Saturday, April 10, 2010

Catching up post w/ some pics

I forgot how much happened before our trip as well.  Thought I'd tell a bit about it.  Well, we had a project to do for Nik's class.  Dad did this one...

Okay, all I can say is poor kid.  He had no idea how ridiculous he looked.  Originally, Warren tried to sew Easter peeps(you know, that gooey, marshmellow candy that he loves) to his hat.  Did not work.  LOL.  Warren came up w/ this and all I could do was laugh at poor Nik who had no idea.  Hey, as long as he thought it was cool, that's what counts, right?  

Well, Nik is drawing again but at least this time I don't need a psychologist to translate.  LOL.  Remember, Humpty Dumpty or the swingset & decapitated head?  Well, this one I asked what it was.  He voiced to me 'Mom' and gave me a big hug.  Nik was so proud he drew me w/ long hair and kept touching my hair.  I love it.  BTW, my hair is nowhere near that long. 

Well, this was Alex before he got into so much trouble.  (go to recap post if you want more history on that).  See, he can be a happy and fun loving kid at times.  We are trying to teach him his bad behaviors have consequences and if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.  Do good, and good things happen to you.  Easiest way to explain it to a child w/ no cause and effect thinking(due to FAS).  We had a small gathering at our house tonight and cooked out.  Kids all played w/ company and each other.  Alex was not allowed to and had to do punishment chores the whole time.  I honestly finally think he's "getting it."  That there is nothing good going to come of things if he doesn't behave.  He didn't get mad at all, just did what he was told.  Progress.  Slow progress.  He is grounded for 2 weeks as a "prison camp" grounding.  I will explain our rules and prison camp and other system in place in our house tomorrow.  That, and a post regarding older child adoption.  We're making our garden tomorrow.  can't wait.  In between that though, I'll do some posts.  Discussing older child adoption is important.  That and some rules in our home given that we have some w/ severe mental and or behavioral problems.  We haven't used therapists in years and actually kind of regret using the ones we did for a few months.  

This is Alyona of course.  She is SO proud to wear this shirt.  She is also very , very excited at the thought of new sisters.  Since she and Nik have never been through the adoption process w/ our family before, it is all so new to her.  The other kids don't ask. They know after the social worker will come here about how long it will be and start asking more questions.  I can say the older kids were very worried when they heard the story on the news and how it could possibly affect us.  I toldthem that was Russia and we are going to Bulgaria.  They said thank goodness.  We can't leave those kids there!  So, even the teens do care about their new sibs.  Alyona's shirt says big sister.  She is practicing really hard.  She is already a big sister to Nik but she said that doesn't count b/c he's a boy.  Oh well.  At least she is excited about it all.  

Chaos manor is undergoing a major spring cleaning.  I'll have more pics later on in the week.  Only unload the camera every so often.  As far as the adoption process goes, it is slow.  We finally did get that homestudy sent off.  The app that is.  It is literally the size of a samll book.  Reason it took so long is b/c funding has been a huge issue.  Getting to that later this week. But, it is done and we expect a social worker assigned this week and process to really get moving.  our homestudy agency is great and rather quick. Thorough but quick.  Mainly, b/c they know us so well.  They were just here in October for a final post placement report to Russia.  Also, got an update sent to me saying Bulgaria is wondering where we are in the porcess.  I think that is great that they are asking.  It should not tkae me long to gather dossier docs.  Waiting though on it just b/c I want the latest date possible on them.  I know how docs expire.  Trying ot avoid it at all costs.  Finally getting excited.  Really am.  Alyona and I even bought something for "little bit" today for when we bring her home.  Premature but still keeps that spark alive to move it on paperwork.  A motivator.  Alyona and I went to yardsales at 6:30am this morning.  Love yardsales.  Teens did not want to go even though they begged me last night to go this morning.  Go figure.  Alyona and I had a great time though.  One on one.  Found awesome deals for sure.  Brand new shower curtain for the boys' bathroom upstairs.  Even got Nik a new bike.  Great outdoor toys for the kids and cd's for the girls.  Cd's were .50 to $1.00.  Outdoor toys were just .10.  Football, practically new was only $2.  When people ask how can we provide for 7 or even 10 kids.  This is it.  Kids love it and so do I.  AFter yardsales, we had eye exams.  Warren needs glasses.  Shocker as he had the laser eye surgery years ago.  Max's script changed dramatcially as did mine.  So, $700 later, we all have new glasses...yikes!  Only $400 of that is refunded.  Could be worse so I can't complain.  That btw, did not count eye exams.  But, we budget for this stuff every year.  It's the leaky roof and the missing implants that were NOT in the budget this year.  Anyhow, after glasses, Alyona got to go to a friend's b-day party.  Cookout w/ my cousin and her family was later on and we had such a good time.  Our kids play beautifully together.  BTW, Derek makes some awesome chip dip.  Yum.  Good times, relaxing times.  Can't ask for more.  Kids are asleep right now excpet for the older ones watching a show w/ dad.  Movie.  Lots of hardwork tomorrow planting the garden.  So much more to do.  Busy times but good times.  Have a great evening everyone.  Older child adoption post and our rules for our kids coming later on this weekend.  Many have asked about our parenting rules and such so thought I'd elaborate on them.  Good night. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Russian Adoptions at Risk of Shut Down

Okay, I'm not posting the link here as by now you all have read the tragedy of what has happened in the adoption world.  For those new to adoptions, I assure you this is not the first news story to cause a stir to shut down adoptions and can almost guarantee this won't be the last.  We've been in the adoption world for 11 years now.  We have seen countries shut down and reopen, countries shut down altogether, even had a delegation come to our home a few years back from Tajikistahn to see if they wanted to do adoptions.  (I promise we didn't scare them away--LOL).  What I'm getting at is we've seen it all.  Through it all though, you have to have faith and hope.  Adoption is totally a leap of faith.  No doubt about it.  But news stories like this make it all that much worse.  Adopting older children too gets an even more horrible reputation.  I hate that, I really do. 

For those that do not know, a Russian child was adopted back in September from the Vladiovostock region(far east).  He was adopted by a single mother from TN.  The child was "returned" last Friday to Russia!  That is right.  Returned.  Can you do that?  No.  This is NOT Target.  You can not return a child once you adopt them and are their parents.  YOu can disrupt an adoption but this procedure was not done.  The mother put the 7yo child on a plane to MOscow on a one-way ticket.  Can not believe it.  I really can't.   What ticks me off even more, is why on earth did no one catch this?!  Seriously, why?  See, when you adopt from Russia, you have to give post placement reports.  You have to tell social workers how your adjustments are going.  You have to do this a month after being home & 6 months after being home and then at the year mark until 3 years.  I have 6 Russian adoptees.  I know how this works.  So why on earth did no one catch this or the mother not say anything w/ those 2 post placement reports that took place?  I know it would be easy to point out blame when I am not directly involved in this scenario.  That is not what I am trying to do.  I'm trying to make others well aware that adoption is NOT easy.  It is not a cake walk.  There are adjustments.  This child clearly had RAD and FAS even though I am NOT an expert.  I have 6 w/ FAS/FAE and 2 of those have RAD.  It said the child's brithmother was an alcoholic.  These children are very complex.  I feel very sorry for the mother who was that distraught to send her child back.  However, I can honestly say I know exactly how she feels.  I was that parent who thought to myself "what in the world have I done?"  It is a horrible, sinking, dark place that no one ever wants to be in.  But parents do feel this when adoption first happens at times.  They need to know the feeling is normal and there is help out there.  There are many support forums.  I know, I'm a member of a few.  It is very reassuring to know that you are not the only one going through this.  But more importantly, it is important to know you CAN get through it and you CAN get your child help.  Is it always a happy ending?  No.  Sometimes there are disruptions.  However, the success on disruptions does seem to be very good. 

Let me explain a little about adopting an older child.  I think I have earned that right.  I have adopted ages 3, 4, 4, 6, 6.5, 7 and 8.5.  Hopefully, later this year bring home ages 3, 8, and 9.  These are children that have been raised in an institutionalized setting.  They have no idea what a family is.  The way it works in Russia is there is a baby home, a children's home (usually 4 to 7 or similar), and an older childrens' home.  Typically, 8 to 16 or 17 depending upon region).  Now, once in the older kids' home, the rules tend to lax up a bit.  When they get home to America to start their new life w/ their new family, they are beyond terrified.  Everything is new.  Everything.  New smells, new language, new people and new rules.  You have to get them in control as soon as they get home or things will spiral out of control for the whole family.  Here is what I mean by that.  You have to first and foremost make them realize you are their family and you will never leave them.  Never.  I think people make a lot of mistakes when first home w/ their kids.  I really do.  I did the same thing w/ my first two home.  I've learned over the years.  Hence, why my first two kids home took around 6 monhts to adjust and the last two took about two weeks.  Seriously.  2 weeks.  HOwever, I took everything I had learned on previous adoptions and applied it.  I am determined to write a book.  Maybe it will help someone else.  I know, I would have read something years ago.  Kind of a post adoption go to guide.  Complete w/ resources. 

Adoption of an older child is tough.  I'm not going to lie to you all.  I remember when I was first adopting.  All I ever heard was the rosy stories and the happy ever after.  I never heard of the hoarding, the screaming, the raging, the lack of eye contact, the lack of communication, and everything else you can throw at it.  No one told me any of that.  No one.  I thought I was horrible for not knowing what to do with Irina and Max when first home.  Thought maybe I was not cut out to parent.  It is a real eye opener adopting an older child.  Prospective adoptive parents need to beware of this fact.  It is hard.  But it IS worth it.  My quote on my plane ride home to someone was "I'm NEVER going to do this again!  I don't know what I'm going to do with these kids."  A kind lady talked me through it and I have never forgotten that conversation.  It was the ride home w/ IRina and Max..our first two.  I never did get her name.  I have however paid it forward.  Many plane rides later, I have been the one going around speaking to new parents telling them what to expect and how to handle the hard times.  The lady who sent her son home was at wits end I'm sure.  I do think it should have been handled differently.  Reason I'm so passionate about this is I have 6 Russian Adoptees.  All older children.  I have been spit at, kicked at, called nasty names in English and Russian, had my glasses broken, kids threatening to kill us, etc.  Yet, I came through it all.  My kids came through it all.  I did have to quit my job.  The first few months home were pure he**.  I will not lie to anyone on here.  Adjustment process is not easy.  It is easier now for us than before but that is due to pure hands on experience.  I think the best thing an agency can do, is to have a new couple preparing to adopt, go to the house of a family that recently adopted.  You know, still jetlagged, emotionally unstable, house a mess b/c you're concentrating on the kids, trying to get back into routine, finding out new dx's that weren't on the medical, exhausted, learning Russian, and learning as you go.  That is the time a family NEEDS to visit.  I would be willing for someone to come to Chaos Manor after our adoptions to see exactly what it is like.  Actually, we decided we "may" do a documentary of sorts of the process once home.  I might be afraid that people would think we are nuts but hey, it may help someone else.  10 kids, 3 newly adjusting, 7 having to adjust, two tired parents..oh yeh, that should make for a good movie--LOL. 

I hope Russian adoptions do not shut down.  What I would love to do is go to Russia and have an honest conversation w/ the MOE.  Tell them really what happens, what agencies can do and how being honest to us on their medicals would help potential parents.  Harder to place kids really should go to those with experience in my opinion.  Some may disagree and I understand their point.  Something needs to happen though.  A complete Russian shut down I think would be detrimental to too many children.  There has been alot of great families formed via Russian adoption.  We are one of those families.  I can not imagine my life without my kids.  Despite the rough beginnings, there is so much potential in these kids.  I will write more later this weekend on older child adoption.  There is a lot to it.  The kids in teh beginning are trying to figure it all out. They are confused, scared, angry, etc.  They have to grieve.  They have lost everything in their eyes and some more than others will blame you for it.  I hope I did not offend anyone.  Russian adoption means alot to me.  It is where we really wanted to go adopt from again.  However, it has gotten extremely hard and very costly to adopt from Russia now.  Doesn't mean we still can't help other families find their Russian kids and bring them home.  But the home has to be safe and very well prepared for a child that will need ever ounce of love they can muster even during those first dark hours some days.  I will say, some kids do adjust better than others.  But since you can never know, you have to prepare.  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Get a support group in place.  Talk about your feelings.  What some parents also don't talk about is the post adoption depression.  I personally have not experienced it so can not elaborate but do know it exists and do know many families have been effected by it.  Sometimes that too can make adjustments hard.  So much to say and not enough time.  Just had to say something tonight on all this.  I love my Russian kids.  I am so glad Russia gave us the opportunity to bring them home.  I am saddneed at the thought of a shut down.  I do hope it does not happen.  Do think about all the kids tonight. If you are an adoptive parent and been through this all before, offer to help a "newbie."  Share your story.  Share your solutions.  People need to know what works and what hte options are for them.  Have a great weekend.  Lots going on as usual here this weekend.  Tell more tomorrow.  Bulgaria is asking us for an update on where we are on the process.  Again, more tomorrow.  Just couldn't let this story go.  It hits home all to close. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just a recap of my day

You know, sometimes you just have to write it to really believe your day went as it did.  As usual, when you live in this house you come to expect the unexpected.  Yes, you do.  Everyday.  That state of hypervigilence never goes away.  Okay, so far today let's see if I can remember everything that happened here.  We turned the air off(told you it would be short-lived) and opened windows.  Now, the upstairs and downstairs units are separate.  Yana said she'd turn them off upstairs.  Umm, I guess I should have been more specific and said NOW!  URGHH!!!!  Discovered tonight the air conditioning had been on all day upstairs with the windows open.  That's right folks, we decided to provide the birds and all of natures' other creatures w/ cool air.  No need to worry about the cost of cooling the great outdoors down.  

Next pet peeve for the day.  Bojan got a new brace for his clubfoot.  Has to wear it for at least a month even though we still know he'll need surgery.  We know it is uncomfortable but every chance he got he took that stupid thing off.  He knows better for sure.  He separates the toes that are growing over one another but it still reverts back to the same position.  Told him not to.  I do understand why he doesn't want to wear it.  Shoot, I wouldn't want to wear the thing either.  But, he knows he has to in order to get the surgery. 

Decided it was hot so let the kids play in the sprinkler.  They won't do anything stupid, right?  Wrong.  They unhooked the sprinkler while I was inside.  I look outside and they have the giant tub full of water.  Taking turns dipping their heads in the nasty bucket of water.  When I ended that idea, they moved onto the giant frog they found and proceeded to kill it w/ kindness by literally trying to squeeze it to death.  Took said frog away.  Thought we could move into the house and have some lunch.  Wondering why the yogurt is frozen IN the fridge and why the lettuce has also turned to ice.  Look up at electronic temp and it reads  '7'.  It is supposed to be on 4.  Finally discovered it was Yana who did it. Why?  Because she just wanted to see what it was.  Umm, you couldn't ask me?!  During this whole day, Alex was lying to me.  Blantantly lying.  Common in FAS kids and one of the hugest pet peeves of parents of these children w/ this disorder.  He does his time and goes out to play.  He has to be silent for an hour(he started over manytimes) and write what he said.  Has to say what the lie was.  Later that day, I honestly think I had never been more angry at a child.  It is SO hard to keep cool when they are out of control.  Alex was choking his brother until one of the older kids tackled him down off of Bojan.  Now, it started off as a name calling fight from what I hear and escalated from there.  Now, this is common even around "normal sibs."  I know, I used to fight w/ my sister.  What is not common is kids affected by FAS have no "stopping mechanism" and poor impulse control. They do not think before they act.  No cause and effect thinking.  They just do.  Now, my neighbor assured me that her brothers did this to her when she was younger & she even passed out!  Bojan did not pass out and didn't have marks on him.  However, Alex knows this is unacceptable.  Alex is now back in "prison camp" here again.  I know he is only 9yo and this is common w/ his age kids.  Remember, I used to fight w/ one of my sisters.  I know it happens. Trouble is, Alex doesn't know when to stop so we have to just teach him he can't get into this situation to begin w/.  The statistics for FAS children when they become adults is not pretty.  I always have this fear one of my kids will end up in a bad place.  I'm doing everythign I can in my power to prevent that.  Maybe I can, maybe I can't.  But, I at least have to know I tried w/ all my might.  I know there is hope b/c sometimes he can be so loving towards his brothers and sisters.  I just need to see that kid more. 

While I was lecturing Alex, Irina comes in w/ Nik and a goose egg on top of his head.  I sign to him what happened.  He told me Alex did it.  What?!  Max comes running over and said no, it wasn't Alex at all.  Nik fell and landed on the metal bar on the trampoline.  So now, I have Nik lying.  URGHH.  At this point, I call Warren and scream tell him to please come home.  Parenthood, you can't quit and you can't change the game.  Other things happned today but honestly, I can't remember it all.  Thank God!  Thank goodness this is not groundhog day.  People ask me all the time "how do you do it?"  I politely say w/ a line from National Lampoon's Vacation movie " with every new day, there's fresh hope."  I sure hope tomorrow is better.  Today, had someone asked me that, I think I would have said, I don't do it all b/c I just quit.  Think that would have worked for today?  LOL.  Oh, I didn't even tell you that Yana may be in trouble tomorrow from a bus incident.  Apparently, she was defending a friend that was being bullied and called fat.  But while defending the friend, she called the bully a few choice words.  Not all nice words either if you know what I mean.  Granted, bully had it coming and there was no violence involved whatsoever. For a child w/ RAD, this is huge.  Years ago, she would have exploded w/ anger.  Not this time.  And, if one of your friends is being called fat, I think I'd have to defend them too.  She told me there were many witnesses on the bus.  I'll know tomorrow.  I think principal may use this as a "teaching moment" for all the girls involved.  I sure hope so.  I'd honestly hate to see her get suspended for helping a friend out.  That would be difficult to explain.  Well, thanks for letting me vent.  I know not all days are like this and I should be thankful for the good days.  I am.  Just hard on the really bad ones.  And, in the grand scheme of things, we did great b/c no one went to the hospital, no one was sick, and for the most part, everyone helped clean up.  There was no search & rescue(and yes, I will recap this Alex story from last year one day), no police, no fire trucks here(though the kids lit the tiki torches and were burning the mulch bark).  So, all in all, not a bad day for Chaos Manor.  Was your day just as great as mine? 

Thoughtful Thursday

I can not believe it is already Thursday and the last day of Spring Break for the kids.  Wow, what a week!  Been very busy here.   Yesterday was all errands.  I know I mentioned it on here before but Warren and I have been doing some reading lately on nutrition/ diets for FAS children.  It would do us all so much good.  So, we have made a commitment to truly change the way we eat.  A couple things at atime so it is not so dramatic.  I want fresh fruit every single day and we're shooting for twice a day.  So, if any of you have an orchard, we'd be glad to do business.  LOL.  Seriously though, no more canned fruit or veggies.  Fresh fruits and veggies.  If the veggies are not in season, then they'll be frozen.  Try not to but we like corn and let's face it, there is no winter corn crop here.  We are going for more natural ingredients.  Living more like they did years ago when they didn't have all this "extra" stuff added to food.  No dyes, just flavor.  So, we make our own pasta sauces and anything else we want.  I am going to dabble in bread making on Friday.  If it works and is cheap enough, we'll make our own bread.  If not, stick w/ what works for now.  We use 40 loaves of bread a month.  Yikes!  That would indeed be a lot of bread making w/ one oven.  Grandparents used to grow up making their own stuff and thinking nothing of it.  Including, yummy cookies.  We are going to really stick to this and I'll let you know how it goes after a month.  See if there are any changes in the kids or us.  Our hardest will be slowly getting rid of the amount of sugar.  You really don't realize it.  Sneaks in there.  Yes, we'll still have desserts here and there but just seems too much right now.  And after reading a bunch of posts on FAS and how their dietary changes helped their kids' behavior, we're going for it.  The kids loved having the fresh cantelope and melon yesterday as much as if I had bought them a box of chocolates.  This morning we had fresh strawberries w/ pancakes.  Lunch are oranges w/ the meal.  No processed food.  Well, a limited amount anyhow.  Now, by Sunday our whole family may be clawing the pantry for some type of chocolate.  Who knows.  But, for the interest of our health, we're going to give this a shot for sure.  Wish us luck.  We had wonderful grilled shrimp and veggies last night.  Tonight, it is salad and baked potato.  Of course this weekend we're having friends over so it wil be burgers on the grill.  Ironically, my kids would prefer the portobello mushroom burgers we make.  They actually asked me yesterday at the grocery store if we could have them again.  Too expensive.  Had them before b/c I got the mushrooms on sale.  That is the one thing I hate the most about doing this all natural/ fresh style of life.  It is VERY expensive compared to the other way.  I see why we got caught up in the processed food and such.  The costs.  But, nothing compares to the cost of our health and kids' sanity.  So, we'll find cuts in other things.  And, planting our own garden will surely help. 

Now, onto what I originally came to write about.  Thoughtful Thursday.  A day when I try to reflect one thoughtful thing each of my kids has done during the course of the week.  So, here goes.

Irina-- was our bag checker before the trip.  (remember, no socks for the little kids.  LOL).  She did this on her own.  She knew I was busy.  Also, let Alyona sleep in her room w/ her b/c Irina knew Alyona was having a rough time with no friends coming over.  Very thoughtful. 

Max-- Took it upon himself to weedwack b/c he knew Warren was incredibly busy.  He also helped me plant many, many things this week. 

Yana-- Without being asked, raked up all the rocks in teh driveway and redistributed them.  This is NOT an easy job as big as our driveway is. 

Bojan--Picked up a whole bag of limes that was laying on the ground at Sam's when we were grocery shopping.  Thoughtful considering 2 kids(not ours) just stepped right on over the bag instead of picking it up. 

Alyona-- She helped me clean up this week when she saw me working. 

Alex-- Helped Nik build things w/ legos. 

Nik- Went around and shared his pack of gum that he got for Easter.  He didn't have to at all.  He was just being nice. 

Okay, I finished writing this and now they are acting like a bunch of maniacs on speed and being nastier than a sewage spill.  Terrible.  I may have to erase all this and call it terror Thursday instead.  Okay, got to go.  Teh natives are restless and I swear to you, there may be a terrible post in a little while!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Charlotte Trip--part IV (headed home!)

We awoke and got a shower.  Remember me feeling rather grossed out.  Yuck.  Felt better after the shower though.  Had a big breakfast and then out the door we headed.   We went a different route home and it was definitely the way to go.  We reluctantly woke up:

Doesn't she just look like a joy to be around?... NOT!!!  You never knew someone so little can become so mean when woken early.  She did eventually perk up.

We started off on our trip home.  Well, we decided since it WAS Easter that we would hold a little church type service in the car.  Well, really a recap of why we have Easter.  We started off by asking them what is the reason we celebrate Easter.  I swear to you the conversation was almost identical to that of the scene from Cheaper By the Dozen.  You know... "It's Jesus' birthday.  NO it's not.  Jesus was born on Christmas but died on Easter. "  And then the arguement went a bit deeper.  Remember, FAS children have a very hard time with abstract concepts and let's face it,most of religion is pretty abstract.  Lots of faith and having them understand what faith is is just difficult.  You should see some of the things they've pulled from lectures at church...oy!  Once we cleared up that Christ died on Easter and then rose again (yes, we did clear it up that we can not just die and come back to life or they would indeed try this at home.  Not joking here).  We asked who betrayed Jesus.  Max's response:  "that dude."  Yeh, alright son.  You're getting a bible out to read when we get home.  URGHH.  Maybe they were tired.  Parents can only hope, right?  

After a long and mostly unproductive Easter conversation, we decided to stop off and stretch our legs.  McDonalds was closest so that was where we stopped.  Got them a snack.  For some reason, the delicious and nutritious apples we had packed just did not seem as appealing.  We were on our way again.  

Alex had no time eating a McDonald's hamburger.  Does it count as nutritious if we all had water to drink?  LOL.  Nik was busy trying to figure out that Rubik's Cube w/ no success.  

We got home and unloaded the car.  Made great time so had a good chunk of the day left to do stuff.  Went to Lowes and got some items to finish up our plantings.  Our neighbors came over and all the kids were playing in the front yard.  It really was nice to just chit chat and let all the kids play.  11 of them.  Went in for a good night's sleep on our own beds.  Everyone slept and then Warren headed to work the next morning while the kids and I stayed home and worked on the yard all day long.  Today, we're just going to trim some hedges, wash the van(currently yellow-green from all the pollen), weedwack, and whatever else is left outside.  We're also prepping around the pool as it is so hot here (90F) and only beginning of April.  Unusual for even this state.  Cleaning and opening the pool soon.  Kids will be psyched.  They love to swim.  Well, need to get busy here.  Lots to do today.  Hope you all enjoyed our trip recap as much as we enjoyed getting away.  

We are going NO WHERE this coming weekend.  Instead, we are planting our big organic garden.  Can hardly wait.  We have also made the conscience decision to not buy any more canned veggies.  Going to all fresh veggies and fruits.  It's a small step but every small little step will lead to a greater journey.  kind of like adoption, right?  LOL.  Our family wants to become much healthier but are making small changes at a time.  You can tell they're baby steps by the Micky D's , right?  I just finished our menu for the month.  We're trying some new stuff.  My kids don't mind vegetarian meals so that is a good thing.  But, we are not going to do that everyday of course.  We'd miss Warren's burgers way too much.  Again, some baby steps.  Have a great week.  Next adventure I think is our family carnival/ cookout at the hospital.  We also have deaf camp, a zoo trip, and a carnival in May.  And Alyona's surgery.  Next weekend is our only free weekend I think until mid-June.  We're taking advantage of it for sure. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Charlotte Trip--part III (King's Mountain, part C)

After the hike, we went back to the hotel to freshen up.  I had to remind the boys what that meant.  You know, so that they didn't smell like pig sweat. 

 This is Nik relaxing after learning what it meant to freshen up as a boy.  He was making himself comfortable.  I know the shirt is a bit premature but I absolutely LOVE it and love the fact that one day he will indeed be a big brother!  He knows what the shirt says but I think is a bit perplexed as any kindergartner would.  He likes the fact that it says B I G.  Cute in it though and he is going to make an awesome big brother. 

Once they were done, we headed out to our next destination.... a local campfire and cookout w/ friends.  No kids were going to be there this go around so wasn't sure just how the kids would take this one.  They loved it!  They mingled w/ the adults just fine, played some games and ate... and ate.  Here are some pics of them getting comfortable w/ their surroundings:

Nik and Max mastering the game of horseshoes.  They all had so much fun playing it that I really think we eventually need a set here.  Seriously.  Some of the kids came very close too of making a ringer.

I think this chair is just the right size for Alyona.  What do you think?  Even Alyona ate here!  Miracle, I know.  And they loved watching the food cook:

Cooked right over a campfire.  The sweet potatoes and potatoes are steaming in aluminum foil on the lower left.  They were SO good and soft.  Kids thought it was great that you didn't need a stove to cook or a grill.  LOL.  Rookies for sure.  

I love this picture.  This is Nik getting ready to eat his dinner.  Hot dogs, chips, some potato salad and tea.  He just seems so innocent here.  Just a kid enjoying a campfire meal.  Then I get to thinking, a few years ago, he would have never have had this chance to experience this life.  He was headed to a mental institution because he was deaf.  Sad but true.  But here w/ us, he lives and is really thriving takign everything in around him.  Even if it is just a simple campfire meal.  He seems to enjoy it more.  

After a good meal, time for a rest for the boys.  See, Alex even sleeps with a ball.  His batteries were pretty much worn down.  So, after a quick rest, they all refueled and enjoyed the fire.  They all chatted with many different people.  I only hoped they were well-mannered and didn't say anything too off the wall.  Trust me, with FAS children, whatever goes into their head, tends to come out their mouths. No filter system.  After a nice fire and some mroe talking, we all headed home.  Well, to the hotel.  Warren actually snuck off to Dunkin Donuts and surprised us all w/ donuts and milk.  Nice way to top off the evening and just chill out watching a movie.  OKay, or maybe not...

Irina was zonked.  Nik was trying to wake her and tickle her w/ Alyona's stuffed rabbit.  Not a very nice thing to do to a big sister.  Hope he doesn't do this as a big brother!  After this, we all retired for the night and then ready to go tomorrow.  Okay, now for something a bit gross.  If I am staying somewhere, I expect the rooms to be clean.  Well, this was our second night there, same room.  Alyona and I were in one bed & yana and Irina in another.  I pulled the covers down and there was a stain.  Not a little one either.  Nasty looking.  Called the front desk.  She said the laundry cabinet was locked and she didn't have a key.  Yeh, right.  She did offer to move us to another room a few doors down.  Okay, it is way after 11 o'clock, Irina is already asleep and moving kids that hate change and are disregulated, is just a bad idea altogether.  She apologized but that really doesn't fix anything.  So, I covered it up and Alyona & I slept on top of the covers.  This was the same day we had asked for enough towels for our bathroom.  Said they'd bring them later as they were cleaning rooms.  Fine.  It's towels.  URGHH.  Warren went down to get some more.  Be rest assured, I will be writing Holiday Inn a nice little note.  I think that was VERY poor service.  Anyhow, after feeling creepy, we all went to sleep.  Coming home, Part IV is tomorrow.  Have a great evening.

Charlotte Trip--part III (King's Mountain, part B)

And now, time for some history and a hike up the mountain.  So, without delay...

Before we even began our trek, we were able to see a small demonstration of some musket rifles and how they used to work.  Kids were amazed that they were so loud and so inaccurate.  It took fifteen commands to load the rifle.  They threw in quite a bit of history about the American Revolution and it was great for the kids to get a quick history lesson for sure.  

Our kids loved all the different rocks to climb up and explore.  They did not mind how long it took to get up to the top.

Some, took the more casual approach to climbing the rocks.  Yes, Yana did not exert herself too much here, you think?

Ahh, a little more daring in this picture.  The trees were just starting to green up.  

There were even unique places to hide a mouse in these woods.  This tree was neat b/c the hole goes all the way to the top.  You look up and you see the sky.  Everyone took a turn. Some of the smaller kids of course could stick their whole bodies in there.  No, not me.  

This was actually a paved trail.  Last hike we did was not paved.  This made it very easy for all of us.  On this shot, you don't notice the hills.  Trust me, there were some.  LOL.  But, we all made it in one piece and enjoyed the hike.

A terrible shot, I know.  We stopped at a monument(they had several throughout the trail telling about the battle) to rest a minute.  Nik wanted a picture w/ me.  No makeup, sunburn, and very tired.  Next picture best be better.  Way Nik is making this face, I have no idea.  

We were able to see so many unique trees and such throughoutt he trails.  It gave the kids opportunities to see the beauty of differences in nature.  We let them touch things and give ideas as to why something was the way it was.  We want our kids to appreciate all nature has to offer.  There is so much out there and we'll only be able to see a fraction of it in our years.  Hope it is enough to have our children appreciate it as much as we do.  AFter the hike, we stopped by the gift shop and got a magnet.  WE try to get a magnet wherever we go.  We also purchased this little Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.  Our government has changed a lot lately and we feel it is very important for our kids to still remember why and how this country was founded.  Plus, they are leanring about it in school and thought it was very cool.  We may even frame them.  Gave them something to read on the way home.  And they actually did!  Now, for the final part of our day.  A campfire and cookout w/ friends.  That is to come so stick around.  ONly so many entries I can do w/ kids off school.  Hope you've enjoyed them so far.

Charlotte Trip--part III (King's Mountain, part A)

After resting, we got up and dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Told the kids they had to eat at least one healthy thing.  All 7 suprised me w/ no prompting of having a really healthy plate w/ usually 1 unhealthy thing.  Of course, none of us could resist those danishes or muffins.  A treat that I usually don't do at home.  We all enjoyed breakfast and went back to the room to wait for a call to see what was in store for us that day.  Here is what we did while we waited:

Yep, watching Sponge Bob.  See, we do not have cable or satellite in our home.  So, the kids watch whenever they can when we are elsewhere.  And yes, they all have the same shirt on.  Usually, we'll all dress in one color.  Boys one and girls another.  However, we knew we wouldn't be in big crowds so I told the kids they didn't have to do that this go around.  Ironically, most of them chose to do it anyhow.  Got the call and we're told to meet here:

King's Mountain!  We were going to meet our friends for a picnic lunch and then a hike on King's Mountain.  The weather was absolutely spectacular!  We went to Walmart first to get the Nik and Alyona socks.  Irina was the checker this time of bags and failed to check for socks.  It happens.  And being that we were hiking, I figured we'd need them.  Picked up those and a bag of Easter Gummy Bears.  Who could resist?  And, we were on our way to King's Mountain of SC.  It was the turning point for the American Revolution and they have a little history museum there and a re-enactment.  We got there had to wait for our friends.  So, what better way to pass time then some photo ops.  

This is the bunch before our friends came.  No dirt.  LOL.  Nik actually remembered his transition lenses so that helped him a bunch.  And yes, Yana is truly that tall.  It is not a trick picture.  IRina hates it b/c Irina is the oldest but everyone thinks Yana is.  AFter this picture, there was a mock killing picture the kids wanted me to snap.  Lovely.  Sometimes, you have to wonder what in the world they are thinking.  Other ways we passed the time:

Umm, is that MY son defacing state park property??  No, no way could it be MY kid doing that!  Yep, sure was.  Nik decided to pick out the grout of the tiles of the monument.  Well, flag pole area.  Still, told him no and to put it back.  Yes, I love what they find to do while waiting.  And some other time passers:

Alex and the others walking and jumping on the walls there.  Another great way to pass time while you wait for folks:

Finding 4 leaf clovers.  Apparently, my kids are geniuses at this game!  Seriously, I said go and Alyona said "I found one."  All my kids but Nik found a four leaf clover.  Yana found 9 of them & rubbed it into me the whole time.  I am ashamed to admit it though, I hate not being able to do something.  Rather competative and I couldn't even find one clover.  Most my kids found at least 2 to 4 of them.  They can honestly look down at hte patch and spot them right away.  They kept saying "mom, you want my luck?"  I said "no, I want my OWN luck."  Never did find my luck.  

This is Yana showing off her first two.  Found way too quickly.  Well, come to find out my husband knew something I did not.  Just kidding dear!  Kids with visual processing disorders can do these sort of things rather quickly.  MIght be a quick way to check your kids but I would not recommend it.  BTW, we have had none of our kids tested for visual processing disorders.  We sure they do but really, do we need to add something else to the alphabet soup?  I just thought it was pretty cool that they could look down and find them that fast.  Crazy.  Another way to pass the time:

And of course,, photo ops.  My kids love a camera.  Thank goodness.  We all waited for our friends to arrive.  Had a lovely picnic w/ them and their family.  Then, we all ventured out onward for our hike.  More pics to come of the hike.  Just think this post is getting rather long.  Stay tuned for part III B.  The hike.

Charlotte Trip--part II (on the road)

After leaving an hour and a half later than what we had wanted to, we were on our way.  We had actually discovered we literally only have ONE housekey.  And not to both locks!  Who on this planet just has one key that doesn't even open both locks?  Yep, that would be us.  Typically, we don't even lock the doors.  Frankly, criminals would be disappointed if they hit this house up for a buglary.  Nothing to take but kids' stuff.  LOL.

We started off headed to Charlotte, NC.  Actually, we were going to stay in Gastonia, NC.  We ate right before we left so that no one would be hungry in the car except for maybe a small snack.  And let the fighting adventure begin!

Looks innocent enough.  Kids were enoying some Sun Chips and Gatorade for a snack this go around.  We always have to carefully seat the kids in their assigned seats or fighting may occur.  Well, Bojan and Max were up to their old antics and got in trouble.  So, they were punished....

You'll notice Max & Bojan have their hands up.  Originally, Max was in trouble and since you have limitations as to what you can do in the car for punishment, he had to place his hands on his head for a few minutes till we said stop.  Well, wouldn't you know my boys.  They turned it into a stupid contest as to who could hold their hands up the longest.  URGHH.  I can't win sometimes.  The trip otherwise was for once pretty non-eventful and we had then arrived at our hotel:

The Holiday Inn Express.  Nice hotel for the most part.  We picked it b/c of the complimentary breakfast.  It does help not to have to haul around stuff for 9 people.  They have an indoor pool as well but we did not go in it this time.  We have a pool at home so not quite  as big a deal.  We had two rooms side by side.  Helps being close and going back and forth.  Tell you about what I discovered shortly before leaving to go home.  Another post.  Well, we check in and upstairs we went to the rooms.  We could not have been there more than 4 minutes and this happens:

Alex kicked off a piece of the wall protector.  Guess it was not protecting the wall all that much.  LOL.  Frankly, I think it was ready to peel off anyways but leave it to one of my kids to actually finish it off.  Thankfully, that was the only broken thing this trip.  We got settled in, freshened up and left to go to our first cookout for the weekend w/ friends.  It was friendship and good food.  

Max trying to make a goofy face for the camera.  I think it worked.  Can you just see what a beautiful day it was out?

Nik enjoying his dinner.  Why he is laying down I have no clue.  Everyone loved the food.  The hostess was an amazing cook and we were very grateful to her for being invited.  We spent the evening talking and sharing with friends.  I met a wonderful woman who has 10 children, 6 of whom are adopted.  We did have some things to discuss for sure!  Anyone who can even understand what the word RAD means is refreshing to speak to.  It is amazing to me how many strangers can come together for just a casual cookout and come out with so much more understanding about things and gain new perspectives.  Very refreshing for sure.  And the kids had so much fun making new friends.

This is Max playing with some new friends.  You could not have asked for a more tranquil setting or great people to be around.  The kids all meshed together and enjoyed each other's company.  Open fields for the kids to run and play is the best.  Again, thank you to our hosts!  We said our goodbyes and headed to the hotel.  However, we ran into this:

Yep, an accident w/ a flipped over car on a country road.  Now, obviously, we have no idea how in the world to get out of here any other way.  Could not ask either b/c the emergency workers were doing their job.  So, waited for another car to show up behind us.  Well, one did.  However, they pretended not to speak english, turned around w/ headlights off and booked it out of there.  We do have quite a few illegals in our state and though we wouldn't be able to say for sure, that would be a pretty good guess most likely.  Needless to say, had to wait for the next car.  They were extremely helpful and we made it back to the hotel w/ no problems.  Everyone went to bed pretty easily.  Slept (well, not me or Warren  LOL), and woke up for our next part of the trip.  A trip to King's Mountain in SC.  Part III (journey to King's MOuntain) coming up later today.  Time for more yardwork now. 

Charlotte Trip-- part I (preparation)

Oh my,much goes into preparing for a trip for 9 people.  Doesn't matter if you're going a few hours or a few days away, plenty of planning is necessary for a smooth trip. However, we now have it down to a science so it literally only takes a little bit of time now.  Everyone has their tasks to do of checking and rechecking.  The only thing we really care about is kids' gear(prosthetics & ear stuff) and meds.  Anything else, you can always stop by Walmart wherever you are.  Put it this way, we stopped by there twice this go around.  Yep, going hiking and two of the kids forgot socks.  URGHH.  Anyhow, onto pictures and our first real trip of the year w/ many more to come.  To make things even more great, one of our girls' birthdays that we are going to be adopting, was this past weekend.  Just reassuring to know next year, she will be celebrating w/ her family.  Now, for some pictures. 

Okay, this is the MAIN reason we have a checker go behind the little kids to see if something was accidentally put in the bags.  Sure enough, Nik was trying to stuff this recorder in his backpack for the trip.  Umm, no.  I don't think so son.  That is NOT going with us in a hotel room.  

Part of our pre-trip ritual is also making sure the house is clean before we leave.  Knowing we'll have a huge mess to clean up when we return w/ all our stuff, we try to make sure the house itself is clean before we leave.  Irina is always cleaning the kitchen so who better to make sure this task is done.  We've slowly begun our switch to more natural chemicals in this house.  Can't say I'll get rid of comet but we are making quite a switch on cleaning products.  Many times stores will have them on clearance.  The kids and I used to have quite a reaction on our skin when using harsh chemicals.  I figured that can't be good over time so made the switch.  Like I said, can't get rid of the comet but the rest we are okay with.  When going to more natural products, it truly is about trial and error.  Sidetracked, I know.  Kids are fantastic about cleaning before we go b/c they know I won't let them leave until it is clean.  

Alright, not the most gorgeous Easter Basket in town.  LOL.  I won't even go into the story of why there are no Easter Baskets in the house this year.  We needed a storage bin anyhow so told Warren to go pick one out.  He picks boring grey.  Lovely color for Easter dear.  Men.  Since this was Easter Weekend and I knew I'd be beat to do anything Sunday evening, I decided to hav the Easter Bunny come early.  A group gift was the way to go.  And remember, my kids live for the outdoors.  It's filled w/ baseball bat & ball, badmitton, 2 soccer balls, basketball, card games, Wii nunchuck thing, rubiks cube, 2 whoopie cushions, 7 chocolate bunnies, 7 reeces eggs and some other stuff they'd enjoy.  HUGE hit!  I know I did not bask them in chocolate but with many of hteir disorders, they really do not need any more sugar.  They did not mind one bit.  Hard part was getting them to realize we need to leave for the trip and play wiht this stuff when we get home.  

Alright, before any trip, we line the kids up after they wake up.  We do this to remind them of where we are going and what the rules are on this trip.  With FAS kids, they have to be reminded frequently so this helps.  Yana looks like death warmed over, Nik is not going to be wearing that though he is proud he picked it out, Bojan is actually dressed, Alex is trying to wake up and I have no earthly idea why Alyona is in her bathing suit that morning.  This is all just part of the pre-trip routine. 

I think they enjoyed a pre-trip surprise bin full of goodies.  Yes, they had chocolate for breakfast that morning.  Figured what the heck, they'll be contained in a car.  How bad can it be??  LOL-- that part later.  Second pic is Yana blowing up the all time favorite whoopie cushion.  I have no idea way kids love to make fart sounds but it is always a hit.  Seriously, my kids laugh at this thing all day long.  Don't get it.  

Okay, so this is the cake I decided to make.  Never had made this one before but looked and sounded good.  This is what it was supposed to look like.  And this is how it turned out:

Umm, not quite as pretty as the picture.  No photoshopping here.  I make homemade icing anyhow so that is what I used.  Maybe I should have used the store bought kind.  Don't know.  But, being that I was doing this Friday morning and we were leaving shortly, I just went with it.  Bit of advice for others though, do NOT let your child(even if she is 14) hold the cake.  It will be tilted sideways and crammed against the side of the container.  Amazingly, it made it in one piece that day for the cookout that evening.  And, it was enjoyed so I guess that is what counts.  Have to work on that presentation though for sure.  Plus, next time I'm altering the recipe I think.  More into a summer cake.  We'll see.  

After this, we were ready to go and we were off.  Stay tuned for the rest of the adventure.  Part II coming up.  It will be titled "on the road."  Now, I have to get some more chores done so we can get this place back to normal this week.  Kids are out all week so I'm here.  Have a wonderful week and more to come!  Oh, for bigger views of the pictures, I think you can click on the pic itself and will show up larger.