Noteworthy progress in the community, anecdotes, recommendations, and more

And the award goes to…

ME, for Laziest Blogger Ever!

I have had a lot of stuff to talk about, but less time than ever with which to do so. During my time away, we’ve had some big changes! You all know I changed jobs, but I never said specifically what I was doing. I debated on whether or not to post about it and ultimately decided not to until after the position was over, for a variety of reasons. The position I accepted was with a teenage girl with mild developmental delays who was in need of supervision and tutoring. One thing that made it tricky was the confidentiality issue- she is in the foster care system, so it is a very tangled web to navigate. Additionally, she’s a teenager and her peer group has a strong online presence. Even more, she is now legally an adult and we have been working with her on self-advocacy. While I will always be there for her, she is her own voice. One of the cool things about being so close in age is that she was able to respect me as an authority figure while accepting me as a guiding peer. Having a friend who’s made it through high school and the next few years after that can be a pretty sweet deal- I can give her a heads up on some of the things to avoid, you know, like meth and wearing leggings as pants.

I really enjoyed the position and got a lot out of it. It sucked when the end of April rolled around, because she had aged out of one of the programs that provided the funding for her to have a tutor. Obviously I’m still plugged into her life, just not professionally. It was hectic trying to find a new job and I was losing my mind towards the end of the search, but then the perfect opportunity presented itself in the form of a last-minute interview at Starbucks. I actually had two interviews in one day and am so glad I said yes to the second one, because the first one was one of those where you’re not really sure what happened but are pretty sure it wasn’t the job they had advertised… Anyways, I met my boss-to-be and we talked until after midnight. A few days later, the job was mine!

I’m currently working with an adorable four year-old boy with Asperger’s, who is insanely cute and absolutely hilarious. The way his mind works is amazing, and I cannot wait to see what life has in store for him! He’s already teaching me so much- think about how much he’ll teach the world!!!

In addition to the change of employment, I have had the awesome opportunity to move into my first apartment! I love it so much and really look forward to the new levels of independence I am achieving.
My last final of the semester was today. I am so relieved to be done with the semester and have summer to focus on my new kiddo, who I have appropriately deemed “Superkid.” I’m nowhere near done with school, but I officially have all of my math credits taken care of! You know, unless I bombed my final… *nervous laughter*

My goal is to post some updates on things I’ve done like celebrating 3-21 and Autism Awareness month, but no promises! I wish I was kidding. Sigh.

On an unrelated note, Happy Cinco de Mayo! May your evening be filled with fajitas and fun!
Now I want fajitas…

From Ear 2 Ear,


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Imagine loving someone so much that you would do anything for them, but hearing a word that cuts them down everywhere you go.

Imagine that person hearing it and feeling completely devalued. They’re being told they’re wrong, unintelligent, undesirable, worthless, stupid, less than human, and that they’re not acceptable by society’s standards.

My brother is awesome. He is loyal; nobody would have my back sooner. He’s supportive. When he hears I’m struggling, he’s right there to check on me. He’s thoughtful, and a gentleman. He’s smart, learns well, and is eager to be taught. He laments our generation’s inability to hold a conversation when a screen’s in front of their face, but isn’t camera-shy when it comes to a selfie. He’s an athlete- heaps of medals in track and field, as well as basketball, which is his favorite. He’s SO funny and I always smile when I am with him. He’s my brother, and someone called him retarded.

It broke my heart when he started saying he wanted to be normal. He even asked for our dad to make him normal. I cannot begin to describe the feeling… it’s like a punch to the gut. Why on earth would somebody make him question himself this way?

My brother is an all-star. He’s uplifting and always keeps it real. He is such a great person. He recently expressed his desire to help people who don’t have food or shelter.
He said, “Hey Sis, you know how some people don’t have anything to eat, no food or water?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He said, “That really hurts me. I want to help. What can we do to help?”

He just cares so much and expects nothing in return. Nothing is wrong with him! It has taken a while, but he knows that now.

When you use the r-word, the word retard or retarded, it makes being like him- having special needs- an insult. I’ve posted about it before and it’s all over the internet, especially today. Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day, which is all about ending the use of the word retard or retarded as a derogatory slur. Thousands of people are taking the pledge today to eliminate the word from their speech to promote the acceptance and inclusion of individuals with special needs. Today each of us gets to make a choice- stand up, take the pledge, and stop using the r-word. Assert your power over the word that continues to dehumanize amazing people like my brother. Assert your power over hate, ignorance, and discrimination!

It takes less than five minutes. Go to and take the pledge to eliminate the derogatory slur from your speech today. Share it with your friends and family, and help us spread the word to end the word!

From Ear 2 Ear,


Bonus: Me with Austin in May of 2009
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How do you validate your children?

How do you validate your children? How do they validate themselves?

I haven’t been a parent. I know that I cannot possibly understand how hard it is, or assume that I know what it’s like. As a big sister, a nanny, a tutor, a volunteer, and a grown-up version of the little girls out there, I do know about being a kid and caring for one like they were your own.

The majority of people I have worked with have been girls, but I have cared for a few boys as well. The little girl I was “way back when” is still, and always will be a part of me. The little boy or little girl you were is somewhere deep inside of you. Never lose that. Remember the whimsy, the silliness, the innocence, and especially the vulnerability.

Kids are so malleable. Everything they experience will shape who they are, and who they will become. You can hide all the scary, bad things in the world from them, keep them in a bubble, shower them with praise- believe me, my parents tried- but when they grow up, they’ll need more than that to take with them into the real world.

Let’s go back to the present. Your children need validation. They need to know that you approve of them, that you’re proud, and that you stand with them no matter what. Of course you’ve already told them this, but is it enough? Teach them to validate themselves, and they will believe you when you tell them they’re special. Teach them to validate themselves, and they won’t let anyone tell them they’re less. If your kid doesn’t feel good about themselves, they won’t believe you when you say they’re enough. You can go above and beyond to tell them they’re the best, but they have to believe it themselves for it to work.

How do you make your precious little girl understand just how valuable she is? There’s no “one right way.” Every child is different. Here are some things I came across that really stood out…
My favorite part is what he asks her each night at bedtime.
This article supports my theory that validation must come from within.
Respect for parents is often emphasized to the point where we forget that children need it too.
This applies to us all.

These are just some that I found after digging through the interwebs a bit. Please note that I am sharing these as examples, and not everything within the websites posted reflects the views of From Ear 2 Ear.

My parents validated me, but I never learned to appropriately validate myself. Don’t let your little ones grow up without learning to value and respect themselves. I look at these kids and teens and wish I could embrace them and say, “Do you know how important you are to the world?” I wish I could impart to each person on this earth just how much they are worth.

Give your children validation and instill the belief so strongly that it comes from within. There is nothing more powerful than a child’s ability to say, “I am enough, and I will not let others convince me that I am lesser.”

Create the foundation and enable them to build upon it. A skyscraper will fall without a strong foundation, as will your child.

It takes a village.

From Ear 2 Ear,


P.S.- Share your favorite ways to validate your children in the comments! I love feedback!


The Sparkle Effect

Check this out:

I heard about this a while back and, while thrilled to hear that it was happening, thought it would never make it to our district.

Times, they are a-changin’. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to type that. Recognize.

Anywho, I heard about it happening in Keller ISD when I was helping out with my sisters. I saw the flyer and was like, “Oh my gosh, when did this happen???” I was so happy for them! Peyton cheered with the eighth-grade squad at her middle school, but her involvement was very limited. She has always wanted to be a cheerleader. I should know, I got to hear about it ALL THE FREAKING TIME. Now that she is with our other sister, Brooke, at Fossil Ridge High School, they are both on the squad in our district’s first year of participating in The Sparkle Effect.

What is the Sparkle Effect? I’m lazy, so check it out here:

Of course I was excited, but I was probably more scared than anything. Our school district has had a HUGE problem with bullying for as long as I can remember, and it has been getting worse to the point where people were pulling their kids out of school. I’ve posted about bullying before. Y’all know how strongly I feel about it. While my little sisters’ dreams were coming true, they would be open to further scrutiny. That scared the hell out of me. I saw the way typically-developing peers treated classmates with special needs, even when they thought they were being nice- talking to them like babies, feigning interest in them, nodding and smiling instead of trying to understand what they were saying…
I’m always hesitant when I see people talking to my sisters because of this.

I went to the first basketball game the Sparkle Squad cheered at and prayed it would be different this time. You have no idea how I felt coming out of that game, and the next two. The most recent one was last night. These girls and guys- these attractive, popular, high school students- are some of the coolest people I’ve met. They pushed to bring The Sparkle Effect to KISD and work with the Sparkles one-on-one to help each reach their full potential. Later this month, the entire Fossil Ridge High School cheer squad will go to training for The Sparkle Effect. There, they will learn how to best help their peers learn and develop as cheerleaders, students, and friends. In one game, a stray basketball was headed straight for my sisters, and one of the FRHS cheerleaders jumped in front of them to block the ball. Last time I checked, it was every man for himself when that happened. Not with these teens! They go out of their way to make sure our Sparkles are safe and confident. My sisters are more confident than ever. Peyton has always been a social butterfly, but Brooke is very reserved most of the time.

I could go on for hours… it’s surreal. The FRHS cheerleaders are teaching the Sparkles legitimate cheer skills. Nobody stands in the background. Nobody goes without support. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. The Sparkles are cheered on by the whole district and have friends- real friends- in all places.

I’ll add some pics of my sisters and their friends below. I am beaming with pride as I type this! It’s just… wow.

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year and all that jazz!

From Ear 2 Ear,


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Moving On

I have been putting off every blog post since this summer because the one I need to write most is not something I ever thought I’d be writing.

Those of you who are familiar with my blog know that I am a nanny for a little girl with DS and her brother, who is typically developing. You know how crazy I am about them. I love them and their family and even their dog!

That’s why it’s been hard to tell you guys that I am moving on. It’s not anything they have done. I just realized that I have to do what is best for me, and I hated every minute of it.

I was with them for over a year and a half and I am so insanely grateful for every minute of it. I am a better person, advocate, friend, family member, employee, and human because of them. When I first started this job, I was still a teenager in many ways. I was disorganized in every area of my life, inefficient in tasks, and more self-absorbed than I’d care to admit. Trial and error played a big role. My boss was so patient with me while I was adapting to her pace. This summer was difficult… I wasn’t making progress with the kids. We were disagreeing on things and I was always stressed out. That’s when I realized that I was stagnating.

Cookie and Bubba have grown up so much. I have been truly blessed to witness so many “firsts.”. I taught them to swim without floaties, jump off the diving board… I was there when Bubba learned to do a flip, when they had their first dance recital (I cried), when Bubba started kindergarten, when Cookie drew her first animal (a deer, of all things), when she got her pincher grasp down, when they learned how to swing themselves, when Bubba learned to read… so much more…

I seriously could not ask for a better experience. It broke my heart to leave. I just realized that it was time for me to move on. I need to do a lot of things for myself. Someone once told me “You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself.”
I’m 21- school, finding an apartment (and being able to afford that apartment), and my wellbeing need to be considered.

I hate change. It sucks. It’s hard and scary and I don’t like not knowing! Leaving was insanely painful. I cried when I left and so did the kids. Then I cried at home, and on the phone with my grandmother, and texting my boyfriend. This job was all I’d known for the past 18+ months. I promised the kids I’d come back to visit and emphasized to their parents how sincerely I wanted to remain a part of their lives.

That being said, guess where I am!

At their house 🙂 I still babysit on an as-needed basis and am still the captain of Cookie’s Buddy Walk team! I have been at a new job since September. We got great news tonight- they’ve finally found a new nanny!!! The kids say prayers when we tuck them in at bedtime. Bubba always has me say it. We thanked God for helping us find a new nanny. Cookie says her prayer herself, and it’s adorable. I reminded her to mention her new nanny, and after hitting me in the head for interrupting, she did. Then she stopped and said, “No. Want you.” I told her I would be here tonight and her “new Miss Amber” would come another day. She relented and said “OK. You see me. Hang out.”

These kids will always be a part of me. I will see them at their birthday parties and sporting events, and I already have their Christmas presents!

I miss them often, even when they’re acting like heathens. I’m still an advocate and their crazy Miss Amber! Plus, I have way too many stories to tell their future boyfriends/ girlfriends!!!

From Ear 2 Ear,


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Catching Up Part 1: Down Syndrome Awareness Month

As usual, life got crazy and I disappeared off the face of the internet- or at least my blog. I have so many things to write about! At 21, I’m still figuring out life and how to manage everything, so sometimes I am forced to put this on the back burner. Hence my posting time of two in the morning. Blah.

Anywho, tonight’s installment of my “Catching Up” series is about October, a.k.a. Down Syndrome Awareness Month! It was such a crazy month. Our main focus was the North Texas Buddy walk, so my DS awareness month started earlier than most. Let’s rewind to September…

I had the privilege of being the captain of the buddy walk team again this year, so I began my insane journey through captain-ship bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, listening to stories from seasoned captains with a hunger for the same successes. Every spare moment was spent crafting awareness ribbons (bedazzled, of course) until the living room was covered in tiny bits of blue and yellow. Seriously, our couch still has glitter and hot glue strings on it.

One out of several batches...

One out of several batches…

I typed up colorful flyers and papered my college campus, every Starbucks in the area, my neighbors, family, friends, strangers in parking lots, businesses, Facebook, email, local schools, the works. The pages of notes I’d taken were surely enough to prepare me for anything! Yeah… no. People don’t read flyers, FYI. Some will even throw them away right in front of you! My list of potential sponsors quickly whittled down to a small handful of contacts, and eventually, like, one person- my eye doctor that I’ve been seeing for 13 years now. Yay! Exciting, right?

Unfortunately, the rejections I did get were reminiscent of my days as a girl scout delivering cookies- half the people who ordered them would change their mind once you asked for money. Add a few slammed doors and a little girl’s crushed dreams of being the top cookie seller in her troop, and BAM! You’ve got my version of 1999. That’s okay. I didn’t want that cool bike with the pink streamers anyway… Moving on from my flashback…

Thanks to a very helpful suggestion from other captains, I hit the pavement again in search of local businesses willing to host a fundraiser night. Finally we were able to nail down two restaurants for fundraiser nights! Cool, right??? I thought so too. The first fundraiser in late September was a flop. I don’t just mean kind of bad. I mean empty restaurant, tumbleweeds rolling by, total devastation of all hope. It sucked. BAD.
The second one was much better, thank God! We had more friends and family show up, as well as a few people who actually read the flyers I passed out. It was definitely the boost in morale that our team needed. Cookie’s parents worked hard getting the team shirts made, I kept schlepping ribbons and flyers, and we worked down to the last second. I personally spent over 100 hours working on the buddy walk stuff.

The day before funds were due, over half of our team had not registered yet, much to my chagrin. Patience is a virtue… just not one I’m good at.

Suddenly, donations and registrations came pouring in!!! We ended up with about 20 walkers registered on our team and raised $1013. I was thrilled, along with Cookie and her family. I was also so exhausted that I wanted to cry, but being thrilled canceled that out nicely. 🙂

The Buddy Walk went great and everyone had a blast. We were all so tired that I’m pretty sure nobody moved from their couch for the rest of the weekend, but it was worth it. We wore our ribbons all month and rocked the blue and yellow, spreading awareness everywhere we went!

Ugh. This post is not particularly well-written, which is kind of pathetic since it’s the first in months, but the month was so exhausting that reliving it now even wears me out! The important thing is that the team had fun and Cookie rocked her extra chromosome as usual. I love her so much. She inspires me to live hardcore. Laugh louder, hug tighter, love harder…

Here are some pics from the walk…










I love you guys. Thanks for sticking with me through all the dry spells!

From Ear 2 Ear,


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Behind the Scenes: Things teachers don’t know about bullying

As I have stated previously, bullying is a big issue for me. Tonight I was thinking… when did I have the biggest problems with bullying, and what could have made it better? The answer: In classrooms with new teachers, teachers who are new to the subject, and teachers who just don’t get it.

Teachers who just don’t get it is another topic for another day. I’m here to talk about the problems in classrooms with teachers in their first year of teaching or in their first year teaching that grade or subject. Don’t get me wrong- I love that teachers are pursuing their goals of educating students. I just know that there is a gap there that needs to be filled.

New teachers often do not know what to do when they see bullying and sometimes don’t even see it because they aren’t used to the students or the environment yet. To this day, my former teacher from middle school has no idea that she failed to stand up for me and make me feel included. One of my beloved high school teachers still keeps in touch with her star student who was my main bully in intermediate school. Both teachers were new, in their first year I believe. They had excellent lesson plans, engaged students in learning, and many more great attributes required of a teacher. However, they did not know how to identify and handle bullying. The one from high school saw it but didn’t take it seriously until I was in the hospital from a breakdown, and even then, she didn’t see that these people she favored were hurting me.

The reason that I emphasize that they were new teachers is because many teachers are not prepared to handle bullying and are either oblivious or shocked and don’t know what to say. I really think that intense anti-bullying training would be more fair to both teachers and students. That way, students could feel safer with new teachers and the new teachers would be ready to appropriately handle this prevalent problem. Bullying hurts, discourages, and often kills.

I would really like feedback. Do y’all think teachers should go through extensive anti-bullying training, especially new ones?

Hope to hear from y’all soon! Much love to all.

From Ear 2 Ear,



What would it take?

What would it take for you to protect the ones you love? What would it take for you to protect a stranger? What would it take for you to save a life?

I’ll start with a quote from Elie Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Bullying is an epidemic, not just in America, but worldwide. I’ve heard some unsettling rumors alleging that it’s merely a pandemic. It makes me both sad and angry when people refuse to take this seriously. It’s the first week of school in our district and I’ve taken half the summer to write this. It can’t wait anymore. Please read this and talk to your kids, peers, teachers, coworkers, families, about bullying and how to stop it.

I don’t typically share my personal issues on here, but this affects everyone, so I am putting this out there to do whatever I can to help. I was bullied to the point of hysteria in middle school. It was hard to ignore it in elementary school, and it increased during intermediate school, but middle school was by far the most brutal, relentless, abusive environment I have even seen in my life.

In science class I was tripped and mocked for my efforts to do well in the class. One bully in particular coined the nickname “The Ugly” to refer to me when I walked in the room or even raised my hand in class. “The Ugly’s here.” I soon gave up any dedication I had in that class.
In math I was taunted for my pre-teen acne. “Pizza face.” That was my name there.
In a class I took that taught study skills for students in AP classes, I was called stupid and made fun of for my weight.
In tennis, I was ruthlessly shamed by the coach. “Run faster to burn off some of those calories.” “No, you don’t need your asthma inhaler.” He jeopardized the health of many students there.
There’s so much more…

In high school, I was called repulsive. My teachers didn’t understand me. I was the weird fat girl who hung out with the “special kids.” I was the cynic who skipped school. Little did they know, I was severely depressed and had a debilitating chronic illness. I was cast out and gossiped about by my own “friends.”

In college, I’ve been bullied. It never stops.

I’m tired of hearing that a bullying incident was a misunderstanding. I’m DONE with hearing that the targets “didn’t make it any easier on themselves.” As a student teacher during my senior year of high school, I heard that comment made by several teachers regarding a student who was being bullied. They legitimately thought that he brought it upon himself by being different! I feel sick to my stomach every time I think about it happening.

These kinds of teachers, adults, peers, parents, authority figures, protectors- WAKE UP! THERE ARE CHILDREN OUT THERE DYING BECAUSE OF THIS! CHILDREN ARE DYING AND YOU ARE DOING NOTHING TO STOP IT!

To the people who didn’t help me when it was their job, to the people who didn’t help the students who are being tortured every day, to the coworker in the next cubicle who stares but stays silent- what would it take? Does someone have to die before you get up and say something? Is that what it takes?

It shouldn’t take a tragedy, but apparently it does. Need proof? I call to the stand bullying victims Amanda Todd, Gregory Spring, Felicia Garcia, Pheobe Prince, Christian Taylor, Hannah Smith, Dakoda-Lee Stainer, Audrie Pott, and countless others- oh wait… we can’t, because nobody listened to them when they asked for help! My heart breaks for all who have suffered at the hands of bullied- the ones we’ve lost, their families, friends, and the ones who are still here being bullied.

People, not just teachers or “grown-ups,” need to be aware. Be vigilant. If you see it happening, step in. Do not let anyone dehumanize, harm, ridicule, harass, or cause any pain to others! We sit by every day, even when we don’t realize we should be doing something, and we fail as humans to stand up and say “this is not okay.”

I could go on and on about my experiences, about statistics, the effects of bullying, and more… but we already know about that. Even if it was happening to one person, that doesn’t make it okay. We CANNOT continue to live like this.

How long can we ignore this? Yes, awareness is great, but no amount of “likes” on Facebook will stop a bully from victimizing others. No matter how many times we “share” a post, it doesn’t prevent bullying. Talk about it, but walk the walk. Step in! Mob mentality goes both ways.

A small act, the smallest, most seemingly insignificant movement, smile, words of comfort, anything you see that is needed- do it. Stand next to someone being taunted and show them that they are not facing this alone. Refuse to perpetuate the bystander effect. Help someone up after they’ve been pushed down, don’t walk away. If you’re not part of the solution here, you’re part of the problem.

Take from this what you will. I have to go to class but I will check for comments after. If you have anything to say, even if you disagree with something in this post, PLEASE share your thoughts! Sound off below!

From Ear 2 Ear,


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I feel like a buzzkill. The kids are going all Alice Cooper over it, and I’m sitting here like “I think I have the vapors,” but with far less enthusiasm than Scarlett O’Hara. Mind you, I’ve already gone through over two decades of summer. Not saying I’m old- in the grand scheme of things, I’m “but a wee lass” at the ripe age of 21. My point is that I’m over the excitement. Water park? Nah, I’m good. A friendly game of chicken on the hot pavement? Count me out. I’m all summered-out.

However, when you work with kids, you don’t get to opt out of the sweltering Texas heat. Plus, the sunshine is good for us all. The thing I love about summer is getting to spend more time with the children! I frequent pinterest for ideas for activities to do with the kids and make an effort to keep a balance between indoors and outdoors. For anyone who doesn’t live in a state with heat like Texas, that might sound silly, but in July and August it will get so hot that it makes kids sick to be out all day. I am very fortunate to have a pool in the backyard at my parents’ house that I take the kids swimming in often, which is fantastic! They’re stronger swimmers than ever before and it’s much safer than the community pools. Cookie loves water and it’s great for sensory purposes.

I wanted to review some common Pinterest-inspired kid activities. If you can think of any I should mention, let me know! I love getting feedback and hearing from y’all! What are some of your favorites?

Hope to hear from y’all!

From Ear 2 Ear,


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From Ear 2 Ear is on Twitter!

So, apparently I tweet now. I found myself wanting to share tidbits or links that weren’t big enough to be an actual blog post, so I made a Twitter account for my blog where I can share these things without having a million tiny blog posts.

Fellow Twitter users… er, twitterers? Tweeters? Whatever, just follow me for updates on news and such! Click the link!

Does anyone else have an account? Let me know and I’ll follow you! Not creepy at all, right?

From Ear 2 Ear,


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