Saturday, December 12, 2009

Been Busy: Advocating Against Abuse of Restraint and Seclusion

I haven't been writing much over the months, but I have been rather busy over here.

Bubba and I went to Washington DC this past week to attend a press conference on newly introduced legislation on the issue of seclusion and restraint. While it was my second trip to DC this year, it was Bubba's first that he can remember (we also visited as a family when he was almost 2).

My favorite part of the trip was when Bubba met Congressmen Miller:

Congressman Miller: Can I introduce myself to you?

Bubba, not looking up: Nooope!

Me: Secret forehead slap

I have been advocating on the issue of misuse of seclusion and restraint for years, as it personally affected our family. While my children are now safe (we homeschool), many MANY are not. Much of the public believes that child abuse is not tolerated in public schools, and that violators could be prosecuted. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Currently there is NO LEGAL recourse if your child is placed in a seclusion room or restrained. In many states, including Missouri, corporal punishment is allowed and Child Protective Services does not have authority to investigate. You'd think common sense would prevail, but unfortunately, children--especially those with disabilities--are being mistreated and abused everyday in our schools. I encourage you to look into the situation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tis NOT My Life!

Today I saw a video that told a story about autism. But it wasn’t my story, or my boys’ stories, or my family’s story. And it really pisses me off that people are going to watch this and possibly think (assume) that this is our story, our life.

I’ll let you watch it.

I couldn’t even get through the entire thing. I showed Hubby, who just stared at it gape-mouthed as we watched it in the kitchen so that the boys couldn’t hear. (Can you imagine them watching that? “Mommy, did I ruin your marriage?” “Mommy, do I make you cry every day?”)

Our life is not all roses, but it isn’t all gloom and doom either. One of the reasons we have not ‘failed’ is because we have made choices to balance us. Our life is meaningful. My boys’ lives are meaningful, and dare I say enjoyable! We certainly don't live the status quo, nor do we want to. We certainly aren't indistinguishable from other families, nor do we want to be. People's perceptions of our children negatively effect them and us much more than their disabilities do. And videos like this certainly don't make perceptions change for the better.

Our Autism Speaks walk is coming up soon. In the past I have had very conflicted feelings about this walk since I pretty much can’t stand the organization’s scare tactics. But I have walked to support my friends and their families more than anything else. I don’t know if can do it anymore. I can’t just write this off as “fundraising” anymore or ignore it while I support my friends. I can’t ask friends or family to donate to an organization that makes my children look like they have some deplorable, deathly communicable disease that is spreading through the air. Nor can I in good conscious make my children participate in the walk, enforcing a message that they had no part in creating.

I feel lost tonight, shaken, dejected, hollow, battered. I may cry. I may lose sleep. I may feel scared, overwhelmed, and helpless. But it’s not because of Autism. It’s because of Autism Speaks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Facebook killed the mommy blog-star...

Ok, so I am not a blog star, but Facebook has basically killed my blog. Lately, with all of the homeschooling, gardening, cleaning, mommying, and just plain living, I am having little time (or attention span) to construct any worthwhile posts. But on Facebook, I can type my ADHD thoughts as "status updates" and post pictures from my new handy dandy iphone in the blink of an eye.

What once would've become a blog post has now become Facebook vomit. I signed up for Twitter and then decided that Tweeting may just push my bird-brain past the point of no return, being that I tend to forget what I'm typing before I get out a complete thought.

The boys work on "Look at me" pages, which was my bright idea to help with them journaling since they have such difficulty with writing. So they glue pictures, color things, and I script for them. Eventually maybe I will go through them and post some pictures and maybe even write something. Maybe. Look forward to the arch, the riverfront, museums, swimming, paddle boating, fishing, cooking, learning, creek walking, park playing, food growing, habitat building, hiking, etc.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's just like riding a bike...

Like everything else in Bubba's life, things don't necessarily come easy, but with enough confidence and practice (and some accommodations and modifications), almost anything is possible.

Bubba learned to "lose the training wheels" this week after several unsuccessful and frustrating attempts (years) at home. I can't explain the smile on his face as he "launched" today, but I will tell you that I cried as he yelled "I'm doing it! I'm doing it!"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Boys are THOSE Kinda People

They dress up and go to Renaissance Faires. Lord help me. What did I expect, their Grandma is a wench (really, she is, at the Faire).

Thankfully Aunt M is weird too, so she took them and I didn't hafta. She also made their costumes and taught them all sorts of things I now have to listen about....

More pictures here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fatal Attraction

See this cute little puddy tat?

She likes to torture things. Like this one that she blinded and then watched as it slammed itself into things.

And then decapitate them and drag them into our basement. Thankfully this one didn't fit through the kitty door.

I'd almost be disgusted, except that Momma's vegetable garden and flowers have been virtually untouched. And Hubby, who "hates" cats, now has a strange fondness of this one because she comes when she's called, snuggles with his boys, and kills things. Apparently his priorities for females aren't very high.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smart Ass

[Comment: I changed one of the names but couldn't change the one that was crucial to the story.]

We were putting on jammies, and as always, we were noticing and pointing out things we probably shouldn't along with discussing who inherited what from whom.

Daddy, slightly disappointed, "Bubba's got the Smith butt..."

Me, never failing to correct Daddy, "No, he's definitely got a Harry butt."

Bubba interjects angrily, "No! I don't have a hairy butt!"

And like the whole thing was scripted, Mooser looks at Daddy, casually gestures his pointer finger at him, and states clearly, "but you do!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Three Words and Then Some

A few days ago, Mooser came up to me, hung over my back and smooshed his face up to mine. "I wuv you mommy," he purred. And after I said "I love you Mooser!" and kissed him, he rolled around in my lap, over my shoulders, down my back while experimenting with the phrase. After one final big momma smooch on the cheek, he gave me his infamous sideways glance and happy-danced towards his Legos.

This morning, Bubba stretched with his rear in the air, his head cocked slightly, and his shoulders hunched to allow his arms full reign to zap the remaining sleepiness through his fingers. He then bounced out of bed, only to return to intently sing "I love you mommy," before leaping back out of bed and crushing whatever was in his path, my "I love you too Bubba," following him as he darted out the door.

I must be doing something right. Or I just haven't done anything wrong in awhile.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Bubba has quite a long list of Bubba-isms. I guess Moosie is trying to make up for lost time. While we were fishing, he was climbing on a fence near the street. While I asked him to get down because I didn't want him to fall in the street, he shrugged and casually stated "I no get hit by a car yet..."


And then today we watched a drum and fife group parade down the street in Old Town. When we urged him to leave after the group had passed, he adamantly pouted "It not over yet!" as he 'happy danced' while the cars impatiently putted behind the group. He didn't believe me that the 10 cars or so were not part of the parade. I think I may have tried to convince him that cars were a parade at some point when we were stuck in traffic some time ago in order to avoid a meltdown. Whoops.


And in case you think I just torment my youngest baseball today Bubba was talking to a little boy's dad whose son was born without eyes. The dad was trying to explain the "fake eyes" and I piped up how Pa Pa (Hubby's dad) has one glass eye. I was trying to relate it to something he knew about to make it easier to understand. But apparently he didn't know, because it looked at me like "What the fuck? Grandpa has a glass eye?" And he definitely didn't understand.

Foot in mouth. Again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Education Bill Containing Seclusion Language Passes


Missouri, May 14, 2009

A comprehensive education bill that contains language regarding the use of seclusion rooms has passed. This bill moved extremely fast.

Unfortunately this language is not what we would like to see. We recommend legislation that includes all the provisions recommended by the NDRN report and will continue to advocate for such.

House Committee Substitute No. 2 for Senate substitute for Senate Bill No. 291

Section dealing with seclusion:

1. The school discipline policy under section 160.261 shall prohibit
2 confining a student in an unattended, locked space except for an emergency situation while
3 awaiting the arrival of law enforcement personnel.
4 2. By July 1, 2011, the local board of education of each school district shall adopt
5 a written policy that comprehensively addresses the use of restrictive behavioral
6 interventions as a form of discipline or behavior management technique. The policy shall
7 be consistent with professionally accepted practices and standards of student discipline,
8 behavior management, health and safety, including the Safe Schools Act. The policy shall
9 include but not be limited to:
10 (1) Definitions of "restraint", "seclusion", and "time-out" and any other
11 terminology necessary to describe the continuum of restrictive behavioral interventions
12 available for use or prohibited in the district;
13 (2) Description of circumstances under which a restrictive behavioral intervention
14 is allowed and prohibited and any unique application requirements for specific groups of
15 students such as differences based on age, disability, or environment in which the
16 educational services are provided;
17 (3) Specific implementation requirements associated with a restrictive behavioral
18 intervention such as time limits, facility specifications, training requirements or
19 supervision requirements; and
20 (4) Documentation, notice and permission requirements associated with use of a
21 restrictive behavioral intervention.
H.C.S.#2 S.S. S.B. 291 73. The department of elementary
22 and secondary education shall, in cooperation
23 with appropriate associations, organizations, agencies and individuals with specialized
24 expertise in behavior management, develop a model policy that satisfies the requirements
25 of subsection 2 of this section by July 1, 2010.

USE OF SECLUSION ROOMS: This act requires school district discipline policies to prohibit confining a student in an unattended, locked space except for an emergency situation while awaiting the arrival of law enforcement personnel. By July 1, 2011, each school district must adopt a written policy that addresses the use of restrictive behavioral interventions as a form of discipline or behavior management technique, as described in the act. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop a model policy by July 1, 2010 in cooperation with associations, organizations, agencies, and individuals with specialized expertise in behavior management.

This provision identical to a provision contained in HCS/SB 79 {passed senate as well as house education committee, currently in house rules committee} and is similar to SB 445 {2nd read and referred to committee – no hearing was ever scheduled}. (Section 160.263)

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Lost Love Letter

Dear Mom,

This week (well, Hell actually the past few years) has been really hard. I feel so lost, and when trying to find my way, I think of you. And then I get confused because I can't remember you being my mom the way I want my boys to remember me being a mom. And I don’t know where to go from here, so I keep trying to remember.

I remember that one time I threw up in your car and I got in trouble for eating too much cereal. We had to stop at the mall so you could buy me some new clothes. I remember riding in your car on the way to your work and the brakes not working and you throwing the car in park to stop it. I remember going inside your work once.

When I lay trying to sleep at night and let the dots connect and the neurons obsessively fire off, I remember bits of you crying when you ran over a kitten and me chasing you up the stairs as your body collapsed in grief, you eating brown rice, you knitting me two little stuffed kitties for my birthday (I still have them), but telling me they were socks when I caught you (I believed you). I remember eating at a restaurant, getting a letter from you at Girl Scout camp. I remember sleeping under your bed because I was so frightened by a nightmare I had and I wasn’t supposed to be out of my own bed.

And of course later, I have memories of you being sick, and laying in bed. I have memories of you in the swimming pool, you putting on mascara, and you laying on the couch telling me and my cousin to be quiet while we were playing. I remember visiting you in the hospital, somehow excited by the fact that kids were not supposed to be able to leave the waiting room, but for a reason beyond my understanding, me and Sister got to go in the hospital and into your room.

I remember not grasping the meaning of the visit or the importance of the fact that this was the last time I would see you alive. I remember you laying there, eyes closed. I remember seeing you look similar later at the funeral home, but you somehow looked happier and more alive than that day at the hospital.

But what I don’t remember, no matter how hard I squeeze my eyes closed or try to drift into some childhood coma, is you ever hugging me or physically comforting me, whispering in my ear, telling me you love me. I’m not saying it never happened, I just can’t fucking remember it no matter how hard I try. I see pictures here and there, but I still can't remember.

While there are many who give support, offer advice, pray for me, think about me--there is no one who can give me my mother’s love, my mother’s touch. And I think that’s what I need right now, mom. I need to remember a hug, a touch. Just one time--just one time so I can feel what it was like to have not just a mother, but a mom. Maybe that would help me not feel so lost as I try to be not just a mother, but a mom to my own boys? Maybe?

I am now older than when you were when you died. Your grandchildren are nearly the same age as Sister and me when we lost you. And I think about the depression, the self-reflection, the passion, the anxiety, the whacked-out emotions that I have and how everyone says I am just like you. And I think that maybe you felt this lost, like me, as a mother, and never got to grow past it, to work through it, to embrace it. The thing is you never got the chance to figure yourself out, and more than anything, I think I mourn this for you.

And I think this has been holding me back somehow. Somehow, my map of motherhood ended with your last breaths of life, and I have reached the point where I am on my own, without a guide. It’s time for me to move past this. Not that I am there yet mom, but I think I’m finally not afraid to live past your life. Almost. And maybe someday it won’t hurt so much to live the life you never got the chance to live and to love the way you never got a chance to love. Maybe.

Forever you daughter,


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Botanical Gardens

Sorry there's no witty story to go along with this, but at least you know we are alive.

We went to the botanical gardens on Sunday, and it was a beautiful 6 hours flanked by one kid throwing up in the car and one realizing a little too late that he was passing more than gas. Ever ride home in a car in 90 degrees weather with puke and shit? I know some of my readers have!

Seriously, the gardens were beautiful, the kids' garden was Bubba's favorite place ever. Moosie never complained about all of the walking. There were only a few tense moments, like when Bubba and Moose were walking on the bridge with no rails in the Japanese garden or when Bubba nearly knocked his Aunt M into the lake (note to self, next time stay away from the Japanese gardens).

Oh, and apparently Bubba thinks anyone who speaks a different language is Spanish. He went up to an Asian man and asked if he was Spanish and the guy started laughing. Meanwhile Mooser picked up a burning cigarette butt from an outside ashtray, pointed to the sign we were standing by, and shoved the thing in my face saying "Sign say no DEEZ TINGS!!!" I totally didn't see that coming.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeing Things in a Different Way

While going to bed, we were telling Bubba that we would be ordering his new glasses tomorrow. Moosie of course wanted to get glasses as well, and was rather upset with us explaining that he didn't need them.

Bubba--who has had glasses since he was a year old or so-- questioned knowingly, "Was [Moosie] born without glasses?"

There was a hint of sadness in his voice, not because he needed glasses but because his brother didn't have any.

We told Moosie not to worry--that if our genes had anything to do with it, he would probably need glasses eventually.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We've Been Busy

Bubba is "deschooling" and so is momma. We've been busy ... good days, bad days, Tartan Days, building garden days, sensory days, soccer days, lunch break days, filling garden days, experiment days, lots of days [not blogging].

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unconditional Love

There's something about a vulnerable, peaceful, trusting sleeping little boy that is just irresistible, so much so, even the kitty can't pass up snuggling with him.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's that burning?

I burned rice today. Rice. I think that pretty much sums up why I've been quiet lately.

To be continued....

Monday, March 9, 2009


*One of those posts that got lost in the drafts folder!*

So I haven't posted in awhile. I will. Soon. My efforts have been spent at this blog and around the R&S issue. And yeah, it's official, Bubba is now officially out of public school...and a homeschooler. And Moosie is still in preschool and IDONTKNOWWHATTHEHELLTODOABOUTHIMANDKINDERGARTEN. And I am back from Washington DC and I don't think I can really post about it until I have one full night's sleep in my own bed. Then maybe.

And wave to Stimey. I think I have been reading her blog for 2 years. And I met her this weekend. And it was like we were old friends. She is authentic, amazing, humorous, and my type of gal. I found out the COPAA conference is going to be in St. Louis next year. I am going to bribe Stimey to come.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Skating Through it All

This week has been particularly hard on our family, but more on that later. Today, Hubby left for another week away for mandatory work training. A friend invited us to go roller skating with her church group, and rather than sitting at home depressed over all that has and is happening, me and the boys went.

I am so glad we did. I watched Bubba fall again and again. This was maybe his second time roller skating, so no surprise there. I got out there with him and told him "Look at me, not at your feet. You can do this. YOU CAN DO THIS!" He smiled as he tried, both of us laughing as we tried to navigate around the rink, others his age whizzing by.

By the end of the session he was skating on his own. Not smoothly, but he was doing it. And he was happy as he danced robotically across the rink. He continued to fall...and he continued to get right on back up. And the neatest part was when another kid would fall down, he would be right there to help him up.

Later, when I was frustrated about something else, he said the same words I said to him..."Mom, it's OK. Don't get frustrated. YOU CAN DO THIS!"

And that right there made this whole week worth it. My baby believes in me as much as I believe in him. What more do I need?

(It's a cellphone video, but look at the boy try to dance on wheels!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Media Circus Begins

This is why I have been so quiet.

I do not like this. Today I show my face and then stand back as people make comments like they know what's going on.

I guess the cover was blown early regarding the press conference today, so now I can share this publicly:

The comments are starting.... the ones about how the kids should just be in mental institutions or that this treatment is warranted because these kids are 'so violent.' Oh and the ones about how if I would do my job as a parent this wouldn't be happening... Any support in the comment sections would be appreciated. I'm guessing stuff will be in the post this week too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chicago Public Schools Should be a Wake-Up Call To Missourians


National media has been exposing alleged abuses in Chicago Public Schools. Most people are unaware that corporal punishment of school children is still allowed by law in Missouri. Missouri lawmakers should abolish corporal punishment in schools and also address the abuse of restraint and seclusion in all schools.

House Bill 96, which is making its way through the Missouri House right now DOES NEITHER. Currently The Safe Schools Act allows corporal punishment. HB 96 would also add "use of force" but neither will be defined or regulated. Your help is urgently needed to push for real reform for the safety of children attending school.

Consider contacting the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families : and Elementary and Secondary Education Committee:

And the Missouri Senate Education Committee: and the Joint Committee on Education:


Copy and paste URL:

Monday, February 9, 2009

I think I am going to puke

I am really nervous. I can't say why. I want to throw up.

How much power does one really big school district have? I think I might just find out.

[insert anxious retching sounds]

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Developments

Bubba tends to cycle, and has days where he is aggitated and full of anxiety...but he has no idea why nor does he understand why he feels that way. A few days this week were some

Ummmm...mooser just published this for me. and I wasn't near done...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why is this so confusing to me?!?!?!?!

I am trying to teach myself the legislative process...again. Again, again. Why is this so confusing? How come the pretty pictures don't help? This is worse than calculus. This is worse than physics. This is worse than memorizing prayers and the process of First Confession, which I never understood, in PSR. And if I do finally figure it out, I forget it like, um 2 seconds later.

Oh I so wish I could avoid this. But I can't. So I won't.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Bubba and I were going through a book of presidents and once we were done he asked me where Geranimo Stilton was as he flipped through the pages. Who in the hell is Geranimo Stilton? Some president I never heard of? Possibly. There are a lot of those.

Nope. I found out from Google that Geranimo Stilton is a mouse. Go figure. Bubba then ran off to watch Stuart Little 2. Maybe there's a connection there somehow. Still not sure what that has to do with presidents.

Can't type much more. Now that Bubba knows I can Google names and find out things, he keeps asking me to Google every time he hears/sees a name in Stuart Little 2.

Does your library have this stuff?

We are fans of our local library. Always have been. For the past year or so, I've been downloading audio books and recently I realized we can download e-books. And it's all free. Bubba already spent 20 minutes reading this one. And I've got me eye on books like this. Seriously, if the boys say "I want to know more about sharks" I can show them a pretty pdf rather than a web page. Now don't get me wrong, I like anything where I can find information, but sometimes those web pages have too much to weed through.

Now, I am a big fan of THE BOOK, so you won't see me relying solely on "E" anything when it comes to "reading." We have hundreds of books, but can't have every single this a nice resource. Especially if it's snowy outside and your kids want to know more about dinosaurs or whatever RIGHT NOW. And I can't say "No" to learning, even if it's at 11:30 PM. So this is good, because the library would be closed.

So if you haven't yet, find out if your library does something similar!

Friday, January 30, 2009

A lot can happen in a week

I apologize for being quiet here... but wow, what a week!

Last week I gave a presentation to The Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities - Education Committee. The committee voted to bring the issue in front of the council and the council (hopefully) is expected to approve "supporting" legislation in the restraint and seclusion issue. Within a matter of days, a bill is being drafted and there are two potential sponsors (Senators). I have been working like crazy updating the site I started a year ago. I have been advocating through e-mail and on the phone more than I have since...well, if you have children with disabilities you are always on the phone or e-mailing someone about something trying to resolve a problem, prevent something, or hold someone accountable, or get something to change! Check out the site and give me your feedback. It's a blog, so I'm limited...but if you are smart like that, help me fix things like making the blog let me put thing in the order I want them as opposed to chronologically. Grrr. I can't devote much time on this since I'm spending time on the actual issue.

I am going to DC in March to further educate myself on and advocate about this issue (and I get to meet Stimey!). I am going to the State capitol in February and March.

I have suspended my freelance work until late Spring so that I can focus on this issue (and um a "schooling" issue I have been purposely vague about...). I am scared shitless. Like really scared. It's not like I made a ton, but it was supplemental income that we live on month to month.

But, because things just work out sometimes, we found out today that Hubby is moving to a store 5 minutes away (right now he has about a 60-90 minute commute (round trip). This alone will save us $300 or more a month in gas (and food costs since Hubby so often 'forgets' to bring his lunch!). not to mention that he can come home during lunch when he wants or go to meetings/appointments for the boys...and we can drop by and grace him with our presence when we are running around. And for someone as anxiety ridden as myself, it's good to know he is minutes away in case there is any emergency.

So there you have it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

End the Abuse

I, along with thousands of other parents, persons with disabilities, and advocates, am trying to ban the use of seclusion rooms and abuse of restraints in our public schools.

Please take a look at Zach's story: There is a video. It is kind of small, but I can't upload it properly to youtube right now because it's giving me trouble for using a particular song. There are also some areas that are difficult to read, but I will be working on those as well.

Most importantly, show your support and pledge to stop this here: actions/view/end_the_use_of_ aversives_restraints_and_ seclusion

Please note, this is not an issue only affecting those with autism, but all individuals with disabilities.

Talk to your legislators, talk to the media, share this and let people know that this is going on. Share your story anyway you can.

Please e-mail me if you have a personal story. And if you have a child with a disability in the school system now--even if you don't think it is possible for them to be restrained or secluded--consider sending a letter to try and prevent this from happening to your child (


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bubba's Story

I finished the video to introduce my restraint and seclusion presentation on Thursday.

Press play. Sorry for the size, Youtube is giving me grief for using an mp3. I did buy the song and I have it on a soundtrack CD somewhere. I don't like breaking rules, so now I gotta go figure this out.

You can read more of Bubba's story here.

Got the youtube version working:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I am an idealistic person. If I am inspired, I can do so much more. And let me tell you, I am inspired. As I prepare for an informal presentation to a state committee on Thursday on the abuse of restraint and seclusion, these words from President Obama's speech today tremble within me:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

I believe in equality. Do nothing out of pity, because that implies inequality.

So I ask of you as president Obama stated:

...extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

Today I remind myself to not tell my children that "life isn't fair", but instead teach them about fairness. I will not tell them "that's the way the world works", but instead show them how to change it. And I will not just tell my children these things, but I will also live by them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NDRN Seclusion and Restrain National Report

Cross posted

Share this with your local media outlets and government officials!

Read the national report regarding restraint and seclusion, released on January 13, 2009, here.

News article here.


URLS for copy and paste:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Bubba!

You are nine years old, and I love you with all of my heart, more than I ever thought I could love another human being. I finished your video like I promised. It's not exactly like I had hoped, but it's done. And you know as well as me, that sometimes, well, that's all that matters.

You are the spark in our lives, and we love you. Thank you for pushing our boundaries; we are so much more because of you.