Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday, Memorial Day Weekend

Well, thought I'd check in.  Nothing major happening here.  Thank goodness.  We got to go over to our neighbor's house for dinner.  Spare ribs, boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, etc.  The works!  It was delicious and best part was, I didn't have to cook.  LOL.  Fortunately, at our house, Warren does quite a bit of cooking too.  But, it was still nice to go elsewhere and enjoy a meal.  The kids had a wonderful time playing w/ friends.  Did I mention we live in the BEST neighborhood.  It truly is a great neighborhood.  Everyone helps everyone else out.  Love it.  We stayed and chatted quite a bit.  Got conned into letting Irina & Yana each have a friend over.  Then Bojan and Alex stayed at the neighbor's.  You really can't replace great neighbors and we are seriously surrounded by them.  I mean that too.  You just have no idea what they've put up w/ from this house.  Very understanding.  Anyhow, it was great just cooking out and enjoying some adult conversation.  Girls and I didn't go to yardsales today as there really aren't too many on a holiday weekend.  Max went to work this morning.  Girls cleaned up around here.  Bojan went to a friend's house all day and is spending the night there.  Warren and I actually went off to do a little shopping.  Found a great produce stand and bought a watermelon w/ seeds.  I was SO excited.  Let me explain why.  Lately down here, all the stores and stands are selling seedless watermelon.  To me, they just don't taste as good.  Not to mention they are definitely not as big.  Plus, the kids and I(sometimes) love to see how far we can spit the seeds.  I know, a little redneck but fun.  So, to come across a stand finally w/ seeded watermelon was awesome.  We went to the store and picked up a few groceries as well.  We made fresh salad with some sauteed shrimp and zucchini on it.  Plus, some fresh yellow tomatoes from the garden.  Warren just got back w/ a net to clean the pool.  Kids should be able to get in next week.  Now, we're going to watch a movie together, kick back and relax.

Tomorrow, we are going to a friend's farm.  We LOVE it there.  They have emus, chickens, goats, baby ducklings, turkeys, bunnies, etc.  A lot to see and kids have free range to run around.  2 of the kids from there are also from Yana & Alex's orphanage.  We hosted them together.  Amazing how kids in an orphanage across the ocean can end up as friends on this side of the world as well.  We'll be there all afternoon tomorrow.  And, probably a good chunk of the evening.  LOL.  We all love to talk.  Monday, the plans are to still go to the zoo.  We have a yearly pass that we are able to get through Warren's work.  Great deal and quite a savings.  So, we're going.  We're cleaning the pool and doing the yard a bit this weekend as well.  Girls did awesome cleaning up the house while Warren and I were out.  I'm still on a declutter mission.  I'm getting there slowly.  Very slowly.  I declutter one area, another one gets messed up.  Ahh, progress. 

Oh, any locals that know of a place where we can get a very, very cheap bed, let us know.  Alyona has now decided she no longer wants to sleep on her dogbed.  Plans are to fix up the current garage(though there is no place to put said stuff in the garage) into Alyona, "little bit" and "little princess's" room.  Meantime, we'll need a temporary bed for Alyona.  Trying to find one online since it will be used a short time.  So, you come across one for sale, let me know please.  I can hardly wait for her to have a real room again.  Trying to find a way to make that happen.  The fixing of the house is throwing us for a bit of a loop so working out some solutions.  There are some solutions just trying to find the best one.  I wil explain more a bit later.  Some great things are happening but just want to hold off saying everything till I know what direction we're taking.  Just know, we have a bit of paying it forward to do for sure.  And I promise we will.  People are very generous and it is just very humbling to witness.  And this has nothing to do w/ money either.  People giving time and themselves can make a huge difference in the world.  Again, more a little later. 

Okay, so much for my nice weekend.  Max just slammed the door on Alex so Alex smashed his finger.  It was to "get even."  Lovely.  Now, Alex was trying to explain what happened.  Well, you know these kids have FAS.  Well, stories get very distorted and we have to sort them out as parents.  Umm, gets interesting.  So, we had to gather that Max was talking to a frog and not a duck as Alex had said.  Alex said "frog, duck whatever."  I think it is time for an animal lesson, don't you?  Warren has the patience of Job.  Seriously.  With processing speeds being slow w/ FASers, you have to approach arguements, conversations totally different.  Now, IRina is putting her two cents in and saying Alex is experiencing karma.  LOL.  Never dull.  Chat a little more later. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In full bloom

This is how I know summer is right around the corner at my house.  My yard starts popping up w/ color.  I believe we have 16 hydrangea shrubs in our yard.  I love these b/c once they mature, they constantly bloom flowers w/ all kinds of color.  Very easy to care for as long as you keep them watered.  They love water.  We have some w/ pink blooms, purple blooms, blue blooms and our mop-laced variety are w/ purple & white blooms.  You can click on the picture and get some mroe color & close up view.  I just think they're beautiful.  My house is full of vases now w/ these and there are still tons of blooms left on the shrub.  

Sorry for the fuzzy picture but the lens was dirty.  These are the mop-laced hydrangeas on the side of the house.  You don't cut these really.  Just for looks. But they give off nice color.  Believe it or not, last year, these were very small shrubs.  I buy almost all my shrubs on super clearance at either Lowes or Walmart.  Usually costs me around $3 or $2 a shrub.  $7 for the trees.  As long as they're green when you scrap off some of the bark, you are good to go and they can be brought back to life.  I do wish I had a picture of how these 3 shrubs barely covered this area last year.  Now look.  Another week, this whole side w/ be beaming w/ white & purple blooms.  BTW, I have never trimmed the hydrangeas.  I leave them be.  In winter, I pull out the dead sticks but that is it.  We go for easy maintenance around here.  LOL.

This was when it was just starting to bloom.  You should see it now but no camera this week.  This is one of the mop-laced varieties.  Though I don't like them as well, they do look great along the side of the house.

Okay, this is the main shrub we pick blooms off of that seems to have a never ending supply literally all summer long.  My neighbor is coming over later to put some in vases as well.  This is not as rounded bush b/c last year we hacked about about half of it off.  We divided what we hacked off into 4 parts.  They are all flourishing now in another part of the yard.  I must say, I did think the shock was going to kill all of them & this one but it survived.  Very hearty plants for sure.  

This is outside Yana's windows.  Window boxes came from end of year clearance last year at Big Lots.  They never hang straight so Warren & Max rigged them up w/ a piece of PVC pipe and it fit perfectly then.  Told you having 2 handy guys around helps.  Anyhow, I really did not want regular petunias in here.  However, since Warren and Max were going to the store for some repair stuff, I said pick up trailing petunias for the window boxes.  Well, neither one thought trailing would make a difference.  It does.  These still give color but not the effect I wanted at all.  Not wasting money though so these are staying. 

I usually like a darker color of flowers.  Reason being is they stand out better against the house, grass, etc.  White is the best color if you want to see the flowers at night but we don't do that here.  We love color.  And, lots of it!  Though not my choice of color, I don't think Max & Warren did too bad, do you?  

Just want to show you it doesn't have to cost a fortune to landscape a yard.  This was my $7 Walmart dying tree that everyone laughed at me for buying.  This is a dogwood before it had the blooms on it.  It is much fuller than this now b/c this shot was back in April.  But nice going down the street & seeing the white dogwood blooms on it.  Once I get a camera back, I'm taking a picture of my .20 trees.  Yes, you CAN landscape on a budget.  Though the kids always laugh when I plant those "sticks", they don't after they see them grow.  

Another window box.  This one has impatients and this was taken after they were first planted.  They'll grow about 6" up and on over.  I love the color spill over that will occur.  

Reason I'm showing all these is we get asked many times how w/ so many kids how can we afford this or that.  Well, it's budgeting really and looking for deals.  So, for the yard, I find everythign on clearance or I clip what we have and replant them.  I've also ordered out of one of those mail order catalogues to see if they'd grow.  You knwo the ones.. buy 1 get one for a penny deals.  Wait till you see some of those growing.  Those are pictures for another day when I have a camera again.  Toy department, here I come.  LOL.  Anyway, I'll do a landscapign on a budget post one day.  If you hadn't noticed, I love flowers.  It started way before I worked in the florist shop.  I just think flowers make people smile and I like making people smile.  I love making the entrance of our house look nice.  Welcoming.  Plus, flowers hide some of the house flaws that are going on.  

Well, need to go.  Chili for dinner.  I know it's more of a winter meal but we were all in the mood for it.  It's Memorial Day Weekend here this weekend as you all know.  Ourdinner conversation last night at Chaos Manor... Kids, why do we have Memorial Day?  Irina:  "It's to honor all the veternarians."  So, now that you know, go down to your local animal hospital and say thanks to a vet.  Yep, my kids and the English language.  Don't worry , we told them what it was for.  We are taking our kids to a farm on Sunday afternoon and to the zoo on Monday.  Tomorrow, just vegging out and watching a movie w/ some homemade milkshakes.  I swear to you all that Warren can make Oreo mint milkshakes that taste idential to Cookout!  Any locals, come on by one day and try a shake.  We're having them on Friday.    Enjoy your weekend. 

Bits & pieces

I don't know if I'll be able to be on the computer much.  Warren has resurrected this computer so many times but after I shut this down tonight, it will most likely not come back up.  It has served it's purpose well. I think we've had it for about 13 years.  So, we've been lucky. 

Adoption front.  Homestudy is being written up & verified.  Should have that VERY soon!  Next step as soon as we get it... send it off w/ the I-800A.  I've heard clearance for NC is not taking as long as it used to so that would be a wonderful, wonderful surprise.  So, it is moving right along.  If we can send this thing off the first week of June, that would be awesome.  Sooner it's sent off, the sooner we get it back and get on our way.  For those not familiar w/ special needs adoptions, the referral process works a bit differently.  I will explain this to you based on our PAST adoptions.  This would be for Russia and Serbia.  For all our adoptions, we had chosen special needs waiting children.  They were on lists waiting for families.  These are harder to place children.  So, once all your paperwork is submitted over there, things tend to move very quickly as you aren't really "waiting" for a referral.  We already had ours so it is like an entire step is skipped even though it's not.  We have found all our past children on waiting children lists on the web.  Yes, I said on the web.  I know many, many folks say stay away b/c they are not "real" lists but that just simply is not true.  Some agencies don't update like they should be I can verify those waiting children lists do exist and have helped thousands of kids find homes, including our 7 thus far.  Anyhow, once the referral is "officially" received, we were invited to go to the country and meet he children.  For Russia, all have been one trip except Alyona  and Nik.  Serbia was also only one trip.  Bulgaria is new territory for us so we too are learning as we go. 

Kids.  School is almost over.  Next week is many field days, awards and parties to attend.  I'll be going to many of them.  Most likely, all of them.  Max & Alex have their neurology appointment next week.  Yana has an IEP.  So, a bit busy.  All our FAS kids see the same neurologist/ developmental pediatrician.  She's been great these past 10 years.  We are thinking of adding a neuro psych to the mix but asking her next week.  Oh dentist was last week & a few weeks ago.  6 out of 7 had no cavities.  Wahoo!!!  Only hte OCD child had cavities.  She's brushing away the enamel and dentist also said she has very, very deep grooves and it would be impossible not to get cavities.  All her sealants had worn away & that was what was keeping them at bay.  Orthodontist is for another post.  Kids are very healthy so thaat is fantastic.  We get Bojan looked at this coming month.  Bojan is asking for his foot to be amputated so we'll see.  I'll explain Bojan in another post one day soon.  Nik may get another implant surgery as well.  Both of these are wait and see.  Know more in June.  Let you know.  If it is a go, we want it done ASAP as we want to make sure 1) we're in country when they recover and 2) the younger , the better for surgery.  Nik knows exactly what to expect as he's had this before.  His recovery isn't too bad.  Bojan recovers super fast after all his surgeries.  However, we've never done an amputation before so don't have a clue.  Keeping them out of the water will be interesting.  So, as you can see, we try to make sure all medical and dental stuff is taken care of before we leave for an international adoption.  It allows you to not worry so much while you're gone and also to allow you to devote most of your time to the new ones once they come home.  My kids knwo the drill and don't mind being the new helpers for the new ones that come home.  You just have to present it in a very positive light before you leave.  Again, we go w/ what works for us and this always has. 

The house.  We're trying to figure it all out.  Checking into all kinds of options.  Moving is not an option at htis time as it would cost us too much to fix up the home to sell it.  So, we stay.  Now, looking into refinancing.  If we can do that, we would be doing well.  Well in terms of getting things fixed around here.  LOL.  The people who were supposed to fix our windows can't now.  So, windows are in, yet, we can't put them in.  We're figuring this one out.  Roll w/ the punches. 

Our garden is growing.  Really growing.  I'd do some pictures but as you all camera.  It's water logged.  I may see if I can borrow one for the kids' ceremonies next week.  Though, if most know my camera history, that may be a bad idea.  LOL.  Flowers are in full bloom.  Love it!  Have hydrangea bouquets all ove hte house w/ iris' in them.  A post w/ all that later as I think I have some old pics of some flowers.  Would brighten up the blog.  Alright, lots more to do so signing off.  I'm too tired for a thoughtful Thursday this week.  Will have one for next week for sure!  My kids have been great lately.  Okay, bedtime has not gone so well b/c of all the lightening bugs but other than that, they've been great.  So, I can't complain.  More on here later.  Flowers for sure.  And, we're getting back into that Flabulous to Fabulous Friday!  Yes, yes I am. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bomb in Stavropol, Russia

This is one reason my daughter Yana is terrified of people w/ guns.  Though she's gotten better over the years, she remembers the military presence in her region.  I really was shocked by that.   Can you imagine how her & Alex would be now.  We haven't told them & might not.  With kids w/ PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder), you have to be very, very careful at what information is given.  This bombing apparently happened today.  5 dead, over 20 injured.  Pray for peace in that region.  This was my kids' home for 8.5 years and 3.5 years of their lives.  We do not forget those left behind and how they must be worried tonight.  Please, pray for peace.  Thanks. 

Spreading the word

I can not tell you what an honor it is to be a part of the adoption community.  There truly is something special about it.  People being welcoming, willing to share their stories/ experiences with others, honesty abounds, faithfulness, etc.  There are just a lot of positives to it.  And, you don't have to adopt to experience these positives.  Visit a few blogs once in awhile and see what some of these amazing families are doing.  Their non-waivering commitment to children they have not even yet met.  It amazes me every time.  The never give up attitude is what I like most about adoptive families.  The lyrics "I get knocked down, but I get up again.  Aint nothing gonna keep me down." definitely come to mind.  As you all know, I'm horrible w/ who sang/ or wrote what.  My husband could tell you as he used to be a D.J. for years.  Hence why there are 2 disco balls and other paraphenalia in the garage.  LOL.

Anyhow, I just like how other adoptive families are willing to help each other.  It is really quite inspiring to watch.  There is one family that I have been following their blog for awhile.  Love it and so much insight to life in general.  Honest, forthright and devoted.  Anyhow, she came up w/ a campaign to help 26 adoptive families!  26 of them!  It is to help these families raise funds to bring their children home.  And, the best part, they are not asking for much.  I mean really, really not asking for much.  Just a $5 or $10 donation from folks.  Okay, how many of you spent that on coffee today or, my personal favorite...chocolate?  Seriously, how many went to Walmart and grabbed an extra $5/ $10 worth of items?  No one blinks twice at going out to dinner for at least $20 to $40.  So, why not help to save numerous, numerous, lives?  This is just not one child, this is several, several children.  Our family was selected to be one of the families to participate in this.  We feel incredibly honored.  See, the family is raising $10K in 20 days.  Remember all that village talk I've done?  Well, we desperately need that village now!  The family will give $200 to each family(25).  One name will be drawn to recieve a $5000 donation.  Isn't that the greatest idea?  Best part is, there are NO losers in this.  Especially, the children waiting for their forever families.  Please do me a favor and help spread the word.  There is going to be a logo on the sidebar.  You can grab the button and put it on your blogs out there.  Please, please.  Do anything to help spread the word.  This is for so many children.  This is legitimate.  No illegal stuff here or mis-using of funds.  Nothing like that.  I know we ourselves have asked for donations as well.  However, I feel this just benefits so many more than just our family.  If you have an extra $5 or $10 laying around, please consider it.  Please.  Look in the couches or car cupholders.  I think you'd be surprised at what you find.  That little jester is going to help change the world for quite a few children.  Just think about it.  The family's blog link is:   They have a tab on top That says $10K in 20 days.  Our family is #26 on the list.  Not that it matters.  It is so wonderful seeing so many families going to rescue orphans.  Just want all of you to help spread the word.  Thanks for all you do.  I'll have a button to grab later tonight.  There are only 9 days left and there is still about $5600 more to raise.  We can do this.  As a caring society, community, neighborhood, family, etc.  We CAN do this.  A little goes a long way is the best saying for this campaign.  Thanks again for listening. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kids-- what have they been doing??

So much talk about major decisions lately, it's time to talk about what this house revolves around... the kids.  Well, in NC it is headed into summer time though not too hot.  Hovering in the 80's here, sometimes 90's.  We don't consider it hot here until we are near the triple digits w/ that 100% humidity we get w/ it.  Brutal in the summer.  Nothing some fresh water can't cure.  But, before it gets to that point where we spend most of the time in the pool, my kids spend most time outdoors as soon as they get off that school bus.  Everything from blowing bubbles to catching bugs, to jumping on the trampoline to whatever else you can think of.  So, here's  a few shots of what my kids have been up to. 

Our boys love to play warriors or star Wars or whatever the name of it is for the day.  These are all Nerf guns w/ bullets gone, of course.  But, they still have fun hiding behind trees and running all over the yard.

Notice they all have backpacks for their gear.  Well, Nik has on a backpack that Alex used later.  When they came in, Alyona dumped out Alex's backpack in his room and started screaming at him.  You can't use THIS backpack b/c it is for my new sister!  Alex proceeded to tell her that she won't be here for a few more months.  Alyona said so, I don't want it dirty for her.  Yep, I think she'll do just fine as a sister.  

Ahh, time for good old corn on the cob.  We love it here.  Absolutely love it.  But, more than eating it, my kids for some reason love to shuck corn.  They never do get all those "hairs" out of it but come pretty dog gone close.  This is some of the corn.  We may go get a bunch more this weekend and then freeze some.  Corn on the cob is good any time of the year for sure.  

This is of course one of Nik's creations.  He came running downstairs just thrilled at what he had made.  He said this is Max w/ Heely's on.  Notice the black boots and black hair.  He made the ears & wheels out of Kinex parts and the rest is made of dominoes.  I thought it was quite clever.  What do you think?  Another artist in the house??

Even though Alyona is turning 11 years old next month, she is very much our little girl.  She loves taking one of the tots strollers to push her baby dolls around.  She is very mothering for sure.  If only I could get the grass on the left side to grow as much as the hostas do.  Too much kid traffic I think.  

Where else would my kids put their bugs but on the kitchen counter.  Nik & the boys really enjoy collecting all kinds of insects.  Them & the kid across the street.  We had to yell at them the other day.  What were they collecting you ask?  Why bumblebees & wasps!!  Yep, you heard that right.  Those were some very, very mad bees in there.  The thing they love to collect the most though is lightening bugs at night.  I love this time of year when they light up hte yard and the kids go chasing after them.  Makes it hard for them to want to go to bed though.  I won't put the close up shot on here as it even grossed me out.  

This is Irina trying to experiment on her brother's hair.  I don't think that they were that into it but they put up with it for a few minutes.  Irina is having a hard time finding hair on Bojan's head to put up.  Alex's hair obviously needed cutting at this time.  Alex is definitely all boy so for him to do this was brave.  

This is Nik watching his big bubble.  He is definitely a thinker.  Sometimes I just wonder what he is thinking.  Especially, with some of the interesting things & pictures he's created.  

Those are just a few things my kids have been up to.  I'll have 11 kids here everyday for the summer so trying to get organized to what we're going to do each day.  Goign to try to have a theme each week, learning time the first hour & a half, then swim, lunch, craft, movie time or nap time for the littles, and then swim time again and then snack.  That's the plan anyhow.  We'll see if it transpires.  My kids are definitely ready for school to be over.  Frankly, I'm ready for summer to start.  I love this time of year w/ flowers, sunshine, swimming and cooking out.  Just a great time to enjoy friends, family and new people.  More posts to come.  Gee, no posts for a few days & I have a lot to say.  LOL.  Hope you all don't mind.  Have a great week.  More to come in a few more posts.

Catching up

Long post previously so this one won't be.  There will be very few photographs this week.  Why?  Hmm, let's see.  No, the camera did not fall off the restroom door as it did before at the aquarium.  No, this time it did not fall at all.  We were outside working on our garden and yard.  I put the camera down and left it in the back of the mower trailer.  It did not go anywhere to fall out.  No, instead, the camera just sat there.  Yes, sat there all day and all night.  How was the weather?  Well, thunderstorms & hard rain all day and all night long.  Warren brought the camera in, turned it over and we watched the water come out.  I had some great pictures on there & don't even know if it is salvageable.  We are trying to dry it out but it will most likely be hopeless.  I'm bummed b/c we have awards, class parties, birthdays, etc. coming up soon.  Let you know how this one turns out.  I'm guessing my next camera will be a fisher price indestructible one.  LOL.  Just a guess.

In addition to the camera, the roof needs replacing.  I wrote about that in a previous post.  They say things come in 3's so it's the camera broken, roof broken and computer broken.  Warren has resurrected this thing for about the last time.  He fixes it everyday.  This computer btw is 13 years old!  It's also served it's purpose well.   We were just hoping and praying some of these things that we know are old & worn out would have lasted just a tad bit longer.  You know, like maybe after these adoptions.  LOL.  It is what it is.  It is life.  Things break and you just fix it or wait till you have the funds for a new one.  I'm very, very lucky to have a husband and a son who can fix practically anything. 

We stayed home this past weekend. Irina, Alyona and I went shopping a bit.  Irina got some new clothes.  Not many but she really does need some things so this was a good weekend to do that.  We found brand new shoes for $3.  How could you go wrong?  Had fun helping her pick stuff out.  She is my very, very conservative child.  So interesting.  Yana is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Alyona is too young to care yet.  It's neat though that they all have their own sense of style.

EOG's.  For those that don't know, it means end of grade testing.  It's a pain, especially for our kids who have FAS/FAE.  Umm, that would be 6 of them!  It's a hard week, hard for them to understand.  Irina has special testing and not regular testing.  She takes it later this week.  She will go onto 10th grade.  Max passed math.  I was shocked to be honest.  He missed science by one point so he has to retest.  Reading also needed work.  They want to pass him onto 9th grade however.  I'm very concerned about that.  Max is smart, there is no doubt.  However, w/ FAS, he has maturity problems and much, much disorganization.  He was making all A's & B's in the self-contained setting & slowly sent out to resource setting..still small, still doing very well.  So well, that they moved him into mainstream classes & it all fell apart.  All D's & F's.  Only change was the classroom environment.  Max does not know how to interact socially w/ others.  He feels like an outcast in many situations.  He was in a regular ed setting doing a radio show project w/ the rest of the group & all the other kids thought it would be great to "kill off the Asian kid" for their project.  NOT cool.  Max is an introvert by nature, very sweet, compassionate toward others.  Perfect target for bullies and does not make him stand out w/ regular peers.  He is a loner in regular classrooms.  Attitude/ demeanor changed during this time at home as well.  The same joking, loving kid was gone.  It was sad.  We had a meeting & they(school) doesn't really seem to care a bit about all that stuff.  They say Max is smart.  Fine.  He's smart but if he's losing himself in the process, it's not worth it.  URGHH.  For now, he's going on to 9th grade, regular classes as the state is getting rid of self-contained settings in high school.  Keep you posted.  I'm worried is all.  Yana took the EOG's and passed everything.  However, she is on what I call the "cheating" EOG system here.  The schools don't want their #'s to count w/ special ed students so they give them a different test w/ only 3 possible answers to the questions.  Frustrated b/c she CAN take that other test.  Anyhow, out of my control.  Trust me, we've fought a good fight.  She is making such progress that they want to mainstream her next year.  I partially agree w/ that.  Remember, Yana has CAPD & processing issues.  Small setting has done her well.  I also am concerned grades may fall.  That & they claim she is getting on grade level.  Not true.  Just have her write something and it is about a second grade level.  Not saying this to be mean but honest.  She needs help & just b/c she's doing well, doesn't mean she would benefit in a regular setting.  I think she can but needs another year of this type of classroom.  Bojan I am truly stunned & Warren & I can't figure it out.  Remember, Bojan has been our avid reader and making all A's and such.  Doing fantastic in school.  I mean really, really fantastic and on grade level.  So, when he passed the math EOG & failed the reading, I was floored.  Granted, he only failed by one point but I really thought he'd ace it w/ what we've seen this year.  He's retaking the reading.  I know he'll pass this go around.  He'll be in 5th grade next year.  Alyona takes a separate test.  Even though she did, she wasn't able to pass the test at all.  We expected this.  She'll be 11 next month but can't read yet.  It is hard to watch b/c she does try, try and try so hard.  Breaks my heart.  She is getting sight words but that will not help her in the long run.  We just want her to get to a 4th grade reading level. They say if you can do this, you have a better chance at living independently.  A goal for her for sure.  Alex.  Umm, Alex.  Clue you all in here.  Alex is one of our RADishes who knows how to "work" the system.  He had us all fooled that he could not read much at home.  Nope.  He could indeed read!  URGHH.  I was never more disappointed or mad at a child.  He has a sister dying to know how to read & he CAN read but is L-A-Z-Y.  Very, very lazy.  Only wants to do what Alex wants to do.  He passed the math EOG but failed the reading.  Barely passed the math.  Teacher & I are stumped whether to pass him onto 4th grade or not.  There are big pros & cons to both sides of the arguement.  Very , very hard decision for us to make.  Knowing now how 3 of my FASers do as they get older, we are leaning more towards holding him back.  So far, we have held back IRina, Max, Bojan and Nik.  ALL kids we've held back have gone on to do much, much better in school and needed that extra year of maturity.  FAS kids do tend to be much more below their peers socially.  So holding them back does tend to help in my opinion.  Or at least for the ones we've held back thus far.  (Bojan is the only non-FAS kiddo).  So, all my kids are moving foward a grade.  Alex will be too if we let him.  It is a major decision & we have to make it by next week.  TEacher is just as torn as we are.  She too says it can go either way for sure.  I hate these type of decisions.  They are very hard for us as parents.  I've asked Alex & he honestly doesn't care one way or the other. Still doesn't make it any easier.  YOur kids' academic career is in your hands.  It is their future and I just don't want to screw it up.  My kids have come so far for not having much of an education in Russia and having to learn an entire new language.  Max & Yana want to go to college.  That's a good sign b/c it means they are thinking ahead!  Oh, just got a phone call that said Irina is receiving an award tomorrow.  In English no less.  Can't wait to see it.  Not telling her as they want it to be a surprise.  She'll be thrilled.

More major decisions to be made regarding schooling.  Irina wants to be homeschooled.  We are thinking of pulling her out and possibly Alyona as well.  We'll see.  Lots to think over for sure.  Lots of thought goes into these decisions we make regarding our children.  Not only their background but their disabilities as well.  Oh my goodness.  I had finished this last night but was having computer trouble.  It did not save the rest of my post.  I'm way too tired to finish it today.  I'm feeling more confident today to make some of these big decisions.  Oh, much more to say & a special surprise in my inbox today.  Tell you all later.  However, I do have to watch the tots so I"m off here until later today when they go home.  Oh, did manage to save some pics from the wet camera.  Camera is pretty much toast though.  Fisher Price, here I come!  LOL. 

OH, btw, teacher called me last night to tell me Irina is receiving an award today.  Wahoo!!  Wish I could be there but it was really late notice as teacher had just received word of it herself.  It's in English.  Very proud of Irina and tell you all more later.  Much more to come!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Decisions, decisions

 My oh my.  Many, many major decisions have now popped up at Chaos Manor.  The decision to move or stay has been made for us as of today.  Frustrated but at peace w/ it all.  Some of you may remember a few months ago, we were fortunate enough to just patch our roof.  We were hoping it was able to hold for at least a year so that we could then make a major decision next year and move & build a home.  Due to the market and other circumstances, we are now here for years to come.  another heavy rain came last night.  Roof is leaking... not good.  Patch will not hold it.  It HAS to be replaced.  We have no other options.  Once we replace the roof, we can not afford to sell the home.  We took a $30K loss on the last home we sold to move to this one.  Long story of a very crooked builder & shoddy building work that left us in ruins.  Again, a story for another day b/c it still pains me to talk about it.  Not our fault and I realize that but we were still stuck w/ someone else's criminal business ways and paid for it for years to come.  We had finally paid that debt off and most of our adoption stuff about last year.  Believe it or not, we are still paying off some adoption debt.  So, those newbies counting on that "tax credit,"  ...don't.  It does help immensely but does not even come close to paying it off.   All worth it in the end though.  That is a given.

So, first major decision... are we staying or moving.  Obviously, staying.  2nd major decision... what are we doing about the roof?  Well, we have no choice but to replace it.  This could NOT have come at a worse time during the middle of three adoptions but this is indeed life and we roll with the punches here.  We had gotten estimates before.  It will run around $8,000.  Now, if you noticed, we have not been doing much fundraising lately.  We had received a tax refund and borrowed a bit.  Thought we had most of it covered and we don't like trying to fundraise if we know we could do it on our own.  Well, hard truth is, we can't.  It will take a village to bring these 3 children home and that is just fact.  The $8K for the roof really was unexpected.  We were told the patch should hold for a year but there was no guarantee.  Now, this is not just one area of the roof either just to let you know.  The roof is almost 20 years old and has served it's purpose well.  We can't complain.  However, this is in addition to the window rot we have currently.  They are custom windows( aka..another word for expensive.  LOL) & are waiting to be put in.  It is only for the ones that seriously need it that are at risk for becoming structural damage.  Here is a glimpse of what I'm talking about:

Here's a view from the front.  This is one set of windows. There are two sets like this one and then one in the back.

This is a bit of a closer view.  You can click on any of the pics to get a closer & bigger view of the damage.  It is deeper than you can see.  

Another angle.  

As you can see, we have no choice, this has to be replaced.  We know that & do not mind.  The windows, yes.  We budgeted & expected that.  The roof, well, we had that checked out before we started this process.  Thought it would hold off at least for a year for us.  Nope.  Not happening.  So, because of that, we really do need to alter plans.  We are going to look into refinancing but everyone knows the US & banking situation isn't what it used to be.  Even w/ excellent credit.  Banks are reluctant to lend money for repairs/ remodels.  We're currently looking into all that stuff.  Meantime, our homestudy is being written up.  Loose ends getting tied so to speak.  Things are going to start happening quickly, that's for sure.  I know dossier paperwork is right around the corner.  I'm ready.  To do these three adoptions w/ the additional house repairs, we will have to fundraise.  This is really hard for us as the last 7 adoptions we have fortunately been able to do on our own essentially.  For Nik & Alyona we raised a little but not even a thousand I think.  So stepping out & having to raise a minimum of $10,000 is going to be new territory for us.  It really is.  But, to put it in perspective, that is only $10 ONE time donation by one thousand people to rescue 3 lives.  I do think 3 lives are worth just $10.  That's just $3.33 per child to allow them to truly thrive here in America w/ us & reach their fullest potential possible.  Who knows, you may be helping to rescue a future doctor who in turn rescues countless people everyday.  Paying it forward is huge. I know these 3 children are meant to come home just as my other 7 have been meant to come home.  We have the money to raise them, care for them, etc. but are a little short to actually bring them home physically.  Just think airfare for 6 people coming home.  The kids want to have a fundraiser this weekend by selling ice cream.  They did this w/ one w/ Alyona & Nik's adoption and actually raised $75 from their little stand at the road!  I was rather impressed.  So, I'll help them tomorrow w/ that as there is no homework due to testing week.

So, we're back to trying to fundraise a bit of this to help get our children home from the orphanage forever.  Please pass this blog onto others, or mention on facebook if you could.  Some may actually be looking for magazines over the summer.  We have a site for that on the sidebar.  40% goes toward adoption costs.  I'm babysitting to help out w/ costs as well.  I do it full time about 4 days a week now and will be taking on at least one more child over the summer when school ends.  All funds will go towards the adoption.  If we happen to raise more than we need(though highly unlikely), we would then set that money aside for another family in process of adoption of a special needs child.  We will try to apply for grants but it is difficult to receive a grant and we are well aware of that fact.  So, the magazine fundraiser, ice cream stand(kids' idea), babysitting, gift card giveaway( another post), and the chip-in buttons will have to be a start to getting the kids home.  So, we need to campaign for $10 to $10,000 over the next month.  I'm estimating when much of our other funds will be due and it will definitely be soon. 

I hate asking for money.  My feeling is there should never be a pricetag w/ kids finding a home.  However, I understand why there is.  There are many attorneys involved, translators, coordinators, hotel stays, etc.  Whether we were to do a domestic adoption or international, we would still be incurring many of the same costs.  And for those wondering why we don't do foster or foster to adopt, we can't here.  They limit it to 5 children and only want one of yours to be special needs.  Yep, we blew those #'s outof the water.  LOL.  So, that is why we are adopting internationally one last time.  Yes, I said LAST time.  I finally feel like we are becoming a complete family and goal once home w/ill be to focus on really living w/ the kids and experiencing all kinds of things together.  That, and we will have to pay it forward.  I feel if people are to help us out w/ this set of adoptions, it is our responsibility, our duty to pay it forward to others going through this same experience.  I know we can't change the world for all children.  But if just some of the many of the 147 million orphans can come home, think of what a wonderful world it would be.  Think of the potential that some of these children have & what they could do w/ it if only they lived outside those orphanage walls & in w/ a loving family to guide them and love them. Think for just a moment.  Some of my kids were headed to the institutions had we not adopted them.  I can tell you exactly what would have happened to some of my kids had they stayed.  Right now, IRina would have been dead.  That is just fact.  Her orphanage kicked them out at 16.  In her region, it was just survival once kicked out(told this by one of the caretakers there).  Irina will most likely not be able to live fully independently as an adult.  Her having to roam the streets at age 16... she would not have made it.  She is 17 right now and not able to make decisions.  Can you just imagine having to make those big survival decisions on a day to day basis for survival?  I can't.  This is just one example.  I have 7 here to give.  I think you understand now why we feel it is just vital to get the three home that we know are ours and help the ones left behind.  We used to host a Halloween Party every year and pick an item for folks to bring.  This was before customs & security got really overbearing.  Anyhow, we'd pick a necessity item like socks and underwear and then a "luxury" item like gum or puzzles.  We'd send the whole box over then to one of the kids' orphanages.  We use a line from Lilo & Stitch(the movie) that we love:  "Ohana means family & family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."  We will never forget the faces of the ones left behind.  I remember Warren saying as we were leaving Yana's group "Okay, which six are we bringing home?"  That was a tough room to leave.  It really was life changing what we saw & experienced that trip.  It really was.  I know we'll make mistakes w/ our 10 kids.  We are not perfect.  Far from it.  We do the best we can w/ what we have been given.  We try to instill morals in our children and values that we think will make them good people and adults.  I want others to see the great gifts our kids have to offer.  Okay, this is getting way too long & I apologize.  Bottom line, we need to raise a minimum of $10,000.  We need a word of mouth campaign of sorts to help bring these children home.  If more is raised than what we need, ALL would go to help another family bring their child/ children home.  More tomorrow on the gift card giveaway.  More later on the EOG's & how the kids did.  Thanks for listening.  And, if any ideas that you have, please do let me know.  I'll be watching 11 kids weekdays during the summer so something that planning can be done on the weekends would be great. Thanks for all the support.  You really are changing lives.