Friday, March 26, 2010

Just hanging around pictures

With some posts lately of a lot of words, figured it was time for just some pictures today.  I only have 9 kids here today.  Need to get used to that I guess w/ 10 kids later this year, huh?  Kids helped me do some serious spring cleaning today.  We clean regularly but this was the nitty gritty type of cleaning.  Irina is going to her friend's b-day party tomorrow for spend the night.  Yana is going skating w/ friend's tonight and spending the night.  So, they're out and about.  Irina made a cake today for Max's birthday tomorrow.  So, I'll ice it in a few minutes and after dinner, we'll have some cake since not everyone will be here tomorrow.  Write a post on Max tomorrow for his birthday.  We're having baked meatballs tonight.  Irina helped me make them as they are time consuming.  Good though.  Warren is coming home, we'll take Yana and then he & I will get some things from Lowes most likely.  Trying to get the house fixed up and cleaned up.  Lots of work.  Going on a camping trip next weekend for Easter.  Should be lots of fun and of course I'll take pictures.  HEre's some pics just from us hanging around the house. 

This is of course our 12 yo Bear.  (aka...Teddy Bear).  He's an awesome dog and just goes with the flow.  Unfortunately, he really is showing his age lately.  Sad to watch as we watched our other dog deteriorate last year.  We love you Bear!  He had to go to Petsmart to give him a bath.  We always do our own grooming of our dogs and such.  Even cut their nails.  However, Bear has Cushings Disease, arthritis and can not get in the tub anymore here.  So, we took him somewhere where they have the equipment and staff to help him get the bath, cleaning he needs.  He looked great but hated every minute of it.  

Most people wouldn't ever put this on their blog.  Yeh, well, I'm not most people.  For those who don't know, RAD kids love to hide or hoard food.  However, sometimes they forget where in the world they put it.  We caught this apple before it went really bad.  We have found sandwiches in our home that even a seasoned CSI expert could not identify. 

Okay, I tried to put these pictures side by side but it did not work.  Oh well.  I'm learning.  We have a wonderful friend whose husband works for a company that does a lot of snack stuff.  Damaged boxes or extras are very welcomed in this house.  You can't tell by the picture but that is a crazy big box of cinnamon bun bars.  And though we usually don't buy them, it does help offset costs.  We still have a bunch of the snack cookies at the bottom as well.  Great to pull out as suprises for the kids.  We are very grateful for this gift.  This is not the only time they've done this either.  They have a couple of kids themselves so they definitely understand.  

Snapped a quick one of Alyona tieing her shoes.  Just because she is so dog gone cute.  Yep, jacket on the floor in the back.  It took Alyona forever to learn to tie her shoes but once she did, there was no stopping her.  I love the fact that the kids know Alyona is mentally challenged and is limited in what she can learn and do.  They all are willing to help her just like when she was learning to tie her shoes.  They all helped.   They also try to include her in things.  Like today she played truth or dare w/ the older kids.  Yeh, not the best game but they included her.  

This is Alex...our mischievious one.  You never know what he is up to.  These last two weeks he has had a horrible time with things.  We're working to see if he needs a med change or if it is stress or what ever else could be going on.  Sometimes as an adoptive parent it is hard to figure out what is adoption related, what is disorder related or what is just normal kid behavior.  We learn each and every time.  Alex has started to develop a tic w/ his hand and that has us concerned.  We're looking into it for sure.  Could be any number of things.  Time will tell.  When you have children w/ mental health disorders, you really have to be hypervigiilent almost.  Alex has come a long way but he has a bit further to go.  Slow and steady.  

That is it for now.  Have a bunch of pictures but haven't downloaded them yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  We have an awards ceremony for 4 of the kids.  Girls and I hope to go yardsaling.  Tomorrow is also Max's birthday and we want to get some things accomplished around the house as well.  We really want to go hiking on Sunday but looks like weather is not going to cooperate.  We'll see.  If not, probably go to church, a museum and then home to finish off some projects.  Busy weekend but a good busy.  Hope you all enjoy it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Video to share

This is something that should touch anyone.  It is NOT about the disability, but the ability to move forward with life no matter what life has handed you.  I think this speaks volumes.  I know for a fact, some of my kids live this way.  Some still need help w/ the life they've been given & their disabilities.  But most, have understood the same message this gentleman sends.  I have heard this guy is phenominal to see in person and awe inspiring.  The video is about 4 minutes but worth four minutes.  Such a message of self-worth to anyone.  Made my teens listen to it.  Enjoy.  BTW, kids are off school tomorrow so coloring Easter Eggs I think and probably doing some errands.  Other than that, chilling out.  Here's the video:

Have an awesome weekend everyone! 

Adoption Tax Credit Extended!!!

 This made my day so decided to copy & paste on here.  Wonderful news for sure. 

The Adoption Tax Credit, which was scheduled to expire in 2010, has been extended for one year, through 2011. The Adoption Tax Credit will see several positive adjustments, as confirmed by Joint Council on International Adoption Services:

The maximum credit will increased from $12,150 to $13,170,

The Adoption Tax Credit is now retroactive to January 1, 2009. This represents a potential increase of $1,000 for adoptive families.

The Adoption Tax Cred was made refundable. If a family has no tax liability, the IRS will refund the amount due.

Please consult a tax professional for all of your tax questions.

The extension of the Adoption Tax Credit through 2011, was passed as part of the health care reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. The changes have been published in detail by the Journal of Accountancy:

"For 2010, the maximum adoption credit is increased to $13,170 per eligible child (a $1,000 increase). This increase applies to both non-special needs adoptions and special needs adoptions. Also, the adoption credit is made refundable. The new dollar limit and phase-out of the adoption credit are adjusted for inflation in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010. Also, the scheduled sunset of EGTRRA provisions relating to the adoption credit is delayed for one year (i.e., the sunset becomes effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2011).

For adoption assistance programs, the maximum exclusion is increased to $13,170 per eligible child (a $1,000 increase). The new dollar limit and income limitations of the employer-provided adoption assistance exclusion are adjusted for inflation in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010. The EGTRRA sunset of provisions relating to adoption assistance programs is also delayed for one year (i.e., the sunset becomes effective for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2011)."

- Journal Accountancy, March 22, 2010

Thank you to each family that lobbied for the Adoption Tax Credit by making your voice heard at both the state and federal levels! This is great news for adopting families across the US, making adoption possible for many that could not otherwise afford to build their families through international adoption.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FBI fingerprints...

are approved!!!  Very excited.  For anyone out there in the process of adoption, go ahead and send off your fingerprints early on.  FBI received the prints on January 22nd and approved them on March 16th.  We received them today, March 24th.  Just thought I'd give you all that info in case folks are waiting.  They are taking a long time.  But, they are done and that feels great. 

Mini dossier was sent off apostilled and all.  Happy about that again too.  Now, I need to truck away at the main dossier but really  can't until we get the homestudy going.  The homestudy was supposed to be ready already in my mind's timeframe of things.  LOL.  However, reality was we didn't have the money saved up for all the fees AND the homestudy fees too.  So, signed on w/ agency first and sent off mini dossier.  Had to wait to save for the homestudy.  Homestudy is now roughly $2000 nowadays.  Our first homestudy 10 years ago was $600 I think.  Either that or $800.  Our I-600A was $400.  Why do I remember?  Because I used to think that was outrageous!  Ha!  If I only had known.  Our US side fees have gone up double to triple on most things.  Anyhow, sidetracked.  Next thing I'm doing is sending off our 2nd homestudy app.  The first one was approved.  Again, it was a little mini one.  This one is extensive.  Very extensive.  I was stunned.  Apparently, I'm told Hague countries rely a lot on the homestudy so it makes sense that it would be so extensive.  It's ready to go tonight.  Once it gets to our homestudy agency, they assign the social worker and she comes out here.  They are very, very quick as we've had a homestudy through them before and several post placement reports done through them.  One was done just this past October.  In other words, they know who we are & there is no hiding anything...LOL.  They've come at interesting times and one day we'll have to share all our homestudy stories.  It's a riot after the fact.  During...not so much. 

So, that is the plan.  Send it out, get the social worker here & get this thing finished.  It is what is the key to getting the dossier done & registered in Bulgaria.  I know the homestudy can be done quickly.  I'm not worried.  I just want to be sure I have all my stuff ready.  Seems to be.  So, not much progress.  Once the homestudy is done though, things will be flying out of here and done very quickly.  That's the way it's always worked in the past as well.  Once the homestudy is done, we can also apply for some grants which is vital for this adoption.  However, no guarantees w/ a grant so have to get busy w/ fundraising.  Next step.  Trying to fundraise, work during the day, and keep up w/ a household of 9 is not for the faint of heart.  That's way I'm looking forward to getting away next week, even if it is just camping.  Got to go.  Looking for an implant.  Fundraising post next!

So much to say, so little time

I really don't even know where to begin.  I don't know where March went to be honest.  So much is happening lately at Chaos Manor.  Wow!  This past week has been busy & this upcoming weekend will be even more so.  Trying to make appointments and arrangements for all the kids and any lingering medical stuff.  Our health care will change most significantly and we want to make sure anything that can be done, will be done.  So, today Alyona is getting her tonsil stones checked out and then most likely a tonsillectomy will be scheduled.  They want to do it next week but we will be going camping for Spring Break and visiting w/ friends in Charlotte.  So, no surgery.  Sometime in April though.  Hate scheduling surgeries, I really do.  Bojan will need his surgery soon but most likely will occur in the summer.  Bummer.  But, he's a very, very fast healer so should be fine.  Anyhow, I'm getting very organized and taking care of lots of things that have been just laying around waiting to be done.  So, if you emailed me weeks ago, you should be receiving an email soon.  LOL.  I love spring b/c it really does motivate me to get stuff accomplished.

Okay, you know you can't live here w/out having some "bad" happening, right?  As you all know, Nik has lost his implant in the woods.  Gone forever.  Used metal detectors and spent countless hours searching through the leaves, remember?:

No luck in finding that implant.  However, he still had the old one, not under warranty and such.  Well, as of last night, that one is GONE too!  We are so distraught and don't know what to do at this point.  Warren didn't sleep all night b/c of this stupid implant missing.  So, he now just has the one hearing aid which is bright orange(his favorite color):

This is his phonak digital hearing aid.  Bright orange ear mold that he picked out.  This was found BURIED & stomped on in the mud the day before last.  We have no idea what in the world is going on.  The kids all know the rules of where to put these devices or who to give them to.  The implant lost in the woods was indeed a total accident.  Now, there were NO processors in the jar nor ear hooks or batteries.  We had 4 batteries mind you!  NO coil either.  Just called yesterday and Advanced Bionics is sending a replacement coil for the broken one which we now do NOT have.  URGHH.  So frustrating b/c we know this has to be FAS related believe it or not.  These things do not just up and walk away.  See, FASers have short term memory loss problems.  They basically can't remember squat in this house.  For some reason, someone took out all the stuff in the jar where it is kept.  Nik now has NO CI whatsoever to use.  He keeps asking for it which is actually a good sign.  He wants to use it.  We're really angry w/ the whole thing but know we have to move on.  Trouble is, now, we don't know how to move on.  WE HAVE to find at least one of these things.  So far this week, we have lost $24,000 worth of equipment and not a penny is insured.  Not a dime.  We honestly thought w/ 3 separate processors, if one was ever lost, we'd be okay.  Not in a million years did we ever think all 3 would be lost.  I'm searching today again obviously.  We've used metal detectors too.  Flashlights, everything.  Just seems like when it rains, it pours.  

Irina is having a very hard time in high school.  We're going to pull her to homeschool her after this year.  It's a mess.   I'll tell about it later on.  Suffice it to say, though 17yo, her 12yo mind is having a very hard time wrapping her mind around everything that goes on in high school.  So, checking on all kinds of things for that today.  Max is also having a rough time transitioning to regular classes.  We expected this but we're hoping it would settle down after awhile.  It hasn't.  Plus, he is being bullied at school b/c he is Asian.  Ridiculous.  Max is a sweet kid & the kind that will bottle all this up and then just explode.  Not going to let that happen.  Soo, he may be homeschooled as well in high school.  Don't know as they are districted to attend a brand new high school here that will open in the fall.  It will only have 9th & 10th graders the first year.  Just thinking things over and following the lead of my kids.  We will have them finish this year out.  I was just hoping to have Little Bit & myself at home for awhile& not deal w/ homeschooling.  However, it can work and if it has to, then it has to.  Time will tell.

Warren stopped by home.  Alyona will need the tonsillectomy.  I'll schedule another time as next weekend we are going camping!  Near Charlotte.  Can't wait.  Have to find the campgrounds first.  Two of the nights we have plans w/ families we are visiting.  I think it will be a nice getaway w/ all that is going on here.  We are having dinner w/ my cousin and her family this Sunday evening.  So, lots of gatherings coming up.

Oh, the mini dossier was apostilled and sent off.  Hooray!  This is only a small piece but every piece done leads to a wonderful finished picture.  Can't wait.  We are indeed finally getting that homestudy paperwork sent off.  In reality, it could have been done by now & we would have had our homestudy completed.  But, money tends to get in teh way of adoption every time.  So, had to be patient.  I have a whole post coming up of what is going on w/ the funding of everything.  suffice it to say, we desperately need some help in that department and to get the word out about these children.  My heart is breaking for my kids.  I happen to find a site that does humanitarian work in Bulgaria.  Had a picture of one of the orphanages my child is at.  To see the kids in their cribs and the sadness of it all, really does get to me.  One of the kids I saw I could have sworn was Little Bit.  However, you can never tell by the pictures.  All I know is it struck be to the core that she was stuck in that crib.  I know all the paperwork is set for the safety of the kids.  But sometimes, you just wish it didn't take so dog gone long or that there would be some type of expediting waiver for those who've done this before and have proven the kids are better & thriving at home.  But, there's not so you have to wait.  The kids have to wait.  Haven't they waited long enough?  Don't they deserve to start their life?  I need to do my part and that has to be fundraising to get these kids home.  Some do indeed need medical attention and the sooner the better. AGain, more on adoption stuff a little later. 

Just wanted to say hello and that  it has been a little hectic around here.  Got a bunch of posts in the wings but nothing finished quite yet.  Have to look for this implant now again.  Enjoy your week everyone.  It is going to be beautiful here.  We love the outdoors at our house so most the time you'll find us outside.  KIds playing while Warren cooks dinner on the grill.  Love it.  More posts to come.  One about the adoption stuff and one regarding fundraising which now has to become a priority.  Now, if anyone wants to come here and play detective, please feel free to help find Nik's implants so he can hear again.  Thanks.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

If I did not adopt an FAS child...

I'm going to write something here in a minute.  I'm losing my mind b/c I literally spent about 30 minutes last night writing something else and computer lost it ALL.  Yes, all of it.  Over it now but I hate that when it happens.  So, I'm just forgetting about that post for now.  Onto other things.  First, I have to give you something to laugh about.  Warren and I saw this and were just sitting on the couch laughing for a good few minutes.  Here it is:

Do you all think this is as funny as we did?  LOL.  Nik has got Humpty Dumpty falling being pushed off the wall.  How does he come up with this stuff?!  So, two people are on top of the wall and one pushes Humpty over the wall.  You can see Humpty in pieces.  Do you see the smoke around Humpty?  Well, that is Nik finishing him off.  How?  By having the sun shine on Humpty and fry him.  What in the world?!  I have no idea what the horse is.  Maybe all the king's horses?  Sometimes I have to wonder about this kid.  How about you?  Quite the contrast from him having the heart picture the other week, huh?  

I'm going to write something that maybe some of you can relate to.  Maybe some can't & maybe some will in the future.  It is how I feel if I had not adopted a child with FAS.  FAS is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  It is sometimes known as the invisible disability and I will write about it more in depth one day.  But, I figured I'd start wtih how I feel if I had not adopted a child with FAS.  For those who are new here, I have 7 children thus far and so far 6 of them are officially dx'd with either FAS or FAE.  BTW, in the grand scheme of things, there is not really a stinking difference between the two.  Seriously, one is no less significant than the other.  Anyhow, out of the 6 that have it, only one of them I knew about ahead of time.  CAll it destiny, call it fate, call it luck of the draw or what have you, but it happened to us and we really can't envision a different life.  So, here is what I feel if I had NOT adopted a child with FAS.  Wonder if some of you feel the same way. 

If I had not adopted a child with FAS...

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would never know about this disorder.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned tolerance.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned a monumental amount of patience.
If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned how to have great coping mechanisms.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned how to not sweat the small stuff. 

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned how it feels for a child to crawl up in bed in the morning and snuggle up to me.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned how to survive when times get tough.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned what it is to be a mother.
If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned what it means to be a family.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned all about the diagnosis's that exist out there. 

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have an appreciation for others who struggle in society.  

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned the joy it is to have a child with FAS.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned compassion for special needs children.
If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would have never attended a Special Olympics event.  

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then  I would have not known what it means to truly be a parent..through thick and thin.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would have never known the great artist my son is becoming.  

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would have not had the same experiences in life that I have now.  

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have enjoyed quiet time as much as I do now.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, then I would not have learned a great deal of acceptance for those who are different.  

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, I would have not been able to spread the word about adoption of these children who are often unwanted.

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, I would not have realized my husband is the best father in the world!

If I had not adopted a child with FAS, I would not know what it is like to live at Chaos Manor and expereince life with such vitality as my children do.  

And for all these things, I am thankful that I was able to meet not just one child with FAS but 6 children with FAS.  All who have changed my life forever.  Hope you don't mind sharing how I feel about my FASers.  We struggle as parents but there is also good.  I know there is a very negative feeling in the adoption world regarding FAS children.  I want others to see that it is not all bad.  Thanks for listening.