Saturday, April 24, 2010

Strawberry Saturday

We were supposed to go to a carnival today but well all of us opted out.  Kind of nice so we are later taking them all to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.  It's buy one get one for .25.  Can't beat the deal.  For now, they're all watching Avatar.   New movie we got.  Getting ready to storm outside so great time for a Saturday afternoon movie.   So, since we're doing nothing this Saturday, thought I'd write about our last Saturday adventure...strawberry picking.  Some pics from the adventure.

This is Irina trying to find the biggest berries.  They had fields and fields of berries.  Bright big ones too.  We went the first weekend they had opened.  We do this every year.  Freeze some, eat a lot.  LOL.

This is Warren giving Alyona a bit of a hand w/ picking.  Some of the kids know to pick the bright big red berries.  Alyona and Alex seemed to have trouble w/ this concept and needed help.  Don't want green berries for strawberry shortcake.

Yes, the berries are really that big!  This is Nik showing off his.  He was our most picky picker.  He only wanted the big berries.  Can't blame him.  

Think Bojan is having fun?  These fields are massive as you can see a small portion of them in the background.  They go on forever.  

This is Alex.  Not in the moment.  He's working hard on learning his lessons.  He is trying and I'll have to write about that later.   Here, he was just one of the kids picking berries, having fun.

Alright, one day I'll learn how to flip these pictures over.  But, you can see the smile, right?  Well, Max was almost to the point of throwing a fit b/c he had to go w/ us to pick strawberries.  With FAS kids, sometimes if they get something "stuck" in their head that they want to do, they just can't let go of it.  Well, he wanted to do something else at home.  made him go and he told us later glad he went.  He helped to take some pics but then wanted in on the fun of trying to get the biggest berry.  

Us getting ready to check out.  Warren was taking the picture and I'm behind Irina's head.  Notice some of my teens are now taller than me?!  

Some of our berry buckets waiting to be weighed.  We had 8 of these buckets.  All full.

This is the boxes of strawberries all laid out.  Yes, it is as many as it looks.  I have no idea why there is a basket of clean socks on the kitchen floor.  But, nothing suprises me in this house so I don't ask anymore.  The kids ate an entire box right off the bat.  They were good too.  We went to Smith's Nursery.  Loved it and will probably go again before season is over.  I'm going to attempt to maybe make some jelly w/ some.  We eat them fresh though and then make strawberry shortcake w/ some as well.  A little whip cream and it is a great dessert.  That was our last Saturday adventure.  Like I said, today we just want to hang out for once w/ no clear agenda.  

Alyona is supposed to get surgery but now we have a problem.  Can't get the medical clearance from her regular doc b/c she has to have a checkup w/in 6 months of surgery.  May take her tomorrow but her cardiologist won't be able to sign off in time of pre-op on MOnday.  URGHH.  Have to cancel Monday's appt. and maybe definitely  delay surgery for a later date.  Didn't want to b/c I know Bojan will need surgery too.  Hate doing two surgeries at once and I've done it before.  We'll see.  It always works outfor the best so not too concerned.  Plus, no surgery means we can get another trip in this month.  So, may go to the transportation museum and go on a long train ride.  That would be fun I think.  Something a bit different.  Time to go get some other things done.  Hope you enjoyed our strawberry adventure.  We sure did.  

Alyona , IRina and I went to yardsales this morning and got some great deals and finds.  Even a new patio table and chair set!  Enough now for all 12 of us to sit.  2 sets now of 6 chairs each.  The girls were disappointed I didn't cave to the free kittens.  Umm, no girls.  Still no cats here.  They still had a good time despite no cats coming home w/ us.  Older child post is coming.  I mean it this time.  LOL.  Enjoy your day and hope it is as relaxing as ours. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Hello again!  Well, busy as usual today and tomorrow is no exception since I'm working tomorrow.   Lots of juggling today but no eggs fell so I guess we're good.  5 of the 7 kids went to the dentist.  Only 1 had cavities.  Ironically, it is our OCD kiddo...Irina.  The one very, very obsessed w/ cleaning and no germs, etc.  Dentist explained it isn't her lack of care but the way her teeth are designed and said it was a matter of time.  She had sealants on them but she gets tics sometimes and grinds her teeth.  Anyhow, Irina has cavities that need to be filled and that will be done in June.  She is very upset about it despite us explaining it really and truely wasn't her fault.  Anyhow, not bad w/ everyone not having any problems.  Relieved. 

Onto Thoughtful Thursday. 

Irina-- We went strawberry picking and got 8 big buckets of strawberries.  Irina took it upon herself after I had taken a break to cut off the tops ofthe strawberries for me.  Very sweet of her.

Max-- "mom, do you want this fixed?"  Sure.  Thinking he'd get to it one day.  nope, Max went ahead and fixed my birdfeeder right then and there.  Very thoughtful of him.

Yana-- Helped Nik fix his bike when it was broken.  She also made all the kids sandwiches one morning as well.

Bojan-- knew I wanted to learn more sign language.  Got permission and checked out the book from teh library for me instead of getting himself a book.  Sweet.

Alyona-- Went ahead and vaccuumed on her own.  Wanted to help clean.  She also has been playing a lot with Nik just to be nice. 

Alex-- Bojan's leg fell off while he was riding his bike.  Alex bolted over there to pick it up and help Bojan put his leg back on.

Nik-- Gave dad a kiss!  Usually, he'll just give me a kiss in the morning. 

Those are some of the thoughtful things my kids did this week that I can remember.  I'm sure there is more.  As a parent to many FAS kids, I think it is vital to find the good.  That way, when the bad happens(like tonight w/ Alex raiding my closet), I can handle it better.  Reminds me there is much good to be found in these kids. 

Quick update today

Quick little update.  I'm still working on the older child adoption post.  Longer than I thought.  Today, is  a busy day but taking a quick break to check emails.  Got two more adoption packet things signed and back to the agency.  I swear some of these agencies must have their own legal departments.  LOL.  However, I know all this paper is in the best interest of the kids so no need to complain.  Just funny the amount of paper that I thought was a lot on our first adoption over 10 years ago, is nothing compared to the amount now w/ the two different agencies... homestudy agency and placing agency.  Worth it though. 

Today, 5 of the kids go to the dentist.  As you all know, orphanage kids have horrible teeth.  They really do.  But, we have a wonderful dentist who fixes my kids up beautifully and does it w/ ease.  He works on Moldovian orphans every single summer.  Spends his own money to take a team over to help the orphans.  BTW, a humble man.  He NEVER told me.  His staff members did and then of course we got to talking.  Now that is a man of great character.  Let  you all know how the dentist thing goes. 

Just finished off the phone w/ scheduling Alyona's surgery stuff.  Oh boy.  Now, they are not sure they are equipped to handle her.  Simple tonsillectomy btw.  No big deal.  However, Alyona is a very complicated case and has had a history of surgery trouble in the past.  They are not an inpatient facility and if they do the surgery there and her throat swells up(did last surgery), they will have to transport her to another hospital.  Hoping they can do the surgery here as it is literally right up the road.  Time will tell.  I have to get all kinds of clearances due to her ASD(atrial septum defect of the heart).  Never dull.  Was told today we'll need bloodwork as well.  What started off as a simple surgery is really requiring a lot of steps.  Doing them step by step.  I'll drop the papers off this evening when I go to get Alex's stitches out.  May even get Nik his shot while there.  We'll see.  Got to go.  Lots more work to do before I have to start picking up all the kiddos and then go to the dentist. 

Max got in trouble yesterday... sort of.  I'm still rather angry that the school never apologized to him.  Some student accused Max of having a "weapon."  Then the VP called me, I said you mean pocket knife, right?  Well, it's considered a weapon.  fine.  Does he have it?  Well, we searched him(not sure if this was even legal btw) and his bookbag?  And, does he have a pocket knife?  Well, no but can you look in his room b/c he says it is there.  OKay, at this point I was irate.  She was essentially telling me Max was lying.  Well, they searched and found nothing.  Long story short, he came home and I followed him to his room.  Sure enough, right where he said it would be.  Called the school back and told them I found it.  She said well, we always have to check these things out.  No apology for falsely accusing my son.  BTW, the same girl that accused him is said to have accused another child of having marijuana..again, falsely accused.  I think it is time to look at the source of the information.  It's nuts.  Max uses a pocket knife to whittle wood.  He makes wands for his brothers, bows & arrows and boats to play with.  He keeps the knife here.  I was told by neighbor's kids that a few people were called into the office to be asked about whether they saw Max w/ a knife.  The kids all in the office said no except for the one original accuser.  Hmm, a few against one.  Thinking at that point, the school should have realized Max did nothing.  Anyhow, we will most likely homeschool him again next year so we are just dealing w/ the schools for the rest of the year.  Just sad b/c Max is a very polite, sweet, good kid.  Kind.  He's already down on himself and then someone falsely accuses him...just wrong.  Wonder if I get a personal apology today when I pick him up.  Doubt it.  More to come later today.  Just been very busy lately.  Enjoy your day.  It is gorgeous here. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Full bloom

Spring is a time for flowers and outdoor fun.  Thought since it is such a rainy day that I might share a few photos of flowers around the house.  Don't have any of the Iris' yet or Lillies as they are not quite in bloom.  For those who don't know, I have a passion for flowers.  Love them.  Well, except for roses.  LOL.  You work in a florist shop during Mother's Day or Valentine's Day and you'll come to hate them too.  You never want to see another rose again.  We keep plants very simple here and try to do low maintence.  I love colors that are bright and I believe the bright pinks and white make a yard pop w/ that color.  I took a few shots of a little color starting in our yard.  I know I've shared the azaleas before so I'll move onto some other things. 

Well, not sure what happened when I tried to upload photos.  It may or may not come out.. the second picture.  It is a row of hostas.  These hostas are huge and are not anywhere near full bloom yet.  They just seem to pop w/ color.  Now, the plants surrounding them are called impatients.  They are supposed to be annuals.  However, I let them die out every year and then they go to seed.  It's great b/c towards the end of hte summer I have endless color all from a couple of seeds.  You won't believe it till you see it and I'll be sure to show you later in the summer.  It really is amazing.  I just buy a few of them to plant(like the ones above)  The rest fills in and grows tall.  It is breathtaking and cheap.  Just like the hostas.  We cut them up at the end of the season and transplant to other parts of the yard.  They do well and look beautiful I think.  

These are geraniums.  You don't have to spend a fortune to make the yard look a little better.  I bought 3 of these and put them together.  They were on super clearance at Lowes b/c they had a few dead leaves. Just pick them off and it looks fine.  As long as the majority of hte plant is healthy looking, you can bring most plants back to life.  Geraniums also tend to bloom most of the summer.  Usually, I put a Hibiscus in here.  However, they were too small looking this season and way over priced.  So, I went w/ something different and hopefully, it will add a littl pizazz.  

This is just one of our hydrangea shrubs.  We have 17 of them in the yard.  There are some pink, some light blue and some white.  These are our early bloomers.  I promise these plants are real even though they  are so bright, they kind of look fake.  Click on the pictures and you can see them a bit closer and better.  Here's another view:

I think the color is just fantastic!  These are first year plants.  So, I do not cut them off at all.  However, all my other hydrangeas, I cut the blooms and have fresh floral arrangements throughout the house.  It's great and doesn't cost a dime once the flowers start producing each year.  I make sure I have great dirt.  Never skimp on the dirt.  Lesson learned the hard way.  

Not a pretty picture but to show you a  work in progress.  The azaleas we've had for a few years and they are finally starting to spread out more.  In about two years, the hydrangeas should be as big as our other ones in the yard.

It may be hard to see but there are 4 hydrangea shrubs along side the house.  The two in the middle are the mop-laced hydrangeas.  Anyhow, I bought these on clearance two years ago in little pots.  Look at them now!  They grow pretty steady.  The one on the corner of the house we even chopped up into pieces last year.  We divided it into five other plants and planted them around the yard.  An experiement of sorts.  All the plants survived and are growing.  I just realized in the picture there is the satellite dish from the previous owners.  Umm, do you think it is time to detach that thing?  LOL.  Yes, we're a little slow on some things around here.  

We have many,many more flowers all over the yard.  Hope you all enjoyed a few of them.  Since I have some serious posts coming up, I just wanted a few pretty flowers to brighten things up first.  Next post:  older child adoption. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Special Olympics for Alyona

Alyona was able to participate in Special Olympics for the second year in a row.  Let me tell you now, if you haven't seen an event, you really must go.  It gives you such a new perspective on special needs children.  The amount of support there was incredible.   It tends to be a family affair which is so wonderful to see.  Many grandparents were there and high schoolers even cheering all the athletes on.  You could not have asked for a more gorgeous day.  Crystal clear blue skies, light breeze and in the 80's.  Perfect.  Just perfect.  I'll share some pictures from our day. 

This is Alyona before her first event.  Her first event was the 100 Meter Run.  She was up against many girls that were much,much bigger than she was.  But, she gave it her all and that is all that counts.  Here she is in action:

You can click on the picture to see it a little bigger.  Alyona is running just as hard as she can.  Alyona still has ASD(atrial septum defect) but that has never, ever slowed her down!  We've been very lucky here as she has never needed heart surgery.  We were so proud of her for running the whole way.  Last year in this event, she won the silver in second place.  This year she won 4th w/ the ribbon.  Very proud of her accomplishments here.  

No idea what she is thinking.  Sometimes, I wish I could really get inside that head of hers.  This was right before her next competition.  Notice the white fourth place ribbon?  She was not happy that she got the ribbons versus the medals this year.  We told her not every year can you get the medals.  Helped that everyone there makes a big deal of the ribbons.  Her next competition was the softball throw.  

Here she is throwing.  She did really well.   Remember, she has radial articulation in her arms and it is hard to do some things, even throwing.  Plus, w/ the permanent damage from the messed up surgery job, it makes even simple tasks difficult.  Thankfully, Alyona is left-handed.  It was funny b/c Alyona had been practicing all week by throwing stuff over our backyard fence for the deer and "woodland" creatures we have.  

This is what it is all about.  Support and friendship.  Alyona and her friend were walking hand in hand most of the time.  They really do care about each other.  Yes, Alyona is the older one.  They were on their way to the medals stand.  After the medals and ribbons presentation for her last event, we decided to take her out to eat.  It is a rarity that the kids get an entire one on one time by themselves w/ us for an entire day.  When they do, we take advantage of it.  So, we took Alyona out to lunch.  

Alyona was thrilled to learn we were going to Chick Filet w/ a playground!  She had fun and we even met another lady interested in adoption.  Small world.  When you get the chance to spread the word about the ministry of adoption, you take the time to do so.  And having Alyona there to see how far the children can come really does give everyone a fresh look at older child adoption.  What is even better, the lady is thinking of doing a camp for special needs children.  Coincidence???  I don't think so.  Some meetings are just meant to be.  AFter Chick Filet, we went to the courthouse to pick up some marriage certs for our dossier/ homestudy stuff.  While there, we were going to pick up SBI fingerprints as well but forgot the address at home so have to go again later this week.  Anyhow, while there, an officer came over and spoke w/ Alyona.  He decided to "deputize" her for the day.  She had to repeat an other to "scream for icecream" and "be the boss for the day."  Little did the officer know where we were headed next....

Yep, after the courthouse and being deputized, we went to Dairy Queen for a special treat.  Oh, before this we had gone to soem outlet stores.  We live near a great outlet mall which has some awesome deals if it is NOT during tourist season.  Hate the tourists.  LOL. They raise the prices.  Locals know better.  Alyona was able to get some new shorts and an unicorn hat.  She had always wanted a ball cap like her brothers but this one looks a little more like a girl.  I was able to pick up a few things as well.  Umm, no unicorns on my stuff thank you.  Dairy queen was a huge hit w/ Alyona.  She got a chocolate dip cone.  Delicious.  

Now, who can say she didn't have the best day ever?!  Just look at that smile.  Ice cream in one hand and a deputy sheriff's badge on her shirt.  Thanks so much Deputy Strickland!  You really did make a little girl's day.  We live in a wonderful community we live in.  Everyone is friendly and they just seem to go above and beyond.  Just another symbol of the special olympics.  ...going above and beyond.  We were surrounded by that all day last Friday.  It was wonderful.  If you ever get an opportunity to go to a Special Olympics event, please do.  

More info and posts to come.  Right now, just trying to play catch up.  I had to work today so no time to post earlier.  Might have off tomorrow but really want to get some paperwork done.  Bottom line in this post, Alyona did her best and we were extremely proud of her that day.  Lots of big smiles.  Her sibs made a big deal of it as well.  They knew the importance of it all.  Though sometimes they get frustrated w/ Alyona, they really protect her and help her.  They understand she is different from them.  Yet, she is their sister and they love her like they love each other.  That day brought out the best in all my kids.  Next year, I think I'm taking them all out of school for the day to watch and cheer their sister on.  Thinking about it.  The older ones wanted to volunteer but only a few schools are able to.  Well, need to get some stuff done. 


I'm advocating for a baby girl.  She just turned a year old in February.  She is just simply adorable!  "Faith" has a few things to overcome in life but w/ the right help, she will absolutely thrive.  Especially, being adopted so early on.  Faith has vision issues.  She recently had eye surgery.  She most likely sees light and shadows.  However, as most of you are aware, none of this is for certain nor will the outcome be known till the child is evaluated by US Doctors.  She is said to have some hearing as well with hearing aids.  Otherwise, her other development is just fine.  She is starting to stand and walk.  She is located in Eastern Europe and it is a two to three trip process.  This little baby will require a very special family to reach her fullest potential.  If interested in more information, please contact me at and I can direct you further on where to go. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Just hanging out...

I know it's been awhile so thought you all might like some new pics of the kiddos doing what they do best...hanging out and having fun.  I have quite a few other posts to do but trying to play catch up here.  Got bit by something wicked this weekend(we don't know what yet) but it made me sick & arm wasn't really the best in function and use.  So, playing catch up.  Here we go.

Well, our pool is not opened yet so the kids did the next best thing... a sprinkler.  I'm telling you, these kids could have fun anywhere.  And I know Bojan is not supposed to be wearing that brand new foot & leg.  (sorry Frank!).  But the kid wants to run and jump and every once in awhile, we'll let him get it wet.  Don't worry, he's not like the tin man and his parts are not going to rust out.  LOL.  Alex is starting to see something.  Have any idea what it might be?  Turned out to be this little creature:

Yep, a big frog.  Irina is holding it.  All of them gathered round this frog forever.  My kids love creatures and picking stuff up.  They are much, much braver than I.  Though my kids are shocked to hear I had 2 igaunas in college as pets.  We have plenty of critters and creatures in this yard to keep them busy.  they love it.  Here is another one of our kids exploring nature:

This is Alyona admiring a giant beetle.  We had started to move some mulch and they were all over it.  They love finding bugs.  Which reminds me, need another bug catching kit this year.  My tupperware containers are slowly disappearing already.  

Sometimes, we help each other out.  (bummer, should have saved this for Thoughtful Thursday.  LOL.  It may appear again).   Yana is attempting to fix Nik's new bicycle.  Yes, she is using tape and scissors.  Nice try but we got him a new pedal instead of a tape job.  But, we let her try anyhow.  FAS/ RAD kids really need that self-confidence booster and feeling like they are helping is a good thing.  So, some things we quietly let them try even if we know it will fail in the end.  It is all part of the process.  The stroller in the background is just for the kids that I babysit for during the day.  Didn't want anyone to think Nik was still in a stroller.  Umm, no.  

Sometimes, the moments of joy do not last around here.  That is to be expected.  This is Alex.  As you all know, he is one of ours that has a myrid of diagnosis, including RAD and FAS.  He will fall apart at times.  Now, you may think it is mean to snap a shot but let me tell you all what I have learned over the years that may help someone else.  RADishes HATE it when you video tape them or take a picture.  Why?  It is live proof of their behavior that they will adamently deny.  But they see themselves in a different light and do not like it one bit.  I use this as a learning tool later on.  Usually, I erase the pictures.  This time, I thought I'd share what we do.  And no, none of my kids know this blog address nor how to get to it.  This is mainly for adoptive parents anyhow and friends and family.  RADishes and FASers need time to process what they do as their processing speed is slower.  The pictures give Alex a chance to look back at his behavior and why he is being punished.  It does help a small bit.  BTW, while sitting there he managed to destroy 2 of my flowers.  Don't worry, he had to help me plant more.  

I told them to take their plates in b/c they forgot.  This is what I got.  Can they do anything w/out making a joke?  don't think so.  Boys.  

This is a little fairy toy that we got at the yardsale.  The kids...big and small, love it.  So do I.  It is just a bit of fun to see how high you can get it.  Irina is testing it now.  This was the night we had company over to visit.  Lots of fun and all the kids just played well together.  There were 10 here so we got a glimpse of what it is going to be like.  Practice, practice.  LOL.  


Alright.  So, sometimes you can modify a recipe and it works out great.  Umm, not in this case.  I modified the candy cake recipe and let's just say I will not be doing that again.  Sadly enough, the guests loved it.  Really, really loved it.  I guess presentation is only half of it.  The strawberry poundcake is beside it.  I promise, it doesn't always look this bad when I bake.  Sad truth, I used to work in a bakery for years during school.  Okay, stop laughing now.  

Lots more to say and show you all.  Special Olympic pictures are forthcoming as is an older child post.  I will also talk a bit about the negativity post I did awhile back.  Lots of feedback both on and off the blog.  One thing I will not do on this blog is name names of people other than my family.  A long and lengthy comment was made but we did not post for various reasons.  Not just b/c it was negative but again, names.  This blog is for us, about us, and for adoptive parents.  That is why you will see mostly pictures of our family and not neighbors or the kids I watch or the people that come over to visit.  I feel it is their right to remain private even though I know most wouldn't care.  We do it out of respect for them.  So, that is why I did not post the comment made by a family member.  Again, I'll address that both on here and privately tomorrow.  Right now, it is time for me to double check homework and get started w/ dinner.  We're eating outside on our "new" picnic table!  More about that one in another post.  Enjoy your evening everyone.