Monday, November 30, 2009


World AIDS Day '08-National AIDS Memorial Grove in S.F. 

This World AIDS Day my heart is filled with so many emotions... Sadness for the lives lost and for the many people who still don't have access to ARV medicines, but I am also filled with a great sense of hope. As daunting as the AIDS crisis is, we are making great strides toward finding a cure and ending the epidemic. Every day brings us one step closer.
There are so many organizations working to raise money to help people who don't have access to medical care and ani-virals. (Red) is a fantastic organization to support if you're looking for a way to make a difference. Along with their partners, (red) has supplied ARV's to 2 million people thus far! Everytime you buy something (red) a portion goes directly into a global fund that reaches around the world to save lives! 

I am also feeling incredibly grateful. I am a mother, who came very close to losing both of her children to AIDS, but instead witnessed the miracle of protease inhibitors. These medicines literally brought my children back to me. And then around this time four years ago, my family received yet another blessing. His name is Yonas. Here's the short video below that started our family's journey to adopt.  AHOPE is helping orphans gain access to medicine, medical care and schooling. In addition, many AHOPE children have found families, just like Yonas.  To read more about our adoption journey follow the link. 

This World AIDS Day, when, like me, you're asking yourself what you can do to help, just open your heart and your eyes to the many possibilities. You can and do make a difference!


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

For the Love of Books

Everybody loves a good book! Today, Clay and Mitch are off to the golf course, so what better way for Alee, Yonas, and myself to spend a few hours than at the bookstore. Diaries of a Wimpy Kid happens to be Yonas's favorite. He's been wanting the new one that came out recently. I've actually read a few chapters (when he wasn't looking of course) and have to admit that it's funny as all get out. Alee, my oldest, is more parsimonious. She's a girl who likes a deal, so she'll be on the prowl for some discounted good reads, I'm sure. I'm sort of a "know-it-when- I-see-it" type who has to take stock of everything before I can decide. I love to read anything from Bram Stoker to Laura Day. My list of favorites are an endless supply of ever-changing titles. Although, one thing I'm stuck on is paper. I won't say that I'll never use a Kindle, just not for reading novels. I can certainly see where a Kindle would come in handy, say for a college student who didn't want to carry around a heavy history book, but a novel–well, that's another story. Personally, I relish the touch and feel of a book. I even like the sound of the turning page. And if it's been one of those truly special books that end up leaving a lasting impression, well, then it turns into a "keeper" that gets stuck up on the bookshelf where I can dust its wrinkled spine once a week. *Big sigh* You know what I'm saying... Come on!  For me reading a novel on a Kindle would sort of be like popcorn without the butter. Plus, who doesn't love that distinctive smell of a bookstore? I can't imagine pushing through the doors of B & N and instead of the wonderful, clean smell of ink and paper, getting a deep whiff of battery pack and plastic instead.  Don't misunderstand, I'm all for technological advances, but here's hoping that some things never change, like the beauty and mystery of cracking a brand new, hardcover book.  So, with that last little sentiment, the kids and I are off to the bookstore! I'll let you know what I find. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and find some time to lose yourself in a really good book.  


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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Raising Kids

Albert Einstein 
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

I'm often asked, "What is it really like raising children with HIV?"  My response may surprise you. In our family, it's really no big deal. It basically consists of medicines taken twice a day and a doctor's visit once every three months. My children are seen at St. Judes Children Research Hospital by an amazing team of doctors, staff, and even a wonderful councelor named Chris, whom my children can talk to about anything from HIV, to dating, to taking their driver's test. It takes an extraordiary individual to dedicate their life's work to helping children and these people have helped our family on so many levels; I don't know how I will ever be able to thank them enough. Having three healthy kids with "zero" virus in their blood is a gift... A miracle that I'll never take for granted. 
I, too, have an exceptional doctor here locally, and have also been able to maintain an "undetectable" viral load. My last cd-4 count (immune system strength) was an amazing 1516! I was floored by that number. How is it possible to have lived over half of my life positive (I turn 43 in a few days!!) and to be healthy? This astounds even me!  My life isn't perfect by any means. I worry, habitually sometimes, about my children, but with good cause. Just last week, I got a frantic call from the University my daughter attends. They told me she'd blacked out in class, not once, but twice, and that they had called an ambulance. My first thought was, this is life is over. What if she's had another stroke? Terrified, I somehow kept it together enough to get to the hospital, where they had already ran every test imaginable. She was fine. It all turned out alright. It was just a combination of a flu bug, not getting enough rest and her skipping breakfast that day. I told her that if she didn't take better care of herself–no more dorm–she'd have to move back home. She loves her newfound freedom, so I'm pretty sure she'll remember the "most important meal of the day" from now on : )  
So, it's not complete roses raising positive kids. As a parent, you worry, but I'm pretty sure all parents do that! For me, the most difficult part of raising positive children isn't the regimen of taking medicine every day or the doctors visit once every few months. It's the worry that perhaps one day our good fortune could run dry; that the medicines will stop working, or side-effects will present themselves. I have to be realistic. Life isn't perfect. We all will encounter bumbs and dips in our journey. Even so, I'm a realist who also believes in miracles. I've witnessed them firsthand. Today, due to recent advances in medicine, children and adults with HIV are now expected to live near normal life spans. If you're someone who is considering adopting a child with HIV, or perhaps you yourself are living with, or loving someone who's infected with the virus... my best advice is to learn all that you can, realize that every situation is unique and no matter what choices you face, don't let HIV stop you from living a fulfilling and purposeful life. And perhaps most importantly––believe in miracles because they happen everyday!  

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