Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Lately we've been hearing a resurgence of the old saying, "It is what it is." Now lots of people would say this is a doom and gloom type of saying, but I don't think that's so.

Say you have a nasty situation at home. If you say, and internalize, "it is what it is" it CAN be an incredibly freeing thing.

Freeing? You bet. IIWII (It is what it is) tell us that nothing is going to change it. In other words, no amount of angst on your part is going to have any effect. So why bother?

Simply stop the worrying about something that has happened. Stop the blaming. Stop the anger. None of that is going to change the situation. It isn't worth the effort.

Instead, think IIWII and think of how to improve the situation. And of it simply can't be improved or eliminated, than accept it. Without all the negative emotion.

Now that can be incredibly freeing.

I started doing this a few years ago. Now when someone breaks a window I just think it is what it is and send my husband out to get a new one. My being angry isn't going to restore that window. And, in truth, my being angry isn't even going to change the kid who probably did it (There are two probabilities in this family.)

I simply stay happy.

DH's response to things like this is to blow a gasket. Not me. IIWII. Don't waste the energy! Get on with it. Just do what has to be done and forget the angst.

You have no idea how freeing this can be. Try it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Artwork

I do other thing.s besides being a wife and mom. One of my passions is digital art. Here's a quick sample of some of my older work:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Common Sense in Foster care

OK, I realize that the term "common sense" and "foster care simply have no business being located anywhere near each other. But I have some ideas about the system.

Cindy in her post about something a friend of hers wrote touches on this. Her friend, like most of us large adoptive family moms, had been through the CPS nightmare and stated that unless you had the money to hire a "big bully attorney" you had no chance to fight CPS. True. But that isn't necessarily what this blog post is about.

Twice CPS has threatened to take our kids for damage to the house done by those same kids, and the lack of money/time to fix those things. Flooring ripped up, holes in the walls, etc. If you're reading this, you know what I mean. This put me in a unique spot and had gotten me thinking.

If they had been able to remove my kids, the emotional damage done to them would have been extraordinary. So much so that any foster or future adoptive family would have had one H*LL of a time managing them while they grieved, and they would grieve forever. The future of these kids would have been changed from rosy to untenable for young fragile personalities, all of whom are bonded well, because in the past 20 years we only adopted infants with Down Syndrome or Spina Bifida. Oh, and a superpremie crack baby got in there too. Breaking that bond with us would have destroyed them.

How much better would it be if children were left in their home and round the clock supervision were provided in home? A person to just BE THERE, to help out and to make suggestions. To teach parenting, if that needed to be done.

The kids wouldn't have to leave the parents they love. They would be safe and their lives wouldn't be abruptly changed to live with strangers. Life would go on without damage to the children's psyches.

Now,I realize that some parents would STILL screw up and some kids would still be removed, but if it saved the largest part of threatened children, then it would be a success. I mean, if the supervising lady said, hey that kitchen isn't safe or healthy, please clean it up (with the implied thought 'I can take your kids if you don't') surely a parent who loved their children would do it.

You say, it's too expensive? Oh no it isn't. Foster care and all that entails is way more expensive. And then there are the psychiatric bills that will always go along with a child removed from his own home. This plan would do away with the residential treament often needed with damaged children. No foster care, fewer damaged children.

Now this in home round the clock services would only work if the children were also granted access to medicaid, and money would be there to hospitalize severely disturbed children in the home.

A good solution all around, I think. Kids with a future, versus kids with nothing but torment in their future.

Friday, September 11, 2009

School Nurses

So it's what, three weeks into the school year? Yesterday the county supervising school nurse was called in to look at Jay, who is 16 and has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. He also has a vesicostomy, which is simply a hole directly into his bladder. No stoma, just a hole that serves as a release valve so that his urine doesn't back up into his kidneys.

He had loose stools and the teacher was concerned. So the county nurse told us she wanted us to take him to the UROLOGIST right away as he "might have a blockage."

Now if you're paying attention you'll see the stupidity here. Why on earth would I take the kid to a bladder and kidney doctor for loose stools?

So we asked if they wanted him taken home and they said no. HUH? They send kids home if they SNIFF.

And just now I get a call from the PHYSICAL THERAPIST wanting to know if we'd taken him to the urologist. I said no and why would I take a kid with loose stools to a urologist? She was snippy and said, well you have a nice day... And I see where this is going. Pretty soon the CPS people will be at my door.

My legal plan had better be in place by now...

(OK, for those who asked goto megamom's site and scroll down on the right and you'll see the link for the legal plan. It's cheap and provides you with a hotline to call when CPS is on your doorstep and get advice from am attorney who understands how these things work. Priceless)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Innocense of Down Syndrome

When I came home from the rehab center where I was being starved to death, my 24 year old daughter Jennifer came to me and put her arms around me and said, "I'm sorry, Mom. I won't do it again."

We all know that young kids often blame themselves for things that happen in the family, but we forget that even older kids can feel responsible, especially if that person has intellectual disabilities.

Jenny is a tiny young woman whose birth parents were from Taiwan and has Down Syndrome and has been in our family since she left the hospital. She works hard at the Habilitation Center and brings home a paycheck high than her father's lately. (His hours have been cut back to like 6 hrs a week.) Brought home a $260 check for the past two weeks a couple days ago.

She's very competent in that she can make her own meals (and often lunch for the whole crew.) But she is innocent to the point where she will probably not be able to get a job in the community any time soon. She's never met a stranger, and her motto is "We Aim To Please." So she'd go with anyone.

But no matter how often I tell her she didn't do anything to cause me to have surgery, she still feels bad. It's not her fault I'm wearing the neck brace. Still every night she creeps into our room before she goes to sleep and comes up on the bed and puts her arms around me and says, "I'm sorry, Mom."

I'm blessed to have her as my daughter. But I sure wish I could clear her conscience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why we keep our kitchen locked

Nobody gets in our kitchen unless the are responsible enough to have a key Here's why:

This AM Jeremy broke into the den, which is open to the kitchen and also has a locked door with the same key. It's a hollow core door and certain individuals who do not rate a key have figured that if they punch a hole through the panel under the doorknob that they can get in by scootching their arm through.

So when my husband finally got wind of Jeremy in the kitchen he went in there and found that Jeremy had toasted a bagel and put butter on it, eaten most of a carton of chocolate ice cream and had three eggs laid out to take. When asked what he was gonna do with the eggs, he just said "Put them in my pocket." I think he thought they were hard boiled.

When asked where the rest of the ice cream went, Jeremy says he gave it to William. Nice of him, don't you think??

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Consciousness is Beautiful

We take consciousness for granted until we lose it.

I did not do well after the spine surgery on Thursday. Perhaps it was the length of the surgery, I don’t know. Thursday is a blank, and although I thought I was doing well on Friday and Saturday, apparently I wasn’t. My husband will say, “Don’t you remember this?” and I draw a complete blank.

Anyhow, the decision was made (without me, but I trust my DH completely) to put me in a nursing home. [A rehabilitation center. She was having trouble walking and swallowing.] So I came here Saturday. They apparently changed my dressings yesterday, but I don’t remember that. Today I got up deciding I was at least going to be able to get in the wheelchair and go to the bathroom by myself, a task which I have completed.

Supposedly, I’ll have PT tomorrow. My goal is to get home ASAP.

Note to friends: Before anyone chooses a rehabilitation center for you, MAKE SURE IT HAS WI-FI !! [This place doesn't.]

(Typed by Amy’s Loverboy on a real [home] computer.) [He added the bracketed comments.]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Surgery Time-Only in a Large Family

Well, tomorrow is the dreaded day I have my surgery. It was funny this AM listening to my husband and my eldest daughter, Wendy, discussing how we were going to get ME to the hospital at 5:45 AM and get her to our house for child care (well none of the 9 at home are really children, but still need supervision.)

She's a DJ and will probably be up until like 4 AM so she'd be coming here with no sleep. So the discussion involved how to have someone here for the kids who has actually had some sleep, while getting me to the hospital while Dad was here to get Jay up and bathed and dressed (he has spina bifida) and then how to get Dad to the hospital so that we don't have two cars sitting there which would require complicated means to get both cars home.

We were talking about how Jon could get up early and drive me there, which we nixed, Or I could drive there myself and Dad could come down after Wendy got there, after getting some shuteye. Or since Justin has the day off, having Justin come over early to watch the kids until Wendy got there...

So complicated. Wendy said "I think we need an event planner." And I thought, only in a large adoptive family...

My computer is leaving today with my son Justin for a fix at Office Depot where Justin is assistant manager. They have a system where they have expert geeks at corporate plug into your computer and fix everything that's wrong with it, and there is a LOT that must be wrong with this thing. I"m a geek myself and I haven't been able to fix it. It takes literally 30 minutes to reboot and at least that long to open programs. Can't run a business that way.

I just figured I wasn't going to be up to using the thing for at least a few days so this was the perfect time to do it.

I know a couple of you have my phone number, so give a call tomorrow afternoon for an update. Wish me well, and say a little prayer for me. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Childhood Obesity Child Abuse?

This article today really got me angry. Not at the mom,so much as at child protective services.

14 year old boy weighs 555 pounds. Yeah, not healthy. So CPS comes in and takes the boy away from his mother and puts him into foster care and charges her with FELONY CHILD NEGLECT.

So on top of an eating problem, the child now has been ripped away from his mother who loves him and whom he loves, and placed with strangers who may or may not treat him right, might even physically or sexually abuse him.

He will be subjected to case workers who are probably almost as young as he is and are not even married, and if so, might have no children or one perfect child at home.

Now the boy has psychological problems as well as obesity. And the citizens of his state have to pay for a bazillion bucks in court drama, hearings and casewook, and probably psychiatric care.

If CPS was a reasonable entity, they would instead have provided services to the family, Kept the tie with his mother and left him at home. They might have provided hospitalization for him, perhaps had a home health nurse come in and shop for food for the boy and cook meals for him.

Wouldn't that have been cheaper monetarily, less harmful to the child, and less costly to the state? Someone who could teach the mom how to make fat free menus and plan menus, how not to give in to the boy. Provide someone to stay with the boy at night when she works so he doesn't eat out of boredom.

They could have sent the mom to a nutritionist, hired a personal shopper. WHATEVER. But no, they take the route of arresting the mom for felony child abuse and take the boy away from everyone he loves and trusts.

CPS has only one mode of helping. Rip the child away and prosecute.

Read the whole article HERE

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dodged a Bullet

I seriously dodged a bullet this week. For about a month and a half I've had serious pain and numbness in my right arm. So I went to my GP who sent me to a neurologist who sent me for an MRI, and then sent me to a neurosurgeon.

The neurosurgeon didn't like the MRI and sent me for another set at a different hospital. Now so far, this has cost me $100 in doctor copays and $200 in MRI costs...

Neurosurgeon says I need between 4 and 6 disks removed and bone taken from my hip and stuck in the space left by the disks, and metal things driven into my vertebrae to stabilize it all. (They go in from the front of the neck, and push the trachea and esophagus aside to get back to the spine. YUCK.)

But before he would operate I needed clearances from my cardiologist. So another $20 later I'm sitting in the Cardio office and he wants a stress test. Luckily he does it right away. (I already have three stents) So he brings me back into the room and shows me how no blood is getting to the lower part of my heart. He says I probably need a bypass, unless we can handle it medically.

BYPASS??? My two brothers have both had bypass surgery, so it's always been a fear lurking in the back of my mind. But wait a minute. First I needed cervical spine surgery, and now a BYPASS before I can get that???

So he sets me up for another cardiac catheterization. Now I'm a frequent flyer when it comes to catheterization, but the idea that he might send me right away for a bypass afterwards freaks me out.

Luckily, the cath shows that blood IS getting to the lower part of my heart. I'll have to ask him on Tuesday how that can be. But I'm certainly not gonna argue with the man. So he's signing the release. Of course, if past charges are the same as before I'll be stuck with about $1600 in cath copay bills. I just got done paying off the last one.

So I'm on for the neck surgery, but I have to go back to my GP for a clearance from her ten days from the surgery date. That's another $20. I can't wait to see my part of the bill for the actual 3-4 hour surgery coming up.

I'd do anything to get rid of this pain and numbness, and to regain the strength I've lost in tht arm. My only other choice is to spend the rest of my life on narcotics, which I'm not exactly wanting to do.

So I"ll be stuck in a hard shell neck collar for 6-8 weeks. But right now I'm saying PHEEWWW, I dodged a bullet. The cervical spine surgery looks easy compared to a bypass.

Life is GOOD.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Parents of Large Adoptive Family Killed


Our Worst Nightmare...

PENSACOLA, Fla. (July 10) - Investigators asked the public to be on the lookout Friday for a red van they believe carried three men involved in the deaths of a Florida Panhandle couple who were shot in their rural home while eight of their children slept.
Surveillance cameras showed the van at the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola near the Alabama border, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. The children were unharmed.

The sheriff's office released an enhanced but still grainy photograph of a red, 15-passenger van dating to the late 1970s or early '80s.
Morgan said investigators did not know who killed the wealthy couple known for adopting children with developmental disabilities, many born to drug-addicted mothers. But they said they wanted to question the three men suspected of involvement in the crime.
"It would be pure speculation. We see many random acts of violence now. We just don't know," he said.
Investigators are also awaiting autopsy results on the couple to learn more about the killings, he added.
Morgan said eight of the children, ages 8 to 14, were in the home when the couple was killed Thursday evening. A woman who lives in an outlying building and helps care for the children called emergency dispatchers from the home.
Deputies had to wake some of the children after they arrived, authorities said.
Investigators interviewed the children, who are now staying with other family members, Morgan said.
The Billings had 16 children, 12 of them adopted. They married 18 years ago and each had two children from previous marriages. The couple then began adopting children with developmental disabilities and other problems.
The couple owned several local businesses, including a fiance company and a used car dealership.
In a 2005 story in the Pensacola News Journal, the couple said they wanted to share their wealth with children in need, but didn't imagine their family would grow so large.
"It just happened," Melanie Byrd told the newspaper. "I just wanted to give them a better life."

Please pray for these children!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Continuation Day

This is why I have no fear of anything. Neale Donald Walsch sums it up very well:


On this day of your life, Friend, I believe God wants you to know...

....that there is a family reunion awaiting you, and you will be more overjoyed than you can now begin to imagine.

On the day you leave your body -- what I like to call your Continuation Day -- you will be greeted by everyone you have ever loved in any way for any reason...and, standing in front of the group, every person who has been so very dear to you. It will be a grand and glorious reunion, with joy and laughter and pure wonderment filling every heart and soul!

This has also been experienced by everyone who has ever left here -- all those who have gone before you -- of course. So do not grieve for them. They are so very happy! I'm not sure why you were meant to hear this on this particular day...but I bet you are...

Love, Your Friend....

This life we are leading here is just temporary. No matter what life sends your way, you can handle it, knowing that the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm Blessed

You know, I live with six children who have Down Syndrome, Matt, 24, Jen, 24, Will, 21, Emily 20, Robin 19, and Jeremy, 16. Add in my beautiful daughter Danielle who is almost 18, who is a super premie (22 weeker) coke baby,and Ross and Jay, 16 year old spina bifida kids.

I just truly feel blessed to have these people as a part of my family. Tonight I'm sitting here at my computer, and dad has gone out for milk. I've had four people come out and ask me where Dad was and when he was coming home. They miss him already.

We've never had drug problems with this group of kids. None of them has ever snuck out a window in the middle of the night to go joyriding with their buddies. None of them has ever tried to smoke or drink. They listen to reason when you explain things (mostly!)

They are so happy to be together as a family. They enjoy their own company sitting around a table than anything else. Laughing and talking together.

They tell Dad and I daily that they love us. They aren't concerned about getting into college. They talk on the phone with their friends like any other kids. They go to parties with their friends. The adults get up and go to work, like every other adult around, without griping. In fact you have major trouble getting them to stay home when they are sick.

Waking them up is often difficult, but they all LOVE to go to school and work. They are not slackers. They do their chores without argument. They don't mind hand me down or thrift shop clothing. Fashion means little to them.

They will eat anything that's put on their plates. Including veggies, like broccoli and salads. They don't demand the latest gimos, and don't have to learn to drive a car.

They are HAPPY most of the time. And when they are sad, they accept our hugs and help.

My other ( normal) children from our first parenting efforts are all successful, two are married, with a total of four beautiful grandchildren. They have grown into amazing people that I'm proud to call my children. But they took far more out of me emotionally. Normal kids are scary to raise. So many ways for them to go astray or get hurt. But they all made it.

What the heck more could I want? I have a wonderful husband of almost 41 years whom I adore. A huge home that fits us. Food on the table and medical care when we need it.

Dear Lord, I am blessed. I am blessed beyond belief.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The family caravan

Just got back from "lunch" at Max and Erma's. First time for us. As usual it took forever to get out of the house, then decided on who would go with which of the four drivers. Then the inevitable stop on the way in the police station parking lot to exchange drivers, and one particular misbehaving kid. But we all got there.

Thank God we have two handicapped stickers so it's easy to find parking. And once sitting, they were excellent, as per usual. This was only with 14 people, so not bad. and miraculously there was no need for another stop on the side of the road for kid exchange or anger management on the way home.

I do so like these real restaurant trips. The kids all behave beautifully, even wonder boy. I'm not real fond of the bill, though :)

If you get a chance to take the family to Max and Erma, they will let your big kids order from the kid menu, and the extra drinks are free. And we came away with about 12 new plastic cups!

When we were loading up in the parking lot the manager ran out and handed us a stack of free coupons for cookies or ice cream for next time. Hope he isn't holding his breath. It's not likely we'll do that again until, say, Thanksgiving...

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's wrong with this adoption story?

This is a quiz for adoptive parents. How many things can you find wrong with this story?

I was reading a book by Barbara Delinski called "Suddenly." It's about a busy female doctor who is single and owns her own home. She is in practice with her best friend, also a female MD and another guy.

Her best friend, Mara, kills herself one night. She had been in the process of adopting a baby girl from India. After the funeral the heroine is cleaning out her friend's house when there is a knock at the door.

It's a lady who has brought the baby from India and because Mara didn't show up to pick the baby up at the airport, she has driven out to Mara's house. The heroine (whose name I can't recall, she was so impressive) tells the lady that Mara is dead. The heroine didn't even know her best friend was to get her new baby so quickly.

The social worker or travel lady tells our girl that she will have to take the baby back. Wait, she says, Can I be her foster mother?

The social worker says Oh I don't know. But since she is an MD, and therefore a good choice, the worker makes one phone call to headquarters and allows the baby to stay with this MD as the foster parent. She packs up the baby and takes her to her own home.

Now, this doctor also teaches track at a local private school. One of her students has gotten herself pregnant at I think 16, and he parents have dumped her. So this bright MD sees an opportunity and tells the girl she can live with her in exchange for child care.

So while the MD works long hours, goes to the private school and coaches running, and carries on an affair with the president of the school, this poor scared prego girl sits at home with the baby girl, from early AM until the wee hours of the night.

It was at this point that I threw in the towel.

OK, how many real life inconsistencies can you find?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

$3100 for dental care for one kid?

Friday my husband took Matthew, 24, who has Down Syndrome over an hour away out of the county to the only dental place who would knock him out, pull two teeth and fix 7 others.

He did fine, but man, it sucks to have to pay that much. I can think of TONS of things that we could have used that money for.

The problem is that while medicaid for kids has a wonderful dental program that fixes everything for no cost, the adult medicaid has a dental plan that will pull out tooth a year and fill one tooth with a silver filling only per year.

Dentists don't use silver anymore. We bought a dental discount card, but it only would have been of value if Matt could hold still for having two molars extracted and the other 7 drilled and filled.

Wasn't gonna happen. So we took all of the $2250 that we got through the government's economic recovery payment to people on SSI, and $850 of our own cash and had his work down in the next county.

Now I'm glad he got his teeth fixed. But I'm angry that adults with developmental disabilities who don't qualify for private insurance have to go without dental care. So many of the people who work alongside Matt and Jennifer at the Hab Center have missing teeth. I mean, if medicaid can do it for kids with disabilities, why can't they also do it for adults with disabilities?

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Happiness Depends on ME

Found a quote this AM that helps me. So often I blame others for the way I'm feeling. If I'm angry or stressed I blame others, but it's not so.

"Tell everyone you know: "My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook." And then demonstrate it.

Be happy, no matter what they're doing. Practice feeling good, no matter what. And before you know it, you will not give anyone else responsibility for the way you feel -- and then, you'll love them all. Because the only reason you don't love them, is because you're using them as your excuse to not feel good."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Equestrian SPecial Olympics

The end of May my husband and I escorted 6 of our kids to Tampa for the state equestrian event for special olympics. Matt, Jennifer, Emily, Robin, Danielle, and Jeremy went.

It was a pleasant trip over there by bus, where Emily got locked in the bathroom and couldn't get out. The driver didn't have the key to the bathroom so he had to take a screwdriver to the lock to get her out. She was frantic.

The hotel was great, but everyone was so tired by then end of the day, that we showered and hopped into bed and went right to sleep.

Special Olympics is a marvelous organization. Everyone is a winner. It's a great time for socializing with others and making new friends. I made a new friend there as well. A woman who runs some group homes locally brought a couple of her residents with her to the games.

This was good for me. I have had a real fear, no, call it dread, of my adult children going into group homes. We had always thought we'd simply turn this home into a group home eventually, but that probably isn't going to happen. Meeting Theresa was good for me, because I could see how happy her clients were and how well they were treated. And that she actually made sure that they participated in events like this. I think I can do it now.

It's never easy to have a child grow up and leave home. It's even harder when the child who is becoming and adult can't really take care of themselves. Knowing that there are loving homes out there makes it all easier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stress and Women-An Alternative to Fight or Flight

Are you wondering why mothers of large adoptive families rely so heavily on their online groups? Read this study from UCLA.

They say it's chemical, but it's really a gift from God, who knew we'd need it.

An alternative to fight or flight

©2002 Gale Berkowitz

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research---most of it on men---upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer.

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.

Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

And that's not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners.

Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push the m right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Behaviorial Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight" Psychol Rev, 107(3):41-429. (Full text of article in PDF format)

Geary DC, Flinn MV. Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: commentary on Taylor et al. Psychol Rev 2002 Oct;109(4):745-50; discussion 751-3

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Painless Graduation

In our 39 years of parenting we've attended a heck of a lot of graduations. Of course you are there for you child, but they can be trying, too.

First there is the traffic and long wait to get seated. Then the stand in line that leads around the convention center twice.

Then there are the long directions:

Please don't yell and scream or use noisemakers or air horns when you student is announced (like that is going be obeyed.) Don't stand on the chairs. Don't run up the aisle with your camera, blah blah. You have to listen to a couple guest speakers who go on and on, long speeches from the head of the school district, long messages from the principal, the salutatorian, the valedictorian, "reflections" from another student. Then there is the choir singing the school alma mater, and the band playing.

Then, of course is the parade across the stage to get the diploma and shake hands with a bunch of dignitaries. And the brief moment when you see your beautiful daughter walk across the stage. Well, you only see her on the big screen above the stage, because you are so far away and everyone is seated on a flat floor.

Then you have to try to find your graduate, find your car, sit in line to get out... I mean yes it's worth it to see your child up there graduating, but normally it takes 2-3 hours to get through.

This year the school district, in an effort to cut costs, is holding ALL the graduations at the county owned convention center. So for Danielle's graduation, she had to be there at 6:30 AM for the 8 AM ceremony.

They cut the guest speakers, limited all other speeches to like 10 minutes and then moved all the graduates through the line on the stage ( a little over 500 of them) and managed to get it done in one hour exactly. We were amazed.

We took Danielle out to breakfast at McDonald's. Then at 9 PM she went to the class graduation party, which is a lock down at the school until 2 AM. This to cut down on all the deaths by car that happen late at night after graduation.

Now, Danielle is intellectually disabled, and she was the only Special Ed student at the party, and no parents were permitted. We were kind of shaky on it. But the school nurse said she'd watch out for her. And Danielle spent the evening in the company of the class president, a wonderful girl who had volunteered in that classroom.

I don't think Danielle ever had a more wonderful day. And the way the students included her in their evening festivities was superb. I'm so proud of her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Losing a Child

I have been watching a British tv series through Netflix's watch instantly on your computer feature. I'm up to episode 6. It's called "Monarch of the Glen" and it's about a contemporary Laird's family and how they go about trying to save their estate.

On one of the episodes the mother of the main character was telling another woman about losing her 18 year old son years ago to drowning. The other woman told of having lost an infant years ago. Then the older woman made a comment, "It changes you forever, doesn't it?"

And I sat there and thought Yes, it does. I've lost four children over the years, and the hurt never goes away. I am so not the same woman I'd be today if those four kids hadn't gone to heaven.

Losing a child changes a mother in ways that women who haven't been through it will never understand.

And it makes absolutely no difference that the children were adopted. In some ways it makes it worse, in that you know you were given a gift, and that somehow you should have been able to keep that gift alive. One woman at the funeral of my first son who died made the comment "At least he wasn't one of your own." Such a hurtful comment, and probably the main reason we don't do funerals anymore.

People who haven't adopted a child also don't know that an adopted child IS your child 100%. They simply can't know that, now, can they?

It is wonderful, yes, that I know that those children are safe in heaven, and that someday I'll see them again. But I am changed forever.

I can only guess at the pain a mother feels when her adopted children are removed by CPS. How much worse it must be to not know who is caring for your child, how frightened they must be and you can't do anything to help them. You don't know anything about the people caring for your child. Are they being abused?

My heart goes out to those mothers whose lives have forever been changed by CPS. And I will never say that I understand. I haven't been there.

But what I can say for sure is that losing a child does change a woman forever . The old you goes away with the child, and the new you is a being you would never have expected to see.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What would you do to save the life of a dying child?

How far would you go to save the life of a child?

Would you do a simple cheek swab?

Now you might be thinking that this particular child lives far away from you. But the truth is that there are hundreds of children, moms, dads, daughters and sons who need a bone marrow transplant near you! And marrow can be transported just like donor hearts and kidneys.

What if it were YOUR child who needed a bone marrow transplant to survive? You can say, well, it isn't, Thank God. But just because you can't see the face of a child in need doesn't mean that there isn't a child who needs you right now.

If eventually you are matched with a person in need, bone marrow donation is a simple procedure, done with anesthetics. It is NOT surgery. Wouldn't you go that far to save the life of a beautiful child like Kai?

Call the number below to be sent a cheek swab kit. You just rub the swab inside your cheek and mail it back in. Maybe there never will be a child you can save. But, again, perhaps you WILL get to save the life of a child.

And If you have a BLOG, Let's start a revolution!
Please post this youtube video by pasting the embed code for this video into your own blog. Go Here
for the embed code.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

We Didn't Walk Away

Large adoptive families often take a bad rap. We get reported to child protective services, most of us, once or twice a year for really stupid things, and for vindictive reasons. It's hurtful. It scares the cr*p out of our kids, and sometimes it totally destroys a family.

People think we do what we do because we have some ulterior motive. That we're secret pedophiles, or that we do it for the money (Yeah, right...)

Or we do it for the glory. (What glory is there standing up in front of a judge? or being put down behind our backs by people we thought were our friends and family?)

But we all have one thing in common that we need to remember in those hard times.

We saw a problem, and we didn't walk away.

This short video, made by a guy with his cell phone camera, got me to thinking about this. It's called "Mankind Is No Island."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Things Scarier Than a Clown

I finally got this birthday card scanned. It was given to me by my daughter, Wendy, who being my oldest child, knows me better than any of my other kids. Inside the card it says "May you enjoy a clown-free birthday."

For some reason that nobody in the family can pin-point, my two sisters and I have always feared clowns. She also gave me another card that was beautiful and thoughtful. Some of my kids always give me two cards-a funny one and one they spend about an hour looking for.

Me, on the other hand, I never remember to get cards for any occasion. I'm trying to change that, though.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dancing Rabbit Eco Village

How would you like to live in a home that got it's power from wind and the sun, eat locally grown produce, enjoy the countryside and build a community, in the real sense of the word?

First off, you might think of the communes of the 1960s and 70s, but this is something quite different.

At Dancing Rabbit Eco Village a group of about 40 individuals have settled to live off the grid in a sustainable village where people build their own homes, eat local produce and grow their own food, are guardians of the land.

Read about it HERE

Friday, April 17, 2009

FTC to regulate "Mommy Blogs"

If you recommend or review products on your blog and receive monetary compensation from this activity, you must disclose that you are making money from it, or that you are an affiliate for that product if this law passes.

Why they are targeting the so called "Mommy blogs" I don't know.

More info here: (and NO, I didn't get paid to put this link here.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Life on Planet Zork

So...after waiting several years for the money to get new glasses for myself, I was psyched about going to Walmart to pick them up yesterday morning. My husband had previously loaded up the big van and had taken all the kids off to their riding lessons at the therapeutic riding center.

Realizing my phone was dead I plugged it in to recharge and then I drove to Walmart and picked up my new glasses. YAY! While I was there I found two nightgowns for myself, each costing $8. I was having a great time out by myself, but I needed to get home to feed the dogs.

Almost as soon as I got home the phone rang (not my cell-the other phone.) It was my husband and all he said was "I need your assistance." I assumed I needed to talk Jeremy down from something, but he said no, just to meet him just south of Orange Grove Blvd.

Of course I'm thinking CAR WRECK. He had refused to elaborate, just said to come. So I got back in the little van and drove down to Orange Grove. The big van was sitting on the side of the road with blinkers on. I pulled off and got out of the car and then I saw Jeremy sitting on the sidewalk, my husband standing beside him and a police officer talking on a radio.

I learn that Jeremy had been acting up in the van and had thrown one of his riding boots out of the car. So Dad had to stop the car to get it back, when Jeremy opened the car door and plopped down on the sidewalk and refused to move.

So I don't know WHAT the cop was thinking. Probably, Is this white guy trying to kidnap this African American kid? So, anyway, I knelt down besiude Jeremy and began the sweet talk that sometimes is the only thing that makes him comply after he blows up. Then two more police cars pull up. I thinking NICE WORK, JER!

I finally get him to agree to get up and come home with me in the little van. So he stands up and says, with a final effort at defiance, that he's going home with Dad in the big van. She he gets in and heads home, leaving me with the police officer.

I tell him that Jeremy is severely behavior disordered and attends the county's highest level school for MR kids with severe behavior problems. He says, yeah your husband told me.

So I get in the car and come home, where it's as if nothing had ever happened with the boy. He's fine. Like a switch flipping off.

The rest of the day is uneventful. It could have been worse. In fact HAS been worse at times. Just our life on a different planet from most parents'.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Better Homes And Gardens NOT

Last night before bed I was reading the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Inside was a story about a young couple and their three perfect little blond headed girls and how they had decorated their home.

The wife, Ashley, was quoted as saying "There's really nothing here that the kids could destroy."

This sent me off on a laughing spree. You just don't have the right kind of kids, Ashley. Let me tell you what 9 mentally disabled kids can do with your home.

How about those three pretty round metal legged glass table you use in place of a coffee table? My kids would break the glass in a day, and then one or two of them would pick them up and throw them just for fun.

How about the white slipcovers on your sofa and loveseat? In my house we'd have a LOT of trouble just keeping them ON the furniture, and anyway, I'd have to remove them at least twice a week to wash them. Not worth the effort. Better to have dark leather furniture that doesn't show dirt.

And what's with those wicker and rattan dining room chairs? In a large adoptive family they wouldn't have a chance! Someone would pick at them until a big hole resulted, and then they'd move on to the next chair. That's why we have cheap metal dining room chairs (And yet they get broken, as when knocked over the wood seats get knocked off.)

And Ashley, those pretty ceramic pieces with greenery in them on the mantel? Come on. No way. And you pretty antique looking persian area rug on top of you larger sisal carpet...I have a kid who would find a thread in that Persian thing and keep at it until the whole rug was threadbare. And natural fiber in a carpet? That surely wouldn't stand up to spills.

Those two huge upside down glass encased candle chandeliers? I groan at the thought of cleaning that glass up after a month here. Then I look at the walls, not one hole, not one broken window waiting for the money to get it repaired.

And yet, I wouldn't trade my unstylishly unfurnished and constanly in need of repair home with Ashley's for a mint of money. Because my home has something hers doesn't. MY KIDS!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Bodie Day Here

Our days usually are calm, unless Jeremy gets in a snit. Today I felt like Cindy must on a lot of her bad days. Dad and J got into a battle. J wanted the big screen TV sound up as far as he could get it. and Dad was trying to read a book. So eventually Dad turned off the tv altogether.

This set the boy off.. Ripped the round wooden top off one of our three dining tables and threw it across the room, then the wooden seat off one of the metal chairs went, too.

It looked like he was calming down, but the minute our backs were turned a metal chair (very heavy) went sailing right into the one year old 50 inch HDTV' screen.

Well that TV is shot. So then he goes out to the playroom and takes the 39 inch old tv off the entertainment unit in there and throws it to the floor. Another tv bites the dust. At least it's an old clunker.

At this point I have everyone locked in their rooms (locks are on the inside...don't want you to think I'm not letting them out...just keeping Jeremy out of their rooms and away from their tvs.

I sure wish Jeremy's teacher could have witnessed this rage. Just two days ago at Jeremy's IEP he was extolling the virtues of this amazing kid who never does any wrong. (Except for stealing people's cell phones and stuff like that...)

This is the first day in many months where I thought I was living in Cindy's house. This is the worst he's ever been. Hey, Cindy...I bet you don't wanna do respite...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

about "Octo Mom"


I don't know the woman who is being called "Octo Mom", but I know that having a lot of infants to care for plus a lot of slightly older kids CAN be done.

I think the media and the world is assuming again that if you have that many kids, then you must be crazy.

I adopted 6 newborns in the stretch of 6 months, along with 15 other kids who ranged in age from 2 to 18. All but three handicapped. The infants were all handicapped as well. I had no help, other than DH. I lived in an 1800 sq ft home. Two of my kids were terminal.

Yeah, I was tired, but I was incredibly fulfilled.

At one point a couple years later (by CPS orders) I DID have to go see a psychiatrist to see "What is wrong with you that you adopted so many children.) The shrink said I was of high intelligence, college educated, had a stable marriage and that I was very stable mentally.

There have been times, though when CPS was involved, that if my kids had all been normal, that I'm 100% certain that they would have taken them away. If there had been waiting homes for them, they would have been gone. So having medically and mentally involved kids really helped there.

Like I said, I don't know this lady. I know her mother is tired of parenting and has a right to say, NO I don't want to parent anymore kids. But why can't the community step up and help her out like they do for triplets, quads and quints? Oh, wait a minute-she must be nuts to have so many kids.

And then there is the thing about being asked to kill off several of the babies so there would be fewer born. I personally could never do that. NEVER. Perhaps we should write this lady a letter of support. Or at least send a letter to the editor.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pics from the Horse Show

Our kids participated in a horse show at the therapeutic riding center where they take lessons. This was last saturday. Just got some pix. So here they are:

Jeremy, 15, our dear friend Karen and our friend Jessica

Ross, 16 and Ruth the Director

Emily, 21 and Ruth, the Director

Robin, 18

Ross, 16

Matt, 24

Jenny, 23

Jay, 15

Danielle, 17

The only one missing is Will, 21. Will won't get on a horse. He did TOUCH one the other week, though. If you have special needs kids, and can get funding for lessons at a therapeutic riding center, do everything you can to get them there. It does so much for their self esteem, courage, and had physical benefits as well. But most of all it's just plain FUN!

The kindness of others

OK, I know I haven't posted lately, but, unlike some moms, like Cindy and megamom, we don't have the severe problems that we used to have.

This morning we did a rare thing - we took ten kids out to Denney's for breakfast. Three booths in a row. Everyone ordered from the children's menu, even though they are all teens or adults. The full breakfast is just too much food for anyone IMHO.

Remarkably, Jeremy was excellent. I made him promise to be quiet and behave, and wonder upon wonders, he was wonderful. He did get down on his hands and kneew and ask the pretty waitress to marry him. And kissed her hand. (Watches too much Shrek)

A lady about my age walked by and asked the standard question: Are you from a group home? I said no, thqat these were all our kids we'd adopted. She asked how many total kids and I said 17. She was so impressed with the behavior of the kids that she pulled out her wallet and handed me $36 cash. That was a surprise.

Yesterday at Publix where my husband bags groceries, a man in the parking lot asked for help in finding his wallet. So DH helped him look around and took him inside to the lost and found. Not there, so he went on his way.

A few minutes later the guy pulls up in his truck next to DH and gives him $10 for helping him.

So, the two kind people paid for half our breakfast this AM. It's nice to know that people are still good hearted, even in these hard economic times.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When it's over, it's over

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've have to create a website for pay for someone and another one for myself to make money. This wouldn't have taken as long if 1. I hadn't needed a new computer right away and 2. that new computer hadn't had VISTA, which is taking some time to get used to and 3. My old copy of Dreamweaver MX (web page editor) hadn't had a glitch that made it impossible to do TABLES. OK, if you aren't a web designer you probably don't get the importance of that. But it's BIG.

The Christmas decorations were mostly down a week after the holidays, but the tree was still up. The decorations and lights were off. So one night about 3 AM Will got up and DEMANDED that his father take the tree outside.

Will is a "When it's Over , it's Over" kind of guy. Unfortunately he's also the kind of guy who will start asking when if Christmas is coming anytime soon right away. :)

It's cold here today, which is unusual where we live. Not freezing or anything, that happens rarely. Maybe twice since we've lived here. I never regret coming south. There are so many benefits, the best of which is NO SNOW.

Other benefits are only one set of clothing. No need for winter clothes and summer clothes. Jut a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt. No boots, hats, gloves. No tires slipping on ice. No need to scrape windshields. No snow days (OK we do get an occasional hurricane day or tropical storm day, and if we get a bad hurricane that does some damage here, it's just the priuce we pay.)

When we lived in Pittsburgh, PA the skies were always overcast. No, not smoky. That hasn't been the case in Pittsburgh for decades. Here the skies are always filled with white puffy clouds, or cloudless with the most perfect clear blue sky.

It's so much easier to handle other problems when the weather is good all year round. So much easier to maintain a postive outlook. The only thing I miss is the sense of history. Nothing is old here. And old house here might be one built in 1930 or 50. But I can deal.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Air Quality in YOUR Child's School

Here's a an interesting site that tells you exactly how bad the air is inside any school. Type in the school name and city and state and see how bad the air is that your children breathe during school hours.

Post here what the percentile of your children's school is. My kids' high school ranks at 68th percentile for good air. Could be worse, could be better.