Saturday, January 2, 2010

What's in a name??

Thought I'd do a post on choosing your childrens' names as that is what we are trying to do now.  Once our family decides on a child, we choose a name.  Gives them meaning, makes it feel more real.  Plus, no last minute stuff.  We have always tried to keep our childrens' names if at all possible.  For some it is and for some it just is not American enough.  Kids can be cruel in school.  We knew Murat was not going to fly here.  Max has thanked us for giving him a new name several times.  Many have asked how we come up with our childrens' names.  Especially, the girls.  So, thought I'd tell you.  Here goes. 

Irina and Max were our first two home.  They are from Russia.  So, for Irina, we kept her name and decided on Taylor as a middle name.  No rhyme or reason for it,just liked the flow of it.  Okay, this may sound stupid but we always yell the name as if we were yelling for our child.  You want it to flow right.  Now, Max used to be Murat.  Just didn't think it would fit in well here in our culture.  Nothing wrong with the name, just didn't like it for our son.  Wanted at least the same sound so that he could get used to it easier.  Well, that's how we got Max.  Now, we pondered forever to think of a middle name for him and just couldn't do it.  Blank.  Well, we were watching MIB(the movie) one night & thought those should be his initials.  Hence, Maxwell Ian was born.  Those were our first two kids and how we got their names. 

Next two home were Yana and Alex.  Well, since we hosted them, we were used to calling them by their names.  So, Yana became Yana Nicole.  Alex in Russia was Alexandr.  They called him Sasha though.  Nickname.  Well, that would not fly in America as it is a girl's name here. We kept his birthname...Alexander and just call him Alex.  Once again, we were stuck on a middle name for him.  And again, we found ourselves watching tv.  Bad, I know.  We watch survivor almost every season.  It's a reality show.  Well, there was this one contestant named Rupert(no, that is NOT what we named him--LOL).  He was on the strong tribe and really the tribe was go-getters.  We knew Alex was a strong-willed child and thought the tribe name would work.  Hence, Alexander Drake was born. 

Next one home was Bojan.  In Serbia though, they pronounce his name almost like those soup cubes.  It sounded like a girls name.  So, we took off the a at the end of his name and he became Bojan.  Again, middle name.  We wanted a family name sowent w/ my maiden name...Spencer.  Well, while on the airplane, we knew we had a problem.  We could not call him Bojan Spencer as that would be cruel to a kid.  We didn't want him known as B.S. Boyd.  So, had to reverse the names for that reason.  He is Spencer Bojan but we call him Bojan.  See, really, there is no rhyme or reason as to how we name our kids.  We want their original names and have kept 6 of the 7 original names.  Once finished, we will have kept 7 of our 10 kids original names.  I like that.  since there is no right or wrong way to name internationally adopted children, I like it. 

Last two children adopted were Alyona and Nik.  Now, funny story a bit.  We wanted to keep their names.  A rarity we were told by our Russian coordinator that Nik was his actual birth certificate name.  No Nikolas or anything like that.  Well, on our first trip, we knew we would keep their original birthnames but did not have a middle name picked out. Thought we could do that on the second trip...wrong!  Had to think of names that evening for paperwork.  We're in our hotel room just randomly throwing around names.  Alyona almost became Alyona Altoid as my wonderful husband was spitting out names.  We laughed about that one.  Somehow, don't even remember how, came up with Alyona Jade and it stuck.  I think we were naming gemstones at the moment.  Nik, we were thinking of family names and just rolling them off.  Well, my uncle is Russian Orthodox and his name seem to fit well w/ Nik.  So,Nik became Nik Allen. 

I don't know what the new 3 will be.  Well, I know what the girl's first names will be.  I'll let  you all know once we officially decide on names.  It may be awhile as we're flip flopping a bunch.  We let the kids help think of names as well.  Umm, they've come up with some interesting ones, that's for sure.  Naming your children is fun.  Stressful at times as well though because as a parent, you tend to over think it sometimes.  I know we have.  We think our kids' names fit them perfectly.  At least the ones at home right now.  You know as a parent your name is with you for the rest of your life.  You want your children not to be made fun of due to their name.  You also want something easy.  I remember growing up I hated the name Stephanie b/c I thought it was too long.  Yet, I am fine with my name.  A name identifies who you are.  I like the fact that I was able to keep most of my kids' names as part of their heritage and culture.  I want them to be proud of where they are from.  It is a part of who they are, as is their name.  That is a long-winded answer of how all my kids got their names.  Now, I must watch a movie to think of some more names....just kidding.  Enjoy your evening! 

SC Trip-- part IV (new year's resolutions)

Coming home.  So, we wake up from what was a wonderful night the night before at Medieval Times.  Tired, we decided to use our free tickets for the breakfast the last day there.  Got runny eggs, disgusting sausage, soupy grits, 2 pieces of toast and hot tea.  YUCK!!!  That was the verdict from all of us.  First off, boiling hot water and kids don't mix.  They did well with it.  They all like chai so that's a good thing.  We finished up and went upstairs to clean out the rest of the room.  Everyone helped.  Great checkout process for sure.  Had everyone use the restroom b/c we figured I-95 may be really blocked.  Long story short...we lucked out and made it home in 3 hours and 15 minutes!  Kids and us cleaned out the car and settled back into routine.  Kids all missed the yard and running around, you could tell.  Decided on a light dinner so salad it was.  For those new to adoption, you will find your kids tend to gravitate toward veggies and fruit.  All of mine but one are this way.  It is such a great thing.  We do not even give our kids vitamins and bloodwork is perfect.  Lowes Foods thinks we're kidding when we buy all those apples on special.  My kids finished off 72 apples in 2 days!!!  No lie.  I think they have the fiber part covered--LOL.  Dr. Oz would be proud.  (for those non-Americans on here, he is a doctor on tv that loves to give health advice and talks frequently about fiber).  We retired to bed that evening and had to get ready for the next day.  Warren & I actually had doc appts. the next morning.  Usually, can't leave the kids or something stupid will happen.  Trust me.  Take today for example.  Went to Walmart.  Came home & Max had given Alyona a haircut!  Yes, he did.  Anyhow, on that morning after the trip, we knew the kids were exhausted and Wii was calling them.  Let them play video games while we were gone.  Very quick appointment so even got to go to the store afterwards.  Kids were so happy as we brought a pile of fruit home.  Nothing else special since then.  We've been trying to get the kids back into routine.  See, FAS children thrive on routine.  They are slowly getting readjusted. 

It was obviously New Year's.  Since we had just gotten home, we did nothing.  It was actual nice to not have to go anywhere.  I let the kids make snow pops.  Okay, they did not turn out the way I had envisioned.  They enjoyed eating them.  They also made snowflake gumdrops after dinner.  Proves you don't have to spend a pile of money on "stuff" for kids to have fun.  That is such a pet peeve of mine.  I drop my kids off at some of their friends houses and it looks like Santa's workshop.  We keep it simple here.  Plus, their friends always seem to come over here.  My kids do a lot of imaginative play...knights, pirates, doll babies, etc.  Other kids come here asking to come again.  They must not miss that "stuff" too much.  I know some kids that have 3 different gaming systems and never understood why.  We've always tried to instill family values in our kids and that stuff will not necessarily will make you happy.  Now, don't get me wrong, my kids have plenty of "stuff" for sure!  They are not lacking in that department.  But, they also share really well.  I think my kids could have fun w/ a piece of string in the desert.  They tend to make their own fun. 

This is my son Nik.  What is he doing you ask?  Having fun!  How?  Well, Alyona has decided Nik is a dog.  She has his shirt hooked to a leash.  His "dog bowl" is his cup.  I have no idea why they play this game.  But, to them it is fun.  Took Nik awhile to learn that all dogs are not signed Bear.  our dog's name is Bear to add to the confusion.  See, my kids make up things and have fun.  They don't always have to have things to play with and I really do like that.  Their favorite things to play with... sticks from the woods.  They make wands and swords out of them.  They play knights, pirates and Harry Potter. 

So, we've been just hanging out since we got home from our trip and trying to get adjusted to a 2010.  The kids have decided on some resolutions they want.  Let's see if I can remember. 

Irina-- wants to learn to drive.

Max-- wants to learn to drive and increase his art skills.

Yana-- get out of special ed classes & grow her hair longer.

Bojan-- to learn heiroglyphics. 

Alyona-- to eat better.

Alex-- to not throw and kick in the house. 

Nik-- too young to understand. 

I think all those were awesome!  Though I doubt Bojan will learn heiroglyphics, it gives him something to strive for.  He loves the pyramids and ancient Egypt.  I think most of these resolutions can be attained.  Was fun to listen to them and see what they wanted to accomplish this year.  It should be an exciting year.  Not just because we're expanding our family but because our children are growing and learning each day.  Nice to watch that.  My resolution is to get in shape.  I'm following along this season w/ the new Biggest Loser.  I'm going to be one of them & do it on my own!  I had lost 7 pounds and then gained it back over the holidays.  Thank goodness we're back to normal eating and lifestyle.  I mean shoot, how many other kids do you know that would put up w/ what we eat.  For dinner tonight, we had asparagus, corn on the cob and mushroom burgers.  Kids loved them.  We all thought it tasted more like pizza.  Lunch, we all had salad (told you we love salad).  Of course, I let them all have tastycakes (cupcakes) I bought today.  a moment of weakness, I know.  I think our vacation ended wonderfully and believe with all my heart that 2010 is going to be the biggest transforming year yet.  Anyone out there have some resolutions? 

Tomorrow, I have 2 things I want to write on here.  1) Irina's transformation piece.  2) Fundraisers.  we have to step it up a notch and really kick this fundraising into gear.  I am SO ready to go get my kids and bring them home.  Even IRina on our walk today asked when I think we'll go on our first trip.  She knows the deal.  She's been through enough adoptions to know the process.  Kids are also having fun coming up w/ names.  We have decided on the 2 girls names.  Still thinking of the boy's name.  We've always liked Dakota but he does not look like a Dakota.  Any boys' names suggestions, send them my way.   Okay, this post is way too long already.  Do the fundraising post & transformation post tomorrow.  Have a great evening.  Bojan and Warren's birthday are on Tuesday.  Time is just flying by. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

SC Trip-- part III

Alright, hope you all enjoyed the pictures.  We will be w/out pictures for at least a few days.  We may try to resurrect our old digital camera temporarily until the other one hopefully gets fixed.  we'll see.  Doesn't take nearly as good of pictures but something is better than nothing.  So much on the adoption front to tell you all about but will do that later.  I'm getting it together for a change.  This post however, is all about our trip.  So, here goes.

It is now Tuesday on our trip.  I posted about Sunday and Monday already w/ pictures.  Monday we got up and I fed us all oatmeal and yogurt.  See a theme here...healthy.  Well, at least to balance out all the junk we ate--LOL.  We went out to the Ripley's Museum.  Unbeknownst to us, it didn't open till 11.  Lovely.  Back to the hotel b/c in winter time, almost nothing is open at the beach until 11am.  Went back and decided to go on the beach and collect shells and feel the water.  Got some great shells.  Kids and I were sort of having a contest of who could collect the best shells.  My kids love a little competition.  Found some really nice shells.  Warren told the kids he would make them necklaces out of the shells they got.  He's going to try to do that tomorrow after taking Christmas decorations down.  Can't wait to see if they turn out.  Anyways, we walked on the beach, got really chilly and went back to the room.  Decided to eat lunch before we left.  Ate turkey & ham sandwiches, string cheese, apples, & small pieces of pizza I cooked.  Simple lunch.  Then, it was off to the museum.  I must say, we were highly, highly disappointed in the museum.  A couple of cool things but not really.  There were a lot of static displays which we expected, but we expected a little bit more for the money.  And, of course, they exit you through an arcade.  Kids didn't really like the museum either.  So, we decided to stop by another gift shop and pick up a few things.  Umm, you can't really go wrong with sunglasses for a quarter a piece!  Seriously, 25 cents.  So, Alyona, Alex, Nik and Bojan decided to get sunglasses.  Girls wanted another mood ring for .99 cents.  Again, can do that.  Warren got another 2 shirts.  I made him.  See, he NEVER and I mean never buys anything for himself.  Mainly because he hates shopping but mostly b/c he is always putting the kids' needs first.  I admire that in him.  He likes his new shirts.

Now, I have to tell you this one.  There are some ahh, "naughty" things in this shop we discovered.  Why kids are always attracted to those things, I'll never know.  With Nik's new implant, he can even hear the fart sounds some of these stupid things make.  Nice.  Steered them away from those only to have Irina ask a question while everyone was at the register.  Now,remember that even though Irina is 17 yo old now, she looks AND acts around 12yo.  That is more on par w/ her emotional/ mental age.  She also does not know a lot of things as we limit access to tv and computer.  She asked as loud as day "Daddy, what is pootang?"  He quickly grabbed it from her and told her he'd tell her later.  First off, she was pronouncing what she read very wrong.  It was actually Butane.  It was a butane refill for a lighter.  Relief with that one. 

Kids were behaving very well so we decided on an impromptu treat since it was right next door.  Got a dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts.  Keep in mind, we typically only have sweets on a special occassion or party.  Kids were all thrilled as was mom!  I love the white creme filled donuts topped with chocolate.  We got all they had & the rest were chocolate creme filled. Yum.  Went back to the hotel and had donuts and milk.  Relaxed with some tv.  We watched the Bridge to Terabithia.  Great movie.  We had never seen it before.  After that, we all got ready for our big night event...the medieval dinner.

We headed out.  Made it there after a few wrong turns.  The castle was big.  It was so neat.  You walk in and they really want you to walk back in time.  It was awesome.  We walked into this huge hall.  Of course, it is surrounded by things you can purchase.  Again, our kids know the rules and don't fight us on that even when other kids are gettign things.  Very proud of my kids for that.  Don't get me wrong folks, we do buy souveniers for kids but we're also not going to get ripped off.  And paying $15 for a sword that you can get at the $1 store is ridiculous.  They enjoyed walking around and seeing things.  You each get a color when you go in.  Our crowns were blue.  What it is,is you have different sections in the arena.  Each section with a color.  That is the knight you will be rooting for the entire evening.  Everyone was ushered in and sat down.  Very orderly for sure.  Huge arena.  Our winch( waitress Paige) was letting us know what we were going to have for dinner.  The place is called Medieval Times and it is a dinner theater you are essentially going to.  They put on a show while you eat.  It was the BEST!!!  We had more than an awesome time.  Now, we knew Alyona would be scared.  You have to remember, with FAS children, many times they can not separate fact from fiction.  It is very hard for them to understnad what is "real."  So, the sword fighting terrified her but we reassured her they were not really dead or falling off the horse.  She liked it when the horses did tricks though and soon enough, her hands were up in the air with the rest of them.  The boys were SO happy as they watched King Arthur on tv the night before.  They were really into the show.  The food was phenominal.  Your meal included like half a chicken, a spare rib, garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, potato and dessert.  Talk about stuffed after a  I honest to goodness don't know where Bojan puts it but the kid ate everything!  NO LIE.  He ate the entire thing.  Could not believe it.  I wished I had pictures from this event.  It was truly incredible and worth every penny we spent on it.  The entire family enjoyed it.  It was about a 2 and a half hour show.  Got back to the hotel late.  Kids munched on their dinner leftovers some more as they were too busy watching the show to eat.  Got everyone to bed after all the excitement.  We all had just a really honest to goodness great time at Medieval Times and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Highly, highly recommend it.  Check it out at: .  You won't regret it.  Trouble is, only in a few states right now. 

Will write about the trip home & adjustments once home later or tomorrow.  Warren is making shrimp kebobs right now and kids are running around like squirrels on speed.  Don't know why they are so hyper but they are.  Hope you enjoyed my recollection of our trip so far.  We really did have a great time.  EVen though it is hard to take 7 kids who do not act their age on a trip, it is totally worth seeing their reactions to new things.  Now all can say they've been to the beach, to a dinner theater, and to a great aquarium.  I know some say we are strict but with FAS children, it is imperative you have set limits and that includes on a trip.  As you can see, even with limits, they ahve a wonderful time and even learn a lot.  Ever since we've been home, Bojan has been obsessed with Egypt and ancient times.  Saw some things at Ripleys.  He's been reading all about it.  Max has been drawing some movie stuff.  Girls are planning where we should vacation next.  Thanks for joining us on our trip and will scan some pictures in once they are developed.  Okay, so Warren will do that part.  Chat on here later.

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.