≡ Menu

I am not angry at Pepsi or Global Giving.  I understand that as business entities neither of you have done anything illegal and that the administration of the grants disbursed by your Pepsi Refresh Everything Project has been done according to the predetermined plan.  I am disappointed in both of you because I feel you allowed someone to manipulate your program to gain the materials and equipment to increase the number of puppies they sell online; all of this done in the name of helping autistic children.  And when the concerns were brought to your attention they were ignored.  It was as if your program were infallible.  Does that really hold true to the Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles of your companies?

OK, so you apply for a grant from Pepsi as an individual (although I would venture to say that you had to do so because your “organization” is not legally a legitimate organization) Then on your Facebook page where you’ve asked the rest of the world to Vote for your idea at Pepsi Refresh – why do you make it sound like “Animals for Autism” has applied. You never once said “The founder of Animals for Autism, Lea Kaydus, has applied for a grant from the Pepsi…”

And then, why did you issue press releases as “Animals for Autism” stating that you had received your Pepsi grant and would be using the grant to place free autism service animals? Especially since you already knew that this had changed because Global Giving wanted something more tangible to be able to measure your progress toward goal completion.  Why did you not once mention this to those supporting you.

Where did your entire support system go? You know, the volunteers and donors who supply you with vaccinations and microchipping, puppy foster parents, supplies like food, leashes, collars, harnesses and dens. That is how you claim to only need the training fees to be covered by the applicant families. And if you knew this was not the case this time, why did you not include pet food, those other essential supplies and registration with local authorities for the pups, maybe even collars with name tags on them to allow you to visually differentiate the pups? Instead you chose automatic feeding systems (10 of them) so that the pups could be automatically fed in their kennels. Which family needs a pup trained to get its food from an automatic feeding system? Why would it be needed initially if the pups are with the foster puppy raisers?  Almost sounds like you were wanting to use this almost as an assembly line to get your pups out there in quantity.  How did your budget of $25,000 disappear so fast.

Did you spend it all on the construction of the “new facility”? From the outside it appears to be an add-on to the larger steel barn. It almost looks like your standard RV garage. I’m almost positive as prior owners of your own trenching and excavating company, you probably still have some contacts in the field. Why would you say that you “purchased” your new property when you are merely relocating your facility to land owned by your husband’s family.  Why do you respond to every new person who posts on your Facebook wall asking how to acquire a service animal with “Feel free to email *********.yahoo.com for application information.” but refuse to reply to the families currently in your program.  Why do you insist on deleting legitimate questions posted on your wall?

Why would you not leave a forwarding address with the Post Office? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that you have received requests for explanations from the Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, Navy Legal, and I am sure others at your current address. How are your clients supposed to be able to find/contact you? You tell everyone who asks for information on your Facebook page to email you and yet claim to not have internet access for extended periods of time at frequent intervals. How did your daughter update her Facebook profile so often while you did not have internet access? Who posted the ads on PuppyFind.com for the Siberian Puppies on your behalf? What about the eBay auction that seems to be continuously renewed?

Recently Animals for Autism founder, Lea Kaydus, was asked by a reporter from WICS – Springfield for information pertaining to the concerns with her program.  [She declined an on-camera interview with the explanation that it was not allowed by Pepsi]  She informed the reporter that all was well with the program and that the puppies would be delivered on time as promised.  That is very contradictory to the information received by one of the families in the program.  This family was told that the puppies were in emergency shelters since she did not have the money to feed them.  She also told another person who had called inquiring about a service dog training program that her program was on hold due to lack of funds, the puppies were in emergency shelters and had not yet begun training and that it would be 18 months after she was able to get them back before they would be able to be delivered.  So which is it?  You claim on your Facebook page that all is well, why was there no mention of emergency shelters and lack of funds for food?

Lots of questions and very few good answers.


[Editorial note: My other posts talk of ten families that were part of the Animals for Autism program.  This is mostly true – there were ten families that became part of the program sponsored by the Pepsi Refresh Everything project but there were others caught up in this]

Thirteen families entered into a program with high hopes, high energy and expectations of a better life on the other side.  Autism Service Animals can bring that to a family.

Yes, I said thirteen.

We should not forget the first that brought all of our attention to Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism.  The family that was to receive a free service dog in honor of Autism Awareness Month,were the Johnson’s.  After all, if we had not found that press release we might have missed all this fun.  They have not had any real contact with Lea Kaydus or any other trainer from Animals for Autism.  This pup was the one Animals for Autism had planned from the get-go to donate free-of-charge.  He had been donated to the training program and all expenses should have already been taken into account, even the cost of paying the trainers.  Which makes me wonder – so what has happened to James?

Then shortly after the announcement of the placements to be funded by the Pepsi Refresh Everything Program, our group was joined by the DiRedo family.  Even though their training costs were not covered by the Pepsi grant their pup, Kino, was to be trained alongside all the others.  Whatever happened to Kino?

And then one last family, with funding in place from a generous benefactor.  The requirements were that it would only be given to a program which was a 501c(3) and must be used prior to the end of 2011.  Animals for Autism claimed to be a non-profit on their Facebook page.  People were told time after time from June onward that the all paperwork had been submitted to the IRS and AFA was simply awaiting their final determination.  When the elusive tax ID number was received it was discovered that it had never applied for non-profit status AND that it did not belong to Animals for Autism or Siberian Snow Babies.  The Spencer family not only wasted a lot of time waiting for the “right” dog to be found and the tax ID number in order to utilize there funding; the family is now in the position that they no longer have the funding.  This could have been utilized somewhere else had they been told the truth.

So what happens now?  To be honest, I am not really sure.  I wish there was an answer that I felt truly satisfied all aspects.  What value do you place on the time that families spent waiting because they believed in the organization providing the excuses.  Those excuses were bolstered by the insistence of the grant program that all was well – that all was on schedule and nobody should be worried.  What value do you assign to this?  Global Giving, would it be acceptable to have treated Ms. Indra K. Nooyi in the same manner that you have treated the families who called with concerns?  Were these concerns forwarded to anyone in the leadership.  Have you read the PepsiCo Values and Philosophy?  Maybe they don’t apply to you but I would think that Pepsi would be looking at your actions since their Values and Philosophy are the foundation for every business decision they make which would include your oversight of their Refresh Everything Project.

Taken from the Pepsi Co website here:

Pepsi Co Values and Philosophy

Our Values & Philosophy are a reflection of the socially and environmentally responsible company we aspire to be. They are the foundation for every business decision we make.

Pepsi Co Commitment

We are committed to delivering sustained growth through empowered people acting responsibly and building trust.


What it Means

Responsibility and Trust form the foundation for healthy growth. We hold ourselves both personally and corporately accountable for everything we do. We must earn the confidence others place in us as individuals and as a company. By acting as good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we strengthen that trust by walking the talk and following through on our commitment to succeeding together.

Pepsi Co Guiding Principles

We uphold our commitment with six guiding principles. [3 of the 6 shown]

We must always strive to:

1.  Care for our customers, our consumers and the world we live in. 
We are driven by the intense, competitive spirit of the marketplace, but we direct this spirit toward solutions that benefit both our company and our constituents. Our success depends on a thorough understanding of our customers, consumers and communities. To foster this spirit of generosity, we go the extra mile to show we care.

3.  Speak with truth and candor. 
We tell the whole story, not just what’s convenient to our individual goals. In addition to being clear, honest and accurate, we are responsible for ensuring our communications are understood.

6.  Respect others and succeed together. 
Our mutual success depends on mutual respect, inside and outside the company. It requires people who are capable of working together as part of a team or informal collaboration. While our company is built on individual excellence, we also recognize the importance and value of teamwork in turning our goals into accomplishments.

All I am asking is that you hold to your values as a company, as individuals, and honor your commitment.  Show the world that even though you may come out with a bit of a black eye you will do so with integrity.


[Editorial note: I apologize for covering items mentioned in the previous post(s) but there is just so much that has happened and I do want to paint a complete picture.  There really is a wealth of information and to put it all in one post is overwhelming.]

Parents Raising Concerns Over Local Autism Group <- News Channel 20 story

Our life since withdrawing from the Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism program has been quite the roller coaster.  It was hard enough to admit to ourselves that maybe, just maybe, we had made a mistake in the organization we had chosen to provide our Autism Service Dog.  After all, the “founder” of the organization had a child on the spectrum.  She knew our trials and tribulations, at least to some extent after all, no two autistic children are identical.  Please read my previous post, if you have not already, for some more background.

We wanted to believe that it all was true, that autism service animals could be provided for a minimal cost even with the extensive training that would be required.  This organization claimed that their access to resources and volunteers would allow them to cover most of the costs associated with providing Autism Service Animals.  “The only costs associated with acquiring one of our animals are for the the training required to prepare them for a career as service animals.  In addition, our trainers have greatly reduced their normal fees to make the dream of owning an Autism Service Animal a reality for more families than ever before.”

It was a dream.  A dream shared by many a special needs family.  We dream of the freedom, of the stability, that could be provided by a well-trained autism service dog.  Many do not believe that dream is even close to a possibility due to the high costs associated with the acquisition.  The promise of only needing to pay for training costs at a highly reduced rate is very appealing.  Animals for Autism promised this.  A service dog for on average $5000.00 which could be paid over a period of one year while your dog was being carefully trained under the watchful eye of a trainer who would be in continuous communication with the family.  Then mention that this organization is planning on giving away an Autism Service Dog in honor of Autism Awareness Month.  That certainly garners attention.

The fees were kept lower by screening and testing donated AKC and UKC puppies.  By securing funding for all veterinary expenses, including spay/neutering, immunizations and microchipping, prior to placement.  Securing “foster care” for the animals’ socialization (also known as puppy raisers) prior to placement.  Providing a consistent diet of nutritionally balanced, high-quality food for the animal for the duration of the program (Lea was very specific that she utilized Purina products).  Animals for Autism would secure donated equipment – tethers, leashes, collars and harnesses as well as a crate or “den” for the animal and then provide a “working vest” and proper credentials, documentation and all health records at time of placement.

Just recently, a reporter, Mike Brooks, from an ABC affiliate in Springfield, Illinois went to try and get some information and maybe some answers.  Ms. Kaydus told Mr. Brooks that the dogs were with donor families learning the basics, and that they only come to her for training sessions.  She said that everything was on schedule and going fine.  When he asked to see the dogs she said that it would not be possible.  This was the story the news reporter was given.  An “anonymous” person called to “inquire” about a service dog and was told that they have the service dog training program on hold until Pepsi gives them the rest of the money.  Pepsi has only given them $25,000 and is holding off on the rest because people are lying about them and saying that there are no dogs.  Due to this, they can’t afford to even feed the dogs right now and so they are in emergency shelters waiting.  They have not yet begun training and they cannot get the dogs out until they get the rest of the money from Pepsi.  Are you hearing this Pepsi (and Global Giving)?  Once they get them back it will take at least 18 months to train.  Anybody is welcome to come out to visit the dogs at the shelter in the meantime.  It was so bad that they didn’t have a Christmas.  Please remember that since May they have received over $5,000 from the families participating in their program AND $25,000 from Pepsi through Global Giving.  This does not even include donations made directly to them on behalf of the families in the program since that has never been fully disclosed.  If you figure that a 40 pound bag of Purina dog food can be purchased for about $30 a bag…why is it that they could not feed the animals?  Especially, if the animals are actually out in their “foster homes” learning the basics.  I believe that the volunteer puppy raisers were donating their time and providing for the puppies during that stage.

Each family seems to be given a version of the story most suitably tailored for them.  How much of what we have been told is true and how much is false?  I cannot even begin to guess.  I do know that I would not wish this upon any family, let alone a family with a child on the autism spectrum.  A child that has been told since May that soon they would have their very own puppy, who would be able to be there for them, no matter where.  A puppy with a name and a face that was apparently a dream too good to be true.

Through this experience I have met and become friends with a group of families I would not have met otherwise.  For that I am grateful.  I am very bitter that you hurt my family.  I am upset that I was not able to stop that from happening.  I am angry that so many refuse to even see it as a problem.  How would you feel had it happened to you?

{ 1 comment }

Pepsi, Autism Service Animals, and Shattered Dreams

{Editorial note: I initially planned to link to the various pages of the Animals for Autism website but it has been pulled from the web for some unknown reason. Instead I will post screenshots of their website.]

In April of 2011 my wife and I decided it was time to take the plunge and actively seek a service dog for our daughter.  We had actually been searching for a service dog trainer/training organization for a while on and off for several months.  Most of the organizations we came across required a substantial (we are talking $15,000 – $20,000) amount of fundraising prior to being placed onto a waiting list to be matched with an animal.  That amount just seemed so daunting.  And then we stumbled upon what appeared to be a godsend.  There was this organization in Tallula, Illinois that was placing, free of charge, a highly-trained Autism Service Dog with a child or adult in need in recognition of Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day.  We were informed that they were completing certification as a 501c nonprofit and that all donations made during the year would be tax deductible for our donors.  When we went to the website for Siberian Snow Babies’ Animals for Autism (http://siberiansnowbabies.com) we were surprised by how much less their final costs were compared to the others.  Their website stated “By privately funding all of the medical care, various incidentals, foster care and all of the animal’s other expenses, we are able to provide our Autism Service Dogs for as little as $5000.” (See following picture)
Training Fees and Funding pageThis was nothing short of a miracle for us – we knew we could do this!  We decided to skip applying for the free service dog, and begin their normal program.  Our application was submitted and much to our delight was accepted.  We were informed that since we were asking for our pup to also be trained to alert upon detection of peanut that we would need to pay a bit more than the normal $5000 but that we would be given a 10% military discount.  We were ecstatic.  Two weeks later our daughter was “matched” with a beautiful Isabella White Siberian Husky.  A week after we were matched their computer was invaded by a computer virus and they were required to purchase all new computer systems and reinstall all their photo and media programs.  They were unable to provide any updates or photos.

Beginning May 1, 2011 Animals for Autism began a campaign for a Pepsi Refresh Everything Grant in the amount of $50,000.  This grant would allow them to place TEN service dogs free of charge.  How amazing would that be.  Now this was definitely something we would/could and did support.  Our family, like many of the other “fan families” recruited friends, family members and anyone else we could wrangle into our corral.  We received daily contact with Lea Kaydus, founder of Animals for Autism, with Pepsi Power Vote codes to vote on their behalf.  And we did it, we accomplished our goal and Animals for Autism made it into the top 10 and became one of the funded programs.  We (those who began a training program despite not being selected for their Go Blue pup) were offered the opportunity to be part of the Pepsi Refresh Everything grant award, and accepted this opportunity – at this point almost $3000 had been paid to Animals for Autism on our behalf.  The miracle continues.  And yet, there still have not been any updates on our pup’s training progress, no contact with our trainer, no new pictures and our requests for assistance with our own fundraising was met with “we are too busy working on the Pepsi grant at the moment, maybe later.”

While working with the pictures we had received of our pup we noticed that they had been taken back in May of 2007.  All of our pictures had date stamps from 2007 – a red flag pops up and begins to wave.  So I became curious and began to check the other pictures on the site.  All were taken with the same camera and so many of them were two years old or older.  Now one could assume that the camera was just set wrong, since we knew that our pup was born on March 7, 2011 and not May, 2007 but the dates of the pictures on the site ranged from 2007 to 2011.  The 2011 pictures were of the brand new litter with pups up for sale.

Did I mention that 11 pups from two consecutive litters were placed into the training program for 11 families.  I should mention at this point that the reason service dogs are so expensive is the washout rate.  Here is a basic breakdown – one out of forty dogs has the proper temperament to become a service dog and half of those that begin training are unable to successfully complete the training.  And yet all 11 of these were all but guaranteed to be successful as service dogs – another red flag begins to wave.

We wanted to reassure ourselves that we had made the right decision with this company and so we contacted the Springfield Autism Resource Center (SPARC) which is just down the road from Tallula.  After all, Lea Kaydus had listed herself as active in the autism community and as Acting Director of Finance at SPARC.  Surely they would be able to calm our fears.

LinkedIn profileUnfortunately, none of the people we spoke with knew of Lea Kaydus or Animals for Autism.  They were unaware that there was an organization in their local area training and providing autism service animals – red flag.  How could this be??  They suggested that we contact the Autism Program of Illinois (TAP-IL).  We did this and received the same answer – this really was not helping calm our fears – yet another red flag.  We were finding ads online at various sites (PuppyFind.com and this one in Pakistan for one of the named Pepsi Pups)  Do I even need to say that this was a red flag?  At this point nothing felt right and the people we hoped would be able to alleviate our worries only caused more.  I would also like to have it noted that none of their animals are registered in the county in which they are currently residing, nor the one they previously resided.  They are not licensed by the State of Illinois as a business entity, nor a kennel.  They have never applied for 501c status with the Internal Revenue Service and the tax ID number that they gave to us did not belong to them.

I have spoken to many people.  I have made contact with the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department of Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Better Business Bureau of Central Illinois, Springfield Autism Resource Center, The Autism Program of Illinois, Members of Sangamon and Menard Country Animal Control, my Naval Legal Services Office (AFA ignored their letter for information), program managers for the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project and all with very little to show for it.

To this date, Animals for Autism ignores the requests for information, updates from those in its program.  They respond to those inquiring as to how to get their own service animal with a simple – email for info.  I am flabbergasted.  I do not know how to respond but I feel that I must do something, say something, to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

Pepsi, I am sad.  You have lent credibility to this organization by your association.  I realize that the $50,000 you gave to them through Global Giving means very little to you but it did to us.  And the people you have in charge of your Refresh Everything Project have brushed our concerns aside, treating us as mere annoyances.  I wish I could get your attention, and truly get your help but I have to say that I doubt it will ever happen.  I had faith in the good of Refresh Everything but am beginning to think that it is nothing more than a tax write-off for you and a popularity contest for others.  While it has the potential to bring out good in people, and improve the world it seems to have also brought out an awful lot of deceit.  If you would like to know the people I have spoken with a simple email to me will evoke that response unless I receive that email from either Terri or Dennis.  In which case, I really am tired.  Global Giving has told one of the other families involved that my family (really that means my wife and I) are just troublemakers and that we should not be associated with.  Really??  Please walk through along the path I took to reach this point and tell me that you would be free of questions.  A bad case of Pepsi Autism Service Animals can really change your perspective of things.

What I really meant to do here was to introduce a very well-written post by another member of the Pepsi Pup fiasco and ask you to read her post but I got long-winded.  Please read the post by Ashley.  Pass it along to your friends to read.  Tweet about it.  Please don’t let this happen to anyone you know.



Why They Wear Dolphins

The following article is reprinted from the September 1967 issue of ALL HANDS Magazine.


WHY DO NAVYMEN volunteer for the Submarine Service?

What makes a sailor willingly submit himself to the rigors of the confining and often uncomfortable life of a submariner? The men of the U. S. underseas fleet claim they put in longer hours, are separated more from their families, must perform more diversified tasks and take greater risks than their surface counterparts. They live in an atmosphere where there is not enough water for daily showers at sea, where sleeping quarters are sparse and overcrowded, and where daily living can be rigorous as well as demanding.

Yet each year thousands of Navymen – seamen apprentices and veteran salts alike – volunteer for submarine duty. What’s more, those who volunteer seldom change their minds. The dropout rate is practically nil. Why?


 Here are the opinions of men in Submarine Flotilla One. It is a sampling of some 35 crewmembers from the following submarines:USS Bream (AGSS 243), Baya (AGSS 318), Caiman (SS 323), Diodon (SS 349), Razorback (SS 394), Redfish (AGSS 395), and Salmon (SS 573).

Most of the men who took part in the survey decided upon the Submarine Service after studying all the Navy’s programs. More often than not their initial interest was sparked by friends who had served in – or were at the time serving in – submarines.

 BUT WHAT brought about the ultimate decision?

Most gave more than one reason. Some were lured by the call of adventure, and the opportunities available to seek greater challenges and to tackle more responsibility. Others sought a more rounded career.

For 20 per cent, the idea of being part of an organization so well endowed with prestige, esprit de corps, and high morale was appealing. That image is the result, they say, of the need for teamwork and close-living compatibility, coupled with the reputation built through the deeds of their WW II predecessors.

And it is significant to note that nearly 46 per cent were attracted by the higher pay afforded submariners, as well as for some of the foregoing reasons. That extra pay, it goes without saying, was a motivating factor. What with life the way it is aboard a submarine, how does one adjust?

 The overwhelming reply was that submariners must first learn to adjust to their unusual environment, then do their best to get along with their shipmates. Many indicated that the problem of adjustment is an individual one.

Keeping active is important, according to one underseaman. He claims that if a man earnestly tries to contribute to the over-all effectiveness and betterment of the ship, he can forget his own discomforts.


 “Experience in human relations is helpful,” states another. “Even if you have none to begin with, you soon become an expert – otherwise you won’t stay in submarines.”

 Another submariner feels that adjustment is no problem because those who are unable to adapt are weeded out before or during their Submarine School indoctrination.


WHAT DOES a submariner like most about life aboard a submarines By far the most popular answer to that question is “esprit de corps.”  More specifically, the submariners cited “competent personnel,” “a family atmosphere,” “teamwork,” “working with highly educated people,” “good-natured crews,” “friendly association with other crewmembers,” and “informality.”

 In addition to the informality, the submariners preferred the less rigid adherence to regulations, greater challenges, and more responsibility.


 Still others regarded highly such benefits as better food, all-night movies, training programs, and submarine operating schedules. On the opposite side of the scale, the submariners referred to overcrowded living and working conditions and lack of stowage space as what they liked least about their undersea life. Nearly 50% indicated they would be more comfortable if there were enough bunks to go around, more privacy, and greater storage space.

Long patrols, long hours, and personnel shortages rated next on their list of dislikes, followed by the lack of laundry facilities and enough water for daily showers at sea. One submariner volunteered that most of his sub pay is used for laundry expenses, which, he said, puts him in no better financial position than a surface Navyman who receives free laundry services.

Ever since the crew of USS Holland was formed in 1900, sub-mariners have boasted about their food.


 Since no survey of submarine personnel would be complete without a query on the subject, an attempt was made to support or refute that long-standing claim. About three-fourths of those questioned upheld the traditional boast. A few were undecided. And a few more said, “It depends.” One replied, “not necessarily,” and one opposed the claim altogether concerning meals in submarines. The affirmative replies were due to a variety of reasons. Some praised the high caliber of food and supply personnel, and their pride in their work. Others reasoned that a smaller crew permitted a more personal touch. Then, too, many approved of the family-style dining atmosphere, as well as the quality and quantity of food. One dolphin-wearer had the final answer. He couldn’t make a comparison, he said, because he had been in submarines so long he had forgotten how it was in other segments of the Navy.

W. J. Thomas, JOC, USN





Giveaway Shared: Dog Gone It

Originally posted on: Dogs with a Cause

I am going to pass this wonderful opportunity along to anyone who happens to stop by.  While I was cruising around Facebook my wife sidetracked me, directing me to the Dog Gone It fan page.  It would appear that they have a Christmas Collar GIVEAWAY, and although I would very much like to find out that I have won, I would be remiss if I did not pass this opportunity along to everyone else.  Without further ado, may I introduce you to a few of the Dog Gone It collars.

Dog Gone It collars

Go ahead, visit the page and give them a “Like”.  And with that done, stop by the Giveaway tab and enter to win.  Then check out your other methods of entering and if you feel so inclined…you get the general idea.  Anyone can enter!  No purchase is necessary!!

Thank you for taking a moment of your day to read this.  I will begin posting to this site more often.  The service dog trainer reference database is a work in progress and will start locally and then grow outward.  In the meantime, please share the site with friends, family and anyone else you think might be interested. [continue reading…]


Giving Thanks: Woodsprite

WoodSprite Organic Body logoToday I take a moment to say thank you to a wonderful company, WoodSprite Organic Body, it’s Founder & President, Jacquelyn Ramsey, and all the wonderful people who help make the magic happen there.

My wife has had a heck of a time with bad skin reactions to so many lotions and soaps.  Each of them has promised to be hypo-allergenic and for sensitive skin but so many of them she can not use due to a reaction to one ingredient or another.  Someone, and I don’t remember whom, recommended that she look for an olive oil soap and so began the Google search.  And it was here, in early 2006, that my wife found and ordered her first bar – it was an Oats and Almonds Organic Soap bar.  It was so much more than we dared to hope for…in short it was amazing.  This was an incredible find and much treasured.

We had just changed duty stations and I was stationed onboard a Los Angeles-class submarine home-ported out of Naval Station Norfolk.  Our sailing schedule was anything from predictable or regular.  We would be out for a bit, in for a short time, out again for a while longer, maybe a short cruise with the battle group, back in for some maintenance time and then getting ready to head out on the long 9-month Mediterranean deployment.  I wanted to do something special but didn’t get things put together and in a bit of a bind, and with a hint of desperation, I called WoodSprite’s toll-free number from the pier on my cell phone.  I explained that my wife had loved her first order, both the soap bar and the body melt, and that I was headed out on deployment and wanted to surprise her with a small package once a month while I was gone…and then came the tricky part…that I really didn’t know anything really about their products but if they were willing to help out I would really, really appreciate it.  I was asked for what I wanted put on the cards that would be delivered with the package and with a bit of thought managed to make up 9 months worth of messages.  And so it began.

  Each month a package would arrive at our house, full of wonderful organic spa products.  Luxurious olive oil soaps, luscious organic shea butter body melt, decadent bath bombs and wonderful goodness wrapped in a box with a hand-written card tucked into it.  There is no way that I could have done as well left to my own devices.  To each of you who had a hand in this, thank you once more.  I don’t think I will ever feel that I have been able to thank you enough.  Those boxes arriving in the mail were truly a source of happiness and brought with them a promise that it would be ok.

Jacquelyn Ramsey, Founder of WoodSprite, and Kim Simms, Chief Morale Officer, at the 2006 Emmy Awards Style Lounge

What a wonderful team of people, working together and making products that are just as amazing.  The following is from the WoodSprite website:

“But perhaps what truly sets WoodSprite apart is our unwavering commitment to ecological sustainability. It is at the root of all our efforts and the heart of our business. All people make a difference; every single day each of us makes choices which affect every other living creature. Whether we do so consciously or not, whether the effect is positive or not, we all have an impact. Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. It was this simple philosophy that gave birth to WoodSprite in the first place. And it is the philosophy which guides our business practices every day. We use only botanical and certified organic ingredients; never chemicals or other harsh fillers. We utilize recycled materials for our simple packaging. We use and reuse whenever possible, minimizing our impact on landfills and the waste stream. We also tithe a percentage of our company’s pre-profit income to grassroots organizations working to promote sustainable living, conservation, preservation and protection of wild or endangered creatures and places. We want the difference we make to be a positive one.” 

  I could go on and on about WoodSprite but instead I would encourage you to go to their website and see for yourself.  Look them up on Facebook or Twitter then “Like” and “Follow” them.  Give one of their amazing products a try at home.  Stepping off my soapbox for now.  Thank you WoodSprite!!


To Infinity and Beyond!

[fgallery id=2 w=640 h=480 t=0 title=”Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3″]

When given the chance to take the kids to see the latest Disney on Ice I must admit that I held onto a bit of trepidation.  Would our munchkin (she has autism, mild cerebral palsy, and sensory integration dysfunction) be able to handle the change, the people, the noise, the lights…all that which makes up a Disney on Ice show.  We have managed to make it through a short movie here and there but we are talking about a 90 minute drive there, then almost 2 hours of show, and a 90 minute drive back home with a stop for dinner tossed in there somewhere.  Wish I could say that I thought it would go smoothly but our life hasn’t been like that in quite a while.  What the heck, if you’re up for it.

We gathered up everything, and then a few more things just in case and headed out mid-morning towards our destination – Toy Story 3 on ICE!  We were full of hope, after all, Toy Story 3 has been one of her favorite movies (It was the last movie she and her sister saw together before sister headed off to college, kinda like Andy come to think of it).

The drive was uneventful, despite my arguing with the GPS as we neared our destination.  It insisted that I take one route and all the road signs directed us on another course – the GPS lost this round and we arrived in the parking lot of the ShoWare Center nevertheless.  I did not take pictures of the majority of the drive, needless to say that it was a typical Washington winter morning (read overcast, grey, windy, and slightly bleak and dreary).

A short walk from the parking lot and we arrived at the Will Call window.  We picked up our tickets and headed inside to be assaulted by the myriad of Toy Story 3 paraphernalia.  There were Buzz Lightyear cups filled with the deliciousness of snow cones (It was 45F outside and we were inside an ice rink but I digress), light-up swords, toy dolls, t-shirts and that most important official Sheriff Woody hat.  Avoiding the bulk of items we made it to our seat having only gained 1 Jessie doll to keep Woody company.  Then there was a short wait until the start of the show.

Once Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy took to the ice there was a squeal of excitement from Faith as she pointed.  And then, when the toys took to the ice it was “Look, my toys – they’re alive!”  She spent the next 90 minutes watching every move, reveling in each new character who made an appearance and in short enjoying herself.  What a wonderful day.  I am so glad that we decided to take the chance.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be there.

{ 1 comment }

Veterans Day 2011

[fgallery id=1 w=450 h=385 t=0 title=”Family Veterans Remembered”]

 “In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans’ organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, October 8, 1954

Lest we forget that the freedoms we enjoy are not free.  That there are men and women who are willing to give their lives to preserve those freedoms not only for themselves but for all.  It is not a task accomplished only in the past, to be remembered once a year.  This duty continues today and their are men and women holding that line in all lines of our military.  This duty will continue on into the future and I hope that we never lose sight of its importance.

To all of you who have or are serving in our military, I thank you.  Your service is greatly appreciated.  I would also like to extend this expression of gratitude to your families as their part is not any easier.