Water towers and off days.

I admit it.

I’m having an off day (week, month…). Things seem much harder than they really are. I have no energy to be creative or even friendly. I would actually just like to stay in my yoga pants, curl on the couch and watch a marathon of An Idiot Abroad.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere.

Like I said, I’m having an off day (week, month…)

I just spotted something on Facebook that brought back a flood of bittersweet memories.

Two words.

Water Tower.

Many moons ago, we lived in the tiny town of Smithfield VA. Known for Ham, History and Hospitality. (…and for the reek of the slaughter houses a few miles up the road….but you didn’t hear that from me.)

The two years we lived there were pretty darn rough. Hubby was deployed most of the time and Faith was sick quite a bit. Not like “cough, cough” sick. I mean “first name basis with the PICU nurses, inpatient for weeks at a time” sick.

It was also during this two year stretch that Faith was diagnosed with autism.

With 6 years between now and that moment….

…..the time standing still, I know she’s a little quirky, and for the most part only repeats lines from TV, and spends a lot of time flapping her hands and rocking, vomits when she touches anything with the texture of yogurt, and she poo paints, a lot, but what the heck do you mean she has autism moment?

Anyway, looking back, I can finally see some humor in our time in Smithfield.

Faith has had some pretty interesting obsessions over the years. Some memorable ones have been a spatula, a bar of soap and water towers.

Oh she loved water towers. Any size, any shape. Water towers were the highlight of her day. Luckily we had one right by our house.

When she would spot a tower, she would begin flapping her hands and making “Eeeeeeeee! Eeeeeeeee!” sounds. She would smile so huge that you couldn’t help but smile with her. She was 3. She had almost no communicative speech. But she could make everyone in the car with her laugh at how excited water towers made her.

During the time we lived in VA, we became water tower experts. We could plan a trip anywhere in area making sure we passed at least 3 towers each way.


The time we lived there I was miserable, depressed and always felt like a black cloud hung over my head. I was so happy to leave Virginia. I just plain did not want to ever look back on our time there.

Yet today I did. When I spotted the words “water tower” on Facebook.

Not only did I look back, I looked back and felt a flood of good memories.

The girl, she loved those towers. And she was so damn cute when she spotted one.

So maybe, just maybe, at some point in the future I will look back on this time fondly also.

Thursday Tirade

(I know, I know….It is supposed to be Thursday Thinking)

(But I’m riled up.)

(When I get riled up, it’s better for me to come here and vent instead of eating Cheetos.)


Morning Rant:

While trying to subscribe Faith to a monthly craft service, I had to lie about her birthdate in order to have the developmentally appropriate items sent.

How about instead of relying strictly on birthdate, allow parents to choose the level?

I feel like I’m denying Faith all the amazing progress she HAS made when I have to lie and say she is only 4 in order to have the proper items sent.

Rant Over.

Changes for Lea Kaydus – Pepsi Pups

Way back in August, when we first really began finding the inconsistencies in the myriad of stories told by Lea Kaydus, we tried to find anything that was verifiable. We made phone calls to check what we had been told, to find a small shred of truth to hold onto. One of the things we looked into was Lea Kaydus’s LinkedIn profile. It’s public information that she, herself put out.

Oh, she was acting director of finance at SPARC! You know, the Springfield, IL chapter of ARC.

Well, that was reassuring! She was acting finance director of SPARC.

Except when we called to verify, they HAD NEVER HEARD OF HER.


From here you know the story. Blah, blah….lies, more lies, cover up, more cover up, disappearing acts, dropping off the grid, pointing fingers, not my problem, too bad – so sad, sit down and shut up. (If you would like to read about it: Pepsi Pups Posts )

Recently I happened to look at it again. Something was different this time.

SPARC was now linked to something else.

Well….what do you know?? THAT explains it. No wonder no one knew of her or had any records of her ever working there. She DIDN’T mean she worked at the Springfield area ARC chapter! Sheesh. Since that would have been untruthful….

She worked at SPARC! Just give the linky a click and it takes you right to the company….the right one. Here you go:

OF COURSE! See, she wasn’t being untruthful. She worked for the government of New Zealand!!

No wonder she passed her due diligence from Global Giving and they had no hesitation handing her $50,000! She worked for the government of New Zealand!



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!*

Happy Birthday to ….. Pepsi Pups

Last year – yes it has now been a year, when we began the process of applying for a service dog from Animals For Autism (also known as Siberian Snow Babies) we were matched with a beautiful pup. We excitedly looked at the information about this amazing puppy who was about to change our lives.

It was fate!

Her birthday was 03/07! That is Jimmy’s birthday! Today!


This little puppy, who we were instantly smitten with, shared Jimmy’s birthday!

It was meant to be! This beautiful girl was to be ours.

She was perfect! We memorized everything we could about her.

"Bella" at 6 weeks

We put her picture on our phones so we could show complete strangers in the Target checkout line. We made her picture our screen saver so we could see her when we walked by the computer. We put her pictures on Faith’s iPod so she could scroll through them. And she did. Several times a day.  We sent in our monthly payments of $750. We talked about Bella. We loved Bella. Today should have been her first birthday.

Too bad she never existed.

Oh, as a dog, she existed. She is a real dog. But she was not born 03/07/2011 as stated.

"Bella" with date info

She was born 03/24/2007

The dog my daughter fell in love with, that we all fell in love with, did not exist as we were led to believe she did.

None of the Pepsi Pups existed.

"James" the free service dog

And neither Pepsi or Global Giving see anything wrong with this.

So today, instead of wishing the dog we fell in love with a Happy Birthday,  I am saying goodbye to the dream that began 1 year ago.

Guess what I have?

The past year has taken a lot out of me. Time that I will never get back. My health has suffered. The stress has taken a toll on me and my family.

If a few parents could find the truth about Animals For Autism in a couple of Google searches, there is no way that Pepsi and Global Giving did not also find it. They have been given information since August. To know that a person is lying, and those lies are being upheld by 2 huge companies, backed by money and lawyers, destroys something. I don’t want to call it “innocence” but I can’t think of a better word right now. Until last year I believed that people were good. That people worked for truth. That honesty would always win. That as long as I told the truth, I would be heard.

I was wrong.

Right now, I feel like my innocence has been taken from me. My health has been taken from me. My money has been taken from me. My belief in the good of large companies has been taken from me. My belief that when a scam is revealed, that it will be stopped, has been taken from me. A year of my life has been taken from me.

But…guess what I have?

I have my integrity. I have my clear conscience. I have the knowledge that when I saw a wrong, I tried to make it right. I do not have to go back and erase things or cover up things, because when you tell the truth, it stands for itself.

And no, I will not sit down and shut up.

Video from Florida family – Pepsi Pups

Tonight on the 5pm news in Tallahassee Florida, the Pooser family told their story.

This Animals For Autism / Lea Kaydus / Pepsi / Global Giving mess stretches from one end of the country to the other.

Click through for the article and video.

I just wish the families could find some resolution. A SAFE resolution.



Why I’m mad – With a video at the end. Pepsi Pups

I’m not going to recap our entire story here because it is laid out very well in the rest of the Pepsi posts in this blog, news articles and newscasts. What I would like to do is share with you WHY I am so dagnabbit angry. (Ok, This is probably going to be a lengthy post, but at least watch the video at the end…)

Below is an email that was sent by us in mid-January, asking very specific questions. They are not difficult. They are actually very basic questions that I feel the families who are considering allowing a dog from Lea into their homes deserve to have answered. We have heard from many legitimate, long standing service dog organizations and all agree that these questions are easy to answer. And yet to date, they have not answered A SINGLE ONE.

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

Not a one answered. As far as I am aware, not one family has heard from Lea.

Not. A. Single. One. 

However as of this morning Global Giving did send out this email: (Bolding is mine)

From: no-reply@salesforce.com [mailto:no-reply@salesforce.com] On Behalf Of Donna Callejon
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 9:41 AM
To: c******n@satx.rr.com
Subject: In response to your email

Thank you for your email. We are definitely aware of the concerns raised by a few of the families involved in the grant you reference, and are monitoring it closely. We are happy that at least two of the families involved appear to have received training dogs through other programs, achieving their original objective.

The outcome of the program is not determined at this point. To clarify, we have no agreements with the families and are playing a role specific to monitoring the grant agreement on behalf of Pepsi. We have been in touch with the families that are still part of the program to the extent they wish to be in contact and continue to encourage more communication between the grantee and the families with whom she has agreements.


So, now this isn’t Global Giving or Pepsi’s problem??? “no agreement with the families”  When the families first became uneasy, back in AUGUST. Our phone calls and emails to both Global Giving and Pepsi were brushed off. The answers that the families received from Terri M. at Pepsi and KC E, at Global Giving were “We have thoroughly checked her out and she is highly qualified” “It is an honor to work with her” “You just have a personal problem with her” “How hard is it to train a dog” “She is legitimate” “We stand behind her” They, who obviously messed up the due diligence and dispersed funds to someone incapable of following through with the VOTED UPON grant. You gave her legitimacy. By the families trusting YOU and your due diligence process, and your WORD, we have lost 7 months of time that could have been spent on a wait list or raising funds for a legitimate service dog.

As far as I know, one ONE family has been blessed with a new route toward a service dog. That route was provided by a legitimate service dog organization who felt terrible at how awfully these families are being scammed. They saw the signs that you are still failing to see.

Note the embedded data - 2007

This is the dog my daughter was promised when Animals For Autism won the grant in May 2011. Bella.

Bella became her lifeline. She loved Bella. Bella was to be her best friend. Too bad the picture that my daughter grew to love was taken in 2007. “Bella” does not exist.

But Pepsi and Global Giving assured everyone that it all is good.

Even as Lea lied and then disappeared. It was all good, we were just trouble makers. Maybe we are, but this is why:


I had to tell this percious little girl that “her Bella” was not coming to our home. I had to break her heart.

That is why I find this whole thing despicable.

If you would like to show your support, you can sign our petition here.

Sign it, share it. Pepsi Pups Mess

Please consider joining me in boycotting Pepsi products (I do already, but I’m asking for others to do so as well) for these 4 reasons: 

1) Pepsi and Global Giving approved a Pepsi Refresh project that never should have been approved—to fund the placement of Siberian Huskies as service animals for autistic children by an organization that was deceitful about their nonprofit status (they are not a legal charity). Siberian Huskies are not an appropriate breed of dog to be a service animal for autistic children, but the general public and families involved did not know this.

2) Upon winning the Pepsi Refresh grant, Pepsi and Global Giving changed the terms of the grant and instead told the owner (Lea Kaydus) that the money could only be used to build structures (kennels, building, etc,) and not fund the training of these dogs for the families who were already chosen to receive them. These families not only bought Pepsi products to get more vote codes, but also had their families and friends donate money to the supposed organization to help fund the training. Since then, the lady has taken the money and “run”. Literally. She has built a big new building and continues to SELL puppies via the internet all over the world; but refuses any contact with the families that were supposed to receive the Pepsi pups. Essentially, Pepsi funded a puppy mill.

3) Pepsi and Global Giving are aware of all of this and have done nothing to help the swindled families. These families have huge medical costs and the emotional/physical strains of parenting autistic children. I guess that means that Pepsi and Global Giving thought they wouldn’t be able to fight back, and Pepsi has only “lost” $50,000, so it doesn’t seem to be a big enough deal to them to make this right by the families who were scammed. Please, help me make them “lose” more. Do not buy Pepsi products. If you read the linked blogs and news articles, you will get to know most of the Pepsi Pups families. They are good people who have been terribly scammed. Read them here.

4) The final reason is that Pepsi products aren’t good for your health, anyway, so joining me in this boycott is beneficial to you as well. 😉 xoxoxo






Stop covering up – Pepsi Pups

Even if you are sick of reading about this mess, please read this.

Want to hear something that sent shivers down my spine in light of how hard we all have been trying to raise awareness of the dangers of placing dogs trained, and I say trained very sarcastically, in homes with autistic children? Children who are unpredictable and often cry, flap and poke things.
In the past 4 days, two children have been KILLED by Huskies. TWO CHILDREN KILLED.
Why are you not listening to us, Pepsi and Global Giving? This is not a joke. It is not a game to be “won”. This is lives of children. We already know Lea Kaydus has lied about so much, including her previous training and placement history. ONE dog has been placed by her, and that dog was so poorly socialized and untrained that the family had to start over with a new dog.
Today I would like to share with you a post from a fellow Pepsi Pup family, Speaking4Sam
Standing Up For What Is Right….
February 18, 2012

Wondering what is going on with the Animals for Autism/Pepsi Refresh mess? The answer is nothing. Animals for Autism has pulled their facebook page (their website was already pulled down). Other than a mass email sent to some of the families weeks ago with no answers to anything, asking us to REQUEST our dogs if we still want them, no further contact has been made.  According to the last we heard from Global Giving and from Ms. Kaydus, dogs will be ready  for “delivery” starting this spring. I am not sure what the term “delivery” is supposed to mean. I have an image in my head of somebody driving by the homes of the children and pushing a dog out as the driver continues on. I am also unclear as to what kinds of dogs will indeed be available since they have not discussed training details with any of the families. Unless there is some mind reading powers I am unaware of, it seems impossible to train for a child’s specific needs without ever talking to the families about what those needs are.

It is now the middle of February. Flower bulbs are coming up in my garden as even the earth makes preparations  for the coming of spring, but preparations for service dogs remains unknown. Pepsi and Global Giving are sitting back hoping everyone just forgets about it. Other than my son (through the generosity of 4 Paws for Ability), it looks as though the children are going to be without the service dogs their families tried so hard to provide them with. Pepsi’s funding of the facility continues despite the fact that the families have been forgotten.

It seems as though the bad guys may indeed have won this particular battle. The ugly fact is we live in a fallen world, and sometimes bad things just happen to good people. It is not fair, but it is life. Despite that, I serve a God who remains in control and He has not forgotten these children. Perhaps things have not turned out the way we all would have liked, but the sheer fact that all of the families involved have been made aware before actually taking an untrained dog into their homes is indeed a sign of God’s protection.

A child with autism is already at a heightened risk for things like dog bites  (Siberian Huskies rank #4 as the breed most likely to bite) because of their unpredictable sounds and movements that could easily spook a dog that was not properly bred and trained to work with such a child. Our children could have actually been placed in danger from taking one of these dogs. One of the things most of the families were counting on in a service dog was for the child to be able to be tethered to the dog when out in public, so as to help prevent the child from wandering off, but still give them a bit more independence by allowing them to walk with the dog and adult team rather than ride in a special needs stroller. Can you just imagine an untrained dog out in public tethered to a child and seeing something as simple as a cat that it would like to chase? The results could have been disasterous. What about a child having a meltdown, screaming, kicking, hitting their head on the floor because the world has become too stressful and a dog sits there beside them…  an untrained dog that has not been properly breed or even socialized…… As terrible as all this has been, it could have been much worse.

So what now? Some of the families have been burned so badly in this that they have decided they will no longer pursue a service dog at all, others are making preparations now to find another organization and sit on a waiting list for years. Some are making plans to raise needed funds, a difficult task for families that had already asked their communities to support them when they were raising funds for a service dog from Animals for Autism or for families who were publicly portrayed as receiving a free service dog already.  Almost a  full year has been wasted for some of these families. A year that could have been spent obtaining a real service dog.

Why we are we all so upset with Pepsi and Global Giving? Because they changed what the funding was to be used for and when we brought our concerns to them, they assured us everything was fine. They told some of us we  simply had a personal problem. I myself was actually told by a Pepsi representative that they were, and I quote, “honored to work with her.” They told us to just sit and wait…. And be quiet. When the truth came to light, they covered things up rather than admitting a mistake. They are large organizations. They are hard to fight. They have millions of dollars at their disposal. We are just a handful of special needs families. The odds are on their side, but sometimes standing up for what is right is not about winning or losing…. It is about what is right.

My family is boycotting Pepsi. I ask for the rest of you to join us in this boycott . Until Pepsi pulls their funding from this “project” and stands for what is right, Pepsi will not enter my home. I have seen in the news other projects where they retrieved their funds, so they can do it in this case as well.

I am just one, but this one can affect another one who affects another one, and together we CAN all demand better for the families in this mess. I was just one when I voted for Lea Kaydus to get a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Program. She needed my help then, and I made a difference (an action I regret in that case). Hopefully this time I can make a difference for something good. Perhaps it will not matter to Pepsi at all, but at the very least, I will take a stand for what is right. I will be saying to my son and the other children involved…. You matter to me. After all, the children are what this was all supposed to be about.