Monday, December 31, 2007

Butterflies with Very Large Families

My rustic backyard is filled with little black and yellow striped butterflies. They make me happy. They hurt no one, and they bring such joy.

I looked them up on the net last night. They are called Zebra Longwing Butterflies. But I was surprised to find out the similarities between these guys that dwell in my yard and large adoptive families.

Zebra Longwings are special in that they are different from other butterflies in that they live in families of about 70 insects. They don't travel very far from their "home."

You never see just one Zebra. They fly in little groups with their brothers and sisters. If you see one, you just look around for his brother. He's always nearby.

The Zebra Longwing is resourceful, too, and are one of the only species that eat both nectar and pollen. If they wore clothes, they'd probably shop at thrift shops, too.

The thing I envy about them, though, is that although 70 or 80 of them will go home at night to the same bush, once never can find that home. They have privacy. And that's something that most large adoptive families do not enjoy.

Still, each morning when I take Jack out to pee, they swarm around me, come right up to my face and dance around. I love that.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Taking the Stress Out Of Christmas

First of all I want to say MERRY CHRISTMAS to anyone who happens to bump into this page today or tomorrow.

This year I think I've found the answer to all the stress around this holiday. Christmas is all about Peace and the birth of Jesus. The day has become something to dread for most families. Certainly NOT peaceful.

Even this year I was not happy to see the calendar sneaking up on December. Especially since we were having a major financial crisis. But that financial crisis proved to be the cure to stress-at least the holiday stress :)

I started to shop in mid November, and bought a couple gifts on ebay. Gifts that were no longer being made. One gift per child. I've had everything I needed to do done way before today, and last night we even wrapped all but two of the presents. In 39 years of marriage we've never done that before.

Today, Christmas Eve, is peaceful. The way it should be. If we can keep Jeremy and Will busy, that is.

Each child living at

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We've had at least four kids a day home with colds this week and part of last. Different kids each day. Today Emily got sent home because she told the teacher she had a sore throat. Nothing wrong with her really, except that two of her brothers and one of her sisters was home.

The pic is our daughters Dani, 16, and Emily, 19 at special olympics.

So I got up and poured my morning glass of iced tea and sat down to read my email. In the background I hear my 14 year old, Jay singing "Let there be peace on earth." He learned it for a Very Special Arts Christmas performance held on the 8th. He was one of two soloists-the rest were all groups of disabled people singing Christmas songs. He also sang "Go Tell it on the Mountain."

He did quite well, but forgot some of the words. He has a great voice and as long as there is background music he stays perfectly on key. The auditorium was NOT wheelchair friendly, however. Surprising how many places still aren't.

Anyway, It was the perfect song for me to hear this morning. All anyone really wants is PEACE, right. But most of us don't allow it into our lies. So I took a moment to clear my mind of stressful stuff and decided I wasn't going to try to achieve anything today. And I didn't!

I think it helped that Jeremy went back to school today. Gotta shadow that kid when he's home... Gotta love them all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Severe Behavior Problems

Well...DH had the day off today, so thought it might be productive. Thinking maybe if we worked together something might get done here.

But Robin stayed home with a cold. Will refused to go to school and Jeremy's school called and asked for us to pick him up. He was sent home on Friday with a cold, but over the weekend it cleared up. So I think he's pulling their collective leg at school this morning.

The thing about Jeremy's school is that it is 45 minutes away. So that's an hour and a half driving time. There goes the day.

Jeremy attends a county run special class for mentally retarded kids with severe behavior programs. (yeah I know, the term is politically incorrect) Jeremy has Down Syndrome and is 14 years old. He has been attending this marvelous class for a year and a half now. It has made all the difference in the world for him.

Before he got in this specialized class he was a holy terror for any teacher. Kicking, hitting, running away from teachers, getting into cars in the parking lot, smearing poo in the bathrooms.

You might think that this kid must be profoundly MR. He's not. In fact of all my DS kids, and I have a lot of them, Jeremy is THE highest functioning. He's smart. Extremely inquisitive. But he is also super impulsive, and super sneaky.

He's not RAD either. I know Rad..this isn't it. I'm starting to think that he must have some degree of fetal alchohol syndrome or affect. But this class has helped him so much, even at home.

Anyway, this class is a short term program. This is his second and last year. He is doing so well there that they want to release him back to the regular school system. I completely know what will happen. He'll fall apart. I'm sure of it. At least I have a few more months of relative content here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looking out the window this morning I could swear I still lived in Pennsylvania and that it was about to snow. Gusty winds, grey sky. Looked like it was about 50 degrees.

But then I see a couple of these in the backyard.

The White Ibis

You don't see many of those in Pennsylvania, do you? And it's about 78 degrees outside. Not going to snow. We don't get many dreary days here. Not many at all. It's just a little front coming in over the big lake.

Lots of things in life look nasty, but it's often a big deception. Money problems, kid problems, marital problems, employment problems... You can let them destroy you, or you can choose to rise above it all.

No matter how bad things may seem, you can and should make a sincere effort to seek out the thoughts and feelings that make you happy. That give you peace and hope. A smile, a laugh, a funny movie.

Reach for the happy thoughts and memories. Nothing is more important to you or your family than your staying in a good mood. Like attracts like in life. Sad people attract other sad people and tend to make happy people sad, too.

Angry people, tend to slop their anger onto you. Then you get angry back. Don't let them polute your mind like that. Block that anger. Accept only happy thoughts and feelings.

Sounds kind of Pollyanna, but if you get in the habit amazing things happen. I have one kid who just LIVES to make me angry. It wasn't until we decided that refusing to engage him in his angerfest we were able to get some control back.

We're having severe money problems that before would have sent me into depression. But I know there is a silver lining coming. The money problems won't last.

So when you think it looks like a storm is coming, whether financial, or legal or family related, looks can be deceiving. Look for the White Ibis. He's around there somewhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Videos About Kids with Down Syndrome

Have you seen all the home movies families have made about their kids with Down Syndrome?

Here's a collection of these heartfelt videos.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Adoption Anguish

This article in a UK newspaper reminds me why I decided only to adopt infants with Down Syndrome back in 1983. It's a decision that I've never regretted. Sure a couple kids with spina bifida snuck in there and a super premie with lots of medical problems, too. But my experiences with children with reactive attachment disorder had made that decision quite easy.

We could have easily fallen victim to the turmoil that has affected this family. But that one decision, years ago, has made all the difference.

That's not to say that we haven't had our behavior problems. We certainly have! But not the kind of problems we experienced with our RAD kids.

I have the greatest respect for families I know who specialize in adopting kids with reactive attachment disorder, and have managed to keep their marriages intact. But we were on a slippery slope with our RAD kids.

We gave up our right for the 7 year old after he tried to smother our profoundly MR and autistic daughter and another time tried to cut off her fingers with a pair of scissors. The other child grew up and I'm very proud of her. Despite her turbulent childhood and wild teen years, she has been married to the same man for many years and is a wonderful mother to two beautiful boys. But, Wow! What a ride she gave us.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Asperger's And Autism

Well, Ross is finally home! A friend lent us a wheelchair for him, as he is still too weak to walk with his forearm crutches. But he couldn't be happier. He did like the bacon, egg, sausage and pancake breakfasts, though! He won't get those here, not when the school bus comes at 6:30.

Several of my friends have kids with Asperger's Syndrome. Personally I have lots of experience with Autistic kids. Both are real tough parenting situations, and hard to get good information on.

I found two great books that are a must read. There is a comprehensive book about Asperger's and by the same author is a book about Autism. If you order one book you get the other one for free. Great deal considering they are 100% money back guaranteed.

Here are some of the topics the Asperger's Book covers:

# How to treat Asperger’s the “natural way” – you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to do when you follow these tips!

# How having a child with Asperger’s can impact a whole family – plus, what you can do to ensure that your family sticks together and continues to support each other!

# How to cope with your feelings after having a child diagnosed with Asperger’s – follow these tips to remain positive and ensure you’ll always “be there” for your child!

# What it’s like to grow up with Asperger’s – and 7 things you can do to make your child’s adolescence easier and more enjoyable!

# One of the best things you can do for your child with Asperger's – do this and put your child on the fast track to overcoming their Asperger’s symptoms!

# The two most common alternative treatment methods for Asperger's – and just how effective they are for most children!

# How to use the diet to help control AS naturally -- proponents of dietary management of AS agree that many symptoms will decrease in severity and some may even disappear with a change in diet … learn more here!

# How to help your child overcome the challenges of living with Asperger’s – so that they can grow up and live fully functional lives with a good job … and a family!

# Why when it comes to diagnosing Asperger’s sooner is much better – the longer you wait to have your child diagnosed the harder it will be for him and for you … find out why here!

# The six elements of the common AS medical treatment program – and whether or not this program is your child’s best bet for overcoming his or her Asperger’s symptoms!

# Common medications prescribed for children with AS – plus, the side effects of each!

Get One Book- either the Autism book or the Asperger's book and get the other one FREE. 100% Money Back Guarantee.

The Essential Guide To Aspergers."

No pic

"The Essential Guide to Autism"

her book "Recognizing & Treating ADHD"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WhooHoo-and- ARRGH

Funny how you can have so many different feelings in one day. I think that must be SOP for a large adoptive family with special needs kids, though. You get used to it.

The doctors told us yesterday that Ross will probably be ready to come home on Wednesday. That's the WooHoo! He's very weak, and can't walk with his forearm crutches yet. Can only take a few steps with a walker, but, hey, he'll be at home. Probably won't go back to school before the start of vacation, though.

His whole class surprised him yesterday. He was so excited. We put him in a wheelchair and told him we were going for a walk. When we got to the waiting room on that floor, the entire class was there. What a nice visit! People have been coming to see him every day. Lots of folks. It's so nice to see that kind of caring.

Now for the ARRGH! As I think I mentioned, SSI decided to cut our payments in half for December. Not cool when you depend on that so much. Then our dryer died and had to be replaced and the very next day the washer died, too. They can't go defunct in the summer? Noooo. They wait until Christmas.

So yesterday I'm getting ready to make dinner, water. The water pump gave up the ghost, and took with it its friend the pressure tank. Talk about an expensive repair! But it got done.

I don't let these things get me down. We've always made it through monetary disasters. Always, something happens to turn things around. In the larger scheme of things it's nothing. We could have lost our sweet boy. And we didn't. That makes all the difference.

So WooHoo!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Math Trick

Ross is getting better finally. His kidney function is improving, but he'll probably be in the hospital until next week end.

He's so bored. If you hear of a child you know who is in the hospital, PLEASE go visit them. It means so much that someone cares enough to go see him in the hospital.

I'm awfully busy and can't blog much until Ross is home, but here's a neat math trick someone sent me. I wish I understood how it works, but it does.


This is pretty neat.

It takes less than a minute .
Work this out as you read ..
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!
This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to go out
to eat.
(more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1757 ....
If you haven't, add 1756.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number
(I.e., how! Many times you want to go out to restaurants in a week.)

The next two numbers are

YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it is!!!!!)


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday Ross Update

Ross has a systemic e-coli infection. Multi organ. Massively. His liver, kidneys and bone marrow are affected. His blood count is like 48 and they may need to transfuse him. He has developed what may be bone infection on both of his feet. Just had an MRI for that today. Kidneys are still not putting out enough urine.

Other than that, he is talking and watching TV. Prayers please...

Ross Again

It's 4 AM and I can't sleep. I heard the word "renal failure" for the first time Wednesday. They have called in a nephrologist (kidney specialist.) Should know more later today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ross is in ICU

This AM I went in to see Ross, and although he looks better, he isn't keeping anything down, not really producing much urine, and he has an e coli infection. The antibiotics aren't slowing it down and his white cells are increasing, not decreasing. They have to get the infection under control before it affects his shunt, which drains into his abdomen. So they have moved him to intensive care.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another Ambulance Ride

When you adopt kids with special needs, you have to accept that there WILL be medical emergencies, but it never gets any easier. This morning Dad tried to get Ross up for school, but he was seizing and had a high fever.

He was totally unresponsive, so I called 911 and the ambulance got him to the hospital. Now, he has spina bifida and a vp shunt, but he's never in his life had anything other than petit mal seizures. This was scary. He's 15 and such a great kid.

Of course this freaked out all his siblings, because in 2003 our 13 yr old son died at home and we did CPR until the ambulance came and took him to the hsopital where he was declared dead. So, of course, all my kids having developmental delays, they equate hospital with death.

Ross is still out of it tonight, but you can get one or two words out of him, but still not much sense. The neurosurgeon is coming in in the morning. Say a prayer for my sweet boy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Foster and Adoptive Parents Legal Plan

I belong to a legal plan that is specifically designed to help adoptive and foster families in time of need. I called them today and talked with my plan attorneys, who live in the next city over. They are going to place the problem with a local attorney that specializes in Social Security issues. I was told we can make an appeal. I just hope we can get this worked out before the end of the month.

This is the second time in two months that I've used the legal plan. I stupidly got my very first speeding ticket in my 42 years of driving. They assigned an attorney locally who specializes in traffic cases, and I don't even have to go to court. He is going for me and thinks he can get me off on a technicality, or at the very least get a lower fine.

We signed up for the plan because in the past when we have had rounds with CPS we've had to rely on court appointed attorneys, and while they are nice people, they do not have the time to build a case for you. You could end up losing, or even having your child taken from you. The legal plan covers hearings, trials and even criminal cases. It pays for all that stuff.

Imagine having a problem concerning one of your children and not being able to afford an attorney to help him. The legal plan solves that and so much more. It brings you up to the level of a wealthy family who can afford a good attorney.

They don't cover anything that happened prior to your signing up for the legal plan, or anything that has to do with drugs or drinking. It covers you and your children who still live at home.

The cost is incredibly reasonable for what it provides. It's just $15 a month.

If you are an adoptive or foster family and have teens or special needs kids, or a super sized family like we do, you can't say, Well, if I ever get into trouble with CPS then I'll get the legal plan. Of if my kid ever gets arrested, then I'll get it. Then it's too late.

And if you have a very large adoptive family, say 10 or more kids, then the question is not IF I ever have a problem with CPS, it's WHEN...because they are after every family that doesn't look like the average one.

No, they don't cover adoption or guardianship costs. That's not their goal.

My advice is to visit The Foster and Adoptive Parents Legal Plan Site and GET IT. Go to the contact page and phone up Marilyn or David and give them a call.

Anyone who works with children or the disabled NEEDS this plan.

$15 a month gives you a real secure feeling that if a problem arises, you can have all the legal help you will need.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Merry Christmas From the Government-NOT!

Here we are, waiting for Dec 1st to come around so all the kids' SSI payments are in the bank, so we can do some Christmas shopping. Now, I'm not talking about big shopping, as we only spend an average of $25 per kid each year.

Like most large adoptive families of children with special needs, we operate on a low amount of income. Ours is dependent upon the children's SSI payments, my husband's meager retirement benefits and what he makes as a bagger at a grocery store.

The checks are deposited on the 30th of the month directly into our bank account. We just got a call from SSI, with no warning, that they have stopped the payments for FIVE out of our nine kids.

That's more than half our total income. Merry Christmas. Instead of trying to eek out enough money for Christmas gifts, this year we're going to be trying to eek out money to feed our family, not to mention paying the mortgage, health insurance, van payment and electric bills.

All this is because of a mistake on THEIR part. They will not, however, sit down and discuss the matter with us. It's been decided. It will take months to get it back.

Merry Christmas to you, too, SSI.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last Summer

Ella had worked for us as a morning get ready for school aide for five years. She helped them bathe and get ready for school in the mornings. (the ones who need help...)

This photo was taken last summer on her last day at our home. Ella had asked for a photo with the kids. She was very sad to be leaving as she was very attached to the kids. And you can tell that some of the kids are very sad as well.

On the floor are Matthew, Robin, Jeremy, Ross and Will.
Back row: Jenny, Ella, Emily, Danielle, Jon and Jay

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Even the Simple Life Can Be Complicated

I'm a simple person. Relatively low maintenance. I don't need lots of clothes. I might buy a 3 for $10 pack of T-shirts at the local drug store every couple years. I buy my sneakers used on ebay for about $7 plus shipping. I get my hair cut every three months or more. I don't mind that I drive minivan-hey it works fine. The library keeps me in books. My husband is the same way.

Sometimes I wonder how we would live if we suddenly inherited a bazillion dollars. Not that we are related to anyone with any significant amount of money. We've talked about it, and yes, we'd probably fix the toilet in the playroom bathroom, put down nicer flooring in the family room, buy sod for the yard, put a big deck on the back of the house with a wheelchair ramp back there...

... But I don't think we'd move away from our little acre on a dead end dirt road. Or buy a bunch of new STUFF. There is so much good that we'd be able to do with the money. We don't need much to be happy. Just each other and the kids.

But even with our simple lifestyle, it is sometimes hard to make ends meet. Especially when SSI cuts off the monthly payments for three children who are at full rate, because of incorrect information. When you live a simple life, and are just getting by, that really hurts. And it will take a long time to correct, and we have no reserves.

The simple life comes with its own crappy complications.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Love!

Today is the 61st birthday of the man who has been my husband for 39 years and counting. Words cannot do justice to what I feel for him. He is the most remarkable man.

He reads my blog once in a blue moon, so someday six months from now when he reads this I want to tell him:

I am devoted to you. You are my heart. Just hearing your name says HOME to me.

I know you won't forget that. I won't let you.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Will Anyone Remember Me?

This photo is of Anna Mary Long Sell Thompson. She was my great great great grandmother. Born to German immigrants in what was then York County, PA on 12 Nov 1793, she was married to one Daniel Sell and had three daughters by him, Eliza, Hannah and Mary Jane.
Daniel died in 1822, right before Mary Jane was born.

She then married Joshua Frederick Thompson of Littlestown, Adams Co, PA and gave birth to James Thompson, Elias, Catherine, Isabella and Susannah Thompson. I can't figure out why she married Joshua, as he was a bit younger than she was and seems to have been a habitual drunkard, as she had him declared so in court in 1841. He's gone after that.

She was an active abolitionist, Her home just outside of Gettysburg, PA was used as an overflow house for runaway slaves when the other Underground RR homes were full. She was a good friend of the statesman Thaddeus Stevens, who was also an abolitionist.

On July 1 1863, General Robert E. Lee rode up the street to her home and decided it was a great place to make his headquarters for the coming battle. She cooked for the soldiers, baked pies that they took out of the oven before they were done. She had good things to say about Lee, that he was a gentleman who sat in a chair near the window reading his Bible. He gave Mary and her daughter a note for safe passage through the city, and they left to stay at her daughter's house in town.

The soldiers took the door off the house to use as a map table outside. Lee slept outside in a tent, but apparently had the runs, as he was seen going to the outhouse many times.

Mary and her daughter had been staying in the basement, due to the possibility of cannon balls and bullets entering through the windows. In fact, Mary, had just the night before, had delivered a grandson in that basement. After the war her home was used as a hospital, and everything in it and outside it was destroyed. Mary worked at the various hospitals in town, too, along with her adult daughters. She died in 1873 of consumption and is buried in the famous Evergreen Cemetery of Gettysburg, where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.

My genealogical research has uncovered many stories about this strong woman who raised eight children. I feel like I know her, just a little bit. Many of her descendants remember her for who she was and what she did.

I sometimes wonder if any of my own descendants will remember me, or what I accomplished on this earth. If they will have a record of my life 134 years after I have moved on to heaven. I've tried hard to be a good woman, wife and mother. But the only parts of my life that ended up in the newspaper, I'd just as soon were forgotten.

Will I just be an entry into someone's genealogical software? Born, married, raised 17kids who lived, had four children die in childhood, and died in such and such a year. My life has been so much more than that. I bet I'm forgotten in about two generations.

Do you ever wonder the same thing?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Will Said A Five Word Sentence!

This is Will, who is 20 and has Down Syndrome. Not one of my higher functioning kids, he rarely says anything that is understandable, and then only one or two words connected.

Today he said "Turn that down RIGHT NOW!" He was pointing toward Jeremy's room, so I guess it was the tv in there he was complaining about. Now nobody else would have understood him but me or my husband, and then there would be a good chance neither of us would either, so this was unprecedented. Our lack of understanding what he says is so frustrating for him, and he only know a few signs.

I'm sure that's a sentence that he's heard around here a LOT.

The pic shows Will geared up for watching the movie Finding Nemo. The only thing that interests Will is his movies. And the only thing that satisfies him as a gift is something related to one of his movies. So that makes him relatively easy to buy for.

Will was born early at 5 pounds by C-section, because his stomach wasn't connected to his intestines, causing extreme fluid buildup in his birth mom's uterus. He had surgery to correct that the day after he was born, but that went horribly wrong and he ended up with necrotic intestines that mostly had to be removed (all but about 6 inches.)

Three months later, after two more hospitals and several operations and near death experiences, Will came home. Not long after that his airway closed up due to scarring from all the intubations, and he had to have a tacheotomy. Four years after about 50 surgical procedures and attempts at three different hospitals, Will finally got rid of the trache.

He's a neat guy, but because he is a man sized three year old, he is sometimes hard to handle.

But he said a five word sentence today!

Friday, November 16, 2007

? Sex Ed in School for MR Kids??

The Special Ed dept at the high school had a meeting about the sex education classes that were going to be taught to our trainable mentally handicapped kids. I didn't go, but my friend who is a parent of another child in the class did go.

We have a chance to opt out of the program, thankfully. These kids mostly function at about a3-6 year old level. Kids with Down Syndrome and FASD and other disabilities.

Subjects to be taught? Sexual relations, masturbation, contraception including condoms and pills, AIDS and how you get it, the symptoms, Other STDs, Sex and dating, pregnancy, childbirth, etc...

But these kids, well at least some of them, are likely to want to try out this sexual relations part. And they lack the control or reasoning capacity to stop themselves.

Yes I know masturbation is universal, and I've covered it at home with all of them. But these things, in my opinion, are things that a parent should teach a mentally handicapped child/teen. I mean if a teacher outside of a sex ed class were to discuss sexual relations or masturbation with a child, wouldn't he/she get in trouble?

If I were to go to a neighbor's house and have a conversation with their children about sexual relations or masturbation or contraception, wouldn't I get in trouble?

Why then is it OK within a curriculum setting?

Yes, I know that some of them will learn these things anyway. But for kids with problems with impulsivity, lack of understanding of boundaries no matter how often it's taught...this is like handing them a loaded gun.

Seems like the male parents of the kids in the class (including my husband) are all for sex ed (and there are over a dozen lessons to be taught.) Probably because non of the male parents ever get asked those questions anyway. The moms are the ones who talk about sex with the kids in most families. The moms, who generally will have to deal with the repercussions, are not in favor of the classes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We Can Do It All

This photo was taken at one of the middle school dances last year when Jay was in 8th grade. His girlfriend was a sweetheart in another class who has CP and uses an electric wheelchair. Shortly before the final dance of the year Jay got a "Dear Jay" letter from her. She was turning down his date plans for the dance and had dictated a letter stating that she was sorry, and she really liked him a lot but she was going to go to the dance with a guy who was more handicapped than Jay. He was hurt for a little while, but not for long.

Just like normal teens, right? And that's the whole thing in raising special needs kids. They are more normal than not. They may have low IQs and not be able to walk or read or write their names, or go to the bathroom themselves, but they have normal emotions.

And, more than that, they can DO just about anything others can do. They go to parties, participate in sports, ride horses and compete, do chores, play computer games, listen to their ipods and generally just run around with their brothers and sisters and friends.

People who have not adopted mentally and physically limited kids don't realize how very normal they really are. Or what a JOY they can be. I'll take 5 kids with Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida before I'd take one more RAD kid. More power to you if you an do RAD. BTDT.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Appliance Virus

So, Saturday the dryer caught this mechanical virus that's going around and died. Then yesterday while we were on our way to a meeting at the Habilitation Center the car overheated, due probably to a water pump going bad...still waiting to hear from the garage ICU on that one...

Then in the afternoon my daughter says "The washer is leaking." It appears that the washer had caught the appliance virus from it's partner, the dryer, and it died as well. What a shame, they loved each other so much and they were only three years old.

The hall bathroom faucet also has the virus...and I'm watching the toaster closely for symptoms.

How come it can never be just ONE major thing that breaks down? And why do they all break down right before Christmas?

Answer: Appliances are a sentient evil beings who take great pleasure in our angst.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Who Does This??? Really...

This AM our dryer stopped working. We go through washers and dryers faster than the average family with 2.5 kids. WAY faster. Washing clothes and sheets for 11 people tends to do that to a machine.

If I had a nickle for every dryer we've had to buy over the past 39 years...well I'd have about 60 cents...

Faced with calling a repairman, who would probably charge $70 to even get in his car and come here, and then charge us another $100 for parts, my husband started looking at Lowes and Home Depot. Well even the cheapest new dryer runs $300. So I suggested he look on

He found a one year old Hotpoint dryer for $165. It's still under warranty. And I'm sure it's been used once a week for that past year.

Reason for the owner selling it? She finally found a dryer to MATCH her washer. I wasn't aware that a dryer had decorative value. Like, "Welcome to my home! Would you like to see my matching washer and dryer?"

I can't complain, though. If there were not people out there who would give away perfectly good clothing and furniture, my kids would have far fewer clothes, and I would have no playroom furniture, and the kids wouldn't all have their own TVs.

This lady offered to bring the dryer to us for an extra $25..but like any self respecting large adoptive family, we have a 15 passenger van, and a 23 year old son with Down Syndrome who just loves to help his father do stuff like this.

Life is good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Christmas Already?

This pic is of the Brazilian Pepper Tree that is "non native" to this area, and homeowners are supposed to cut it down. Because of this, no self respecting suburban tract home would ever have one in their yard.

Living where we do, on an acre of land on a dead end street, though, we have that option. They do run rampant, and we cut some down, but I simply love this tree. InOctober the tiny yellow blossoms turn into white berries, and now in early November they are taking on a pretty pearly blush color.

Around Christmas time there will be multitudes of bright red berries , which with their cool green leaves look pretty much like regular Christmas holly.

The berries do have a pepper taste to them, but in large quantities they are poisonous, so I don't bring bowers of them into the house at Christmas. You'd have to eat a lot to get sick, but with my kids, I just don't trust it. They've been known to eat weirder things.

It's one of the only ways we know that the seasons are changing, as we don't get snow or very bad cold snaps. Winter here is a joy.

My husband and I have spent over 40 Christmas seasons together. Our first holiday together was back in 1968 when we were teaching in a little rural town called Ridgway, PA. Now they got SNOW!. It was kind of like living in a Currier and Ives illustration. The old buildings and store. The Victorian homes. No fast food restaurants, no big chain stores. We had to bundle up to go Christmas shopping in a snow storm that first year.

Best photo I could find of Ridgway

We went from family run store to family run store to find gifts for our combined families. The city had colorful lights strung, and everyone was happy and friendly.

We actually went out to a farm and picked out a cut tree that year, and it cost us all of about $5. We sat in our third floor apartment in the old Bogert Hotel (which was mostly for hunters) and created our own ornaments from styrofoam balls, ribbon and pins and sequins. And on Christmas ever we made the long trek down to Freeport, PA, where his folks were from, and then to my parent's home in Penn Hills, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

I wish it could all be that simple again. I'm thinking when the kids are all grown in a few years, and we have our own normal sized little house, maybe it can be that simple again.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bubbles Bubbles and More Bubbles

This photo is of Jennifer, Danielle and a friend's baby. Jennifer is 22 and enjoys being a responsible adult now. That includes going to work at the Hab Center and bringing home a paycheck every two weeks. And, of course putting the paycheck in the bank and buying things for herself.

Last night, quite a while after dinner, Jen decided on her own to run a second load of dishes for the day. Neither of us noticed this. Apparently she discovered that we were out of dishwasher detergent, so, priding herself on her independence, she improvised and used dishwashing liquid.

A while later my husband went into the kitchen and was faced with a wall of soap suds. This kind of stuff doesn't faze us or get us upset. It's such a minor thing in the scale of problems we face every day. He got out the wet-dry vacuum, but it, too overflowed with bubbles.

Anyway, this AM we can put the dishwasher back together again and everything is dry.

My Little Destructo Twins, Matt and Jenny

When Matt and Jen were little we called them "the destructo twins." Everything they touched they broke.Up until they were about 8 or so, that was very true. And, having parented nine kids with DS from birth, I think that attribute runs across the board. They delight in pulling up vinyl flooring, taking a loose thread from a carpet and pulling it down to the backing. Banging holes in the wall, and then proceeding to enlarge them bit by bit. Mangling toys.

But when they hit middle school age, all that is usually over. I say usually, because there is always an exception.

My Jeremy, who is 14, is STILL a destructo kid. For three years he's gotten a new cd player/radio for Christmas, and within a month each time the thing has been broken. I told him he wasn't getting a new one this year. (But that's OK, as he really really wants one of those spiderman gloves that shoots silly string webs.)

He also recently kicked holes in his hollow core bedroom door, and then took it apart piece by piece, until there was nothing left. Somehow I don't think things are going to change with this young'un. He's also my only real runner. Gotta watch him 24/7.

Gotta love them all...

Saturday, November 3, 2007


My friend, Helen, sent this to me this AM. Love it, because it's so true!

Friday, November 2, 2007

If only they were all this easy to solve

Had to laugh this AM when I got a phone call from the Habilitation Center, where Matt and Jen work. Both have down syndrome, and Matt (seen here at last year's special olympics equestrian event) is 23 and Jennifer is 22. I hate to get calls from schools, so when even the Hab Center calls, although it's not a school, I have to steel myself for what is to come.

The supervisor says,"We have a big problem." But she's laughing. I say, OK, What is it?

She says, "Matt is in here all worried and thinking that he needs to come home...because he has a hole in his underwear."

After we both stopped laughing, she said, "I told him I'd call you and let you know, so he'd go back to work."

She said, "If only all the problems we had here were that easy to solve."

Ain't that the truth!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Glorious Morning

Got up this AM to take Jack outside on his never ending search for the perfect place to drop his poop. Summer is finally winding down here. The overgrown back yard was quiet for once. No air conditioners running anywhere- it's about 74 degrees this morning.

The tree frogs are buzzing happily, bird are chirping, the black and yellow butterflies are floating about. The only noise is the dull drone of traffic from the highway about three miles away. Sound travels too well here because everything is flat.

But what's really glorious about the morning is that it rained last night and everything is washed clean. The trees are still dripping down on Jack and I. I so love the rain. It feels like God is washing everything clean for a fresh start. Not just outside, but in my heart as well.

When you start a day with joy, the rest of the day will be joyful. I wish it would rain here every morning.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Family is Growing Again

Well, not my immediate family. We are happily expecting our fourth grandson this spring. That's his picture there. He has yet to be given a name.

I'm so very happy for my son and his lovely wife, and the little brother to be, Liam. I miss being pregnant. Sometimes I try to remember what it was like to have those little feet scroll across my belly. It's a magical time.

Girl babies are a rarity in my husband's family tree. His father's family was made up of four boys and one little girl, who died early. His own family consisted of three boys. We have, by birth, that is, one girl and two boys. Baby X's mom said that she told my son that he is just so manly that he doesn't have any X chromosomes. (Aren't men with YY chromosomes violent killers? Read that somewhere.)

Can't wait to see Liam's baby brother. Too bad they live so darn far away.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Our big backyard is totally natural. Oh, those weren't my hopes for the backyard. I pictured a big deck off the back of the house, flower and vegetable gardens and a huge play area for the kids.

Well, that didn't happen, largely because of financial reasons, not to mention time and energy lack. If you have a large adoptive family like we do, you'll understand that.

When we built this home in 1995 the county government made us take down all non-native trees and shrubs. You used to be able to see into the back neighbors and side neighbors' yards. And it probably would still be that way if we had had the money to actually plant grass and flowers and shrubs to enjoy from a deck we don't have either.

Luckily, nothing can hold back these "Non-native species." We've let them grow back on the fringes of the yard, so that now we have a lovely natural fence, and a very private back yard. I'm sure there are people who would walk into my yard and say, "Why don't you cut down those Brazilian Pepper tress?" "Why don't you put down some sod?" But I don't care if that ever happens.

I've learned to look for the beauty in the weeds...the things that "aren't meant to be here." Mostly by walking Jack, our pup, while he looks for just the perfect place to deposit his poo. Then, this past summer, our mower was broken, so the yard didn't get mowed until September. My husband was upset, but I was in heaven.

The western half of the yard was filled with a lovely dark green "non native" ground cover that produces little yellow flowers shaped like daisies. Like a meadow. I would have been just as happy if they were dandelions, but we don't get those here like we did up north.

Jack and I made our own worn paths through the jungle. I came to love each species of non native plants and trees. And the butterflies just loved the yard. It became magical.

Then my husband decided that we were going to have to fix the mower, and we splurged on some new parts and he got it running in September. I tried to talk him into just mowing paths through the backyard and leaving all the "weed" in place for my enjoyment, but, no, they had to be mowed back. My yellow flower ground cover was lost, but he hasn't gotten the chain saw fixed yet, so I can still enjoy the trees and bushes.

I guess it's the same way with how some folks look at people with disabilities. That they are "weeds" and an inferior species. Those people are missing so very much.

The little "weed" above is Taylor, who was to be our last baby in 1993. She was born with spina bifida, just like the two boys right before her, and had a shunt in her head. What a little sweetie! Not a lot of prospective adoptive families for he, but our weedy family loved her.

When she was a month old she was sitting in the baby swing and I looked over to check on her and she was very, very still, but her eyes were open. I said, "Oh, My God!" and got her out of the swing and put her on the kitchen counter,and checked but she was not breathing and had no heartbeat. Luckily I knew infant CPR from my older boy, Will, who had a trache as an infant until age 4 1/2. I got started on her while my husband called 911. At the hospital they stablized her and she came home ion a couple days.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the arrests. At first it was just once a week, but as the months went on it became a daily thing, and then several times a day. Most times it was just respiratory arrest, and bagging her would do the trick. other times it was cardiac as well.

The MDs looked for all kinds of answers as to why this was happening. First they thought she must be aspirating, so they put in a g-tube (no big deal to me by then, as we had another daughter with a feeding tube.) Then another time they thought she must be aspirating, so they put in a trache (again, no biggie as we'd had a kid with a trache.)

None of those things stopped the arrests. After the last big hospitalization when she was 6 months old, the MDs decided that I could not bother calling the paramedics and just take care of her at home, unless I couldn't get her back. Taylor also had Arnold Chiari syndrome, where the brainstem is pushed down too far toward her spinal column, and they finally figured out that that part of her brain that controlled her breathing and heartbeat was damaged. She wasn't stable enough for the surgery to correct it. I think they just wanted her to die, but I welcomed the chance just to keep her at home.

By then our living room looked like a mini ICU. Her full crib was in there, as well as her ambu bag, suction pump, and IV pole with the formula bag hanging from it, and the O2 tank, the nebulizer pump, the heart monitor/alarm, the Sat sensor on her toe and accompanying SAT alarm, the breathing treatment equipment and so much more.

By the time she was 8 months old in April,1994, she was going into respiratory arrest several times a day. Just moving her or bathing her could set off an arrest. Then she got pneumonia again and died in my arms, exactly one year from they day that our 4 month old Rebecca died.

Was she a "weed?" Not to me, not to my other children or my husband. She was a magical little girl, full of beauty and great smiles. She had a sweet personality, and we loved her as much as we loved our other children. A rose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Simpler Times

This is me, my mom and my sister, Janet, outside my grandparent's home, about 1951 or 2. We don't look all that happy here, but it's probably because we were exhausted. We'd often take a trolley down from Wilkinsburg to Frick Park in Pittsburgh. We'd spend some time on the huge slide and the swings and monkeybars and then start our magical journey into the woods. You walk down into this beautiful little grotto with a stream. Back then you'd never know it was in the middle of the city.

We'd stop at a little store beforehand and get peanuts to feed the squirrels, and the little things would come right up to you to get them. We'd sit on a bench and talk. Mom always told us stories about "The Olden Days." She'd tell us stories about when she was growing up, like chasing the ice-man's truck, how he'd chip off some pieces of ice from the big blocks and toss them to the kids on hot summer days. About her family's "ice box." And how you had to be careful where you walked on the streets so you didn't step in horse poop. (Mom was born in 1923) We loved those stories.

When we were ready to leave the park, we still had one stop to make. We'd take the trolley to her parent's house, where we'd go upstairs and sit at the kitchen table with our grandmother and mother and listen to the two of them talk and gossip, eat cookies or bread and butter, and when we were totally tired (as in the pic) we'd take a trolley home.

Frick Park had changed for the worse by the time my own kids were ready for that trip in the 1970s and '80's. It just wasn't the same. The park had gone the way of a lot of big city parks. The magic was gone for me. I went looking on the web for a photo of Frick park to write this post. I found out that the city had recently done a major restoration project on the park, turning it back to its pristine beauty. And that photo brought back the magic.

This photo evokes exactly the feeling I had when I was a child visiting Frick Park. Magic. Joy. Freedom. Hope. Promise. Love. I haven't been back to that park in probably 25/30 years. But I don't need to. I have recaptured the feeling with this one photo.

It's just so important that you constantly try to get yourself into a state of mind that is joyful. If all you think about in your day is fear or anger or depression, you'll only get more of that in your near future. So when you see that you need to change mental focus, go back and look at your old photo albums. Find something that brings you peace and joy.

Even when it doesn't seem possible, it really is. It's a decision you make daily. Maybe that joy will only be momentary, but it's effects will be felt in your future.

Monday, October 22, 2007

About JOY

This is Jeremy, who has Down Syndrome. Look at that face! I found the pic when we were defragging our closet.

A baby's smile is one of pure joy. His face explodes with joy.

It's probably because he is fresh from heaven, where all is joy. So, what if we could recapture that feeling for ourselves, at 20 or 35 or 60? It really is possible.

There are some steps to doing that. Steps that one should take every day. They are:

1. Relax and calm yourself

2. Say aloud exactly what you are grateful for in your life. Feel the joy that those things create in you. Expressing gratitude, and clarifying it for yourself are so important.

3. Say "Today I will find things that make me happy." And all day, look for those things. A wildflower, a pretty car, a friend's voice, a butterfly, a child's smile, a kiss...

4. Allow yourself to feel that joy. Unless you allow it, you'll miss it.

5. Remember your greatest moment of joy. Let that old feeling fill you. Strive for that feeling all the time.

God sends us experiences that match our state of mind. If you are angry, you'll get more things that make you angry. If you are at peace and happy, you'll get more things that make you happy and bring you peace. If you are sad or depressed, you'll get more of that.

What you feel each day, whether it be joy or sadness, is setting up by your spiritual vibration, what is going to happen in your life. Like attracts like in the spiritual world.

What do you want for your future? Joy or sadness and uncertainty? You can choose.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Defragging My Closet

Are you like me? Perhaps it takes a geek to appreciate this, but I love to defrag my computer. I like to sit there and watch while all the errant files are relocated to their proper place on my hard drive. And when it's done, it feels good.

I also like to defrag my house. Last night we started on a two day defrag of our master bedroom closet, which has become a depository for far too much junk. There are bags of stuff in there that were probably with us when we moved south in 1986. Unbelievable amount of junk.

I envision a walk in closet like you'd see in a closet organizer ad. Ain't gonna happen I know, but it WILL be organized. Lots of stuff set aside for Goodwill. An even bigger pile of crud to go to the landfill. How does one acquire so much junk?

I frequently set aside time to defrag my brain. To clear out all the crap that doesn't belong there. The negative memories, the sad stuff, the frustrating things and the maddening ones.

I don't need all that nasty stuff taking up perfectly good brain cells in my head. I'm trying, and actually succeeding most days, to replace all those things with good memories. A quick mental SAVE of the pretty coral colored flowers on a stalk I see out in the backyard when I walk Jack. A mental SAVE of something one of my kids said that was funny. The way my husband looks at me. Knowing I'm loved like no other woman on earth.

Those things can happily copy over those misplaced brain cells in the hard drive that is my brain. Try it. Defrag your brain and get rid of those ugly thoughts and feelings that have been taking up space for so long. You don't need them. Overwrite those thoughts and feelings with happy thoughts and loving feelings. Replace them with remembered joy.

Thought for the day: "The standard of success in life isn't the things. It isn't the money or the stuff. It is absolutely the amount of joy that you feel."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pooping on Command

Our service dog in training, Jack, at one year old, after being in weekly training and daily reinforcement since he was 10 weeks old, has a good grasp of all the commands. The one I like best is the one where you make him heel, so he know's he's "on." Then you take him to where you want him to pee and poop and say, BREAK (the code word for pee and poop.)

He will stop and do which one of them he needs to do at that command. I think that is so cool.

And I'm thinking how neat it would be if you could train a kid from the age of ten weeks to do the same thing. Not just for going to the bathroom. But if you could train them to your commands, like "QUIET" (Jack sometimes pays attention to that one) or "COME" or "NO MOUTH" or "SIT" or "STAY."

For kids though I think I'd add a few others, like: "Homework, " "Chores," (where they would drop what they were doing immediately and do it, or "PEACE"-where they would immediately stop arguing. But the major command that I'd like to train kids with is the command "NO." It's all purpose for parents.

You train the kid to stop whatever he's doing immediately, like a service dog. So you catch a kid starting to rage you just say "NO." and the kid stops. Wouldn't that be cool?

Come on now, are our kids any less intelligent than a German Shepherd?

Here's a couple more I wish I had trained my kids with: "SHOWER!" and they dash off to actually do it-not just splash water on their arms and dab some on their hair and say they did.

How about "NO LIE?" You catch a kid lying and give the command, and they are so highly trained that they MUST give you the truth.

OK, so it does sound a lot like big brother...but hey, one can dream, cant one?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

About being happy

I've been studying "The Secret" even before it was known as "The Secret." Like for several years. But the movie, of the same name is a quick explanation that I watch at least once a month.

The cool thing about the movie is that each time I watch it I come away with new insight into my own life and how I can build my world the way I want it. The secret is a step by step process you can learn, and positively affect every aspect of your life. Be Happy!

For those of you who haven't become part of the phenomena, The Secret talks about "the Universe," which many of the teachers will tell you is just another name for GOD. Like attracts like. Your thoughts create your universe. If your thoughts are all about the fear of getting cancer, you are attracting cancer. If your thoughts are about how grateful you are for your fantastic health, you'll have fantastic health.

You can't, however, think, "I am so grateful that I do not have cancer." THAT would attract cancer.

Believe it or not, I'm not trying to change anyone's minds. I'm just reporting on my own experiences. I'm not trying to TEACH anything, either, as you simply cannot drag a person into happiness. It's up to each person to find their own path in life, and if they want to continue to think negative thoughts and create a negative world, there is nothing I can do to change that.

The one thing that I can say, is that the VERY best way you can create the life of your dreams is to 1. wake up each morning and think of all the things and people for whom you are grateful. Think of all the things that make you happy.

Finding ways to keep yourself in a HAPPY state is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Say, This day I will be happy and friendly and helpful to everyone I meet. That way, you will be attracting good things into your life.

It works for me. You don't realize how good you'll feel if you spend time appreciating the little things, the flowers you see along the road, the beautiful puffy clouds, you child's artwork, your spouse's hug, a child's smile. The appreciation makes you happy. And the happiness attracts more happiness.

I'm putting a quote here every day now. I get them by email and it's a great way to start my day. Here's today's quote:

>>The best thing you could do for anyone that you love, is be happy! And the very worst thing that you could do for anyone that you love, is be unhappy, and then ask them to to try to change it, when there is nothing that anybody else can do that will make you happy. If it is your dominant intent to hold yourself in vibrational harmony with who you really are, you could never offer any action that would cause anybody else to be unhappy.<<

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Brothers and Sisters - A Necessity

Saturday, my brother from Orlando and his wife, and cute as all get-out 10 year old son came to town for a 50th birthday dinner with me and my sister, whom I haven't seen in two years and her husband.

It was magnificent seeing them all again. We were all so close growing up. At least four of us now live in the same southern state, with only one brother still in PA. My one sister from way up north in the state could not come. But we had a lot of fun laughing and talking.

I often forget that even though I've turned 60, that my siblings have been aging as well. I still picture them all as teenagers, before we all went our own ways. I always expect to see the teenagers they were. My brother is starting to look a lot like my maternal grandfather, and I think both my sisters tend to look like my paternal grandmother. It's the nose I think. They have thin noses, and I have a big honker like my dad. I'm pretty sure I take after my maternal grandmother. I have pix of her, and, being the oldest, I was actually around when she was living. My body shape matches hers to a t.

It was funny when my nephew brought out his bag of presents he had bought for his father. He got him exploding soap and a shocking calculator, from a magic shop.

I look at all my own kids now. They absolutely NEED each other. I moved my one son with Down Syndrome on Friday over from the high school he had been attending to the high school where five of his siblings are attending. Before the move he was difficult to get into the tub in the AM, and difficult to get him to go on the bus to his old school. Sometimes he would strip naked right before the bus came and we'd have to redress him. Sometimes wed end up driving him to school. Since the move to the new school, he gets his bath without trouble every AM and RUNS out to the bus to get on.

Siblings are important when one is growing up, but they are also important when you are an adult. All 9 of my kids who still live at home are developmentally delayed, and will require supported living arrangements or group homes when the time is right. I just want to assure that they will be able to regularly get together with each other when I'm gone. It's just so important.

People who grew up as only children don't get it. People with 5, 10,15 or 20 kids or more thoroughly understand.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Here's an email I was sent today. It was supposedly written by an 85 year old lady. It truly hits home in this house!

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed betweenhis presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed tohonorit. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are tobecommended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application for Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance of your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:


#1. To make an appointment to see me

#2. To query a missing payment.

# 3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

# 4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping

# 5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

# 6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer
is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.

# 8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.

# 9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

# 10. This is a second reminder to press* for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year?

Your Humble Client

(Remember: This was written by an 86 year old woman) 'YA JUST GOTTA LOVE ' US SENIORS' !!!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fright Night!

Yesterday, I think I scared the absolute cr*p out of my 23 year old son, Matt. He has Down syndrome, and knows better than to walk into my bedroom without first knocking. But that's what he did.

I was standing there about to put on my bra and he takes one look and turns white. Then he says, "Oh, Geez..." and backs out of the room.

My husband and I cracked up. The look on his face was priceless! I did go and joke with him and tell him that I wasn't mad.

I remember when I was little, one time I was at the bottom of the stairs when my dad came out of the bathroom with no clothes on. I remember the extremely freaked feeling I got. Nobody should ever see their parents naked. :)

Once, a very long time ago, my grandmother was in the hospital for gall bladder surgery. I took the bus to the hospital for a visit and met my dad in the lobby. We went up to her room together, but when we went in she was crawling into bed with her open back gown flapping open, with everything in plain view. My dad got that very same white face look that Matt had yesterday. And he said, "Not a good time for a visit."

Both of us just went home. It was way too much...

Here's something funny I found on youtube:

You could spend all day watching clips there. Ask me how I know.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Needle Nose Pliers

When you have a very large family of special needs children, you wash an incredible lot of loads every day. I mean a LOT of loads. We go through washers and dryers lightening fast. We've had I think five sets while living in this house for 12 years.

Our current laundry set is only a couple years old, but yet the lid on the washer has rusted off it's hinges, and most of the knobs on the panels have been broken off. That's why we keep a set of pliers in the cabinets over the washer - to turn the machines on.

Now there is nothing special about the stupid little plastic knobs., and until now, my husband hasn't made a big deal about it. But his side of the family would have had the knobs replaced the day after they broke off. My side of the family would have not only never replaced the knobs, but when one washer went kaput, my family was more likely to just set the new one on top of the old one. (Well, we never did that, but we stacked up tvs as they died on us when I was growing up. One time we had a stack of three tvs, one on top of the other.)

Anyhow, the metal posts are now getting to the point where the flat side that the pliers grab onto was wearing away. So Monday we went to Home Depot AND Lowes, and I think we hit Walmart as well. Nobody sells a common little knob that accepts a flat sided metal post.

So today, while we were out getting bloodwork done and taking one of our 14 yr olds to his special behavior class about 45 minutes away, we stopped at an actual appliance store. They had them! But they were $22.98 EACH. needless to say, we didn't buy them. He thinks he can order them online for $6 each.

I'm thinking there is money to be made in this appliance knob business! But, alas, my inspection of this niche market proves that darn few people ever search for a new washer or dryer knob. Which proves another point: I guess most people throw out their old appliances before the knobs fall off and the lids rust away.

Bored yet?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Middle of the night musings

Our service dog, Jack, came to us ten months ago as a 10 weeks old puppy. We're raising him to be a service dog for our 15 year old son, Ross, who has spina bifida and uses crutches to get around.

Jack's a big guy now-really big. He has bloodlines that go back to France, and his daddy dog was recently sold for $30,000 to a wealthy family as personal protection. We didn't spend anything on him, though, as he came to us through a brand new local service dog training organization, Paws4Liberty

We were lucky to join the program at it's very beginnings, as normally one fosters and trains a dog for someone else. Jack goes to puppy school once a week with dad and Ross to learn everything he needs to know- all the commands and such. He's so smart. In a few months he will go back to Paws4Liberty for complete training at director Heidi Spirazza's kennel. (If so inclined, please donate what you can to Paws4Liberty.) Heidi is a remarkable woman!

Now, Jack is never allowed outside by himself and he must be on a leash at all times. So Jack takes me for walks in the backyard several times a day, and sometimes at night. We live on a little over an acre of land, and the back yard is very large. I've learned a lot during those walks, about nature, about myself, about God, about the world. Instead of it being a chore to walk Jack, I've turned it into a time of contemplation.

I first realized this was possible when Jack was a tiny little guy, and we were outside to pee (Jack, not me) at about 3 AM. It was a lovely night with a clear sky studded with stars. I was looking up enjoying the view skyward and I started to sing, "Starry, Starry Night."

Jack sat his tiny little butt down and listened to me singing, his little head crooking to the side to hear me, watching me. So I kept on singing to my teeny captive audience. When I was done he came up to me and licked me and wagged his tail.

And there I learned my first lesson of my many walks with Jack. No matter how badly you sing, or how badly you do something, there is always someone who will appreciate your effort. They might not come up to you and lick your face, but do know that someone out there appreciates what you do.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why a Blog?

Three are several reasons why I've started to blog. A great deal of my large adoptive family moms have blogs, for one. But because of past experiences, I simply cannot expose private information like some of these brave ladies do. For the moms who do blog about their large adoptive families, more power to you, because I read several every day and am constantly upheld by your posts. The things that happen in your lives mirrors the stuff that goes on here. But I'm just not ready to make our daily struggles public knowledge.

Instead I want to blog about the things that bring me peace. Memories. Dreams. What makes me happy. How my mind works. Things I need to remind myself of daily. (I guess I'm kind of weord to think that anyone would want to read it...but I want to write it.)

I'm an incurable genealogist since the age of 12 when my grandfather Thompson sat down with me and my mom and told me everything he knew about his own family history. My research has largely stalled in recent years, as, thanks to the internet, I've gotten most of my lines way back, some to the 1400s. I would need a massive influx of cash and no need for things like, say, a new roof, or paying property taxes of $8800, in order to get the lines back even further.

Perhaps I've ruined the excitement of genealogy for my children, not that any of them seem to be overly interested in family history. But the sport has kept me sane several times in my life.

I'm also an inveterate internet marketer. Most of my free time goes to learning search engine optimization, traffic generation, and other stuff that most people would find boring. But my goal is to earn enough monthly income to allow my sweet husband to stop working. I have several online storefronts that bring in a little money, and that is growing, but it's a slow process. But selling my readers stuff isn't my goal here.

I'm also a very spiritual person. At one time I dearly wanted to become a minister and attended an MDIV program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for a few years. I had to quit a year before I would have qualified for graduation and ordination, but I did have the experience of working as a pastor for a while.

I enjoyed that experience and learned from it. But I am no longer a church goer. I'm on a lifelong search for spiritual answers, but it's my voyage, and it doesn't conform to any one religion anymore.

So, this blog is just a diary of my thoughts and feelings. Not an expose'.

All my love...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hello CQ

When I was a kid, my dad was an avid ham radio operator, using the call letters W3UHO, as all ham radio people did, he used the code name Uncle Henry Oboe. So when he wanted to troll the air waves for someone to talk to he would broadcast "Hello CQ, This is W3UHO Uncle Henry Oboe," until he got a hit and someone would answer him.

Then they would talk about the weather and what kind of ham equipment they had and where they lived and where they had served in WWII the big one, and then say goodbye. He talked to people all over the place in his little basement studio with the walls lined with asbestos squares of sound proofing poison.

I used to sit and listen and wish I were old enough to get my own ham radio license, but hey, I was a girl, and in the 1950s ham radio was a man's sport. A few years later, my mother, in a rare feminist action, got herself certified as a ham radio hobbyist herself. Probably just to prove a point, as I don't recall her ever sitting down there in the studio talking to people on the air herself without my dad present.

My mother's call letters I cannot remember correctly, but her code name was Gruesome Toothless Babe, so GTB had to be in there.

So, here I sit, in 2007 at the age of 60, broadcasting the modern way of saying "Hello CQ!"

Welcome to my world.