And All You’re Ever Gonna Be Is Mean

My oldest daughter has the most beautiful blonde mop of curly hair.

It is seriously so soft and full of perfect spirals. I’m so jealous of it and I tell her that all the time. I’ve paid a lot of money over the years to try to attain a crown as beautiful.

She’s gotten used to people remarking on and complementing her for her hair over the years. So, yesterday when a classmate asked her if her curls were soft and could she touch them, Emma didn’t think much about it.

Not even when the classmate started to laugh and another classmate said “No, don’t do it.”

Don’t do what?

The “what” was described to me by an administrator at the school as a completely unprovoked and violent tug of her hair. He told me that just watching the video footage of the incident he knew it had to hurt.

This was when he called to inform me about what happened and to assure me that while he couldn’t give me specifics, it was handled.

After discussing it with my child, reaching out to her teacher, and considering the conversation I had with the school administrator, I just find myself so floored by it.

It was, by all accounts, just someone actively choosing to harm someone else. It was just someone actively choosing to be mean. It was just someone actively choosing to laugh about it as my daughter cried in pain.

The sheer cruelty in those facts makes my heart so heavy.

I will never, ever understand no matter how long I live why some people are just mean.

Don’t they know that you will never ever get taller by attempting to make someone else feel smaller?

We had lots of big feelings in this house last night. Lots of them.

This wasn’t a teaching moment I ever would want to have, but there we were.

Our conversation went a little like this…

“Hurt people hurt people. Something is happening in that girl’s life to make her feel like she has to behave this way to feel better about herself.

Her actions and her feelings toward you are not your problem. You are who you are and you are enough.

Do not let it dull your sparkle because guess what? You’re so far above it. You are incredible and wonderful with pretty badass hair.

She’s just mean and that’s all she’s ever going to be.”

Kindness isn’t hard.

Being a good human isn’t hard.

It takes so much more energy to harbor hate and negativity in your heart and to be mean.

That’s it. That’s the message here. Just be kind. This world is heavy enough on its own these days there is no need to add to it.

Just. Be. Kind.

Parenting, Social Media

When It’s Time To Walk Away

As I am closing in on 40 here shortly, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do when I grow up (ha) and what I want my next 40 years to look like.

It is easy to say what I don’t want to fill my time with.

I am finding I have zero time or patience or the mental capacity for fake or surface level connections with people. I could care less about FOMO or trying to keep up with the Joneses (although the Joneses I know are pretty cool people!) I’m done comparing myself, my life, my home, or my children to other peoples. My journey and my life is mine and it is one of a kind. I don’t need or want to do something just because someone else is. I don’t need to keep up with anyone or be better than anyone but myself and how I was yesterday.

One thing I know I need to learn to do more of is prioritize myself a bit more and what brings me joy.

That looks like a lot of different things– making a conscious effort to be more present with my children and husband, being a better listener, worrying less about things I cannot control, fostering relationships better and focusing on the people who truly want to be a part of my life, saying no more, not letting myself bear the weight of other peoples’ judgements of or disappointments in me, and knowing when to walk away from things that no longer serve me.

That said, as some of you know from knowing me personally or just following along here, I am a contributing writer for several other blogs/websites aside from mine.

One such was Toledo Moms.

Toledo Moms was a resource for mothers in the area I live in and I was a contributing writer with them for almost two years before the site retired in December 2021. It has since relaunched as Northwest Ohio Moms and I have since made the decision to end my affiliation with them.

I love to write and I love to connect with others through my writing. Toledo Moms provided a platform for that to some extent and I am grateful for that and appreciative of my chapter with them. However, at this juncture I do not feel it is the best use of my time or writing. What I feel called to write doesn’t feel to me like the best fit for that platform and that is okay. I wish the team who is part of NW Ohio Moms the best, but part of what I’m learning in my elder millennial age is when it is time to walk away and for me, that’s now.

Thanks to all of you for sticking around and following me here on How Many Monkeys Are Jumping On the Bed? and supporting my writing on other platforms I am part of.

Stay tuned. The best is yet to come. ❤️

Parenting, Social Media, The World We Live In

It Starts At Home

There was an incident at our local high school yesterday with a threat made via social media.

Shortly after the news broke the story, because the media, they always come, the district issued a response. They explained a threat had been made, the student responsible had been identified and removed, and that at no time was anyone in the building in danger.

It seemed to me our school district and the local police department had it handled. As someone who lived through a lockdown or two in high school, I was satisfied with the response they provided. That, however, was not the case for everyone. Worried parents flocked to social media and as I am sure you can imagine the rumor mill started working.

Turns out, the incident in question was a vague threat issued by a kid who reached his breaking point over bullying. On a community Facebook page alive with discussion on this topic, the mom of the said student explained that, while inexcusable, her son has been bullied and he chose to make a Snapchat post that was stupid and wrong.

Her comments were met with a mixed bag of reactions.

There were those who had similar stories from their children about being bullied endlessly and there were those who chose to illustrate the point of what a bully is in their replies.

All of it got me thinking.

No way, no how should anyone ever make someone else feel unsafe, but at the same time, how long can we expect to push someone and they not reach their breaking point?

Right or wrong, you can only beat someone down for so long before they act out. We hear stories about this constantly where a children hurt themselves or end their lives or choose violence because they feel like there is no other way to go.

We blame social media. Yes, it certainly exaggerates the issues. We blame video games and movies and maybe those have some effect on actions. We blame the schools for not doing enough and maybe they could do more. All those pieces have a part in it.

But, it starts at home, Friends.

We need to stop clutching our pearls and feigning surprise. We need to be a bit introspective and look within ourselves. Children learn what they live and it starts at home.

Just take a gander through comments on social media posts– the way adults are speaking to each other is disgusting. We are living in the age of the keyboard warrior. It should be of little surprise that our children are watching and modeling our behavior.

How can we expect better of our children if we can’t do better ourselves?

Social media, entertainment, school environments, and peer pressure– they all play a part, but so do we as parents. We are responsible for raising up the next generation into fine adults.

Now, I understand that sometimes, we can do all the right things as parents and impart all the good lessons, but once away from us our little loves can choose to make poor choices. It is in those moments that we, as parents, have to take responsibility for our children and not excuse their poor behavior.

I challenge you to ask your child questions and dig a little deeper. Are they speaking with kindness and being a friend to everyone? Are they using social media responsibly and appropriately? Are they speaking up for others? If they can’t be kind are they being quiet?

The true content of our character is found in how we treat others.

Parenting, Special Needs, Uncategorized

It’s In That…

It is hard to believe it is mid-August.

It is harder to believe that the return to school is just around the corner.

Back to school is full of wonder and worry for both parents and children alike.

I love the promise of the coming school year and I love the growth I see in my children by the following summer.

I know my children are anxious to get back to their friends and their learning environment– even if they aren’t exactly excited for schoolwork.

All parents have to trust that they will send their hearts off to school where they will be loved and cared for. We all want our children to be accepted and for others to be kind. We all want to see our children grow and learn and reach their full potential.

There’s an extra layer of apprehension that comes along with being the parent of two boys with special needs.

It’s in the hope that their educators will understand them and cherish them like we do– these are our most precious and vulnerable gifts being entrusted to them.

It’s in the extra breath that is held from drop off to pick up– until we know our child made it through the day.

It’s in the silent whispered prayer that the other children will be accepting and kind–that our children will make a friend.

It’s in the tears of joy for a well earned success and in the tears of frustration that will be present too.

It’s in the stressful sighs exerted at an IEP meeting as we advocate for the basic accommodations that our children need.

It’s in the knowledge that we send our loves into a world where we can’t protect them and aren’t a part of and in the hope that that world won’t break their hearts or spirits.

It’s in my wish that you will teach your children to be kind and accepting. I hope you will encourage them to sit with the lonely kid or befriend someone “different” from them.

It’s in all of these things and more…

Parenting, Special Needs

The Keeper

I’m the keeper in my house.

I keep the calendar. I keep the lists. I keep watch. I keep the silent prayers in my heart. I keep the budgets. I keep the snacks in my purse.

I keep our house running like a mix between a well oiled machine and a chaotic pirate ship.

I keep everyone taken care of.

It is just what I do.

But before I became the keeper, I was someone else.

There is the girl I was before I became a wife and mother– before my world changed.

Sometimes I miss that girl.

That girl, she was spirited. She was loud and sometimes messy. She didn’t always get it right. She had plans and she had goals.

I miss her carefree spirit. I miss her laughter. I miss her boldness– the type of bold that packed up and moved to a city far away to live out her dreams and set the world on fire.

It was that same kind of bold that saw her meet the man of her dreams and pack back up and move right back to where she started.

Love changed it all.

Once that girl found the one– when I found my one, the path changed. Suddenly setting the world on fire wasn’t what I desired any more.

My goals morphed and became about building a life and a home and a family.

So we did just that.

I became the keeper.

I keep the vows. I keep rocking the babies. I keep moving forward.

I keep on keeping on.

But, I’m more than the keeper.

Yes, I am a wife and mom.

Most of my days revolve around being a caregiver for my family. That is where I am in life.

I have four children and two of them have Autism. There’s a lot that goes into keeping my family rolling along.

It is the greatest job I have ever had. It is also the most exhausting and demanding.

But I am also a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, and a friend. I am still me.

Yes, somewhere along the line I lost a little bit of myself. I lost touch with the girl who used to be me.

But I’m working on it.

I’ve started to prioritize myself a little more. I take time for myself to read or write or simply exist in my own company.

I’m not the girl I used to be, but I’m more than the keeper.

And I’ll keep going.

I’ll keep learning. I’ll keep advocating. I’ll keep evolving.

I’d like to think the girl I once was would be proud of the woman I’ve become.

Parenting, Special Needs, The World We Live In

Something ‘Bout This Time of Year…

Tomorrow is the last day of the school year. A year that has felt like a really long year– like really, REALLY long.

Last school year ended in a bit of dumpster fire, but in a lot of ways the 2020-21 year told the previous one to hold its proverbial beer.

But, it is ending with a bit more normalcy than we’ve seen in the last 14 or so months.

My kids’ schools were able to put on some treasured year end traditions. They made things like our annual field day happen. They gave the kids a chance to take a break from all the hard work and let them be kids like they had been pre-COVID.

Our superintendent sent a beautiful email today thanking all of us for our hard work and collaboration and for a successful school year. He encouraged us to take the next few months to relax, disconnect, and be families.

And I am here for it.

I am ready for the slower pace of summer. I am ready for the extra time with my kids and to take a break from the daily grind.

However, if you are anything like me, this ending is bittersweet.

To be perfectly honest, the end of every school year is a little bittersweet to me. It signals the end of another chapter. I’m not so good with endings or goodbyes.

It also makes me aware of how speedy the 18 summers of childhood go by.

There was a lot of growth with all four of my kids in my home. Tomorrow after we pick them up one last time we’ll celebrate all they achieved– honor roll, killing virtual learning, mastering counting numbers and reciting the alphabet. We will celebrate all of the big and the small wins.

As this school year ends, that’s what I want to remind you to do, my friends– celebrate ALL the wins.

Maybe your Senior is graduating after a really strange last two years of high school. They’re donning caps and gowns and ready to set the world on fire.

Maybe your middle school child learned a new skill this year or tested into a higher level of a subject academically. They did this in the midst of a pandemic, y’all.

Maybe your painfully shy child stepped outside of their shell and made new friends. They cultivated these friendships in all sorts of new and creative ways this year.

Maybe your child rocked their IEP goals. Now they are off to the next level of learning when a few months ago this didn’t even seem possible.

Maybe your child just made it. Maybe they just survived the year and are no worse for the wear. That’s okay too.

Celebrate it all because they just moved their mountain and they’re on to the next one.

And in the words of the late great Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way!”

Happy Summer, friends. Only 100 short days until we get to do it all again. Let’s make them count!


Lucky to Be Your Mom

Can I tell you a secret?

I didn’t always want to be a mom.

Now, I know what you’re thinking– how can a woman with four kids confess this?

Well, it’s true.

I didn’t always want to be a mom. I didn’t always want to be a wife either. I’ve always been incredibly independent and had big dreams of running the world. Those dreams didn’t include a family of my own.

But, then it happened.

Love. The fairytale, once in a lifetime love. The type of love where you know your soul has found its home. You know that kind of love that makes you forget everything and everyone before it? Yes, that love.

Right as I was finishing college and finally coming into my own I met the one who was meant for me. I was head over heels and a goner. We went from meeting to engaged in the span of four months. It was quite possibly the most impulsive and solid thing I have ever done in my life.

And suddenly all those big dreams changed.

Not only was I becoming a wife, but I knew I was going to become a mother. My future husband was the kind of man who needed and deserved to be a dad. I was planning my walk down the aisle and imagining walking with the stroller all at the same time.

Shortly before our second anniversary we found out we were expecting our first child and I knew then that all I wanted to be was a mom. Sure, I wouldn’t be running board meetings or handling press for high profile clients, but I would be the master of the calendar and the keeper of the Cheerios and that would be more than enough for me.

Fast forward more than a decade and four kids total later and I am living the life I never dreamed.

No, my friends, you did not read that wrong. I am living the life I never dreamed because it is better than anything I ever could have dreamed.

My husband– he’s pretty rad and I love him as much as I breathe, but those four pieces of my heart walking around this world are my reason for being. They are my why and my purpose.

I am so lucky to be their mom.

Beyond lucky, really.

The days are long (some longer than others) and the years fly by much too quickly. Parenting is insanely bittersweet, but it is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever been blessed to have. The little arms reaching for me and the hugs and kisses and “I love yous,” beat any paycheck or accolade I could ever receive.

I spent years in the classroom learning, but my kids are the most important teachers I’ll ever have.

They make me want to be a better person. They push me to be the best version of myself. They show me time and again what true, unconditional love looks like.

They are kind and empathetic. Their laughter fills my soul. Their bond with each other and how they conduct themselves in this world let’s me know that I did at least four things right in this life.

On the hardest days, they make it all worthwhile.

When talking about meeting and marrying my husband I joke that the day we met I was like The Grinch– my heart grew three sizes that day. I never knew how much love a heart could hold before him and I didn’t realize how that could grow until I held each of my babies.

You know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

It’s true. I thank God each and every day when I open my eyes that it is true.

So, I didn’t rule the corporate world. I’ve never made the high dollar salary I once dreamed of. I’m not making deals and taking names. But, I am okay with that because I got something better.

I got the life I never dreamed of.

I am so thankful for that.

I am raising my greatest adventures.

And I am just so darn lucky to be their mom.

📷 cred: Shannon Christopher Photography
Parenting, Social Media, Special Needs, The World We Live In

Raising Them Kind

Kind people are my kind of people.

The older I have gotten I found this to be more and more true. I don’t have the time or patience for pettiness and being mean simply because you can.

When I was pregnant with my oldest I remember telling my husband that our child could be anything they wanted to be, but they couldn’t be the “mean kid.” There would be no bullies in this house. I’ve spent my 11 years in parenting reinforcing that believe in my children.

I’ve tried my best to raise them up and raise them kind along the way.

I’ve taught them to think before they speak– is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If you can’t answer yes to all three of those questions then perhaps you shouldn’t say it. That doesn’t mean they can’t stand up for themselves or assert themselves, but it does mean they do it in a respectful manner.

Becoming a parent of two boys with special needs really puts kindness in a whole different light for me.

We live in a world that isn’t built for those who are different, who doesn’t accept those who don’t “fit” and is quite often unkind because of it. The thought of this is quite possibly what broke my heart the hardest on diagnosis day– that the world was harsh and I couldn’t fix that for either of them or couldn’t always shelter them from the hurt ahead.

We fight every single day for acceptance and inclusion and yes, kindness for our boys. My little guys are the sweetest, most loving boys and just want that in return.

There have been moments like the time at school pick up that Jack introduced me to “Friend,” a little boy who would go on to become his best friend, that have made me feel so hopeful.

There have been those moments of pain when my heart has broken for them like when a neighbor child purposely excluded them loudly exclaiming that she didn’t want to play with them because of how “weird” they are. The response from her mother about it broke my heart even more.

My daughters see this and it has made them both two of the most empathetic humans you could meet. I see their kind hearts reflected in how hard they love their brothers, how they stand up for them and in the friends they choose to surround themselves with.

Kindness starts at home.

It starts with me. I know I have fallen short at times, but I do my hardest to remember the lessons I’ve impressed upon my kids and walk the walk. I’ve give the grace to others that I wish to see and I find myself drawn to like minded others.

This week I connected with an amazing mama who I am so excited to get to know better. We met at a park and the time flew as we chatted about everything– our husbands, kids, families, favorite pediatricians, common therapists and experiences. It was awesome and I am excited to see how we can use our voices and platforms for good.

We live in a world that seems to put a kindness in the column labeled weakness.

I completely reject that notion– you can be kind and not be a doormat. Take a scroll through social media comment sections and you’ll see what I am talking about. I experienced some of it firsthand last month while sharing our story during World Autism Month. It’s disheartening, really.

But, here’s the thing. Kindness isn’t weakness. Kindness doesn’t go out of fashion. Kindness is free. It is up to us to speak up and speak out to make this world a better place and leave things better than we found them.

It starts with you and me.

It starts in our homes.

So, let’s raise them kind as we raise them up.

Lindsay Althaus of The Althaus Life Toledo Moms Jūpmode

Parenting, Special Needs

“He’s Not Heavy. He’s My Brother.”

The sibling bond is a special one. I have three brothers and as I have gotten older I realize one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me was my siblings.

There is something reassuring about having someone who really knows where you came from and stood shoulder to shoulder facing the world with you when all roads pointed home.

When my husband and I began discussing children– how many to have, how far to space them, etc., I knew I wanted more than one and not that far apart. I wanted to give my children a guaranteed someone to walk this world with them once I am gone. We decided on three kids all three years apart.

Want to hear God laugh? Make a plan.

We ended up with four kids– three of them spaced three years apart from each other with our youngest coming 18 months after his older brother. He’s the greatest surprise of my life and God knew we needed him.

So, we ended up with two girls and two boys. The girls are older than the boys. The boys have Autism and the girls do not.

My oldest daughter, Emma, is ten and almost eight years older than her brothers.

She loves them and she understands what Autism is. She gets how it affects the boys and how it effects our family dynamics.

Sometimes I worry that because of her age and maturity she’s too perceptive and carries some of my worries with her. She’s seen my tears and heard tough conversations between her father and me about resources and funding.

Emma would do just about anything for her brothers except maybe she wouldn’t share video game screen time.

Lily Ruth is our second born and our rainbow baby– both literally and figuratively.

Lily came after a loss. She was an answer to a prayer. She’s also a walking talking rainbow. No, seriously. She loves to dress in bright happy colors and she spreads that joy– well most of the time, just not when it’s time to get up for school.

Lily is seven. She doesn’t quite grasp what Autism is. She’s obviously familiar with the word and she’s well aware that her brothers are different, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say she truly gets it at this point in her life.

Lily is quite honestly her brothers’ best friend. She loves them fiercely and is their biggest protector. She meets them at their level and they welcome her there.

She’s a much better big sister than I was at her age to my younger brothers.

I hope that my children will remain close as they travel this life.

I know as my children grow their bond will grow and change. They may not always be as close as they are now and that would be okay. I just hope wherever life takes them they know the roads that lead them back together.

I won’t always be here to look after my babies. Time on this Earth isn’t guaranteed. This is our temporary home. That’s just a reality for all of us.

But for a special needs parent, it is an exceptionally scary reality.

It is a reality that puts me into a cold sweat at 3am when I lay awake thinking of it. Who will be there for my boys when I can’t? Who will fight for them? Advocate for them? Cheer them on?

Spoiler alert: My girls will– their sisters will.

All siblings are special and their bonds should be celebrated. But, the bond of a special needs sibling is like no other. It is simple and patient and kind.

That’s why God (and my husband and I) gave our children siblings. They will always have someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with and face this world.

Photo by PS Photography
Guest Post, Parenting, Special Needs

A Love Letter to My Fellow Autism Mom


The love language for a special needs parent to feel seen, accepted, and understood is as simple as a head nod, and a “me too” on a zoom call or a quick chat on the phone. Or maybe even in the grocery store where your child is having a hard time.

If you’ve ever been that person for another special needs mom, you’ve changed their life, you’ve made them feel seen, and they thank you for it.

Thank you for sharing your story of walking through the hard, so that mothers like me can learn what may lie ahead.

Thank you for acknowledging my hard, and reminding me it’s healthy to grieve but we can’t stay there.

Thank you for encouraging me to use my voice to advocate for my son and for so many others who share his daily struggles.

Thank you for telling me “I’m not ashamed of Autism, and you shouldn’t be either”.

Thank you for teaching me that love needs no words, and that communication isn’t just speech. For teaching me to be gentle with myself, and my husband.

Thank you for your bravery when speaking about aggression and self-injurious behavior so that the stigma can be shattered and we can work on continuing to normalize it, by publicly speaking about it.

Thank you for calling me when your child just received their diagnosis and confiding in me during one of your most difficult days.

Thank you for inviting my son to the birthday party, even if it’s too hard for us to come.

Thank you for encouraging me to tell my story, to share my hard, and to let the world into our journey.

Thank you for never judging if we light it up blue, say autism awareness or acceptance, say has autism or is autistic because there are no clearly defined rules of what we should be saying and when.

Thank you for saying “I understand” when I talk about meltdowns, sleepless nights, medication trouble, and food aversion.

Thank you for acknowledging my hard, and trying to help me figure out the solution.

Thank you for providing me with powerful mantras like “find the joy”, “dreams don’t die, they change”, and “on we go”.

Thank you for simply saying “me too” when I felt like I was the only one.

Thank you for always lifting me up out of the dark hole of the internet, and holding my hand until I’m ready to try again tomorrow.

The love you have for your children gives me hope, your bravery to share your story gives me confidence, and your honesty about this journey gives me the strength to carry on.

Thank you for all of your love, A fellow Autism Mom

Thank you to Amanda DeLuca for sharing this piece with us. It originally appeared on her blog

Amanda lives in Ohio with her husband, is a mom of 2 to Monroe, and Jackson. Her son is on the autism spectrum and is what inspired her to begin her journey through advocacy. In her free time she enjoys teaching at her dance studio, co-hosting the Momming Autism podcast, and writing for her page Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice.