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.

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.

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.

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

Holiday sendCheer(ios) – part 2

I found them at WalMart!

After learning all the details of the Cheerios sendCheer campaign, I knew we would be participating. We headed out to our local Walmart to try and find them. Our first stop was in the cereal aisle. The specially marked Cheerios boxes were right on the bottom shelf. They were at a great price also, $3.00. Think about that for a moment. By spending $3.00 on a great big box of Cheerios, and sending in the postcard, Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO! That is awesome!

We also found them on the end of an asile.
Cutting this out takes less than a minute!
Easy-peasy!

I asked for the kids help. I wanted to know what we should write to another military family. I think we came up with exactly how we feel, and we let Faith choose some decorations. :)

Ready to go!

If you missed my first post and are wondering what this is all about, here is the quick rundown:

This fall, 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.

I had planned on coming up with a fun recipe to make with the Cheerios. Maybe cookies? Granola? Energy bars?

Riiiiiiiiiggggggghhhhhhhttttttt.

Do your kids do this?

Cheerios don’t last long in our house. But usually they make it longer than two days. Sheesh. Do your kids do this?

Pretend this is a picture of cookies!

If you would like to find out more about this awesome campaign and find out more about Cheerios and the USO, click below! Keep your eyes open at your local Walmart and pick up a box! Bring a smile to a military family’s face. Do it!

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

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

What is sexy?

No worries, the blog you know and love has not taken a…ahem…different turn.

And yes, this question is relevant to a mommy blog.

What is sexy? Where does it come from?

I think the definition of sexy changes during different parts of our lives and changes based on our own experiences. I also think where  we think it comes from changes.

To one person, perhaps a girl in a bathing suit is sexy.

To another, maybe sexy is defined by a woman in a stained bathrobe rocking a newborn at 3am.

To a third, it may be the gray haired gentleman helping his wife out of the car.

Right now, at this moment in your life, what is sexy?

My John Hancock

 

Yes or No?

Do you like me? Circle one!
Yes
No

Did you ever get a note like this in school? No middle ground there. Either you mark yes or no.

In the grown up world, there is gray. There is compromise. The best relationships thrive on compromise. You want this. I want that. We meet in the middle. We take turns. We each give a little. My husband and I have been blessed with almost 12 years of practice at compromise. We do it well.

Your turn, my turn, let’s meet in the middle.

Am I always happy? No.
Is he always happy? No.

But we usually are. And we are solid.

That’s why I am at a loss right now. For the first time in our relationship, we have reached a stalemate.

We are on opposite sides of an issue. A big issue. There is no middle ground in this one. There is yes and no. Either answer is huge and possibly life changing. There is no compromise.

Magic 8 Ball?

Rock, Paper, Scissors?

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, in a jar?

Have you ever been in a stalemate with your partner? A big one? How did you work through it?

~~~Edited to add: This is not a make or break issue for hubs and I. WE are fine. :) There is just a big decision that needs to be made and we can’t seem to get on the same page.

My John Hancock