learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: gratitude (Page 1 of 2)

LUV from @SouthwestAir

Those playing along at home have known how terrible the past six or so months have been for our family. It just felt like bad news at every turn, from being separated from Brooklyn to having her torn from us completely and so many other little things along the way.

One day on a lark, I tweeted Southwest Airlines. We needed help if we were going to get to Ohio. I never thought they would respond. Then, shock of shocks, they did!

tweetsIt’s an understatement to say I was blown away. Someone took the time to just reach out to us. It was the first time that someone outside our community seemed to be listening. It was the first time that it looked like something good might begin to happen. It gave me the strength to go out in search of our new journey, a journey that will begin so much closer to home and without the baggage from before.

Ultimately, we do not need the assistance anymore. I had a wonderful exchange with Southwest over private messages and I learned how to get other non-profits in touch with them over needs they might have for travel as well as saw that compassion truly is a core value of theirs. They likely receive thousands of tweets in the course of a day, more when there’s foul weather and reason for anger. No one had to reach out to me and yet, people did. They did so with care and kindness.

Thank you for showing us LUV, Southwest. I hope that someday soon we can plan a real vacation with J’s new partner and come travel with you all!


Skidding to a Thanks

Last night at midnight, our fundraiser with Ride to Give ended.

It not only met its goal but exceeded it. That in and of itself is amazing, right? However…

It gave us a community. We have our 4 Paws family online and nearby and now we have this incredible extended Ride to Give family joining us. Our family has grown exponentially overnight and I am looking forward to what that will mean to J and Brooklyn’s future together.

You all gave us hope, peace and relief. We’re hoping that you find joy, humor and awe in what’s to come with J and his girl. I have been sharing his journey from the start thanks to the release that is writing a blog, now we have even more people to hop on the ride we’re on to see just where it’s going to go.

When we start training, the posts will be very Brooklyn-centric. We’ll be learning everything we need to do to make J and his girl successful, and it is tradition in a way for 4 Paws families who are willing to chronicle their class time to share with future classes as well as their own families. After they graduate… Watch out, world! The real adventures shall begin.

We skidded to a halt after our amazing Ride to Give race, that so many helped us finish in record time. Forgive me if over the next week I might be a little more quiet than usual, we have a lot of rearranging and packing to do to prepare for our new girl. I am not abandoning all our new friends and followers but focusing on J, Brooklyn and our new family as it is going to soon be. It’s kind of like getting ready for a new baby, right?

Thank you all again. Now sit back, relax, and get ready for what promises to be one heck of an amazing ride upcoming!

It’s A…


Everyone, I am so pleased to introduce J’s best friend, the newest member of our family:

This is Brooklyn. She is part of the Cities Litter born on 11-21-2013 and named by the Falzarano family in honor of their beautiful son Hawke. Hawke passed away before he could meet his service dog because of a seizure disorder. This is the second litter they have named, as each of their sons have a city middle name themselves. If you would like to learn more about Hawke and his family, please go here.

This is our beautiful new girl!

brooklyn boy

She is an English Cream Golden Retriever. Look at her swooshy tail! J will be -over the moon- for her, and given her heritage she ought to have just the right amount of mischief to fit into our family seamlessly.

I thought at first that Brooklyn was a boy. It was hilarious to find out after I emailed family that I had to email them again and correct her gender, but I am sure she will forgive me my faux pas.

That beautiful face right there? Everyone who has cheered us on and helped us along the way has made this possible. That smile is as much for you all as it is for my beloved boy and in 11 days, we’ll get to see them both together for the first time! I cannot wait, and we have plenty of tennis balls awaiting her!

Where We Are

I look at where we are today and I cannot help but to be awed and humbled.

Last year,  midway through our fundraising for 4 Paws, I wrote a post about how important the dog would be to us and how yes, I am very determinedly focused on the cause of getting the dog and getting to the dog. You see, I had been mocked. I had been mocked harshly for working on “my precious dog” like it was some frivolous, useless cause.

That person is gone. They didn’t get to continue this journey with us. It feels like the rest of the world took their place instead and it blows me away.

When you engage in the 4 Paws for Ability program, it changes your life before you even meet your dog. You apply, you speak with Karen Shirk, the executive director and you sort out just what would be best for you and your family. 4 Paws is good at what they do. They know how to best help our kids, even when we’re not entirely sure of that ourselves. Then they link you up with a support group filled with families who have stood where you stood. The group combines new families just starting their fundraising, people who are finished fundraising and await their assigned training class and families already with their dogs. There is additional support from families and individuals who foster dogs and support the 4 Paws program.

You are never alone on the journey, not even when you truly feel like you are.

Then of course angels step in your path all along the way, like the Ride to Give Army, like all the absolutely amazing people – friends, family, strangers alike – who helped us raise the initial funds to be placed in our class. You make lifelong friends and your family simply grows. People get to know your child and join their journey…

I said to my mother Monday that my son finds his people. This journey, from the start til today, is living proof.

Twelve days stand between now and when my son will meet his friend, his companion and his helper. We do not know what they look like yet or what their name is, but the moment I do believe me I will be shouting it from the rooftops. If I could there’d be billboards from here to Boston and back again to celebrate the occasion! Everyone will know and when there are photos of them meeting, I will be quick to share them too.


Because it’s the help of all of you that made it possible. You’re bringing a boy and his precious dog together. Like our fundraising t-shirts said… There’s nothing like a boy and his dog.


The image from our t-shirts, courtesy of the generous Derek Benson.

PS: For those new to the blog, I refer to dog regularly as Dog to be Named Later. I was a seven season employee of the Boston Red Sox. Baseball has a wonderful place in our family, hence the dog’s current in flux name being that. 🙂

Everyday Miracles


J doing what J does best: consume donuts.


Where do I even start this post. I am going back and forth between shaking and crying and for one of the rare few times in my life, it is not over something horrible happening.

That’s what I am used to, you know? Bad news, all that good stuff. I am a pro at disasters. You give me something amazing and I walk around it warily like it’s a velociraptor preparing to strike.

But goodness comes. Miracles happen, and they come out of the clear sunny blue.

Not too long ago the organization Ride to Give  helped one of J’s classmate’s family fundraise to get them from their home to Ohio for training with their service dog. We applied, but we continued fundraising on our own. And everyone – We did a great job. Every one of you who shared, who donated, who participated in the giveaway, and who just supported us made it pretty good. We raised part of what we needed – enough for one major cost, but we still had a shortfall.

Then I get a message: We can help. We had, that same day, sat looking at numbers and realizing the enormity of what lay before us. Medical bills, car repairs, household expenses… Life adds up, and it’s been adding up fast this year. J’s dog is so, so important to him; to his future and his comfort that any sacrifice was on the table to make this happen for him.

This tremendous organization showed up and has reached out to help remove our greatest burdens of fear and stress. Ride to Give has taken up J’s cause and is helping us raise additional funds for our travel and our dog’s care.

There are not enough words. There are not.

To those who found us through Ride to Give, thank you. You are giving a family peace. You are helping my son meet a service dog who will see him through hard days to come. Medical tests will no longer need to require horror. Visits to new places will not need to be faced like a battle in a long war but instead the adventure they actually are. He will have comfort. He will have security. He will have an even brighter future, and now, you’re all a part of it. Welcome to our little online family. I look forward to sharing J meeting his dog with all of you.

Thank you. The words are small, but they’re from my heart and I cannot say them enough. Thank you.

J’s campaign can be found here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/bsve8/ab/b3pd72


There are some days that I get shocked to find people actually read my writing despite my stated mission of hoping that my crazy writing helps someone.

If you’re a reader who reads a lot of this and tolerates my battering of grammar and my painful run-on sentences, not to mention my spectacular typos… Thank you and bless you. Seriously.  Cause there’s some days I can’t even put up with my own writing. 

I may be overstating that a little (okay a lot) but then again I do have to actually live in my own head and let’s be clear: it’s cluttered, messy and crazy in there just like my house. 

I am accustomed to the worst. I am used to people who gain my trust just to shatter it and who say one thing while either never following through or just plain doing the opposite as though to spite their own promise. There are reasons I battle PTSD and reasons why I am not fully joking when I say I am terrified of people: I’ve seen the worst.

People talk about the day their child was diagnosed with grave devastation, with horror, with sorrow, with heartache and I have felt some of these things. I have written about my sadness and my fears. I will no doubt write about them more in the future as new situations and new turns in J’s journey bring up old fears and new. That’s not everything that has come with the journey into autism and its related disorders though.

I have met, virtually and in person, some of the most amazing people. I now interact with other special needs parents who are in varying stages of the same or similar journeys to the one I am on. I interact with people I otherwise never would have truly met. I have reconnected with relatives I have not seen since the passing of my grandmother and found that there is love and care where I thought all such things had died.

So, this morning, I am blogfaced with awe. I am surprised, humbled, joyful and given peace by what autism has actually brought into my life and my son’s. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

Now, in an effort to live dangerously, I am going to post this without running spellcheck.

First Playdate and Gratitude

Today, J had his first playdate.

A friend I made in parent/child group invited us over so our boys (her 2 and my little guy) could play together. Her youngest and J were thick as thieves at group until he turned three about a month or so ago. They are polar opposites in a lot of ways yet that is how they seem to compliment each other. One’s weakness plays to the other’s strengths and with the way little M is growing in leaps and bounds between each time I see him… He’s going to be the kind of guy who ends up showing J how to get on in the world.

This was my bear’s first playdate and mine too. M’s mom teaches me a lot. She is persistent, never relenting in getting what it is her son needs and leaving no stone unturned. She has been the “forward scout” into the local school system and prepared us in parent group for what was ahead of us as our own children get close to three and enter into it. She always listens, always encourages and always offers an anecdote so notes can be compared and we can realize “wow, I’m really not alone”.

It is not uncommon for, after I explain to someone J’s special needs, for them to say “I’m sorry”. It’s not a flaw on them, it’s a lot to take in for those uninitiated so I cannot hold a grudge against those who say it.

To them, however, I say… “Well, I’m not.”

The special needs community has it’s ups and downs when I enter the larger realm of it. The small realm of our local Early Intervention groups and the handful of moms I have met online through blogging and through a moms group I joined while pregnant have shown me that there are great people out there, like M’s mom. We support each other, make each other laugh, and lend shoulders for leaning on when we’re struggling the most with what can be overwhelming loads of fear and stress. 

Would I have known this without autism in our lives? Likely, but I feel it wouldn’t have been the same. Autism has forced me to be a better person to help my son along and has shown me a whole new world.

So, C, thank you. Junebug 2010 moms, thank you. Thursday Sensory Group parents, thank you. Fellow Boston Mom bloggers, thank you.

Everyone who has helped me through this so far… Thank you.


Lunchbag Art Strikes Again!

Check out this post filled with awesome!


I use the word “awesome” a lot. I assure you I am not a fifteen year old girl from the 1980’s. A lot of this process is awesome, from the people who have been so kind as to share our story to the generous donations to the amazing acts of people who want to help. The actions of family, friends and strangers alike does stagger me. Not a soul has been obligated to help and yet so many have and continue to do so. 

It is to all of you that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you, for caring about one little boy and his special needs enough to help unite him with a companion to give him such an improved quality of life. His life isn’t by any means bad now, but this companion will open up so much more to him while increasing his safety. 

Super Exciting AWESOME News (and less awesome news)

So the less awesome news first: Tonsils will be parting ways with Jacob on 6/3. It is what it is. I feel the benefits far outweigh the down sides to the entire decision and we cannot effectively address his eating issues til the physical issues are managed. So, that’s scheduled, moving on!

A few weeks ago I wrote to the most awesome Derek Benson who makes Lunchbag Art for his very, very lucky children. I had seen an article on Yahoo! about what he does and had a blast showing the pictures to J, especially when we saw Minion from “Megamind”, his all time favorite movie. I had nothing to lose in asking him to help us with our fundraising and I am very, very excited to share with everyone the image he came up with and our fundraising t-shirt campaign through Custom Ink!

The whole thought I had, scant though it may be, was to convey the bond between a boy/child and their dog. Here’s what he came up with: 



Incredible, right?! The best picture of J I have plus a hint of who his companion down the road might be all in one image… I’m such a sap that I was tearful the first time I saw it. 

Thanks to Brendan at Custom Ink this beautiful image has been put on shirts. You can find them here:


We are committed to selling 100 shirts before they go to press. It will raise just over $1,000 towards our $13,000 goal. If we fly through selling 100, we’ll just have to open up a second campaign won’t we!

Share this around if you can! I’ll add it to the main fundraising page. 


So a little pic spam to brighten up

So a little pic spam to brighten up the day.

Once upon a time there was a baby dragon…



Who had the biggest grey eyes I’ve ever seen.


i’m here for your ice cream

Of course then he got an iPad and I stopped being in charge of photos, so you get stuck with this for now 😉


Hopefully these made someone smile.

I hope to be able to write more soon. We shall see! Until then, another huge thank you to all who have donated or spread the word about Team Jacobly for 4 Paws. The response has been warm and encouraging – it means the world to me.

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