Thursday, December 31, 2009

SC Trip-- part II

We left off w/ the first day...travelling.  All of us were tired by the end of the night so went to our rooms and ready to sleep....yeah, right.  Tired, excited kids ready to sleep in a new environment???  Umm, nope.  Boys slept in one hotel room, girls in another.   Managed to get to sleep & then early up for our day to come.  I made breakfast in the room.  We had oatmeal, bananas and sausage.  I knew it would be a very long time before lunch so wanted a big breakfast.  As w/ most families, you prepare ahead of time.  We don't have the money to eat out at every single meal, so we have to plan accordingly.  Plus, the beach is very expensive to eat out at.  So, big breakfast and ready to head out to the Ripley's Aquarium. 

this was the view from our hotel rooms every single morning.  Incredible.  I love the beach and could live there all year long.  However, our job is here so we can only visit.  All the kids looked out the window to see the sunrise.  Some caught earlier glimpses of sun than others--LOL.  It was gorgeous weather the entire time we stayed there.  Loved it.

This is the kids waiting for the dive show to begin.   Great show.  As you can see, girls are in purple shirts and boys in green.  Even mom & dad had a tye-dye shirt on.  Helps us find them easier.  Believe it or not, it was the older kids (Yana mostly) that kept wandering off.  They enjoyed this dive show and the dive show with the sting rays.

Can you see the diver in this picture??  She did tricks and another lady spoke & gave facts about the fish.  Kids were trying to identify the fish in the tank.  Very cool for sure.

This is of course the two goofy goobers.  This is Minnie Mouse(aka...Alyona) and Nik Nak (Nik) showing me they are Japanese Fighting Fish (beta fish).  They had a babies exhibit and our kids even got to see a chick hatch while there!  Very cool coming out of the shell and trying to walk.

Some of the kids at the horseshoe tank.  They loved touching them.  There was also a stingray tank that they got to touch as well.  Very fun.

I promise you Bojan is NOT giving the fish the finger.  He's simply pointing to the sharks above him.  This was the thing we all liked most about this aquarium.  You go on this moving sidewalk and are totally surrounded by fish, sharks, and sea turtles.  It is simply beautiful.  Feels like you can reach out and touch the sharks.  We all loved this exhibit.  Very, very cool.  We highly recommend Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC.

We took this picture b/c our family are all big fans of Finding Nemo.  For many reasons.  It shows that just because you have a few differences, doesn't mean you can't accomplish great things in life.  Another reason is because we just love the sea life and movie itself.  All of us love Crush...the sea turtle.  We all know how to sign sea turtle as well but a rarity you see one.  Soo, had to show Nik.  He was estatic that they were real.  The other kids were amazed at just the massive size of it.  Gorgeous, isn't it?

Picture of the super seven in front of one of the many aquariums there.  Had to snap it fast as there were many people waiting.  So, not all are smiling.  Of course.  Now, this is where it gets a bit more like our life.  We all took a bathroom break.  I had the camera and thought it would be safe to hang on the hook on the back of the door.  Can you sense what is coming next???  Yep, you guessed it, the camera fell off.  Everyone that was in the bathroom area and you heard ALL of them say oooh.  Everyone, including me, knew right away it was broken.  A brand new camera (just about 3 months old) was completed busted on just the second day of our trip.   We bought two disposables but not the same.  I'm still sick about it as we can't replace it right now w/ an adoption taking place.  So, sending it off to the repair center in hopes they can fix it for a "reasonable" price--LOL.  Warren said don't expect much, it's toast.  The memory chip was still intact so these are some of the images we have.  From here on out though, you'll have to live through descriptions.  We do NOT have any luck with cameras.  I swear the next one we buy needs to be made by Fisher Price.

After the aquarium, we left the building.  Conveniently, all the museums lead you out through an arcade or gift shop.  Lovely.  I was expecting the worse but really didn't get that.  With orphanage kids, they are used to having nothing for most their life.  Plus, ours know they are not to buy things at every place they go.  So, no whining from them which I appreciated it.  Yet, I heard other kids whining, screaming, etc. over stuff.  Glad my kids have learned to be appreciative for what they have.  So, nothing from that gift shop.  We headed onto the boardwalk for a short walk around.  Then, decided to head back to the hotel for lunch and a movie.  Had some sandwhiches, string cheese, 7-up( a rarity that my kids get soda so they were happy), apples and a bag of baked chips.  Great lunch.  Watched a little tv and then we were going to go to the other Ripley's Museum but decided to save it for the next day.  So, instead we took the kids for an unplanned expedition to a few gift shops.  They were thrilled!  EAch were able to get two t-shirts.  Some got sweatshirts due to super clearance.  Even Warren got new t-shirts.  The girls got mood rings and thought it was the best thing.  Nik got a plastic snake & I got the kids some taffy.  Now, the ONLY one we had trouble with here was Alex not wanting to pick where we told him he could pick from.  You have to remember, with FAS children, you need to limit their choices or they can't handle it.  Trust me on this one.  Plus, we were not going to spend $40 per kid, that's just stupid for a shirt.  They had great ones on clearance, 2 for $10 or 2 for $15.  Tables and tables full of all kinds and all sizes.  Alex wanted none of that.  So, fine, you don't have to have anything, your choice.  He chose nothing.  Again, his choice.  Maybe he was trying to prove a point, don't know.  Everyone else, very, very happy about the things they got and couldn't wait to try them on.  We had to go back to Walmart then as well as I burned the spatula in the room & wanted to replace it.  Picked up a pair of pajamas for me that were on sale.  Well, tell youa ll about this now.  The kids(girls only room) totally cracked up when I tried them on.  I mistakenly got a child's size.  They had to practically peel it off of me.  They now belong to Irina.  We were all laughing about it.  anyhow, after Walmart, we came back to the hotel for dinner. 

This is our hotel at night.  Isn't it pretty?  This kids all recognize it.  Purple lighting helps.  We settled into our rooms and I made everyone spaghetti and bread for dinner.  We still had a little ice cream cake leftover so we had some of that as well.  Cleaned up a bit and then relaxed with a little tv and bedtime routine.  Big day tomorrow so went to bed at a decent hour.  That is pretty much day 2 there.  Stay tuned and I will have day 3 happenings tomorrow.  Happy New Year to all.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We're home!!!-- part I

Ahh, technology here again.  We are back home from our trip to South Carolina.  We really enjoyed it but as always, there's no place like home.  I will tell more details of our trip in a little bit w/ pictures.   For now, settling back in.  Taking 7 kids anywhere is an adventure in itself.  Taking 7 kids w/ disabilities  anywhere is a exploration in patience & bravery.  But, we survived and are here to tell the tale.  So, we'll begin with take off.

We left on Sunday, the 27th.  That is also Irina's birthday.  She turned 17 years old.   In the next day or so, I'll do her transformation as well.  Anyhow, she wanted the cake the night before as she was afraid it would get crushed int eh car.  Good idea.   I will now do some pics & then descriptions.  This will be broken up in 2 parts as I'm too tired to write all this tonight.  Okay, so I'm lazy.  I have a quick doc appt. tomorrow but lots & lots of errands to run for adoption paperwork.  Have to love that paperwork.  Getting registration paperwork notarized tomorrow, medicals picked up from doc's office, and fundraising restarted.  So, will be busy during the day.  Oh, and Yana & Max have projects we need to do.  URGHH, hate those.  Okay, so you all are ready for the pictures not really interested in hearing about my boring day to come tomorrow.  Here goes:

This was a quick cake I made for Irina.  Nothing fancy for sure.  I make homemade icing and all the kids request it so that's what we go with. Though the cake is a box mix.  Still can hardly believe she is 17 years old.  Amazing how fast they grow up.  I can do other fancy cakes which the kids love.  Boring mom trivia...I used to work in a bakery and make cakes.  So, can write on cakes and create some things.  I'll share a picture next time I make one.  Kids chomped down the cake and then ran to get packing some more. If any of you are wondering, we sing and sign happy birthday.  Eveyrone in our house knows happy birthday in ASL.  We feel Nik should not be left out of anything as he is part of this family.  Though we are not fluent signers(neither is he yet), some things we do know through and through and happy birthday is one of them.  Irina loved the cake and was just too excited about her trip.  We did not buy her a present.  We give the older kids a choice of us buying them a present or them getting $35 to spend on what they want.  She chose the money this year.  We also spend $100 for whatever party they want.  Have to have limits as there are 7 of them.

Here is Minnie Mouse (aka Alyona) holding up one of the clues Santa left for the trip.  There were more clues but the kids threw the other ones out w/ the Christmas wrapping paper.  Oh well.  Can you tell she is happy to go??

Here is Alyona and Nik.  They are looking at one of their other clues that Santa left them.  It is the Ripley's Believe It or Not book.  They all really enjoyed looking at this.  Unlike a good chunk of families nowadays that take a trip, we do not have a tv in the van for entertainment.  We talk,look at things, listen to the radio, etc.  Yes, there is bickering at times but lots of laughter too.  Alyona is in a booster seat still.  Nik is in a regular carseat per our state's law.  When Little Bit comes home, she will also be in this type of carseat.  The other two should be able to sit in a regular carseat.  One may need a booster per our law but we'll wait and see.  Anyhow, our kids can usually be entertained in the car.  If not, just feed them and they keep quiet.

Not the most glamorous picture at all.  Okay, we were on the 6th floor of this beachside resort.  Walked into the first room and it had this "funky" smell to it.  Second room was fine.  So, called the guest services and they were up w/in 5 minutes w/ a new room for us just a few doors down.  Great service!  I was really impressed.  Another thing w/ this picture is I had told Yana to throw that stupid sweatshirt away. You can't tell from the picture but it is torn, stained, etc.  Horrible looking.  I promise you the child has great clothes but this teenager of mine would prefer to wear something that looks like it came from the garbage can.  I just don't get it.  Needless to say, I took the jacket away...again.  I swear this jacket has magical powers as it keeps reappearing.  Oh well.  We arrived Sunday and got situated in our room. That evening, we were going out to dinner for Irina's birthday.  Her pick.

You can tell you are at the beach with the tropical motif on the bedding.  This is Irina and Nik before going out to dinner.  Killed him NOT to jump on the bed.  The front part of the hotel room had two beds that slept 4 , a nice kitchenette w/ a regular sized fridge and then a back room seating area. The back room had a murphy bed that slept two and then a pull out couch that slept two.  It also had a table to eat at.  It was great for all of us.  We had two rooms just like this.  So, each room slept 8 people.  So, 12 people will fit in these two rooms as well just fine.  My kids were so excited that there were 2 tvs in both rooms.  With cable!  We don't have cable at home.  My kids love animal planet and discovery channel.  And let's not forget cartoon network.  We limited their tv here as well.

This is where Irina wanted to go for her birthday.  It is a really, really cool place inside.  They have all kinds of props and clothing from movies.  It is all authentic and not replicas the guy said.  They had Freddy Crugger's shirt & claw from the movie, one of the ninja turtles costumes, etc.  So many things.  Took a lot of pictures in there but nto showing them all.  Way too many.  They also brought Irina her own birthday sundae.  She shared with everyone.  What was even more special was what the manager did.  Okay, guessing it was the manager.  ( I used to be a restaurant manager and so can usually spot them now--LOL).  Anyhow, he saw Nik was deaf and could see that my kids really weren't quite acting like "normal" teenagers.  So, when they left I told him that Irina is 17 chronologically but about 12 mentally.  He really understood.  When she came back, he was asking her what music she liked and asked if she liked the Jonas Brothers.  Of course.  He said well, they actually sat at the table you are in!  She about lost her mind she was so happy.  He really made her night.  Irina ran into the bathroom to tell her sister Yana about the Jonas Brothers sitting at her table.  See, some people really do understand.  That little gesture made her special day even more special.  Thank you Planet Hollywood of Myrtle Beach!!!  He didn't have to do that, but he did and I greatly appreicate that.  He took time out to talk to them.  Anyhow, great place to eat.  We loved lookign at all the stuff that was in movies.

This is outside Planet Hollywood.  Always have to have at least one not smiling. This time, it was Alex.  Remember, with his meds & high energy during the day, he is usually zonked out by 7pm.  It was SO hard for him to stay awake.  After this, we went to Walmart for supplies and also an icecream cake for Irina.  Her pick.  Alex was in line crying and carrying on in "pain" that his legs hurt.  He does this with extreme exhaustion but we are totally used to this.  however, the crowds of other people looking at us as though we dont' believe our son is in horrible pain, looks rather cruel.  Umm, he had no pain.   He has FAS and this is his way of justifying he's tired and his way of coping.  Everyone in the family is used to it and as long as you don't give in too much too it, he'll eventually be fine.  You have to semi-believe him despite the fact that you know he has absolutely no pain.  To him, it is all too real.  Plus, at thistime, all our FASers were antsy.  They are used to a schedule at home so this was throwign them for a loop.  We got supplies and cake and headed to the hotel.  Had wonderful icecream cake and some tv time while eating cake.  Off to bed for a big day the next day.  Hope you enjoyed some of these pictures.  Many more to come tomorrow.  Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ready to go

Good afternoon everyone!  Well, if you read the last few posts, you figured out Santa left our family a nice vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC.  We are very excited.  In fact, too excited.  As some of you recall, 6 of our children are affected by FAS(fetal alcohol syndrome).  Stimulation does not do them any good whatsoever.  Trust me, they are very, very excited about this trip.  They are trying to do everything in their power not to jeopardize it.  I mean really.  They are helping each other get clothes ready for the trip, try on bathing suits for the pool, and cleaning like crazy.  Now, the rule in our house is we are not allowed to leave for a trip unless the house is picked up and things semi put away.  Not asking for perfection, just don't want to leave the house looking like a demilitarized zone. Yana even dusted all the kitchen cabinets. Not necessary but nice it got done.  They did ALL the laundry.  Even the overflow pile in the master bath tub.  Couldn't believe it.  They have been combing through the Ripley's Believe it or Not book that Santa left them. They keep wondering what htey might see at the museum.  We have all been practicing new signs that Nik may need to use.  Also, working on speech with him.  Just hope and pray he doesn't say the word beach down there.  It comes out clearly as "bit**.  Yep.  That"s exactly how it sounds.  Just like at dinner when he asks to pass the butter.  Butter is clearly pronounced to him "butt hole."  Lovely.  I know he doesn't know any better but this doesn't help matters out in public.  So, working on some more speech and learning new signs before our trip.  Nik is also supposed to wear a medical alert tag.  He lost his.  Just great.  So now I have to tag him.  If we were ever in an accident, they need to know he has an implant in his head.  He is NOT allowed an MRI or it can literally rip his skull apart.  It is a magnet.  And, since he does not know enough fluent sign to tell folks what is going on, we have to write a little note & I put it on his back.  Also helps if he were ever lost.  No, he never has been but as a parent, we always want to be prepared.  I do the same for Alyona as she is quite delayed and can not really tell people what is happening. 

When preparing for a trip with special needs children, you simply have to put a little more thought into stuff.  For us, it has now become routine.  Does Bojan have everythign needed to take care of his prosthetics?  Has Max remembered a toothbrush?  Do I have enough name tags for the young kids?  (with FAS they have terrible memory problems).  Do I have all of Nik's gear?  Spare implant batteries, etc?  All the meds for the kids?  If some of them don't get meds for a certain # of days, they can easily end up in a psychotic meltdown.  No, I will not explain what that is now, but trust me, you don't want to have it happen.  Do I have enough pedialyte for Alyona?  And the long list goes on.  Like I said, for us, totally routine.  Hence, why I left a day for getting stuff done right after Christmas.  Worked out well.  For those bringing special needs children home, just know it will take a little more time for a couple things but really no more of a hassle than if you had a baby and had to tote all that gear along.  Same concept. 

We're basically ready.  Our kids take a backpack each w/ them on a trip.  Saves space in the van.  Once we have the 10 kids home, we'll have to get even more creative.  Used to have a hitch & rent a trailer to go places.  Have a new van & haven't gotten a hitch yet (it's $450) but will eventually.  Still, plenty of space for everyone, even the new ones coming home.  When they get home, I'll migrate Alyona out of the booster seat.  She is so little, she'll never reach that weight requirement in this state.  So, need a copy of her birthcert & note from doc to carry w/ us.  I'll get to that one day.  For now, she's in a booster, Nik is in a carseat.  Little Bit when she gets home will also need a carseat.  Already have one so no big deal.  Van seats 12 of us so it will be a full van when we go places.  Don't mind it though. 

Kids are watching Yours, Mine and Ours right now.  I've already said NO.  No way to 18 kids--LOL.  10 is our absolute limit and I am totally fine with that.  We know a lot of big families and think they're great.  Just not for us. Though I find it funny some consider us already to be a big family at 9.  So, I guess at 12 we'll be a big family too???  Just a # to me.  Just know this is our last expansion on the house & that is it for the room we have.  Plus, as I've said before, after the 10 kids are home, we plan to do some travelling with them all.  Well, we'll see how it goes after this trip.  We may revise that plan.  Time will tell. 

I won't be posting from the hotel.  Too much of a pain to go to the business center and get on the computer.  Not takign a laptop with us either.  This is a vacation to us and we don't want any electronics.  Period.  We want to spend some time together, see some great sites, have some good food, and have fun.  We will probably watch a movie at night in the room but that would be it.  No video games, no radio, no mp-3 players, no blackberry, no cell phone, nothing.  I promise to take lots of pictures and update this blog once home.   That will be on Wednesday, the 30th.  So, check back then and I'll have things in that evening.  Can't wait to share about our trip.  This is something that orphanage kids would never ever get to do unless they get a family.  Bye for now. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day 2009-- a suprise for the kids

First, would like to say Merry Christmas to all our friends and family.  As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, please do remember the reason for this joyous season.  I know we will in this house.  Now, I'm sure the suspense is killing some of you.  Or, maybe not.  Christmas is big in this house.  Very big.  Usually there is such a sea of wrapping paper that you can not see any inch of the floor.  My kids have missed many a Christmas' in Russia.  Too many times celebrated without a family or a home.  That changes when they get home.   It really does.  Normally, we have a big pile of presents for each child and a stocking on top of it.  Then, there is usually one group gift.  This year, Warren and I decided the kids are getting older and we really do want a little more family time on adventures together.  I say this now but we'll see how I think at the end of this week--LOL.  So, we decided to spend exactly what we spend on gifts and give them a vacation instead.  So, I'll have a few pics below and then describe what we did in each one.  Hope you enjoy and here goes.

This is Alyona.  Our first one up this Christmas morning at 6:22am.  She then woke her sisters up who went upstairs to wake up the boys.  I know some of you are wondering why in the world our daughter is sleepign on a dogbed.  Frankly, we don't know.  She refuses to sleep in a bed no matter how many times we put her in a bed.  She always comes back to this little cubby area in the hallway to sleep.  So, we bought a dog bed to put there one day & she's been there ever since.  Drives us insane as she does indeed have a bed!  Why on earth anyone would want to sleep on the floor is beyond me.  Our peditrician thinks it is security reasons and so do we.  Hey, it's not hurting anyone, she sleeps all night and doesn't hurt so I guess she's alright.  Her bed is waiting for her if she ever wants it.   Hoping when her new sisters get home and they all will share a room that she'll want to sleep in a bed again.  Who knows though. 

Some of the kids waiting to come downstairs.  Right now, they are perplexed why there are NO piles of presents down below.  A minuter earlier Nik was signing like crazy where are the presents, the big ones.  They do not look happy right now.  From where they are standing, they can not see the big box below with the stockings on top of it.  They are just awake and very confused.  This attitude will quickly change.  No one was mad, they were just super confused.

Okay, this is where they are all just starting to open their stockings.  many are very please with what they received.  Many are wondering why they received quite a few packs of gum.  In the orphanage, gum is such a rarity and they treasure it so much.  Even years later.  They will keep a piece of gum in their mouth literally all day long.  Especially, Irina.  Still amazes me.  They received a few little things like gum, candy, socks, clay, pencils, etc.  Max got some cologne and the girls some bathroom stuff.  They still were wondering at this point what was going on here.  Keep them guessing.

The kids all gathered round the big box and opened it together.  They were even more puzzled by the contents inside. They found 3 cards labelled:  Clue #1, 2 & 3.  Irina was reading clue # 1 on the picture.  Each card has a rhyme to figure out.  The first card actually had pictures of our resort by the beach!  They couldn't get over how big it was.  See the link here:  They tried to guess where we were going.  Max said Miami.  Umm, no.  Not Miami.  Told them we were going to Myrtle Beach, SC.  They were SO excited and hadn't even gotten to the good stuff yet.  2nd clue, Nik opened.  It was a Ripley's Believe it or Not book. They LOVE that book.  They get one every year for Christmas and read it until they literally wear the pages out.  They still hadn't figured out why they received the book.  Told them we were going to the Odditorium and Ripley's Aquarium as well!  Again, great news.  See where we are going here:  and here: .  I can hardly wait to take pictures at those places!  The final clue had a foam medieval axe and sword w/ shield.  And of course another rhyming clue.  Max actually guessed this one right... a medieval dinner is where we'll be going as well.  Once I explained it was more than just eating there, they were very excited about the thought of a joust in front of them.  Here is where we are going: .  Check out all the adventures we will be having this week as a family.  Yes, for Christmas the Boyd Bunch has decided to hit the road together and have some fun.  All the kids were very accepting of this gift and I can say I am actually suprised. They were so incredibly excited that they started doing their laundry, cleaning up and packing right after breakfast!  They know the routine when we travel so know we can not go until certain things in this house are done.  Right now, all have settled into watching a movie.  All are still talking about what they'll see and where they'll go.  I'm going to the dollar store tomorrow and buy them all a journal for their trips.  We plan on taking them and the new children to see many more exciting things this year.   This is our big adventure.  We'll let you all know how it turns out.  Just tried uploading more photos but it is not working.  Bummer.  Will try again later.  So, in lieu of gifts, Santa brought all our kids a wonderful vacation!  Santa was having a hard time deciding between this vacation and Great Wolf Lodge.  So maybe next year if the kids really want to do this again, we can try a different vacation spot.  You just never know where the road less traveled will take you.   Hoping my kids will have a great story to tell for the New Year.  I think this will provide more memories than a toy that is ditched in the bottom of the toy box within a few weeks time.  Thanks for letting me share.  Try to load more photos later.  Have a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve pics

Merry Christmas everyone!  Here are a few random pictures from some of our Christmas Eve happenings here.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed doing some of these things.  You can click on any of the pics to make them bigger.  Here we go:

Here are Alex & Bojan battling Christmas Eve.  What?!  Christmas is supposed to be about peace & goodwill?--LOL.  My boys didn't have their lightsabers with them so they are playing with sticks.  Where'd they find the sticks you say?  Why where I stake my tomatoes up.  Yep, garden stakes are now their weapons.  At least they have an imagination, right? 

Originally, we were going to make homemade cookies.  Warren thought it best to just slice & bake them.  I agree now.  They had just as much fun and more can participate this way.  After this batch, Alyona and Alex made the next batch.  Fingers were licked afterwards of course.  

This is Alyona impatiently waiting for the cookies to finish baking.  These cookies are for Santa so they are extra important of course.  If you notice on the oven, there is a white sticker.  It has the sign for oven.  We have these posted all over the house.  We don't need them anymore so only a very few are left.  Helped us learn some and let's Nik know we care about his language as well.

I put this picture up just to teach my teenage daughter a lesson.  Yes, I did.  Tired of her ruining all the pictures by either bunny ears or something stupid like sticking her tongue out.  So, snapped a shot and told her I'd put it on the web for everyone to see.  Think she'll learn?  Probably not but worth a shot.  That orange stuff is sweet potatos cooking on the stove.  We had an awesome, awesome neighbor bring us an entire case of sweet potatoes and a bag of regular potatoes.  Had to cook some up that day!  Thanks so much.  we really did enjoy it.  

Snapped a quick shot in the dark.  I asked who wanted to go out and look at Tacky Tinsel lights(what we call the tacky Christmas Lights on houses).  4 of the 7 said yes.  So, went as is.  Most have pajamas on under their jackets.  Found some great houses lit up. Suprised those who actually went along with a package of Reeces Peanut Butter cups.  Yum.  They loved it.  All want Daddy to put lights up next year like some of the houses we saw.  So yes, our house will be lit up like the 4th of July next year.  They are already making plans....Warren and Max.  Should be interesting for the new kiddos coming home to see.  Can't wait to share some of our Christmas Traditions with them.

For those who've seen our Christmas' past, you know full well this is typically NOT how this room looks.  Normally, each child has one pile full of presents w/ their stockings on top of it.  Then, they have a group gift as well.  The living room has no walking space.  This year, it was totally different as we decided NOT to do presents.  I will explain that on our Christmas post of what hte children received instead.  This was a picture from Christmas Eve.  It is one big box with clues inside of it.  The kids each have a stocking filled in front mostly w/ dollar store trinkets and such.  Bear is going nuts in this picture because his stockign is there and I would not let him open his presents early either.  Boy, did he ever want that chewy.  Stay tuned for pictures from today a little later.  Going to go feed the kids lunch and get a ham in the oven.  So much to tell from today.  Stay tuned & have some details later.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Came across a wonderful video worth sharing.  Really listen to the words.  Enjoy.  Merry Christmas!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Right now, it is Christmas Eve in Bulgaria.  There are 3 children (many, many more than that) that I hope will have their very last Christmas in Bulgaria alone, without a family to love and celebrate with.  For next time this year, our children should be home celebrating the meaning of Christmas with us and their new siblings.  This journey is going to be a long one and many bumps along the way.  I already know that.  It is that way with every adoption journey.  Once the children are home though, you forget all that you went through.  This Christmas, there are 3 more extra stockings waiting for 3 children to come and look inside of them.  I guarantee you they won't be empty next year!  Thinking of some very special orphans this Christmas.  Every year, my children have always hung an extra stocking on the fireplace.  Every year.  It is to remind them of all the children left behind at the orphanages.  We love the line from Lilo and Stitch movie:  "Ohana means family.  And family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."  We have never forgetten about the children left behind.  They remain on our hearts.   I think when you adopt from an orphanage, you never forget what you saw and how that transforms the way you live.   Just wanted to share a video tonight.   

More random pics

Blog is semi in the Christmas spirit w/ red and green.  Best I could do--LOL.  PIcture was not happening so Warren took that off.  It's more of a lime green instead of a Christmas green but I can deal with that for about a week more.  So, kids have been playing in the woods all day long with friends.  We've cleaned up the house a bit.  Okay, a little, little bit.  But, better than nothing.  Making sure all laundry is done in preparation for our trip.  Wahoo!!!  Have done no wrapping of stocking stuffers whatsoever.  Will get to that sometime this week.  Maybe before Christmas?  Don't know.  I will write another post later on accomadations made for special needs children in our home.  Some people have asked, so why not say what we do.  May ease some concerns that people have about bringing in a special needs child.  In the meantime, a few more random pics just for kicks.  Here goes:

Warren is such a good sport at times.  Nik decided he needed some company.  He continued to bring stuffed animals downstairs.  He looks like a  scene out of ET.  Yet, he manages to halfway smile.

Okay, so you'll have to click on this one b/c I have no idea how to turn it around.  It is Alex showing off his new pajamas from Aunt Mindy & Uncle Chris.  They know just what to get the kids every year.  It's great!  Only problem was Alex loved them so much, I started to notice that these were the ONLY pj's he was wearing.  Took me a week to notice that he failed to put them in the wash.  Boys.  I have heard this is common w/ boys.  Sure enough, my friend's kid came over the last two days dressed in exactly the same clothes!  I had to laugh.  At least Alex is not alone.  Shoot, I get the whiny speech every night from Alex & the rest of the boys of "I always have to get a bath.  Why do you make me get a bath every night."  Yep, I'm mean like that.

This is Yana who would kill me if she saw this picture up--LOL.  Trying to do a dance called the Jerk.  Dumb.  All it is is hopping backwards.  Oh well.  She is really getting tall.  She tried to teach Alyona this.  Wished I had that on video.  It was hilarious.  My kids laugh and tell me I can't dance.  BTW, in high school, I was co-captain of my dance team.  I think I may just have to pull out old videos to show my girls.  Um, no.  Too embarassing.

Max is one happy camper w/his new clothes from Aunt Mindy & Uncle Chris.  I must say,, my kids do really appreciate what they get.  Very happy about that.

Just so you don't all think my kids are happy 100% of the time, I have to show an unhappy child every once in awhile, right?  Okay, the above is Alyona crying.  Alyona was adopted at 7 years old and has a laundry list of dx's.  However, as all my kids here know, it doesn't matter what you have going on, you are a member of this family and will act like one.  Alyona is crying because heaven forbid, I made her eat blueberry pancakes w/ syrup.  Alyona HAS to eat.  Her body does not work quite right and we have to make her eat.  It is either that the doc said or a g-tube and I am not ready to give up on her yet and go with a feeding tube.  If Alyona misses two meals in a row, she vomits excessively and gets dehydrated severely.  It's a mess.  Fustrating too b/c she CAN eat.  She just has no desire to eat anything but sweets.  Maddening, I know.   Some issues with adoptive children go away, some are here to stay.  This one, is here to stay.  We go through this at practically every meal.  Doesn't help that the school does not make her eat.  She's in a special needs class so not that many in there.  I have warned them to NOT give her sweets but they do anyhow.  It has completely messed her up this week.  FAS children do not do well w/ additives, food colorings, etc.  We eat that stuff but not all that often.  Alyona's siblings try so hard to get her to eat as well.  We will win this battle--LOL.  None of my other kids have any issues w/ food whatsoever.  Not a one. 

Our kids are great about eating everything.  They love fruits and vegetables and can never get enough.  That's a good thing.  We are slowly changing our diet more and more to non-processed foods whatsoever.  Cereal has all but disappeared in this house.  Over Christmas break, we are going to make attempts at making our own bread.  Right now, I have sweet potato chips cooking in the oven.  Kids love them and they don't cost $4 a bag!  Yeah.  In fact, a neighbor just dropped off an entire case of fresh sweet potatos and a bag of regular potatos.  Kids and I got to work.  Well, mostly me w/ this one as they all hate to peel.  Hope they turn out.  With adoptive children with issues, food has a dramatic effect on them.  I did not believe this at first but it really does.  We try to keep processed and sugary foods at a minimum.  Good for everyone anyhow.  Need to go.  Will do a post probably tomorrow on accomadations for special needs children in the home. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Changes to blog...bare with me

LOL.  Okay, I'm totally still learning how to work this stupid thing.  I thought I'd add some Christmas cheer & change some colors around.  Well, can't change the stupid side colors so now it looks really goofy.  URGHH.  Have to wait for Warren to get home to help me figure this thing out.  Then, I decided to add a picture which is now like half the page.  Sorry folks.  It will return to normal size in hopefully the next few hours--LOL.  I will obviously never be employed by the Geek Squad.  Honestly, how I had a job as a secretary for years is beyond me.  I'm lucky I can turn the computer on & off w/out it blowing up.  Thanks for your patience. 

Random pictures/ info bits & pieces

Well, since I'm not really writing about any adoption stuff, figured I'd pass the time w/ some random pictures of how we're doing since being out of school.  Today, we're going to later attempt to make tye dye t-shirts.  Wanted to do it last night but out of rubber bands.  Tomorrow, we're watching The Polar Express movie and then making a Polar Express Train out of candy...yumm.  Kids are beyond anxious for santa to come.  I'm getting plans all lined up.  So, I'm going to be listing a waiting child about once a month or so.   Each time it will be a very hard to place child just as Samuel was.  I have a wonderful, wonderful program that I'll be telling you all more about but have to wait for further details.  For those interested in adopting a deaf child...this is IT!!!!   A reverse hosting program in an EE country.  That is all the info I can give out at this time.  More forthcoming after the beginning of the year.  Holidays and such.  It is awesome and truly wished I'd knwon about it before we fell in love w/ our 3 from Bulgaria.  But they are meant to be ours so absolutely no regrets about that one for sure!  Well w/out further adue, here are some random pictures.  Hope you enjoy. 

Bet you all can't even begin to guess what this picture is about.  The girls and I were making sugar cookies.  For big families, you don't just store flour, sugar, etc. in little cute canisters on the counter.  Oh, no.  We have huge vats from a bakery where they usually store their icing.  We get the containers for free.  So, as you can see, this is a huge thing of flour...full to the top.  I came back in the kitchen wondering why in the world Alex was cleaning up flour off the floor.  Something he would NOT dare do on his own free will...clean up.  Then, Irina looks down in the flour and sees it.  A perfectly shaped hole the size of his wand that Max made earlier that day.  Now, this wand had been the dirt, grass, in his shirt, and who knows where else.  So, my OCD teen is freaking out at this point over the wand in the flour.  She then proceeds to scoop out ALL flour surrounding the wand.  I must have lost at least 10 lbs. of flour easily.  Seriously.  Just a day in the life here.  These things happen.

This is Max, our oldest son, adopted 10 years ago from Orenburg, Russia.  He is our creative one and artistic one for sure.  He made this wand.  Looks like a sword but there is a hole in it where the top wand pulss out.  He made it out of scraps he found in the garage and after carving the wood.  Great job.  So good that all the other kids wanted one, including two here yesterday that did not live here!  Ignore the mess in the background--LOL.  Max loves to carve.  Today or tomorrow, he is going over to my  friend's house to help draw a mural on their boys' room wall.  Should be interesting.  He's been drawing up some sketches for it already.  Can't wait to see the finished product.

This is Irina and Alyona helping me w/ sugar cookies.  BTW, the sugar cookies turned out horrible so sorry to the neighbors who received them.  On a better note, fudge turned out great.  it is on the counter in the background.  Alyona is left-handed as you see.  She suffers from something called radial articulation and has trouble turning her arm.  Her right arm received surgery for this but it was a very bad surgery job and left her not really being able to use her right arm.   Sometimes, we as parents try to fix everything with our children that we can in hopes of a better life for them otuside the orphanage.  Some things are better left alone.  Hard lesson learned.  Needless to say, we did not fix her left arm.  The other kids help her out when necessary so it all works out.

This is Nik.  Our current youngest at 7 years old.  He has definitely lost his baby face and baby ways.  He was adopted at 4 years old, shortly after his birthday.  They were going to send him to one of those mental institutions because he couldn't speak.  That's right, this highly gifted(extremely intelligent & write about that later), sweet, playful, creative, and awesome little boy was going to be tied down to a bed in a mental institution b/c he was deaf.  It is heartbreaking to know that he most likely would have been dead by now.  Most kids die w/in 2 years of being sent to the institution if they are lucky.  Otherwise, they just lie in bed withering away.  Laying in their own filth.  no stimulation, no love, nothing, no life.  Here, he is a regular kid, just goofing around on the couch.  I love it!!!   He has been our most dramatic change.  I will write about having a deaf child in a later post one day.  This is just a random pics day.  He is our camera hog for sure.  He has his glasses on in this picture.  He is supposed to wear them but rarely does.  Opthalmologist said this is common with his age and his eye disorder.  He compensates really well though.   You can usually find him making me mad by running clear across the room and then jumping on the couch. 

Clearly, Alyona is taking after her sisters on the phone!  Yana is in the background listening to her mp-3 player from her grandmother.  I swear one day I'll have pictures that have nothing on the floor or counters--LOL.  It is life.  And again, Alyona lives in pink.  If she could be painted pink, I think she would.  Alyona wants to be like her sisters so much.  She is practicing too for when her two younger sisters come home.  It is fun to watch.  We had the neighbors over for dinner the other day and Alyona was watching their 3yo.  She came to me and said "she's a lot of work."  I just laughed.  Alyona does have quite a few issues but her siblings are really great about not pointing stuff out.  Okay, unless they're mad at her.  Typical.  But they help her reach stuff, help her dial the phone numbers, and help her to learn.  Sometimes though I will have to stop a "deal" in the making when they try to trade with her.  She doesn't know any better because she essentially has the mind of a 3 or 4 yo.  The other kids have figured this out.  Not a big deal as they know they'll be seriously grounded if they try any funny business.  Like trying to trade a cd player for a piece of candy or something like that.  Umm, no.  Otherwise though, they really do help her out.

That's a few pics.  I have more but we need to get some cleaning done around here and such.  More fudge to make.  Enjoy your week everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wonderful news!!!!

The little boy we were desperately trying to find a home for before he was moved to an institution now has a forever family!!!!  He will NOT be moved to the mental institution and will have a wonderful, wonderful family to boot.  I can not express my gratitude to the family nor my excitement.  This truly is a Christmas Miracle.  He is in the same place as one of our future children.  This child will now have a life he so deserves.  Can not wait to hear of his updates once he's home.  Thank you all so, so much for spreading the word.  It does make a difference.  You never know how one life will touch another.  I put out a simple plea.  Something any one of you can do.  It did not cost me a dime.  Just a little of my time.  That's it.  This simple act has now changed a life forever. 

So, many tell me all the time they wish they could help but just can not adopt.  You don't have to adopt to help the orphans.  You can help by praying for them, spreading the word about them, tell others of the orphans available for adoption, donating to an adopting family, adding words of encouragement for an adoptive family, or possibly even adopting yourself.  So, so many ways to help.  I just had to share this wonderfu, awesome news.  It truly made my day to hear from the agency.  Thanks again to all the readers for listening and helping out.  You changed a life today! 

Christmas is just 4 days away!!!

Yes, you read it right!  Just four days away.  Nik has been counting down the entire month of December.  Each day brining more & more excitement.  He can hardly contain himself.  For those adopting older children, the joy of Christmas has just so much meaning once they are home.  They missed out on all that childhood excitement at the orphanage.  At best, they used to get a piece of fruit and a piece of candy for Christmas.  So, when they are home for the first Christmas here, they don't know what to think.   Traditionally, each of our children has a pile of presents to open but not overly excessive.  All our orphanage kids opens each one and takes time to admire it before moving onto the next package.  Okay, this is with the exception of the older kids who've been home for years and know that they will be able to go back and play w/ each one later.  LOL.  But, when first home, they just all want to look closely at each and every gift.  Nik now knows about Santa and is into Christmas full force.  He is literally jumping up and down every morning as he gives me the update as to how many days left until Santa comes.  Our kids get a stocking(usually necessities like socks & underwear), an individual pile and then a group gift.  Group gifts past have been a moonbounce, trampoline, Wii, etc.  Something the entire group can play with. 

This year I was estactic about what we are trying to do for Christmas.  Now, I'm terrified it will go horribly wrong & I'll ruin my kids' belief in Santa.   We decided this year, no presents.  Just a stockign.  Instead, the kids will open up a box on Christmas morning.  In it will be clues of where we are going and what we will be doing.  I know some of the kids will absolutely love this idea.   The biggest concern I have for Nik.  Remember, he is Deaf and there is only so much I can explain to him.   I know they will have the best time once they know where we are going.  We rarely stay at a hotel just due to the # of us.  We go camping.  So, hotel alone is a treat.  We're staying in a resort.  $250 rooms for $35 a night instead.  Yes, I'm a huge bargin hunter.  We're going to stay right on the beach in SC.   I have tickets then to go to the Ripley's Museum.  They LOVE Ripley's stuff & have all always wanted to go.  Also, goign to the Ripley's Aquarium.  Again, they love looking at sea life and such.  We are also going out to dinner( a rarity here).  The final thing we're doing is going to a medieval dinner w/ a joust and all.  I know the kids will be estatic about this one.  It will be a trip of fun, things to see & do, and just time together.  When we asked our kids what they wanted for Christmas, their lists were 1 to 3 items long.  That's it.  Not joking.  That's when we decided maybe a Christmas vacation would be the thing to do.  Hope so.  We are spending the exact same amount of the vacation as we would presents.  Tonight, we're tye dying t-shirts for the trip.  Usually, when we go somewhere, we try to have everyone where the same color.  Even some of the older kids would not be able to tell someone where we are staying, cell phone # or even their total address.  Though now almost everyone at least knows their home address.  Anyhow, since they do have disabilities and would get in total panic mode if lost, we have all of us in the same color shirt so that we're easy to spot.  This proved so beneficial on our DC trip.  Older kids were not happy until it proved very effective when we got seperated in the metro area.  They found us easily...a sea of red shirts.  Comments the whole day there that they wished their family had thought of this idea.  We don't do it everyday on a vacation, just when I knwo there is much potential to get lost in a crowd.  So, we're tye-dying but not telling the kids why.  Just telling them it's for a Christmas project so they won't be so bored.  Girls will have purple tye-dye and boys green tye-dye.  I'll definitely take pictures and hope they turn out. 

Inside I'm struggling with whether we should have just done presents or gone on this trip.  Once they open up the gift, we'll explain it all and tell them they'll have to pack up the next day.  We'll have one free day before the big trip.  On Christmas Day, we may even take them to the theater as they won't have gifts to play with.  Now, before you say anything, keep in mind what they've gotten from relatives...thus far.   From my brother Chris and wife Mindy, they each got new pajamas AND a new Wii game.  They LOVE it!  All have worn the new pj's each night since.  LOL.  From my sister Heather & her husband Kevin, they received 5 brand new movies!  Again, they love it.  From my mom & dad(you saw the aftermath from the post mini-Christmas below), too much to name.  Girls received new MP-3 players and clothes, etc.  Max has a skateboard that he's actually taking care of this time!  The boys all got gigantic Nerf guns and Alyona a baby doll.  The list goes on and on.  So, they have received presents this year for sure.  Another reason why we decided on the vacation instead.  Just hope we did the right thing.  First time we've ever tried something like this.  Taking kids with mental, emotional, and behavioral issues anywhere proves interesting.  Overstimulation is a big problem for all of them.  Hence, why I've kept most activities to one or two items per day.  Preparing for a trip like this w/out them knowing it has also been difficult to say the least.  I will let you all know how this turns out.  I want it to be a Christmas to remember as all my kids came from orphanages and have limited times to remember in their past.  I always want these times to be special.  Keep you posted.  Later, I'm hoping to post pics of the kids helping make stuff today.  It is the simple things that they did not get to do in the orphanages w/out a mom or dad that they get to do now.  Like tye-dye and make cookies.   Simple stuff means the most.  Especially, to kids missing their families for so long.   Though we can never make up for their lost time, we can provide them with the environment of normal(for the most part-LOL) parents who do simple things with their children.  Not because they have to, but because they want to.  I'll have pictures later tonight I hope.  That is ifthere is not fighting over who gets to put what sprinkles on. 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

10 followers--LOL / fundraising

Wow, I'm up to 10 followers of this blog!!-- LOL.  Wonder if I'll ever get to 20.  Just wanted to say hello to everyone.  We have lots going on at Chaos Manor.  Hoping I'll hear from the social worker this week as to when in January they'll come out here & visit.  Ready for this show to get on the road.  I'm currently going through all the grant websites & seeing which ones we'll be able to apply for.   Can't apply for anything until the homestudy is done.  cAtch 22.  I'm patient.  Just finding out all kinds of things.   Once homestudy is done, grant applying will become priority.  Fundraising is going to get a big boost in January!  We're going to kick it into gear after the holidays.  Some have already told me they'd participate but would have to be after the holidays.  Totally understand so have decided to wait before introducing anything else.  Have some great ideas & hope to share those ideas and get some of you involved as well if you'd like.  Simple stuff but fun.   Like I said, that is January and February's focus w/out a doubt.  I know we can do it.  Warren is currently thinking of how we are going to make more room in this home.  Garage will have to go away but it must.  It will become the girls room.  Alyona(10), & her two new sisters...3yo(NOW!!!) and the 7yo.  They will love it, I'm sure.  Alyona has already put in her request for theme/ color-LOL.  We will definitely be seeing pink.  The 9yo boy will be sleeping with Alex & Nik.  Plenty of space in that room & the bed is already in place for him.  Very excited about it all.  Just have to get rid of everything in the garage basically.  We have to find another storage solution.  A volunteer who does design/ engineering stuff has offered to provide designs and such for the room for no charge!  That would be awesome to get another perspective and see if we've come up w/ the same ideas.  Our biggest issue is the heating/cooling.  Not just for that room but the fact that our system is going to go soon.  It is 16yo and has had it's share of issues.  We know it will not last much longer.  But to replace it is about $5000 and with a current adoption going on, that just is not an option at this time.   We're working on a solution for sure.  Right now, it works.  that's what counts.  But seeing them be replaced left & right in this subdivision,let's us know our turn is not far behind.  They were all installed together,just makes sense they'll all die together.  One thing at a time though.  We'll hopefully start work on the room in February.   We see expenses for the adoption starting to kick up seriously.  So we have to do some major fundraising in the new year.   Any ideas, definitely send them my way.  I know we can do it.  For nothing is impossible with God!  (I think it is a form of the verse in Luke 1:37)  I'm terrible w/ scripture so forgive me please.  My kids even had that verse in vacation Bible School.  I should knwo it.  I used to say in high school:  "nothing is impossible unless you try shampooing a porcupine."  Either way, things CAN be done and can be accomplished.  I have no doubt.   If a little girl can raise over $26K for an adoption in 8 days, I can surely raise $20K in 6 months, right?   I know I can.   Nothing will stop this mom from bringing home her children.   We are ready for them.  January will be super busy for us for sure.  3 birthdays then.  One of htem mine.  Anyhow, lots to do in January.  Homestudy, getting dossier docs started, major fundraising campaigns, kids starting basketball, taxes needing to be done, school starting back up, and some other major things happening.  It will be busy but a good busy.   Just wanted to touch base here tonight.  Please, any fundraising ideas, send them our way.  Have a great week.  Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A birthday we can't celebrate

Okay, so this picture totally landed in the wrong place--LOL.  This is fron Nik's party back in Oct.  He was the last b-day we had here.  Kids always decorate the dining room.  I usually make a cake as I used to work in a bakery & can do that stuff.  However, my cake this time went horribly wrong (Diego's head got decapitated) & we ended up buying a store bought one.  Now, read the following & then I'll get the pics in teh right place--LOL.

Always hard when you are in the adoption process and a special occassion arises that you wish your new children could be a part of.  Since I'm not allowed to release b-day information, I can not tell you when my new baby's birthday is.  It is in December and it is soon.  Been thinking about her as most expectant mothers think about their children & what future celebrations will be like.  Sure enough, that's me right now.  Not just thinking about what the celebration would look like here for a birthday, but what are they doing at the orphanage for her.  Most likely, nothing.  Most my children have their first birthday party once they are home with us.  I wonder, if they are even thinking about her on her special day.  Do they care when she was born.  Do they wake her up and say Happy Birthday to her & make her day extra special. Does she get extra hugs like she would here.  Does she get to lick the beaters full of homemade icing that is to go atop her cake.  Does my baby get to do this now?  Most  Is someone going to fix her hair up in ribbons and bows for her special day?  She has got the most gorgeous, thick, beautiful black hair you've ever seen.  Can't wait to put it up for her.  Her eyes are big and just simply stunning.  I so wish I could share her pictures.  Your heart would melt as mine did upon seeing her.  She is such a beautiful baby.  I can not tell you how hard it is knowing you want to be with a child and knowing full well you can't.  I just hope someone thinks of her on her day as I will.  Next year, I wil be able to watch those big beautiful eyes light up as she blows out her candles on the cake.  Someone besides me, please think of her.  She deserves just this simple wish.   I just want her to know someone is thinking of her and people do love her.  Why oh why can paper not move faster--LOL. 

Another common practice at this house during birthdays is pinatas.  Kids love the candy and end up w/ way more than should all the time.  But, birthdays are special and that's what they do here.  Something I'm sure that does not happen in the life of an orphan.  This is another simple pleasure that children should be able to enjoy.  I do want to do some type of celebration when we leave the older kids' home in Bulgaria.  Some bring cake, some play games w/ the children left behind, but everyone will typically do a little something to let them know they have not been forgotten about.  In fact, in our house, we have a stocking every year that is hung up at Christmas time symbolizing all the children left behind at the orphanages we've been to.  Our kids know this and have sent things in years past to their orphanages.

Another simple game of the limbo.  Rest of the kids are playing games out back.  Nik is happy.  It is his birthday here.  He should be happy.  I can only hope my little girl will be happy on her special day.  Though not celebrating with us this year, I do hope someone will remember her and at least give her a birthday hug.  Would mean a lot to me.

I can not wait until the homestudy appt.  Really, can't wait.  Our doc called, and ALL our medicals are ready for pick up for the homestudy.  I want my ducks in a row for when the social worker comes here to do the visits & can just give her all the paperwork.  This adoption, I don't want anyone waiting on me to get stuff together.  Hence, why I already have our medicals done.  Next job for homestudy list is to make copies of all our certificates.  Birth and marriage.  Fine.  It will all be done next week.  No big deal.  I told you, I'm ready.  I'm ready to be the one celebrating our daughter's birthday, not some stranger just thinking of it as another day w/out meaning.  Happy Birthday Little Bit!  No, not her name.  And no, her birthday is not today.  Just some time in December. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Last post was so sad & serious that I needed a boost!  So, here are some pics.  Hope you enjoy.  BTW, if you click on the picture, you can make it bigger.  I'm still learning w/ this new camera.  Like today, I learned you get a soft focus look if you have a smudge on the camera. Umm, not intentional btw.  LOL.  Enjoy anyhow.

I went to some class parties this week in school.  This is Bojan helping to make the Polar Express Train.  Yes, I'm stealing this idea & we're going to watch the movie at home next week & then make the train.  Keep those creative juices flowing.  And, the snacking part isn't so bad either.

Okay, one, ignore the clutter corner in the background for now.  This was taken after school.  Ironically, Alex wore those pajamas to school for pajama day.  I didn't even know what he left the house in.  I was hoping for the best.  Here is Yana and Alyona again.  Alyona got a ton of toys today from her party.  A ton!  Yana if you'll notice is in pajama bottoms.  She comes home from school everyday & changes into pajama bottoms.  I dont' get it.  Maybe b/c it gets dark now at 5pm, I don't know.  I figure it's not hurting anyone, let it go.

This is Max.  Our oldest son.  And yes, for those who follow our facebook page, it is the one we actually paid money to tonight to bathe our youngest son.  Not a proud parent moment but every once  in awhile, it happens.  Max was happy b/c he made money.  Anyhow, this is him standing in our dead yard.  He & I went for a walk today.  I usually take one of the kids on a walk after school.  He went w/ me today.  We chatted and learned there is a girl in the neighborhood that likes him.  I think he is still kind of shy & just doesn't know what to say around girls quite yet.  Gave him a few tips.  Can't believe I just gave my son advice on how to ask a girl out.  I will indeed regret that later, I'm sure.  He is growing up way to fast.  He came home to us at 4yo wearing a size 18 month clothes.  Wow.  My young man.

This is minnie mouse.  Aka...Alyona.  She is currently our youngest girl but not for long!  She can hardly wait for sisters.  She is blowing bubbles she got in class today at a party.  She loves the simple things still and that is what we love about her.  I love this dress on her.

Hope you all enjoyed a couple shots.  I have to go make another batch of fudge for teachers.  Thank goodness it only takes me about 5 minutes to do.  Yeah.  Then, wrap 7 gifts I think.  Tomorrow is an early release day for the kids and they are psyched at the thought of snow.  Now, for those who don't know, we live in NC.  Closer to the beach then the mountains and have a pool in our backyard for a reason.  It usually is 90 to 100's here from May to October.  So, even the thought of a snow dusting here gets people giddy.  Especially, around Christmas time.  I'll be sure to take pictures if it happens.  

Stand by Me-- not so nice side of adoption

Odd title, huh?  Well, you know me and honesty.  I'm going to lay it out here.  I'm going to be honest.  this is real.  May be hard for some to hear but it is something that happens more often than not in the adoption world and it is very hard for adoptive parents to deal with.  What is it you ask?   Family support.  Just as parents expecting a biological child, adoptive parents expecting a child are just as excited.  They can not wait to share the good news with everyone in hopes that they'll at least get a congratulations, happy to hear or wonderful news.  Something, anything...especially, from family, relatives.  For some of us though, that moment never comes.  Keep in mind, this will all be from my experience and my perspective.  But trust me when I tell you I've talked to hundreds of families over the past decade who have had to endure the same harsh path we have in regards to family support.  I will not mention any names in my post nor relation to us.   Just know, we consider these people family.  Many in the adoption world have told us to sever ties with them.  We never have.  Always remaining faithful, supportive and hopeful that their hearts & soul will change.  They have not.  However, we forge forward as that is what we have to do.  The adoption world forces you to become strong whether you want to or not.  So, here's the story.

Warren & I have never been able to have children.  Does it matter why?  No.  Did we ever want to have biological children?  Without a doubt.  Always longed for that baby but apparently God had other plans for us.  Every time we adopt we always hear "well, now you'll get pregnant."  Umm, don't think so.  When we first learned it would be near impossible for us to conceive, we had a choice to make.  Spend the money on fertility treatments that would only give us a "chance" at a child or spend the money on adoption that would bring home children for sure.  You can figure out on your own smart readers which path we chose.  Do we regret that decision?  Not on your life!  For that decision hinged on how our family was formed.  It was our decision to make and ours alone.  When we first told everyone(I'm referring to family here) we were adopting from Russia, we were met with many why questions.  That is understandable.  That, I truly can understand and don't mind explaining.  when our kids got home though, I still can not forget the words of someone when they came over to meet the kids for the first time.  Looking at Max(& thank God he didn't understand any english at the time), they said "what is that?!"  They were referring to the fact that he was Asian looking.  I said "he's your xxxx, say hello."  To this day, I still can not forget that moment nor the look on that person's face.  My heart sank into my stomach.  This is nothing though compared to what was to come of the next two adoptions.  Have a strong stomach folks?  LOL. 

Remember, we had our first two children for four years before we even added any others.  Even hosted hcildren to see if we were ready to adopt & parent more kids.  Some of the things said to us include:  "you're just buying Irina a sister."  Why would you want to adopt someone else's problems?"  You're takign away from your other kids?"  Yes, these were just a FEW of the comments to follow.  I will not even get into the real nasty ones said.  Just suffice it to say, the grinch was looking like an angel at this point.  Just as bio parents can decide to add to their family & almost never get questioned, adoptive parents seem to run into bombardments of questions and oppositions for whatever reason.  Not exactly sure why.  I've been asked why I'd want to raise someone else's problem.  I don't see our kids as problems or challenges.  Now, sometimes they can create problems but that's just regular kid stuff.  I have to admit, I get jealous when I hear of the outpouring of support from relatives of other adoptive families.  It would mean so much to us but we know we'll never have that.  That hurts a lot.  If a baby were to be born here, I'm sure it would be a different story.  some of you are saying "well, how do you know."  What many don't know what kicked up the whole adoption feelings again this time is back in August, we were among a few other families that were being considered to become the parents to a 2 week old infant girl girl w/ possible CP.  I mean, it was summer time, I was watching 11 kids in the pool, writing a dear birthmother letter & filling out forms all in  a few hours time in order to have a chance.  That opportunity obivously fell through as we don't have her.  Though disappointed, we realized at that moment, we did want to parent again.  Not necessarily an infant but definintely another child.  Though an infant would have been nice.  God works in mysterious ways they say.  This was definitely our ahh-haa moment of wanting to adopt again.  I started looking at children then again.
But, back to this topic.  I had called a few family members & told them we were being considered for an infant girl.  Estatic, congratulatory ,etc.  Everything you would expect.  Though I will say I said the child would most likely be healthy & just has a chance of CP.  Don't know if that made a difference or the difference was that it was a baby.  Didn't matter.  Point is the excitement was there for that child but NOT for any of my others who do in fact matter.  We were told all kinds of things when we brought Bojan home & heaven forbid, he was missing a leg.  Really, is it that big of deal?  Not to us, not to him.  The bigger picture is he had a home, a family that loved him.  I think the other questions that arose was our ability to parent so many children.  Now, our philosophy here is once you're out numbered, you're outnumbered!  Doesn't matter if it is 3 kids or 10 kids.  If there are more than the parents present, you are outnumbered.  Relatives believed that we could only parent so many kids b/c of the ones we had at home and all their needs.  We know they have needs but in the big picture, their needs are relatively small.  They only see our children typically at a big family gathering (NOT normal behavior at those things for any PI kid or FASer) when out of routine and out of normal eating patterns.  Makes a huge difference.  Maybe that is where the narrow-minded judgements are coming from, I don't know.  Maybe it was a different time when they grew up.  We are told we are being selfish and tkaing away from the other children.  I still have yet to figure out what we are "taking away" from them.  Things:  No.  Love:  No.  Activities:  No.  Room:  No.  So what praytel are we taking away?!  I'd really like to know.  We are told we are getting older and should just enjoy our retirement years.  What?!  Umm, I'm only 37 and last time I checked, that wasn't near retirement age.  Did anyone stop to think we are happy with the children.  any relatives?  I know some have & I must say I appreciate those few more than they'll ever realize for their support.  During an adoption, emotional support is SO important to the family.  They can use that more than anything b/c it is a hard process, especially if you have family criticizing you the entire way through it.  We've learned to ignore it all these years.  Now, with the lastest 3 additions, we have not told relatives exactly what special needs they have or even if they ahve special needs though I'm sure they can figure it out.  We have been told we lost our minds.  We've been told you should go to counseling b/c you have a "problem."  We've been told again we are taking away from our other children and that we are too old to become parents again.  We have been told first and foremost that they will NOT support this adoption nor will any of the other family members.  Though all this initailly hurt us this go around, we can't say that we didn't expect it.  We were just ultimately too optimistic once more.  That once our relatives see our children in action once home they will change the attitude.  We are told we can not save them all.  By goodness, with 147 million orphans in the world I highly, highly doubt we are trying to save them all.   These next three childrne of ours are coming home and completing our family.  This is it for us.  We already know.  We already sense a feeling of completion when talking about what we'll do w/ them once home.  Places we'll go, things we'll see.  I will never get my baby.  Yet in a sense I will.  My youngest that is coming home is little.  She is indeed MY "baby."  I wouldn't trade the toddlers to older children we've brought home for anything.  Okay, so this week has been crazy & if I were asked that question yesterday, I may have answered differently--LOL.   But that is just normal, crazy, holiday, school stuff life.  I'm okay with that.  We are happy where we are in life and where we're going.  We would have loved to have had family/ relative support this go around.  Encouraging words mean a lot to adoptive families.  They really do.  Sad part is (or maybe not so sad part) is we get tons & tons of encouragement from friends, neighbors, and even strangers.  I have strangers help passing our blog address & message of our fundraisers out there.  We have people giving us donations, people encouraging us by words, the little things.  They mean a lot.  Do we wish we could receive this from our families too?  Absolutely.  We do wish that.  I know adoption is not for everyone and I don't force adoption on anyone whatsoever.  Supporting adoption does not mean you yourself have to go out and adopt.  I must say I'm jealous of the families that are able to go bring their children home and take their grandparents with them.  I know for us, that would never happen.  I've asked before if people have wanted to go.  It really is a life changing event.   I just hope one day that our children can be seen for who they are and appreciated for who they are.  I hope one day that our families will see that all our adoptions were miracles in themselves.  That our adoptions did serve a purpose.  It really is amazing how one life can touch so many others.  We have 10 little lives that so far have reached thousands with their hearts and courage.  Yet the ones we want them to reach the most, it just doesn't seem to happen.  We never will tell our children all the bad things that were said in reference to their adoptions.  Though I will say some of my kids have already been told they can no longer visit certain places if they get more brothers and sisters.  Simply not true.  We know 12 people may seem like a big number and we definitely don't want to impose.  We've always told relatives our kids don't mind camping and neither do we.   We are great at improvising. 

Point of writing all this isn't to put anyone down.  I'm just telling it like it is from our view.  It hurts.  You can't take back words once they come out of your mouth.  You just can't.  That has been proven time and time again here.  We wish we could force our relatives to think differently but everyone is entitled to their opinions.  I can respect that.  What we want more than anything though is encouraging words and support.  That, we know we will never get.  Going through the adoption process as some of you know is hard enough.  It is even harder when you don't have that family/ relative support.  Yet, somehow, some way, every time we've adopted, we have forged forward despite the lack of family support.  Support came from so many other sources it was amazing to sit back and watch.  We had people bring us food home, people take care of our kids, people sending us cards, people giving gift cards to take the kids out w/ once home.  Just an outpouring of kindness, generosity and overall goodwill was witnessed at each and every adoption we've done.   It made me smile and cry every single time no matter how big or how small the gesture.  It came from the heart.  Sometimes though you wish though your family would stand by you w/ their hearts as much as your friends and neighbors do.  I know this wasn't the happiest post but one that must be shown as to give new adoptive parents some insight as to what "may" happen.  Doesn't happen to all families but it does indeed happen to some.  Know though to stick to your guns if it happens to you.  If you have a calling to adopt or know these are your children, proceed with it.  ONLY you know what is best for YOUR family.  No one else does.  Only you.  If you know someone adopting, please encourage them.  Listen to them when they are going through a rough time.  Support them.  If you live by them, give them a hug.  Best thing you can give to another adoptive family is your support.  Stand by them.  I found a song on the internet today.  I've always loved the song stand by me.  This one just seems to have a meaning of its own.  HOpe you like it as much as I do.

Will some of you stand by me???  I do hope so.  It really means the world to an adoptive parent.  We love our kids before they are home.  Just as a mother loves her unborn child.