Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daniel's First Day!

Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday was the first day of school.

How much they've grown, even over the summer!

These are the five older kids, starting 11th, 10th, 8th, 7th, and 7th. Daniel starts this morning, so I will have his picture up later today, or maybe tomorrow.

All joking aside, I WILL miss my kids. I do so love the little creatures.

Bye kids, have a nice day!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

74 Days.

I made it.

That's all.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Just When I Thought That I Was Out, They Pull Me Back IN.

We were ready for the first day of school.

Sooooo ready.

Projects and assignments done.
Backpacks loaded with supplies.
Laundry washed, first day outfits selected.
Contracts, forms, lunch menu selections completed and handed in.
Teachers met, schedules received.


My quota of how many arguments I could hear, how many disputes I could resolve, was filled. Stick a fork in me. I was done. Well done. Burned to a crisp done.

But we had only hours to go till bedtime on First day of School Eve. I would make it, even if I was crawling to the finish line in tatters.

And then.

The dreaded automated phone call from the school's dean of students:

"Good evening parents of Mwah-Mwah Charter School. Due to transportation concerns and power outages, school for Monday, September 29th, has been cancelled."

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Social Becomes (for today) Storm Sunday

Earthquake on Tuesday, hurricane on Sunday.

This is not my thing, all these natural disasters.

I've always said I live in one of the best areas of the whole flippin' country. No earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, only the occasional diminutive tornado. Blizzards here and there but nothing compared to what they get out west or further north.

And yet here I sit, finally reconciled to our earlier 5.9 and fully prepared for Irene.

My Friday to-do list included:

feed store for chicken feed, cat litter, dog food and rabbit feed,
gas station,
Dunkin Donuts for 2# of coffee (this Mama runs on Dunkin),
grocery store to stock up on TP, enough groceries to make casseroles to last into early 2012, and several varieties of chocolate,
liquor store because, well, liquor store.

Once the pantry was full, I got the kids busy with securing things outdoors. Bella and I consolidated the bikes and skateboards and scooters and junk in the kids' garage while most of the other kids started hauling all the pool patio furniture over to pile up inside.

While we were working at ground level, two of the big boys were climbing all over the barn roof nailing down loose tin panels so the wind wouldn't catch them and turn them into rusty red kites.

We filled all the feeders and locked everything up tight.

Then Saturday we made chocolate chip cookies. We worked on finishing up all the remaining summer assignments and we checked in with the storm coverage roughly every three and a half minutes.

We got all excited when we saw our first casualty of Irene: a split tree. Said tree was dead already, but still, it was exciting to see such a big limb on the ground. Sadly, it used to be our tire swing tree branch.

But by bedtime things started to get a little dicier. We heard from Fred's brother who lives near the Jersey shore that a tree crashed through his kitchen window. With that, Fred and I declared three rooms unsafe to sleep in b/c of their proximity to a few rather large trees. Our two big boys slept downstairs and the other four kids slept in the room with us. As we snuggled into bed we watched more of the storm coverage, which at this point included several confirmed tornados in nearby areas. I wondered if I should move the whole family downstairs to sleep in the basement, but decided against it. I lay under my covers and listened to the wind howling, the rain pelting against the house, and I felt both cozy and terrified at the same time.

Of course, as a parent, it is your job to infuse your voice with an almost condescending calm as you soothe the fears of your youngsters, and I think it was this forced calm in my voice that finally let me drift off to sleep.

I awoke a few times during the night, listened, and fell back asleep.

Come morning, I still heard the wind tearing through the trees, but saw on the news that the storm had moved on and was breaking up. Out my windows, I saw no evidence of severe damage. Our roof looks intact, no broken windows, and believe it or not we even still have power. I'll still need to do a more thorough inspection of things outside, and check on the barn critters (though I saw the three horses nonchalantly grazing this morning even while getting pelted with rain), but it looks like we made it through pretty much unscathed.

So goodnight, Irene, and move along with you now, girl.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Final Checklist

The preparation required to get the kids back to school is exhaustive.

There's the time required to complete forms, take the kids for physicals, take them shopping for clothes and supplies...
There's the cost for sending in lunch orders, new clothes, the extensive lists of required supplies....
And there's the oversight of all the summer assignments.....

4 down, 1 refusing, 1 balking.

Doctor's Appointments
Vaccinations for 2. Done.
Sports physicals for 2. Done.
PPD tests for 5: 3 done, 2 to go.
Run-of-the-mill physical: 1 to go.

School Clothes Shopping
New sneakers, new backpacks, new outfits, new socks, new underwear. Done.

School Supplies Shopping
Check. In fact, more than $300 worth of checks.

PTO enrollment. And a check.
Daniel's school contract and registration form. And a check.
Bella's vision exam report.
Bella's, Julie's and Rosie's vaccination records.
Schedule change requests (x3).
School listserv sign-ups (x5).
Student transportation forms (x5).
School handbook confirmation forms (x5).
School cafeteria slips (x5). Plus 5 checks.

Summer Assignments
12 books.
History chapters, reading and questions.
3 book projects.
4 math packets.
Speech packet.
4 essays.
Still burning the midnight oil.

The cost in time, the cost in money....

But 6 hours of peace and quiet everyday?


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Farm Friday

We have a new....


No. You know better.

We have a new pet.

A kitten.

Yes, I am a "whorder" badly in need of a 12 step program but I will thank you to keep your judgements to yourself.

You will judge me less harshly, I pray, when I tell you she was a little orphan kitty in the dairy barn at the farm where we get our milk.

And here's how it all went down. Because I am mentally retarded.

While waiting in the milking parlor for Katie to fill my milk jug, I looked through the window to the barn and noticed movement. It was her little boy, playing with something on the floor.

I went into the barn and saw him playing with three little kitty cats, cute as could be. Two calicos and a tuxedo.

A smart woman would have quickly closed the door and made like she saw nothing.

But I am not a smart woman.

So what do I do?

I call my girls over to come see.

I call my girls over to come see.

Like I said. Mentally retarded.

So Rosie comes over and like, dissolves into a puddle right there in a milking stall.

And goes,

And I'm like, NO, are you crazy child?

And she's like,

And all over again, I say

And then she starts going,

And then real firm like, I say
Call your father.

So then she's

And then

And the next thing I know we're driving home with our two gallons of milk and our kitty.

Her name is Milky, btw.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011


I am sitting in a darkened corner of my room. The only light is the pulsing bluish glow from my laptop. My left eye is twitching. I am drooling.

We are now at T minus 4 days.

To date, I have survived 69 days.

Soon my fantasies will become reality. A large, yellow hulking machine will motor down my street, full of promise.

I will stand at the end of our walk, toes just barely crossing the threshold from yard to roadway.

I will close my eyes as its doors swing open in that wonderfully mechanical, levered way. My hair will blow back off my shoulders and my blouse will billow and I will tilt my head back as the smell of Bus washes over me and I will giggle in a way that hints of mental illness. That sensational olfactory montage of vinyl, Clorox, urine, vomit, and spoiled milk will pervade my nostrils and fill my soul with its Goodness.

I will stand there, trembling, and let The Bus whisper in my ears its seductive promises.

When the quivering becomes too much to bear, I will fall to my knees as a small cry escapes my lips. I will reach out tentatively, slowly, till my fingertops grace the corrugated rubber of The Step. The Step that will so confidently bear the weight of my children as they falteringly place their weight on it. The slightest pressure, the suggestion of a toe, and the vortex will be activated and suck them inside its depths.

My heart rate increases, my breathing becomes shallow, erratic. Goosebumps cover my flesh and I feel cool, almost cold.

I let these feelings build inside of me till the anticipation is unbearable, then with an adrenalin surge of strength I push myself off The Step and roll away.

I lay trembling and unable to breath as I watch the children file onto the bus, one by one. Step and swoosh, step and swoosh, over and over again. Multiple times.

The Bus pulls away and I lie in the overgrown grass and I gasp.

I am spent.

Even this juggling chick fantasizes about such things. Don't let her Betty Crocker apron and June Cleaver hairdo fool you.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday Becomes (for today) Weird Wednesday

Yesterday morning James told me in a frightened-but-trying-to-sound-brave voice that he came downstairs late at night to find that the Wii was on. Also the TV. And that he woke in the middle of the night to a banging sound on the wall of the house. And the puppy was barking.

I explained to him in a very everything's-alright-nothing-to-see-here voice that I was sure one of the kids (namely Daniel) probably came downstairs that night and played a few games/watched a little TV.
(but I was thinking to myself no way in tarnation he would have turned lights off when he was done)

He seemed satisfied, but asked what about the puppy barking?

Oh, she barks all the time over her own shadow.

And the banging on the wall?

Oh that's nothing to worry about, I sez. I hear that banging noise outside my bedroom wall nearly every night. Sounds like someone's throwing a baseball against the house.

Oh OK, sez he. But what is it?

Ummmmmm. I don't really know. But I hear it like all the time, so.....

And I shrug like it ain't nothin but a thang. But to myself I'm wondering
Uhh, yeah. What is that banging noise? It's not pipes. It's not boards creaking. What the ????

Then I get on the computer for a bit and when it boots up to my home page or screen saver or wallpaper or whatever the heck it's called, I pause for a moment to look at the picture of me with a couple of my kids that I just put up recently. Awww, sweet.

But what's that mark by Julie's head? I wipe at the screen, but it's not a smudge on my laptop. Is that, is that one of those orbs?


My morning moves along and then around 2:00 I get in the car with two of the girls to run to the store. A few seconds down the road, I get a call from Patrick. Says the whole house was just shaking violently for about 10 or 15 seconds and stuff was rattling and a couple pictures fell over.

That's it. I am turning around in the next driveway and heading home. We will pack up some underwear and some clothes. Toothbrushes. That magazine I just started. Plus that Wawa gift card I recently found. And I'd better grab the kids' school schedules. And some snacks, too.

There's a driveway. Lemme just....

Mom, Mom! All my friends are saying on FB we just had an earthquake! How cool!

OK, cancel, the turnaround.
Cancel the packing.
Not an evil house.

Just an earthquake.

In Pennsyl-freakin'-vania.....

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

International vs Domestic (I'm not talking cheese or wine or deli ham)

I've heard much debate as to whether, if you're going to adopt, you should go domestic or international. Or even if folks should be adopting at all.

When I first looked into adopting,
what's it been now, 8+ years?
I decided on international.

There were a few reasons. I was, quite frankly, scared of some of the horror stories I had heard about adopting a kid "from the system". I wanted a process that would be a clean cut so that once it was done, it was done. No continued visitations with birth relations, etc, etc.

And I was extremely happy about how it all went. All except for the debt it left us with.

Next adoption? International again, but of course. Not because of any informed decision-making, but because we were adopting a specific child that we had met at our first adoption (and his sister). He lived in Kazakhstan, ergo we went to Kazakhstan.

So three adoptions under my belt, and international every one of them. One would think I am a dyed-in-the-wool international advocate, yes?

Not neccessarily.

I think I'm done growing my family, but I'm not certain. This book is not closed. Well, it's closed, but the pages are marked with a bookmark.

If I ever decide to add more children to my family, perhaps it would be a good idea for me to compare international and domestic adoptions in a pros and cons format to see which comes out on top.

Let's see what we got......

Kids are in orphanages.
They don't do well in orphanages.
There are institutional delays and attachment difficulties and poor supervision.
Sometimes kids don't get the medical treatment they need.
Sometimes kids die.

Kids are in foster homes.
They don't do well in foster homes.
There are delays and attachment difficulties and poor supervision.
Sometimes kids don't get the medical treatment they need.
Sometimes kids die.

The kids usually have histories that include abuse, abandonment, neglect, trauma.

The kids usually have histories that include abuse, abandonment, neglect, trauma.

When you bring your child home from overseas, the ties are cut. The only relatives the parents need concern themselves with are Aunt Becky and Grampa Joe.
This is both a pro and a con. For no matter how much we embrace our child's birth culture, his biological family is generally gone forever, leaving the child with a pit in his heart that all the culture camps in the world could never hope to fill.

When you adopt domestically, you may or may not have obligations to allow the child visitations with biological relatives.
This is both a pro and a con. While it's great in theory for the child to keep ties with relatives and keep connected to her former life, it can be a an emotional rollercoaster for her to visit back and forth with the father that just got out of jail, the maternal grandmother who whispers in her ear that she will come to get her and bring her back.

Sometimes? The child is placed for adoption for the wrong reasons.
Sometimes? The child ends up in a situation less desirable than his birth family. Less desirable than the orphanage.

Sometimes? The child is placed for adoption for the wrong reasons.
Sometimes? The child ends up in a situation less desirable than her birth family. Less desirable than the foster home.

There are many costs associated with adopting a child from overseas.

There are many costs associated with adopting an infant from the US. There are few costs associated with adopting a child from the foster care system.

Any and all adoption costs are but a drop in the bucket when compared with the costs of raising a child.

The child's culture, ethnicity, and possibly race may be different than that of the adoptive parents. Could the parents ever truly love such a child?

The child's culture, ethnicity, and possibly race may be different than that of the adoptive parents. Could the parents ever truly love such a child?

Having experienced parenting children both born to me and adopted, I can say without reservation that parents can and do love children equally, whether blood related or not, whether the child has almond-shaped eyes or brown skin or speaks a different language. The only people who even suggest that parents could not love an adopted child "as their own" are people who have never adopted. The thought, to me, to any adoptive parent, is preposterous.

If adopted, the child could...
Be raised in a family.
Be loved.
Stop wondering what's wrong with them, stop questioning why no one wants them.
Reach their potential.
Have hope.
Feel comfort.
Feel the tenderness of a parent's embrace warm their soul.

If adopted, the child could...
Be raised in a family.
Be loved.
Stop wondering what's wrong with them, stop questioning why no one wants them.
Reach their potential.
Have hope.
Feel comfort.
Feel the tenderness of a parent's embrace warm their soul.

So as to the questions:

I don't know. I don't have all the answers. Or even most of them.

The only answer I have is that if I end up adopting another child, be he from China or Kazakhstan or the good ol' U S of A, whether her skin is black or brown or white, whether she have 10 fingers and 10 toes or 8 fingers and 9 toes or an elbow coming out of her ear, I will love her. I will cherish her. I will make her feel like she matters.

And isn't THAT... all that matters?

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Social - Patrick

Next one down on my siggy line...

Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (16)
James (16)
Bella (13)
Rosie (13)
Julie (13)
Daniel (11)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Felice in Hong Kong
Eun Hae in South Korea
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Annabelle, Fiona, Sunny, Sophie, Cindy-Lou and Blue; Mamfy, Mali and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1 and Horny Toad; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...

Is Patrick.

He's my first born. The one who brought us kicking and screaming into the world of parenting.

And I kicked and screamed for a good long while. When he was a baby I got to experience the neonatal jaundice and three day hospitalization of my firstborn. I got to experience a colicky baby and a horrific entry into the world of lactation that ended three months after it began.

When he was a toddler/preschooler I got the joys of learning to cope with the tantrums and opposition and "high energy" and "difficulties with transitions" of a boy who would later be diagnosed with ADHD, but meanwhile I had to run around thinking I was doing everything wrong and feeling exhausted every minute of every day. Good times.


But now? He's 16. Starting his junior year in high school. At about 6' 1", he's taller than his Dad. I've had to crane my head back to look sternly into his eyes for nagging purposes for some time now.

And he's still oppositional and distractible. But no longer so much with the high energy thing. Or the tantrums. We have learned to deal.

And you know what? He's amazing. So sweet with his little sisters. So dang smart. Remember how I said Fred is like the smartest person I know? Well, Patrick can usually beat him in Jeopardy now. And he's my go-to person if one of the youngers has a math question that's out of my league (read, from fractions onward) or a question about a word spelling. Or pretty much any academic question. Period. Don't even try to play him in chess.

He can debate the hind-end off a mule, though I'm not sure when that particular skill would ever be needed. Still, good to know it's there.

He's awesome with the dogs. Did some agility training with Blue, and Sunny is pretty much velcroed to his leg. She follows him everywhere, she sleeps with him every night. She goes absolutely insane when he plays hide and seek with her until she can find him. Then she finds him and goes more insane.

Generous as a little boy, still generous as a young man. And kind. And compassionate.

His future? He has no clue. Nor do I. Though he aces every test without cracking a book, he has this little problem with the whole homework thing. As in he usually does it, but the turning-it-in step gets missed more often than not. As a result, his grades tend to hover somewhere between the sewer and the toilet. But alas, we are finally realizing it is his battle, not ours. With any luck, some college somewhere will accept him after he graduates and he can move on to higher education, but who knows? He'll do alright in life.

Like I said, he's a good kid.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Son

Our little boy from the Fresh air Fund has been visiting with us for about a week and a half now.

Love this little guy.

Love that he got to experience a few firsts in his life while staying with us.

Such as.....

Making ice cream with fresh-from-the-farm cream.

Eating ice cream with fresh-from-the-farm cream.

Climbing a tree.

Course, he had to de-bug it first by clearing all the cobwebs with a stick.

He was a little upset about getting his shorts dirty.

But I told him, I said: If yer playin' outside and you don't git dirty, you dun sumpin wrong.

He even climbed a fence.

He's really starting to get a handle on this whole Country Kid thing.

And the best thing is he thinks I'm a genius.

I must share....

The other day, he asked me what we would be having for dinner.
I said, I don't know. I'll be getting home a little late from taking someone to an appointment in the city, so I'll need to make something kinda quick when I get back.

How about macaroni and cheese, he says.

Perfect. That's what I'll make.

So I get back from the appointment, and my oldest begs of me,
What's for dinner?

I'm making macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, sez I.

Ricky was standing beside me and he says,
I said we should have the macaroni and cheese. But the hot dogs? That was all her....

Thank you, thank you. It's nothing, really.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Farm Friday - Eggstraordinary News.

You'll never guess what's chillin' in my fridge right now.

It was found in the last nesting box in the row in the Hen House.

That's right, uh huh. We got our first egg. James found it on Weds morning.

And I went a little insane.

I was Steve Martin in his celebratory dance when his son caught the winning ball in Parenthood.

I became Jimmy Stewart doing his little parade dance to lock the remaining two dollars in the bank vault in It's a Wonderful Life.

I channelled Tom Hanks after he made fire in Castaway.

From the way I carried on, you'd think I'd laid the egg myself.

I searched the intenet in vain to find a crafty way to display my first egg on the wall at the entrance to my home to be preserved for evermore like the first dollar in a Mom and Pop business.

Instead I have taken some photographs.

The second picture? That's MY EGG sitting pretty and all snuggled up with MY VEGETABLES that I have grown.


I will close now. I am off to make a one-egg omelette with tomatos, peppers, scallions, and basil, with some cucumber slices on the side.

Clicking this button to vote? It's as simple as cracking an egg. And there's less mess.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lazy Daze

Last Saturday was one of those wonderfully lazy days that come along every now and again. One of those days that you just surrender yourself gladly to its charms.

I got to sleep late (nearly 9).

I got to sit with a hot cup of coffee and write for hours before I even noticed what time it was. And it was quiet. And it was good.

I made my best-to-date pancakes in plain, blueberry and banana, and savored the buttery, sweet, steamy goodness along with an ice cold glass of milk. Clooney Diet be damned.

On the way home from picking up my girls from their bff's sleepover party, we stopped at the Amish farm down the road to pick up eggs. Sarah didn't have change for my 20, so she told me to just stop by with the money another day. Stock market in chaos, what?

Right after that we stopped at the farm cart across the street from us to buy a ginormous watermelon to have with dinner. We placed our $2 in the honor box and went on our way. Yes, I said an honor box. An old sour cream container with a hole cut in the lid and a good 20 or so dollars crammed inside, tucked in among the watermelons, lopes, termaters and squash.

I helped my youngest clean out his room in preparation for the arrival of his new bed. When the bed was delivered, it was set up and we made it all cozy with new sheets, his down comforter, and all his assorted pillows. When we were done, he ran off in pursuit of things electronic, while I lay on his bed, listened to the rain drum agaist his window, and looked around at the things that marked who he is: posters of dragons, a shark jaw, fossils and gems, a found feather, a railroad spike, a Kung Fu certificate, books about dinosaurs, knights, Romans, the universe. I closed my sleepy eyes and imagined I could freeze the room like this. Pretended the dragon posters would not someday be torn down and replaced with pages from a Victoria's Secret calendar.

Before heading back downstairs, I peered into a pink and green bedroom to see two sisters working on "organizing". Hmmmmm. The room didn't appear visibly more "organized" than when they started, but OK.

I happily signed for the pizza, assured him that it was OK that he got lost, everyone does. I set the boxes on the table, and announced that dinner was served. Dress optional.

I thought for a moment about cleaning, but slapped myself hard and snapped out of it.

I glanced in the game room and saw two boys with skin in matching shades of brown slumped against one another as they battled to a virtual death in a game of x-box. One, a nine year old Latino from the Bronx, the other an almost 15 year old from Massachussets but originally from Kazakhstan, united in this freeze-frame moment.

I sprawled on the sofa and watched the tail end of a Steve Carrell comedy, with various and assorted kids joining me for a few minutes here or there. I even got the good spot and no one said a word. James joined me for a bit, and laid his head on my lap while I rubbed his back and scratched his head, my favorite "attachment" activity with him.

The movie ended, but I extended my stay on the couch. It grew darker. The rain continued. The kids moved on to a game of hide and seek. Things got a little louder, a bit more rambunctious, but I just snuggled into my spot on the sofa and smiled the smile of an overworked Mom that just got a day off....

...and enjoyed every moment of it.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Vicious wolves I'm raising in my house as pets.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Can I Get a Woot-Woot?!

Huh. Unbeknownst to me, my blog has been entered in some sort of contest.

Parents (magazine? website?) is running a blog contest and someone threw my blog's hat into the ring under the category of Best Special Needs Blogs.

I am honored and humbled.

I am also just about dead last.

There are 37 blogs in this category and I am currently ranked at 34.

But as the losers all say, just to be in the race with all these fine contestants is such an honor and blah blah blah.

I'll not stand here and lie to you. I would love a few votes thrown my direction so I can make it to the top of the heap. OK, how about the top of the last page?

Sadly, it's not as easy as voting for me on Top Mommy Blogs
[insert reminder here: just click the brown button at the bottom of this post. One (click) and done.]

No. Sorry to say you might have to register or something before your vote can be counted.

I know, right?!

The nerve.

But if you have, like, just ONE extra minute in your day to leap brilliantly through their hoops so you can simultaneously cast a vote and boost my ego, I will love you forevermore.

And think of all the good you'll be doing for all the RADishes of the world by raising awareness of kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder! Don't do it to feed my ego. Do it...

for the children.

Anyways, here's the link. Should teleport you right on over.

With a vote-vote here and a vote-vote there,
Here a vote, there a vote,
Everywhere a vote-vote!
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