The Status Woe

Rising above mediocrity one mishap at a time

Issy funding update

Issy is continuing to do well in treatment.  It’s not a sprint, It’s a marathon.  It isn’t easy for her, and it isn’t easy for her dad and I.

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I wrote in a previous post about the company MESSA.   They are currently funding Issy’s stay at the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research.   If you remember, our CMH would only pay for 30 days.  MESSA came in and gave us a nurse advocate and a contact person at the company.

Our initial contact person with the company took our case to the top where a decision was made to “probably not” fund her but they wanted more information.  She was scheduled to come home.  Rather than allowing her to be released then possibly re-admitted, MESSA offered to pay for her care while they gathered more information.  At $765/a day we are beyond grateful.

MESSA agreed to pay for Issy to stay from March 12 until March 22.  During that time, I worked with my nurse case manager and gathered EVERY medical record and treatment report we had.  EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  Seriously, can you imagine?

Woman Holding Large Stack of Paperwork

On March 22, the decision was made to hire a third party expert (from most likely out-of-state) and have him (or her) look at all of the information and make a decision.  So they extended Issy’s stay until April 5.

After receiving all of the medical records, the third party expert requested a neurological evaluation.  This is where things begin to take a turn.

A few years ago, we had a neurological evaluation done at the University of Michigan Motts Children’s Hospital.  The expert has this in his pile of information.  Why would they need another?

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We decided we didn’t have much of a say, so we agreed to have an appointment be set up for Issy.  It was with a neurologist who has a local practice in the Kalamazoo area.  Matt and I, our nurse case manager, and staff from the center all planned on going to this appointment.  Just days before the appointment, however, the neurologist backed out, explaining that Issy’s case was too complicated.

There are two things here that bother me…….questions

*Why would a doctor back out of a basic evaluation with a new patient?  As far as I know, no one talked to him.  Did he hear about Issy from all of the newscasts and newspaper stories?  Did the expert contact him?  Did MESSA?

*Why would an evaluation from a doctor in Kalamazoo trump an evaluation done at the University of Michigan?

I asked my nurse case manager if we could just reschedule another evaluation at University of Michigan.  It’s about two hours away from where Issy is in treatment but we’ve never EVER held back from seeing experts because of the drive. (During early intervention, Issy and I drove six hours round trip for a two hour appointment EVERY Friday with our behaviorist.  And I was happy to do it! I knew how lucky I was to have such an amazing program in place.)  This is when the nurse case manager said that the only problem with that is it would be inconvenient for us to go back if they wanted to schedule an MRI.

*Insert the sound of screeching breaks here*

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For Issy to have a test like an MRI done, she would have to be sedated.  And I’m not talking about a Xanex here.  She would need to be asleep.  Like, sleeping beauty sleeping.  So this means an anesthesiologist, needles (she is traumatized by needles).  Remember the whack job that said Issy caused a miscarriage? The subsequent hospitalization was at a place not equipped to handle children with autism.  They injected her with sedatives constantly.  She is still traumatized by that.  We all are.  To do the MRI, it would mean needles, sedatives, and holding her down.

Not an exaggeration.

Not an exaggeration.

I asked both my nurse case manager and my contact at MESSA about this expert.  I felt like, if he (or she) is requesting this information, I would like to know what his credentials are.  Is he a doctor? Autism expert? Lawyer? Or Accountant?  I was told that I was not allowed to know that information.

Not allowed to know that information.

I told my nurse case manager and my contact at MESSA that I wasn’t comfortable having unnecessary medical tests done on my daughter for “informational purposes only”.

My nurse case manager and my contact at MESSA told me that I could always refuse medical testing.

Sure.

Then Issy’s funding goes away, right?  It goes away because the expert doesn’t have enough information or maybe because I’m not being compliant.

I was frustrated and upset and told that to both my nurse case manager and my contact at MESSA.  They both said I wasn’t grateful enough for what MESSA was doing for me and that I needed to see a therapist.

I need to see a therapist. *sigh*  Do you suppose being an advocate for your child always results in personal attacks?  Based on my experience, it does.

Take your best shot. Go ahead. I made it easy for you.

Take your best shot. Go ahead. I made it easy for you.

Issy’s treatment is being paid for by MESSA until April 19.  We are grateful.

I’m also keenly aware that treatment can be pulled at any minute.  MESSA can simply say, “our third party expert doesn’t feel this treatment is necessary or something that should be covered by MESSA”.  And what can I say to that?

Nothing.

My life is at stake along with her entire future.  This family is being held hostage by bureaucracy and red tape.

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So I continue to try to get national attention for Issy.  I still feel (perhaps foolishly) that if a nation is watching, she will not be denied treatment.  I also feel that national attention will bring help for all of the families just like ours.

What do you think?  Am I being ungrateful?  Looking a gift horse in the mouth? Being unnecessarily oppositional?  Or am I being a protective mom?  Guarding against unnecessary medical testing and unnecessary interruptions in treatment?

Well, I’m certainly going to continue to fundraise.  Now more than ever.  So many of you have given.  And for that we are so very grateful.  We still need in excess of $130,815.00 to get her funded in treatment until she “graduates” on November 1.

donate for Issy

Please check out our Go fund me page here:  http://www.gofundme.com/2fppdc

If MESSA pulls the plug on funding, we have enough from private donations to have her stay until May 13.

I’m trying not to panic.

Also, I sincerely hope I am the LAST MOTHER THAT HAS TO GO THROUGH THIS.  No mother should be told to go to therapy for a perfectly normal response to an abnormal situation.

My go to phrase is  “parents should be able to find help AND access it.”

No personal attacks

No jumping through excessive hoops

Not strung along

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Here is a list of the treatment extensions MESSA has given us.  Each extension is a nail-biter.  Not knowing if there will be an answer.  Wondering if Issy has worked hard enough, if she’s shown progress, if we’ve done enough to seem worthy.   And each time I let myself hope that the call will say, “we have decided to fund the balance of Issy’s treatment.”   It hasn’t.  MESSA has put me in a very unique hope/Hell place.  Once again, I hope I’m the last mother to have to be here.

From Feb 12-26

From Feb 26-Mar 8

From March 8-Mar 22

From Mar 22-April 6

From April 6-19

5 extensions.  Yay and ouch.

Thanks for reading.

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Team Issy Fundraiser and Raffle for a NEW TV!! *squee*

I’m so humbled that another a group of amazing people are doing a fundraiser for Issy.  They are family and friends in my hometown of Battle Creek, MI

Did I mention the band ***Jam Sandwich*** will be performing?? *squee*

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The fundraiser is taking place April 6th at J D’s Country Connection, 15776 Michigan 60, Tekonsha, MI 49092

Here is the Facebook link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/142560362579410/

We are collecting silent auction items from now until the day of the event.  There are two drop-off locations if you would like to donate a product or service.

The Griffin 38 West Michigan, Battle Creek, MI

http://www.griffinbc.com/

and

Illusions Hair Care 224 S Blackstone Ave, Colon,MI

I’m also thrilled to announce that we have a HUGE raffle item.

It’s an Element Electronics, 32 inch  brand new  HDTV!!!  I believe this is the tv if you want to take a closer look here—>  http://www.elementelectronics.com/2012/01/elcfw326/ 

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new tv

donate

Thank you everyone for your continued support.  Issy is responding well to treatment.  It’s working and we’re doing it! Go team Issy!!

~Kelli

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What exactly is Issy’s therapy?

So what is this magic they are working on my daughter?

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Two years ago we had a behaviorist who recommended starting a ‘Token Economy’ system with Issy.  Basically, she earns tokens and then gets to turn in her tokens for something great.

We had a 6 piece puzzle.  Every 30 minutes that Issy didn’t hit she earned a puzzle piece.  When she had a full puzzle I would take her for Ice cream (or give her a nail polish, or let her watch a video, etc).

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The problem was, that Issy didn’t understand any of it.  She couldn’t go 30 minutes without hitting.  She never earned a puzzle piece, much less an ice cream.  It didn’t mean anything to her.

So fast forward two years and now picture this scene……….

I have Issy at the treatment center.  I’m in a meeting to learn two things:

1.)  Why she is hitting (Is it for attention? Does she like to look at tears?)

2.)  What the Behavior Plan will be

They were able to tell me that her aggression comes from not getting something she wants or not being able to do what she wants.  In other words,  she can’t tolerate being told “no”.

Next the behaviorist said, “We will be using a token economy system with Issy”.

*Stunned silence*

This is a  state-of-the-art facility.  Cutting edge.  Teeming with behaviorists and they’re about to break out the puzzle pieces. Really?

I cried.

With blubbering and snot.

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I already knew this wasn’t going to work!  However, being the consummate professionals they are, they did not let a blubbering mother tell them how to do their job.  The behavior plan would start the following day.  Whether I was on board or not.

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Let me pause here to tell you a little about me.  Before I started having children, I worked as a scientist.  I worked as a molecular biologist mapping genes on two projects and as a scientist at a pharmaceutical company.  You have to be smart to be a scientist, right?

woman scientist

I’m an idiot.

And let me tell you why.  I’m an idiot because I thought that the ‘loosey goosey’ token economy system I did at home two years ago would be similar to what would be done at this highly structured residential facility teeming with behaviorists.

*face palm*

So let me tell you about this Issy’s token economy system.

Every two minutes a timer goes off and the worker says something like, “Issy, you had good hands and feet!  Great job!  You get a token!!”  She gets a token and puts it on her token board.

Personalised-Printed-Cesena-Countdown-Timer

(tokens are round cardstock pictures of Miley Cirus, Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, or Dora, to name a few.  The token board is a very think piece of cardstock or maybe even a piece of cardboard covered in Velcro dots.)

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Every two minutes, with a timer.  Seriously.

Every 30 minutes they tell Issy that it’s time to go to the “Issy store” where they have a big rubber maid tub full of coloring books, nail polish, brownie mix, and other things Issy likes.  Oh, and also “free time” cards.  She trades her tokens to buy 5 minutes of free time to watch a video or play on her ipad, or she buys a favored item.

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As my best friend Yvonne said, “Hey, that girl gets to buy time?!  Sign me up!”

Now let me brag about my little girl for a minute.

She is so smart.

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A coloring book is 55 tokens.  She loves coloring books.  She totally understands that she has to save up tokens to get the coloring book.

She gets extra tokens for doing her classroom work.  So guess what?  SHE ASKS TO GO INTO THE CLASSROOM TO WORK!!!!

She is very good at math so this is all easy for her.

What happens if she hits someone?  The timer stops and won’t start again until she has quiet hands and feet.  They never take tokens away.  They don’t yell at her. They don’t tell her over and over again not to hit (ahem, *hangs head in shame*).  They just constantly remind her that having quiet hands and feet will get her tokens.

So everything at the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research must be rainbows and puppy dogs, right?!

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NO.  Remember what I talked about in my last blog post?  Extinction Burst.  We can expect these behaviors to get worse before they go away completely.

I saw a video of her in treatment having a MASSIVE melt down.  They call it “high intensity”.  I call it ‘holy sh!t scary’.  I’m very glad the extinction burst is happening there and not at home.  Wow….

Let me talk about home life for a minute.

Issy was not happy at home.  She pretty much would sit in her room playing on the ipad.  She would only come out to rampage.  She wanted to visit someone, or she wanted McDonalds, or she wanted ‘Revlon Red’ nail polish.  We provided, pretty much, whatever she wanted.  We would say, “Good talking!  Or Good asking! And promptly get her the McDonalds, or whatever she asked for.

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So maybe by us reinforcing her language, we were also reinforcing the fact that we really didn’t tell her “no” very often? And she expected to get things more than other children???  I think this is a good ABA theory question.  Anyway, I’m sure I ruined her somewhere along the way.  Oh, the mother guilt! (and before some of you get too excited about blaming me, please note that I have two neuro-typical children who are told “no” frequently and do not hit.  Also, they are incredible children with good grades and lots of friends. So I’m not a total mother failure).

Back to the point.  She wasn’t really happy at home.  It felt like we were just biding our time between outbursts.  Also, our parenting became very unnatural.  We were tap dancing around actually saying “no” to avoid meltdowns.  We were also dancing around known triggers for her.  Heck even her siblings would do that.  Who exactly in this house, was shaping whos behavior?!

tap-dancing

Is she happy at the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research?  I don’t think so.  She is very homesick.  She misses her cat.  But I do think that she has the ability to become happy there.  Issy is a very good learner.  She will learn to look forward to earning her tokens and getting fabulous rewards with them.  This skill can transfer to home as well. We can teach her to be happy using this system.  And besides, can you think of a better or different way to teach her to be happy?

Remember how I said they set the timer for every 2 minutes?  Well, they have spaced that out to 10 minutes!  Still very intensive but who knows how far they can stretch it out before she is allowed to return home?  She may come home at the beginning of April or begin to transition home in September and be home for good by November.  All of this depends on funding.

Please understand that I just plunked out the basics of this system.  There is more too it.  A lot more.  They throw in some monkey wrenches to challenge her and use some self-calming skills with her too.

Warning!!!!

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If you are dealing with problem behaviors, do not try to set up a token economy system, or any other system for your child.  Because the only thing worse than no behavior plan, is the wrong behavior plan (remind me to tell you about the behaviorist who told us to encourage Issy to hit when she was mad.  Yes, for real.  That’s why your behaviorist must have a behavior team or supports backing them).

Thank you for reading!

Oh, I almost forgot!  For your watching enjoyment I’m showing you an actual tap-dance video! This is me and Issy dancing side by side!

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Dancing on the edge

I didn’t intend for this blog to be all about autism.  But like everything else in our life, it just dominates.

Our daughter is in a treatment facility for 29 days.  Let me mention that the facility is UBER expensive at $765.00 a day.  So many friends have offered to fundraise for us.  How to explain that if everyone I knew gave $100 it wouldn’t be enough….?  I’m grateful for the 29 days.   But she will be released in a week-ish.  She has started her behavior plan.  And as expected, she is becoming more aggressive (always gets worse before it gets better).  Just in time to come home.

This is what happened to me the last time she was aggressive:

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Black eye in the EXACT same place as the previous black eye.

And a week before that

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Level 2 trauma. Closed head injury.

Here is my youtube video of a typical day:

Some background for the video: She had just hit me and pulled my hair.  She had thrown diet coke and water all over the kitchen.  I was in the process of trying to get it cleaned up and to stop crying when…..

I have talked to doctors, psychologists, lawyers, insurance companies and no one is helping us.

Let me give you a little background:

We started an ABA program with her when she was two (that’s INTENSIVE behavioral intervention).  We stopped when she was five since she was in typical school full time (yay Issy!!).  For those of you who know the lingo we did ABA, two years of GFCF (not a diet responder), DSMA, all the supplements from the Kirkman catalog.  We’ve also done auditory integration, RDI, Sensory Therapy, OT, ST, and an exorcism (the last one is a joke).

She had problem behaviors (hitting), directed mainly to me but sometimes her little sister too.  Our local CMH (community mental health) provided a behaviorist.  She worked on our case for over two years without supervision.  I did everything she said and Issy’s behavior got worse.  I begged her to consult someone.  She finally suggested I put Issy in foster care.  No, we’re not going to do that because she is OURS AND WE LOVE HER!!!

Sooooo, now I’m calling around the state looking for a behaviorist who will take our case.  She is now 10ish.  She had a huge meltdown in the car.  I pulled over and called my husband to come and help me.  I was on the highway and I didn’t want to get out of the car because I was afraid Issy would get into traffic.  My husband found me crying and I lost consciousness.  I was transferred from our local hospital to a neighboring town because my pupils were not reacting to light.

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We hired a worker to help with Issy.  She was great until she told us she was pregnant, said Issy hit her, and said Issy caused a miscarriage.  Then we sent Issy to a state mental hospital for a week thinking she killed a baby.  Only to learn that the woman had made up the pregnancy and miscarriage to get attention from her boyfriend who was living out of state.  I testified in a deposition.  We are all scarred for life.  FOR LIFE!!

Still, we continued looking for behaviorists.  Found one in Grand Rapids.  She agreed to take our case.  But she got sick and quit or was fired.

So that brings you up to current time.  You can read my past posts about how she got into residential care.

I also want to add these tidbits because I’m actually feeling a little sorry for myself.  I think I’ll just put them into bullet points

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I Googled “Refrigerator Mother” and Google did not disappoint….

  • I was accused of working too intensely with Issy when she was two by her speech therapist
  • A family member told me I didn’t read to her enough as a baby.
  • I was told by a social worker that my intensity “exacerbated her aggression” and she recommended parenting classes (she had never seen Issy and had never been to our house to see me parent)
  • I’ve been begging and searching for help for YEARS!  No one (not insurance companies, doctors, or social works) suggest anything.   NOT EVER.

And a little bit about us personally.  My husband has a good job and has great benefits.  But through loopholes and other nonsense, we can’t get help for our daughter through insurance.

We are the type of people to pay their bills. (but our credit is shot to hell because of the money it cost for early intervention, playing the credit card shuffle and re-finance game.). Our car broke down tonight.  We won’t qualify for a loan. *sigh*

I would also like to mention that we LOVE our disabled daughter very much.  But you should know that living with her is beyond horrific.  There are screaming tantrums, property destruction, hitting, biting, pulling hair, and kicking.  It’s always loud and we’re always tensed up to take a blow.

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But what about HER!?!  Our daughter deserves a chance to have a happy life!  She is completely trapped in her aggression.  She is so special and has gifts to offer the world.  But we will never be able to reach her full potential as long as she is trapped in this aggression.

I know you may not believe me, but she was the most popular kid in her school.  Everyone wanted to be her friend.  Her classmates were both friends and helpers.  We’ve had a ton of students babysit her over the years or work as therapists and they LOVE her.  And she LOVES them!!

The last straw =Friday February 1st 2013.

I was contacted by the insurance company that provides my husband’s benefits.  They wanted to look at our case.  The woman I spoke with is an advocate.  Beyond AMAZING.  She took our case straight to her superiors (time is of the essence, our little girl is scheduled to come home soon!!).  They would have the ability , the money, and the power to APPROVE HER TREATMENT.  I knew she was going into a meeting with decision-makers at 2:30.

She was going to ask for full treatment for Issy to be covered (around 3-4 months TOTAL) as a money saving opportunity because my next head injury could be far more expensive than her residential treatment.

Makes perfect sense to me!

She called me after the meeting.  She said, “Issy wasn’t denied outright.  They want more information.  You will be contacted by someone………”

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I fell apart.

I crossed the line.

It’s the last straw.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’m tired of her autism robbing her of a life.  I’m tired of it taking all of our resources (time, money, energy, everything).  I’m tired of dying slowly with each traumatic brain injury.  But mainly, I’m so DAMN MAD at watching my husband, a good man, work hard and never get ahead.  He can’t keep his family safe, and he can’t fix his broken daughter.  He deserves to come home and hug his family, pay the bills, kick the dog (that’s a joke) and do what good men do.

Our other children deserve all the time they haven’t been able to get from their parents.  All of the attention they deserve.  All the help with their homework they can use.  They are AMAZING.  They deserve to have a childhood.

That poor woman who called.  She had no idea when she called me to give me the “not so good” news that I was dancing so close to the edge.

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What do you do when you’ve done all you can do?  When every decision is out of your hands?

I understand why prisoners go on hunger strikes.

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I understand why Tibetan monks resort to self immolation

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So please:

Share with any television reporters you know

Share with any newspapers

Share with any lawyers

Share with any legislatures

Share with your favorite celebrity

Please PLEASE share this with ANAOMOUS if you know how to find this group

Thank you for reading,

You can find me on Facebook here—> http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kelli-Stapleton-The-Status-Woe/441514065886958?ref=hl

Team Issy has a Facebook page if you want to keep up with the developments. You can find it here—> http://www.facebook.com/TeamIssy?ref=hl

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Finding Help is Different than Getting Help.

So my daughter has agression issues.  You can read this post here for some insight.

Or listen to this show on the Coffee Klatch here.

 

I’m so grateful to have friends and family who are always on the lookout for autism related news for me.  Recently, a friend sent me an article about a place that opened in Kalamazoo,MI (Yes there really is a Kalamazoo!).  

So I called The Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research

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This facility was built SPECIFICALLY for autistic children with “problem” behaviors like mine.  I CAN NOT EVEN express the relief I felt in speaking with someone who understood what was happening to me, our family, and specifically our daughter.

Did I mention that GLCATR is ONLY 3 hours from home?!?!  Honestly, it’s times like this that I believe God makes miracles.

I cautiously asked, “How long is the waiting list to get in?”  The answer, “There is only one child here now.  We have open beds, and not only that, but your child will never receive better care from a full staff!

I drove down to Kalamazoo THE NEXT DAY!

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The facility was amazing.  Brand new, cutting edge, full of bright and shining staff.  I impressed and humbled.  

Help at last!

They wanted to meet Issy so back to Kalamazoo we went! 

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My husband got to see the facility and we had more time with one of the directors.  They separated us from Issy so they could get to know her. 

Predictably, she showed some of her agressive behavior.

So we left there knowing that GLCATR can and would help her! 

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That feeling.  You know, when you’ve accomplished something so hard.  Crossing a finish line, getting a diploma, summiting a mountain.  That feeling.

Too good to be true right?

Yes

I’m learning that GLCATR is NOT covered by insurance.

Nor is my CMH required to pay for treatment.

 

It’s been 2 months since our visit to Kalamazoo.  Her agression continues to escalate.  10 days ago she beat me unconscious. My younger daughter used her phone to call for help.  I was hospitalized as a level 2 trauma.

We notified CMH of this new incident.  And still, they won’t pay for treatment.

We have met/consulted with

1.) The state psychologist Price Pullins

2.) Child Psychiatrist Shelia Marcus  and Behavior specialist Judith A. Coucouvanis

3.) High level Department of Children with Developmental Disabilities representative Lori Irish

 

They each know our story.  The horrific nature of Issy’s agression.  Yet, there is no treatment coming.

 

An interesting fact.  If Issy were on medicaid, she would have treatment. 

So if I divorce Matt, she may get treatment.

If Matt lost his job, she would get treatment.

If Matt died, she would get treatment.

If I die, nothing changes, she still won’t qualify for treatment.

If we relinquish parental rights, she would get treatment.

 

I honestly can’t even wrap my head around the fact that in the 21st century this little girl can’t get help.

 

We can’t give up on her.  We just can’t.  She is our little girl…

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What are you doing with the second half of your life? AKA Your Second life?

I ordinarily wrote this for the Museum of Motherhood‘s MamaBlogger365 project

I know I’m not the only one who likes to stroll through a cemetery on a nice day. There is one by my house that is on rolling hills and partially in the woods. The monuments are old, and the buildings have iron doors with big hinges. It feels very historical and lovely. Let me pause to just tell you that I am in NO way “sensitive” to spirits. I never have and DO NOT see dead people. For me, it’s just a lovely place to ponder those who have passed.

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On one of the first warm days of spring last year, I was walking through the cemetery with my friend Tiffany. She was pointing out all of the people who had died in their thirties and forties. I suppose that wasn’t entirely uncommon at the turn of the century (last century, that is).

She then mentioned that she thinks of her age (30+) as her second life because so many of these people only had one life and it ended early.

WOW!

She is exactly right. Historically it’s been rare for someone to live to be 100 years old. Just before 1900, the life expectancy was just under forty for both men and women.

Okay, so I’m living MY second life.

I’m living a life that many of those good people in the cemetery may have wished they had the opportunity to live. I was literally awake an entire night pondering this. Not just for me, but for all of us. Those who are my age-ish are all working on their second lives. So what does that mean? Here are some of my thoughts…

  • You may be an entirely different person in your second life than you were in your first life.
  • You’re first life relationships may be incompatible with your second life.
  • Your second life may bring a career change.
  • Your second life may bring a change in your marriage status.
  • Your second life may be defined by new goals.
  • You may want to start a new family.
  • You may want to take on new educational endeavors.
  • You may want to sell all of your earthly possessions and sail the world.
  • Second life is an opportunity to be more altruistic, generous, and awesome.
  • Your second life is a gift.

So let me talk about parenting for a minute. For the most part, parenting is a first-life endeavor. It also is a brief one. Brief in the terms that it’s only eighteen years-ish of real ‘hands-on’ work. I wish the older, wiser, second-life me could go back and help first-life me but in all honesty, first-life me did a pretty good job.

I’ve learned a few parenting lessons along the way. My daughter is disabled by autism. I will continue to care for her through my second life but maybe I can offer some support to the first-life mothers who are struggling with autism.

Second-life me is going to be an awesome grandparent. With expectations of good health, I hope to help my children with their children. And I should! “Parent” is one title that transfers over to second life.

I hope this resonates with some of you. If it does, please comment and let me know your thoughts. Best Wishes!

Kelli Stapleton

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The Perfect Thanksgiving Day

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ParentsPalooza: Parenting Expo in Atlanta.

ParentsPalooza:  Parenting Expo in Atlanta.

I love expos so hard.  Going to them, being a vendor, or hosting.  Seriously, so much fun and swag in one place.  What’s not to love, right?! The show was two days.  Honestly, I wish it could have lasted a week.  The vendors I talked to were amazingly sweet.  I love looking at all of the different products. It feels a lot like shopping.  And when I buy things, that’s exactly what it is!

For this show I was participating as host.  However, a poor facilities sound system  turned me into the voice of every adult on a Peanuts cartoon.  *sigh*  If the NYC transit authority ever needs voice over work, I know where I’ll be recording.

The families that came by my booth were all so receptive to my talk show and book.  I love seeing the mother’s eyes light up when I tell them what I do.  There is something that compels us to share our stories (any stories!  We’re social creatures, after all), and even more so for our birth stories.

When a poor unsuspecting man comes by my booth, I would tell him exactly what my show is about.  I say, “I’m just like most men.  I talk about vaginas all day!”  That usually get’s a laugh out of them as they flee my booth.  Cowards.

A highlight of this show was meeting my bff Mickey Marie Morrison in REAL LIFE.  She is the author of Baby Weight . The Complete Guide to Prenatal & Postpartum Fitness  I’m  proud to promote her book on my website as a “friend of the show”.

Mickey  was participating in the Expo’s  “Book Nook”.   Since she didn’t have a regular booth, she spent a lot of time at our spot.  It was *awesome*.

Do you think I was a little too excited to meet her?

The book nook was a brilliant feature of the show.  There was an area where authors had their books for sale and did readings.  Seriously, this was one of my favorite parts of the show.

Bracelet wearing bffs!

I love any opportunity I get to go to Atlanta.  My brother lives there with his lovely wife.  His children are grown and both are now responsible for making me a great aunt.  Seriously, I’m far too young to be a great aunt.   This is a picture of my sister-in-law Tonya and my great nephew Bryson.  Isn’t he a cutie?!  He had so much fun at the expo.  There were bounce houses, trampolines, baby/toddler food vendors. …

He is much happier than he looks. I think.

AND A CONCERT BY LAUGHING PIZZA!!!  There were there for a meet-n-greet just before their performance.  This is Bryson’s first star collision!

In addition to Family I have some real life bffs who LIVE IN ATLANTA!

Kelli and Tracy
Bffs 4 ever!

Tracy and I went to college together (Kalamazoo College. Go Hornets!) and are lifelong bffs.   I can NOT even begin to explain all the ways in which Tracy helped me this weekend.  She was at my table covering for me when I was off announcing, speaking, or networking.  Getting ice, finding lost children, finding lost vendors; you name it.  She was the “yes” girl when I really needed one.

I should be kissing her on the lips in this picture.  Total. Life. Saver!  Did I mention that she is the mother of TWINS?!?!

I met  Emmy award-winning TV journalist Joyce Brewer last year at Parent’s Palooza.  For over a year now we’ve been “sisters from another mister”.  I love everything she is doing with Mommy Talk Show and love LOVE LOVE her book.  I couldn’t get to Atlanta fast enough to see my favorite mommypreneur!  Did I mention that she has an EMMY!?!   We become real life bffs and a support for each other in our internet and parenting  journey.  Check out her show and Facebook page.  I know you’ll love her too!

Use What you Know  A Business Idea Guide for Moms

Ok….So maybe I come on a little strong. I didn’t mean to scare you Joyce!

Some other fun at the parenting expo:

The flu shot!!  Who gets a flu shot at an expo?  Turns out, a lot of people!

I can’t tell you the thrill that went through me when I saw the girl scouts had a booth!  BEYOND EXCITED!  You see, Samoas are my all-time FAVORITE cookie.

Well, and then this happened…….

I wish they had boogie wipes when my kids were little.  Talk about a brilliant product.

I do however feel the need to let you know that they do NOT work well on the wall next to the kid’s bed to wipe off boogers.  That requires scraping.  With your mouth closed.  Don’t ask me how I know…

Lots of nits but no bugs!  Win!  Right?  That is a good thing??  Right???? *itches head*

And I just made you itch too!

She mentioned that getting lice could be an occupational hazard.  They should put those things on salad!

Did I mention that I love authors?!  So this is me after several diet cokes and handfuls of candy with awesome authors  Parnell Donahue, M.D.​ (on the left)  the author of  Messengers in Denim, The Amazing Things Parents Can Learn from Teens  and Paul Powell​ the author of From Autistic to Awesome: Spiritual Growth through Life with My Special-Needs Child.  Really wonderful gentlemen!

One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was meeting with Deborah Gilboa of Ask Dr. G.  I started following her on twitter (ok, stalking) and couldn’t wait to meet her in real life!

Deborah looks scared.

The internet famous “overly attached girlfriend”

Anyone else see this?!

Deborah is BEYOND awesome.  You can ASK her any parenting question on her website.  ANY. PARENTING. QUESTION!  I asked her about getting my kids to stop fighting.  Her answer was pure gold.

Did I mention that she is a doctor?  And a mom?  And an Author?  And a speaker?  You get the idea.  Your basic overachiever.

Get her book here!

Doctor G’s “parent size” book.

And guess what?!  We’re bracelet wearing bffs!  Seriously, I love her so hard!

Bracelet wearing bffs!

This little one is the daughter of Aimee Brittain AKA The Coupon Diva.  And she loved to play with my hair.  So I let her try it on!  She looks adorable with blonde bangs.

I told her she may have my hair when I die.  Now she is weirdly excited for me to attend the deadbangers ball.  Related blog post here.

Ok, it was there and it was open.  I thought it would be FUN to go through it.  Really, where is their sense of humor? *eye roll* (Thanks Power Home Remodeling Group! You guys were so much fun!)

This is bff Leslie Petruck of Stepping Stones: Counseling & Consulting.  I think she gave at least 4 talks at Parents Palooza.  Seriously, a superhero.  And if I wasn’t convinced of her superhero status before, I was when I met her son.  Because my daughter is significantly affected by autism, I feel like I have the right to just jump in when I see another child with special needs.  Well, I very rudely asked, “What’s going on with your son?”.  And Leslie graciously responded.

We spoke for a few more minutes but it wasn’t nearly enough.  I love connecting with other mothers who are on a journey that I can relate to.

Did you see her adorable shirt? The back is even better! And I have one *squee*!!

Check out Leslie’s website here: www.omgisoundjustlikemymother.com

Have you all ever seen one of these booths? From the It Works! company?

Where they wrap up your body parts and you magically lose inches.  MAGICALLY LOSE INCHES!!

So basically I told them to SHUTUPANDTAKEMYMONEY!!  I had to try this!!

So into the little tent I went. I decided to wrap my upper thighs.

Thighs were measured and wrapped

Saran wrap green is TOTALLY my color!

90 minutes of tingle and heat (and a bit of chaffing because I was running around the expo) and my newest bffs took off my wrap.

The “after” measurements were taken and….

I had lost nearly an INCH on each thigh!  Just like that!!

Thank you so much Carol and ladies!!

Not quite sure what they are implying when they started wrapping my head. Huge ego? Fat head?

I met bff Nicole last year.  That picture is on the left.  Just before the picture was snapped I asked, “Would it be weird if I asked to nurse your baby?”  Her burst of laughter is what you’re seeing!

I can’t even say how thrilled I was that she came back this year!

BFF Jeni came to the show too! Jeni is a Doula! A real live DOULA!!

And my most favorite thing in the world!  **PREGNANT BELLIES**!  Miriam was kind enough to let me touch her belly!

Thanks for visiting *The Status Woe* !

~Kelli Stapleton

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My feeling as we approach election day.

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I Love Camping

A little bit of *ahem* high brow humor…..

The first night, I’m sleeping on an air mattress in the back of my SUV. Suddenly at 5:00 am, my belly cramps. I wake and wonder if it’s just a weird cramp or the forewarning of an approaching sh!t storm.

Beads of sweat start running down my back.

NOT a good sign. Not a good sign at all.

Another cramp.

Now I’m sweating profusely. My shirt is already drenched at the armpits and down my back.

Another cramp quickly followed by a sphincter spasm. There is no denying now that I have to go to the facilities. Quickly.

I grope in the dark for shoes and a flashlight. Can’t find either. There is a loud stomach gurgle.

I find a pair of shoes (not mine and they don’t match) put them on. There is no time to find a flash light. I’ll have to use the flash light app on my phone.

I exit the SUV and am wracked with cramps, spasms, and sweats. I briefly think I should look for the package of baby wipes but there is no time.
motherofgod.

I walk quickly to the outbuilding.

The outhouse is a cinder-block building. I’ve seen pizza ovens that didn’t retain heat as well….

The building has only a toilet, toilet paper, and dispenser of hand sanitizer.

Being a woman, I usually prefer to hover over a toilet.  Butt (every pun intended), there is no way I can hover over this toilet considering what is about to happen. I have to juggle my phone/flashlight whilst I line the seat with toilet paper so I can sit in relative comfort.

A few months ago I dropped my iphone in the toilet at home. Thankfully it survived. This toilet however, is a  seat over a deep hole. There is a pile of human excrement the size of a small mountain below. Dropping my phone now would be tragedy beyond all understanding.

I finally(deargodfinally) get to sit. I am no longer a human being. I am simply a biological organism doing it’s biological thing.

Sweat is pouring into my eyes, down my back. There are sweat beads growing  on the top of my thighs (I can see this thanks to my flashlight app). Who sweats on the top of their thighs?

I am in Hell.

There is no “dump and flush”.  There is no sink to draw myself some cool water for my face and neck.   No. It’s just me and the flies. The very happy flies.

As far as middle of the night sh!t storms go, this is a mercifully short attack. The sweat is already cooling and causing me chills. Temperature chills, not sick sh!t chills.

I’m wishing now that I had taken the time to look for the baby wipes. The toilet paper provided by the state of MI for it’s public campgrounds isn’t designed for what just happened to me.

There is no sink where I can waddle over and dampen the paper. FML.

I do my best. Still hanging onto my phone for dear life. I REALLY can’t drop it now. I’m fairly certain it would dissolve in the hot lava I just added to that mountain.

I exit the pizza oven/outhouse just as the sun is sharing it’s very soft, first morning rays.

I crawl back into my SUV shivering and feeling like I ran a full marathon.

I love camping.

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