CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT 2020 – JJ and Bandit Fundraiser Opportunity!

23 10 2020

So here’s what happened 🙂

I 3D printed my first ornament of the year.

People liked it. I was encouraged to print more. So I did.

So here’s the deal. If you want one, you can go to the link in the picture by typing it in, clicking on it HERE, or scanning the QR code. That’s JJ’s fundraising page. Make a $10 donation. You’ll have the chance to leave a written message. In that message, please let me know the donation is for the TP ornament, and if you want more than one, please let me know the number you’d like.

Easy peasy lemon squeasy, but feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Thanks for stopping by!


PS Stay tuned – next project, street lamp made from paper. Lamp lights up!

The Call – JJ and Bandit – Service Dog Files

15 10 2020

Super short today guys…but I got a call today.

I answered it, and was told there was a problem with Bandit.

It’s getting time for the dogs in training to rotate foster homes and Bandit won’t be able to


Bandit and JJ matched.

My son now has a service dog. His best friend is staying.

BUT this was ONLY possible because other people have paid it forward. I say that like it’s not a big thing, so let me rephrase it.

My son has a service dog because OTHER PEOPLE were kind enough to PAY FOR IT ahead of time.

I don’t know who all the people were that paid for my son’s dog, but I’m SO grateful to them.

So now we’re switching gears. WE will keep raising money, because WE will be paying it forward to make it possible for someone else to find the same magic we have.

So please, continue to remember JJ and Bandit. They are the faces of the families you may never meet but you could make such a difference for them by continuing to donate through JJ’s fundraising page here.

I’m also open to suggestions for fundraising. I have some ideas, but I need help to make them a reality and make them feasible, so stay tuned for those ❤

Thank you again for being on this journey and for stopping by today.


Bump in the Night – JJ and Bandit Service Dog Files

6 10 2020

One of the jobs an autism service dog can do is help their person sleep.

My son, like many on the spectrum, has trouble sleeping. Specifically, he has trouble calming and regulating enough to be able to fall asleep. There have been some long nights, and even some nights that didn’t end. There were times when our medications were out of whack and sleep NEVER came.

As a reminder, Bandit is leaning to work with children – that’s how we’re helping as we foster. He sees me as the person to follow, because that’s what he’s used to. But he’s tethered to JJ most of the day and he’s starting to get comfortable with me farther away, which is exactly what we want him to do ❤️

We started a nighttime routine that lets JJ fall asleep with Bandit.

That’s what’s happening right now. I’m sitting on the hardwood floor writing this as those two snooze away lol. The goal is for Bandit to stay in JJ’s room with him throughout the night, but we’re not there yet. Bandit still gets up and leaves the room with me when my back decides it can’t sit on the floor any longer. But the ease of the transition is getting faster. Both boys are settling into this routine and I feel like there are only good places to go from here ❤️

Thanks for stopping by


As always, if you’d like to read more about JJ’s story, you can find it here: help JJ. If you’re interested, you can also donate to our fundraising efforts there ❤️

JJ and Bandit Update: The Service Dog Files and Fundraiser Reminders

3 10 2020

JJ and Bandit are doing so great things ❤️

If you’re friends with me on FB, you’ve probably already heard about these things, so I apologize. But for the rest of you, I wanted to share some things 😊

Between ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, and Dyslexia, school can be hard. But this is some of what I saw this week, that I haven’t seen before.

In the above picture, JJ was stressing over the work, I could see it. But before I could intervene, he reached out and pet Bandit, which is exactly what Bandit is there for! This was HUGE for JJ. I honestly didn’t know if JJ would respond to a dog in the beginning. But he has been. Then, I wasn’t sure if he’d reach out to Bandit in times of need. We’ve tried a lot of different fidgets and stress reducers to help him be able to calm down when he needed to, but those haven’t been that successful. But guess who’s been reaching out 🙂 And Bandit is there within easy reach.

In the picture below, I caught some good stuff, too.

I don’t think this looks like a kiddo who’s dreading school lol. We also switched online academies and that’s helped with completing school work, but now I’m worried JJ won’t WANT to go back to public school because this is just way too cool for him lol.

When not working, they’ve been able to work on Settle. Many with autism find deep, gentle pressure calming. Because Paws 4 AUTISM uses standard poodles, they weigh enough to provide that kind of pressure. Many times, you can find JJ resting on Bandit, but sometimes, he needs Bandit to rest on him.

Last but not least, LOVE. Bandit is a service dog, so by nature, he provides service. But he’s so much more than that. He’s quickly becoming JJ’s best friend. And as such, JJ works to make sure Bandit has the things he needs, including belly rubs.

JJ’s smile says everything you need to know about how it’s going.

And this is why we’re fundraising. The two fundraisers we have going right now are Ear Savers and Back to School Signs. You can find info about them below. And as always, JJ’s direct fundraising page if you just want to learn more about his story or donate.

Ear Savers to make wearing masks more comfortable.

Back to School Sign to bring a little smile to your face

Help JJ

Thanks for stopping by!



6 09 2020

We’re making these signs as a fundraiser for Paws 4 Autism and JJ.

You can find out more information about them here, E-Learning Signs, including size, shipping, and customization info.

As always, feel free to share, especially if you know someone who could use a little chuckle right now 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Alta and JJ


4 09 2020

Boy howdy it’s been a busy month!

First, don’t forget about our Ear Saver/Mask Holder fundraiser here, for JJ.

A lot has been going on, and some of it I already planned to share. But something cooler happened yesterday and I’m going to share that today, instead.

I’m sure you can guess that a service dog needs to have a good bond with the person who needs them. Bandit is an AMAZING dog and has had some pretty fantastic dog mommies. He hasn’t been around young kids much though. So naturally, he followed me around the first few weeks. Then we went out of town for a few days and he stayed with one of his dog mommies ❤

When we picked him up, he was pretty happy to see us which felt awesome, like we were maybe doing a good job as his foster family 🙂 He continued to follow me around, which wasn’t unexpected.

We’ve been working with JJ the last month on interacting with the dog. Although he pets the other dogs, he hasn’t really PLAYED with them and was unsure how that worked (see previous blogs for those posts) 🙂

Bandit has been odd about his food, too, often refusing to eat if he can’t see me. But this week…HE LET JJ FEED HIM! It was so good for that bond we’re trying to build. Bandit can’t be an autism service dog for me, since that’s not my diagnosis. To really be able to do his job, he HAS to focus on JJ (or Isaac). And this week, we may have turned that corner. He gets excited when he sees JJ. He’s starting to come to him when JJ calls, even if he doesn’t have a treat. He gets anxious when Isaac is upset and tries to get to him to help (remember, Isaac (4) is also autistic).

A few nights ago, I saw JJ and Bandit like this:

Bandit was laying HIS head on JJ instead of the other way around.

Usually, JJ’s laying on Bandit, but not this time. It was such a sweet moment!

Yesterday, after ABA therapy, we had music therapy. Bandit surprised me a little when he sat down by JJ. I was on the other side of him, which is typical, but his focus was totally on JJ.

And today, during ABA, Bandit kept an eye on both boys. Isaac was outside with his therapist and Bandit would trot to the door and watch. Then he’d trot into the living room and check on JJ. He kept making the rounds until Isaac was back in the house.

Here’s the boys during session today 🙂

This just makes my heart so happy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Have a safe holiday weekend ❤️


Alta and JJ

As always, if you’d like to check out Paws 4 Autism, click here: Awesome people

If you’d like to read more about JJ’s story, or make a donation, you can find his page here: Help JJ

Bandit: Service Dog Files

9 08 2020

One of the things Bandit is doing for JJ is giving him “something” to do.

JJ struggles to find appropriate things to do on his own. So WE have to make sure he always has something to do to stop him from getting in to trouble. We worked with his therapy team at the beginning of the year to try and figure out how to “keep him out of trouble,” because keeping him out of trouble is proving WAY easier than actually getting him through the consequences of getting himself in trouble.

It’s helped. A LOT.

And now, among the many things Bandit is learning to do for kids on the spectrum, helping provide something for them to do is one of those things. He holds my son’s attention and that’s not always easy.

Good boy Bandit!

For more information about JJ’s story, or Paws 4 Autism, just follow the links.

Thanks for stopping by!


That Time We Said Hello and Good Bye – SERVICE DOG FILES

2 08 2020

As part of our fundraising for JJ’s service dog, we can OFFER service in the form of helping out at Paws 4 Autism . And because they’re local to me, that’s something we’re able to take advantage of.

One of those areas of helping is fostering and training with the pups in training. Last year, Grady – the veteran dog who started it all – came to hang out with us so Terri could bring in two new puppies. He’s the only non-poodle in the program. He’s mostly retired and an absolute JOY to be with.




Around the beginning of March, Grady Bug went back home to his girl, and one of the puppies, Finlay, came to play. We went from a laid back senior dog to a seven month old puppy. Even with all the puppy stuff, that pup will hold a special place in my heart. Today after about five months of fostering him and watching him grow, we swapped pups again.




Today, we met Bandit 🙂 He’s 2 1/2 and has been training for most of that 🙂 Our job is to reinforce that and not mess up all the work that’s already been done. We’ll also be encouraging A LOT of involvement from JJ. With Grady, there was some involvement. With Finlay, it was mostly me because he was so young and we were at the very beginning. But Bandit is at the perfect spot to train with an 8yo and get the experience he needs for working with kids. It will also give JJ the experience he needs for working with his dog when we have his.

Yes, today was a little bitter sweet. Finlay is just the sweetest and has soul piercing eyes that look straight into you. It was sad to say good bye. But today, we also said hello. So let me introduce you to Bandit.

Bandit 3


Bandit 2


Bandit 1

And JJ and Bandit. JJ’s already taken to Bandit more than he has any of the other dogs. When you first meet JJ, you probably won’t pick up on the fact that he sees the world differently. But often, he’s in his own space. He doesn’t notice the things around him, which is one reason routine and familiar surroundings are really helpful to him. But he’s noticing Bandit ❤️

JJ and Bandit 3


Jay and Bandit 1


JJ and Bandit 2

To read more about JJ and what we’re trying to do, you can find his story at here – JJ

If you’d like to make a donation to our fundraising efforts, that would be fabulous and so much appreciated. The donations go into caring for and training the dogs so they can go out into the world and help children like JJ.

And if you feel inclined, please feel free to share this blog post to help us get the word out 🙂

As a reminder, we’re also selling Ear Savers for JJ. The ear savers help hold the mask in place so your ears don’t have to. We’re hoping to make other people’s lives more comfortable while we work on making our son’s life more comfortable. You can find out information about it in this blog post: Ear Savers for JJ

And as always, thank you for stopping by


Alta and JJ


1 08 2020

My friend is hosting a LuLa Roe fundraiser for us ❤️

You can find the info here. But hurry! Party ends on Aug 4th 🙂

As always, we appreciate you sharing this where you can 🙂

If you’d like to read about my son and our quest, you can find his story here at 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!


Alta and JJ

Adding Dyslexia to the List of Things that Makes My Son’s Life Interesting

12 07 2020

We got a dyslexia diagnosis for JJ this week.

So I’m having a moment and processing it through writing. But this is just one more reason a dog will be helpful for JJ to be able to go back to school. One less thing he’ll have to worry about and he can feel safe focusing on the actual learning.

I looked into the reading and writing method that was recommended at JJ’s eval the other day. It’s a structured literacy program that works very well to help kids with dyslexia learn to read and write in a way that’s working with their brains.
It’s just another $3500 or so 🙄 So on top of this new cost and the cost of homeschooling and the fundraising for his dog, we’ll need to come up with close to $25,000 so he can access his FREE education safely and NOT fall behind.
After our experience trying to get an IEP after our autism diagnosis I don’t think we would have gotten any additional help with the dyslexia either. He was denied an IEP in first grade after his autism diagnosis, because they “didn’t see it” (the autism) and he wasn’t doing badly enough. However, he was struggling socially BIG TIME, and that was the main bulk of what I was asking for help with, and the language arts class because *I* knew already how hard aspects of language were for him. But, we were told no.
For our dyslexia diagnosis, our evaluator said his skills were scattered and it wasn’t a clear cut and dry case, but the dyslexia was there.
Knowing that the school used a very narrow, literal definition of autism to exclude my son from additional supports, I wouldn’t expect them to “see it,” with this diagnosis either and allow any additional supports. Although, I’m sure we could expand his 504 to add in a few more things. Unfortunately, a 504 is about as successful as a restraining order when someone wants to hurt you. Both only work if everyone involved cooperates. That hasn’t been our experience. And there’s very little recourse if the 504 isn’t followed because the burden of proof is on the parents’ shoulders and we’re not there to witness things in person.
Also, many of these tests are out of pocket. Insurance does NOT cover them. Their justification: it’s an academic issue, the schools should be taking care of this, you paid for it with your taxes. So families are left to come up with the money to have their kids tested when the schools either a) fail to test them, or b) “don’t see it” but as a mom, you KNOW there’s more going on.
And guys, the testing isn’t cheap.
So, here’s my take away.
1. Access to a FREE public education is NOT free for my special needs son, unless I don’t care that he’s getting bullied (physically, verbally, racially), or being left behind academically when he’s capable of more – which I do.
2. I’m so glad we made the decision last year to start homeschooling. I think my son would have fallen through the cracks. Now I just have to figure out how to teach my son in a way that works best for him, which is no easy feat. If I can afford a tutor that knows how to teach him, great. If not, it’s on my shoulders and both options involve a stress on my bank account.
3. Our school district has a wide range of people, I think. From those living VERY modestly to those on the other end of the spectrum. I believe our area covers a lot of different people and situations. So I don’t believe we’re a “rich” district or even a “poor” district. I think we we have a lot of variation. But I do believe we actually have the resources our special needs kids need if the gate keepers of those resources would authorize their use.
If it’s this hard for me to get my special needs son resources that our district has available…what about the moms and kids in districts who don’t have these same resources available?
I may have to fight for my son to access resources at the school level, but at least we have them.
What happens to the children in schools with less resources? How are they supposed to access resources that aren’t actually available?
They can’t.
And these same moms, how are they supposed to be able to come up with the money for independent evaluations?
I believe there’s brilliance in the upcoming generations and we’re losing so much of it.
I believe that I’ll be able to find a way to help my son find his wings and soar within his limitations, even without the school’s help. But the loss of that future brilliance and societal contribution, those kids that could change the world for the better if they didn’t fall through the cracks…who’s going to help them?
Thanks for stopping by
If you’d like to read more about JJ’s story, you can go here Help JJ
We’re also selling ear savers to use with your mask if you find yourself needing to wear one. All the proceeds go to JJ’s fund raising. You can find the blog post here
Ear Savers for JJ there’s also a link on his fundraising page for these. It’s a gray box above his story.