TikToker Dina.helle asked a thus far unanswerable question. On the back of the $100 bill is Independence Hall. Independence Hall has a clock reading 10:30. Why? Why 10:30?
TikToker Mattyice added fuel to the burning question. In a duet video he responded that the clock previously said 4:10 for April 10. The 100th day of the year. However, the time was changed to 10:30. Again, why? No one, including Google, seems to have a concrete answer.
All I came up with was the clock was patented on October 30 so they changed the time to 10:30. What do you think?
Disclaimer: The information in this post is speculation and opinion. The Probable Cause Affidavit for suspected murderer Bryan Kohberger reveals many details. However, I have inserted my theory in places where the affidavit is vague. I have no connection to the case, investigation, or anyone involved. Me not using the word alleged is not an assignment of guilt. As always, it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove guilt, not the defense to prove innocence. That being said, let’s get in the zone.
It’s Saturday night, November 13, 2022, in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho. Four University of Idaho students; Bethany Funke, Dylan Mortensen, Kaylee Goncalves, Madison (Maddie) Mogen, and Xana Kernodle share an off campus six-bedroom house. Xana’s boyfriend, Ethan Chapin, plans to spend the night. No one suspected that by morning all except Bethany and Dylan will be dead.
10:00pm. Xana and Ethan attend a party at a nearby fraternity. Best friends Kaylee and Maddie go to The Corner Bar. Dylan and Bethany remain at home.
1:30am Kaylee and Maddie leave the bar and make their way to the Grub Truck. Kaylee orders carbonara, her last meal.
1:56am Xana and Ethan arrive home. A personal driver picks up Kaylee and Madison at the Grub Truck and takes them home.
2:00 – 2:30am all the roommates are at home.
3:00am Washington State University Ph.d student and assistant teacher in criminology, Bryan Kohberger, gets into his white Hyundai Elantra and begins the drive from his apartment in Pullman, Washington, to the murder house in Moscow.
3:26am Kohberger is seen on surveillance video in Moscow for the first time.
4:00am. Surviving roommate Bethany is sleeping in her room on the bottom floor of the three story house. On the second floor, Dylan Mortensen is also sleeping. Kaylee and Maddie are in bed in Maddie’s room on the third floor asleep. Xana receives a Door Dash order. She goes to her room with Ethan.
4:04am After making three passes by the house, Kohberger parks. Using the treeline as cover it takes him approximately one minute to reach the sliding glass door of the house. Dressed in black from head to toe, he creeps through the door. The door opens into a kitchen on the second floor. Considering how dark it is outside and that he has never been inside the house, Kohberger may be wearing a light helmet. From the kitchen, he enters a hallway. Dylan’s closed door is directly in front of him. But she’s not who he’s hunting. He turns right and climbs the stairs to the third floor.
He peeks into the bedroom on the left and finds only a dog there. The dog jumps off the bed in greeting. Kohberger has no time for the dog following him. Kaylee awakes to the sounds of her dog. She listens a moment, then declares, “Someone is here.” Suddenly, a terrifying figure manifests. He unsnaps the leather sheath of his ka-bar knife. He stabs both girls to death. In the frenzy, he loses the sheath.
Dylan awakes to noises. She thinks it’s Kaylee playing with her dog. She hears Kaylee say, “Someone is here.” She opens her door to look around and sees nothing. She closes the door and returns to bed.
4:12am Xana is on TikTok while Ethan sleeps. Finished with her food, Xana gathers it up to take to the kitchen. She rounds the corner just as Kohberger comes down the stairs. Terror like she’s never known elicits a whimpering sound from her. Kohberger moves toward her. He attempts to trick her by saying, “It’s okay, I’m here to help you.” Xana, too smart to fall for that, retreats to the safety of her room. Kohberger forces his way in and kills Xana and Ethan.
Dylan hears Xana’s cry and the male voice declaring he’s there to help. By the time she opens her door a second time, Kohberger has Xana and Ethan around the corner, out of Dylan’s view. Sh returns to bed again.
4:17am A security camera approximately 50 feet from Xana’s bedroom activates. It picks up distorted voices, crying, and a loud thud. Dylan hears and cracks her door open to peer out for a third time. In horror, she sees a nightmare. Kohberger walks toward her. She’s paralyzed with fear, unable to scream, run, or respond in any way. Kohberger not planning to kill four people and focused on escape doesn’t see Dylan. He passes by her door and leaves the same way he entered.
4:25am Kohberger, dripping in blood, picks his way through the treeline to return to his car without a care to the lives he just shattered.
In honor of Harry’s book release and upcoming interview with Anderson Cooper, let’s peruse his and Meghan’s fibbers from previous books and interviews. Here are 20 easily confirmed lies.
1. Harry was cut off financially. – Harry and Meghan cited their desire to be financially independent as their reason to stepdown from the Monarchy. They said they wanted to be financially independent. Know what’s not financially independent? Daddy sending you money. The Queen said living in America, Harry couldn’t collect money from tax payors in the United Kingdom to fund their extravagant lifestyle. Harry received money from the Prince of Wales’s Duchy of Cornwall estate. When Harry made the comment, Charles was the Prince of Wales and he continued to provide the money to Harry. But William is the new Prince of Wales. And he’s not very pleased with crybaby brother. Harry may get schooled on what cut off really means. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Harry epitomizes that with every attack on his family. Even if William truly cuts Harry off, he still has the millions he inherited from his mother’s estate. And Meghan made plenty of money on Suits. It’s not like they’re in danger of panhandling. I have an idea, Harry. If money is tight, scale back your pretentious selves and live that just-like-you lifestyle, ya’ll keep shoving down our throats.
2. They didn’t collaborate with the authors of Finding Freedom.–During Meghan’s court case against the Daily Mail, the judge forced her into confession. Turns out they did collaborate. Megsy just forgot. (wink wink)
3. Meghan couldn’t wear bright colors.–Of all the ridiculous words that tumble from Meghan’s mouth. This one is at the top. Pop her name anywhere online and you’ll see bright yellow, red, purple, blue, maroon, teal and more. She only wore muted tones when she wasn’t copying Diana and Kate.
4. Paparazzi swarming and endangering them.–In the Netflix disaster the only images of chasing was of Diana and Kate. This goes hand in hand with Meghan calling the police in Toronto about paps that always disappeared before the police arrived. In the docuseries Meghan asks the driver if he saw a pap. The answer was yes, but Harry nearly swung his head clean off, looking around him and seeing none. To prove there was a chase, Meghan pointed out the SUV ten car lengths behind them. The car did not try to catch or photograph them.
5. Archie couldn’t go to school because of photographers.–The UK press gets one first day of school picture of Royal kids. After that, they leave them alone. The first and second in line to the throne didn’t meet a daily photog bank. So, why in the world would it be different for the heir of the spare? The first Netflix trailer shows a bank of photographers and insinuates it’s for Harry and Meghan. They were there for Harry alright. Harry Potter. Harry and Meghan can’t even draw the Hogwarts crowd.
6. How they met.–In the engagement interview, they said it was a blind date. On Netflix they said Harry found her Instagram. Their love story is so great neither can remember how it started.
7. The proposal.–In the engagement interview, the proposal happened in their kitchen. According to Meghan, it was just an ordinary evening at home roasting a chicken. She didn’t expect it. On Netflix it happened outside. Meghan called a friend and said, “It’s happening.” Again, this vital piece of their great love story makes no sense. Who can’t remember the details of their proposal? Maybe Harry didn’t propose. Meghan just convinced him he did.
8. Meghan couldn’t curtsy and didn’t know she needed to.–How does a student of international studies, who worked with the United Nations not know you curtsy to the Queen? A terrible one, apparently. But there’s more. Meghan executed a perfect curtsy on the show Suits.
9. Harry doesn’t know who lived in Nottingham Cottage before him and Meghan moved in-YOU! Dingbat. You lived there before marriage. The Prince and Princess of Whales also lived there after their wedding. Remember them? The ones you want to reconcile with.
10. Meghan was suicidal, but the Palace refused to let her see a therapist because it would look bad on “the institution.” Long before Meghan, Harry spoke about his mental health issues on a tv special about Diana’s death. He created William for getting him into therapy. But that changed, too. Now Harry credits Meghan for getting him into therapy.
11. Harry didn’t know how to get mental health help for Meghan.–What are you talking about, Harry? Ever heard of Heads Together, Harry? You know. That mental health organization you founded with your brother and sister-in-law.
12. The Palace forced Meghan to cut ties with her Dad.–Now that she found her “freedom” from the Palace, she remains estranged from her dad.
13. Archie’s skin tone kept a title away from him.–This fantasy debuted during the Oprah interview under the reign of the Queen Protocol dictates that grandchildren of the Monarch receive titles, not great grandchildren. Now that Charles is, King Archie and his sister Lili are eligible for titles. Considering Harry can’t form a sentence without lobbing a verbal grenade at his family, I’m thinking the King may not acquiesce. They claim the Royal is cruel, filled with hate, generational trauma, racist, liars, etc. You name it and Harry and Meghan have accused it. Why would they connect their children to the very people of which they escaped to save their lives and protect their kids?
14. They don’t care about the titles.-Then why is Duke and Duchess of Sussex stamped on everything under the sun? Let me guess, the Royal Family is making you do it.
15. Meghan was the victim of targeted harassment on Twitter.–Christopher Bouzy, a man with very questionable behavior and a more worrisome history, claimed he uncovered a massive campaign of hate against Meghan. Twitter, then under Jack Dorsey, refuted Bouzy’s statement. Bouzy is a tool used by Harry and Meghan and not a very sharp one. There are multiple lawsuits against him. He doxed an autistic child. Bouzy’s daughter called him out publicly as a liar and a deadbeat dad. But he showed up in the docuseries. Harry and Meghan claim they must do all to protect their children but remain silent when it’s someone else’s child.
16. Harry and Meghan are running a campaign to eradicate hate and harassment online.–Their fans call themselves the Sussex Squad. It doesn’t get much nastier than them. They’re like an online terrorist training camp. But Harry and Meghan thank and promote them.
17. They can’t afford security.–Well, maybe, just maybe, four people don’t need a 13 bathroom million dollar mansion. For people screaming about fear, they invest more money in material things than security for their children.
18. They didn’t want their lavish tax funded wedding, so they got married three days before the public wedding.–This fib forced the Archbishop of Canterbury to release a statement denying it. In the UK, it is actually illegal to marry someone twice. Need more evidence? Check out the chicken coup confessional portion of the Oprah interview. Harry’s response tells the tale.
19. The Royal Family is racist against Meghan.–For all the drama they throw out now, that wasn’t the case before. They both said the entire family was welcoming and accepting of during the engagement interview. Of her nemesis, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Meghan had only sugared words. The truth doesn’t sell as well as fabricated racism.
20. A South African dancer at the Lion King premier told Meghan the citizens of South Africa danced in the streets when she married Harry as they did for Nelson Mandela.–Yeah, cause that’s the same. A man imprisoned for 27 years for courageously standing against racism is the same as marrying a prince. Although being married to either of them for 27 years is quite the prison sentence. The lone South African dancer denied it. He said he didn’t recall even talking to Meghan. Ouch! That had to hurt.
There you go, 20 fibbers of Harry and Meghan. Which amused you most? Angered you? Think we’ll hear new ones in the book and interview?
They say when a person shows you who they are, believe them. That is never truer than when you’re in need. On August 1, I suffered a serious injury breaking multiple bones in my leg. My doctor rebuilt my entire foot. Complication after complication ensued. I started hearing the rumblings of losing mobility. It’s been a traumatizing event physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve endured multiple surgeries, injuries, and life-altering chronic illness in the past. But this injury is worse than all those.
I’m not one to ask for help. I prefer to give it. Those who know and love me don’t require me to ask. My closest friends don’t wait to organize in a group or depend on someone else to tell them what to do. They swing into action at the first second of trouble. They knew I needed them and came without me ever saying a word.
They showed up at my door, in my driveway, on my porch, in the mail, or on my phone. I received messages like these; Bringing groceries I got for you, I can get you a knee scooter, I’ll be at the hospital for your surgery, I’ll take care of the boys & the dog, Prayed a special prayer for you today, I’m on my way to Winchester, Headed over with all your favorite snacks, Was planning to see you but now we have this hurricane, What do you want for lunch and don’t say nothing or I’ll break your other leg. That last one made me giggle. Doughnuts, good ole home-cooked meals, and restaurant gift cards arrived. Steve received multiple daily texts asking about me.
There was disappointment. Someone extremely surprised me by complete exile. But on the days when that hurt most, one of my best besties always seemed to know. They drowned my hurt in their love. When it all felt too much, they encouraged me. They recognized and respected the hardship on Steve. There is nothing they didn’t do.
The saying I began this blog with has negative connotations. It’s meant to make us aware of a person’s fakeness. I choose to turn that coin. I choose to see the positive. I see what people have done and continue to do for me. I claim that love as their revealing nature. So, my dear friends, I can never thank you enough for showing me who you really are.
It was surreal to watch Prince Harry pitch voice over work for Meghan to then Disney CEO Bob Iger. Meghan got her voice over in the infamous Elephant documentary. Regardless of how interesting the documentary was and how fast her PR team spun it, Meghan Markle can’t even read with flourish. It was amusing to see the end of Iger’s CEO position (his choice or no) come on the heels of Elephant.
What makes the story even more tantalizing is that “super feminist” Meghan wanted to meet and work with Iger. At the time Harry pitched his wife’s alleged skills, Iger, his predecessor Michael Eisner, and Walt Disney Company were under a lawsuit. Actress Paz de la Huerta alleged the CEO’s and the Disney company created an environment enabling prolific rapist Harvey Weinstein.
The lawsuit didn’t curb the disturbing actions of Disney and its employees. In March Florida, detectives conducted a sting operation targeting child sexual predators and prostitution. Disney employees were among the 108 arrested. From a hotel lifeguard through Tomorrowland to IT workers, the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth became the creepiest place on earth.
Ten days after the arrests, Florida enacted the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. Though dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that’s not what it is. The “Parental Rights In Education” bill makes it illegal for children kindergarten to third grade to be exposed to sex education. It doesn’t target just homosexuality as the media would have you believe. It includes sexual content of any nature. That fact eludes those claiming the bill is an attack on LGBTQ.
Current Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, said Disney “unequivocally” stands with LGBTQ. That’s interesting considering Disney cruises go to multiple countries who’ve outlawed homosexuality and often impose the death penalty if caught. Shouldn’t Chapek end those cruise destinations in support of LGBTQ?
Chapek, laboring under the misconception Disney was untouchable, and pressured by the minority, came out swinging against the bill. Despite their lineage of alleged sexual misconduct, Chapek vowed to take on Florida politics in general and Governor Ron DeSantis in particular. It was a classic cut off your nose to spite your face move.
Until yesterday, Disney operated under unique circumstances. The state of Florida gave them tax breaks and special self-governing allowances. Knowing this, Chapek continued his war of words against DeSantis. By the time he figured out it would be wise to shut up and stay out of politics, it was too late. The Florida legislature stripped Disney’s special privileges.
Amidst the drama, subscribers to Disney Plus streaming service canceled. Stock in Disney plunged 33% and a high number of vacationers cancelled. All of this plays out as Johnny Depp battles for his reputation in a defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard. When Depp was accused of domestic violence, Disney dropped him. A move that was premature and a violation of the American mantra, “innocent until proven guilty.” Revelations now paint heard as the violent one. Once again, Disney responded without facts. That seems to be their anthem. If Depp wins the current suit, it will be interesting to see if he goes after Disney next. After all, they cost him wages on a false accusation. That won’t go over well legally.
Walt Disney created Disney to cater to families, not political ideologies. It is a swipe at his legacy to throw his masterpiece in a raging political storm. As summer approaches, it’s vital Disney return to its roots to win back the canceled vacations. They should replace Chapek with an anti-political CEO with fierce leadership skills. Will they do it? Who can free Disney from the mousetrap they caught themselves in?
A couple of years ago, I was on Twitter talking about who knows what. I tweeted something in relation to me praying for someone. A random stranger responded. He said his friend lost a croc and asked if I would pray for him to find it. Because I can laugh just as much at myself as I can at anyone else, I pounced. Of course, I’d pray for the horrible tragedy of a lost croc. The shoe, not the reptile.
A few tweets in and others joined the fun. Looking at their bios, I realized they all know each other. They live in the United Kingdom, are sarcastic, goad one another, and are highly amused by their own tweets. That’s a group I can get onboard with.
A year or more after our first interaction, I needed to decide on a book cover. I reviewed several, but nothing felt right. I wanted a book cover as unique as the story. I turned to my guys in the UK.
Once you’ve seen Paul Brandford’s work, you don’t forget it. His distinctive style invokes a multitude of words through a single image. His work tells a story you didn’t know you needed. I reviewed countless others but always came back to Paul of Brandford Studios.
I provided him a watered down synopsis but offered nothing in way of artistic preference. I wanted his take. He did not disappoint. What I love most about the cover is the blending of the beginning and the end. Below is the cover image seamlessly weaving the first page into the last.
It seemed a good idea. Create a grassroots organization to bring awareness to the plight of black communities. What it seemed and what it is are two very different things.
On April 18, two gunmen ambushed a car in a McDonalds drive-thru. Of the 50 shots fired six hit 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams. One hit her father. Where is BLM for this little girl who just wanted a Happy Meal? Where’s all the outrage? Why are there no demands to say her name?
Two days later, Ma’Khia Bryant was milliseconds from stabbing another black girl. A cop, arriving at the scene saved the other woman’s life by shooting MaKhia. BLM is protesting and wants “justice for Ma’Khia.” Oh, okay. So, the victim’s black life doesn’t matter, little Jaslyn’s black life doesn’t matter but a black knife-weilding attacker’s does? Who makes this determination?
Little Jaslyn’s senseless murder is suspected gang violence. Why is BLM not in those communities helping? Last year alone BLM took in $90 million dollars. Yet, there’s not one report of a single cent going to black communities. Additionally, the self-described Marxist who co-founded BLM bought four luxury homes in the US, for $3.2 million dollars. There is a potential deal in the works to purchase properties in the Bahamas for $25 million. All the while, the communities destroyed by BLM protests go without.
What is BLM doing while they sit atop a fortune? A group of BLM protestors went into a Target with a megaphone demanding they stop arresting black people for shoplifting. They go to restaurants and run people out, take their food, challenge them to fight, and anything else they can think of to harass. They murdered a black security guard. They burned black-owned businesses. An older black lady cried on tv because BLM violence halted public transportation effectively cutting off her access to food, doctors, and pharmacies. They vandalize public property, riot, and attack innocent bystanders. They demand no police in areas of highest crime.
BLM is taking in money hand over fist and using it to fund their demands and desires. They threaten that if they don’t get what they want they will take to the streets in violent protest. That is not a charity organization. That is terrorism. And you need to ask yourself why you are supporting it.
It’s been 25 years since, in today’s language, Ross and Rachel unfriended each other. In 1996 Friends roared into it’s third season. Season two left off with Ross supporting Rachel at Barry and Mindy’s wedding. It was such a sweet moment, which left us unprepared for what was coming. We were mourning the relationship death of Monica and Richard. Little did we know.
Season 3 finds Ross in the throes of unwarranted jealousy. Since Rachel refused to wear her I heart Ross T-shirt and ring a bell to work tensions rose. Granted Rachel probably could have made more time for Ross but nearly burning down her office put a damper on things. The argument that ensued led to Rachel’s infamous line. “Maybe we should take a break.” Ross mistakenly interrupts that as a break from the fight. Rachel delivers an equally infamous line of, “No. A break from us.”
Mark visits Rachel to cheer her up. Ross calls Rachel. When he hears Mark in the background it reminds he has copying needs -apparantly. After getting Zeroxed Ross runs down the trail of his misdeed in vain. Rachel knows.
Through gut wrenching scenes the end comes. When Rachel tells Ross to leave we got the line more painful and infamous than the others. Ross in disbelief and agony declares it can’t be the end. And Rachel says, “Then how come it is?” Ugh! Talk about a shot to the heart.
So. Where they on a break? Is it justifiable to sleep with someone else minutes after a break-up? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Leave your responses in the comments and lets put this thing to bed.
I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my husband, Steve, our busy day. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I asked Steve what time his meeting started. He said, nine. I turned to look at the clock behind me. It was 8:45. American Airlines flight 11 was thundering toward New York City. We were 60 seconds away from unimaginable turmoil and devastation.
My son, DJ, was an infant. He started fussing. Intending to calm him with a video, I flipped the TV on. The image of the North Tower on fire filled the screen. First reports indicated a small commuter plane accidently crashed into the tower. It made little sense, but how else could we explain it? This is America. Terror doesn’t come to our soil. Everything we thought we knew was wrong. And what we could never imagine was bearing down on us.
As a former EMT, my brain assessed the scene on TV, while I stood flipping through options of to save the most lives. I saw a plane on the right side of the TV screen. I actually gave a sigh of relief. A rescue. They could get people off the roof. Then it happened.
United Airlines Flight 175 plowed into the South Tower. An enormous fireball erupted. That plane hit the building. That plane just flew into that building. On purpose! I couldn’t form any other thought. I don’t know how long I stood there. When the process of thought returned, I realized DJ stopped fussing the minute the TV came on. As if his only reason for fussing was to alert me to the attack.
I left the room briefly. When I returned, I saw a split TV screen, on one side the towers burned, on the other the Pentagon. I gasped. What is happening? I felt God impress upon my heart to pray. Despondency cascaded over me. God, I don’t even know what to pray for. I felt God’s response. “Pray for my people I’m bringing out.” I dropped to my knees. I intended to pray aloud. I choked on words and just wept.
When Steve returned from his meeting, I went to our older sons’s school. Steve and I decided taking them out of school may scare them too much. The only target for terrorists in Kentucky is Fort Knox. We’re far from there. But I wanted to be the one to explain the attack to them. I wanted to reassure them. Pray with them.
In the school office, the secretary called for the boys. I did my best to explain things to them. We prayed and when I raised my head, I realized prayer re-entered public school. A small group of people gathered around us and bowed their heads, joining us in prayer.
Back at home, details of United Flight 93 came in. Those passengers took back their liberty. They voted on a plan to storm the cockpit. Even in the face of certain death, they upheld democracy. Americans to the end.
The reaming hours of 9/11 unfolded with shock, horror, and heroism. It was the worst day for America, but never was she more beautiful. Flags unfurled across the country. Our government sang “God Bless America” on the steps of Capitol. People flocked to churches, gave blood, and made plans to enlist in the military. I’ve never been more proud to be American as I was on 9/11. From the ashes we rose as one. May God forever bless the U.S.A.
I think it’s important to always keep a sense of humor. Laughter decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins which make us feel good. I’m starting a new blog group titled Tuesday Tales. I’ll share some of my crazy antics, past and present. If you have a funny story you want me to share email me at email@example.com. If your story needs names changed to protect the guilty I can do that. Since my tales tend to be quite colorful I’ll break ya’ll in easy.
My father-in-law and I tend to get into mischief. We don’t do anything really bad but we think we’re hilarious and that’s usually where the trouble begins.
Years ago when Steve and I first got married we lived in Nicholasville and didn’t see my in-laws as frequently as we do now. Steve set up email accounts for his Dad and me and we emailed on a regular basis.
Anyone who knows me knows I am anything but tech-savvy. At work, the IT department spent the vast majority of their time at my desk muttering things like, “how did you get it to do that?” They called for backup. Sometimes the backup called for backup. Other times they made me leave. But how hard is emailing, right?
My father-in-law and I emailed each other jokes we found online. I don’t recall what joke I sent to set this in motion. But I got a response along the lines of, “why are you sending me this?” I thought it was odd it needed explaining but he’s all old and stuff. So, there’s that.
The next day I got a follow-up email on my explanation reading, “Who are you?” Oh, I get it now. He’s playing a little game of pretending he doesn’t know who I am. I’ll play along. Meanwhile, on a daily basis, I said to Steve, “You’re Dad is so funny.” But I never fully explained the statement. He didn’t question me because as I said, his Dad and I are always up to something.
Around day four of the back and forth I received an email stating, “Who are you and why do you think I’m interested in this?” I respond with, “It’s your favorite daughter-in-law.”
He responds, “I don’t have a daughter-in-law.” Now, normal thinking humans would pause and consider the situation. However, I’ve never claimed normalcy. And that’s why the conversation unraveled.
“I don’t have a daughter-in-law.”
“Well, you better call the police because I’ve been sleeping with your son for the last six months.”
“Lady, my son is six years old and you better stop emailing me.”
No need to tell me the last part. I not only wouldn’t email him again but contemplated tossing the computer out the window. Not understanding technology I imagined the man sending police to my house, me registering as a sex offender, and my “most wanted” picture at the post office when I refused.
“I’ve done something bad.” My exact words when Steve walked in. When he finished laughing he assured me I wasn’t going to jail for cyber molestation and showed me the single different letter between my father-in-law’s email and the random stranger.
The moral of the story? Make certain your inappropriate jokes go to the person as crazy as you are.
The all-knowing Harry got himself punked. Too obtuse to see the plethora of red flags, he turned into a Chatty Cathy. He revealed himself as a disturbed, arrogant child. His rudimentary knowledge of coal set me off.
I live in Kentucky. Unlike egotistical nonsensical Harry, I know about coal. Coal is to Eastern Kentucky what actors are to Hollywood. We have the most mines in the country. Closing coal mines means literally wiping out entire communities. Those who don’t starve to death or commit suicide will turn to government assistance. Not only are we the fifth largest coal producer, but we are also the fifth poorest state.
Thanks to politicians robbing Peter to pay Paul, Kentucky is in financial crisis. Much needed support and programs are being cut. My son DJ is special needs. Kentucky doesn’t have the funds to help parents of special needs kids remain in the workforce like other states. Therefore, I left my lucrative job to care for DJ. The lost income forced my husband to work three jobs. Our four other sons were under age 11.
DJ spent more time in the hospital than out and I got cancer. The loss of my job meant losing excellent healthcare coverage that would have paid 100% of all medical bills DJ and I needed. I felt certain if the cancer didn’t kill me, the stress would. It took almost 20 years to crawl out of those black days.
Harry wants to take my personal tragedy, amplify it by ten and inflict it on over 700,000 Kentuckians all in the name of climate change. While Kentuckians lose everything, Harry will be private jetting around the globe on Daddy’s dime and British taxpayer money giving million-dollar speeches to fracking supporting companies.
Pikeville proves Kentucky can escape the coal mines. Once known as a coal town, Pikeville now thrives in the medical field. How? A wealthy man put his money where his mouth is and rallied support from others. He turned around a struggling hospital and built a medical college. Knowing the key to success is investing in people, hospital employees enjoy free healthcare and great pay. That is the epitome of being committed to your cause.
You going to do that Hollywood Harry? Are you so committed to an anti-coal world you’ll sacrifice your mansion, private jets, overpriced clothes, celebrity hob-knobbing, and million-dollar speeches? I didn’t think so.
So, in the words of your little BFF Greta Thunberg, “How dare you!” How dare you think you know all the answers. How dare you contribute nothing but take everything. How dare you devalue people. How dare you present as climate control pious while raking from fracking supporting companies. Most of all, how dare you attack my state, my people, when you have never stepped one designer shoe here.
You sit on your holier than thou throne in your privileged life, calling for the destruction of thousands of lives. That Nazi costume you wore wasn’t a costume at all. It was an expression of a warped sense of self. You have the audacity to attack our president for preserving lives, yet you’re too spineless to walk the coal mines as you did the landmines. The only one with bloody hands is you, Pontius Pilate.
A doctor, we’ll call Dr. S, said awful things about DJ. Things no one should ever say about a child let alone a patient. She felt compelled to perversely tell me how inadequate my baby was. She ended with words I never let permeate my heart. “He’s a blob. He’ll always be a blob. That’s all he’ll ever be.” Dr. S lives today because my husband physically restrained me long enough for her to scuttle from the hospital room never to be seen again.
Each candle added to DJ’s birthday cake serves as a tangible reminder of an invisible faith manifested through the most unlikely of people and circumstances. So, on his 20th birthday, I want to bring Dr. S up to speed on her dire predictions. And remind her that while she looked into this little face and saw doom and hopelessness I saw potential, love, and hope incarnate.
DJ demands personal growth. You can’t be too cowardly to look boldly within. You must forget what you want, expect, and plan. Me holding onto expectations and comparing us to others propelled us nowhere. So, when public school and DJ weren’t a love match I became what I never wanted to be – a teacher! No offense to teachers. I just never fancied being one. As a little girl, I was the only one on our street who preferred being the student when we played school.
It took us a couple of years to find our groove but DJ thrived in homeschool. Shock to me, but I enjoyed teaching him. The fuel to higher learning is individualization. Crafting lessons to his needs, incorporating sensory-rich field trips, and teaching by a grasp of subject matter rather than a perceived grade level, proved to be the ladder to his higher learning window.
With education came books. Books taught me as much about DJ as they did him about the world. Through books, DJ told me how he loved Kentucky history and opened a path for me into his nonverbal world.
DJ views history as a learning tool. Dr. S viewed history, at least medical history, as an inescapable future. Dr. S’s encapsulating DJ into a sports-less world only made us determined to try it all. It should be mentioned that Dr. S did not include sack racing in her list of sports DJ couldn’t do. DJ and his Daddy just threw that in as a show-off manner for Aunt Neen and Maggie.
He also learned to swim, ride a bike, and even find his way around a kitchen.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the best things for DJ, cost us the most. Giving DJ basic life experiences we all take for granted, means expending physical stamina, mental stress, and emotional shifting. Yet, it’s menial compared to love. The more experiences DJ has the more he learns. The more he learns the more he grows. The more he grows the more he overcomes. And the more he overcomes the more hope he infuses into our crazy world. So, we do the things Dr. S said couldn’t be done; eating out, camping, peaceful public outings, air travel, and even a journey across the Purple People Bridge.
It all matters; dressing up and turning his wagon into part of his Halloween costume, riding a scooter board, carving a pumpkin, reaching higher for the elusive Easter egg, training a service dog for him, building therapy tools like a platform swing for him to chill on, it’s all relative. Nothing is too much. Dr. S’s medical knowledge may have been correct. She didn’t factor in how life-altering unadulterated love is.
Of all Dr. S’s wrongs, her greatest was predicting I’d never hear I love you from DJ. Granted, I’ve never heard it verbally. But what I’ve learned is that the deepest of love isn’t said, it’s shown. And no one shows his love better than the little boy who supposedly never could.
Dear Meghan Markle, I heard you’re just existing not thriving. I get it. It’s like my life with my youngest son DJ.
DJ is special needs and can’t speak. And you? Well, no one can get you to stop speaking.
You love yoga workouts. DJ requires speech, occupational, and physical therapy every week. That’s in addition to working with him daily.
Like you DJ has a chef at his beck and call – me. He can’t chew so every meal must be pureed. Doctors said surgically inserting a feeding tube would make my life easier. But it’s not about me. It’s about DJ and providing him every opportunity to grow and learn new skills. I mean what sort of mother neglects her child to promote herself?
You have a multitude of people to bring you any meal you’re hankering for. If someone didn’t cook, blend, and feed DJ he would die. He has zero ability to survive on his own.
You love buying ridiculously priced clothes. A few years ago, we pushed DJ through the mall in a wheelchair so he could point at clothes he liked. Everything he picked came off the clearance rack. He may be special needs but he’s smart enough to know how to get the most bang for his buck.
Sky-high heels are to you what orthotic braces are to DJ – a necessity.
Cute little Archie will need diaper changing for about three years. I’ve been changing DJ’s for nearly 20 years. I gold medaled in diaper changing.
Working the logistics of private jetting around the world with a baby is exhausting. It’s like me in a public restroom trying to determine the cleanest part of the floor to change DJ on because he’s too big for baby changing tables.
And nannies! Wow! It is so hard to get good help these days. We rely on DJ’s brothers and my eighty-year-old in-laws to give us a periodic break.
Those posh resorts really take a toll. DJ has literally been in the hospital about 100 times. We keep praying for a financial windfall so we can fulfill his dream of a Disney Cruise.
DJ is fully dependent upon me for basic hygiene. You know what that’s like. You depend on your hair, make-up and wardrobe entourage.
I can relate to you dragging Harry around. DJ’s legs don’t fully straighten, so he needs assistance ambulating. He can’t run and jump and can only walk short distances.
Frustrated you couldn’t speak up for yourself you employed your friends to do it. DJ’s friend is a speech device he carries around his neck. It only speaks what we program. He has no way to express original thoughts. He desperately wants to express himself. He gestures and babbles and I try to decipher what he’s saying. I call it DJ charades.
This has been my day every day for 19 years. You’ve been a Royal for nearly three. And you know what? DJ and I are thriving!
You chose your life. But life chose us. So, don’t you come at us with your nonsense. You’ve not the first inkling about hard living!
You want to thrive? You want positive press? Then stop acting like a spoiled brat!! It’s your JOB to honor Royal traditions and serve the British people. No one asks if you’re okay because anyone who thinks they’re entitled to take money for a job they refuse to do is clearly not okay. You will never be okay as long as you remain willfully obtuse. It’s time you ask yourself the question DJ answers every single day. Are you pitiful or powerful? Because you can’t be both.
I received your letter requiring my son DJ register for Selective Service. As a deep patriot, I must inform you – you don’t want that boy! As great as America’s military is, they are not prepared for my little weapon of mass destruction. DJ has many strengths, but he’s a little quirky. Do you really want an enlistee who even Santa gives the side-eye?
There are things he could do such as train bomb-sniffing dogs. Got some out-of-control dragons? He’s your man! But not horses! He prefers riding them backward and wonders why it doesn’t work out. Not to mention, the helmet messes up his hair.
His flair for disguises is a definite asset. Hugh Hefner and Phil Robertson never looked better.
As evident in his massive medical file, he holds up well under torture.
Waterboarding ain’t nothing but a thang.
He has a problem with loud noises, though. They scare him and hurt his ears. So, unless you want him standing in the middle of the battlefield covering his ears some adaptations are needed. Put a silencer on guns, artillery shells, tanks, grenades, pretty much everything you have; including drill sergeants. I hear they get a bit out of hand.
Considering how much trouble DJ gets into at home, putting him in uniform in another country increases the chances of an international incident. He has a knack for getting into questionable if not downright compromising situations. Gambling, document shredding, and literally caught with his pants down are only a few of his transgressions.
Literally with his pants down the sequel
Literally with his pants down.
DJ aspires to be the world’s greatest social media influencer. Therefore, he requests his uniform have more of the NASCAR I’m promoting something vibe rather than the camo I’ve come to kill you feel. He thinks it works better for his brand. He suggests his uniform have patches for Culvers, UK basketball, Pizza Hut, UK basketball, Coke, UK basketball, Bath & Body Works, UK basketball, Ricky T’s Bar & Grille … well, you see where this is going.
Though DJ is a true warrior at heart and a Superhero even The Avengers envy, I must exert my guardianship authority over him and reject your offer of war. Alas, the world is just not ready for my DJ. (sigh) But don’t despair, his brother Dalton is all signed up and ready to go. Good luck with that!
Many employers suffer a grave loss of which they are unaware. They shy away from hiring prospective employees because they are on the autism spectrum. The mere words autism spectrum conjures images of inept social skills, stark refusal to follow instructions, bursts of fury, refusal to take correction or responsibility and more. Amid, such a tsunami of negativity it is no wonder they drown out the positives. Yet, even as toddlers, there is a lot we can do to help our kids secure a job. We need to learn to recognize and respond to the potential.
Prior to Annie Sullivan’s arrival, Helen Keller had no discipline. She prowled her family home, doing as she pleased and responded to attempts of refusal with violent outbursts. Her parents labored under the misconception that allowing Helen’s atrocious behavior expressed love. Lucky for Helen a fiercely determined, courageous, half-blind teacher understood the roots of love begin in discipline. And discipline blooms from the small things.
I was nervous about my son Colton’s first involvement with STRIDE (Supporting Therapeutic Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities every day. I knew it was a fantastic program, but it forced me out of my comfort zone. It challenged me to face my fears even as I sought to still Colton’s. I had to swallow my pride, accept I wasn’t the only one able to care for my son and get myself out of his way. He was evolving. Pandering to my fears placed me between the kid he was and the man he’d someday be
This week, Colton started his first job. It’s a goal he’s pursued for several years. He has worked for family, friends, and neighbors but has been unsuccessful in the traditional job market. Until now.
Like most on the spectrum, Colton excels at repetitive tasks. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t advise the fast-paced and often stressful environment of restaurant work. However, food prep at Steak and Shake is ideal. Colton’s job is to remain in one station and chop, weigh, bag and otherwise prepare food for use the next day. He is able to work at his pace, somewhat segregated from other employees, spared from the hustle and bustle of peak hours, does the same thing daily and works off a list. An Asperger kid’s dream!
One of the greatest hindrances to kids on the spectrum is fear of the unknown. Doing things for the first time is scary for most but debilitating for some on the spectrum. Colton didn’t have that hurdle. He had an idea of what to expect because STRIDE taught him the basics of food preparation years ago. When we faced our fears and trudged the painful path of discipline and self-discovery in STRIDE, we had no inkling of what it would bring. The dividends of that years old investment are evident today. Colton loves his job at Steak and Shake. His self-esteem has grown exponentially because his coworkers lavish him with praise, kindness, and encouragement.
Times have changed a lot since the days of Helen Keller. But a child’s need for discipline has not. The world’s expectations of our kids tend to be low. It’s our responsibility to be the Annie Sullivan our kids deserve. We must love them through our pain so they may be a valuable productive member of the workforce and the community at large.
The vision was as clear as it was murky. The image was of DJ walking to the front of the church toward the pulpit. I could make out nothing more than the church had two aisles leading to a step up to the platform where the podium stood. That made sense because it was the exact layout of the church we were attending. What made little sense was that even at two-years-old DJ could not walk.
That vision, like most of the others pertaining to DJ, was given to me when DJ was the sickest. He was in and out of the hospital sometimes multiple times in a month. It was terrifying, stressful, and more than a little taxing on my faith. Yet, whenever I was about to crash God always came through with a vision of hope. He always showed me something that seemed impossible with my current circumstances but instilled profound hope that kept me pressing forward.
I have no explanation for why or when God chose to show me these future events. Not one of them occurred in the midst of fervent prayer. Instead, they came out of the blue. Sometimes I hadn’t even prayed specifically for what God showed me but the vision was an extension of my heart’s desire. That was the case with this vision.
I was busy trying to keep DJ alive. His inability to walk was a low priority. Obviously, it was something I wanted for him but in the big scheme of things, I just wanted my baby to live. I had the vision twice, first at home and then a few days later at church. Me being me; I came up with a reason for it. I determined that one day DJ would walk to the front of our church and reveal to us what God had been doing inside his nonverbal heart and mind.
Fast forward about 15 years. We’ve moved to a different city and no longer attend that church. DJ is walking, but he is still nonverbal. Though the vision was anything but forgotten, there was certainly no evidence that it was about to be fulfilled. But isn’t that just like God?
This past Sunday we were at a church we had only been to once. No one in that church had an inkling as to the vision I had so many years ago. But this church was one of the most loving churches toward DJ I have ever encountered. I’ve had pastors and others love and accept DJ. But the entire congregation at this church has such genuine love and acceptance it stands above all others. Knowing that I was still unprepared for what was about to happen.
Just before he was about to deliver his message, Pastor Rick approached Steve and me. He asked if it would be okay for him to take DJ to the pulpit with him. I’m not sure exactly what he said but something that indicated this was not his original plan. Though we had no idea how DJ would respond we consented. Rick turned to DJ and asked him if he wanted to go to the pulpit with him and DJ agreed. It was when Rick took DJ’s hand in his and they started toward the front that it happened.
In the blink of an eye that long ago vision came to life. What I had failed to notice before, was how much the sanctuary at Bethlehem Christian Church resembles the one at Hill-n-Dale where we attended when I had the vision. They are practically identical. I suppose since it had been so long since I had been to Hill-n-Dale I missed the similarities. But at that moment, it became clear.
The vision wasn’t of the aisle at Hill-n-Dale. It was Bethlehem. And DJ didn’t have to speak his testimony he was living proof of it. I don’t know why God made me DJ’s Mommy. I’m certainly undeserving of the task. I understand even less why God gives to me these glimpses of the future. The only thing I know for certain is that DJ is God’s instrument to reach an often cold, hopeless, and cynical world. But in the process of doing so, he gives me what I need to carry on each day. No matter how hard and painful it is sometimes to parent DJ, God provides me the exact measure of hope I need to carry on. And more love than I can fathom.
Pastors like Rick are far and few between. They may love the Lord, but understandably they are leery of anything that may disrupt their message. Rick invited DJ up with him not knowing how DJ would respond but accepting that if DJ took the limelight from him, it would, in fact, be Jesus stealing the show.
To understand why Steve and I were so confident in a message from God that was in direct opposition to our baby’s doctor, you must know where we had been. Steve had endured a painful divorce that drove him to his knees and closer to God. I was a wild child with a wilder past who finally accepted the call of Jesus at nearly thirty-years of age. Though our pasts were different, we had one thing in common. We had discovered a life-altering faith that would never allow us to be the same again. It was our faith in God that bonded us and within eight months of meeting we knew we had discovered a love of a lifetime. Everything we had ever wanted and joy we had never imagined we found in each other.
I had two sons, Colton and Dalton, from a previous marriage, which Steve would later adopt. He had two sons, Nathan and Jacob, from his previous marriage. Despite all the odds agains us our life just worked. Our family blended as if they had been born to be together despite outside influences that tried to tear us apart. We could not have been happier. Our lives were perfect. We were serving God faithfully; we were living a romance novel sort of love and our kids were happy and connected. So, when a surprise pregnancy arrived we thought it was a perfect addition. We were wrong.
Due to complications during pregnancy from a blood disorder I have, I was already in the hospital. I was resting comfortably in my hospital room. Steve left to go take care of our boys. Suddenly I had a cramping in my abdoment that felt more like I needed to go to the restroom than anything else. Able to walk on my own I unplugged my IV and made my way to the bathroom. Halfway there a mass slid to the the floor with a sickening thud. I let out a blood curling scream and yanked the emergency cord which brought a multitude of nurses to my side.
There was not one of them who wasn’t certain I had just miscarried. Tenderly they got me back to bed and told me to call Steve. I was so hysterical Steve couldn’t understand anything I was saying. He only knew I needed him and rushed to my side.
I was a complete werick. “He said it would be okay!” I screamed repeatedly as I thrashed in my bed.
“Who?” A nurse finally asked.
“God!” Well, you could have heard a pin drop at that proclamation. All movement in the room ceased. It was as if every previously confident nurse had lost her way. No one knew what to do with me as I kept screaming my statment of faith over and over.
Someone eventually stepped into the hall to call my doctor and literally ran into a female minister of the hospital. The minister was immediately hustled into my room in an attempt to calm me down. The nurses worried over my mental state. After all, not all patients proclaim to converse with the Almighty. They were certain I had just miscarried my child yet I was ranting about God saying the baby was okay. They were counting on this female minister to talk me off the proverbial ledge.
Instead, the minister became so convinced by my faithful shouting she launched into prayer. Suddenly, she was thanking God for saving my baby. Now, no one really knew what to do. My doctor arrived into the chaos to do an ultrasound and prove that I had lost my baby. However, to the shock of everyone, the baby’s heartbeat filled the room. Whatever had slid mercilessly to the floor was not my baby. I was still pregnant.
By the time Steve arrived mourning had turned to joy and shocked gasps had become the talk of the floor. Suddenly, complete strangers appeared in my doorway just to say they had heard of my faith and how God saved my baby. It was more than a bit surreal.
The next morning I was still the talk of the labor and delivery unit. The day shift came in to celebrate with me, I received gifts and was very overwhelmed by the attention. My doctor rolled in the ultrasound machine once again. This time it was a prcaution as I was about to undergo a blood transfusion. There were three or four nurses in the room and the female minister from the night before. We were all still talking about what a miracle God gave us when I noticed my doctor’s face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked but hated myself for it. I already knew.
My doctor, close to tears answered, “the baby’s heart isn’t beating.” And just like that my miracle turned to tragedy. My precious little baby, who I was certain was a little girl, was gone.
Where did I go wrong? Why had God said the baby would be okay knowing she would die? It was the first test of my faith and the questions kept me up all night. I sat staring at the wall asking the same thing relentlessly. Finally, somwhere just before dawn, God answered me. “I said it would be all right. You assumed ‘it’ was the baby.”
Was that true I ran it over in my mind. Not once did I hear God say to my heart the baby would be okay. He only said “it would bne okay.” Obviously, “it” now meant my situation no the baby. Talk about a wake up call. It was the firt time I realized I could hear from God and still get it wrong. It was a powerful, painful lesson that is very much a part of my faith today. And what makes me always get clarification before I start putting words in God’s mouth.
“Your baby may not survive the night. So, I will sleep on a couch in the NICU so I can be close to him when he needs me,” the neonatologist said to us.
My husband, Steve, and I glanced at one another. I had just given birth to our son DJ, nearly two months premature. Doctors and nurses immediately whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit. NICU is where only the sickest babies go. Although the NICU staff is the most highly skilled, it is not a place you want your child to be. If the neonatologist thought DJ wouldn’t survive the situation was about as bad as it could get.
The doctor stood obviously waiting for our response. When none came he said gently, “Do you understand what I just said?” He received our nod and continued. “Your son will not live to see his first sunrise. Do you understand?” He wasn’t being cruel. His voice was gentle and cracking a bit with emotion from the blow he was delivering. I think he thought we were in a state of shock and not comprehending the circumstances. He wanted to make himself perfectly clear and prepare us as best he could.
“I understand what you’re saying. But that’s not what our God said.” My voice was as gentle as his. But unlike him, I lacked any inflection or hesitation.
The look which crossed the doctor’s face actually made me pity him for a moment. Here he was, with all his medical training, doing the worst possible thing (trying to prepare parents for the death of their newborn) and here we were not responding as we should. Our response was that our unseen, unheard, God said the doctor was wrong. He looked quite desperately between Steve and me as if hoping one of us would come to our senses. It took less than a heartbeat for him to see that Steve agreed 100% with me. With nothing more to say, he turned and left.
As the door closed behind him Steve and I looked at each other and grinned. We knew the doctor thought we were crazy. But we knew what we knew. And what we knew was that we had seen far too many miracles concerning DJ for him to die a few hours after birth. God was doing something well beyond our comprehension and unlike the many trials that would come later. This time God’s word was crystal clear.
The doctor filtered in and out of my hospital room all through the night providing updates. There were a couple of moments that scared the medical staff as DJ seemed to decline only to rally again. He did nothing to improve his status in the NICU except continue to have a live. The only change was his steadfast defiance of his death sentence. The medical staff was at a loss to explain it.
When the sun rose high in the sky on December 8, 1999, the exhausted doctor made his way into our room. I was sitting up in my bed beaming a thousand watt smile at him, for DJ was indeed seeing his first of many sunrises.
The doctor stared at us for a moment as if trying to understand us before he spoke. “Your son is alive. I’m not sure how or how long he will stay that way.” He rubbed his forehead, still trying to shake off his sleep deprivation and lack of understanding. “But for now he is alive.” Despite all his expertise, it was all he could say.
It was enough. Later that day I sat beside my very sick three-pound miracle and had to smile. DJ was a mess. He was wrinkly and angry at being born too soon. There was a tube in every orifice possible. Breathing was a monumental chore for him. The tiny baby who had only the word of God in his favor was making fools of well-educated men. But it wasn’t for naught.
On DJ’s first birthday we received a card from that neonatologist. In the card, he explained that he too was a Christian. He wasn’t aware how far he’d strayed from his faith until DJ was born. The doctor recounted not only that first night and our unshakable faith about what God had said to us but other occasions when DJ declined and we still rejected their prognosis. He informed us that he never expected DJ to go home from the hospital but our faith had him hoping for a miracle.
Once the miracle arrived and DJ went home, the good doctor made a promise to himself. To our surprise, he said he would never again factor out God. No more would he go into a hospital room and pronounce a death sentence over a baby. His patients would know everything his medical training permitted, but he would always allow room for God to work because a tiny infant named DJ taught him to.
What the doctor still doesn’t know is that our faith in the message from God about DJ’s birth wasn’t easily accepted. No, far from it. We had seven months of training, seven months of fear, and seven months of doubt that led us to this beautiful conclusion. And what we didn’t know at that moment, was that this excruciatingly painful Merry-Go-Round of faith was only just beginning.
In a world that is daily increasing in the number of special needs children, it is exceptionally important what parents teach their typical children. Even toddlers have the ability to recognize that DJ is unlike them. Of all the responses we receive in public, we never had one like today.
Costco shoppers have always been the most tolerant. They smile and go out of their way to speak to DJ. Once in Walmart a woman actually said to me, “What’s wrong with it?” In reference to my child! DJ isn’t stupid. He picks up on unkindness. So, needless to say, Costco is DJ’s favorite store. Since the store is so big we push DJ in a wheelchair which really draws the eye of children.
Today two little boys were riding in a shopping cart and caught sight of DJ as we rounded a corner. The oldest looked to be maybe five and the younger about three. The younger questioned his older brother about why DJ was jabbering and flailing about. Their mother, unaware of what was taking place, pushed them away before I could hear the older one’s response. As we were leaving we ran into them again. The older one immediately began hollering at DJ and waving frantically at him. I mean this kid was serious about getting DJ’s attention. When he did, DJ gave him an enthusiastic wave back. The younger one immediately turned incredulous eyes upon his brother.
“He waved at you.” The little one was so in awe you would have thought his favorite movie character had just come to life before his eyes.
“Wave at him. He might wave at you too,” was the older child’s advice.
DJ, now seeing he has the attention of two children, is jabbering in that dialect that only he understands. He was rocking the wheelchair trying to roll over to the two. His little arms were flailing about as he simply couldn’t contain the enthusiasm of having what he rarely has; the undivided attention of another child.
When the youngest one, with his big beautiful brown eyes round with wonder, gave DJ a wave and DJ jabbered and waved him the little boy just couldn’t believe it. These two little boys were amazed that DJ was “talking” to them. When their mother turned to see what all the excitement was about they both began pointing at DJ with enthusiastic gestures and simultaneously telling her how DJ was waving and “talking” to them. We had a good laugh about it while all three boys were going crazy over each other. Those little boys were amazed that DJ was interacting with them. They treated DJ like a rock star.
Parents need to know the importance of encouraging their children to ask questions about DJ and to interact with him. DJ LOVES to get the attention of kids. He tries his best to talk to them either jabbering or using his iPad. Unfortunately, it is a very rare occasion when the child will respond in a positive manner to him. Science has shown us that children learn physically and intellectually from other children. Therefore, no one wins when the opportunity to interact with a special needs child is lost.
Somehow that mother at Costco has successfully taught her two very young boys that they should be accepting and loving of all people. And in the process of doing so, her children made DJ, for a brief moment in time, just like every other little kid. That is a blessing that defies words and will have a positive impact on DJ for the rest of his life.
DJ decided one day he didn’t want to go grocery shopping. He wanted his parents to continue drive him around aimlessly like some sort of unpaid chauffeur. Because I had the audacity to disobey his wishes he threw a temper tantrum deserving of an Oscar. For a nonverbal child he can be extremely loud, demanding, temperamental, and extremely stubborn.
Because DJ has significant disabilities he believes he is entitled to the Helen Keller mentality. I’m inclined to agree. We just disagree on what period of Helen’s life he should emulate. He prefers the pre-Annie Sullivan days when little Helen was allowed to roam free taking from anyone what she desired and steam-rolling over anyone who dared get in her way. I, however, am more inclined to the older Helen who is wise and prosperous as a direct result of Ms. Sullivan’s discipline. Therein lies problem one.
Problem two is that although DJ doesn’t speak he certainly comprehends. Well over 90% of the time DJ is crystal clear on what is being asked or expected of him. He is also well acquainted with appropriate behavior. Anyone who spends time with him becomes aware of this fairly quickly. But to strangers his intelligence and comprehension is masked behind his obvious disabilities. And that is problem three.
There are times when all three of these problems culminate into the perfect emotional storm. Such was the case on a trip to Whole Foods Market. My husband, Steve, dropped DJ and me at the door. That sent DJ immediately into def con 5 tantrum. DJ likes to ride in the car and doesn’t tolerate well any interruption of what he desires to do. In his little mind this public place was the perfect spot to stage an uprising. He was certain that with enough vocals and emotion he would have everyone eating out of the poor little disabled boy’s hand. But in my mind, I’m thinking being special needs doesn’t give him a license to be special bad.
To his credit, DJ spotted his audience much quicker than I. An unsuspecting middle-aged woman just getting her shopping cart was about to be thrust into DJ’s world. Looking back I almost feel sorry for her – almost. DJ began screaming in his dialect that no one understands and stomping his foot in pure unmitigated anger. Just as the lady passed us DJ’s hand snakes out and snatches her shopping cart. With all his might he hangs on to her shopping cart and screams as if he is about to be murdered.
He didn’t just startle the poor woman he scared the crap out of her! Her terrified eyes flew to mine. I was immediately struck with the notion that I could probably ask this woman to give me every dime in her bank account and she would happily oblige if I would just pry my kid off her. That thought didn’t have long to settle because it was edged out by a parenting philosophy I adopted with my first child. Where you show it is where you get it.
I’m not easily embarrassed but that didn’t stop my boys from trying to get away with things in public, hoping against hope I’d give into them if others were watching. I give my boys room to fly and my discipline leans toward talking it out, finding out where they went wrong and finding a solution for the future. However, staging a public coup was never a wise choice. If they were brazen enough to try such tactics, I was brazen enough to spank their butts for all the world to see. For each child it took no more than twice for them to quickly figure out a public spectacle was not in their best interest. I was NEVER the mother in a store with a screaming, crying child that drew everyone’s eye.
That day in Whole Foods Market was DJ’s first encounter with the “where you show it is where you get it” mentality. Because he is special needs he was given far more leniency than his able-bodied brothers. In a calm voice I explained to him in no uncertain terms what was going to happen if he didn’t get control of his little volatile emotions. However, during that discussion the lady now caught in DJ’s cross hairs was out of earshot. She was about to respond to a situation she only thought she saw all of.
The stage was set for drama and us being us we delivered. Without hesitating, I swatted DJ on the butt just before untangling his hand from her cart. Now, for all that would like to crucify me for daring to spank my child a few things you should know. First, I subscribe to the spare the rod spoil the child mentality. Second, he was wearing a thick diaper that made more sound than inflict pain. And third, I don’t really care what you think because you don’t have to live with him.
The poor unsuspecting lady in Whole Foods was about to get her first lesson in Joan Zone parenting. When I gave DJ his single swat on the behind she swelled up with indignation, looked down her very pointed nose at me and said, “I can’t believe you spanked him!”
Now, granted I could have taken the time to explain DJ’s medical history, but it wasn’t like I was beating the child. He didn’t even cry. In fact, DJ’s only response to his spanking was to stop screaming. I never punish DJ for things he truly can’t comprehend. But I know the difference in what is his disabilities and what is him simply acting out. Rather than explain myself I took the frame of mind of, “You have no inclination as to what it takes to raise this child so step off!” I didn’t say that. Instead, I looked at this woman standing there judging me, pointed a very determined finger at her and said, “I’ll spank you too.”
The woman gave me an indignant “hummpf.” She stalked off holding her nose so high in the air she would have drowned had it been raining. Poor Steve who had been parking the car during this fiasco came in just in time to hear my response. “Did you just threaten to spank that woman?” He asked incredulously. I merely shrugged, completely confused that after all these years of marriage he still has to ask such questions.
I’d love to give you the details of his very wise and logical speech about handling the situation differently but quite frankly, I wasn’t listening. I positively adore my husband he is the most loving, intelligent person I know. At the risk of sounding arrogant, no one knows DJ like I do. DJ is my blessing, son, student, full-time job, patient, client and sometimes nemesis. Steve is the most fantastic dad I’ve ever encountered. But DJ is kryptonite to his superman parenting.
Later, we ran into the woman again. At this point DJ has stopped his emotional terrorism. He is now pushing his little walker right beside the shopping cart like a well behaved little boy. He is smiling, laughing and stopping periodically to grab me and jabber in a way that even I don’t understand. But understanding isn’t the point, attention is. So, I stopped each time, leaned down on his level and give him my undivided attention. It doesn’t matter that this turns a thirty minute shopping trip into a two hour event. What matters is that even though I don’t understand what comes out of his mouth I’m make a genuine effort to understand what’s in his head. And it works. With each interaction I learn a little more about how a little boy locked inside himself is clawing his way out in a desperate attempt to communicate with the world around him.
Our second interaction with the unwilling participant in DJ’s drama was much different than the initial. With tears in her eyes, the woman reached out and grasped my arm. She tried to explain how she didn’t understand and how sorry she was that her initial assessment of me was way off base. I quickly assured her that I understood and that prior to having DJ I may have responded the same way.
I tried to explain to her the important message I want to say to you. Special needs kids are forced to live in a world that doesn’t understand. The world won’t bend their lives to administer to the least among us. These kids must learn, to the best of their ability, how to navigate a confusing difficult world. Because someday parents won’t be here to part the seas of a non-conforming world. One of the most difficult aspects of parenting a special needs child is preparing the child to live in world that is chaos to them when their parents are no longer here. I arrived at the conclusion long ago that coddling special needs kids, giving in to their very whim and not discipline them is more of a handicap than their disability will ever be. So, the next time you’re in a public place before judging another’s parenting skills, keep in mind that what you’re seeing isn’t the entire story.
Despite homeschooling DJ we always have a Valentine’s Day party. We’ve been talking about the party this year for a week. Last night before he went to bed I told him all about the things we’d do today, much to his excitement. We were going to go shopping, make cupcakes, crafts and just all around merriment.
Look at our cupcakes! Aside from DJ being a little heavy handed with the sprinkles, they are perfect. And our giant chocolate kisses turned out perfect, despite it being our first time attempt.
Anyone looking at these pictures would think we had a great time. You know what? They would be WRONG! Somewhere between last night’s excitement and this morning’s reality DJ lost his “give a care” chip. He was not only uninterested in any sort of Valentine’s Day activity but he made sure I suffered while making him do them. Meanwhile, I’m living in some idiotic state thinking he’s going to warm up to the idea. I was sure that at any given moment the merriment I had dreamt of would commence. Wrong again!
Lost somewhere between the crazy notions of, “oh, he’ll come around” and “by george it’s a party and we’re going to have fun if it kills us both”, I came to my senses. It’s not like guests were arriving at any moment. The only guest was the dog and she can’t have chocolate or cupcakes. There’s a reason he has special needs. Uh… because his needs are special (perhaps not as special as his mother’s though). And it’s homeschool for crying out loud. I’m not even competing with other mothers. Apparently, I’m just crazy.
Alas, I gave up the party mentality and let the child go watch Big Hero 6. And for that, I got the sweetest gift of all; a hug and big kiss from my very special Valentine.
It’s always fun to go back and read things I’ve written about my boys. You think the moments that bring us joy, laughter and hope will never be forgotten but time is a thief. It robs you of the ability to accurately recall events as life continually creates new memories. After reading this column written many years ago I don’t recognize that person I was once but through the years I’ve managed to hang on to the love lesson DJ taught me.
I lived in Vegas for a time and loved it. I failed to see the cinematic version of Vegas Hollywood portrays. I don’t doubt its existence. It just wasn’t as prevalent. Instead, Vegas welcomed this fish out of water Kentucky girl. From people at the grocery store to fellow residents in the apartment complex, all the way to the Strip, people accepted and ribbed about my accent. To which I replied, “I don’t have an accent. You do.”
At 22 years old, I traversed the Las Vegas Strip at night, more often than not alone. Yes, I grasp the foolishness of that now. But then, I never felt threatened or scared. Be it noon or two in the morning, I never encountered someone who gave me pause.
It’s hard to equate my Vegas experience to a madman randomly stabbing people over a picture. In 2017, I stood in stupefied horror watching the news of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. How could that possibly be the Vegas I know and love? The Vegas I returned to with my young sons?
The answer is as simple as it is complex. We cannot keep desensitizing ourselves to violence in movies, books, games, music, etc. and expect to live in a peaceful world. All the gun regulations in the world won’t stop a madman. If Stephen Paddock didn’t have an arsenal to unleash that October day, he could’ve driven a car through the festival. And possibly killed more people than he did with his guns.
We’re looking the wrong way. We’re looking at the outward when it’s the inward we need to attend. Celebrities yammering on about gun control but look at their movies. They intentionally get violent sexualized movies under the R rating in order to reach a younger audience. Listen to the music your kids are listening to. Even worse, look at the behavior of the artist as they perform onstage at awards shows aired during Primetime viewing. How can these people possibly complain about sexualization and violence sprouting from the seeds they plant? And every new venue pushes the envelope a little more.
Sitting back and saying, “I’m against gun violence” isn’t enough. Angrily calling for more gun laws is a copout. What are we doing in our homes to raise the next generation? How much do we know what our kids see online? How much violence are we exposing ourselves to? Asking these questions is difficult. Answering them is harder. But pursuing a more peaceful world will not be easy. It’s the hardest task we have.
The one thing we got right is naming love as the answer. Weigh the amount of love and violence exposure in your home and see how the scales hold. Do you and your children know that regardless of what you’ve done, there is a God who loves you and is waiting for you? Even if you don’t believe, don’t you owe it to the pursuit of peace to explore the possibility? Shutdown all violent pathways to your mind. Turn on Contemporary Christian music, read the Bible, discuss and heal the generational pains in your family, and viciously pursue love. Take a week and immerse yourself and family in the love of God and it will change your life.
With elections in November, we will hear from celebrities outraged, shocked, or whatever their word of the moment is. They’ll tell us how important it is that we listen to them because they know best. How else could they be such a great singer, actor, or talk show host? I mean, they couldn’t get those jobs without some serious world knowledge, right? Wrong!
There are a few celebrities, Sandra Bullock comes to mind, who are capable of quietly giving to their causes. No fanfare, no proud bragging at awards shows, no voting demands or nonsensical word salads from wannabe royals. When is the last time you heard of a celebrity backing up their words with action? They are few and usually ignored because their beliefs lie opposite to the loudest in the entertainment industry.
Adam Levine has never presented himself as a virtuous man. He’s made clear he takes pride in his relentless bedding of women. His abhorrent misogynistic attitude toward women he excused by his profession of just loving women so much he can’t help himself. Love to him equates treating women as objects of his personal pleasure, not people with lives and talents of their own. Getting involved with or supporting him is about the least feminine affirming thing you can do.
In disgusting blunt terms, he sexualized women on a Hugh Hefner level. But that is Adam Levine in private. The public Adam Levine was tweeting his hate for former President Trump, who Adam labeled sexist, misogynistic, and more. With all his love for women, Adam couldn’t remain silent about Trump. Not that either man’s behavior is excused. I bring up Trump only to demonstrate Adam’s fakeness. While attacking the former president’s moral character, Adam was asking one of his long-term mistresses if he can name his child with his wife after her. Sick! In the wake of his sex scandal, those Maroon 5 songs hit a little different. By no means is Adam the only celebrity talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is only the latest caught.
Martha’s Vineyard is full of hypocritical celebrities. Former President Obama and Oprah both profess their love and empathy for the plight of immigrants. They also have seasonal multi acreage land on Martha’s Vineyard, a self-proclaimed sanctuary city. Yet, they were strangely quiet when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent 50 immigrants to the island. The island hosted hundreds of celebrities for Obama’s birthday bash with no problem, but 50 immigrants sent them in an emergency state requiring the mobilization of the national guard.
Remember all the cries of immigrants in cages and families separated at the border? They got what they claimed they wanted illegal immigrant families together in America and safe from deportation. So why did they flip out? The type of immigrants Martha’s Vineyard support are those overloading all public resources in Florida and Texas. Give them the opportunity to show their superior knowledge and Martha’s Vineyard was outraged, immediately rid themselves of all immigrants and filed legal action to make sure no immigrant ever sully their pristine white beaches again. And they were proud of themselves for such thorough white washing. Citizens of the playground of the wealthy are rich in lectures but poor in humanizing their lectures. Has there ever been a prominently employed immigrant on Martha’s Vineyard? What sort of sanctuary city has no immigrants?
I could rattle on, but you get the point. It’s up to us to weigh the words of preachy celebrities. All we have to do is spend a few minutes researching if they’ve ever done anything besides talk about what they support. Support isn’t passive, it’s active. Just spend four minutes and determine if there is any action behind what a celebrity declares is the moral, just, American way of voting. If you are unwilling to research, please don’t vote. Because what you’re unwilling to spend four minutes researching you sentence the rest of the country to four years of living.
While greeting mourners, the Princess of Wales was overheard saying her two older children were just understanding their relationship to the Queen. It prompted a parent to ask about special needs tips to explain family relations.
Teaching relationships helps kids feel connected, builds a core identity, and helps the child understand the morals, values, and uniqueness of his family. When I taught DJ, I began with John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”
To stimulate visual learning, I drew a tree to put on the wall. Considering DJ’s comprehension at the time, I used only pictures. I started with Grandma Dorothy, our family matriarch, and DJ’s great grandmother. I placed her picture at the top. Beneath her I put Steve’s parents, then Steve and me, and so forth.
Once DJ understood the people, I added labels (grandma, Mom, etc.) Over a period of years, I added information. I told him stories about his relatives. I took him on a field trip to see some places he had learned about. Armed with the pictures, I asked simple questions like, “This is Peelmore Court. Who grew up here?” He handed me my picture. I continued this to multiple locations. It amazed me what he retained. Special needs kids often absorb far more than we realize.
There is no right or wrong way to teach a family tree. You can make it as easy or complex as your child tolerates. The important thing is to have fun. God created us with an innate desire to know our place in the world. Making a family tree can help your child find his.
The Democratic Party and their supporters like to whitewash the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They claim it fosters anger and hate. They intended the Obama Administration to usher in a time of peace away from the wars of the Bush era. They lost sight of the fact that we were in peace on 9/11. Our desire for peace does not deter another’s evil.
Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi turned Libya into a socialist country. For decades the Libyan people suffered in every conceivable way. Gaddafi reduced his country to squaller even as he lived in splendor. Multiple rebel groups rose up against Gaddafi. Following Gaddafi’s murder in 2011 the country descended further into chaos. Rival groups and turf wars broke out.
In September 2012, the United States had two compounds in Benghazi. A well known diplomatic outpost where US Ambassador Chris Stevens and his envoy were stationed. And a secret CIA annex tasked with locating Gaddafi’s weapons stash and keeping them from enemy hands. The outpost was protected by only six men. The secret annex was protected by former Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Marines.
By all accounts Ambassador Stevens’s message of peace was genuine. It was his belief system not political pandering. Only the secret soldiers understood Stevens could be in danger. They met with the Ambassador’s security team. The compound was weak and would succumb to the slightest resistance. No one knew that better than the special forces secretly stashed a mile from the outpost.
Reccomendations for more men, fortified walls and such were met with a resounding no. Even reports of insurgents taking pictures of the compound were ignored. The attitude in Washington was there was no threat in Libya. Talking heads in Washington labored under the misconception that Libyans felt indebted to America. We helped rid them of Gaddafi. They friendlies in the country might see fortifying walls or increasing protection as preparation for battle. They were more interested in perception than reality.
The first attack was on the compound. Ambassador Stevens and aid Sean Smith were killed. The compound called out for help to the secret soldiers at the Annex. Only a mile from the compound the annex soldiers watched the horror attack unfold. They assembled and were ready to save American lives. They were ordered to stand down. After thirty minutes of listening to desperate pleas and seeing how overrun the outpost was, the secret soldiers ignored the stand down order. They went to do what should have been automatic; defend our people.
An unarmed US drone was overhead feeding events live. Washington could see the Benghazi police they were certain would help flee. Right before their eyes was evidence of how wrong they were about everything. Insurgents using phones to get target coordinates told the story the US Government didn’t want to know. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, infamously denied it was a coordinated terrorist attack. Instead, she proclaimed the attack was born in the moment from angry protests.
It’s been ten years since the coordinated attack in Benghazi. It was a sophisticated attack planned months in advance to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary. Libyan friendlies realized the United States wasn’t helping Americans in Benghazi. They organized and arrived ay the not so secret annex to get our people out.
You can debate who saw what when and the game of deadly politics. But the message is the same. We don’t get peace by asking nicely. We get it through power and respect. We get power and respect by standing ready to fight and refusing to be lulled into false security. The ability to enjoy the best of times while prepared for any response in the worst of times is what freedom is.
The sad inevitable day has arrived. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away today. News first came that the longest reining monarch was ill. Lover of all things British that I am, I immediately began following the story. When news broke of her death it didn’t come first from the Daily Mail, BBC, CNN, Fox News, or any mainstream news outlet. Instead, it came from entertainment magazine Variety.
By chance, I was on Twitter when Variety sent out the death tweet. Immediately, I went to the Daily Mail. There was no update from their earlier stories. Surprised, I went to other news outlets. Nothing. I went back and reviewed the tweet thinking perhaps I misread it. But there it was. “Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II Dies at 96.” At that point, Twitter stamped the tweet as 48 seconds old. For approximately two minutes only Variety reported the death. Then all at once other news outlets confirmed the Queen’s passing.
It’s a pretty safe bet to say Variety was tipped off. If that is the case, it’s also a safe bet to say Meghan Markle likely tipped them off. Tweets are marked in seconds and minutes until they reach an hour. With only a few minutes between the Variety tweet and other outlets, and the fact I didn’t think to screenshoot it, I don’t have tangible evidence. It’s my supposition Meghan tipped off Variety. Why do I think this?
Variety never misses an opportunity to shout their wonder and admiration of Harry and Meghan. The magazine hailed Meghan’s podcast as a resounding success. It’s not. The former royals are skipping around the globe with a Netflix crew in tow. Meghan has the reputation of tipping off publications known to favor her.
Meghan timed the photo call for Archie’s birth to coincide with prime morning news hour in America. She prefers news break in the States where she gets the most positive attention. CBS news anchor and BFF of Oprah Winfrey gained one of only three slots at Windsor Castle to photograph Archie, much to the frustration of British media. King also spent time with Harry and Meghan at Frogmore Cottage days before the birth. And let’s not forget the infamous Oprah tell all lie fest. Meghan definitely has her favorites in the media. Variety is one of them. She erroneously thinks it’s her gateway to Hollywood. It’s not.
I may not have hard evidence Meghan used the Queen’s death to curry media favors but the circumstantial evidence is sufficient for me. You can make up your own mind. Believe it or not, one thing is undeniable. Harry and Meghan sadly didn’t care enough about the Queen to accept her invitation to visit at Balmoral. How ironic Harry wound up there anyway, alone. A day late and dollar short, as they say.
No matter the climate, we can count on the former prince known as Harry to muck up Constitutional rights. You’d think after that humiliating First Amendment is bonkers thing Harry would spend five minutes fact checking the speech Meghan wrote for him. But nope!
During his UN Nelson Mandela Day speech, Harry remarked upon the travesty of SCOTUS’s “rolling back of Constitutional rights in the United States.” There’s a bit of a hiccup with that though. RoeVWade was a Supreme Court ruling, not a Constitutional right. The difference is significant.
A SCOTUS ruling is a court case. If you lose a court case you can appeal it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. They may find in your favor. However, your win does not make it a right or law for everyone. The court system in America rules on specific cases and precedence.
In the RoeVWade case SCOTUS, rightly, upheld the founding fabric of this country. Our system is designed to allow states to establish law for their constituents rather than a large federal government dictating to everyone. Outside of national security, the federal government cannot interfere in state government. Even in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster, the governor of the state must request federal aid before FEMA can respond.
Remember Hurricane Katrina? Federal aid wasn’t initially sent to multiple parishes in New Orleans because Louisiana Governor Blanco didn’t include those parishes in his request for aid from the Bush Administration. Despite all the erroneous liberal “outrage” SCOTUS ruled abortion is a state mandate like everything else. If Harry and Meghan are so constitutionally literate and powerful, why didn’t they provoke the ratification of RoeVWade?
To make abortion a Constitutional right, RoeVWade would’ve had to be ratified, voted on and added to the Constitution as an amendment. An amendment requires two-thirds of our 50 states to request a convention in order to vote on the matter. If the states fail to do so, Congress can ratify it with a two-thirds vote in both houses. In the 50 years since it’s been on the books, including 29 of those years under Democratic rule, no one attempted to ratify RoeVWade.
We can somewhat excuse Harry’s Constitutional ignorance. Although, at this juncture, one would think he’d be wising up. But Meghan? What’s her excuse? If you married a hapless prince from another country, wouldn’t you read his speech and advise him before he gave an “expert” opinion on the host country’s politics on the world stage?
Harry and Meghan hold themselves above us mere peasants. They present themselves as all wise, super rich, and mega famous. When, in fact, they are shockingly oblivious to reality, live well beyond their means, and are clinging to the gutter. They are victims of their own demise. And when that demise hits them, it will be in a humiliatingly spectacular public fashion. But it won’t be a Constitutional Right.