Friday, January 15, 2010

Spring fever & fundraising

It's hit me badly today.  What is it you say?  Spring Fever!  I'm so ready for spring and it only halfway through January.  Don't know how many know this but I LOVE flowers and used to work in a florist shop for awhile.  Flowers are everywhere in the spring and summer here.  Starts with the smell of honeysuckles from our side yard.  Tons of them.  Kids love to go get a taste of honey.  The scent is overwhelming and is just gives you that good time feeling.  Irina and I went for a spring walk today and it was wonderful.  Not a cloud in the sky, 60 degrees(F), and just gorgeous day to be outside.   We know it is too early for flowers but just had to post a picture to remind me spring is just around the corner.  

With spring just around the corner, I figured this is the BEST time to start thinking about flower bulbs and what we will be planting.  This just a perfect way to tie in our fundraiser for the next few weeks.  If we have any hope of getting our children home soon, we need to do all the fundraising we can and very quickly.  In adoption, fees are split up.  some due now, some in the middle, some when you go and even some when you get home.  We have $4000 due this week.  I have just a thousand raised so far.  We need to kick it into high gear is an understatement.  So, let's get started b/c there are 3 children waiting for their parents in Bulgaria.  Three children that may one day change the world or change a heart somewhere.  Three children that have much meaning in this world and need to be shown they are truly loved.  To do that, we need funds.  Hate it, but it is reality.  We will be able to come up with some of the funds on our own but not nearly the $30K we need.  We'll need to come up with around $20K via fundraising.  Hey, we're a thousand closer and that is nothing to be nervous about.  I know it takes a village to raise a child and it will take a village to help get them home.  So, all my villagers, unite & buy some beautiful flowers!!!  LOL. 

Here is what we are currently doing:  We are selling flower bulbs via Dutch Mill Bulb company.  IF you are local, you can easily place an order with us.  Even better if you are local, you can help sell them!  Anyone local can help sell these bulbs.  It is great as they are great quality, fun to do and everyone loves flowers.  Did I mention they are only $6?  Depending on the flower, depends upon how many bulbs come with it.  Some 2 or 3 and some 15 to 20.  Again, depends on what you get.  Please, please let me know if you'd like to take one of these sheets to the office, to church, to friends, to neighbors and I will be more than happy to hook you up.  In addition, out-of-state folks can help sell as well.  I just would need a good amount sold in order to offset shipping costs from here.  Hope that made sense.  And of course, I have flowers for sale for locals.  These will come up.  Guaranteed to.  Plus, I did this a few years ago and the perennials have come up every year since.  Love it.  Just what our homes and yards need during the spring...some wonderful color and scents.  So, please do let me know if any of you can sell bulbs or if anyone would like to purchase some locally.  Like I said, just $6.  You can't even get a value meal for that anymore at Wendy's.  But, you can get some flowers that will give you great joy for seasons to come. 

Next fundraiser we have is the magazine fundraiser.  It is ongoing of course.  It is on the sidebar.  Please, please feel free to pass this along to anyone you know.  It is quick, easy and you get something out of it for a year or two(depending upon your subscription time).  Awesome magazines and literally hundreds to choose from. 

Of course, we always have our chip-in button.  In addition, we'll have the paypal button up this evening as quite a few had requested to do it that way instead.  I totally understand.  I also am getting someone Western Union information that they requested.  Whatever anyone is most comfortable with, we don't mind at all.  Any questions, just email us at: 

The best way to raise money is simply word of mouth and awareness.  Please feel free to forward our blog or magazine link or whatever you'd like.  We just need 300 people to see it and donate $10 one time.  That would do the trick in an instant for next week.  $10 can save 3 lives!  I think that is incredible.  Oh, and if anyone whatsoever needs verification they can feel free to contact me and I can give them our agency's name & # to directly contact to verify we are indeed clients, do exist and are indeed adopting 3 special needs children from Bulgaria this year.  Trust me, there are scammers and I want everyone to know we are not.  We've been in the adoption community for over 10 years now and though we used to rarely post pictures, most know who we are.  Reason we didn't post pictures is someone tried to steal our family's identity and story and profit from it.  They did this to us and other families.  FBI was called in.  It was in the midst of us doing another adoption and I told them they could use my emails or whatever but I just wanted to forget about the rest of it all.  Was tryign to concentrate w/ my adoption.  So, as you can imagine, we make sure all things we do our legit and that no one would ever worry about the money going to the wrong place. 

I know this was a lot to take in.  We are hoping to possibly do a big Chocolate Extravaganza locally in February or March sometime.  Details on that later in the month obviously.  For now, the magazines, donations and flower bulb sales are priority.  Well, that and of course paperwork. 

Oh, did I tell you my kids start Upwards Basketball next week?!  They are SO excited they can hardly stand it.  It is so much fun watching them play.  My teens are going to start going to a youth group at a local church.  Well, it's in Raleigh but we like the people there a lot and so do the kids so worth the drive.  I definitely take pictures of that.  Here's one from last year:

We all go to the games.  EVen the teens who don't play.  They like to support the younger sibs.  Yes, I was even shocked at that one.  But they do.  So, I'm not complaining.  Here is Nik and Alyona.  Taking a break from game time.

this is Bojan from last year at Upwards Basketball game.  He was getting ready to take a shot.  Now, Bojan wears a prosthetic on his right leg and has a severe clubfoot on the left.  He can not really run.  Hates it in school when it takes him forever to finish laps while the other kids sit and wait for him to finish.  I think the slowest kid takes like 7 minutes and Bojan then finishes in 15 minutes.  It is really hard for him to accept and deal with as he gets older and knows he'll never run anything like him.  Upwards gives him that confidence he is unable to attain through school.  Again, wonderful program, wonderful people.   So, as you can imagine, kids are really happy to be participating again this year.  Thanks for listening and reading about the fundraisers.  I know it's not allt hat exciting but it is vital in order to bring the children home.  I want nothing more than next year at this time for my others to be participating in Upwards as well as other activities with the family.  I'm out of here for some great burgers on the grill that Warren and Max are cooking up.  We're all watching a movie and my sister in-law may stop by for a quick visit.  This will be our only free weekend for awhile so we plan on just cleaning up and relaxing.  Should have some pics up this weekend as well.  Next adoption topic will be choosing an agency.  Trying to cover a few topics a week as I know there are people reading this who are considering adoption or in process.  I am by no means an expert nor do I claim to be.  Just a parent who has learned from their mistakes & doesn't mind sharing some advice I'd wished I'd had before I started adopting.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  Thanks for reading.  Please remember to purchase some flowers ro magazines & to spread the word.  It's Bulgaria Bound this year!!!  I can hardly wait for the day I can share pictures with you all and what they can do.  We will document on video as much as we can w/ this adoption.  should be interesting.  SO much has changed in the adoption world and the regular world since we first adopted back in 1999.  We arrived in Russia w/ suitcase full of tools..vice grips, screwdrivers, hammers, etc.  I don't think we'd be allowed through security nowadays with those bags.  So many other interesting changes as well.  Sounds like a post topic one day.  Okay, burgers are done. 

Flabulous to Fabulous Friday

Okay, so haven't done this in quite awhile.  I'll make it a quick post.  Yes, it is possible, even from me.  As some of you know, I'm on a quest to lose weight and look great when I meet my new children.  Before Christmas time, I had lost 7 lbs. in two weeks.  I was thrilled, exercising and on my way.  Well, holidays come and I literally gained it all back.  URGHH.  No big deal.  I've started to take it off again.  So, lost 4 lbs.  I am now at 193 & will hopefully lose 3 to 4 lbs. this coming week.  Next Friday, I am hoping to report that I'm out of the 190's forever!  What some of you don't know, is I went to college and my degree was Health and Fitness Specialist.  Yes, it was.  No kidding.  Okay, everyone get up off the floor from laughing so hard.  Really it was.  So, I do indeed know how to take off the weight and have a clear okay from doc and cardiologist to do so.   So, here is what I have started this week minus Sunday, my rest day w/ nothing:

Monday through Saturday

Stretching 2X a day
Walking once a day, sometimes 2X a day
Cardio workout once a day (working up to 2X a day later)
Running stairs once a day
Yoga once a day 3 X a week(will increase again once I recover)
Light weightlifting Tues, Thurs, & Saturday

That is what I do.  This should bring it down pretty steadily for the next few weeks.  I'm ready.  My kids have been encouraging too so that helps.  When I was working out yesterday morning, Alyona yelled, "you can do it mom!"  Made me want to keep going.  I want to be comfortable on the plane.  I really want to be healthy.  Alex has agreed to run with me in some type of 5K race.  They have them here in the spring.  That is my goal.  Actually, walking it would be nice at this point.  I can't imagine running.  Shoot, even when I was in my peakness of shape & health years ago, I hated running.  But, running w/ one of my kids might be a nice change of pace.  That is until you get your butt beat by your 9yo son.  BTW, Alex's nickname is Dash for a reason.  From the Incredibles movie.  The fast superhero.  Alex has won the Presidential Fitness Award quite often.  Yes, I stand no chance.  I just want to complete it and say I did it.  Keep you posted.  I'm sure they'll be pictures from that race.  Just wanted to say I'm losing weight & exercising.  Feel better for sure when I exercise.  Tried to quit the chocolate addiction but that has not worked out yet.  It's steps.  I'm exercising first and changing the diet a little.  The chocolate addiction will have to wait.  We all have our weaknesses and mine is chocolate.  Warren's is salty snacks.  Max is potato chips.  Bojan's is anything that moves--LOL.  I swear the kid can eat anything.  Alyona's is anything that is coated in sugar.  Alex's is marshmellows and Nik's is candy.  Irina's is gum.  Yana just craves it all like Bojan.  So, I'll work on mine once I get a little more control of the weight stuff. 

I am so happy and excited to be starting this losing weight journey at the same time as the adoption journey.  I feel I will be a better mother in the end to ALL my children.  Especially, when chasing them up the stairs or playing soccer with them.  Just wanted to share about that.  Can't wait till next Friday.  There will be more pictures later tonight from some of our SC trip.  Warren has to scan them in as it is from a disposable camera.  So be on the lookout late, late tonight or tomorrow for more pics.  And, tonight, we get the new camera.  Well, replacement camera.  I am off to go for a walk with Irina and Bear.  Then, finish more paperwork and clean house.  BIG post later about fundraising.  It is imperative at this point.  Kids are ready for a fundraising blitz this weekend.  I can accomplish losing weight, I can accomplish raising money for this adoption.  Nothing will stop me from getting my kids home.  Nothing.  From the movie Lilo & Stitch:  "Ohana means family.  And family means no one gets left behind OR forgotten."  They are not forgotten.  They will not be left behind.  They will come home & I'm ready to get this show on the road.  The homestudy packet will be on it's way tomorrow along w/ the fingerprints to the FBI.  I still have a packet (contract/ registration) and such to go to the placing agency.  I can not do this until I have the funds raised.  Once I can send that in, I can work on my dossier.  I need this done asap so I can get the dossier to Bulgaria by March.  I'm running out of time here.  Okay, rest of this for another post.  Sorry for the sidetracking.  Off for a walk, clear head full of ideas and gorgeous sunshine.  Pictures galore this weekend!  I missed my camera and can't wait to take pictures of daiily life here. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homestudies past...

I promised earlier that I'd write about some things of our homestudies past.  Okay, first homestudy is no big deal as we were literally terrified of what to expect and had the house immaculate.  I mean really, do we need to be able to eat off the floor?  Is that even normal?  Next homestudy was for Yana and Alex and it was okay as well.   Bojan's was tricky in that we couldn't use our regular homestudy agency.  They wouldn't let us.  See, we had just gotten back from Russia in May of 2004 and in August were already looking to do a homestudy again.  I know, that was a little quick.  But, all worked out so we must have known what we were doing--LOL.  We located another agency that was willing to work with us and we were with them for awhile. 

Shortly after that, we had to do post placement reports for Russia.  PPR's.  We had a lady come visit us that

1) either worked for OSHA or

2) came off a very bad case. 

Either way, it was NOT going well for us.  She was on a safety mission for sure.  Keep in mind, we were in the midst of a massive construction remodel and had just adopted our 5th child at the time.  The back dining hall was taped off w/ plastic.  The entire upstairs floor was being added on.  Mess is an understatement.  So, we had the two girls living in the front bedroom and the 3 boys crammed into the other bedroom downstairs.  Okay, social worker comes in and I swear the eyes must have popped out of her sockets.  Yes, they were big staring at the mess.  So, we chat a bit and then says she must walk around.  I knew in the back of my mind where this was headed.  She walks in the dining room.  There is lumber everywhere.  Expensive molding for the upstairs and chair rail.  She said "what if the kids fall?"  I said they better not!  They'll break that lumber.  I was not kidding either.  I knew the kids if they were to fall would have been messing around.  Trust me, I know my kids.  Balance beams is what they'd do with that stuff.  They were not going to fall and if they did, really, they weren't going to get hurt any more than falling out of the trees they climb.  BTW, they never did trip on that lumber.

Anyhow, next room is the boys' room.  She said "Don't you think it's dangerous to have bunkbeds in this room?"  I said it is temporary until the upstairs is finished.  She said "but they could get hurt on the ceiling fan."  Irina goes "no you can't, it's plastic!"  Then she goes: "see!?"  IRina then proceeded to show the social worker the cut she had on her forward from said ceiling fan.  Remember, Irina can't feel pain so does some not so smart things.  Social worker at this point wasn't happy.  Oh, it gets better.  Irina (12yo at the time) then goes to cook Ramen Noodles on the stove.  Social worker was totally spastic that it was unsafe that I was letting my 12yo cook her own noodles.  URGHH.  Okay, onto the outside of the home.  "You don't have a fence around your pool!"  Me to social worker:  "It's an aboveground pool and does NOT require a fence by law.  Keep in mind, our home is surrounded by woods, not people and houses.  We fold up the ladder and then lock it w/ a bike lock.  Key is kept out of reach inside the pantry.  What if the neighborhood kids get to it"  Umm, at this point, I thought of letting her have it and being sarcastic but I bit my tongue.  I felt like saying "then their parents should be watching them better."  But I did not say that to her.  Thought it though.  Max decided to show the social worker his hacksaw that he uses after I specifically said to him before she came to leave ALL tools in the garage.  URGHH.  I forget what else what happened that visit but she said she'd have to have the director from the agency come out and take a look.  Fine.  He came out, stayed for about 30 seconds and left.  He knew us, knew this was a temporary thing due to the construction and knew the other stuff she mentioned was petty.  So, we survived that one. 

Onto another incident.  Another PPR.  This one was for Alyona and Nik.  Max greets our social worker by telling her what is wrong with her car.  Lovely.  We talk, we love her to death b/c she "gets us" and just is plain nice. We go to walk her out.  Now, first you must know what I do before the social workers come over.  You can call it prepping the kids, whatever.  But with FASers and RADishes being so unpredictable, you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  I told Max leave all tools in the garage and please whatever you boys do, do NOT go down the hill in my garden cart again.  It's like an accident waiting to happen every time they get into it.  Anyhow, we go to walk the social worker out the door and what do I see before I can even stop it or spit any words out of my mouth?!  You guessed it. That stupid metal garden cart loaded with boys barreling down the hill straight toward the social worker's car.  Thankfully, they did not hit it.  And even more thankful that she said it looked like fun.  Phew.  Trust me, as they were coming down I was thinking of all kinds of things I wanted to happen to those boys for complete defiance.  No, I did nothing.  Not even grounded.  Okay, so did take the garden cart away for awhile.  My boys do some dumb things and one day I'll post a list.  Seriously, I kept a list. 

Those are some of the things that stick out to me.  I know there is more.  Has to be with this unpredictable bunch.  Can they behave for this new social worker?  Oh please.  At this point, bribery may be an option.  I'm just kidding folks.  Don't go crazy.  All I can say is when the social worker is here, my kids hold nothing back. They'll ask anything.  And I mean anything.  I'm nervous the whole time they are here and huge sigh of relief when they leave.  I think my kids are normal.  AT least to us they are.  It's the only normal we know.  We like it a lot.  We love the state of "normal" we have here.  It's not called Chaos Manor for nothing. 

I've filled some more forms out.  Do you know they want references of friends AND relatives?!  Plenty of friends and neighbors to speak on our behalf.  Now, relatives??  You've seen one of my posts on unsupportive family, right?  I do have cousins that would stick up for us but my immediate family & Warren's are against adoption even for child # 1 and child #2.  Not kidding.  Sad, but true.  We've thought of cutting communication but as long as they don't say anything negative to the kids, we keep it open.  Hoping one day for a change of heart that will probably never come.   And that is okay.  We've accepted that fact.  How on earth though do you explain that to an agency that your own family doesn't care?  We've done this 7 times,(well, 4 actually..2 at once 3X) and love our children.  Can't imagine life without them or the chaos that happens here.  Today, Bojan's teacher calls me with more good news, Alyona figured out how to tie something, Nik is spelling his siblings' names, etc.  Some good things happened today.  And, some frustrating things as well too.  That's normal.  So, I ponder tonight who's name we will put down.  Not the friend's part, but the relative.   I wanted so badly to share my homestudy news with my relative today on the phone.  I knew they wouldn't understand as they've stated clearly they will not discuss the adoption whatsoever. Fine, but really wanted to just share the good news.  Something so simple.  I pray that one day a change of heart will come to these relatives.  I really do.  My kids are great.  Okay, so I do tell you some of the not so great things they do, but still, we think they've come an extremely long way.   Love sharing what they can do and what they've accomplished.  My kids long to tell some of their relatives about the adoption but we've asked them not to yet.  Now, told them they can tell their teachers and sure enough, they have indeed!  Too funny.  Alyona has talked all about her sisters that are coming to many people.  I know our family and know we are ready for this.  We wouldn't be doing it if we weren't.  We've thought about adoption again for years now but just was not good timing.  Now, everyone is healthy, everyone is doing great in school (okay, so Alex is still being a bit lazy), and basically, they are thriving!  It's the right time to complete our family.  It really is.  Despite what relatives think.  Sorry for the ramblings.  Searching for some long lost relatives tonight--LOL. 

Anyone have any interesting homestudy stories??  Need to go finish up some stuff.  Irina has 2 weeks off from high school due to exams.  So, we did errands today just her and I.  Warren & I actually took her out to eat on Tuesday to Applebee's.  We had a freebie coupon so didn't cost us hardly anything.  Plus, it is a rarity we go out to eat & wanted her to have that special one on one time w/ us.  As teens, it goes by too fast.  So, when you have the opportunity to do something like this, you take it for sure.  She was SO happy we took her out.  It was really worth it.  And she was great about not telling the other kids.  We do this whenever we take one out.  Makes them feel even more special.  Got to get some work done.  We get up early to get fingerprinted!!!  Now, who in the world would be happy about that?  Me.  That's who. 

Good night. 

Homestudy happenings!!!

You all know I contacted the homestudy agency way back when but holidays hit and delays came.  So, long story short, pre-application was approved.  They sent us out a packet that must be 2 inches(alright, so maybe not 2 " but close to it--LOL) thick of least to fill out.  I recieved it yesterday, almost have it all filled out and am working on gathering and copying documents today.  Wahoo!!! 

Tomorrow, Warren and I go to get fingerprinted.  Now, tell me this isn't government efficiency at work.  Instead of paying for fingerprints ONCE, we'll have to pay 3 times.  First, you have to pay the courthouse to do the fingerprints.  That is $15 a piece.  $30 for us.  Next, send them to the FBI.  That's $18 a piece... $36.  You'd think once on file that would be enough right?  Wrong.  Once we file an I-800A (Petition to adopt an orphan) w/ the government office BCIS(formerly INS aka...immigration), we then have to pay $80 a piece.  $160.  So, all told, pending no one else on the planet wants our fingerprints, we will have paid $226 for our SAME fingerprints on at least 2 separate occasions.  Got to love it.  Fundraising is going to have to kick into high gear tomorrow.  I will write a post and hopefully generate some ideas and get some ways to help.  We have to come up with roughly $3000 by Monday.  That's just 300 people at $10 each to help save 3 lives.  I KNOW we can do this if we try.  Kids & I will be doing a blitz fundraiser tomorrow selling all kinds flower bulbs.  We'll be doing that all weekend.  More on fundraising events tomorrow. 

For now, just had to share that we're really getting the homestudy stuff underway and I can hardly stand the wait.  Very exciting to get fingerprinted b/c you know even though it is a tiny step, it is a step that much closer in teh right direction to bring our kids home.  I want them home & doing all I can to get them here.  Can't make long posts but promise after the weekend, I'll have plenty more to talk about.  Tomorrow, fundraising post.  And, a post about picking an agency.  That is an important one for sure.  It's your backbone in the adoption process. 

Got to go and get some homestudy papers done.  Just had to share what i feel is great news.  Once they receive this packet in hand, we get the social worker assigned & she/ he comes out here!!!   Yikes, get cleaning kids--LOL.  Just kidding.  I will tell of some homestudy horror stories later tonight.  We can laugh now but back then, it wasn't so funny what the kids did.  More on that tonight.  Goodbye for now.  time for another autobiography.  URGHH.  Had these on our computer till it crashed.  One step closer to being Bulgaria Bound.  Hang on kids, I'm working on it.  I promise. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some pics to share

Thought I'd add a few pictures from this past weekend.  Here goes:

this is Alyona and Bojan just goofing around.  My 10 year olds.  Well, Bojan is now officially 11yo.  Alyona loves wearing her kimono.  And her sister's t-shirts.  Oh, it was so funny the other night b/c she asked me "when are the sisters coming home?"  I think that is a sign she's ready.  What do you think?

this is Alex trying to smile.  He did not feel good this day.  Poor kid.  Threw up but we feel it was from so much junk food at the party that he just wasn't used to eating.  He loves this hat for whatever reason.  And camera hog Nik of course wanting a picture.  Doesn't matter who is sick, they still hug each other. 

I told you a few posts back that I would share some of Max's artwork.  He HATES us taking pictures of it and feels his work isn't that good.  Ha!  I beg to differ.  I took a picture of this on the floor.  Sorry for the lighting.  Maybe you can click on it and look at it more closely.  He is not done w/ it but took it anyhow.  It is a picture of our home.  I think it looks great so far.

Max has been working on perspective drawings lately.  He started to draw a church from scratch.  He is not near done w/ it as he kindly tells me and why do you want a picture of something that is not done?  True artist for sure.  Very picky about his work.  I like it.  Hope to frame some of these one day.  You should see him draw the Iron Giant and cars.  amazing work.  He may sell some of it soon to raise money for the adoption.  Nice thought & would give him a self-confidence boost for sure on his artwork if some of it sold.  We'll see.  I told him to have a few pieces and we could do that.  He wants to help raise money and this would be a great way for him to do it.  He is not very social and will not go selling bulbs like the girls are going to do w/ me this weekend.   We'll see. 

Max draws skulls ever since he saw Pirates of the Carribean.  Boys of course love this one.  Typical boys for sure.  Just wanted you to get an idea of his talent.  Max has a natural gift.  He has tons of other drawings and haven't taken pictures of all.  I understand many of his drawings are still in the works.  Tell us what you think of them.  I can't even draw a stick figure.  

I don't know if Alyona was mad that we had to stop and get gas or what.  She definitely is not happy though.  Still has that stupid haircut that her sister did to her.  Poor kid.  Nik is trying to wear his glasses more which is wonderful.  Will help him to read more.  We were headed to Warren's parents' house for a belated Christmas.  I will share those pictures a little later.

Guess what?!  Finally received my homestudy packet a few minutes ago.  Yep, when the paperwork weighs as much as the child, then you can go and pick them up!  Geez, even homestudy paperwork is a stack full nowadays.  It's crazy.  So, I'm wrapping up this post and going to get it done.  Hoping to get the fingerprinting done Friday morning as tomorrow I have an appointment.  Have to then get fingerprinted and send it off to the FBI.  You know to make sure we're not axe murders or embezzlers or criminals of any kind.  Okay.  I think we'll pass.  Who has time to do criminal activity with 7 kids--LOL.  We also need to get child abuse checks and medicals done.  Those are actually done.  Great doctor!  I think I can have this back in the mail to them this week.  My record dossier was 3 days years ago.  I'm serious about this stuff!  Only 1 appointment tomorrow.  So, writing & filling out papers all night tonight and tomorrow.  I want this D-O-N-E so the social worker can come out here next and work her magic part.  Most agencies are used to clients taking their time.  Umm, not us.  I hope they realize we have 3 kids waiting for their mom & dad on the other side of the world and we are not playing around here.  We are ready to get paperwork done and be that much closer to getting our children.  So watch out, that homestudy paperwork is getting DONE today & tomorrow.  One day, I'll have to take pictures of all the paperwork.  And this is not even the dossier yet!  Got to get goign to do some paperwork.  Hope you enjoyed some brief pictures.  I'm finally getting excited.  Now, the hard part... fundraising.  I'll do a post on that later.  We have a long way to go & need some help w/ ideas and spreading the word.  Talk a little later.  Tell me what you all think of some of Max's artwork. 

Wednesday's Waiting Child (Harry)

Okay, it's Wednesday so you know what that means???  We get to spread the word about a deserving child in need of the love only a family can give.  This week's child is a special one at that.  This child is located in Eastern Europe and really needs a home as soon as possible.  I will honestly say I need help from ALL of you to get the word out about this precious little boy.  His life has not been easy and he has been waiting way too long for  a family.  This kid is a fighter!  Harry has a zest for life.  He did have a devastating diagnosis a few years back but has been in remission for over 4 years now.  Perfectly healthy child w/ very minimal delays.  (typical orphanage type stuff).  Oh there is so much wonderful stuff I have read about this child.  His spirit will touch you.  This little boy very recently turned 7 years old.  You will fall in live w/ the smile he has.  Fully vaccinated, no major health issues nor diseases.  Free from all communicable diseases as well.  Just a little boy who desires a family to love him.  He was given a rough early start and overcome a diagnosis that sometimes does not play fair to its patients.  This little one however, is totally healthy now and was given a clean bill of health over 4 years ago.  I can not stress enough how sweet this little boy is.  I know some of my boys were rough & tough when they got home.  I can not imagine this child being that way.  This little boy is just very gentle and sweet.  He would make a wonderful addition to a family.  Please do spread the word that a little boy in Eastern Europe really needs AND wants a family fast.  This is a country that accepts singles as well.  Travel to the country is short.  Please contact me at for more information.  Let everyone know Harry needs a home!!!  Thanks so much. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Max's transformation

It is about time I get back to this.  We had a great time at Warren's parents' house yesterday.  Kids enjoyed their grandparents & of course, their belated Christmas.  I had the extremely slow camera so not too many shots but will have some up later tonight.  Warren has to load the old camera in.  New camera this Wednesday...wahoo!!!  Though I can't take fancy pictures like some folks, I do enjoy taking pictures of the kids and everyday life here.  With older adopted children, you want to capture every moment as you most likely missed quite a few when they were younger.  Remember, our youngest we ever adopted(so far) was Alex.  He was 3 years old, almost 4yo.  So, when they get home, we try to capure many of the "firsts" that we see.  I don't know if all adoptive parents do this or if we're just nurotic, but we really don't care--LOL.  Now, if I can only find a way to get back to organizing the photos again.  I must admit, the computer made me lazy with that.  I have a huge storgae tub right now literally filled with photos.  Thousands of them.  Sitting, unorganized, not written on and just waiting to be put in an album.  Soon.  I'm thinking of making it our summer project. 

Onto Max's transformation.  Gosh, where do I begin.  I will not tell their adoption stories on here as they are extremely lengthy.  But what took place over the years.  Max came home at just four years old.  He weighed 21 lbs. and wore size 18 months.  He was developmentally delayed.  He was a nightmare wild man.  Keep in mind, Warren and I were new parents and had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  These were our first two children.  Adopted IRina and Max at the same time.  Now, Warren and I had to figure out if what Max was doing was just normal child behavior or something more.  Max was all over the place.  Never slowed down, had night terrors, banged his head against the wall over and over again, rocked constantly(self-stimulation rock), and numerous other post-institutionalized behaviors that took place.  We were nervous, we were scared.  We know about all this stuff now but back then in 1999, much of what happened to post-institutionalized children was not very public.  We didn't have blogs to rely on or email forums or support groups.  It was just us.  No one else.  So, who do you turn to for help?  A doctor, a therapist, etc.  We went to our doctor and I was told we were overreacting and just first time parents.  I was told & I quote "you'll get the hang of it."  I said really, this is normal?  Funny, i"ve never seen any "normal" children bang their heads over and over again and me have to literally sit on top of them to calm them down from night terrors.  Went to a well-renowned therapy center here.  The top doctor mind you, told Warren and I we would all need therapy for years to come, Max was sexually & physically abused, etc.  BOGUS!!!!  He was not & I'll get to that in a minute.  This professional had not even observed or ever seen Max!  He was going on "hearsay" of what happens to most orphans.  Warren and I left that grim outlook meeting and me in tears.  What was to become of our son?  Can we ever help him?  Then, on the way home, a lightbulb went off in me.  I said you know, he never even saw or talked to Max.  Maybe I should ask some other people.  Back then, you didn't go to the agencies for help for feelign like a failure as a parent.  You thought you were doing something wrong.  Not the case anymore but it was back then.  After much thought, we found a great therapist to help us briefly and explain what was happening.  In addition, I quite my brokerage firm job as a secretary and stayed at home.  Well, stayed at home and got a part time job.  We began seeing progress in Max.  He wasn't rocking as violently.  He was still crazy fast and never slept however.  After about a year of this, I was going a little crazy myself with him.  I'd ask over and over the daycare(this was when I was still working) if they saw these behaviors there or anything.  They denyed it all but found out later there was a lawsuit and big case w/ that center, worker got fired, etc. so they were playing cover up w/ everything even if the kids were not behaving. This was not helping Max at all or us as parents trying to figure him out.  Finally, Kindergarten came.  Teacher called me and said how on earth did that preschool not know there is something wrong with this kid!  This to me was pure relief.  Pure relief that it wasn't just me & Warren that saw these things in Max.  There was something more to it than the ever so common answer I got from professionals of "oh, he's just adopted and you're new parents."  Hate that. 

We took him to a neurologist.  Confirmation was ADHD and FAS.  Read all I could and again,they don't paint pretty pictures for children with FAS and there are many misconceptions of children with that disorder.  Did you know that 85% of the kids w/ this actually have normal to high intelligence?  Max is one of those kids.  He is extremely bright.  Over the years we dealt with Max's ups and downs and went through many med changes till we found something that works.  Though I hate medicating my children, sometimes it is absolutely necessary.  If he were not medicated, there is no doubt he would be in jail.  I know that sounds horrible but it is the truth.  With medication, he is able to make clear decisions and choices and rage is completely controlled.  We only medicate our children that truly need it.  All our kids have various dx's, but only 3 are medicated for them.  If we can modify their behavior w/out meds, we give it a shot.  If they are a safety risk to themselves or others in the house, we do give medication.  They are  extremely monitored with these.  They see a neurologist every 3 months and have bloodwork drawn every 6 months.  I know medicating a child is a hot topic.  It was for me and I didn't want to do it.  But when Max took the medicine, he was different.  wE never told him in the beginning it was medicine.  Just said it was vitamins as we wanted to make sure there was no placebo effect.  He came to us after about two weeks on it and said "can I keep taking these vitamins?"  I said why?  He said "because my brain can finally think."  He used to literally put a toothbrush to his mouth and forget he was brushing his teeth.  There was so much scrambled thought, he couldn't function in everyday life.  Once this issue was taken care of, we got to see the true Max. 

Let me share with you some of the true Max.  My son has gone from a wild, head banging, out of controlled, agressive child to something only one could dream of.  Max is brillantly artistically inclined.  This child has a natural gift for art.  I will indeed post some pictures later this evening.  He has won some art contests at school and one for the entire state when he was only in 2nd grade.   He is currently painting a mural for my friend on her son's wall.  He will be doing that here in the next few months to expect his talents and broaden his knowledge.  Max is extremely mechancially inclined.  If something is broken in this house, we ask Max to fix it.  He is the go-to guy here.  He can tell you how engiines work and reads about mechanical stuff and technology stuff all the time.   Max is a very sweet child as well in regards to his siblings.  He and Bojan are best buddies.  Our biggest issue w/ this is they want to stay up all night talking.  Max sees a problem and tries to fix it.  Max is now 14 years old and will be 15 in a few short months.  He likes the girls as all teens do at this age but is way too shy to ask any of them out yet.  He seems to think that girls don't like "brown" boys.  That's what he calls himself...brown.  Don't really get it.  He is from Russia but clearly Asian.  both his parents were from Kazakstahn.  We are trying to boost his self-esteem a bit in that department.  Any girl would be lucky to have him.  Our biggest issue with Maxwell is cleaning his room.  But, if that is the ONLY issue we have with a 14yo boy, we must be doing something pretty dog gone good.  I love seeing the quiet, sweet, compassionate, art-loving, mechanical thinking young man he has become.  We are very proud of him.  So, those contemplating an FAS child, take a look at Max.  Yes, he'll need help with some things as an adult but I have no doubt he'll be able to make it in the real world and have a great life.  I wish I had pictures from 1999 when we brought him home but I don't.  He was a tiny little thing.  So, earliest I have is 2004, 5 years after were were home with him.  Here goes:

This is Max w/ 3 of his sibs.  This was at 5 years after being home so he was definitely much, much bigger than when he first came home.


This was at the beginning of 2005.  It was at my brother's wedding.  This is Max, Dad and Alex.  Max has always been a Daddy's boy for sure.  Always.  They have a very special relationship since they are the only 2 in the family that can talk technical.  Warren talks, and Max actually listens intently whereas the rest of us only pretend to know what he is saying.

while at the wedding, we went to Hershey Park.  Kids had a blast and of course so did I!  I LOVE chocolate.  You get free samples of chocolate at Hershey Factory.  YOu also learn how chocolate is made.  Wonderful place to go for sure.  This was just a week before we were to leave to get Bojan and bring him home.  Notice in this picture just how much taller the girls are from Max.  Max and Yana were the same age.

The bike almost looks too big for him.  This is in the summer of 2006.  He hasn't hit his growth spurt yet.  Believe it or not, he is 11 years old in this picture.  Max learned to ride a bike in a matter of minutes.  He's not the most athletically inclined kid but can ride a bike, skateboard and skate for sure.  And, he has definitely fixed every bike the kids have broken.   This was his first big bike as he called it.

This is Max in the summer of 2007.  You can see the changes in his physique taking place.  Starting to look more and more like a young man.  For many years Max struggled in school.  When children from institutions come home as older kids, they have to learn a whole new language among other things.  It takes them years to catch up.  Especially, with the disorders Max has.  As I was writing this, his teacher called me to let me know at tomorrow's IEP meeting, they want to pull Max out of self-contained into a mixture of regular middle school classes and resource classes!!!  this is a HUGE accomplishment for Max and one that frankly last year, I thought would never happen.  I can honestly say I am really proud of him.  Max & I even went through a stent of home schooling during middle school.  Let's just say Max is closer to his dad than he is me.  Max & I have always seemed to be like fire and gasoline up until I started to homeschool him.  We became a bit closer I think.  Now, he's back in public school, doing fantastic and he & I have a great relationship now.  This child is NOT the same child we picked up at the orphanage.  He deifnitely has transformed into a wonderful young man.

This is Max listening intently in Sept. of '08.  We took the kids to actually go up in small planes.  They were SO excited.  Max got to learn about flying.  He considered joining the Civil Air Patrol.  We will most likely revisit that idea now that his grades are great, attitude is better and he's not in trouble anymore.  Max came home and must have drawn airplanes for a week straight!

This was taken in the spring of '08 I think.  Max loves his brothers.  I can honestly say that w/out laughing.  He is closest to Bojan but plays w/ all of them.  Very caring w/ Nik as well.  This was a "picnic" the boys decided to have in our front yard when it was still chilly out.  They wanted to be in the sunshine so I let them.  Made them some popcorn and they were happy as can be.

This was teh "snow" North Carolina got last year.  Kids have fun anyways.  You can see Max and how much bigger he has gotten.  You're never too old for mom to take a picture!

Max knows how to have fun even if he is a southerner now.  Must be in his Russian/ Kaz blood.  We do have a ton of fun here when it snows as it is such a rarity.  PUt it this way, we get more hurricanes here than we do snowfalls.

This was Max in May of 2009.  Just this past year.  You can see, he is almost as tall as me!  We were at Special Olympics to support Alyona.  Max is not a real fan of crowds and it was packed at that stadium.  He was a real trooper and cheered her on as loud as he could.  What better big brother could Alyona ask for??  BTW, she won gold!

Well, that shows you just a few years of Maxwell growing up before our very eyes.  This lost little boy found his family and transformed his life around against all odds.  Now, he is painting murals on walls for people, sketching like crazy, taking some regular classes, looking out for cute girls(shh, don't tell him I told you all) and just developing into an overall great young man to be proud of.  Not sure of what the future holds for Max but sure it will be something very special.  Again, another unwanted child waited to just be wanted.  Can any of you out there transform a child's life today??  HOpe you enjoyed Max's transformation.  Next will be Irina's.  But not tonight.