Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Peace and a Revelation

I grew up in the 50's an 60's in working class Pittsburgh. I had 4 brothers and sisters. We absolutely loved the holidays. My mom would ask us what we wanted and she would buy it for our main present. Then she'd also buy us 3-4 other gifts (toys, not clothes) and then my grandmother from Scotland would come over and bring us gifts, too. She was born in 1898 and gifts when she was growing up were items of clothing.

Mom Mom would give us white full slips that we'd never use, but in her Scottish Christmases were something she only got then and were dearly appreciated. We'd also get something she had knitted for us, like a sweater, which was always nice.

My mother would give Mom Mom gifts that she probably never used, like scented soaps or bath powder.

Christmas was a time in my family which seemed like a dream
. And because I can't give my own kids that kind of dream I've felt bad. This year each kid is getting a $20 gift and that's all we can afford. I've got a lot more than 5 kids here, and four grandsons as well. I can't remember the last Christmas present my husband or I got each other. So it tends to depress me.

But this year, I'm not letting it bother me. It helps that my kids are all MR (ok intellectually disabled -couldn't they have picked a shorter politically correct term?) My kids are so very happy with anything they receive. I swear I could go to the dollar store and buy them each a $1 figurine and they'd be happy.

I need to take their attitude and make it my own.

The greatest gift I have is my wonderful husband of 41 years. If I never got another gift in my life this would be enough.

The second greatest gift I've been given are my children. Sure there have been bad times, lots of CPS visits, jails, hearings and hospital stays. but I can't imagine my life without a single one of them. When I look past their problems, and the problems they have created, I see that innocent soul there. That God-sent spirit that no matter what is going on, still resides within them.

This year I'm happy just to dwell on that. The Holy Spirit resides in each one of them. I have to remind myself of that at times. The Holy Spirit runs through me as well. We all are part of that Holy Spirit, as if energized by the same electrical cord. We are One.

When I have bad feelings about them I am ignoring that fact that they are a part of God just as surely as I am myself. I need to keep expressing that unconditional love that runs through my veins. I need to brush off the negative crud and see them as children of God.

I've been able to do that with my dear sweet husband. Nothing he could do would even make me the slightest bit angry anymore. I'm beginning to be able to do that with each of my kids as well.

To see the people we love and live with as anything other than expressions of the Holy Spirit is to deny ourselves that profound peace found only in the love of God.

I can do this! I can do this! And that revelation is my greatest Christmas gift ever!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's All About Forgiveness

It's been a rough two and a half weeks. Sent me into a tailspin. So much more drama than we've ever had before, the potential consequences unbelievable. Ended up getting very depressed, saying things I shouldn't say, not doing things I should be doing.

It came to me yesterday, that quiet voice that brings truth, that in your heart you already know, but haven't been honoring.

Life is all about Forgiveness. It's about forgiving people who wrong you and yours and forgiving yourself. Both may seem difficult at first, but truly shouldn't be.

It's not up to me to change others. They have a life path that they are following, just as I have. I might be able to model what I personally would like to see in them, but it is their life path they are following. I need to forgive and not blame.

Forgiving myself is harder. But I'm working on that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What To Tell The 911 Dispatcher

Here's a heads up for all of you who have mentally handicapped or otherwise disabled children. When our child is missing or takes your car and you call 911 tell them "He is Autistic/has Down Symdrome. He doesn't understand, won't understand what you say to him. DO NOT SHOOT HIM!"

Wish I had known to add the last part. Never crossed my mind.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Crimes Against Your Family Home

My big 8 bedroom 4 bath home was in foreclosure. We owed about $309,000 on it, and in today' s market it's worth less than $200,000. We were paying close to $3000 a month on it PITI.

Now, we could have just given it back to the bank, but where would we find another 8 bedroom house at a price we could afford? Nowhere. So we asked the lender for a loan modification backj in August of 2009. We made payments monthly.

In July of this year we decided that we were not going to get a loan modification. At that time through my work I heard about a small legal firm that had an impeccable track record of having your mortgage completely expunged. Like gone. As if there never had been one.

So in July we applied for help from this little company. It's now Oct 1. Last week we got notice that they were at the stage where they are asking the lender for a release of the mortgage and a summary judgment from the judge.

By this time next month that mortgage will be dead and gone.

The legal firm has you put a new mortgage (non qualifying) on the property at 50% of today's value. We'll make payments on that only. The firm also puts a lien on the rest of the property to secure their profit. We have to refinance or sell the house in 3-5 years, but that's OK as by that time we hope to have all the kids, who will be adults by then, placed into good group homes and assisted living facilities. We'll just sell and move on.

It's the only way that we could have stayed in this house. A short sale would have meant we HAD to move. Foreclosure would have damaged our credit so that at our ages we'd probably never be able to get another mortgage. Who's going to rent to a family with 9 special needs kids?

This works on any house where the mortgage is higher than the house is worth. It brings your payments way down and you get to stay in the home.

I'm posting this because I absolutely know that we can't be the only large adoptive family out there who has a home being threatened with foreclosure. I know the despair that I felt before this program came along. That despair has turned to peace. My HOME is safe.

This legal firm has expunged the mortgages of 200 homes out of 200 attempts. They want to stay quiet, because they could easily get overwhelmed with requests.

I'm trying to get the word out to a few friends. Don't give up hope. We can give you back your home and your peace, even if the final hearing is scheduled. Even if the auction has been scheduled. Just get in touch with me and I'll point you in the right direction.

Email Dustyheart @

While you're waiting, watch this video. It shows how bad things are. The feds, who are basically controlled by the banks, won't help you. They can't. This solution is so much better than anything the government could come up with, and quicker.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slowing Shutting Down and Ramping Up

After 41 years of parenting we're slowing heading toward the no kids part of our lives. It's a happy (almost gleeful) time and yet a sad one. We've raised a lot of great kids, gotten four beautiful grandsons and had a lot of fun times, and a lot of horrible ones as well.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Wendy is married to Jeff. Adam is married to Sandy. Meghan is married to Darren. Jon has a good job that he really likes and good friends. Amanda is living in a group home. Caitlyn is living in a group home. Matthew and Jennifer are working and will be applying for a group home soon.

Same for William. Just don't know how long he can continue to live with us old folks.

Emily and Danielle are attending the transitions academy and working part time (learning how to work at a job and keep it.) They'll both need to find a group home in the next couple of years. Jasmine lives in a group home. Robin NEEDS to be in a group home.

Ross will be graduating this year and will go to the Goodwill Transitions academy next year where he will learn how to take are of himself and work at a job. Jeremy will still be at Royal Palm School, but the good new is that they now feel that his behavior has improved that this year they will be taking him out for job training in the community. That was a surprise!

Jay, because he is in a wheelchair, will not be able to go to the Goodwill Transitions Academy because he cannot toilet himself. He's certainly smart enough and can learn a job, but they don't have the staff to take care of him there. He can, however, transfer to Royal Palm School and get job training.

We're thinking that we'll still have kids at home for another 2-3 years and then we're done!

Anticipating this new lifestyle I've started working again. Not at a job, really, but I've revived my corporation for doing real estate investments. I'm having a good time and anticipating some nice profits.

I work with a large CA investor company and I find houses in short sale for them to buy for all cash. I also work with a small legal company in OH that has had tremendous success at legally removing mortgages from people's homes, THIS is something I'm really excited about.

Working with short sales is depressing as so many people want to stay in their homes and that isn't legally possible with a short sale. We go in and have the mortgage legally expunged and replace it with a new loan at 50% of the actual current value. and the family can keep their home if they want to. Or sell. That's a real rewarding thing for me.

So here we are. Because we've raised kids for 41 years we have no retirement funds to speak of. But this is working. We're looking forward to a relatively kid-free time in our lives.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Severe Behavior Problems and Hyperthyroidism

Scheme of the thyroid gland, labelled in GermanImage via Wikipedia

Since he started school my now 17 year old son Jeremy has been a holy terror at school, and at home. He's made teachers cry in frustration. So much so that when he was in middle school we had to have him moved to a county run program for MR kids with the highest level of behavior problems in the area. One on one, with in class behavior therapists. He was one of the worst they'd seen. They were able to calm him down some, but nothing worked at home.

Just one little slight or refusal of something would send him into furniture throwing, wall kicking clothes ripping, couch ripping, window breaking, door destroying rage. He'd start to breathe real fast and we'd know it was coming. And he's always been VERY strong.

About a year ago I started getting worried about his rapid breathing during sleep and the fact that he was always sweaty so we mentioned it to the pediatrician on one of his visits and she said we need to have his thyroid checked.

Now kids with DS are very frequently low in thyroid, or hypothyroid. But when she felt J's neck she found a huge goiter. I always thought he just had a thick neck, like a couple other of my DS kids.

She also said that fixing this might help his behavior problems. And fix them it did.

He started taking the pills to destroy some of his thyroid and his behavior changed. Not over night, but definitely improved. He gets monthly blood tests, and the MD said it would probably take a year or more to get him stabilized. Then he got too low, and she took away the meds for a month.

After a while he started acting up again. Not nearly as bad, but still troublesome. We though, bet his thyroid is high again, and it was. So he's back on the little pills again.

The alternative to the pills, and probably the preferable treatment, was irradiation of the thyroid gland. We opted not to do that because kids with DS have three times the chance of normal kids of getting leukemia in their lifetimes.

So moral of the story...if your DS kid, or for that matter ANY KID is driving you nuts think hyperthyroidism. We always figured that the peds would have checked that. But our new one never even touched his neck, let alone ran yearly Thyroid blood tests. And in our defense,who thinks of a kid with severe behavior problems and thinks, "I bet it's his thyroid!"
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Life Lessons I've Learned from Spider Solitaire:

I Win!Image by Sir Twilight King via Flickr

Life Lessons I've Learned from Spider Solitaire:

Even if you've lost 14 times in a eventually WILL win again. Guaranteed. And it's all just a game, so just HAVE FUN.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thank You God

I'm 63 years old now. I am extremely happily married to the love of my life for 41 years. I have given birth to three loving children who are all now successful adults. I am Mom to 18 other wonderful kids whom we've adopted, most of whom are adults, successful or at least safe and happy, now as well. Four of them have entered into God's kingdom, a little too early for my liking, but I accept that.

Two of my children have provided me with four glorious grandchildren, that I have not been able to build anything other than a superficial relationship with, and that is the only thing in my life that makes me sad.

It's not always been an easy life, but all in all it's been something magnificent. All the hardships and difficulties pale in comparison to the joy I've been given. Watching newborn babies grow and learn about life has been a remarkable gift. Watching some marry and have children and construct a loving and golden life has been such a gift to me.

Watching some die has been a learning experience, and a sound lesson in love. Love that knows no end. But again, thank you, God, for those experiences as well. I"m a better person because of it.

It's all good. If I were to die today I'd not have many regrets. Regrets won't get me anywhere, but the love of my family will go with me anywhere I will go, even beyond this life.

Oh, so mysterious our lives seem when we are living them. How wondrous to look back on the years and see that it was all worth the while...and then some.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Six Little Ducks Went Out To Play

Yeah, OK, so I haven't blogged in, well, forever. I've not had anything to say, I guess. Either that or Facebook took over my life. But I have something to say today.

My son, Will is 22 and has Down Syndrome, as do many of his siblings. He is not the brightest DS kid I have, but also not the slowest I've had, either. We've been talking a lot about getting the adult kids with DS into group homes, but it is SUCH a painful thing to even consider, let alone plan for.

For example. William loves the Wiggles. He has videos and DVDs he'll watch all the time. One of them has the Six Little Ducks went out to play song in it, where "only 5 of the little ducks came back."

He'll listen to that and get very sad. And when the song is over he'll come to me and say, "Ethan, gone. Fell on the floor. Dead." and then Jack, gone, Cocoa, gone," and down the line of all the pets we've had an lost. If he were older he'd also remember Christopher, Rebecca and Taylor who also left us too soon.

I remember them all, and the pain is always there lurking in the back of my mind and heart. Loss is hard for all of us, but more so for children who don't understand that there IS a life after death. That heaven is a real place, and not a scary place at all.

So it will always be with William. He'll always have the mind and heart of a four year old child. So think about it, moms, about how hard it would be to place your four year old son into a group home, or any home that isn't his own, and there you have my heartbreaking dilemma. How do I place my BABY into a group home?

It's not so hard to think about placing Matt and Jennifer into a group home. They are higher functioning and have friends and social activities. Matt actually begs us to let him move into a group home. He's 25. Robin, who is almost 20, is lower functioning than Will, and it will be hard for her, but I don't think as traumatizing as for Will. Nor will it be too hard on Danielle, Emily, Ross, Jay or Jeremy.

Theoretically, they will all be adults in the next year or two, but...

...a 22 year old four year old shouldn't have to face that, right?

Nine little ducks are about to go out and play. And Mom is crying.