The World We Live In

Where Are You Then?

Back to school is in full swing this year. Things are looking and feeling a little bit normal. Our school district opted to begin the year with masks optional in the buildings. While I had mixed feelings about that, I was confident the administration had the best interest of all the students at heart and I fully expected mask guidelines to change eventually.

Last week the number of students in quarantine rose and it was time for the district to pivot.

As of this past Monday, masks were no longer recommended, but required to attend school in our district. I supported that decision and for a lot of reasons, but most selfishly, I DO NOT want to have to do remote learning again EVER if it is unavoidable. I also understand that masks keep everyone safe. Sure, my kids are healthy. They don’t have any underlying conditions that we know of. They might catch COVID and likely they would be okay, but that isn’t the same for every child. One sick child is one too many as far as I am concerned. We should do our part to protect our most vulnerable ones.

Now, my opinions on masks are my own. I understand people disagree. They are entitled to that just as I am entitled to feel as I do. I’m not a doctor nor am I a scientist, but I am a mom who can tell you we did not have one case of the flu or a cold in our house last winter. That never happens! You will not convince me that the masks had zero part in that.

However, supporting masks or not is not the point of this piece here.

(Back to life in our small community with the announcement of the mask requirement…)

People lost their ever loving minds over this.

I have no other way to describe it. From fighting with other neighbors on a community Facebook page to hatred and threats being spewed to planning protests. One of my children even watched as a fellow student was removed from a school bus by police for refusing to wear a mask on the way home or leave the bus on their own free will.

It. Was. Wild.

You may think that because I don’t agree with the methods employed that I don’t agree with standing up for something you believe in.

Let me be perfectly clear– that is not it at all.

I believe in your right to dissent. I believe in your right to protest. But disrupting my child’s education, making them or the teachers, staff, and administrators feel unsafe, or attempting to bully a bus driver? Pegging yourself as a “patriot” and a “freedom fighter” as you hide behind the keyboard calling the PTA president a “puppet” or the superintendent a “weasel?” That ain’t it, Kid. That ain’t it.

I truly hope all of these parents who are so fired up about the mask requirement at our schools stay fired up.

Please, by all means, keep that fire, but let’s channel that energy into something a bit more productive.

Attend board meetings regularly.

Volunteer at your child’s school.

Help out with the PTA.

Support the faculty and staff.

Coach the sports team.

Be a Scout leader.

Don’t just show up when it suits you.

All I am saying is that if you have time to plan a protest at the Board of Education on a random Tuesday morning, you certainly have time to read a book to your kid’s class or help serve muffins at a PTA event. Sorry not sorry.

I can admit in the past I didn’t have or make the time to volunteer like I do now. I am totally not throwing shade at anyone who legitimately cannot contribute more than they already do. I get it. We all have lives and other obligations that may prevent us from doing all we would like to do.

But those are not the people I am talking about.

I am talking about these loud, angry parents who are vocal for something they don’t like and they think negatively affects them. They make the time in their lives to fit in protesting or attending a board meeting because this time they are big mad. They have hours to argue with a neighbor on Facebook, but have their feelings hurt when someone questions them. They have all the time for that. Cool.

But, what I want to know is where are you the rest of the time?

When the youth foundation is asking for coaches? When the scout troops need more adult involvement? When the schools need supplies? When the PTA is BEGGING for more than just the same handful of giving parents to help? When your child’s teacher needs you? When the board meetings are just regular business? When another human being needs an advocate or some compassion and you won’t directly benefit from putting a hand out to help?

WHERE ARE YOU THEN?

I know where you’re not.

So.

Yes, keep that passion. But let’s harness it and channel it into more than just this one moment where you feel so wronged that you just can’t help but speak up. Because if we could just all work together and work for good, damn…

What a wonderful world that would be.

A Few of My Favorite Things, The World We Live In

It Was Just A Dog

We lost our old dog, Molly, yesterday.

She got sick on Sunday, we found out it was cancer and bad on Monday, and by Wednesday, she was gone.

We made the hardest decision a dog owner can ever have to make. I know that it was the right choice, but my heart just isn’t at the place where it accepts what my mind knows.

And it hurts. And it is going to hurt for a long, long time.

“It was just a dog.”

I’ve heard people say that. I am sure I have been guilty of thinking or saying it from time to time myself.

But I can assure you, from the bottom of my heart, Molly was never just a dog.

No, my Friends, she was so much more.

We brought her home as an engaged couple months before our marriage. She followed us along on our adventures. She moved with us and was there when we welcomed home our four babies. She kept me company when Josh worked night shift for so many years. She sat beside me when I was sick with morning sickness and laid next to me when I lost a baby. She kept watch over our children and was there through it all. She is as much sewn into the fabric of our lives and the pages of our story as we are.

Her loss is one that will hurt for a long time and she’s left a Molly sized hole here.

I don’t know if there is a heaven, but I’d like to believe it’s there. I can only hope it exists and that if I make it, a little black dog with a wild wagging tail is there to meet me.

So, you see, no, she wasn’t just a dog. She was family and she’s going to missed for forever.

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!

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, The World We Live In

World Autism Day

World Autism Day is today– April 2nd.

This is our fourth World Autism Day. The irony is not lost on me that it was a beautiful day much like today in April, a month that shines the light on Autism, some years ago when we became personally aware of Autism as it entered our lives.

I could pepper you with statistics– 1 in 54 children are living with Autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Autism comes with a slew of co-morbid conditions. Early intervention is essential. Funding for much needed therapies can be very difficult to obtain. There is no cure.

But the stats are stats and what is more important than stats are the living breathing 1 in 54 people those stats represent.

What is important are the advocates out here fighting for awareness and acceptance.

What is important is making the world a kinder, more inclusive place for those living with Autism.

On this day you may see feeds similar to mine flooded with words about Awareness and Acceptance. Both are important so, so important.

I believe that awareness leads to understanding and understanding leads to inclusion and inclusion leads to acceptance. As a mama to two amazing little boys on the spectrum, that is all I want for my boys– acceptance. I want them to be included, feel loved, be treated with respect and kindness, and be accepted for everything that they are.

Autism is a part of them, but it is not the definitive part or the sum of all their parts. It is just a piece of the puzzle that makes them whole. They are kind and sweet boys who love hard and deserve acceptance.

We celebrate our children on this day. We celebrate them for who they are and who they will be. We celebrate them for all the hard fought, hard won accomplishments. We celebrate the families and the caregivers. We celebrate the friends. We celebrate the teachers and the therapists.

We celebrate each and every single person who sees us and loves and accepts our family.

My hope is that on this World Autism Day you take some time to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. My hope is that you will talk to your children and teach them about differences and being accepting and kind. Talk to them about inclusion and understanding.

Because I promise you if you do you will be part of the change this world needs.

You will be part of the change OUR world needs.

I would not change my boys for the world, but I surely would change the world for them.

Special Needs, The World We Live In

Speak Up and Speak Out

A stapler. A piece of paper. Staples.

Basic office supplies, right?

Now imagine you sent your child to school only to have them come home with a note to you that had been stapled to their head.

I bet you would be pretty pissed off.

Now imagine you were then told by the superintendent that the person responsible for this, an aide in your child’s classroom, was only going to receive a note, a warning in their personnel file not to do it again. She’s still in a classroom and with vulnerable children.

I bet you would be livid.

This isn’t a made up scenario.

It happened.

It happened to a little boy with Autism in Boardman, Ohio.

This child is verbal and was able to tell his mother what happened. Had he not been, there is a pretty good chance that she would have never known because the school did not notify her about it.

Take that in– an aide stapled a note to a child’s head and then they didn’t even tell the parent about it.

I tell you what, this isn’t even my child and my level of anger and disgust about this incident is through the roof.

This is an example of why I spread awareness and why I advocate and talk so much about my boys.

Even though my children are in a educational setting where they are loved and treated with dignity and respect and cared for, I will continue to speak up and speak out for other children who aren’t as lucky.

So, if you’ve been following this story like I have, you may be wondering what you can do?

Reach out to the Boardman Local Schools Board of Education. Tell them that a written reprimand is not enough. Tell them that their attempt to sweep this under the rug will not go unnoticed.

Speak up and speak out because all of our children deserve better than what the Boardman Local Schools has given this child.

Contact info for Boardman Schools:

Vickie Davis, Board President
Email: vickie.davis@boardmanschools.org
John Landers, Board Vice President
Email: john.landers@boardmanschools.org
Jeff Barone, Board Member
Email: jeff.barone@boardmanschools.org
John Fryda, Board Member
Email: john.fryda@boardmanschools.org
Frank Zetts, Board Member
Email: frank.zetts@boardmanschools.org

Tim Saxton, Superintendent
E-mail: Tim.Saxton@boardmanschools.org
(330) 726-3404

https://www.boardman.k12.oh.us/

https://www.wfmj.com/story/43314584/boardman-teachers-aide-reprimanded-for-stapling-paper-to-students-hair

fcvblogsquad #floodthefeed #macadematters #boardmanohio

Special Needs, The World We Live In

You Need to Do Better

The teacher’s aide involved STAPLED a note to the head of the child involved.

Read that again.

She stapled a piece of paper to the skin of A CHILD because he forgot a water bottle at home.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

As if that wasn’t enough, the punishment didn’t fit the crime, friends.

The aide was simply reprimanded. A note was placed in her file. She kept her job. She’s still working in classrooms with children. She faced no criminal charges.

Her punishment was a NOTE– a warning. Do people really need to be warned that they shouldn’t staple things to the head of other people? I thought that was really just basic common sense. Do we need warning labels for staplers now?

And the child involved?

YouHe’s afraid to return to school and rightfully so. I cannot even begin to comprehend the emotional damage this woman cause to this child. His trust was breached and she succeeded in breaking his trust of people he hasn’t even met yet.

She also broke the trust of the parents for every single educator they have to hand their baby over to. I can’t even imagine how they can stomach the idea of sending him to school anywhere ever again.

As a parent you have to be able to trust the people who’s care you leave your children in.
If you’re a parent of a special needs child you need to have that blind faith and trust even more so.

All children are vulnerable, but a child with special needs is even more vulnerable. It is not unreasonable to expect that you can send your child to school and not have them return home with having had a paper stapled to their head by their classroom aide…or their teacher…or the janitor…or anyone.

This is not okay.

Not holding this woman accountable for her actions is not okay.

The school board, the superintendent, the principal, the teacher, and the aide involved all should be ashamed of themselves.

They failed this child and in failing to protect him, they are failing to protect all the students in their charge.

They need to do better.

https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/boardman-teachers-assistant-staples-piece-of-paper-to-students-head/95-ef8cb028-dd45-46f9-bfc3-89b78743d01f

https://www.wfmj.com/story/43314584/boardman-teachers-aide-reprimanded-for-stapling-paper-to-students-hair

#fcvblogsquad #boardmanohio #macadematters #floodthefeed

Social Media, The World We Live In

The Content of Character

I sat down to write a blog post today. It was meant to be about the new year and resolutions and changes. I have tried to be more organized in this new year. I want to be focused and wrote in my planner to sit down and write that post today.

But, today I can’t. I just can’t.

I am sorry if what follows here isn’t your cup of tea. I am sorry if you find yourself offended because I may have a different viewpoint from yours. This blog is a work of my heart and right now I feel like I need to speak what is on my heart.

This world feels like it is on fire.

Yesterday, I tuned in to watch the process being conducting in our Congress. I expected it to be ugly. I didn’t expect what I saw.

I didn’t expect to be watching a discussion in the Senate as the feed cut to black and the footage of what was going on outside the Capital Building began to unfold.

I’ve seen footage of people storming government buildings and calling for the heads of elected officials before…on TV….in movies….in other countries. Not here. Not in the United States of America.

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
UNITED STATES – JANUARY 6: Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., comforts Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., while taking cover as protesters disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

It was not right.

What happened was wrong and so many levels. It wasn’t peaceful protest. The peaceful part of the protest ended when a mob of individuals made the decision to march to the Capital Building, storm it, and get people killed.

This “peaceful” protest turned into an act of insurrection and a literal coup. It was wrong. This should bother everyone regardless of who you voted for or what you support.

The aftermath was quite possibly more disturbing.

Immediately, social media blew up. A simple scroll can find you all sorts of incendiary tweets, posts, memes, and conspiracy theories.

Worse than that, was all the people coming out to justify the actions. My mind was blown by the excuses. I was called a sheep. I was told to stop drinking the Kool-aid. I was told that the actions and words of people don’t matter. I was told all the hate flying around didn’t matter as long as the economy was good. I was told that the actions of these people yesterday was okay because they are mad and they are frustrated about these election results. And what about anti-fa? What about BLM? What about? What about? What about?

What about it?

When did deflection become a defense of the indefensible? When has “whataboutism” replaced calling out bad behavior? Why is anyone trying to defend this?

My four year old doesn’t get out of punishment for pushing his brother because his sister yelled at his other sister months ago. An attempt to justify by pointing out the behavior of someone else doesn’t work from children and it certainly isn’t acceptable for full grown adults.

Now, I try to avoid political discussions if I can. I believe we are all entitled to our opinions and views and that is fine. I don’t think me harping on you about my political policy views is going to change any of yours or vice versa. I would just rather not have those conversations especially when all too often they become disrespectful.

I will say this, I believe it is okay to think differently than me or your parents or your neighbor. I can respect we all don’t think alike, but there is a line where it becomes more than a difference of opinion.

But, I will tell you what I believe and what will never change.

Actions have consequences.

Sometimes, as difficult as it can be, there are grey areas between what is right and wrong, but yesterday was not one of those times.

Kindness and love will never be out of style. I believe they are attributes and not weaknesses.

The content of one’s character matters.

Words matter.

A few extra pennies in my 401k will never be worth more than the price of my soul.

If you want change in the world, you need to be part of that change. Vote. Advocate. Run for something. Be the good and be the change.

Hate will always be in the world. But as long as love exists, hate will never EVER win.

Be the good in the world. Be a helper.