Category Archives: Our Life

Singing DBHS Counselor Sends Message of Hope in Weekly Videos

Kelli Gile

Diamond Bar High GLC Dave Desmond delivers weekly virtual sessions and music during COVID-19 quarantine.

Diamond Bar – Unprecedented times are challenging educators to go to great lengths for their students amid the global health crisis.

Take Diamond Bar High School grade level coordinator (GLC) Dave Desmond, for example.

For the past eight weeks, he has been sending video messages to homebound students using social media.

From his living room, Desmond presents counseling strategies in easily digestible bites, capped off by performing a song on his acoustic guitar.

“We’re still in coronavirus time and unfortunately it looks like we will be here a longer,” he said on April 9.

The 27-year veteran educator has literally opened up his home for the virtual sessions directed to his sophomore class and he doesn’t seem to mind.

“This isn’t something I would have done in the past,” he shared.

“I normally keep my private life to myself, but these are strange times.”

His only fear was playing and singing in front of the world.

“I thought, man, if there’s some way that me providing a little entertainment for my students will distract them from the general sadness of this time for a bit, well, that would be cool,” he said.

“And hopefully they’re listening to the counseling as well!”

His colleagues are also reaching out with regular communications via videos, newsletters, and emails.

“The other GLCs and I really miss seeing the kids and having that daily connection with our students,” he added.

Desmond said the team relies on seeing kids face-to-face and “counseling via the phone, email, or zoom is kind of tough.”

“This is just another way to let them know we care about them and are thinking about them.”

Each week, Desmond clicks through a PowerPoint presentation featuring topics normally discussed during the school year.

Themes have ranged from goal setting and college applications to financial aid and preparing for SATs.

Knowing that students are facing increased anxiety due to COVID-19, Desmond admitted that he’s also struggling while living in quarantine on the May 10 broadcast.

“Just like you, I’ve been having a tough time and I think it’s good for all of us to find ways to relieve that stress.”

With that, he began demonstrating how he’s been keeping busy around the house, beginning in the kitchen with a pink frosted cake he baked for Mother’s Day.

Next, he dashed to the dining room for a hand of gin rummy, a game he’s currently playing with his daughter.

“Break up the day by playing a game with your family,” he offered the teens.

“Hey, I just won – that was fun!”

He suggested using DBHS online mindfulness resources including meditation, listening to waterfalls, drawing, music, and even a koala cam.

“Doesn’t he look relaxed? Aren’t you more relaxed just watching this guy?”

Then Desmond pivoted to a doorway to demonstrate a few pull-ups, sprinted to the backyard to hit golf balls, and pull a few weeds.

“Maybe you can help your parents clean up the house a bit,” he suggested to the high schoolers.

Desmond even shared a weekend project he’s been working on.

“See this patch of dirt – it will soon be transformed into a putting green!”

Being sheltered-in-place is the time to set small goals each day including academic, physical and social activities, and finding a way to help the family, Desmond suggested.

“Make dinner or write a letter to grandma and grandpa.”

“But, one of my favorite things to do to manage stress is playing a tune,” he said wrapping up the segment.

And with that, he picked up his guitar and belted out “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Desmond coordinates his tunes with each video theme from a memorized playlist of about 50 songs, including “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies, “Midnight Special” by Credence Clearwater Revival, and “Help Me, Stranger” by Jack White of the Raconteurs.

“Hold on, Brahmas, we’re going to get through this!” he exclaimed with a fist pump to the camera.

His message during May’s Mental Health Awareness Month is for students to keep doing their best.

“Do your best to live your life with some sense of normality while staying safe, do your best to help your family and friends get through this odd, difficult time, and do your best to take care of yourself. There’s so much about this situation that is beyond our control, so focus on what you can control and be good to yourself and to everyone around you.”

Celebrating the Simple Things

Nancy Stoops

I believe each day that we have the honor of being alive is call for celebration. Every morning as I awake and see the sun rising and filling the sky with majestic colors I am reminded of how lucky we are. As I step out in the morning with Midnight my therapy dog I feel blessed for his friendship and for the health that we both have. As we start our walk through our wonderful community I am proud to be part of it and I enjoy the morning song of the birds around us. As we walk I enjoy the trees and flowers that represent life in the neighborhood. Midnight and I are greeted by the other daily walkers with a friendly smile and warm hello. It’s so nice to be part of such a wonderful neighborhood filled with such lovely people. Sometimes the other dogs will visit with Midnight as we make our way through our neighborhood and that makes Midnight a very happy soul.


I think the feeling of the sun on my face is just magical. The fragrant plants and flowers are intoxicating and so very delightful. Swimming or floating in water has always been very freeing for me. Laughter truly is the best medicine and I think we all could do a lot more of it. Looking up at a night sky filled with stars and a full moon can be an experience that provides a wonderful kind of solace. Just hanging out with my grandson is fabulous.


These simple things I speak of don’t cost any money but are literally priceless. I think if we all take time to appreciate the simple things that are so wonderful in our world we will be more positive. I think then we will not dwell so much on what is wrong but focus on what is right. I know we are all struggling to look at what’s right in our world and celebrating the simple things helps us do just that. I have faith that we all are going to get through these difficult times and come out better people for it!!


This article was written by Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T. Nancy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has a private practice in Diamond Bar and is currently accepting new clients; she is also a motivational speaker who can inspire your employees or group members. Nancy runs free family support groups, a group on loss for seniors, and groups on how to manage anger. For more information about any of these services feel free to contact her at 909 229-0727. You may e-mail Nancy at nancyjstoops@verizon.net. You may purchase Nancy’s books Life Heal and Grow and Midnight the Therapy Dog at Amazon.net.

Diamond Bar, Walnut High Make U.S. News’ Best of 2020

Walnut – After crunching the numbers, U.S. News and World Report released its annual report of top performing public high schools in the country on April 21.

And it’s no surprise that Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools continue to lead the way through exceptional dedication to the success of all students.

This year, Diamond Bar High ranked #25 in Los Angeles Metro Schools, #68 in California, and #519 in the nation. Additionally, Diamond Bar placed #77 in STEM high schools.

Walnut High scored #35 in Los Angeles Metro Schools, #84 in California, and #601 in the nation.

The U.S. News Best High Schools rankings include data on more than 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Nearly 18,000 schools in the country, and 1,612 in California, were reviewed for performance in state assessments, graduation rates, and how well they prepare students for college.

Diamond Bar and Walnut offer an extensive roster of IB and AP courses to provide students with an opportunity to challenge themselves with college-level course work during high school.

“I’m very proud that Diamond Bar and Walnut High continue to be recognized on a national stage in preparing students for the next chapter in their lives,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.

“This is a wonderful recognition for our students, parents, teachers, and school leaders!”

Additional information at: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

C.J. Morris Elementary Teacher Bakes Through Pandemic

Kelli Gile

Walnut —On a recent Saturday, C.J. Morris Elementary teacher Jennifer Veneracion eagerly removed the jar containing a bubbling yeast concoction from her kitchen cupboard.

After four days of stirring and waiting, the fermented starter was finally ready to be combined with a few cups of all-purpose flour and mixed into silky dough.

She would spend the next several hours methodically kneading, allowing for rising, and repeating before shaping and popping in the oven.

And when the timer sounded, out came the steamy, crusty loaves of success.

The C.J. Morris Elementary Title 1 Specialist has joined legions of homebound bread bakers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Veneracion decided to learn a new skill at the onset of stay-at-home orders that began in mid-March.

“Bread making seemed fun to do as well as something the entire family could enjoy, and it could carry on after the quarantine,” she explained.

The novice baker had always been too intimidated to attempt baking from scratch.

“I was afraid the rising dough would grow so big that I couldn’t handle it,” said admitted.

“It feels silly now that I’ve learned more!”

The baking got off to a slow start because the educator first became a student desiring to learn all about her new hobby before donning an apron.

First, she bought a bread book for beginners, and then became immersed in reading recipes, articles, and following popular bakers including Amber’s Kitchen and Bonnie O’Hara on social media.

And then there was the shortage of flour and yeast on supermarket shelves due to the surge in quarantine baking.

But once Veneracion started, she was “hooked.”

During the past several weeks, she has cooked up traditional Filipino Pan De Sal bread, ventured into loaves, sandwich breads, tortillas, cinnamon rolls, and more.

Her tried-and-true techniques include keeping the right tools at hand: a big bowl, kitchen towels, kitchen scale, and food thermometer.

And before each baking session she measures out all the ingredients, puts them in different containers, and then combines as directed.

“Kneading the bread is key,” she added to the list of tips.

“You might think the dough is too wet, but if you continue to knead it, it will develop gluten which will make it firmer.”

Veneracion has discovered the restorative magic of the experience.

“Now that I’ve learned a lot, bread baking as become a form of therapy for me,” she said.

“Teaching remotely and getting my three kids on track with their work is rough, so unplugging and working on a recipe is both relaxing and rewarding.”

In the end, Veneracion’s family decides if each bake is a winner.

“My kids are pretty honest and will tell me if the bread is a hit – with reactions ranging from ‘Mom, this is amazing’ to ‘Whelp, it’s bread, I guess,’” she said.

“Either way, I’m hoping they see the importance of learning a new skill, celebrating the successes, and powering through the failures.”

Autism Mom: Mother of Two Autistic Boys

Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)-
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”


This time of “social distancing” and “shelter in place” has presented challenges for all of us.


The kids are adjusting to a new routine, and we adults are trying to be creative and positive.

My life before “shelter in place.”


Kids attended school. They had homework and weekends off. We went out to eat, attended events, saw movies, said hello to people, and gave them hugs. Family gatherings and seeing friends were a part of our life. Parks, playgrounds, shopping, and socializing is what we did.
After “Shelter in place.”


Kids are home all day. Teaching autism kids from “social distancing” is not my forte. Many tears have been shed, mostly by mommy. Video conference calls have become the norm, and we can have up to five a day with all the boy’s services and school. Masks now has to be worn when we are out. We no longer visit people or go to places. The confusion and lack of understanding bring frustration to my boys.


We are thankful for the technology we have to be able to communicate by all means and even have a face to face talk with loved ones. Being creative, making the best out of the situation, having faith and staying positive is vital. We are taking a day at a time and riding this wave out. Life changes all the time, sometimes more extreme than we would like, but it happens

.
All we can and must do is trust in God above.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of Macaroni Kid Jurupa Valley-Eastvale and Autism Mom Adventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Diamond Bar, Walnut High Robotics Teams Help Fight Pandemic

Walnut — Over the past several weeks, tech savvy teens from Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools quietly answered a call to aide first responders during the global pandemic.

When students learned of the dire shortage of personal protective equipment for frontline medical staff and how anyone with a 3D printer could fill the void – they sprang into action.

Diamond Bar High’s DB Engineering and Team Sprocket robotics partnered with parent Joe Bloomfield, owner of Spyder3D, to design and manufacture reusable 3D printed facemasks and face shields.

Six members of the school’s Printed Works Club are creating a facemask that must be easily printable by those new to 3D printing, require little post-production work, be reusable, and accept multiple types of filters.

“Our team has developed a working prototype that meets all of our requirements,” said senior Logan Tang of the facemask that can also be easily scaled to fit different face sizes.

Next steps include calibrating the strap attachment points to increase comfort while holding the mask in place, he said.

Instructional Dean Gabriel Aguilar’s living room is currently in production mode on the project.

Since the school is shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Diamond Bar High administrator brought a bay of 3D printers home to aid a special effort.

“Several community partners contacted us to see how we could leverage our 3D printing and manufacturing capabilities to support the need for face shields,” Aguilar said.

“Rather than collecting dust, these machines are now producing 30 face shield frames per day, using materials donated by Spyder3D.”

WVUSD FIRST Robotics Teams joined forces with the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team to create face shields using 3D printed frames and clear plastic transparency sheets.

To date, Team Sprocket, Walnut Valley Robotics, Aluminati and 2nd Rebellion have provided approximately 600 free face shields to this initiative, which has supported nearly 100 medical centers, including West Covina Medical Center, Pomona Valley Medical Center, and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Walnut High’s Wolf Corp Robotics team members are making do-it-yourself (DIY) face shields for health care workers and those providing essential services, including Walnut Valley USD Nutrition Services staff serving weekday Grab & Go meals.

The shields are low cost and very easy to make with three main components: foam, elastic band, and a transparency sheet.

Each member has pledged to construct 15-20 protective face shields from home and over the weekend 50 additional gifts were delivered to essential workers in the community.

Aerospace engineer and mentor Eric Gever established the SoCal Makers initiative organizing groups of colleagues, robotics students, and local makers interested in making a difference and helping to produce the face shields.

Teens are not only solving real-world problems, but getting more interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic.

“While many students may be thinking of this time away from school as an extended break, those who have remained involved in the Socal Makers Response Team have stood to benefit greatly though their participation in this project,” Gever said via Go Fund Me.

Feeding Our Walnut Valley Families During School Closure

Walnut – Walnut Valley USD Nutrition Services Division is ready to feed children each day during the COVID-19 school closures.

On Monday, over six hundred “grab and go” meals were distributed at Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools.

“We’re passing out a breakfast and lunch item with milk, chips, juice, and fruit,” explained

Josette Macias, a Nutrition Services Worker, as her team met cars in front of the gymnasium at Diamond Bar High.

The free meals are available to all children under 18 years old, who must be present during pick-up, for the drive-through service that runs 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.

“Yesterday we served over 300 and are expecting a lot more today,” shared Walnut High staff member Ana Aguilera on March 17 as a steady stream of cars entered the staff parking lot.

“We’ve got to take care of our kids – kids come first!” said Eva Generalao who was in kitchen helping prepare meals at 6:30 a.m.

At the end of the morning shift, over 1,800 meals, triple the number from the previous day, had been served at both high schools.

“It’s a good feeling because the District can share this food with our students,” Aguilera said.

“And the people are so appreciative!”

“It’s nice to help at a time like this,” shared Rachelle Serrano as she provided the curbside service to families.

Parents signaled the number of children in each vehicle and then staff quickly handed off the packaged meals.

Serrano also delivered something special to each car – a friendly smile, a wave, and a “have a good day!”

For more information, please visit www.walnutnutrition.org.

A World Full of Anxiety

I have always been told that worrying is an insult to God. I always had interpreted this as that we are in good hands and need to trust the plan for our life. I believe being the best version of myself daily is really all I can do. I have come to realize that all I really have control over is myself and how I react to my life. I have no control over others or over their behavior. I can be helpful as a therapist and plant seeds for change in people. It’s not up to me whether those seeds get nurtured and grow into the very thing that provide tools for change.


The definition of anxiety is that our demands outweigh our means. For example feeling as if there isn’t enough time to get everything done. I think we can always work on improving our time management skills and sometimes we need to set more realistic expectations for ourselves and others. We need to learn that Rome really wasn’t built in a day and we need to learn patience. We need to pay attention to our bodies when we aren’t handling our anxiety very well. We need to practice our deep breathing and our meditation. We need to take time to pet and cuddle with our animals. We need to work on staying in the moment and not thinking so ahead of ourselves. We need to just relax and have faith in ourselves, in others and in our life plan.


More than fifty percent of all illnesses are stress related. If we can learn to relax and manage our stress than we won’t make ourselves sick. Slow down, breath and have faith in yourself, in others and your life plan. Learn to manage your life and your stress so that it won’t control you and your life!!!!!


This article was written by Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T. Nancy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has a private practice in Diamond Bar and is currently accepting new clients; she is also a motivational speaker who can inspire your employees or group members. Nancy runs free family support groups, a group on loss for seniors, and groups on how to manage anger. For more information about any of these services feel free to contact her at (909) 229-0727. You may e-mail Nancy at nancyjstoops@verizon.net.

Diamond Bar High Students Perform Virtual Recital

Diamond Bar – When Diamond Bar High’s Performing Arts Academy spring recital was cancelled due to COVID-19 school closures, students decided that the music must play on.

The advanced musicians, who were quarantined at home, took to the internet’s world-wide stage during a live virtual concert held Wednesday night.

The teens were able to join online rehearsals before the big 8 p.m. performance with the help of industry professionals that provide assistance to the program that boasts 700 students.

“They are working diligently through these tough times to provide much needed opportunities for the kids to express themselves and stay connected,” said director Steve Acciani.

Then, through the magic of technology, the first group of students began playing with a flute, clarinet, French horn, oboe, and bassoon if they were in the school’s theatre.

Quartet members Alex Hong, Erin Miyahara – euphonium, Patrick Zhang, and Alan Lu – tuba performed a moving rendition of “It’s A Wonderful World” while sequestered in their homes.

A special “furry” guest audience member made an appearance during the finale of the 45-minute concert.

Lu, a sophomore, was joined on the sofa by his trusty golden retriever, Thunder, who was looking for some attention.

In the opening notes, the adorable pet began gently pawing at Lu until he freed a hand from the glistening silver instrument to offer a quick pat on the head.

And then the content companion laid down and appeared to be listening as the talented foursome played the remainder of the song.

“At first. Thunder didn’t enjoy it very much (when I played), but now he’s almost always next to me when I’m practicing,” Lu said.

“The virtual concert was a lot of fun since it was something new – and it kept me busy for the day!”

The complete concert may be viewed on Facebook.

WVUSD Closes Due to COVID-19

Staff Reports

Walnut – On March 13, Superintendent Robert P. Taylor announced that all Walnut Valley USD schools will be closed for five weeks, effective Monday, March 16. The schools will re-open on April 20.

“I appreciate your support during this challenging time,” said Taylor in a statement he sent to all parents and guardians. “As the parent of three children, I certainly empathize with the stress, fear, and inquiry that this time period has caused for many parents/guardians.”

Taylor said that the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) recommended that all schools in Los Angeles County close and/or be dismissed for a minimum of two weeks due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). After this announcement, the WVUSD Board of Trustees held an Emergency Meeting to discuss their plan of action. According to Taylor, the Board “approved a resolution through an emergency measure” that granted the Superintendent the authority to “take all appropriate action to respond to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“I have decided to dismiss (‘pupil free’) schools effective immediately, followed by all schools being closed through Spring Break (5 weeks),” stated Taylor.

From March 16 to 18, students will be dismissed, and it will be considered a “Pupil Free” day. However, the entire school will be closed from March 19 to April 17. Additionally, all extra-curricular activities and athletics have been postponed.

“We continue to prioritize the health and wellness of students and staff as our highest concern,” said Taylor. “Given the advisement of Public Health, medical experts, and other state and county entities, we have decided to allow an appropriate amount of time for students, staff, and families to follow advice of medical practitioners and experts, practice healthy habits, and lessen opportunities for the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

“I recognize that my decision will impact everyone differently,” continued the Superintedent. “Our District will be working with staff to lessen the academic gap that typically occurs over extended recesses from school. Next week, parents and students will be notified of curricular resources that can be utilized during the school closure.”

In addition, he said that additional information will be provided next week, and all schools will answer questions and discuss next steps. “While this is an extremely difficult decision, I also am confident that it was made with the best interest of our staff and students in mind,” stated Taylor.

COVID-19 Patient Visits Walnut, Dies in Pomona

Staff Reports

Walnut – On March 11, the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PCHMC) announced that a patient who passed away at their hospital confirmed positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This was the first reported COVID-19 death in Los Angeles County.

On March 9, the patient went to the hospital by ambulance and was in full cardiac arrest. Staff provided lifesaving care to stabilize her condition. Based on her travel history and symptoms, the patient was placed in isolation and infection control protocols were implemented according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). LACDPH authorized to obtain samples for COVID-19 testing, but the patient died shortly after “due to complications from their illness,” according to a PCHMC statement. On March 11, LACDPH confirmed the patient tested positive for COVID-19.

A family member disclosed the patient’s travel status, which included a residence in the City of Walnut. However, the County confirmed that the individual “did NOT circulate around the City of Walnut and stayed primarily at the residence,” according to Walnut Public Information Officer, Melanie Tep. She stated that the City is communicating with LA County’s Department of Public Health for more information regarding the patients’ travel details. “We will communicate more information as it becomes available from the County.”

In addition, the LA County Department of Public Health confirmed that the patient’s family members are currently in quarantine.  PCHMC is also following LACDPH guidelines for the staff that came into contact with the patient.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the patient and family,” said Daniel Gluckstein, MD, Medical Director of Infectious Disease at PVHMC. “At this time, our top priority remains protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, Associates, physicians, volunteers and community.”

“We understand people are feeling anxious about potential exposure to coronavirus, but we want to reassure our patients and their families that the risk of exposure from this case is low,” stated a PVHMC statement. “PVHMC remains a safe, high-quality facility to seek medical care.”

The City of Walnut issued a reminder stating that Public Health continues to recommend that the public do the following to protect themselves and others from respiratory illnesses:

• Stay home when you are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Limit close contact, like kissing and sharing cups or utensils, with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve (not your hands).
• Facemasks are most effective when used appropriately by health care workers and and those directly caring for people who are sick and by people who are sick (source control).
• Get a flu immunization if you have not done so this season.

See the Miracles

By Melody Kraemer

Do you ever wish for a miracle? Do you ever hope things would change? Do you dream about how things could be better? I use to. Every day I would pray for a miracle that my child with autism would understand and have a full conversation with me. When I asked about his day he just repeats my words back. I have an idea how his days go at school yet I have no clue if he was happy, sad or even cried during the day.

Some days I wish, with every ounce of my being, he would express something to me. I have hoped for a miracle on many occasions for him to please share with me and talk to me. When he cries, I hurt because I know he can’t express himself fully and tell me why. I kept thinking one day a miracle will happen and he will walk up to me and say, hey mommy, guess what we did at school today or mommy I made a friend today.

Sometimes it makes me cry to think about him locked in his world. I hold onto that miracle that one day he will converse with me. The only conversation we do have is, first that then this. “Yes honey, I find myself saying every morning as he repeats himself, first school then home.”

Every day I search for that miracle and hold onto that glimmer of hope. Then one day as I was looking into his little face, seeing those beautiful little eyes it dawned on me. I shouldn’t be looking for a miracle when one was standing right in front of me. I have my miracle, in fact, I have four miracles.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of Macaroni Kid- Jurupa Valley- Eastvale as well as Macaroni Kid- Riverside. Visit her on the web at https://jurupavalley.macaronikid.com/ or https://riversideca.macaronikid.com/. For information or general encouragement feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Bullying

Melody Kraemer-Autism Mom

The other day I woke up with a heavy heart. My son got bullied while he was at school. No matter how much we try to protect our children we just can’t always be there with them.

Now my son is not one to sit back and take someone beating him up or kicking him while he is down, he will try and defend himself. On this particular day, he spits on a kid to protect himself from being bully.

He got in trouble, not in a lot of trouble, but he did get in trouble.  He used “bodily fluid” to defend himself.

He was angry over this; more than angry he was livid. He did not understand how in self-defense he was the one in trouble. Explaining to my autism child sometimes is like talking to a brick wall, his mind is black and white with no grey area.

The “bully” to my understanding got sent to the office, sent home with a note, and a phone call to the parents. He was also not allowed to play on the same playground as the class during recess.

When I picked up my son that day he broke down in front of me and just cried hard, as a mom my heart broke for him. I calmly listened to him; his hurt and anger were off the charts. I talked to him and tried my best to calm him down. All he could think about was how he was going to get revenge.

Autism thinking can be so perplexing at times and can be narrow-minded with no room for understanding.

It took me most of the day to explain that we don’t get revenge on people.

Though his anger grew and he still didn’t understand the concept why he got in trouble for defending himself.  Honestly, I still have a small issue understating it myself.

He was told by the school any time that anyone attempts to bully him or anyone he needs to go to an adult. I told him if there is no way he could get out of the situation and get to an adult he has every right to defend himself even if it meant spitting. He may get in trouble but I said if he felt that was the only way out of his situation he has to do what he has to do.

I have a 0% tolerance for bullying I will not tolerate my son or any other child to be bullied.

I can’t talk to every child, I can’t speak to every child who bullies, but I can and will talk to my child about bullying.

Choices

By Melody Kraemer

We all have choices. We all have options. When we wake up in the morning, we can decide to be happy, sad, frustrated even angry or whatever emotion we choose.

We can plan our day and make the choice of how we want it to go. It may not always go the way we want, but at least we have that choice in hopes, it goes the way we planned.

There are a few things that we can’t and don’t have choices for.  One thing is we didn’t have a choice when we were born, or the family we were born into.  We also are not to choose when we die.  Everything in between is an option or a choice for the most part.  My boys were born with autism that was not my choice or an option I would have chosen. I do though have the option and the choices to do what is the very best for them.  What school I put them in, the classes they have even the extra help they get after school.

The worst thing one can say is I don’t have an option. According to Merriam Dictionary, an option is “the power or right to choose.” I hope the choices I make for my boys are the right ones. I always have their best interest at heart. Yes, it can get tiresome from appointments to IEP meetings but I choose all of that because of the love I have for my boys and always want the best for them. I would never do anything in my life that made myself or my boys miserable and say, I have no other option but to do this. Life is about choices and options. Why choose something to make one miserable. Make the choices in life that bring joy, happiness and what is best for oneself and for the family. Remember there’s always an option.

Melody Kraemer

Editor and Publisher Macaroni Kid Jurupa Valley- Eastvale

and Macaroni Kid Riverside (autismmomofboys@gmail.com)

 

We Grow Flowers Not People

Melody Kramer – Autism Mom

School has started, and the homework has started to come home. For my eight-year-old autistic son, he had a paper to fill out titled “about me.”

I tried asking him these questions that were on this paper, but he didn’t quite understand. Usually, I have to do a lot of prompting.   One of the questions was, “what are some of my favorite things?”  He doesn’t grasp the word favorite, so I asked, do you like pizza? He replied yes. And it went from there.

Another question was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He answered, “A flower.”  I was surprised he said a flower. So I asked again.  The same answer. I asked are you sure that you don’t want to be a teacher or maybe a police officer when you grow up? He still wanted to be a flower.

It was a cute answer, and funny. I said if you want to be a flower, you can be a flower. Then I started thinking. The question I asked, when you “grow” up what do you want to be.  The way his mind may think it was the most logical answer. A flower grows.  So when I asked if he wanted to be a teacher or police officer and he gave me that strange look I got an understanding of how he was thinking. You don’t grow a teacher you grow a flower.

We are so used to our way of thinking, speaking and understanding a simple phrase, such as “what do you want to be when you grow up.” His autistic mind is so analytical and logical it just doesn’t make sense to him, we don’t grow people.

Now if I ask what do want to be for Halloween? Spiderman is the answer.

I guess we will leave that answer blank for now.  Just a thought, raising children is like growing a flower. We take care of them, feed them, protect them, we do everything to help them bloom.  He may not realize it now, but he’s already a flower in the garden of life.

 

Stress Makes a Mess

Melody Kramer – Autism Mom

All my life I have been an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy, sad, grieving, angry,  and mostly when stressed.

Stress plays a huge part in my life.  Which in turn stress eating plays a more prominent role.  My stress levels of each day can rise to full capacity. How do I control my stress, I eat.

 

What is emotional eating?

“Emotional eating (or stress eating) is using food to make yourself feel better—eating to satisfy emotional needs, rather than to satisfy physical hunger. … Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there.

(www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/emotional-eating.htm)”

 

Raising two autistic boys, my level of stress can get to a high point during the day, but I am learning now, through a health coach, to not reach for unhealthy food while stressed.

We all know stress eating is not healthy.   When I am at the limit of my stress, I reach for that comfort food, it tastes so good, for that “moment.”  After that “moment” I’m still stressed. Even more so because now I feel tired and/or sluggish and my head is cloudy all filled up with the sugary and/or salty item I just ate.

So why eat when stressed?  For me, at that moment of stress, it’s an automatic trigger to go binge, for an “instant” rush of satisfaction.

 

Thank goodness for my health coach, he is teaching me how to change my lifestyle of eating and get on the right track to healthy living and to make better choices and not emotional eating.

I am sure many of you are living a healthy lifestyle, but for the ones that need that extra help of getting on the road to healthy eating, email me I’ll put you in contact with my health coach. Let’s get healthy together. I would love to hear from you, and my coach would like to help you.

autismmomofboys@gmail.com

 

Before the Morning

By Melody Kraemer

As I sit here in front of my laptop, with a cup of hot coffee to the right of me and next to that a notebook filled with the many things I need to accomplish.  The thought, “Oh Lord, help me make it through the day,” crosses my mind. The house is quiet, and I wonder how much longer before my boys (autistic boys) wake up.  How much time do I have to accomplish anything on that list next to me?

Once my boys are awake anything on that list is now pushed to another day.  I might be able to squeeze in a  few minutes to throw in some laundry, but I couldn’t tell you when it will come out of the dryer and get folded.

Having children, autism or not is a full-time job by its self.  Living in the autism world is a world where it’s no longer about oneself it’s about watching almost every moment of what they do.

My eight year old now has a thing about eating the top of pencils, almost every pencil in the house has no eraser.  Every paper clip, a piece of thread, Lego,

Basically any small object will find its way into my child’s mouth.

He is a curious one and will take apart things. He has no fear of heights and will climb and climb. He loves to explore the outside, but be always reminded, no bugs in the mouth, no snails in the mouth and no plants in the mouth.  Though those are just words and if I don’t constantly watch him he will have something in his mouth. There have been times where I’ve been grossed out.

We have high locks on the doors, and we have a front gate, we also have the backdoor strapped because when I take a chance on throwing that laundry in the washing machine I know, he can’t escape for that moment.

As I sit here and pick up that coffee cup on the right side of me, I hold it with two hands; I take in a deep breath and let it out, as I do every morning.  Will the day run smooth, or will I be finding something gross in the hands or mouth of my child?  Whatever the day may bring I will embrace it to the fullest, there is never a dull moment in this house.

 

Beautiful Challenges

By Melody Kramer – Autism Mom

My children are autistic

You may not see it from the start.

If you only knew the challenges

you would understand my heart.

I try my best from when they wake

to when they sleep,

Most nights I go to bed and weep.

I’m exhausted to no end

and coffee gets me through the day,

but nothing compares to the love that my boys give away.

 

They have their moments

Oh and are they tough

I ask God for patience

cause it can get rough.

If you only knew what I go through daily

from their tantrums to them losing control.

You wouldn’t be so quick to judge

and more acceptable to console.

 

It isn’t always easy raising kids,

especially one or two who’s autistic.

So forgive me please if at times I seem distant or cold

I’m just trying to hold it together, so I don’t lose control.

I love my boys with all my heart,

The lessons they teach me, the joy they bring,

the love they share, the smiles they give, the songs they sing.

God blessed me more then I could ever imagine

And yes they are a challenge what more can I say

I am so thankful I am their mommy every day.

Melody Kramer is the publisher of Macaroni Kid in Jurupa Valley and Riverside. Macaroni Kid is an online newsletter for family events. Check out the link below for more information about fun, exciting and educational events in your area.

https://jurupavalley.macaronikid.com/

Connecting With Your Spouse

Courtesy: Google Images

By Melody Kraemer-Stillwell

 

I looked at my husband sitting on the couch and wondered to myself, who is that man? He almost felt like a stranger living in our house. Then it dawned on me,  when was the last time we had a meal together that didn’t involve picky eaters, feeding a child, cutting up meals, and more?  When was the last time we had a conversation that didn’t include a million interruptions? When was the last time it was just him and I? It had been so long, I couldn’t remember when it was just us. I started to feel the distance between my husband and me, and I realized we were co-parenting in the house and that was it.  What happened to us? Kids and life!

Having an autistic child who is almost nine but is still, mentally, around the age of four can be challenging and exhausting.

We as parents need each other. It’s vital we stay connected. We can go out for a date night, but it’s not that easy. Having two autistic children, we can’t just hire a babysitter and head out the door. We came up with some ways we stay connected that what works for us:

  1. Say I love you daily to each other
  2. Smile at each other
  3. Text each other (and yes sometimes it is when we are in the house together)
  4. When we pass each other, in the house, make it a point to reach out and touch the other one.
  5. Random hugs
  6. Make it a point to get up early with your spouse and spend a few quiet moments together before they leave for work.
  7. Complement each other.
  8. Say thank you to each other (Thank you, honey, for doing the dishes..)
  9. Try and stay humble and never assume you know what the other is thinking (ok this is a hard one)
  10. Discuss things and try not to argue, and be honest with each other.

Though life can be challenging and daily living will get in the way, we have to stay connected as a couple and not just as co-parents. There will be times you may still feel distant from your spouse then look over to them and smile they will smile back all is right in our world.

Melody is the publisher of Macaroni Kid in Eastvale and Riverside.  Check out her online newsletter for fun family things to do at: http://www.jurupavalley.macaronikid.com

 

Meltdowns Happen – Autism Mom

By Melody Kraemer

Meltdowns are ok.  Oh wait, maybe you think I’m referring to children. I’m not! I am talking about a mommy meltdown.  In fact, today was that day that my patience ran out, and my autistic boys were in full form of being “needy.”  Have you ever heard someone say “I just can’t adult today!”  My saying is, “I just can’t autism today!” That’s right this mommy of two autism boys just had a complete meltdown.

Of course, no one saw me on the floor throwing a tantrum, nor did I scream and run away, or give up, even though I felt like it. I quietly had an emotional breakdown with tears running down my face.  I thought to myself, “Now I can’t be the only mom out there that wants to run away, go lock myself in the bathroom, open a bottle of wine, or just go to bed with the covers over my head.”

Parenting is tough, and we as moms aren’t perfect.  We lose our cool, and then the mommy guilt factors come in.  We all have experienced that mommy guilt. No matter how hard things get, how much mom guilt we put upon ourselves, we have to remember that we are not alone, every mom experiences these feelings.  We all have that mommy meltdown some time or another.  I said to my son today, “Mommy is doing the best she can, but it seems like her best isn’t good enough.” After  I  thought about what I said I realized my best for today is good enough because I’m giving my best and I’m not giving up. It also helped that my son saw my tears and said, “You are the most beautiful mom.”  Even during my meltdown, tears running down my face, feeling like the worst mom with the mommy guilt,  my children love me unconditionally.  We as moms have to remember our kids don’t expect perfection just a mom who is doing her best and loving her kids.