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.