Now that we have your attention…

A lot of people are talking about Iowa this morning.

American Idol winner and Clarksville native Maddie Poppe captured the world with her unbelievable talent, grace and personality. I mean come on…how can you not love Maddie??

A friend of mine from back home in PA (yes, if you’re from Pennsylvania you just say PA) said to me that she loved when AI showed Maddie going back home to Iowa. “You can just tell the people there are genuine and nice.”

Yep. It’s true. Iowa nice.

Well now that we have your attention a little more America, I want to share a few more pictures. Because we need your help. In the beginning, every news outlet talked about them…but then, just like the ribbons on the trees, everything started to fade.

So I know people are coming off the high of the Royal fairytale…we’re analyzing everything from the dress, hair and flowers. And then there’s the social media phenomenon trying to figure out if it’s “Laurel” or “Yanny”. I’m sorry…but there is something much more pressing.

jake3

This is Jake. Jake Wilson. He’s been missing for 45 days now. 45 days. As a mom, I can’t even fathom how it feels to have a child missing…especially not knowing what happened. Was he taken? Was is hurt? Is he being kept somewhere against his will? Everything is unknown. This picture is more important than any “exclusive” Royal wedding picture. This is someone’s son…and he’s been gone for 45 days.

elizabeth lyric

This is Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. They’re cousins. They were abducted in a neighboring town. Their bodies were found miles away.

They were murdered.

Their killer…has still not been found.

So while an American woman became a real-life princess and she certainly looked gorgeous doing it…these are the pictures that I would love to see flooding social media.

So now that we have your attention America…we need to fight for these kids.

Our voices are all they have.

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That $50.

Raising money for PREVENTION is tough.

There I said it.

As a society, we do a really good job responding to a crisis. When there is someone in an immediate need, we always step up. It’s something I will always admire about our community.

But prevention…that’s tricky. You can’t see it. People don’t think there’s an “immediate need.”

I’ve been planning a Dancing With the Stars event to raise money for Family & Children’s Council.  It’s something different…something I have seen in many other cities across the country that is unique and fun.

“Tickets are $50.”

“That’s a little steep…what do we get for that.”

That was a quick exchange I had recently. And I get it. $50 is a lot…money is tight…you may have to get a babysitter…will there be free food or drink? All things that would pop into my head too.

We need that $50. Every child in our community needs that $50. This is why.

Recently, a 10-year-old girl was taking part of our Take Charge of Your Body program in her school in Black Hawk County. (It’s our sexual abuse prevention program). In the middle of the presentation, she started to cry. Glenda, our Sexual Abuse Prevention Coordinator, pulled the young girl out of the classroom to talk with her. It was disclosed that she was being sexually abused by her father since she was three-years-old. In fact, her father was forcing her to watch pornography. He told her “do you see that man and girl? That’s what fathers and daughters do.” She thought this was NORMAL because that is what she was taught. Our TCOYB program taught this girl about what is appropriate behavior and what is not appropriate. And because of our programming, that young girl is now in a happy, healthy and SAFE environment.

The money that we get into FCC to support our programming is what helped to empower this young girl to use her voice and get into a safe place.  That’s what we do.

So yes, people may get annoyed by my endless posts trying to sell tickets to “another event.” But it’s never about THE EVENT. It’s about what the event allows us to do….keep kids safe.

I can assure you – that $50 is not going to pay for the venue. It’s not going to pay for the food we’re going to give you.  It’s not going to pay for the drinks we’re going to have. It’s not paying for our local stars’ time. It’s not going to pay for my salary. It’s not going to pay for our office rent.

That $50 is going to make sure we do everything we can to help a child safe.

Every child.

From every neighborhood…from every side of town….from every family.

$50.

That breaks down to $0.96 a week for a year.

How much would you pay to keep your own child safe?

 

Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day.

It feels different this year.

I had so many medical problems after Aria was born, I honestly didn’t know if I would be around for this Mother’s Day. I remember when I was in the emergency room I looked at the nurse and said: “I have four children at home. Please help me. They need me.” She touched my hand and said, “Stay strong momma.”

Stay strong.

It’s the mantra of moms everywhere isn’t it?

There are moms to babies in heaven.

There are moms who are watching their children fight for their lives in the hospital.

There are moms who have children missing.

There are moms who have children who are being bullied.

There are moms who have children who have taken their own lives.

There are moms who never got to hold their child.

We are in this amazingly sad, crazy and beautiful sisterhood together.

We have so many sleepless nights.

That’s because we worry about the health of our unborn child…

We rock the fussy baby to sleep…

We check under the bed for monsters after the toddler has a nightmare…

We lay with the grade-schooler because he just wants to have time with mommy…

We wait up for the teenager because there is no better sound than that front door opening…

We feel helpless when the baby has colic…

When the toddler skins both knees…

When the grade-schooler is getting bullied…

or when the teenager has their heart broken for the first time.

We wonder if we’re making the right decision when it comes to daycare, school and sports.

We wonder if they’re eating enough vegetables, brushing their teeth properly and getting enough sleep.

We wonder if they’re being kind, respectful and genuine to others.

We wonder if others are being kind, respectful and genuine to them.

We wonder if they’re eating alone at lunch or have nobody to play with at recess.

Morning, noon, night and middle of the night…we worry.

We worry because there is no greater love than the LOVE a mother has for her child.

So yes, on Mother’s Day, I want a break.

A break from worrying.

So let me sleep in a little…

Do the laundry…clean up the house a bit…make me my favorite foods.

Do all of that so I can surround myself with the four blessings God gave me…

I want to be FULLY PRESENT with them…

Because God knew they still need me…and I need them.

Happy Mother’s Day.

xx

 

 

 

“REPEAT AS NEEDED”

I often tell people that right now, in this moment, I have the most important job of my entire life: I advocate for children….for their happiness…for their safety.

It’s a blessing.

But it also keeps me up at night.

I wonder if I am making a difference.

I wonder if people are truly listening when I say how vital it is to INVEST in a child’s safety and happiness rather than waiting for a crisis to happen.

I wonder if people are willing to come from behind their “white picket fence” to realize that EVERY child matters. And although your home is happy, healthy and safe…that is NOT the case for every child in our community.

I wonder a lot of things.

But God always steps in with a message when we need it the most…and today was no different.

I received a package in the mail from a young woman who has been an inspiration for me for quite some time. Inside was a beautiful handmade bracelet from an adorable shop in Independence called PolkaDot Bear.

It was the index card inside this package that empowered me and made me tear up all at once… madi

On the backside of the card it read: Amanda, you know the drill. Repeat as needed.

This is EVERYTHING.

It’s the mantra every woman needs.

It’s something we ALL need to hear.

It’s something we ALL need to say to ourselves.

It’s something we ALL need to shout.

Thank you to my dear friend, Madi for reminding me of WHO I AM.

Sometimes it takes someone else to write it all down on paper for you to realize it all yourself.

We need more people like Madi. People who take the time to let someone else know this: you matter.

Go out and be like Madi today and every day.

Make it a point to go inspire someone.

xx

31 Days.

This is the most important blog post I have ever written because it’s the one I need to get “out there” the most.

31 days.

Jake Wilson has been gone for 31 days.

31 days of not knowing where he is.

31 days of not knowing what happened.

31 days of not sitting at the breakfast table.

31 days of not being able to hear his laugh.

31 days of not getting a hug from him.

31 days of not seeing his smile.

31 days.

This is Jake Wilson.

jake3.jpg

It doesn’t matter that you’ve shared it 10 times…100 times…or 1,000 times.

He’s still not home.

31 days.

He’s our son…our grandson…our brother…our nephew…our friend…our student.

We don’t give up on children. We need to help bring him home.

We are the village.

Say his name over and over. Share his picture over and over. There’s no such thing as sharing “too much.” This isn’t about US. It’s about Jake Wilson…he is still not home.

So I will continue to share his name…his picture every single day. If that’s too much for people, then they can unfollow me.

#bringjakehome

Never too late…

“Oh my God! Another woman claiming sexual harassment from like 30 years ago! Let it go!”

Sigh.

I was waiting for a coffee this morning when I overheard a woman exclaim that.

The news had just mentioned the recent sexual harassment allegations against Tom Brokaw. Yes. That Tom Brokaw.

This coming to light just one day after we all learned that “America’s Dad” wasn’t so wholesome after all. Bill Cosby was sexually assaulting women for years. Heck…decades.

I bit my tongue as I waited for my no-frills black coffee. I thought about engaging in some conversation with her…maybe share my thoughts. Instead, I had the conversation in my head…it’s safer that way:

I don’t care if it’s 5 minutes…5 years…50 years. It is never too late to speak up.

When we roll our eyes at women who come forward years later, we are sending the message to our children that they should just “let it go.”

Nope.

For all of the couch critics who want to unleash on the women who come forward years later…I wonder if you’ve ever worked in a “boys club” atmosphere. Where the rules are different for your male counterparts. Where speaking up or voicing concern translates into whining or causing drama.

There is a reason so many people keep silent: fear.

Fear of embarrassment. Fear of retaliation. Fear of nobody believing them. Fear of losing their job. Fear of being blacklisted from their profession.

Fear.

It’s easy to criticize what we don’t know.

Maybe the fact that they waited so long to come forward doesn’t make any sense to you. But it doesn’t have to. This is their story… Their experience.

Ladies – we finally have a voice…we are finally being heard.

Maybe we’ll soon start to uplift one another.

Baby steps.

I knew it was wrong…

I knew my son was doing his project wrong…and I didn’t stop him.

Helicopters mom everywhere will not be happy with me. But accountability and responsibility need to be taught very early on so…here’s the story.

Nico is in the first grade and he is extremely smart. Like “I can tell you all about the functions of white blood cells in your body” smart. But unfortunately, he’s like I was when I was in school…he thinks he knows what to do so doesn’t feel the need to listen and follow directions.  My grade school teachers are breaking their necks by nodding so hard right now 😉

So he gets this assignment to do…it’s a timeline of his life. Pretty cool huh? He picked out a bunch of baby pictures and other pictures from big moments of his life so far.  He wrote a little description for each picture. “DONE!”

I looked at this finished project and I noticed there was a BIG thing missing: the dates. Kind of important for a TIMELINE PROJECT.

“Nico, do you have everything on here you’re supposed to?”

“Yep!”

“Nico, do me a favor…read through the instructions your teacher gave you one more time.”

“Mom! I did. Everything is right!”

“Ok.”

I knew his project was not done right. I bet my parents felt the same way when I would turn in a ridiculous science fair project in grade school. “Will mold grow on a sandwich if it’s wrapped in colored Seran wrap?” Umm – yeah…I never placed well in science fairs. But at least I knew I did the projects all by myself.

Fast forward a few days and Nico brings home his project: 9 out of 12.

“What happened buddy?”

“I forgot the dates. You told me everything was good, mom.”

Umm nope. Not going to get thrown under a bus today, son.

So we had a lengthy talk.

Listen – I want my children to succeed. In school, in sports…in LIFE. Every parent wants that.

But I cannot control situations. I cannot be there to fix every error. I’m not Olivia Pope (for all of the Scandal fans out there).

If you get in trouble at school – you got in trouble. Mommy is not going to yell at the principal.

If you get a bad grade – there are consequences. Mommy is not going to reprimand the teacher.

If you don’t get a lot of playing time – then you need to take practice more seriously. Mommy is not going to blast the coach on social media.

If you are mean to a friend – then you are going to apologize to both your friend and their parents. Mommy is not going to do it for you.

If you insist you read the directions and you’re not rushing to just get it done – well, you get the grade you get. Mommy can’t fix that either.

There is nobody on this planet that I love more than my children.

But I love them far too much to make excuses for them.

I want my children to have character, integrity, honor and accountability. Those values need to be instilled at the very beginning.

So what some may think was a 1st grade assignment that I should have helped him with…I see much more.

I see an important life lesson that he will never forget.