Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bojan's birthday

Okay, have a few things from Bojan's party.  Not many just due to the camera issues.  Well, lack of a good one anyways.  Waiting till Wednesday till I can make that magic call and get my camera back!  Pictures, here they come:

You think they are ready for some cake??  We made chocolate cake w/ homemade chocolate icing w/ sprinkles on top.  A hit for sure.  We also have some chocolate cupcakes w/ homemade creme cheese icing for those that didn't want chocolate.  Ha!  They all wanted both.  Figures.

Okay, this was the start of something that turned into something VERY disgusting.  I was SO mad at all the boys.  Mine & company.  Okay, this is bad but not what the end result was.  The end result was all the boys covered w/ chocolate cake to where you couldn't see the white on their face or hands.  We left the room for like 3 minutes to get presents from our room and came back to chaos.  Had to make all the boys go wash up and made Bojan clean up by sweeping all the chocolate cake from the table to the bathroom as he was one of the ring leaders of this stupidity.

Can you see what happened here during gift opening time??  Alyona spilled an entire glass of milk to well, you know, add more drama to the table already full of chaos.  Hey, at least she attempted to clean it up.

Okay, so you really can't tell what is going on here.  It is completely dark in the room and I surprised them w/ a flash of the camera.  They were all watching GI Joe the movie w/ piles of chips and popcorn on the floor.  Only boy missing was Max who was upstairs drawing at the time.   They also all have glow sticks.  Ahh, another parenting mistake in the making.  Do you really need glow sticks to help them play and stay up later after gobs of goodies already??

Irina is such a great big sister.  She really is.  Alyona was feeling tremendously left out.  She can't wait till her new sister 'R' comes to be part of the family!  Have a feeling R and Alyona will be great buddies.  Alyona couldn't play w/ the boys b/c well, doing all boy things and didn't want her around.  So, 9 boys and no one to play with.  Irina and Yana had their friend Maria over so 3 teens and no one to play with.  And of course, who wants to hang out w/ mom & dad during a party?  I mean, get real.  So, Irina decided to help the situation a bit and did her make up and bravely let Alyona do her make up as well.  And yes, another photo shot w/ something on the floor--LOL.

This was a cake from when we celebrated his & Warren's birthday earlier in the week.  I need new cake tips for sure & icing bags.  Looks hideous but I show the good w/ the bad.

Again, from our mini b-day celebration.  As some of you know, Alyona can not write to well or barely read.  Her eye disorders, FAS and numerous other issues hinder her learning greatly.  She tried SO hard to make something really special for Bojan.  She wrote it herself(asking us for some spellings of course), rolled it up and put a ribbon around it.  It was very sweet.  Bojan read every word.  Alyona is anxiously looking on to see what she thinks.

Bojan thanked her with a hug.  He knew how much effort she put into that card and how hard it was for her to do.  Yes, that is a plain Christmas Tree in the background still up.  LOL.

Bojan is our reader and loves Harry Potter.  We bought him the last book for his birthday.  That and gave him some money.  He's read a bunch of it already.  Sometimes he'll read to Alyona since she can't read too well.

So, all in all, a good 11th birthday.  Hope you enjoyed seeing some of it and sharing it with us.  I still can't believe he keeps telling me he's just 2 years away from being a teenager...yikes!  Today, it was funny.  We're all hanging out in the kitchen cleaning eating up.  Bojan says " I have an apple core!"  He was so excited because he thought he was getting an Adam's apple.  No, nothing there but we all got a good laugh.  Have a great weekend.  We'll be headed to Warren's parents' house tomorrow and be gone most the day.  Look forward to seeing everyone and hope all goes well.  Still will have to make that snowman for kindergarten when we get home though. 

A day in the life...

I thought since this blog does a lot of talk of adoption and such, I would just pick a typical day here and go with it.  Yesterday  was Friday.  The day starts off being out of routine b/c school gets delayed two hours for .....rain.  No snow as predicted, just cold rain.  Kids were trying to figure out when they were supposed to leave.  Just couldn't grab the concept of having to leave 2 hours after you'd normally leave.  Simple, yet for them, complex.  FAS children do not understand abstract concepts.  This is a given.  After much, much explaining, they were on their way.  So, I finally get them all out the door at 10 am.  Books..check, lunches made...check, African drum project...check.  Oh wait, no kindergarten snowman...bummer.  Ahh, second chances.  Not due until Monday.  Phew.  Since I have a "free" day, I schedule all appointments, take care of some volunteer work, do some stuff online, make cakes, prepare for Bojan's party, clean up and just general housework.  I know, not exciting.

Let me back up for a second though.  I don't want all of you to think that this is all roses at this's not.  Being honest here.  Alex, one of our RADishes, was spending too much time upstairs.  Red flags went up for us as parents.  See, children with RAD have some serious issues.  I will discuss RAD(reactive attachment disorder) in depth one day.  Though not an expert, I do have children, 2 of them, with this disorder.  They will indeed look "normal" to others but suffer internal emotional traumas like you would not believe.  One thing many RADishes do is try to take things w/out asking.  Stealing.  For Alex though, he is desperate for jeans.  Again, having to back up to explain a few things.  My boys have been put on the 7-7-7 rule in our house again.  RAD/ FAS kids typically can not handle too much "stuff" at one time & this includes clothing.  So, to help w/ this problem(or when their room stays trashed with clothes for weeks months at a time, we tell them 7-7-7 and they know what that means.  They are reduced to 7 clothing items a piece.  7 pants, 7 shirts, 7 long- sleeve shirts, etc.  They are the ones who pick out what they want.  It works.  It honestly works.  And you know what, Alex was SO happy when we did this the next day he said to me "mom, it is SOO much easier to find my clothes!"  His anger of having to get rid of the rest of the clothes soon disapated.  Back to the story.  Alex was mad yesterday morning b/c I knew he was up to something upstairs.  Plus, rule is backpacks remain downstairs & at random, I'll do checks.  Sounds a bit like "policing" but w/ this bunch, you need to be careful.  For example, Max had gotten a pocketknife from someone (can't remember whom) & wanted to take it to school & show his friends.  This would have gotten him expelled even though it was totally innocent.  American schools have gone watch dog crazy & rather over protective w/ the stupid zero tolerance policy.  Don't get me started on that one.  My friend had her son build a gun out of legos in PRE-Kindergarten.  They wanted to kick him out!  He was modeling his dad w/ the gun... a police officer.  I digress, sorry about that.  So, I took Max's knife that day & probably saved his school career at that point.  Back to Alex though.  I did a backpack check.  Sure enough, he took Bojan's jeans & sweatshirt & was going to change when he got to school.  Sneaky little turkey.  He got caught.  It didn't belong to him so in this house, we consider that stealing.  He had to write an apology to Bojan and then do a punishment chore.  That was my morning.

Kids came home.  I hear of all kinds of garbage going on at the high school & contemplate pulling IRina out to homeschool her again.  I'm torn for many reasons.  Well, I'm doing some more decorating for the party & Irina said "come quick, Yana's changing in the front yard!"  URGHH.  Again, have to back up for one of my RADishes.  I wouldn't let Yana wear 2 shirts to school that morning because it literally looked like she painted them on her skin.  It was ridiculous!  Made her take them off & change into something more appropriate.  She complied...reluctantly.  Pants were fine, or so I thought.  What I did NOT know is she hid some in her backpack AFTER I had done her backpack check.  Ticked me off.  So, what she did was change into beyond skin tight jeans & then on the way home was putting her pants(the ones I okayed that morning) on as she's coming up the walkway.  When she was busted, she said "it's b/c it's cold outside."  Umm, then shouldn't you have had on both pairs all day & not just now?  Jeans went into the garbage immediately and I still have yet to decide on her punishment chore.  Though, we are going through all clothing items tonight.  She has plenty so it may take awhile.

Kids start coming over for the party.  now, we are flexible here, you have to be since you're outnumbered.  Kids start arriving for bojan's party.  Originally, it was supposed to be 2 boys spending the night.  Turned into 5 boys coming over & 1 girl for the girls.  fine.  So, 5 of them end up spending the night.  Oy!  12 kids here ALL hyped up on sugar.  I know it is just 2 more than what we'll have here in a few months but geez, my kids will not be hyped up on sugar and junk.  Loud is an understatement for last night.  We had Alyona spill a full cup of milk as Bojan is opening presents.  We had one kid bleed b/ c he stubbed his toe on another kid's dart gun.  don't ask.  Nik broke the air hockey table(MAD about this one!), boys smeared cake all over their face & bodies, and Irina pierced her cartiledge of her ear!.  I could go through the whole list but won't bore you.  I'm disappointed in Irina, my oldest who pierced her ear.  We made her take it out & she had to get in trouble and swallow her pride while her friends were here.  Rules in this house are the same for everyone.  Don't care how old or who you are.  As Bill Cosby once said "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!"  So true.  We are the parents and have rules set for our children that we feel are appropriate for their age...mental age taken into consideration as well here.  She is 17yo, but more like 12yo.  Nik was made to do punishment chores and was crying the whole time.  Good.  He got the point I was mad he busted the air hockey table.  I should have just let the other kids have at him--LOL.  No, that would have been too mean a bit.  Despite all this, I realized last night my kids do have good manners and are for the most part well-behaved(when not high on junk food & sugar).  The amount of lack of manners from some of the guests made me cringe.  Even my older girls were taken a back by some of the whining, lack of respect and lack of manners.  Crazy.  I told one after he screamed at Yana "give me the syrup," do you know what the word please is??  URGHH.  So, no more sleepovers for quite awhile.  It was a very late, late night for all of us.  Hence, no posts from me in awhile.  Today, we woke up and got the kids out early as we were supposed to go to my inlaws for a belated Christmas.  We ask 'C' what is on  your sleeping bag?  Can you guess???  yep, vomit.  Someone had thrown up.  Finally figured out it was Alex.  He threw up from the top bunk onto 'C's sleeping bad while he slept.  Yuck.  Alex woke up not feeling well but no fever.  Again, junk food induced we assumed.  Canceled our trip until tomorrow.  Glad we did as Alex got sick again after lunch time.  He can now hold stuff down & is getting back on his normal diet.  See, the only time we really have junk food or goodies here is during parties or special ocassions.  My kids aren't used to the mass quantities of it.  Alex is back up & running around.  Yeh.  So, we all tried to veg out and recover today.  Clean up too.  So, that is pretty much a normal day around here.

We have stuff that gets broken here almost daily.  Yeh, our therapist one year thought we were making it up too.  The next week when she came to the house, I gave her a list of what got broken and by whom the previous week.  She never thought I was exaggerating again--LOL.  This week, we did good, all things considered.  We had a soup bowl break, an antique green glass, the decking by our back porch(not really's rotting), an air hockey table, a dart gun, another glass break and I don't remember what else.  We are flexible and have to be.  Most things that break are indeed an accident.  But, b/c ours also have FAS, there is NO cause and effect thinking.  So, even though I've told them a gazillon times do NOT put ice cold water in a glass right after the dishwasher, they still do it & it of course breaks.  Almost all our cups and bowls are now plastic.  Solves the problem. With FAS kids, you always find an alternative.  It helps. 

Now, getting ready to pick up meds. Oops, never finished this post earlier.  Warren and I took a nice long walk and kids did okay for a bit.  Tomorrow, we are celebrating a belated Christmas with Warren's parents.  Going to be hard to settle them down after that and get them ready for school but we'll manage.  With kids, you have to be flexible.  Does not matter if they are bio, adopted, or special needs.  Just be flexible as parents and you'll do just fine.

My camera...URGHH!!!  Called and they are out of stock.  So, he said call back in 3 or 4 days and he'll order us one.  Okie dokie.  So, looks like Wednesday before we have a camera now.  Still grainy pictures folks so sorry about that.  One day, you'll see my kids clearly again.  So, just took you through a very boring day here at Chaos Manor.  One day I'll post more exciting events.  Pictures to come soon even though they'll be grainy/ blurry. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quick updates & miscellaneous

First off, a big, big thank you to Amy!  Take a look at what she put on her blog: .  That was incredibly sweet & the more exposure the better.  Anyone who wants to post on their blog definitely has my permission.  Another thank you to Lorraine, Linda and Tom for ordering magazines.  I do hope you and your family enjoy them. 

Anyone want to purchase some flower bulbs with white stuff on the ground--LOL.  Though here in NC, we got NOTHING.  Not a one thing.  We're totally bummed here.  School was delayed at the thought of snow.  People right now in the midwest I'm sure are laughing at us.  It really is funny how southerners react to snow.  Even for hurricanes for that matter.  We live inland but doesn't matter.  You know there will be no bread, eggs, milk or beer left in the stores.  You think I'm kidding?  They even report it on the news here.  It just cracks me up.  Maybe next month we'll get the white stuff.

Homestudy status.  Still in a holding pattern.  Director of agency mailed out a package yesterday since they approved our application to start the homestudy and such.  Seriously, after 4 homestudies, 28 post placement reports, can't I just write one and send it in?!  I promise I won't cheat--LOL.  Okay, so my 10yo sleeps on a dogbed.  Does that matter?  I think I've explained the dogbed thing in another post.  If not, I'll do it in my special needs post as well later this week.  BTW, Alyona does indeed have a bed.  She just chooses to sleep on a dogbed instead.  Go figure.  I'm not too worried about the homestudy.  We got glowing recommendations from our medical doctor so that helps.  Still working on lowering my cholesterol & so is Warren.  I have horrible genetics when it comes to that.  URGHH.  Other than that though, very healthy & approved to adopt by our medical docs.  So, we wait for the magic package and go from there.  Hoping we'll have an appointment this month and we can finish that puppy up!  We do have an issue and hope it really won't be an issue.  It is where to put the new kids.  Well, it's not an issue but wondering if homestudy folks will give us a hard time.   We've done this for ALL our other children when adding more.  See, the 9yo boy coming home will share w/ Alex(9yo) and Nik(7yo).  Max & Bojan will remain in their shared room.  So, all 5 boys will be upstairs.  Now, upstairs is 1000 sq. feet so not like they don't have plenty of space.  Shoot, all of htem could be in one room and it still wouldn't be a problem.  But as they get older, we like them to have some elbow room and show their true selves.  Max has his own little art studio w/in his room upstairs.  Now, Irina and Yana have individual rooms and will remain that way.  Alyona(10yo), 'R'(7yo) and Little Bit (3yo) will all share a room that is yet to be built.  What we are doing is turnign an already existing garage into a set of bedrooms.  It will have a catwalk on the top where all the beds will be as this is a tall room.  Play area all on the bottom.  What needs to be done to make this happen is:

1) clear all the clutter out of there.  Have to  build a shed outside for it to go in.  This really makes me mad b/c last year we literally gave away an antique volvo car we had that we were going to restore.  Guy who came to get it said he would bring us a shed b/c that's what he did for a living .  A barter type of thing.  Even though we weren't expecting that, when he offered, we jumped at the chance.  So last year he said it would be after Christmas.  Never happened.  Don't say something if you don't mean it.  That's what I teach my kids.  Anyhow, so now we have to build a shed for this to go in.

2)  Put a subfloor & floor down in the garage.

3)  Take out the garage door and turn it into french doors. 

This is an extensive project and hoping to do it at minimal costs as the adoption costs will be high.  So, any handyman, come on over--LOL.  We'll all be doing this ourselves to save costs.  Most additions on this home for the kids, we've done ourselves.  And no, nothing has caved in yet.  Nothing has fallen apart.  Alyona is very excited about this project.  BTW, she said she won't sleep in there unless her sisters are in there with her.  fine.  We can do that.  Just have to wait a few months kiddo. 

Hoping my packet will come today & appt. for home visit will be made shortly after.  Should be. 

Oh, I'm not happy about not having my good camera today.  We went back last night but the guy wasn't in who we're supposed to take it to.  So, I'm going today but last night they said they didn't have any more in stock.  So, bad pictures folks for a few more posts to come.  They are very grainy and I know this.  Just have to be patient.  I'm not good at that if you haven't noticed.  So, here is a picture of all of us from a Christmas or two ago.  can't remember.

Yes, I know Alex looks mad.  Remember, if he's out later than 7pm, he's a mess.  Oh well.  At least I won't have to worry about him & his dates when he gets to high school.  Max is SO much more taller now than this picture.  I don't think I had posted a picture w/ me in it so did that so people would know I'm not a ghost.  I'm just the one usually holding the camera and hence, not in many shots.  I am doing Max's transformation story tonight.  Now, have to get some work done and phone calls made.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  Chaos Manor will be jumping with 11 kids partying and a trip to Nana & Papa's tomorrow for a belated Christmas celebration.  Can we rest yet?  

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Big thanks & tidbits

Good morning everyone!  Hope all is well in cyberspace.  I thought I'd write today as feeling a bit under the weather.  Just sinus/ cold garbage.  But, did tell the kids if on the off chance it snows, I'm still in it for a snowball fight.  We rarely get snow in NC and there is a good chance of a dusting of snow tonight.  People here get so giddy and happy over the thought of snow.  We love it.  I'll have spray bottles at the ready so they can do "artwork" in the snow.  Last year we actually got to sled due to some ice.  We love sledding and have the perfect yard for it.  Hills.  We won't be able to do that with this dusting but some snowballs should be able to be made.  

This was our snow dusting from last year.  A view of our front yard.  Here's a view of our house:

It no longer has blue shutters or a blue door but you get an idea ofwhat it looks like now.  I'll take one in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom.  I love flowers and used to work in a florist shop.  So, you know tricks here and there.  Keeping the weeds out is easy as it is the punishment chore in the spring time for the kids--LOL.  That, and I weed for about an hour in the whole yard.  Winter, I don't touch the yard.  Here's a shot of our entrance way with spring flowers:


Of course there is stuff on the porch.  We had an indoor project going on so stuff got stored on the front porch.  The flower baskets on the railing there are annuals but are so cheap and easy to do.  Each basket cost me maybe $6 worth of flowers.  And that is on the high end.  The brown thing on the bottom right is a waterfountain Warren made.  Again, major bargin shopper here.  It was not the original purpose of this item but turned out to be a great water fountain.  However, took awhile to get it adjusted as to not make it sound like someone was in the restroom.  Kids had a great laugh with that until the water flow & rocks were just the right amount.  Right now, it is iced over and full of leaves.  Just had to get some flowers up on here as it is so dead and dreary out now due to winter.

Back to the original topic at hand.  I'll definitely take pictures.  Found my original camera box with receipt so it goes back today and we should have a new camera this afternoon...wahoo!!!  Feel lost without it.  We have a Fugi camera and it really does take nice shots.  Our favorite camera though is a Nikon.  We had about a $700 camera (35mm) that we picked up at a yardsale practically new here for $50.  Umm, yes, big families have to be bargin hunters.  Anyhow, we used it for years and absolutely loved that camera.  Any guesses on what happened to it?  Did I drop it?  No.  Did it just wear out?  No.  You know it's coming.  YOu know this HAS to do with the kids, right?  One of the kids poked their fingers through the shutter and a couple other things were done to it.  Being that I will never find a deal like that again, we have tried to forget about it and move on.  So, camera back hopefully just in time for Bojan's party tomorrow so that you can see some shots.  He is getting excited.  He's going with us this afternoon to pick out stuff for the party.  With our kids, you really have to limit intake of sugar and processed foods and such.  We are slowly and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y changing to an organic household in regards to foods.  Hoping after tax time we can buy a whole cow.  I know, sounds strange to some of you but it actually would save us a ton of money in the long run and be a healthier way to eat.  You can purchase half or whole cow here.  Never fed hormones or anything like that.  Not pumped full of corn either.   People who've done it said it lasts for a very long time.  Have to have a freezer to put all the beef in though.  Fortunately, we have 2 refridgerators and a deep sub-zero freezer in the garage.  Perfect.  We are also starting a real garden this year.  Last year was a trial year to see if we'd actually be able to grow anything.  Tomatoes, peppers, chives, herbs, etc. grew.  So, making quite a big garden this year for all organics and something the kids can help tend.  I think the kids will get a kick out of that.  They're also going to help build it as well. 

Today, I really wanted to say a huge thank you to all who've donated to help bring the children home.  I wish I could thank all of you but it really is getting to big to name all of you.  We have donations coming in from all over the US and Austrailia and South America.  I can't describe how I feel.  I know they say what goes around comes around but I never knew it would feel like this.  Over the years, we have given our time, donations, money, humanitarian aid, etc. to the orphans left behind without thinking twice.  Now, others are making a wonderful effort to help us bring our kids home.  It is truly heartwarming to say the least.  It really is.  I have to tell you all something.  Sometimes it is really hard doing the right thing though.  Being honest here so bare with me.  The other day, I had a friend in need.  I won't get into their personal situation but the economy in America has a big part in it.  She really needed money to help her out.  I knew we needed money to adopt these children but I could not say no to a friend in need.  It just wouldn't be right.  I gave her some money knowing I would not get it back.  That was okay.  God does provide.  That SAME day, I went to my bank to make sure the adoption fund was assigned the account #(ironically, I never closed it from last set of adoptions) and an employee there gave me the same exact amount that I had given to my friend.  What do you think of that?!  I almost cried but didn't.  We've asked for one time donations of $10.  Amounts double and triple that are coming in.  I am more confident than ever there will not be 3 orphans next year at this time.  There will be 3 children enjoying a life with their siblings and parents.  You all are making that dream reality.  You really are.  I know we are still a long,long ways off but each day is a little closer to getting the funds necessary to bring them home.  Please spread the word around if nothing else.  We have that online magazine fundraiser.  Locally, we are selling flower bulbs.  That's a fun one and I can't wait to see those flowers pop up all over!  Kids are ready to pound the pavement but I won't let them go out in the cold quite yet.  So, next week, they'll be out and about.  I'm not making them, they want to do this.  For Alyona and Nik, the kids had a lemonade stand.  Very cute.  Hot cocoa stand would work now but no plug at the end of the driveway--LOL.  The thing about adopting older children is they know the importance of getting other children out of the orphanages.  They know the life there and how it is not the same as a family.  My oldest has scars all over her face and head b/c they could not get her medical care in Russia.  In most of Eastern Europe, orphans are thought of as second class citizens.  Especially, those with special needs.  It truly is apalling.  Tomorrow, I will write about that and have some video links.  For now, need to get going.  Didn't mean to write this much.  Generally, just wanted to say thanks to those who've donated so far.  It is beyond gracious of you and will without a doubt help bring 3 children home who so desperately need us.  The unwanted will become wanted very soon.  Thanks again. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fundraising questions answered

I thought I'd address a couple questions that are coming our way the past few weeks.  A biggie is what happens if you do not raise the money needed for the adoption?  Great question.  Honestly, I don't know how we could make it happen.  We are trying some different scenarios out for sure.   As I've explained in past posts, with this economy, you can not borrow money like you used to even w/ excellent credit(which ours is).  If by chance we can not raise the funds or for some reason something awful were to happen to our family (terminal illness, death, etc. & yes,I know families this has happened to), we would take all the money that has been raised and it would be kept an an escrow account to be used as a grant fund toward the children we are adopting.  100% of ALL funds raised are indeed going toward these children.  I have all the confidence in the world we can do this.  I"ve seen it done before with great determination and hardwork.  We can do that.  We do have the ability to pay and care for the children once they are home.  Shoot, you have to prove that well before you leave to get them.  We have to be approved financially(show we can raise more children) by our homestudy agency, our adoption agency, the US government and the Bulgarian government.  The money is not being used to raise these children but rather to get them home.  Our airfare alone is what is going to hurt us.  We've been slowly pricing tickets online just to get an estimate of what costs might be.  Going rates are around $1300 to $2400 round trip.  Varies as to when we go.  So,a minimum of $8K for travel.  What we are looking into is anyone that has hotel points or airline points that they want to transfer.  We have one business man who is generously offering two round trip tickets internationally via his points.  We are hoping & praying that works.  He thinks he should have plenty of points when the time comes.  A lot of times there are stipulations w/ the points.  Keeping fingers crossed for the best b/c that is like a gift of thousands.  He said it should be enough for 2 round trip tickets.  That would cover all our first trip there. 

Another question is donations.  Alright, we have a chip-in button but I do understand many do not want to use that.  We have not posted our home address publically but have given it to people who write us privately.   Reason for this is we have indeed had our family's identity stolen before & folks tried to make a profit on our story.  URGHH.  One bad apple as they say.  So, for now, we keep things limited.   We have had people donate to us in person, through the mail and paypal.  We are going to post our paypal account on here soon.  I know some have even wanted to use Western Union.  I think paypal would be better though as they would not charge you the fees that Western Union does.  Hope that made sense. 

The chip- in button shows $120 right now I think.  We have totally raised around $1000.  Have to add it up soon again.  $1000 is wonderful.  I know we have a very long way to go.  But, if we can get just 1000 people to donate $10 one time, we would be halfway there!  This is our first adoption ever that we have really had to fundraise a great amount.  I don't like it, trust me. But, I know 3 orphans are counting on us to get them home.   I want to plaster their faces all over here but know I can't per country laws.   The kids are getting anxious asking when we think we may go and bring them home.  awhile.  They are excited about doing some fundraisers with us though.  Someone suggested a chocolate extravaganza.  That sounds wonderful just to attend--LOL.  We will be working diligently over the next few months to get the children home.  It will not be easy and we knwo that.  But, we have wonderful support team and that's what counts.  That and our hearts are invested and ready for them.  These are definitely our last children.  We will not be doing this again.  I will be writing a book after this, maybe two.  But as far as adopting after going to  We'll be done and enjoying our family of 12.  I will continue to advocate for the ones left behind but can guarantee I will not be adopting anymore after these three are home. 

We appreciate all the donations that have come it.  It really and truly is saving these childrens' lives.  I will post some links to some institutions so  you all may see where some of our chidren will have ended up had we not adopted them.  I know there are many people out there with awesome ideas.  I am open to just about anything.  Please make suggestions if you'd like.  I will never forget those who've helped bring them home.  I have 2 more transformations to post about our children.  It is night and day the difference a family makes for the children.  Thanks once again.   Any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. 

Some new pics of daily life--LOL

Okay, as you know, our camera broke at our SC trip for Christmas.  I was crushed.  Well, Warren, handyman he is, resurrected our old camera for a temporary fix.  It has terrible images but will have to for now. Great news is the guy today where we purchased our camera said we can bring it back even if it was MY fault b/c it is under warranty for a year!  I was estatic and I'm sure other customers thought this woman is nuts.  Oh well.  Made my day.  Here goes w/ some not so great pictures.  enjoy. 

This is Alyona.  I don't know how the kid is still smiling after this hack job of a haircut from her older sister Irina.  I was SO mad.  Despite my childrens' chronological ages, I sometimes forget they are not capable of making rational decisions.  With children with FAS, you should really never leave them unattended.  Well, sometimes Warren and I like to go for a short walk or to Walmart literally around the corner from our house.  You'd think that would be harmless.  This time it was the hair.  Last time we went for a walk in the neighborhood, there was glue in the dog, a chair ruined and glue in Irina's hair.  When we left them, they were all quietly sitting on the floor watching a movie.  Hence, why our home is called Chaos Manor.

This is a project I let the kids do this past weekend.  You may not be able to tell but it is 3-D.  They make the plaster molds and then paint them.  Then, lay them on this poster as if this is an archeaological dig.  Cute project for sure.  Kept them busy for a little while.  I think it turned out great.

I still promise that I will take a picture one day w/out something on the floor.  That is my goal this year for this blog--LOL.  This is Yana.  She looks way too grown up for my tastes.  I am in trouble when she starts dating.  bEhind her is the fireplace.  Notice the plastic covering on it.  That is b/c it is freezing in the living room.  Very drafty and trying to cover all holes.  Windows in this house all need replaceing but it really is quite an expense to do.  Has to wait for a little while.  Next priority will be braces and orthodontics for the girls and will cover that tomorrow.

My kids love to make their own fun up sometimes.  Okay, Alex is breakdancing in the background.  Bojan is of course standing on his head.  And yes, I'm well aware of bookbags on the stairs and floor.  It is just life here.  Hoping to have it cleaned up before the social worker comes.  LOL.  Of course, if she comes on a day when the kids come home from school, all bets are off.  This is what it looks like.  My feeling is, as long as the house is clean I can relax if the kids lay their bookbags down on the floor when they get home.  Helps having a germaphobe in the house to keep it clean.

Warren will not like this picture so I apologize ahead of time.  Warren is always willing to play with the kids.  Warren was swinging him around just a second ago before I snapped the shot.  Alyona and Nik love it.  The other kids used to but they're all a little heavier now.  When all the kids were younger, he used to fold them up like a football and throw them across our pool.  The kids loved it.  Warren wouldn't be able to move his arm the next day.  But, he'd do it again and again. 

I'll share more pictures later of bojan's birthday.  Got to go.  Nik is tormenting his brother.  He knows his brother won't wake up for anything.  Nothing.  So, Nik tickles him, jumps on him, positions him all kinds of ways and poor Alex sleeps all through it.  One day, Alex will wake up and payback will abound.  Can't imagine when our other 9yo son comes home.  That will be a riot with all 3 boys in there at night.  Enjoy your evening.

Waiting child Wednesday!!!

I'd like to start advocating on this blog as well for some of the kids I know how desperately need a home.  If you remember, a few weeks ago we had just 2 weeks to find Samuel a home before he was sent away to an institution.  We did it!  All of us.  With your help, we spread the word and found him a loving home.  We need to do that again.  I will be advocating for all special needs children and hard to place children.  Please keep in mind, I will not post identifying information over the web.  You will need to write me privately at  The countries I will be advocating for are all Eastern European countries.  We have to abide by their rules.  We really need to help these children as quickly as we can.  So, I will feature one or two children per week. 

Without further delay, let me introduce..... Sebastian!!!  Sebastian is a precious 9 year old child.  This one is a GEM!!!  Not kidding.  I've heard great things about him and having a deaf child myself, I know how incredible some of the things I've heard about him are.  Not to mention, he is absolutely gorgeous.  Just a handsome young boy.  Eyes to melt your heart and a personality of gold to match.  He is Deaf.  He actually goes to a deaf school and knows sign language.  However, there is no one at all to communicate with him in his orphanage.  Can you imagine what wonders a family here would make for him!?  Someone knowing or learning ASL would be helpful but not a determining factor.  He is located in Eastern Europe.  Sorry folks, can't give that away on here.  We all know the rules & it is to protect the children.  Anyhow, this is a country that would require 2 trips.  Not long ones though.  In addition, this country will accept singles.  Please contact me at the email address above for additional information. 

Feel free to spread the word about this 9yo precious boy.  I can not wait to see him with his forever family and what a blessing he'll be to them.  There is another set of children I will tell you about that are very special to me.  Their need is immediate.  It will have to wait though as I really do need to finish getting some kiddos to bed.

BTW, took some new pics but they are horrible w/ our old camera.  Will post later as well.  Some good news, spoke w/ a gentleman today about our camera at the store we purchased it from.  He says it is under warranty even if it IS my fault that the camera broke.  Amazing!  So, frantically looking for the original receipt.  Post a little more later.  Please do spread the word about Sebastian.  I would love for him to find a home this week.  After living a life alone for so long, he honestly deserves a loving family.  This child has so much life and love to give, I don't want to see it go to waste.  I'll be honest, had I known about him originally, we would have not hesitated to pursue his adoption.  I don't say that lightly. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Bojan & Warren!!!

Yes, you heard it right... 2 birthdays on the same day.  Warren is not doing really much to celebrate b/c we as adults tend to skim over those mile markers that show how many miles we have on our bodies.  Now, the other one celebrating is Bojan.  He is turning 11 years old today.  When you have an adopted child, you do indeed think of the birthparents on that day.  I know for a fact his mom thinks of him often.  We have contact with his birth family & really need to get back in touch.  I have a photo album for her but just have not sent it off yet.  Bojan is not an orphan that was given to the orphanage out of neglect or lack of love.   On the contrary.  His situation was unique & will not discuss all of it here b/c some things do need to remain private.  Just know, his mother loved him with all her heart just as she does her other two children that are with her.  For that, I am eternally grateful.  I know she thinks of him on this day.  She gave him a necklace with his birthday on it before we left Serbia.  He is here now and loved just as much.  We have had Bojan for 5 years now.  We actually picked him up shortly after his 6th birthday.  Time sure does fly! 

Bojan has grown into quite a character.  He loves to read.  Soaks up books like crazy.  He has read all the Harry Potter books but one.....he's getting that tonight for his birthday...shhh.  He is very much into ancient Egyptian culture and wants to learn heiroglyphics.  He has many friends and tends to be the comedian of this family.  I can honestly say though, it gets old after awhile.  He & Max are not only brothers but best friends.  He is turning 11 years old today.  As he so quickly reminded me today, "mom, I'm just two years from being a teenager!"  Oh why oh why do they want to grow up so fast?  Today, we arew keeping it simple.  I've got homemade potato soup in the crockpot now.  Some nice bread (definitely NOT as good as the fresh bread we used to get in Serbia) and of course, birthday cake for dessert.  He is having his party on Friday night w/ some of his best friends here at the hosue.  It will be dinner and a movie.   His pick.  He is very excited.  What 11 year old wouldn't be excited?!  Now, for some pictures to show you how big this birthday boy has gotten...

This was Bojan's referral picture I had received.  Never showed his leg or any deformities he has.  Didn't matter.  That smile said it all!  That was my kid.  He was 5 years old in this picture.

This was in 2005, same year home.  A milestone... a first tooth lost.  See, adoptive parents of older children DO get to witness many firsts in their lives.  His brother Alex is in the background wondering when it will happen to him.

This was Max, Bojan and Alex in summer of 2006.   They all played baseball for the miracle league here.  Miracle League is designed for special needs children and a wonderful organization.  Brothers through and through.  Born in 3 completely different places but love each other the same.  Can you see Bojan growing in this picture?

This is Alex, Alyona, Nik, Bojan and Max at a Christmas party.  Look at how Bojan is almost catching up to Max.  Amazing!  Now, Nik wears the sweater Bojan has on.  AGain, he always has a smile ready for the camera.

This was August of 2008.  First day of school.  Just look how much more mature Bojan looks.  He's all ready  for 3rd grade here.  His younger siblings look up to him so much.  Bojan is always willing to help and go above & beyond what he needs to do.  He will truly make some girl very happy one day. 

This is Bojan...rock climbing!  We took the kids to a local carnival and this is one of the things they did.  He is fearless.  Goes to show you, disabilities are not a deterrant at all.  They are more of a driving force.  My kids, including Bojan, want to show others that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.  Bojan has grown so much not just physical but in mind and spirit as well.  We are proud of who he's become.  He's rarely in trouble here.  Is compassionate to everyone, lends a helping hand, plays with all his siblings, drives us insane with his singing and theatrics, and is just an all around great kid.  I know we sometimes give him a hard time about his theatrics (trust me, it would drive you crazy too!-- the kid literally wants to be on stage all day long), but we really do love him for who he is.  He has come so far in life from the gimpy little kid crawling around all over the floor b/c they didn't have a prosthetic that fit him.  Look at him now!  He's rock climbing.  Amazing.  Happy 11th birthday Bojan!  Can't wait to see the next few years of birthdays.  Though mom really isn't looking forward to those crazy teen years.

BTW, Warren managed to repair one of our old digital cameras so more pictures should be happening this week...hooray! 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pictures past

I'm really, really missing my camera.  Soo, thought these long posts are getting a bit monotanous.  I've decided to just randomly grab some pics from the last few years and go from there.  Should be interesting to see how far we've come. 

This is Alyona about a year after she'd been home.  Fall/ winter sometime I'm guessing.  no, there is not really a winter in North Carolina.  But, we do our best to pretend here by wearing long sleeves.  Rarely a jacket needed.  Anyhow, Alyona still loves baby dolls.  This was after her surgery.  A surgery that permanently resulted in loss of function in that hand and arm.  We're still sick about it.  Thankfully, she is left-handed.  And, if she needs to hands for something, her sibs help her out.  I always liked this picture for some reason though as I thought her personality shines through.

This is the same year... 2007.  Alex & Nik are more appropriately dressed for the weather here.  Put it this way, typically, we have our pool opened well until October here.  This is Nik, Irina and Alex.  We usually nickname Alex cotton top in the summer time.  It's even whiter than this in summer.  Most of the time, you will find my children playing outside.  We have a larger front yard than back so that's where they play.  I don't mind a bit.

Now, this is typically how you will see my children... barefoot & in pajamas outside.  I don't know why, I really don't.  They live w/out shoes.  Even w/ snakes and all in our yard. Though this year, we only killed 4 snakes.. 2 of them copperheads.  Not uncommon around here.  Yet, my boys love to go barefoot.  I swear they could walk on hot coals.  I have no idea what is even in Alex's hands at this point.

This is Bojan from May of '05.  He had been home for just a few months getting used to a brand new leg.  Yet, found time to play soccer.  In our family, we typically forego PT & OT as they do SO much at home that we feel it really doesn't do a whole lot for them.  Not for everyone but it works for us and we do what works here.  Bojan loved playing soccer.  At his orphanage, he didn't go outside a whole lot.  So, he also lives to be outdoors.  Kids love playing soccer & we'll probably do it again this year.  Hasn't he grown?!

What a bunch of young things!  This was Yana, Irina, Max, Bojan and Alex in May of 2005.  We had visited wilmington and this is outside the aquarium.  We had also gone to the Battleship.  They sure have grown up.  Blows my mind what just 5 short years can do to your kids.

Hope you enjoyed  a brief blast from the past.   Going to do a little more later.  But, dinner needs to be made & homework finished up. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year-- decade in the making

Well, it is that time of year to make resolutions and time for reflection on what the past year has brought to your life.  I've mentioned some of the resolutions in the last post that my children came up with.  Now, going to do some reflections.  We are starting on a new decade, a new journey.  Here's some of what our adventures have been over the years....

2000-- New decade began and we were getting settled in as a family with our first two children, Irina and Max.  We were learning (albeit slowly) how to become parents.  We had no idea what we were doing but by this year, got the hang of things.  Learned the difference between a fake cry & a real cry and that parents don't have to run every time their child calls their name.  I worked for Merill Lynch as an administrative assistant.  Warren worked for SAS. Some surgeries took place as well. 

2001--Still parenting but differently.  Working through issues.  Warren still works for same company.  I learned that being a working parent & having special needs children was not going to work for our family.  I quit my business job and searched for something part time.  Became an office manager of a florist shop & did some designing there as well.  We were becoming more confident as parents.  The world changed.  America changed.  We changed as the US was attack by terrorists.  We were nervous but life went on.  However, during this time, you held your children tighter and you ALWAYS kissed your loved ones goodbye from here on out.  Oh, this is the year our new home also started to fall apart. 

2002-- Still holding strong and having more fun.  Relaxed more as parents and realizing our children will not break if we throw them up in the air.  Going places with the kids and having a good time.  Starting to think about our lives more and what direction we want them to take.

2003-- A year of learning and change.  We learned we can do this parenting thing.  LOL.  We also decided that maybe we should think about more children.  So, we hosted Yana, Alex and another child this summer.  Decided to go back to Russia to bring Yana and Alex home & started the paperwork process to do so.  Learned this year that family does not have to be supportive of your decisions.  Though heartbroken, it was a life lesson nonetheless.  Had a family reunion at our home despite the negativity.  Max & Irina were thrilled to be getting new siblings.  Aspen(our dog) was growing a bit older.

2004-- If this was a year to pick of change...this was it!  We moved into a new home, which we had 2 days to find.  Long story with a shady developer.  We brought home Yana and Alex in May and started a massive remodel that same month.  That year, we were chosen to host a delegation from Tajikastan to see if that country may be interested in adoptions.  Remember, some countries still think that we use their orphans for body parts.  No, all mine are still intact thank you very much.  We also started the adoption process for Bojan this year b/c well, you know, there was not enough going on--LOL.  Kids played soccer this year.  We also put in our pool this year. And, attended my brother's wedding.  Kids went to Hershey Park as well.  Busy year to say the least.  Oh, had quit the florist job and got a part time job at blockbuster.  Introduce to the terminology RAD(reactive attachment disorder)...yikes!!!

2005-- Started the year off in Serbia bringing Bojan home.  Got ripped off by a nanny that kept the kids while we were out of country.  Learning again as parents as we were new to this type of special need.  Missing limbs.  Learned all about prosthetics and what to do with them.  Got more daring and took the kids many more museums, aquariums and such that year.  Had about 5 or 6 surgeries between all the kids that year.  Were settling into routine and into our home.  Fixing it up the entire time.  Aspen was still aging.  Kids were growing like weeds and we were dealing with massive school issues.  Alex was healing from all his years of neglect.  Differences were being seen and made.  Warren still worked for the same company.  I had to quit my job later that year.  For the first time ever, I was without a job though Warren kept reminding me I had plenty to do at home.  Lots of therapy I was doing and keeping up with school and kids.  Started to think maybe our family wasn't quite complete.

2006-- Another year for change.  You suprised?  This is the year we brought home Alyona and Nik.  All our other kids were doing well in school and things were starting to feel good at home w/ their needs.  Some would say then why add more?  We however did not feel quite whole.  Felt like someone was missing.   We had a lot to learn this year.  The teen years were upon us with a vengence--LOL.  I knew the teen years would be challenging but gee whiz.  It would be easier to shampoo a porcupine than to deal with a teenager and their ever fluctuating hormones. 

2007-- Finally, the screaming from Nik started to subside.  He was learning to communicate through ASL and so were we.  I started doing more advocacy work for orphans as I thought that was a way I could contribute since we were "done" adopting.  (Gosh, I wish I had a recorder right now.  My family is downstairs thinking up names for our 3 new kids.  It is hilarious!  I promise to not let some of these names through.).  kept busy with Nik being at home and us learning together a new language...ASL.  Had to fight for his needs.  Had to decide what mode of communication was best for him & our family.  Got to attend a Deaf Camp for the first tiem & finally felt like we belonged & that Nik belonged somewhere.  Was reassuring and at that camp, we learned we should travel more with our children to see the world and this great nation.  Special needs or not, we were going to start seeing and doing more and not be afraid of things.  It was an eye-opening year for sure.  We considered moving but decided to stay put.  Warren still works for the same company.  Aspen great extremely old this year & we knew he would not e w/ us forever.  Bear was still around and doing just fine.  All the kids were growing like weeds.  We started getting the adoption itch again but knew our kids already home needed us more.  We concentrate on some psychological issues going on with them to help them heal.  It was a tryign year but a goodyear.  We were meshing as a family. 

2008-- Our beloved dog Aspen passed away.  It was the hardest thing we ever had to do.  Our kids missed him very much.  This year we all learned much more in sign and I homeschool Max and Irina.  My teens were getting into pop culture and the girls were very interested in boys.  Thank heaven none have dated yet.  We learned as parents to stick up for our children when the schools do not.  Yana became taller than me this year.  Nik started school & it broke my heart.  It was SO hard to let go of this one.  Really was.  I know I'll have a new "baby" soon but Nik will always be my "baby" boy.  Kids had a great time playing basketball and doing cheerleading. 

2009-- Wow, what a year!  We accomplished so much and I was so proud of my kids.  They were really excelling in school and light switches went on for some.  We were comfortable but felt something was missing.  We went on wonderful adventures together and decided we could share those adventures w/ someone else as well.  We felt strongly and decided to add to our family one last time.  Thought we would finally end w/ our "baby."  Not in the picture but what we do have is 3 wondeful kids that will be a part of us forever.  We can hardly wait to get them home.  We once again considered moving.  We are still here.  Love our home and are staying.  Kids are happy, school is going well and we are at the point where we all agree we can welcome in new family members into our hearts.  Warren still works for the same place & I still stay at home.  All of us are healthy though all a little older.  It happens over a decade.  Bear is really getting older and we fear he won't be around next year possibly.  Here's a picture of our beloved Bear:

Notice the gray around his face?  This is the best dog ever!  He has put up with so much over this last decade as well.  If I were him as a dog, I would have bit those kids over & over again-LOL.  But not Bear.  Never ever once bit them.  Always faithful to them, always loving them.  Anyway, we went on a few more adventures this year.  Fixed up the house some and became better parents we feel.  Okay, so that comment is up for debate.  Our teens will tell you we're the worst, especially if they've just been grounded.  We feel they'll get over it and be better for it.   Kids did basketball and cheerleading this year as well. 

There are really too many things to name that we did.  Most of it was what other families would do.  Though go from no kids to getting ready for 10 in a decade is something else I think.  We brought Max & Irina home in 1999 and decided in 2009 that we would bring our final 3 home and make it an even 10.  The number of kids really isn't that important to us. It's the quality of life we feel we've given them.  We go places together, do things together, try new things together and fail together.  We are a family.  The last decade, we have been forming our family.  We can not wait to see what the next ten years will bring us.  Shoot, some of my kids will be out of the house by then!  Yikes!  I may have gray hair.  Oh I won't.  I'm sure you women can figure out that statement.  Irina will be 27 years old by then.  That isthe age I brought her home.  It is a lot to think about.  My youngest (coming home this year) will be 13 years old by then.  Oh great, the teen years all over again.  I will hopefully have finished some books by then.  And we will still be learning as parents.  Most likely, we'll still be in this house.  But, we will be a family.  Stronger than ever the next ten years b/c we've learned so much these last ten years. 

Tomorrow there will be much to discuss regarding fundraising.  LOTS to do and LOTS of ideas.  Thanks for reading and hoping to have a camera this week.  I've missed so much already.  Kids made and painted a plaster dinosaur today.  T-rex.  We all tried mushroom burgers for the first time and loved them!  All except Alyona.  Everyone wants to know when we're making them again.  We attempted to make snow pops but my kids called them poop pops b/c that's what they looked like.  No lie.  IT was a sad site.  A picture would have been awesome of that.  There is so much that happens here at Chaos Manor everyday that it is good to catch some of it on film.  Pictures should be up this week sometime once more.  For now, Christmas decorations are down, lunches are made for tomorrow and only 2 more kids need a bath right now.  I think we're doing okay.  All 3 girls go to the orthodontist this week to see how they're doing.  We'll see.  Alyona has a rare thing where her tooth is growing in upside down...root & all.  Don't ask.  Every time we hear "this is rare..." we just shake our heads.  We look very forward to what the next 10 years will bring.  Keep you all posted.  HOping to hear from the social worker this week.  Oh, and stay tuned b/c I have an awesome, awesome reverse hosting program to tell you all about.  GEtting all the details in order and should have them by mid-week!  This will be an opportunity of a life time especially, for those wanting to adopt a deaf child.  I will let you allknow details very soon.