Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

This week really has flown by.  I will try to remember some of the things the kids did that I thought were thoughtful.  Here goes:

Irina-- Very helpful & thoughtful to help pack  the little kids' bags for our trip.

Max -- Heard from other parents at camp that Max is a really, really good kid.  They said he was very helpful though not exactly sure what all he did.  Always wonderful to hear from others that your kid is sweet and helpful.

Yana-- was trying to help some of the elementary kids study for their end of grade testing.  She didn't have to, she was just being nice.

Bojan-- Was offering to help Max clean up his area b/c he saw that Max was struggling with it. 

Alyona-- Saw that Bojan was running late one morning and jumped right in and helped Bojan w/ his chore of feeding the dog.  She said "I'll do that for you so you can finish up."  Thoughtful.

Alex--  Was asking at camp if he could help clean up the table.  I was actually surprised at this gesture. 

Nik-- Saw that Alyona had no one to play with (geez, I can't wait till her new sisters come home!) and went up to ask her to play "dogs."  And they did.  It was sweet for him to think of her. 

I was actually very proud of the kids this week, especially at camp.  I heard from many other parents how well behaved they were and how thoughtful they were.  Made our year for sure.  Very humbling b/c many times Warren & I tend to focus on the bad sometimes more than we should.  Our kids really are good kids.  With FAS and RAD, the odds really are stacked against them.  None have been arrested, none are pregnant, none are failing(okay, Alex was but I'll explain that one later...laziness), none get in trouble at school, none have been in trouble w/ the law and none have been to an RTC. I know to many that may not sound like a big deal but trust me, I know many, many other parents who are living those scenarios daily.  We know full well it can happen to our kids any time as well.  When you have kids w/ brain damage from alcohol who can not make rational decisions, you have to be extra careful.  Warren & I have learned to live in a state of hypervigilence persay.  To outsiders, we may seem strict w/ our teens.  We feel we have to be to get them to the mature level so that they can function in the adult world.  None of our kids have cell phones or ipods.  They do have MP-4 players though.  Most likely, they'll have ipods for Christmas but don't tell them that.  LOL.  They have almost no access at home to the computer.  There are reasons for this and I'll get into that one day when I do an FAS post.  Just know, when someone comes up and compliments our kids, we are sure to tell them and could not be more proud b/c we know just how hard it is for them.  Sorry I went off on a tangent.  My kids have a very kind heart in my opinion and just happy others have noticed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Camp Cheerio-- part IV

The whole weekend is packed full of activities.  I started with Friday and also gave a peek at life in our cabin.  Saturday, we woke up and headed to a breakfast to fuel us through the day.  Kids go to activities and adults to workshops.  We went to a workshop and then headed to lunch.  The reason I don't have pictures of the kids during their activities is b/c we are not there when they go canoeing, rock climbing, crafts, etc.  After lunch, we volunteered to help take the teens for a hike.  Now, it had been about a month since Warren and I had been hiking.  Not to mention I had no sleep the previous night.  None.  I had been out of my immobilizing leg brace for about 3 weeks but still thought ahh, we'll be fine.  LOL.  That was my thought anyhow.  I didn't take the camera on the hike b/c I figured at some point I'd have to grab onto a tree and the camera would be lost forever.  Smart move.  Did take some on the way there though.

The window was up so not that clear but you can see all the mountains in the background and just what a gorgeous sunny day it was to do a hike.

You can see the rocks.  Yes, you were hiking on rocks at some points during the hike.  However, you could not beat the view.  Absolutely stunning vistas.  They had hummingbird vines(orange flowers) all over the woods along w/ the pink rhododendrums.  It was nice and cool at some points of walking the trails.  I did fine until the very end.  Twisted my knee a little and that slowed me down more than anything.  didn't want to end up back in that stupid brace.  Also got quite overheated which is very normal for me.  We had all promised the kids milkshakes after the hike.  Went to the restaurant only to find out that they stopped serving milkshakes four years ago.  So, the kids took it in stride and had either ice cream or soda.  Worked out fine.  The teens all did awesome.  You never know when you put a group of strangers together who all happen to be teenagers how it will turn out.  LOL.  We picked up our kids from their activities and headed back to the cabin before dinner.  I think he was tired, what do you think?

We all got back and had dinner that evening.  After dinner, there was a magic show, an ice cream social and there was supposed to be a bonfire.  However, weather did not permit for the bonfire.  And, that was okay,  All the campers had an awesome time hanging out in the gym.  Alyona had made a wonderful friend that happens to live only 45 minutes from us!  They will be seeing each other this summer for sure.  Here they are at the magic show:

These two were inseparable during the weekend.  It was great!  It's so reassuring to go to a place where ALL your children feel welcomed.  Sometimes this is very hard to do with kids w/ disabilities.  But, not at Camp Cheerio and not during Cue Camp Weekend.  Very good feeling.  All the kids must have been exhausted Saturday as they all went to bed about 10:30 and to sleep.  They were zonked out.  We all slept, woke up and got packed to leave later that day.  Went to activities/ workshops and then had a lunch before we went home.  Overall, another great day.  Then, it was goodbyes and on our way home.  Car ride was fairly uneventful as most slept in the car.

This is Alyona sleeping.  Sleeping bag is on top of her.  Frankly, I don't see even how the child is breathing!  Max is looking at one of the books we got while there.  They have a Scholastic Book Fair there which is really cool.  Enough money was raised for them to get some books which makes the ride home even  more bearable.  We made it home and Bear was very happy to see us.  Next post is what we learned while there. 

Remembering Chrissie

I know I had said I would write today on some things about our family and such.  After reading some other blogs this morning that I do, one line hit me like a ton of bricks and I was just sitting there staring at the screen waiting for another line to come up after that one.  The line I read this morning was "Dancing with Jesus."  Chrissie is a little girl that lives in Texas.  She has been home w/ her forever family since October of 2009.  Before that, she was in the same orphanage that Bojan used to reside in.  Chrissie has a very, very serious heart and lung condition that medically speaking, shouldn't have been able to live even a day.  Yet, this little girl defied the odds and had a contagious smile that pulled her through life day by day.  The Patterson family stepped up to adopt her knowing her very fragile medical condition.  For 6 months, this child had the gift of life with a real family.  That contagious smile stayed there.  Did not waiver,nor did the family's faith.  I could not possibly tell the entire story.  Just know it is filled with miracle after miracle.  This little girl (the Serbian Sensation as deemed by her family) touched more people than we'll ever know.  Tens of thousands of people.  So, if you don't think adopting an orphan makes a difference to others in the world, think again.  This little girl has touched hearts, brought people to Jesus, gave people hope and countless other things.  Amazing work for such a young soul.  Instead of mourning her passing, I would love to celebrate who this little girl was.  Celebrate the life she lived and what she represented.  She was truly an angel amoung us.  Take a moment to look at the family's blog in months past.  The sheer joy that Chrissie has on her face is priceless.  Their blog is: Also, pray for comfort for the family as they deal with her passing.  I just wanted to take a moment to honor a little girl that has touched me and countless others around the world.  Chrissie will be missed for sure. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Camp Cheerio-- part III (life in the cabin)

My oh my.  If you think this place is the holiday Inn, you are definitely mistaken.  It's a great place but it is still a step above camping.  I showed you all a picture of our cabin.  There are 16 places to sleep.  So yes, we'll be able to fit in one next year too.  8 sets of bunkbeds.  Now, these bunkbeds are not your typical sized twin bed.  They are a tad bit smaller than a twin.  They come w/ about an inch think vinyl mattress.  I would not really call it a mattress.  LOL.  So, we put the sleeping bags on top and go w/ it.  We always bring our own pillows so that definitely helps.  The space is plenty big being that you really only sleep in there and shower.  There are two small (did I mention the word small?) showers in the bathroom.  There are also two small toilets w/ shower curtains surrounding them.  Yeh, not the best privacy protector as our kids tested limits w/ each other.  Thought you might enjoy some shots of what it was like inside the cabin. 

Shot of the bunks.  BTW, the ONLY stuff on the floor was Max's.  URGHH!!!  

Yana is writing in her journal.  Awhile back, I bought the older girls a journal (diary) to write in.  Suprisingly, they have been doing that!  Even at camp.  I must say, I'm dying to read them but have not.  

This bed was off by itself.  Perfect for Irina!  Remember, she is our "germaphobe" so being around others is hard for her.  Plus, her OCD personality drives everyone nuts.  Great solution for sure.  And, as you can see, she is happy w/ her choice of where to sleep.

This is Nik just hanging out on the top bunk.  He is the only one who wanted on top.  Well, Alex did but that was a disaster.  Don't even ask.  Sometimes, RADishes just don't know what they want.  Long story and don't feel like getting into an "Alex" episode at this time.  Suffice it to say, Nik was on the top bunk.  

The cubbies are great here.  Each of our kids has a towel monogrammed w/ their name.  Boys have blue, girls pink & mom & dad orange.  We did this at home b/c I was tired of the towel wars at night.  This ended it immediately.  I know it was a bit of a cost in the beginning, but boy it has more than paid for itself a thousand times over of not having to get new towels out.  And, no fighting over who's is who's towel.  So yes, they have to take them to camp too.  Those w/ more than a few kids, the towels w/ names are fantastic.  

Poor guy.  Can't even sit up straight in this bed or he'll hit his head.  Still no one complains as we just love going here.  We'll put up w/ the little inconveniences once you see the big picture.  

In the cabin, you alsohave to improvise.  This is Alex.  Warren is giving Alex a "belt" of string to hold up his pants.  Alex tried on the pants before he left but did not move in them. So, he moved in them and they fell off.  part of parenting is knowing how to improvise.  We do a lot of this it seems.  LOL.

The cabin also has a front porch that we like to sit on.  This is Alex just chilling out.  

Well, that is some of the life inside the cabin.  pretty neat, huh?  The next post tomorrow will be on what we did Saturday.  Also a post on what we learned while there.  Stay tuned tomorrow for more on this wonderful experience. 

Camp Cheerio-- part II

We arrived on Friday.  Ate lunch and then headed to workshops/ kids to activities.  We met up for a waterslide event that takes place every single year.  Tradition.  Big plastic tarp on a hill w/ kids going down it full speed while shivering.  What a site to see!  Here are some pics from it:

This is Nik coming down on one of his runs.  Love that look of sheer joy.  What a character! 

This is Alyona finishing up one of her runs.  And this is the way she came down most of the hill:
Yep, backwards.  The little "mouse" actually went down backwards!  I wasn't sure Alyona would brave the hill as she is truly our chicken little.  Terrified of just about anything.  But, this camp is very encouraging in many, many ways.

Bojan is one of ours that has NO fear.  LOL.  He'll try to come up w/ all kinds of ways to go down this thing.  This was his belly run.  The only thing he hated was hoping back up the hill w/ one leg.  See, unfortunately he has to go down w/out the prosthetic.  But, he makes it all work & as you can see, has no problem doing it his way.  

Another one going over and over again was Alex.  Alex is like Bojan w/ the no fear thing... to a point.  But for this activity, no fear.  He also went down belly first on this photo.  When he got up, I realized my little boy is getting older and starting to form that pre-teen body.  Scary!  

They had a blast on the waterslide.  We then went to the cafeteria for some dinner.  You are never, ever underfed at this camp.  LOL.  I think my kids come home from here and think they're starving.  Anyhow, after dinner, there was an undersea dance for everyone.  It was funny b/c they were playing 80's music and my kids were singing and dancing along to the same stuff I used to!  It was awesome.  Some of my kids can dance btw.  I was quite impressed.  Bojan can even do the splits.  The dancing was really wearing them out.  I promised Nik he could have hot cocoa.  Though it was storming and lightening out, he wanted to go.  While on the outside of the gym, I caught him doing this:

He is listening to see if he can hear/ feel the vibrations from the music inside.  It's great b/c he really is trying to hear it.  Nik loved being around other kids w/ implants all weekend. He is definitely in his element at camp surrounded by other deaf children.  What was so neat this night was he really wanted hot cocoa and we took him to get some in the cafeteria.  Walking back he was just estatic b/c he could hear the thunder.  He's screaming and grabbing me that he can hear it.  Very, very exciting when your child hears sounds for the first time.  And, there was a spectacular lightening show.  Never had seen that much lightening.  Not the smartest thing standing in the middle of the hill near a flagpole but hey, once in a lifetime, right?  

This is Nik w/ his coveted hot cocoa.  In the middle of a lightening storm.  The building in the background is the cafeteria.  It is beautifully situated overlooking the mountain.  Ahh, to only live this way everyday.  What peaceful scenery and just fresh air.  No wonder we all love it here.  Shoot, even the hot cocoa is better here.  LOL.  Just ask Nik.  He must of had ten cups that weekend.  I'll do a few more posts.  I am off work tomorrow so may do some blog catching up.  I've had 3 IEP meetings since yesterday.  So, lots to say.  I need to do a fundraising post as we need to get busy.  Homestudy is getting close to getting done.  I need to hustle!  Every day is one day closer to bringing our children home.  We've decided on names for the girls and are working on the boy's name as we're tired of calling him the boy.  Well, need to get going.  No homework this week but we do have other things to get done.  I'll finish up Camp Cheerio hopefully tomorrow.  Hope you can all see what a great place this is.  But, it really is the people and I willd efinitely talk about that.  You know, I remember when I used to really stare at the way deaf people would talk and just not understand.  This weekend, I didn't even notice.  I have come full circle with the understanding and thank this camp and Nik for teaching me.  I know Nik will not be able to be understood by most.  And I know that that is okay.  Others will learn that just b/c you speak differently, does not mean you are stupid.  Nik will teach people this.  Not a problem for our son.  I have realized w/ this camp, he has such an awesome life in front of him and will not be hindered by anything in life.  I can not wait to share so many of the awesome things we learned this weekend.  Truly, life changing.  Do need to go.  Talk later.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Here we Cheerio!!!

Camp Cheerio that is.  In the beautiful mountains of Roaring Gap, NC.  That is where we were this past weeked for Cue Camp.  Though we are a signing family and not a cueing family, they always, always welcoming any families w/ HOH or Deaf children.  More about the camp itself in a little while.  This will be part I.  The getting ready for the trip.  We'll do it in pictures as it is just easiest this way I think.  HEre goes & hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Getting ready to go.  Before any trip, there are certain rules we have.  One, is to get the car clean.  No one wants to sit in a dirty car for hours, right?  So, Max vacuumed it out and must say, looked like it had been detailed!  Crazy clean.

Even Nik is helping to clean out the car.  He's taking out one of the carseats my tots use.  Nik still uses a carseat like this and Alyona uses a booster seat.  Though she's almost 11yo, according to our state laws, she is still actually supposed to be in a carseat.  We are told to carry a copy of her birthcert for proof if we are ever stopped.  Once I ever get around to getting that official dx of possible dwarfism, I may just carry that around as well.  LOL.  

This is the start of packing up.  Kids constantly going in and out of their bags.  We each have sleeping bags w/ carriers. It's great.  See, we live close to an outlet center and love the Eddie Bauer store.  Love it when they have outlet prices that go on clearance for 75% off of the outlet price.  Awesome deals.  Anyhow, thought you might want to know why we have mostly Eddie Bauer sleeping bags, duffle bags, bookbags and such.  They are by far the most durable.  Some of our bags we've had for 12 years now!  Anyone ever comes here to visit, we usually take them to the Carolina Premimum OUtlet Center.  Now, once the packing is done, here is what tends to happen:

Vegging out and watching a movie.  Bags were all packed and house for the most part cleaned up.  They deserved it and were much too wired to sleep.

And, we're ready to go.  The excitement was just too much for them almost.  We wanted to leave at 7:30 but did manage to leave at 8:30am.  Not bad.  Kids were good the entire 3 hours there.  We ate a big breakfast and no snacks in the car b/c we ate as soon as we got to camp.  

This is all how we know we are very close to the camp.  A Christmas Tree farm.  Always so great to see in the mountains.  Just beautiful to see all the different sizes of trees.  Everyone cheers by the time we reach this point.  We get there, register and are assigned our cabin for the weekend.  

This is our cabin.  Our side is on the right side.  Nice cabin and great location.  Convenient to the gym for the kids and to the cafeteria to eat.  Notice just the nice green grass.  Max made the comment, "I'd love to mow this!"  Remember, he's mower man.  LOL.  

This is a picture I take every year when we first arrive.  Can you guess which two just woke up?  It's fun to see how much they grow every year w/ this picture.  And one more:

This is right outside the cafeteria.  Wished Nik's head wouldn't have covered up Max's or this would have been perfect.  Oh well.  This was right before we went to lunch.  After lunch there were workshops we went to and the kids went to activities.  We then met up for dinner.  After dinner, a big waterslide event.  More pictures on that in another post.  I have a lot to do tonight.  I have Irina's and Nik's IEP meetings tomorrow.  Tired just thinking about it.  Bunch going on.  Will write about the waterslide and under the sea dance on Friday evening.  And share some more pics of course.  I'll do pictures first and then an everything I learned at camp post as well.  More to come tomorow evening.  Oh, just so much to share that I learned.  Great news for Nik too!!!!  Hope you enjoyed some photos so far.  YOu can click on any of htem to make bigger. 

Homestudy visit today-- part II

Relief has come over me.  Yes, still nervous when a social worker plans to visit.  Shoot, they are determining your future.  And, with us having 7 kids, 6 w/ FASers, it can be unpredictable at what they'll(the kids) say at best.  Seriously.  Plus, we had the double whammy today.  They have just gotten off a high of being gone to camp all weekend long and having fun. They have to go to school...mad b/c they have to go back to school... and then have testing all week.  House is not up to par as we just got back from vacation and we're still doing laundry.  Nonstop since we came home.  Seriously.  Nonstop.  9 sleeping bags and they can only go in one at a time.  Anyhow, the kids got beach balls at camp.  Mini ones.  They can't do much damage, right?  Wrong.  They were bouncing them all night until we took them away. They knocked out 3 lightbulbs in the boys' room so looked like they lived in a cave.  I'm sure that was impressive to the social worker.  What made that better in their room?  Why, the trail of raisins one of the tots I watch dropped up there.  Downstairs.--  Besides the loads of sleeping bag in the master bath tub(remember, no real laundry room), there are lightbulbs burnt out in our room.  Shamefully, I notice the stupid fixture somehow missed that spring cleaning we did a few weeks ago.  URGHH.  It was rainy and muddy out.  So, despite the fact that I swept and mopped earlier, looked like I hadn't done a thing in about a week.  Now, let's talk behavior while she was here.  That's always fun, right.  Umm, nope.  For some reason, my teen was in one sarcastic mood. The other had a bad migraine so she was pretty much a zombie sleeping the whole time.  Another had decided she didn't want new siblings yet has told every single teacher at school she is getting new sibs from Bulgaria and will be helping w/ them when they get home.  (teachers told me last week).  My kids are usually outside playing after school but rain had made that not such a hot idea.  So, they were fortunately entertained by the Wii video game for awhile.  LOL.  Thankfully, this lady has seen us on a more "normal" day , if there is such a thing here.  The kids were themselves and really, you can't ask for more than that.  None had homework as it is testing week.  All in all, I think it went okay.  She was here for another few hours.  I think around 4 hours or so this go around.  Great news is, there aren't many more docs to gather.  They're waiting on references and my references have told me they'd write them this week.  We have to finish the education part and she's getting us the agency code to do that with.  EVery time I try to purchase online, it asks for an agency code.  Once I have that, Warren and I can knock out those ten hours.  Remember, even though we have an education waiver, due to recent international events(& I think you all know what I'm referring to...urghh), they are requiring this additionally.  Fine w/ us.  Just wish we could write our own program for people to go through.  LOL.  Real adoption adjustments I would call it.  Once all this is done, which should be this week, the report will be done and sent for our review and our placing agency's review.  After that, it will be sent off w/the I-800A to BCIS for approval.  They are checking on a "glitch" regarding our housing of the kids situation.  Long story short and tell more a bit later.  Should be fine but they want to double check w/ everything.  Has to do w/ rennovations and such.  Again, should be fine.  Always better to be safe than sorry though and work out any issues beforehand.  For those wondering(we've been asked this many times before), we have a 3100 sq. ft. home on an acre of land.  We have rennovated this house several times before to fit our family's unique needs and may be embarking on that task again this coming year.  We'll see.  More on our home a little later in the week.  Well, need to get going.  Most kids are in bed.  Had Max's IEP meeting today.  Warren went to it.  Went well for the most part.  He will be taking the regular academic track in high school.  More on all that later.  BTW, Yana passed both her EOG tests!  Chat later.  Pics from the trip forthcoming.

We're back!

What a trip!  Oh, just so much to share w/ you all that I can't wait.  But, just stopping in as I have too much to do.  Remember, the social worker is coming know, right after a heated IEP meeting!  Should be interesting.  The house looks as though it has just been moved into w/ stuff laying everywhere.  We came home from the trip, unloaded and just tried to get ready for the next school day.  Cleaning up was not priority.  I did manage to get 5 loads of laundry done.  10more to go at a minimum and working on it now.  Thought I had the day off but have the little tots here today so trying to figure out how this house cleaning thing is going to work for a social worker to come and see how we live.  Even though she's been here many times before, you really don't want your house a wreck for any company.  Working on it for sure.   Just after a trip it takes a few days to get back to normal, not just a few hours.  We also have to squeeze some grocery shopping in.  Got to love it.  Pictures will come later today and I just can not tell you how wonderful it was to go.  eVeryone learned something.  They really did.  Warren and I even took the teen groups hiking.  Yikes!  More about that later.  LOL.  Great trip, great weather, great friends, who could ask for more?!  Got to go.  Attempting to make it look like Martha Stewart lives here.  Yeh, right.  LOL.  I bet she'd have an answer for all the stains on the rug though or marks on the walls. More to come later. Just have a very busy day today.