Thursday, October 8, 2015

Please Help Me Save My Childhood Home

By, Crystal S, Kauffman, Staff Writer

©Crystal S. Kauffman

About six years ago, my husband and I began working on an endeavor that would challenge us financially, emotionally, and spiritually in many ways that we had never dreamed were possible. We felt we did the right thing, but every now again we question if it was truly worth it to save the home I grew up in. Personally, I am thankful that we didn’t give upon our mission to save what my grandfather had spent his life creating and building for our entire family. However, I must admit it was not an easy task to complete, yet we accomplished it with the help of many of our true friends. They gave up their days to come help us clean up the property because my grandpa was a junk man. We still have a long way to go before the house looks better, but we both have faith that we will accomplish what we have set out to do. As a 12 year survivor of cervical cancer, I had aggressive treatment which caused damage to my belly and back, so my husband doing most of the clean up.

Growing up Here

My mom, my uncle, my brothers, and I grew up in this house along with my grandparents from the time we were born. Each of my siblings grew up in this house, but only till we left with our stepfather who adopted us. We bounced around for seven years with the military, and then we came home to grandma and grandpa. As we adjusted to our new life in Jacksonville, however we were so excited to be back with our loving grandparents. My mother announced she was getting a divorce and we lost touch with our adopted father, so our grandparents became our surrogate parents. My mom worked different hours, so she let my grandparents take care of us and handle school issues, doctor visits, and so much more. As I became an adult, my ex-husband brought our new baby girl to this house, because we lived here at time and were caretakers of the house. I truly love this house and everyone who knows me, actually knows my heart is here.

The Clean Up

First, we had to clean up all the junk, trash, and debris that we found in the yard in order to comply with one citation. Then, once we got that finished, we learned that we had to tear down three separate buildings that were unsafe or condemned. We tore down the garage, washroom, and mobile home with the help of some friends who helped us clear out the second citation. Next, we began repairing the house, which had an old shed attached that was considered unsafe. We rebuilt the shed and made it into a large master bedroom for us and soon the residential citation was closed as well. However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us like painting and adding flooring, but we accomplished our goal to close all three cases. The city closed all three cases and my husband and I felt proud, because we spent every waking moment working on the house and cleaning out papa’s junk yard.


Honestly, it wasn’t easy to accomplish the goals we set, but we did it and now the house has become a home. Our neighbors are always complementing us on the way the yard and house looks now, plus they tell us we did an outstanding job cleaning up the property. We initially set out to save my childhood home, yet along the way I am making new memories with my husband and my children. Now, I have to come with $23, 217.00 to purchase house, but I can’t find a loan so far because of my income. I am also trying to fix the roof and few other things as well. No matter what happens in the future, I will always know I did do the right thing by choosing to take a stand and helping rebuild this house into our home. Therefore, my wish would be that I can purchase the house out right and begin doing repairs as needed. However, I really need help, thank you for any gift you can give.
My mother is disabled and in wheelchair...She gets less than $800 a month income.
I am also disabled and I make less than $800 a month.
My husband is both of our caretaker at this time. 

My Go Fund Me Account :



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Mesothelioma Awareness and A Story of Survival

By, Crystal S Kauffman, Staff Writer/Heather Von St. James-Guest Blogger/Collaboration
©Heather Von St. James

Patients and doctors want to raise awareness for cancer that is caused by asbestos, which was used in factory and other places people worked at for many years of their love. So, Mesothelioma Awareness Day was created and was celebrated on Sept. 26th, 2015. Survivors are happy to be alive. but they are angry that the use of asbestos has not been banned. The fibers are invisible and deadly, yet 30 million pounds are still used by many different businesses.

This dangerous substance is also used in homes, buildings, schools, and commercial buildings all over the world. Additionally, asbestos is the leading cause of cancer in the workplace around the entire United States. The peak of using asbestos was 30 years ago and over 43,000 die each year from exposure the asbestos, which is still in work places like: mills, military, and in old housing units.

Here is a personal story about a spectacular woman named Heather, who is a courageous survivor of this deadly disease. She is on a mission to spread awareness about the disease, in any way she can. Additionally, if her story, can save one person and their family from facing what she went though. Then, she has accomplished her mission to help families to avoid what she has endured once she learned that she had Mesothelioma.

***Personal Story Written from Heather Von St. James***

In 2005, when I was 36 years old, I was diagnosed with pleural Mesothelioma. This was only three months after giving birth to my baby girl Lily. The symptoms I had could have easily been chalked up to postpartum issues. I was tired, I had only gained 5 lbs through the whole pregnancy, and I had difficulty breathing. I was lucky, and I got my diagnosis within two weeks and that is not usually the case for Mesothelioma patients.

My journey then led my husband, newborn baby and I to Boston, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was a world renowned surgeon. I had my left lung removed on February 2nd, 2006, and spent 18 days in the hospital afterwards recovering. My husband had to stay home in Minnesota and work, because the bills still needed to be paid. He saw Lily a total of 36 hours in 3 months. It was a big sacrifice but needed to be done for our family.

After going back home, I did 4 rounds of chemo, and 30 sessions of radiation. I finished my last treatment almost a year to date from the onset of my symptoms. The reason I got sick in the first place was from wearing my father’s coat when he got home from work. He worked with drywall and construction, and at the time as a little girl I did not know that his jacket carried harmful asbestos fibers that would ultimately cause my illness many years later. But, here I am.

I am lucky to be here today, and I’ve made it my life goal to be a voice for the victims, the family members who have struggled with this disease and those who know someone battling or who have lost someone to this disease. Asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada, and can be found in many commercial buildings and products today. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness, in hopes that one day no one else will have to go through what I did.

***Meet Heather Von St. James on Facebook or Twitter ***

Let’s raise awareness together!
©Heather Von St. James

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner: Transitioning into a Woman

By, Crystal S.Kauffman, Staff Writer
©Vanity Fair

Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) has her own reality show, which is chronicling her transition from a man into a woman. Caitlyn or Cait indentify herself as transgender, however she was able to transition so quickly in isolation and she didn’t learn all that she needed too. An interesting moment happened, when Scott (Kourtney K. Husband) came by to see Caitlyn. They both talked and Scott really seemed to understand that she was truly happy, even happier than in the past.

They discussed the famous Vanity Fair Article, where Scott explained why the family was angry. In the next few episodes, Kim K. West stopped by to talk to Cait about the article as well. She pointed out things she thought were unfair and asked Cait not to bash the family on her rise to fame. Additionally, Caitlyn visited Khloe K. at her house and she spoke with Caitlyn about the article. Basically, Khloe asked Cait not to bash her mother Kris and that she should explain herself better to Kylie and Kendall. 

Finally, Caitlyn musters up the strength to call Kris Jenner and he invites her to come over for a talk to her about the kids and other stuff. The next day, she showed up and was pleasantly surprised, by how she looks and how good she is doing. They begin talking and Kris admits she is having problems, because she is mourning the man he used to be for 25 years…Bruce Jenner! Thankfully, the talk allows them to start anew and they agree to talk more about the kids.

Caitlyn finally meets a group of women, who are transgender and accepting of Cait. Suddenly, Caitlyn feels ecstatic and elated to be in a group of women that understand how she is feeling. Caitlyn whisks the women on a road trip and they all enjoy themselves, while talking about how they felt during each of their transitions in to women hood. As Caitlyn, she is honest about how she feels and about things she doesn’t know.

The friendly group of women helped Cait to identify with the LGBT community in her city and state, which help her find a new purpose in life. She went to several places and listen to youth who transitioned young and parents that have been supporting their child’s choice. In addition, Caitlyn met other adult women who are transgender, but she learned that it is hard them to find job because they are transgender.

Caitlyn also created a naming ceremony to announce her new name, but it was also for the other women in her group as well. Boy George and Candis sang for the ceremony and it was absolutely nice and beautiful. The tabloids have said the Candis and Caitlyn are dating, but they are actually really good friends. They spend a lot of time together, because are both transgender and they enjoy each other’s company.

Amazingly Caitlyn’s mother had broken her hip, but that didn’t stop her from coming to visit her new daughter. Caitlyn’s sisters came with their mother and each accepted her for who she was, instead of putting her down. At the Espy Awards, Caitlyn shined as she received her award and gave her speech which was from her heart. Both Caitlyn’s family was there and her children were there, as each person cheered her on and the audience cheered her on as well.

Personal Experience
Watched  Season 1- I am Cait

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Toddler Friendly Vacation Ideas


Family vacation spots can be fun for older children, but most toddlers are too young to enjoy the actual vacation destination.  Most toddlers truly are satisfied with the simple things in life: like camping out, zoos, nature trails, and museums. Luckily, there are many inexpensive vacation choices, which a parent’s can put together for a toddler’s enjoyment. The vacation destination should include some fun for toddler and for the parent’s too.

Many toddlers love to go outside to explore nature, hold or pet animals, and find different types of bugs or animals. The parent could set up a camping trip and nature walk, in order to keep the toddler’s mind busy and learning new things. The parent’s can take pictures and create a notebook to write down the types of animals they find. When the film is developed the parent and toddle can affix the pictures to the proper page in the Nature Notebook.  

The zoo or a petting zoo is another place that a toddler will get excited about, especially if it is part of a family’s vacation plans. The toddler will get to see, touch, and look at all of the animals during their visit. The family can take pictures of each animal and help the toddler create an All About Animals Notebook. Additionally, the parent could look up facts on each animal and write it down for the toddler to learn from.

A vacation destination could include a beach, where the toddler could collect sea shells and rocks. The toddler will get excited every time they get a chance to show them off to other beach goers or their family. Many toddlers will be enthused by the water, but may not want to get it the water to swim due to fear. The parent can introduce them to the water by holding them or just build sandcastle together on the beach. Families should take picture of their fun together or buy a souvenir, but don’t forget the sunscreen.
When planning the vacation, families should try to find a destination that has a local museum or a recreational park. Local museums are always full of fun things that any family or any toddler would enjoy learning about. Recreational parks have fun playgrounds for families to enjoy and meet new the locals. Parents should remember to bring their favorite drinks and snacks; just in case to toddler becomes hungry or thirsty.

The parents of toddlers must choose to create a toddler friendly vacation, because a toddler will love a simple vacation destination. In addition, parents need to bring a few of the toddler’s comforts from home to help with their possible fear of the new place. During the planning stage, add in enough time for naps and keep a consistent bedtime schedule from home. Therefore, with a little extra planning, parent’s can plan a vacation to remember with a energetic toddler in tow.


Personal Experience