Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Telling Two

The following post was written by an amazing adoptive mom to 11 children (2 of which are HIV+). Erin is currently working with AAI to help families who wish to adopt HIV+ children. Please read what she has to say...and then Tell Two.


Today I have heard from several different parents of HIV+ children who are facing negative reactions to their adoptions based on the stigma and ignorance surrounding HIV. It is extremely frustrating to me that in 2008 there is still so much unfounded fear caused by a lack of education, that results in nasty, ugly and mean treatment of people who are HIV+ and their families.

The reason people in the U.S. are not educated about HIV is that most people don't care, because most people in this country are not affected by it. People still see it as the problem of homosexuals, drug users and people in Africa. The reality is, HIV/AIDS is everyone's problem. It is a devastating problem in Africa and many countries, but there are many, many Americans living with this disease as well. In fact, new cases of HIV in the U.S. are now being seen in the largest numbers in heterosexual women. HIV/AIDS is a HUMAN problem.

Living with this nasty disease is hard enough, but compounding that with the misguided fear and judgment of society is beyond tragic, and as the mom of two HIV+ children, it is sad and frustrating.

So, if you are one of the many who check in to this blog every day, I am asking you to do me a favor. I want you to tell at least two people about HIV. Spread the word that...

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

If anyone wants more info on transmission, there is great info on the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Help me spread the truth about HIV, and take a tiny stab at the stigma against HIV. Tell your friend when you talk on the phone. Tell your spouse. Tell your parents. Post it on your blog and ask other people to tell their readers. Ask them to pass it on as well. I would love to see this spread beyond the adoption blogs.

Even if you have no real interest in HIV/AIDS, even if you are not involved in adoption, even if you don't think you know anyone who is HIV+... education and knowledge are always a good thing. It is so easy to say to someone, "hey, guess what I learned today?" and it is even easier to put it on a blog or in an email.

Do it for me. Do it for the other adoptive families and the HIV+ orphans that are waiting for homes. Do it for Belane and Solomon. Do it for all of the other people on this planet living with HIV. If everyone that reads this blog tells at least two people, that is a whole bunch of people we can reach and a little bit of difference we can make.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A strike and a spare...

On Sunday afternoon, we decided it was about time the boys have their first experience with bowling. We weren't sure if they would have fun or not, but they definitely had a good time. Who cares if it takes a full minute for the ball to reach the pins? Who care if the ball hits the bumpers 4 times on the way? Who cares if the ball is rolling so slowly that it never reaches the pins, but instead ends up rolling backwards? We didn't. And we had a great time anyway!

Here are the boys having a great time at the bowling alley.
This is a better picture of the new hair cuts they are sporting.

Jellybean's first ever attempt at bowling.

Peanut's second shot.


Celebrating a job well-done!


Only one pin left!! I'm gonna get it mom!

Watching and waiting for the ball to reach those pins.


WooHoo! I got some mom!!


This picture is here only for the purposes of posterity.
Z and I are NOT good bowlers (obviously). But, I did pretty well in
that last frame, if I must say so myself.
On the upside - we ALL beat Barack Obama!

Just a trim, please...

Since getting the boys home, we've known that we were going to have to get them in to the barber at some point. Their hair kept getting longer and longer...but with every mention of cutting it, they would complain. They did NOT want to get their hair cut! But, on Saturday morning, Z took the boys to his favorite barber in town and they finally got it done. All along, the boys were afraid that getting their hair cut would hurt. Now that its over with - they aren't afraid (and I think they even had fun at the barber's). Thank you to Monty for doing such a great job with the boys (and for giving them such great cuts)!


Mommy - I like that party!

I am little late in posting about this, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

My two sis-in-laws decided to host a "Welcome to the family" party for the boys a little over a week ago. The boys and I made the trek to central Minnesota to stay with my parents for a long weekend, enjoy the outdoors, and go to the party. The boys handled the drive amazingly well. It took us 7 hours to get there, but they kept themselves pretty busy in the backseat and we didn't need to make too many emergency bathroom stops!
When the party started, I was a little worried we might have a Peanut melt-down. But, once everyone arrived and things calmed down he was just fine. Both boys were surprised that the party was just for them and that everyone came to see them. And - they got presents!
The boys did a great job opening their gifts and making sure they said "Thank You" for each one. They really do appreciate ALL the gifts they received. The toys we had before are "old news" now that they have new exciting things to play with!
It was a lot of fun to see everyone at the party and to introduce the boys to so many members of my family. I know that some of them drove a significant distance to see us and we really appreciate it. Now that they've met more of the family, it really feels like they are officially a part of the group!
Here we are buried under a pile of gifts.

The boys checking out their new laptops.

Me and the boys.

Four generations in one picture.

My grandma, my mom, me, and all 5 of my mom's grandkids.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Update

To those of you who read about the need at the Kasoa Orphanage in Ghana in my last post and went HERE to donate THANK YOU! Every little bit helps, and I know that it is greatly appreciated.

The need is still urgent. AAI is hoping to be able to collect enough funds to provide a water borehole for the orphanage so the children (and caretakers) can have clean drinking water. They are also hoping to be able to continue helping to supplement the food supply at the Kasoa Orphanage so that the children can have more meals and more nutritious meals. If you have not made a donation and would like to, please go HERE and click on the blue "Donate Now" button. Any amount will help. If you request that the funds go to the Kasoa Orphanage, they will know how you'd like your donation to be spent.

For those of you who would like to understand the need a bit more, the following pictures were taken at the Kasoa Orphanage.
This is the area outside, between classrooms.

This is a classroom at the Kasoa Orphanage.

A bedroom.

This is the kitchen.

This is the donation made by AAI immediately after hearing
about the extreme need. The funding for this donation
was taken out of Eban House funds. Donations made to AAI
for the Kasoa Orphanage will allow AAI to continue
providing aid to the children of Kasoa.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Urgent Need

Today I got this message in my inbox. It is truly heart-wrenching to hear that children anywhere are going hungry and have no clean water to drink. Please read this message and consider donating to a very worthy cause. CLICK HERE to go to AAI's donation page and mark the donation for the Ghana Kasoa Project.

"I am feeling sad but thankful. Today we got the following message from our coordinator in Ghana regarding an orphanage that has sent us some children for placement.

THE CONDITION AT KASOA IS PATHETIC , THEY DON'T HAVE FOOD THERE AND THEY ARE FORCED TO PREPARED BANKU AND THEY STARTED RUNNING TILL TODAY. ("running"is diarrhea, banku is a corn porridge mixed with cassava, is very cheap but has almost no nutritional value)

The children that this orphanage has sent to us have had terrible parasites due to the contaminated water supply. I told Anita to send our staff grocery shopping for fruit, eggs, and chicken and to buy drinkable water for them. Fortunately we had an extra $500 on hand there so there will be no delay. It is so hard to think of kids suffering because there is not good food or water available. We had plans to raise money so a borehole for water could be drilled for them. It looks like this project moves into the urgent category. I am thankful we have folks who care.
Merrily"

This need is urgent. Children are sick, drinking unsafe water, and the orphanage has no funds for food. ANY amount will help - $100, $10, $5 - ANY amount will help. CLICK HERE to go to AAI's donation page. Once you're there, click on the blue Donate Now button and mark the funds for the Ghana Kasoa Project.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

American Airlines, Oh How I Love Thee (UPDATED)

A satire.

Once upon a time there was a man who loved his family very much. But, this man was also a soldier and had responsibilities to the Army. This meant that he had to leave his beloved family for two weeks to attend training in a far-away state. In order to get to this training he had to fly on American Airlines (because the Army bought his tickets and purchased American Airlines tickets). He made it to the far-away state without incident and attended the training, completing his soldierly duty. During this training, his loving wife suggested that perhaps he should check with American Airlines to make sure that his flight was on schedule for the trip home, because his wife had watched CNN and knew that American Airlines was cancelling thousands of flights because they failed to do their inspection duties when they should have. The husband called American Airlines 48 hours before his flight home to confirm the flights and was told everything was a-ok. Whew!

On the day of his departure from the far-away state, the loving husband arrived at the airport EARLY to see if he might be able to get on an even earlier flight, because he was missing his wife and adorable children. He knew there was another flight leaving earlier, because another soldier was booked on that earlier flight back to his home state. When he arrived at the airport at 8am, however, the not-so-friendly or productive people at American Airlines were not working at the counter. No one would help the frustrated husband. No one would try to re-book his tickets because he had military tickets. So, he waited. And waited and waited and waited...until 10:45am when the people at American Airlines FINALLY started working at the counter. At this time the husband knew he could no longer get on an earlier flight, so he went up to the counter to check in. When he got to the counter, however, the not-so-friendly American Airlines worker informed him that his flight had been cancelled. How could she help him? Umm...get him on a new flight perhaps? Preferably one that wouldn't force him to miss his family even longer.

She typed away at her computer for a few minutes and announced she had found a flight home for him. First he would have to fly all the way to Dallas (from Virginia) in order to catch his flight to Iowa. Oh....and you won't get home until MUCH later than you had planned.

The husband was frustrated, but what could he do? He booked the flight and got ready to spend ALL day traveling all the way across the country just to get home. His loving wife and children were so looking forward to picking him up at the airport at a reasonable hour, having some dinner together, and having a family movie night. You see, the wife and children were supposed to leave town the next morning to visit family in another not-so-far-away state. So, they all knew their time together would be short and they'd have to make the most of it.

The husband said some not-so-friendly comments to the not-so-friendly American Airlines customer service person (I think it went something like "my wife and children thank you all") and he made his way to find some food and make a phone call to his wife to let her know that plans for the day have changed.

*****

Oh, how I love air travel. And oh, how I love airlines that don't do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it, forcing everyone else to just deal with it. What other industry could possibly get away with this kind of customer service? Will I ever fly American Airlines again? Nope - certainly not on purpose.

Feeling a little sorry for myself right about now.

*****UPDATE*****
It turns out that the new flight from Virginia was delayed as well. But, because he had a fairly long lay-over in Dallas, that didn't matter so much. But, after the boys and I left to head to DesMoines to run errands and head to the airport I got a call that the flight from Dallas to DesMoines was delayed as well. So, unfortunately, the boys and I had to stay in DesMoines way longer than we had planned. We all finally arrived home around midnight. It was late and we were all exhausted, but we are all together. Thankfully.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FAQ

Ok...So I promise a real post soon. For some reason, things have been crazy around here lately.

But, I wanted to share the most frequently asked (and answered) questions in our household these days.

"This is for who?"

"Its what?"

"Mommy...see?"

"Who is those peoples?"

"We are doing what?"

"We are going where?"

"Mommy, you are cooking what?"

The most frequently asked question is "What is dat?"

Followed very closely by "You take it to do what?"