Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Time For Heroes 2010

This year, "A Time For Heroes" raised 1.3 million dollars to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Their ultimate goal is to halt mother to infant transmission throughout the world. It's a big bite to chew but if anyone can do this, it will be them. Because of early testing during pregnancy and access to anti-viral medicines mother to infant transmission is now quite rare here in America, but unfortunately this is not the case in other parts of the world where infants are still being born at record numbers infected with HIV. It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop. 

Mitchell, my fourteen-year-old son spoke at this year's event with his sister and brother by his side. As he recounted our family's struggle and ultimate triumph over HIV I couldn't have been prouder. It was a shining moment for our family and an important step of courage for Mitch. 

We've only been open about our disease for a couple of years now. Coming out was a big step for our family, one that we gave much thought to before we openly disclosed. If you are also considering disclosure and children are involved, here are some things that helped us tremendously:

1) If you're going to come out, don't tell just a few people–it's better to come out big! This was perhaps the best bit of advice given to me by a counselor at St. Jude's Children Hospital. When you come out big, it's a one-time shot; everybody knows, therefore rumors and gossip are squelched.   

2) Disclose to your child's school and offer to speak and educate about HIV. The Red Cross offers a wonderful educational pamphlet about HIV in schools that proved to be a valuable tool for parents and staff. 

3) Make sure that you and your children have a close network of support around you. It's important to have family and friends who know about your situation and wholly accept your child regardless of HIV.
As a parent, it was very important to me that my children grow up without the shame, or the undue stigmas that are sometimes associated with having HIV, and I knew that in order for them to do that, it was up to me to show them that they had nothing to be ashamed of. It took a lot for me to get there, but get there we did. And the acceptance that we've received from our schools, friends and community have been overwhelming. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not filled with gratitude. It's because of people like you, who care, that my children have been made whole. 

It is always my hope that by sharing our story we are able to help others who may be grappling with issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. I'm here to say that you can live a normal life...people will love you regardless, so when given the opportunity to use your life, your hardships and victories to make a difference–do not let fear dictate–let the choice be yours alone.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

School's OUT for SUMMER : )

Check out my, I mean son at graduation!  Eighth grade graduation went off smoothly. This mom even held it together–No ugly cry which is always a big achievement : ) 
So summer is officially underway in our household and we're lovin' every minute of it. With all this free time the kids and I now have opportunities galore to explore new interests and hobbies. The kiddos have been saving up their allowances for a trip to...The Walmart! I know, I know...but give them a cart and a little cash and you'd think I'd just dropped them at Disneyland...they love it. So, anyway I set them loose and did they ever have fun. After much deliberation, Yonas picked out a skateboard kit. Not the fully assembled kind, but the kind you have to have a mechanical degree to put together...Well, the board was nearly as tall as he is, but he was smitten and there was no way of talking him out of it. Big brother, who happens to be great with his hands, helped him put it together and off he went!

Mitchell, who I swear has grown a foot this year, went for the barbells and weights. I love seeing my young man take an interest in fitness. He is growing up on me. It's still strange looking up at my fourteen- year-old. When his voice took me forever to get used to it. I'd hear this low, manly voice coming from another room and think we had company.  

Alee, my little artist, has taken up the loom AND crocheting. She picked up a whole slue of colorful yarns and different sized hooks. She's already made the cutest hat you ever saw and now I'm trying to talk her into making MOM one of those awesome knitted purses you only find at art festivals. If she's reading this (that was a hint, Alee).  

Me? I dusted the cobwebs off of my roller-blades, and finally finished reading The Mercy Of Thin Air while sitting under an umbrella in my backyard...a little slice of heaven, right there.

So far, our summer is off to a wonderful start! I hope yours is too and that you find some lazy days to read that book or pursue that hobby you've been wanting to try. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Technically challenged here...can't figure out how to post the video so pasting the link. Watch it and (try your best not to) weep. Then come back here! 
This is so encouraging that I'm still trying to wrap my thoughts and emotions around it, you know? Does this mean that I may truly see my children cured? I know that the answer is, YES!
All sorts of things are going through my head right now. I'm projecting four years into the future, when these trials will be fully engaged and underway. Our oldest child will have just graduated college, unless she decides to go for her masters which wouldn't surprise me. She'll just be embarking on her adult life, still young with so much ahead of her at just twenty-three. Our middle son will be graduating high-school and Yonas, our youngest...he will be on the brink of puberty. And in their bright, beautiful futures is THE CURE. I've dreamt of this. I've prayed for this and now I finally believe I will see this day. On my desk I have a small framed picture of a beautiful sunrise with a quote across the top. I've had it there for thirteen years. It reads, "Believe, dream, will...and put it in the hands of God."
That's all any of us can do, really. 
Three cheers for Dr. Hutter and his remarkable insight that will lead us toward a cure one day soon.