Wednesday, April 29, 2009

UGH! Don't Be Stupid!!

I've got some ideas...

When the World Health Organization comes up with a vaccine to prevent stupidity, perhaps it could be tested on people who think like this. What in the world is 10% of the Eygyptian population (because that's about the percentage that actually consumes pork) supposed to do with 100% of the pig meat, ALL AT ONE TIME? That's a lot of sausage gravy and biscuits!

When a Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth Vaccine is invented, Mainstream Media Personnel should be the first in line. (And please, Ms. Needle Injector, use the BIGGEST needle you can find.) Perhaps then, we'll get the facts straight in stories like this one. This was not an American child. This child was brought to Texas from Mexico.

When the Anti-Fear Vaccine is created, it should be tested on people who watch this first, for a good control group in future testing. ;-)


Wash your hands. Don't share spoons and straws. Wash your hands. Stay away from public drinking fountains and pay phones. Wash your hands. Maybe try a vitamin or two, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water...and WASH YOUR HANDS.

Oh, good grief.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Question of Curing

I absolutely love Jimmy Stewart. My favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life. I cry Every. Single. Time. I watch it. He learned just how important his role was in the lives of the townspeople, and how he made a real difference. Ok, so pretend I'm a maple tree and call me Sappy - won't bother me a bit.

Savannah recently picked up Jimmy Stewart's comedy, Harvey, at the library. He plays Elwood P. Doud, a perfectly normal man, except that he is always talking to his imaginary friend Harvey, a giant rabbit that only he can see. A few of his friends go along with him, but every one else, including his sister, is positive he's lost his mind and seeks to commit him to the home for the insane. His sister manages to convince him that the curative treatment is a good thing, and because he loves her, he agrees to the fix-everything injection. He doesn't want it, and he doesn't want to lose Harvey, but he wants to make his sister happy.

After he agrees to be cured, his sister is conversing with a cab driver who routinely brings people to this doctor for the same treatment - a treatment that will make them fit in with polite society. The man tells the sister that he always enjoys the drive TO the asylum. He enjoys looking at sunsets and birds that may actually not be there. He likes the happy conversations with the people who tip generously and love largely. But he never likes the drive AWAY - after the cure, he says, those people turn into normal people who are mean, and he just doesn't like them then. The sister ultimately realizes that Elwood is just fine the way he is, and saves him from being cured just in time. They go back home with invisible Harvey tagging along.

In the world of Angelman Syndrome, we're searching for a cure. When Gabe was diagnosed eight years ago, we were told there was no cure, and led to believe that there probably never will be. This belief was premature. Researchers are now working on several possibilities to cure this chromosomal disorder, and have in fact cured it in lab mice. Scientists are specifically looking at three different types of a cure. They are unsure about how any possible cure could or would be delivered to humans. There are mountains of questions with barely a mole hill of answers.

I am excited about the possibility of a cure. Let's be honest...I'm ECSTATIC about a cure!! The idea that my son can someday walk without assistance, or carry on a conversation with me, or kiss his wife and tuck his children into bed after an exhausting day at the zoo... Who wouldn't want that for their children?

It really is more than I have ever thought possible. It is impossible for me to imagine what Gabe's life could be like if Angelman Syndrome is someday curable. Because the research is still in the early stages, the doctors have NO clue what a "cure" would look like, or if one is even achievable for older children and adults.


Science and technology advance so fast. Who would have thought, 50 years ago, that the genome project would ever become reality? Heck, 50 years ago was it even being considered? (Dr. Weeber, one of the researchers on the AS project, talked about this in the February 2009 FAST Newsletter.)

Obviously, a cure is years away, and I'm not holding my breath waiting for Gabe to wake up normal someday. That such a challenging word to define. Shortly after Gabe was diagnosed, I was in a heated debate on one of the online AS forums, and someone told me my thinking was "fundamentally flawed" when I made a comment about how it would just be weird to wake up someday to find Gabe standing over my bed, miraculously saying, "Hey Mom! Let's go to McDonalds for breakfast!"

(I'm not goofy enough to assume that any type of cure would give immediate results - I was sort of playing Devil's Advocate), but the direction that debate was going was basically that if a cure was available and we parents didn't choose to have our affected child participate, we would be horrible parents. However, I don't intend to let Gabe be a guinea pig for something that may or may not work, just because there's a possibility he could be normal. What is normal? Would Gabe want that? How can we know that he would choose that? Would we make our decision to accept or refuse treatment based on OUR wishes, or on Gabe's? What aspects of Gabe's life would change following a treatment? Would he still be a perpetually happy person? Would he advance through all the developmental stages he's not yet reached? Would a cure mean he becomes a snarly, crotchety old man who no longer likes to have the back of his neck tickled and no longer finds amusement in simply watching other people laugh?

Accepting Gabe's diagnosis wasn't easy for me. Realizing that the child I love will never be the adult I envisioned required me to travel down some roads that were full of very painful learning bumps. Now I'm being told that there's a possibility that I could someday be traveling another road to watch my son, maybe, reach the potential that I had originally hoped.

But what does GABE want? Does he want that cure? Does he think he needs to be fixed? What Harveys will he lose if we cure him?

Thankfully, I don't have to make a decision today. On that, you may quote me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Holy Bagel, Batman! It's Jesus!

For those of you that missed out on the opportunity to bid on the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich...and haven't saved enough money to travel to the far corners of the world to view the obscure Jesus shadow on a church wall...and tried but just couldn't quite make the perfect omelet resembling Moses...

I offer you...

...the Jesus Pan.

Call your closest friend, and for a mere $29.99, you can both share in this spiritual bliss. What says "Jesus Love Me" better than a bagel with Freaky-Eye Syndrome!

You'll be the envy of all your family when you prepare your holiday meals with this special, life-changing pan. You may even be asked to preach at your church once your pastor finds out you Worship with Jesus at every meal. Order in bulk at a special discount - these make excellent Sunday School gifts! Pens with your church name are so yesterday!

Despite the oddly-placed punctuation, and the fact that Jesus looks like he's using weird halos to recover from a car accident, this special kitchen tool has been featured on the Jay Leno show, and everybody knows how spiritual that man's shows can be!

Don't schedule your next pancake supper/bingo night until you've called and ordered your Jesus Pans. Your church friends will thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Little Boy's Thoughts...

Today I took the kids to my sister's house to see the chickens and ducks. Mister D was happy chasing the dumb birds all over the yard while they squawked their indignation at having to deal with both he and our anti-social dog.

He fed sticks and walnuts to the fish in the small pond. When he was scolded for disobeying a direct order and throwing a rock into the water, he very firmly informed me, "I not throw it. I drop it." This was true.

He found the dirt pile and discovered that the dog would jump and catch clumps of hard dirt if he threw them up for her, so he spent several minutes in complete bliss "making it rain" dirt. His deep, hearty chuckle and the impish grin on his face was pure BOY.

He was content with throwing handfuls of dirt, until Aunt Teresa brought out the shovel and pail. Gone were his concerns about dirty hands. Out of mind were any thoughts about playing with ducks. He was now a workin' man. Why is it that a pail and shovel will entertain little boys for hours on end?

This short visit occurred during nap time, so the ride home was relatively quiet. Baby T was sleeping peacefully within minutes of leaving the driveway, and Mister D was silent. I glanced in the rear view mirror, thinking he would be asleep.

He wasn't.

He was simply staring out the window with a content smile on his little face.

I wonder what he's thinking when he's quiet, which isn't often. It seems that he's the most subdued when we're in the van. His countenance is pensive and he almost appears to be in another world. Is he remembering a ride with his mother? Does something look familiar to him?

Today, he is happy to sit and watch the field for cows and butterflies. And I am happy to watch him watching.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Cuddly Gabe

One of the upsides to Angelman Syndrome is that Gabe is very cuddly. He occasionally displays his irritation with me by ignoring me or sticking out his bottom lip, but that's a rare occurrence. He is almost always happy. He is amused by just watching people run around and act goofy. He will crawl into my lap and fall asleep, or just sit there and watch the other kids play. At 14, he's not Too Cool to hug Mama.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My BFF, Revisited

Lots of people say they don't care what people think, but few people actually manage to live that statement. My husband truly doesn't care. He will never be accused of being Politically Correct. He has no desire to Keep Up With The Joneses. It doesn't bother him one smidgen that he doesn't have Friends In High Places.

He is fortunate to not be bothered by other's opinions, but this is sometimes seen as nonchalance regarding people's feelings. He has occasionally found himself in the doghouse because of his bluntness. He doesn't deliberately hurt people, because he's actually very kind-hearted. He doesn't tolerate public stupidity well, but he's reasonably social and friendly.

He's well aware that his supposedly-cavalier attitude is misunderstood by most of society. He even gets enjoyment from that realization at times. That's when the fun begins.

Tom is the kind of guy who will use Duck Tape to fix things, without regard to how it looks. He will rig something up to save the cost of a Professional Repair Job. Remember his car and his football?

Well, his car is currently under the weather. (Most people would say it was junk-yard bound when he got it, but most people aren't Tom.) She's a faithful little thing, requiring little more than a quart or two of oil every once in a while, very few gas refills, and a couple tomato soup cans and coat hangers to repair muffler damage. Even the best of friends, however, occasionally get sick. LC's brakes have been balking for several weeks, and Tom has become quite adept at down-shifting to stop her.

As luck would have it, his parents were at our house when the brakes quit completely. (I should probably point out that Tom's dad is one of those people that just Don't Get Tom. His mother - TOTALLY gets Tom! He came by his nature honestly! But Dad...nope, just doesn't...never has, never will, doesn't even try.) They had stopped by for a few minutes, just before Tom got home from work, and were in the house talking to the kids. I was standing where I could see out the front door, but they couldn't.

I heard Tom's car coming down the street. I heard the engine shut off, thinking it sounded a little closer than normal. I looked out the window just in time to see LC bump up onto our curb and into our front yard. Just as quickly, the engine restarted, and I saw LC rolling back off the curb at an odd angle.

Taking everything I know about my husband into account, combined with the knowledge that he just narrowly missed hitting the back of his father's truck was hilarious. I was laughing like crazy, and didn't bother to explain to them, because I knew that his dad wouldn't find it amusing. This just made it more funny to me.

The problem of the car not having brakes means that either Tom has to fork over some money to a Professional Repair Man, or he has to find another mode of transportation if he intends to keep food on our table. Since there is no more snow on the ground, his choice was to save money right now.

We were fortunate to find some really nice, used, PLAIN bicycles about a month ago at a very nice price. I don't like speed bikes. I just want a normal bicycle that will move in a forward motion when I peddle. I don't need fancy-schmancy. We bought a bike trailer/stroller combo for the little ones, and now we can go for rides on nice-weather days. Free entertainment is right up Tom's alley. Also up Tom's alley is biking to work.

It's 6 miles to Tom's place of employment. He goes in at 6 AM. He's been riding in 33-degree, rainy weather. He doesn't mind the cold OR the rain. He just has to prepare, which is yet another source of entertainment.

Never one to let a Make Deanna Laugh opportunity slip by, this is the point where he yells, "I'm Crowning!!" (Yeah, yeah - I got yer CROWN right here, buddy! Don't even GO there with me!)

Genius. Ingenious. Depends on your perspective. I happen to think he's not only amusing, but pretty darn fun to be around.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yes, Cat, I Feel the Same Way...

And because I haven't mentioned it lately...

I like Ron Paul

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chocolate Might Help, But Sunshine Is Welcome, Too

I bet there ain't too many people who tell their parents "When I grow up, I wanna be a Cheek-Swabber and DNA-Gatherer and Paternity-Checker Man."

I met one of these guys today, though. While I didn't bother to ask about the specifics of his job duties, I did learn a few things. I also experienced a level of humiliation that I didn't know existed.

The paternity of one of our foster children is in question, so I had the lovely experience of taking her in for testing today. Our county is relatively small and rural, so of course we don't have DNA testing readily available. All testing is performed once a month at the local social services office.

I was not prepared in the least for this day. There is no way I could have been, because it isn't something I've ever thought about. Our social worker wasn't even aware of all the details involved in the testing process. I learned that when paternity is being established, they test Alleged Father, Baby, and Alleged Mother. We know who the mother is. However, there have apparently been cases where the mother wants nothing to do with the father, so she won't bring her own baby for testing - she'll bring in a baby of the same age, knowing that the testing will be negative. To avoid court problems, they now test all people involved. They also take pictures of everyone. Including me! I attempted to move out of camera range, but the gentleman (and he truly was - bless his heart. What a job!) stated, "Oh no, ma'am. I need you in there, too." I half expected him to whip out a swab and say "Open up and say 'Ah'". (I would have done fine, as I'd had plenty of mental practice in the waiting room!)

I try extra hard to not be judgemental in situations like I was in today, but some days my imagination runs wild. I think I was hearing voices telling me to stand on one of the ugly vinyl chairs and scream "Doesn't ANYbody keep their clothes on anymore??!?? How drunk would you have to be to sleep with that person??!?" I'm not overly germaphobic, but my mind was playing evil tricks that involved antibacterial wipes and confidential testing.

Primal urges and drunken binges aside...good gravy, people - do you actually want to admit you had a tryst with that person?

In addition to my baby, there were 2 other babies, and at least 3 men, present for testing.

Their socks were dirty. They had sloppy clothes on. Jeans were half unzipped. Hair hadn't been combed. One man stated loudly, "This is the 3rd time I've had this done". AAAAAAAhhhhhh! I'VE STEPPED ONTO THE SET OF THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW! I wonder if Steve is the person administering the tests today!

In the middle of this, I'm sitting there - holding a precious, beautiful baby. These people think I'm the biological mother. I felt dirty. I was angry that I had to be there. I had no say over being there. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and cry.

Maybe - No, I KNOW that the weather has got me down. It's the middle of April and we've had very few warm sunny days. I desperately need some sunshine and laughter. But once I get past the sheer horror of today, and get over the need to shower, and remember that my baby will NOT remember today...
I have to realize that the people I rubbed elbows with today are every bit as human as I am. That isn't something I want to admit, because then I have to admit that

Our circumstances are different. Our cultures are different. Our value systems are different. Our decision-making processes are different. Our cleanliness levels are *WAY* different. But I am not better than them.

Being a foster parent has opened my eyes to sections of other people's lives that I have never had reason to even know existed. Some days, I just want to recede into my bubble and pretend that life isn't as ugly as it's currently appearing. I can not answer "HOW can people do that?" because I'm not those people. My reality is that I have two babies in my arms because there ARE people that "do that", so I put on my boots and wade the muck because on the other side of the road are children who need fed, and read to, and tucked into bed in a safe, warm home. And in the end, my comfort zone just doesn't matter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Celebrate the Resurrection

1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!"
Luke 24:5-6

Happy Easter! Have a blessed day.

image from google

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It Must Be a Rhetorical Question, Eh?

Having worked at Wendy's in a former, younger life, I should know better than to buy chicken sandwiches at certain times of the day. My on-the-run sandwich/supper yesterday didn't come from a chicken hatchery. It came from a rubber tree, I'm pretty sure. I've discovered you can choke down lots of things, if the thing is drowning in pickles.

Do we really need Danny Lipford, DIY guru, telling us that all homeowners should have a hammer? Granted, not every home in most 3rd-world countries have a lot of use for hammers, but in developed nations, I'm thinking... Hmmm... if a bank will give you a loan for a house, you've probably considered purchasing a hammer. Finding that hammer when you need it is another story.

When did "burial expense" experts start making telemarketing calls? That was kinda creepy on my voicemail!

Why does my insurance company have NO PROBLEM doling out thousands of dollars monthly for medication, but they limit my chiropractor payments to $1,000 annually? We recently discovered that one of Gabe's seizure medications comes in more than one form, and this means a savings of over $1100 a month, merely by switching from "sprinkles" to "tablets". I suggest they let me have the savings for visits to my chiropractor more often.

Why can I always find chocolate bunnies in the Easter Candy aisle, but I have to search through 87 Walmarts to find a white chocolate cross?

Do people really write those letters to Dear Abby, or are they computer-generated? I realize America has it's fair share of dumb people, but if people are really as dumb as some of those letters indicate, would they be smart enough to write for advice?

How can anyone POSSIBLY watch enough TV to make it worth the $136/monthly bill I saw recently, belonging to a woman who has a male significant other that refuses to work?




It's a near-full moon. I live with teenagers. I have a 3 year old. Any or all of those facts might explain my grouchy, whiny, inquisitive attitude. I am SO not feelin' the love tonight.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Logically, Joe Loves Nancy

One of my more non-favorite parts of being a foster care provider is the dreaded requirement of Continuing Education. In Ohio, a foster/adoption home-study must be updated every two years, and in that time period parents must complete 40 hours of CE. Books and training videos can account for a portion of hours, but the majority must come from in-class training on various topics. It doesn't take long to figure out which presenters you like better, and which videos are always going to have cheesy acting. It comes with the territory.

I rarely look forward to attending the classes, because invariably they are scheduled when one or more of the kids are sick, the weather is gorgeous, or the snowy roads are hazardous. However, in addition to staying current on licensing requirements and gaining new knowledge, the friendships you build over the years are lasting and provide an extra source of encouragement. These are people who are walking the same road I am. They may have been on this journey for decades, or relatively new like we are. They might be our age and childless. They might be grandparents. They might be looking for a permanent addition to their family. They might be wanting to foster challenging teenagers with criminal histories. They might have been fostered or adopted themselves. Regardless of why or how they arrived at the decision to foster or adopt children, we have the same goal. We love kids, and we want to make a positive impact on the life of another human being.

It's such a joy to watch what's happening in other people's homes, and to see their dreams being fulfilled. It's wonderful to celebrate with them when they find out they've been selected to be the forever parents to a sibling group that's been living in separate foster homes. It's comforting to know that they're available to grieve with us if we get a diagnosis we weren't expecting, or have to watch "our" baby go back to the birth home. It's a small community where each situation is different, but we all "get it".

I spent this weekend playing catch-up on my hours, as our license is due for renewal in June. True to form, I was not gleefully anticipating this long session, despite the 9 credit hours, in part because of the chosen topic. Love and Logic was suggested to Tom and I several years ago as a training tool for our children. It was being offered at that point by a counselor we were seeing in regards to some challenges we faced with one of the kids. At the time, the professional basically handed me a thin workbook, mentioned a couple highlights, and said "Try this".

Glancing through the booklet, I nearly gagged. In addition to what I believed to be an insult to older parents, it looked like such a fat lot of hooey that I threw it aside and said "Choices?!? I'm supposed to give my kids choices?!? I'm the parent, they'll clean their room when I tell them to, by golly!" That was the end of MY experience with the Love and Logic curriculum.

But wait - now I need 40 hours of training. Love and Logic offers me 9. I can catch up with friends. I'll suffer through it.

This time, though, the concepts were being presented in an orderly manner by a seasoned speaker who travels across North America sharing these techniques with parents, teachers, military personnel, police officers, corporations, and numerous other groups of people. It was a completely different story this time. Now it made sense to me. Oh, there's parts of it that I could never in a million years visualize using in our own home, but much of it is just...well, - logical. We're already doing it, without calling it Love and Logic. Some of the techniques are obvious. Some are odd, but effective. I'm also trying to compare and, maybe, reconcile the concepts with a picture of Biblically-based grace. I can see how revisiting some of the material and fitting it into our family can be beneficial, but I'm certainly not planning to sell out to Love and Logic exclusively. The moral, perhaps, is that presentation can mean a world of difference.

But as mentioned, the fun part of the class is reconnecting with other foster and adoptive parents. One couple just started paperwork to adopt the baby girl they've had for fourteen months. One couple just met the two brothers they're going to be adopting. They're ten and five, and have been living in separate foster homes. The new mom and dad were heading to Menards following class, to pick up lumber to build a swing set. They weren't able to have birth children. Today was their 17th wedding anniversary and he had flowers delivered to his wife during our class. (What a smoooooooooth man...)

Then there was Joe and Nancy.

Sitting next to me, Joe and I talked extensively about our little boys. I assumed, because this couple looked older, that they had probably been foster parents for years. I was wrong. They've been foster parents for less than two years. Their first placement was a seven-month old little boy who shares our Mister D's name. Joe and Nancy are nearly seventy years old, and it is breaking their heart that they're "too old" to adopt him. They didn't feel right about being nearly ninety when their child graduates from high school, but they are oh-so-very happy with the adoptive parents who just this week got to take their baby home. They've cultivated a friendship with the new parents, and are now transitioning to becoming D's grandma and grandpa.

As the trainer was speaking, Joe made a comment to her about feeling like he's "done everything wrong for the last forty years!" When asked why, he replied with "I just wish I would have known these things back then!"

But I had been watching Joe, listening to him talk about his baby. Learning about birth children - he has four. His daughter is a school teacher who's birthed four children and adopted three. Seeing how Nancy turned to look at him and just smiled. I glanced at his legal pad where he'd been doodling the better part of the afternoon. In several different writing styles, he had written one word in lines down the paper...




Joe, you've not been doing it wrong.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Freaky Friday

Talk about your Dolly Parton of the lip-plumping products!

Or some extreme photographic doctoring!

This showed up on my email page today.

Either way, I think I'll keep my own, thanks!