) $100 gift card to Walmart during the party. (RSVP here)

This post has been compensated as part of a sponsored charitable opportunity for Collective Bias. All thoughts and opinons are my own.

My John Hancock

Do you hear what I hear?

Link to Tempur-Pedic Site

This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic, the brand millions of owners trust to deliver their best night’s sleep every night. Enjoy our Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer now and give the gift of custom comfort to someone you love.

When I walked into the store yesterday I heard it.

Holiday music.

Then I saw it.

Candy canes, red and green M & M’s, twinkly lights….

My instant response? Stress. My blood pressure went up, my head started pounding.

THERE ARE ONLY 50 DAYS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS, Y’ALL!

Ok, stepping back from the ledge and taking a deep breath.

I know that I am not the only one who gets caught up in the stress of the season. I think we all feel it at one point or another during this time of year. Before I go too far over the edge, I thought I would try and find a few little things to help keep me calm and provide some comfort during this crazy season.

1) Coffee. Or tea. (You knew it was coming didn’t you) Making a cuppa-cuppa and slowly savoring it is one of my biggest comforts. Even if it means I have to hide in the bathroom and turn on the faucet so I can’t hear the kids and dog. Even 5 minutes of uninterrupted coffee/tea drinking can make my whole day more bearable.

2) Hiding in the car. Yes, this season is stressful and it is unavoidable that we are all rushing to hither and yon. When you hit the mall and (finally) find a parking spot, turn up your radio and take 5 minutes to sing along with your favorite tunes. Out loud. Lose yourself in the music. I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the mall after that.

3) Bake. Not because you have to, but because you want to. And don’t give it to anyone. During this busy season, you deserve the small comfort of cookies fresh from the oven. Might I suggest hiding them from the rest of the household by placing them in a “Fiber-O’s” cereal box?

4) Try to get a good nights sleep. Those of us with small children may feel as if that is a far off dream…but there are a few things we can do to make the little bit of sleep we DO get more restful. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Limit caffeine in the evening. Make sure the pillows you are sleeping on are the right ones for your sleep style. (Side, back or tummy.)

5) Laugh! Loud and often.

Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic’s Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

My John Hancock