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We be rollin….

From here until the end of the year my posts will be pretty sporadic.

Why?

We are moving.

From here <———————————–>To there

We will be living in a hotel until we can close on a house.

(HALP!)

But we are rolling in style.

Check out Faith’s new wheelchair!

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Thinks to be thunk

This is a mentally tiring time for my family.

There are many, many thinks to thunk.

The more thunking we do on our thinks, the more I thinks thunking hurts my head.

So instead of continuing to think on the thunks, we did this:

My co-pilot.

 

Which led to this:

Climb that thar mountain!

 

Then this:

Do little canyons dream of becoming Grand?

 

Next it was this:

    My Dads biscuits and gravy…..true comfort food for my soul.

Then it became this:

Water? Do I see water?

 

Which naturally became this:

Splash!

 

Then we did a little of this:

  No fish were harmed during this excursion.

Then there was some this:

  Words of wisdom.

Which ended like this:

It’s all good. I think.

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Mama and the milkshake

Faith is a child of routine. Of structure. Of sameness.

If she asks for macaroni and cheese, she is asking for Kraft shapes made in the microwave, not on the stove. It needs to be made with butter, not margarine and less milk than the directions call for.

If you change any of that, she knows. And believe me, you will know that she knows.

If she asks for grapes, she means green ones. Not big, not small. Medium green ones. In a bowl.

Not only is she structured in what she eats, she is situational also.

Are we at Los Cobos Mexican restaurant? She eats a chicken taco, no lettuce, no tomatoes.

Chicken taco at home? No.

Are we at Taco Bell? Cheese Roll Up. No chicken taco.

Cheese roll up at home? No.

Are we at Red Robin? Steak fries and a vanilla milkshake with sprinkles.

You see where I am going with this….certain foods have certain places and ways. She doesn’t deviate from routine.

Today while sitting on the couch, Faith looked at me and asked:

“Mama? I have milkshake?”

Ummm…a milkshake? Here?

“Banilla with frinkles.”

She asked for a familiar item out of its usual context!

Peeps, that is huge.

So I made the best gosh darn milkshake I could.

I first made fresh whipped cream. Then I used super premium ice cream and real heavy cream. I blended to the perfect consistency, topped it with the fresh whipped cream and balanced the sprinkling of the frinkles evenly. I finished it off with a prayer to the milkshake gods.

Then I nonchalantly handed it to her like this was no big deal.

She squinted her eyes, glanced at the milkshake, looked back at me, back at the milkshake again.

Then she sniffed it, turned it around a couple of times, and looked at me again.

I pretended to be reading my book because this was no big deal.

She took a sip.

And another.

Then she said “Ok.” and handed it back to me.

I took the milkshake, the out-of-place milkshake, and took it back to the kitchen…

….where I did a happy dance.

An all over the kitchen, shaking my booty, moves like Jagger happy dance.

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House hunting from afar

Traditional house hunting is a frustrating thing. The endless walk-throughs, trying to find the perfect house. The house that you can picture living for the next 20 (or more) years.

This one is too bright.

That one is too gloomy.

This one smells like cat pee.

That one has a 90 degree driveway.

And seriously, pick the dirty diapers off the floor during the showing unless you are not wanting to sell the house because…ummmm…ewwww.

House hunting when you are a special needs family is different.

First off, when moving across the country, transient or temporary housing will not work well.

Faith does not handle change well. Little changes are huge to her. She once wore the same shirt 76 days in a row. (Yes, I washed it!) She will often go days eating the exact same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner…because change is bad.

Change = not good.

Moving = huge change

Leaving the safe embrace of her home is going to turn her entire world upside down. Staying in temporary housing would make it even worse. Renting a home or apartment for 3-6 months would just mean that she has to deal with “new place” two times.

So we are house hunting from 2000-ish miles away in the hopes that we can find someplace “close enough to perfect” that we can try to make it ours without actually being there. We will try to time the closing with our arrival in hopes of minimizing the number of times that we must uproot and then attempt to resettle Faith.

We need to get her in “home” and begin helping her feel safe again.

Where is this post going?

Here:

People, if you are trying to sell your house…..at least pick the dirty clothes up off the floor on the day your Realtor is coming to take pictures.

And hide the overflowing garbage cans.

For reals.

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Say what?

My daughter has autism.

Most of my regular readers know that.

Autism is a funny thing. Not in a “ha-ha” way, but in the way it presents itself.

Faith is a very literal child. If someone says that it is raining cats and dogs, she will go to the window and expect to see cats and dogs. Because you just said it was raining cats and dogs.

This literal-ness didn’t used to be as big of an issue as it has become recently.

Why?

Because Faith didn’t talk much. And when she did talk, it was very, very obvious that she is developmentally delayed. When you have a child who is very obviously developmentally delayed, people tend not to listen much when they do talk.

I don’t mean that in a rude, or bad way.

It just is.

She was hard to understand, and unless you were part of her everyday life, you probably had no idea what she was saying.

But lately, at 9, her speech is becoming clearer. So she can now hold a conversation, but here is the kicker….

Her comprehension of the conversation is not what you are expecting.

An example that came up today:

Faith was asked at school if she put her book in her backpack.

She said “Yes”.

Faith got home….no book in the backpack.

When the school was called and asked if they knew where the book was at, they told us that they had asked Faith if she put it in the backpack, and she said yes.

Ok, I know my daughter …… so I asked her if she put her book in her backpack at the end of the school day.

To which she said no.

It is not enough to ask a question like “Did you put the book in your backpack?” because if she has ever, at any time put the book in her backpack, she will say “Yes” and mean it.

Because she did. She put the book in her backpack.

Yesterday.

Last week.

Maybe last month.

The way you phrase a question during the conversation will change her response. The clearer, and more direct the question, the easier it is for her to provide the correct answer.

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Spinning

There is much on my mind, but there is not much I am ready to share.

So, instead of a mindless post that does nothing but fill space, I will share my mostest favoritest video of all time.

Just watch

And think.

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We Still “Got Jesse”

Through the course of this past year I have made many new friends. Some of them in pretty unexpected places.

From our very first conversation, I knew I had a friend in Jesse Jones of King 5 News.

Jesse knew we were telling the truth. Or as I believe he put it – we didn’t trip his bullshit meter. 🙂

Thank you for all you have done for us Jesse, but more importantly, thank you for your friendship.

 

Jesse and I yesterday at Waterfront Park.

But Jesse was not the only friend we made from King 5 News. We also met the Amazing Brad. It’s hard to get a picture of Brad because he is always behind the camera himself! Brad won my heart when he was scouting camera angles and I asked “Just don’t use the one that makes me look fat.”, to which he replied “I couldn’t even if I tried.”. Yeah…he’s a sweetheart. 🙂

Thank you for all your patience with Faith and your calm style of dealing with her. It mattered.

Brad doing what Brad does.

So, anyway….King 5 News will be running another update tonight. But, it will not be the last one.

Cheesy Smiles. 🙂

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What $50,000 can buy

Since this Pepsi Pup scam has been hitting the media, I have been getting contacted by people who have had dealings with Lea Kaydus.

Not a single person has had a positive experience.

Ever wonder what you can buy with $50,000 from Pepsi?

A puppy mill! A puppy mill from Pepsi, won by exploiting special needs children.

And even if it was voted upon as training for 10 dogs to be placed with 10 children, don’t worry! Global Giving will let you change it.

No problem. Now you don’t need to worry about those children upon whose backs you won the $50,000. Now you can build a puppy mill, and just call it “the spirit of the grant”!

Wonder what is happening with Animals For Autism / Siberian Snow Babies? Here are some snippets from people who have dealt with her :

“To make matter’s worse, the puppy almost died, it was so sick with worms”

“…none of the dogs there have ever been trained. They aren’t house broken much less trained as service dogs.”

“Lea’s told people the recipients misunderstood her intentions of the grant money.  The service dogs were to be given free of charge but the winners had to pay for training.”

“Never did allow us to go in and see the parents.”

“The weird part was she requested we make the check payable to her husband George Kaydus.”

Want to see what $50,000 from Pepsi buys?

Before:

 

Before Pepsi

And after:

 

After Pepsi

I also notice a new fence. Looking through public records we found the request for a variance to build the fence. That’s a mighty big one. Must have cost quite a bit also. Funny thing is….she couldn’t even afford to feed the dogs. She had to put them in emergency shelters. I wonder who paid for that fence? I CAN afford to pay for food for my pets and there is no way I could pay for that big of a fence.

To responsible breeders I would like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I promoted Lea Kaydus during the Pepsi Refresh Grant. I’m sorry I asked people to vote for her. I’m sorry I voted for her. I’m sorry I used all the Power Codes she sent me to vote for her. I’m sorry.

To legitimate service dog organizations I would also like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry if the scam wrought by Lea Kaydus is calling into question any of your good intentions to help people with disabilities.

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The Punchline

A sailor, a preacher, a nurse and a single mom walking into a puppy mill funded by Pepsi….

Oh, I forgot…

This isn’t a joke.

If you are interested, the actual lawsuit filed against Lea Kaydus dba Animals For Autism (aka Siberian Snow Babies) by the Illinois Attorney General can be read in it’s entirety HERE.

How am I feeling about this?

I don’t know.

At the end of the day, Lea Kaydus gets to keep her puppy mill that she built with the $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Grant.

You remember the grant, right? The one that was supposed to go toward the training fees of 10 service dogs. The grant that was changed AFTER the voting was complete to fund tangible goods like a puppy mill.

A puppy mill, funded by Pepsi, won by exploiting special needs children.

No jokes here.

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Animals For Autism – finally

Approximately 18 months ago, my family thought we had found something that would help our daughter. A service dog from Animals For Autism. Instead what happened was 18 months of stress, anxiety, sadness, and even fear.

Our family and many others were pulled into a scam. A scam orchestrated by a woman, Lea Kaydus, against special needs children. I’m not going to go over every step of the scam in this post, but if you are interested, the chronological postings of what we went through can be found HERE.

Our family, along with almost all the families that we know of, attempted to bring what Animals For Autism was doing to light. We told anyone who would listen. Media, Blogs, the Attorney General and of course, Pepsi and Global Giving.

Oh, how we tried to tell Global Giving.

We presented our facts over and over.

We were brushed off. Ignored. Told that we were wrong. Told that Global Giving and Pepsi were honored to work with Lea Kaydus. Told that we just had a personal issue against her. Told that we just needed to sit down and shut up.

Told that Global Giving stood behind Animals For Autism and Lea Kaydus 100%. That they were happy with how Lea Kaydus had spent the $50,000 they gave to her. That since she “fulfilled the spirit of the grant to the best of her ability”, they felt it was all sunshine and bunnies.

Funny thing is…

When the Attorney General of Illinois saw the exact same facts that were presented to Global Giving, not only were they concerned, they were concerned enough to issue the following press release today:

__________________________________________________

For Immediate Release Media Contact: Maura Possley 

August 23, 2012 312-814-3118 

mpossley@atg.state.il.us 

Follow OAG on: 

@ILAttyGeneral 

MADIGAN SUES ‘ANIMALS FOR AUSTISM’ CHARITY FOR FRAUD 

Attorney General: Proposed Judgment to Require Downstate Woman to Reimburse Families Waiting for Service Dogs 

Springfield – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit and a proposed consent judgment against a downstate woman who cheated families across the country out of thousands of dollars in payments for service dogs to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Madigan filed her lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Glenarm resident Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism. The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Kaydus solicited donations and payments from families in Illinois and around the country to match them with specially trained dogs to serve as companions for their children. To date, Madigan said, none of the families who paid for the service has received a trained dog as promised by Kaydus. 

Madigan’s lawsuit states that Kaydus’ Animals for Autism advertised it would specially train Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies for $3,000 to $8,000 and then pair the dogs with families to assist their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kaydus promised families that they initially would be introduced to their dog in person or via teleconference calls and then would receive frequent updates until the dogs were trained and ready to be placed in families’ homes. 

Families in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, California and Washington sent payments to Kaydus and were led to believe over the course of several months that Kaydus was training dogs to place in their homes. In some cases, families received pictures of puppies, though those images were taken years earlier and depicted dogs that weren’t involved in Kaydus’ supposed training program. One family received a photo of a puppy that was purportedly born in 2011, though Madigan’s investigation revealed the picture was actually taken in 2007. 

Madigan said Kaydus has collected at least $5,190 from families in the scheme. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act against Kaydus and her organization. The proposed consent judgment filed with Madigan’s lawsuit would require that Kaydus provide restitution to affected families. 

Assistant Attorney General Melodi Green handled this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau. 

______________________________________________________

If you think in terms of win/lose, I think this is classified as a win.

But it feels very much like a lose. We lost 18 months. We lost our innocence. We lost our trust. We simply lost.

Thirteen families will never be the same.

Thirteen children were taken advantage of.

And not a single “I’m sorry.”

Pepsi and Global Giving, are you still honored to work with Lea Kaydus?

Chicago Tribune update story

WICS Top Story video

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