Archive for September, 2013

Hang Tight

Taking FlightGavin Cindy and Rusty
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Several weeks back I introduced you to the trio of Cindy, Rusty, and Gavin Schultz: a mom, a dog, and a teen with autism. (see JAK Chat: “You Had Me At…Hello!”)

Since our introduction at a special needs resource fair back in April, I’ve hung out with them at Gavin’s R.P.M.(Rapid Prompting Method) Therapy, gone to his horse therapy; worked side by side with Cindy to bring the Kid’s Carnival to life in late July; and followed along with their comings and goings (Brewer games, summer camp, hospital, Auditory Integration Therapy, to the pool, bowling alley, Gentle Worship, and the list goes on) mostly via Facebook. This trio has an amazing social life, of which admittedly, I am a bit jealous!

Cindy exhausts me! Her hard work with A.S.P. and tending to Gavin’s needs inspires me. However, her latest posts/texts/conversations about Gavin concern me. Please READ MORE…

Gavin is non verbal. He can certainly communicate. I see it in his eyes. In hugging and kissing his mom, his dog, and his older sister, Megan. His thoughts and messages are translated through his R.P.M. sessions where he converses with his mom and therapist, Jackie, via a letter board. The conversations are mind blowing. And recently he’s confirmed his mom’s fear that he has been suffering from seizures. Red flags such as behavioral changes with looks of daze and confusion, increase in laying around and not eating as well, prompted the questioning during his weekly session.

Cindy and Gavin 2Rusty and GavinJackie and GavinGavin on horse

Of course, as any mom would be, she’s very concerned and asking for prayers as they seek to find answers and resolution to his issues. One of her friends sent Cindy her thoughts. It’s beautiful and so worth sharing…

 “I was flying a kite today and was just struck how this little boy is like a kite in your hands. Sometimes one of his frame sticks needs to be mended, or maybe his tail has gotten tangled or his fabric has torn and needs to be sewn. Maybe he got tangled up in a tree and you need the help of someone else to get him down again so that you can begin to mend him, like right now with his seizures. Sometimes the winds of life catch him away and he is flying so far away, that you can hardly see him, but you know he is there because you feel that gentle tug on the string that connects the two of you. I know that God has given you the gift of that one tiny string that connects you to him, that is sometimes even invisible yet still there. He is using you in the life of your child as an anchor point to help hold him down so he will never blow away, and I know that Gavin is destined for great things, and that even now God does use his life to bring joy, inspiration, awaken compassion and gifts and other things in so many people. 
There was quite a while during my kite’s flight where my kite was flying directly where the sun was, so I could not even see my kite at all because the sun was so bright! But people for miles around could see it and they were inspired. I think that this is how Gavin is sometimes for you, so have faith that even if he’s tangled in a tree or needs to be mended, or is so far away or right in the Sun and you can’t see him that this is when God is using him as a beacon to shine things to other people of hope, and mercy, and perseverance! The Spirit of God is likened to a wind in the scripture, and it is this wind that does lift up your son!”

I know this to be true. I am one that is touched by this child. I am touched by his mother. And good grief, I am even touch by his dog, Rusty!

I share this story with you, as I have been so blessed to witness unconditional love, such as the love of a dog toward its master, in this triangle….mom, son, and dog. A fire has been lit under me to be part of the solution to raising awareness of Autism and throw my support behind this organization, Autism Solution Pieces. Won’t you consider it too? Do it for Gavin.

Cindy and GavinGavin and Rusty

Stay tuned as we explore our options in future JAK Chat articles. In the meantime, if you know of a family that would benefit from connecting with this organization, please share. Interested in donating or volunteer? Please contact them.

Here’s a link to A.S.P.’s website: http://autismsolutionpieces.com/
Here’s a link to RPM+ for Autism and Other Disabilities, LLC’s website: http://rpmplus.sharepoint.com/Pages/default.aspx

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S.O.S.

Saving Date NightKeno Drive In
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Kenosha,
Cassandra Vite

We love the Keno Drive-In!  Located at 9102 Sheridan Road in Pleasant Prairie, it’s a treasure in southeastern Wisconsin cherished by many.  Both my husband and I have fond memories as teens and together of this local Kenosha icon.  My favorite part: it’s a date night for us without having to pay for a babysitter because we can bring our son with us.  He chats happily in the back and enjoys some popcorn with us from the snack shop.  Soon, he falls asleep and we are able to watch a first run movie under the stars together.  The cool Wisconsin breeze ads to the ambiance and we have a great time enjoying each other’s company taking in a movie.

For us, the cost is incredibly affordable, especially compared to the brick-and-mortar big multi-plex cinemas.  Have a larger family?  Here’s a tip: Sunday night is READ MORE…carload night!  All you have to do is pile your SUV or minivan full of kids (in car seats of course,) and ask for the carload deal: $12 gets everyone in the  vehicle in!  Seriously, you can’t beat that anywhere.

Times are changing, as always.  In the 1950’s, Wisconsin boasted more than 60 drive-in theaters, today that number is 10.  Sadly, as the movie industry has grown and adapted to the new digital era, the local drive-ins who have been mom and pop businesses haven’t been able to keep up with the technology due to the extremely high cost.

Maybe you’ve heard the rumors that the Keno is closing.  I know I have heard them for a few years and to be honest, I thought it was a marketing ploy at first.  Unfortunately, the rumors hold true this time, and an end of an era is fast approaching.  There was a time when there were two drive-in theaters in Kenosha, the Keno and Mid-city.  There was also one in Racine where Shopko is now, and several others in Milwaukee (remember 41-Twin?)

There’s a way to save our beloved Keno!  Honda is running a promotion to save drive-in’s across the country.  Already, five have been saved by their donations that allow the owners to upgrade their equipment to meet the new requirements set by the Motion Picture Association.  Honda’s campaign was so popular on Facebook; they received donations from numerous individuals and businesses and extended the program!  The deadline has been extended to September 21st, and they are taking votes on FOUR MORE theaters.

Let’s work together to make the Keno one of those theaters to receive a new digital projector!  It’s easy to vote too, just go to the website, enter your ZIP code and vote for the Keno in Pleasant Prairie, WI.  Together, we can save the Keno and keep it around so our kids can hang out there with their friends in high school and create their own magical memories!

badges SAVE THE DRIVE IN

Here’s a link to Honda’s Project Drive In promotion: http://projectdrivein.com/

For more information about the Keno, visit their website: http://kenodrivein.net/

About our guest blogger: Cassandra is married with an almost two year old (21 months old!). She is a stay at home mom who works part-time as a substitute teacher in Racine.

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Say It Ain’t So

September 11th Memory Lapseseptember 11th
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Back-to-School Coma? I swear I live my life like a marketing campaign sometimes. (Previous campaign: End of School Year Hangover, which I think I just overcame a couple of weeks ago, right?). I don’t know where my mind has been lately. Um let’s see…4 kids, 4 different schools; surgery for the dog; car problems; new JAK staff, rummage sale… Well, there is more, but I think you get the picture. I’m freaking busy as all get out. I was not reminded of today’s day of remembrance until late last night, something brief on the news. I didn’t even have the subject on the docket for this week’s blog. How in the world could I forget?

In year’s past, I’d approach and live through this anniversary heavy-hearted. Eerily, each year’s September 11th to me, seemed to mimic the clear day that we had back on that Tuesday in 2001. Today, with all due respect, I didn’t somberly tune into the news as I typically would in year’s past. And the weather today, didn’t remind me of 9/11/01. Read More…

On that beautiful clear crisp Tuesday morning back in 2001, I was getting ready for work. I was in the bathroom and listening to the radio. The news at the top of the hour (8am) reports that a plane (probably a small passenger plane) had crashed into one of the World Trade Center’s towers in New York.

Curious, I walked into the living room to see if they had anything about it on the Today Show. The TV, which was still on from my morning watch, caught live that second plane hit the other tower. Oh my gosh, did I really see that? All other broadcast spectators, commentators, hosts, and the world was all trying to process that too.

The events of the day endlessly seemed to unfold. And the knees beneath me continued to weaken.  I will never forget the feelings of uncertainty and insecurity.  Me…now pregnant with my third child.

My husband was making his daily trek, dropping off our 1st grader and pre-schooler at their school.  The anticipation of him walking in the door seemed to last forever. I needed him to join me, standing there in awe in front of the TV.  Frozen…what do you do?

My office was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel building in Sturtevant at the time.  Kinda a quiet little place.  A few reporters, distribution people, and me.  I was sure that even our quaint newsroom would be “a buzz” today.  I get there…there is NO ONE there.  I connect with my boss in Milwaukee.  We were all numb.  How do you work when your world is under attack?  Do I go pick my kids up at school?

Crash after crash, it was more than I could process physically by myself.  This beautiful day was nothing but gray….the smoke, the ashes, the future.  The blue skies were eerily peaceful.  I would probably freak out if I saw a plane.  Your family, friends, safety and the horror we all were experiencing with the devastating events…was all you thought about.  And now, in a few months, I would be bringing another precious child into this world of uncertainty.

CNN was on continuously for days.  Reports from New York, Washington, and the middle east all day and night.  I was soon captivated by CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour’s reports in the middle east: terrorism, bin Laden and al-Qaeda .  Topics that I probably never paid any attention to, if I had even ever heard of them before, were catapulted to the forefront of the news, lunch discussions, and my thoughts.

As I reminisce, 12 years ago seems just like yesterday to me, though I don’t get nervous when a commercial airline flies overhead.  I don’t, however, enjoy flying.  I am suspicious of passengers for some reason that I don’t seem to trust.  Time has quickly slipped us back into our day to day, though I know, just like me, you haven’t forgotten.  I have a daily reminder, my daughter, Christiane, who was born 7 months later.

Rest in peace all victims of 09/11/2001. And to the endless list of heroes from that day…the military, law enforcement and rescue who continue to risk their lives every day to protect the citizens of this great country, I thank you. I will never forget.

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RAOK

It’s Randombe kind to others
by Just Add Kids Founder, Paula Herrmann

Wanting to keep things on a light note today, I thought I’d share with you a  couple of cute stories have crossed my radar in the last couple of weeks.

You may have caught wind of these RAOK’s (Random Acts of Kindness), both gone viral nationally. One involving a North Carolina family. And the other one, from our neck of the woods. Yet if not, ah, just go ahead, Read More…

“God only gives special children to special people” Those of us with children know well the scenario of bravely restaurant billventuring out with the kids to a restaurant for dinner. Baby/child acts out calling attention to your table. Other restaurant patrons express their dismay with snide looks, or remarks aloud or under their breath. Such was the case of a family with an 8 year old special needs child. But, not everyone was put off by the child’s outburst. One kind customer, paid for the families bill and offered a heartwarming message written on a guest check. You can read more of the story here: Family speaks out after mystery diner’s good deed, encouraging note.

“Dear Section 113, Row 17, Seat 22” A month ago, the story of a Waukesha mom wanting to thank a stranger who she and her family interacted with one day at a Brewer game gained national attention. Mom was grateful for the game ball he “scored” and gave to her oldest of three sons she and her husband so bravely brought out to the game. Her gratitude was not just about the ball, but for putting up with her children (imagine being in the seat right in front of a 2 year old boy sitting on mom’s lap) and seemingly just being a kind, friendly, and obviously generous human being. After massive sharing of the story on Facebook, primarily, local press assisting to spread the word, “mystery man’s” identity was revealed and he and the family were reunited. Just a sweet story that will warm your heart, if you haven’t already read about it. Here’s a link to her blog: The Mystery Man at Miller Park.

Ah, what a sweet read, eh:

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