Friday, July 9, 2010

4th of July 2010

Well, since we had just gotten back from D.C. the previous week, we did not go anywhere 4th of July weekend.  We kept it simple w/ swimming, house & yard clean up and some at home fireworks.  So, I guess a few pictures are in order.  I didn't take many though as we seriously were just vegging out and having fun.  But still, a few from the weekend so you can see what we were up to.  Hope you enjoy. 

Alex enjoying some fun in the sun on a hot weekend.  All our kids are fish in the water.  Stark contrast from when they first come home. 

Bojan, showing his handstand skills.  Many ask if missing a leg throws off his balance in the  He does however always swim crooked.  

Just having fun w/ dad in the pool.

Nik, getting ready for launch.  When Alex first got home, we could not throw him like this due to his PTSD.  After a month of being home, this is all he wanted to do over and over again.  Once the kids get over 50 lbs., it's harder for Warren to throw them a great distance.  Nik and Alyona are almost at the point of being too heavy.  That's when they all get to do swim races w/ mom.  LOL.  I beat Alex the other day...barely, and he had a fit.  He is a horrible sport.  He hates to lose and is highly competitive.  That's both good and bad.  We're working on it.

Careful of the blinding light?  LOL.  Can you tell Warren tends to wear a shirt outside.  This is the release part of it that the kids love.  Being thrown clear across the pool.  You can see Nik swimming back for more.  

They definitely enjoyed the day of family swim time.  Also, just cooked out and had some fresh corn on the cob.  Then, it was time for the fireworks.  That is for another post as I need to get some more stuff done around here.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  We'll be going to a carnival tomorrow, having Alex's party tomorrow night, and trying to finish the upstairs bathroom on Sunday.  Not a quiet weekend by any means.  But, hopefully a fun one. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

I know it's been a little while since I wrote these posts.  So, time to get started.

Irina-- While packing for the trip, she was making sure she helped everyone else w/ their bags.  Going over the checklist for the younger ones who did not understand it. 

Max-- He knew Warren had worked really hard on the yard all day.  Back yard still needed some weedwacking.  Max volunteered to do it for him.  Again, thoughtful act for sure. 

Yana-- Well, remember the two fighting sisters in the van on the way back from D.C.?  Here's a picture that may be worth a thousand words or more.

If you can't tell from the picture, it is Yana & Alyona SHARING the mp-3 player.  Yes, side by side and not in your face.  Ahh, back to being the nice sisters.  Such a roller coaster some times. 

Bojan-- When they were doing warrior body painting, Bojan knew there wasn't enough paint for all of them.  Well, enough black paint.  So, he stopped his body painting to share w/ Alyona & Nik who also wanted to paint themselves all black like their brother.  Very thoughtful of him.

Alyona-- Alyona has really been practicing being a good big sister. She is SO ready for her new sisters to come home.  Her thoughtfulness to one of the "littles" I watch is great & refreshing to see.  She keeps telling me "mom, see what a good big sister I'll be?!"  She sure will.  Love it.

Alex-- Nik was out of water at the restaurant and took awhile for the waitress to come back.  Alex said he can just have mine and I'll wait.  Remember, this is my RADish saying this!  Even today, he gave Ethan extra crackers.  Just being nice.  Very thoughtful Alex.

Nik-- He's been playing more and more w/ Ethan (one of the "littles").  He'll take Ethan and go look for bugs together.  He also tries to help him when he falls.  Ethan is 2yo so tends to fall b/c he wants to go faster than the legs will carry him.  Never hurt but Nik is first to try to make sure he's okay.  Again, thoughtfulness. 

What do you do in Chaos Manor???

What do we do in chaos manor during the summer time?  Well, let me show you.

You all realize by now that Irina is our in house "germaphobe."  Self-proclaimed I might add.  Here she is literally studying the Physician's Desk Reference.  Go figure.  H1N1 about drove her nuts this past year.  And no, she didn't get it.  Just Alex.  Bird flu, west Nile, etc.-- she knows them all.  LOL.  

Here's Max on Alex's new scooter.  It's called a Slither.  They've all had a great time on this this summer.  

If too hot outside, get creative inside.  The kids have set up the preschool bowling pins on the coffee table.  Then, they are taking nerf guns to knock out the targets.  Clever, huh?  

The kids love the Wii game my parents bought them.  It's called Wipeout.  They are very happy as you can tell and always enjoy playing.  Great on a rainy day for sure.  My kids have a time limit of 30 minutes each of video game playing.  That's it and that's enough.  They don't mind.

What would summer be w/out flying paper airplanes?  The boys LOVE to make paper airplanes and fly them all over the house & the yard.  

Nik absolutely loves to play with dominoes.  He can literally do this all day.  You've seen some of the artwork he makes w/ them in previous posts.  What better why to block the front door than w/ dominoes?  Another great summer time or any time activity.

Summer time can also be for learning.  Like learning how to make up a new handshake between sibs.  Yana is teaching Alex one.  

We have so much more we've done.  But for now, that is enough summer time fun to take in at Chaos Manor.  We'll have to share more a bit later.  Just didn't want you all thinking we were just sitting around watching tv all day.  Nope.  Usually on the move.  Speaking of which, I do need to get going here.  Enjoy your week.  We have a fun weekend planned w/ Family Fun Fest (carnival) and Alex's party.  I think by Sunday, I'll be wiped out. 

When does it hit you??

When does it hit you that you realize your child is mentally challenged?  I mean really mentally challenged.  It hit Warren and I the other day.  In the car.  Now, keep in mind, we have kids w/ varying degrees of mental abilities.  We know all or most are behind.  Many have caught up.  Alyona has not.  Sometimes, it is hard to watch.   The other kids understand she is different.  Though she is 11 years old, you have to treat her as if she is about 4 yo.  That gets hard some days.  The other day we were driving in the car.  I was driving the van, Warren was talking w/ Alyona.  Told her she has to wear the seatbelt.  We have recently taken her out of the 5 point booster and just put her in a seat booster as a carseat.  Told her she HAS to have the seatbelt on correctly there are no exceptions to this rule.  Asked her to repeat what we just said.  She couldn't.  Said it again and again as that is what you have to do w/ FAS kids.  however, this was more than that.  We then made her repeat word after word of what we said.  It literally took her 4 times to say it before it sunk in. It was something very, very simple. This was not hard.  Even the other kids were frustrated w/ it all. 

It was sad.  Sad to know that they'll always be the simple things in life that she really doesn't get.  Doesn't understand the way we do.  Alyona is 11yo.  She can not read.  Yes, she can do some sight words but not much more than that.  Alyona tries really hard so I can't say anything about that.  Just wish sometimes she could do more.  Not for me, but for her.  Because I know if she isn't able to do more, her chances of living independently are almost zero.  Yes, we basically knew this all along.  However, sometimes it just hits you like a brick wall.  I want her be able to dream big and know in my heart it can be done.  That her dreams can come true no matter what they are.  Right now, her biggest dream is to be the tooth fairy.  Seriously.  Alyona's siblings know she is different and doesn't know a whole lot.  I think watching her younger brother who is deaf and is naturally behind due to the deafness, pass her is incredibly hard.  Nik will be reading this year.  No doubt.  Alyona most likely will not be.  School says she can start to read but it is just sight words.  I've given her little simple books here to try to sound out and she can't do it.  She was trying so hard to read a book to one of the "littles" I watch but really could not.  She said mommy, that book is hard.  I nodded in agreement.  Complimented her on trying but deep down wishing so much for her that she could get it just once.  Just one time.  We've always treated her for the most part her age as her and Bojan are the same age.  They are years mentally apart.  The good thing I can say about her sibs is they do watch out for her and do make sure she is okay.  They help her a lot.  Whether it's telling her for the millionth time what is hot or cold or where something is. Do I want her to change?  No.  She is who she is and we love her for it.  It's just as she is getting older I'm realizing there will be many challenges in life for her.  You naturally want to protect your kids as they grow up.  No matter who they are.  I know things will naturally occur.  We have learned this from Irina in high school.  Irina is challenged as well but not as severe as Alyona.  It's hard as they grow and you watch peers who were once their friends not want to be around them as they  are so much younger mentally still.  See, when they're younger, they have friends.  As they age, it is more and more difficult.  Especially, for FAS children.  They don't quite fit in w/ the special needs category yet don't fit in with the regular kids either.  It is quite the balancing act.  We learned this with Irina and had to deal with it.  I'm being totally honest here so hope you don't mind.  Irina has always been a very, very social person.  Always had friends.  As she approached the teen years though, those friends diminished.  It is b/c they were growing socially & mentally & Irina was not.  The high school she is in now is horrible.  Just horrible.  They tote acceptance but it couldn't be further from the truth.  They are in inclusion classes (which I HATE) but that is for another post.  Since she is in a regular class, not getting a thing, if she asks a question, students around her make fun of her.  So, she never asks questions anymore.  I was hoping it would get better.  It didn't.  So, this year she will be homeschooled again.  Just wanted her to have a regular high school life and hang out w/ friends.  She does have one really good friend and then another friend as well.  Both are years younger than she is and that's okay.  But, I know they too will pass her and it will be a crushing blow.  I wonder how this will be for Alyona as she is even more effected.  I know I can't be there 100% of the time.  they are well-rounded and adjusted kids.  I just worry about all this. I want everything they want for their future.  I want to encourage their dreams but do you encourage the dreams that you know for a fact are out of reach?  I want to make sure I balance all of this.  Right now, Alyona is playing w/ one of the "littles" I watch.  She is 3 years old and they are having a great time together doing hair, playing baby dolls.  that's where she fits in.  And that's okay.  Just as she ages, I want to make sure there is a place for her to always fit in and just be a regular person enjoying what life has to offer.  Hope that all made sense.  I've never told my kids they couldn't do something.  Okay, not true.  They can't jump on the beds, they can't throw balls in the house, they can't go in the yard in their underwear(& yes neighbors, I know you've seen them out there like this--LOL).  But as far as saying they can't accomplish something due to their disabilities, I haven't said that.  I do believe that even children w/ mental challenges do need to figure some things out for themselves.  We've guided our children and hope we've done a good job.  I guess as they get older, I've been thinking about it more and more.  Alyona and Irina and very compassionate and sweet.  Will people take advantage of them later in life due to this?  I don't know.  I just know I can give them the tools to use and let them know we are always here to help if need be.  Always.  Irina is going to be 18yo this year and I guess that is why I'm thinking more and more about this stuff.  Though I know she is nowhere near ready to leave home, we've already been thinking how can we make a transition type apartment here to help her with that stuff.  Prepare her for later in life.  If anyone who has been through this with their children, could you share some secrets with me.  What helped them the most?  What would you have done differently?  This is not a vent or to complain or any of that stuff.  This is a tell it like it is.  That sometimes I do get nervous of the unknown of what happens to children w/ disabilities that become adults w/ disabilities?  Share any insights you may have.  Any mistakes that I may be making.  I want to learn.  I know for a fact most of my kids will be able to live independently.  however, most will indeed need supervision along w/ that independence.  We're okay with that.  We just wan to make sure they'll be okay as well.  Thanks for listening to me babble.  Any suggestions, please let me know.  They are doing fantastic right now, I just want to make sure that continues into adulthood.  I know there will be bumps. There are in everyone's life. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cleaning up

Even though it's summer, we've been doing some hefty duty cleaning of the house and repair work.  We want it all done by the time the new kids get home.  Makes a difference not having leftover projects hanging over your head when you need to concentrate on getting new children adjusted and physically healthy.  That is why the work weekend is such a wonderful event for us and will be forever grateful for others for making it happen.  Meantime, we also are working here.  Most I don't take pics of just b/c I'm working too.  Here are a few pics though.

This is Yana painting one of our patio umbrellas.  Here is what part of it looked like before:

The umbrella is a nice one and in decent shape.  Just hated the look.  So, went to Lowes and browsed the sale paint.  Got a can for $4.  Looks kind of beachy to us.  So, picked it up and hopefully it will work out.  Still need to paint the other half but we wanted half to dry at a time.

Do you know why Irina's making that face?  She had just gotten a shower and Nik is sticky, full of dirt and sweaty.  Doesn't do much for our OCD germaphobe daughter.  They say exposure is best so that's what we do.  Whether on purpose or not.  LOL.  

Now, how could anyone resist that face?  Dirty or not.  The brown stuff on his face is brownies. Well, probably brownies and dirt.  we are enjoying summer time here and I'll have 4th of July pics probably tomorrow as well as some summer fun pictures.  Hope you are enjoying the look of summer in the kids. 

What's broken???

Living with FAS children, you come to expect the unexpected and sometimes you don't even question why or how something breaks.  Seriously.  In our house, it is the norm.  Hence, why we don't keep a lot of expensive things here--LOL.  This past weekend we had to finally replace some things.  Yet, there was a huge chunk of things that broke this past weekend.  Here's a list of what we've had to replace or that needs replacing:  a leather kids' chair, 2 blenders, 1 gridle, the entire crop of peppers in the garden, 2 bubble wands(brand new), steel rake, box springs, laundry basket, back deck stairs, guard around the trampoline, hammock, large planter, blinds, front door handle & I can't remember what else.  Now, in all fairness, the leather chair and gridle are just plain worn out.  The blenders were ruined by Irina.  Not intentionally of course.  But, she was just trying to help.  Ahh, the word help again.  She has severe OCD and loves to clean.  Problem is sometimes she cleans a little too much.  Blender was a case in point.  I have no unearthly idea why or how someone snuck into the garden & yanked off all the little peppers starting to grow.  Not an animal, you could tell.  No one has fessed up yet.  URGHH!!!  the two new bubble wands were Nik and Alyona.  Playing too hard.  Of course.  The steel rake was broken by Bojan trying to do something stupid I'm sure.  You have to understand Mr. Drama King as to why I call it a stupid act.  Trust me on this.  Everyone can attest to the actor even his friends' parents!  The kids explained it yet not exactly sure what he was doing.  He was supposed to be raking.  Got to love it.  He was the one who also broke the back steps.  The front door handle has already been replaced once.  Lots of usage.  Max fixed it this time.  Love our little handy man.  The hammock we've had for a few years and absolutely love it.  All of us go there.  Some to read, some to relax and some to just get away from it all.  It's great.  Still works but it is fraying where you need it to hold & know it is a matter of time before it breaks off from where it is hanging.

Now, some things that are intentionally done by our kids, we make them replace.  Whether it was lack of cause and effect thinking or not.  For example, Alex threw the ball the other week & Alyona grabbed it and purposefully stabbed it w/ the scissors.  She claims it was an accident.  Umm, no.  It wasn't. So, yesterday, part of her birthday money went to replace the beach ball she busted.  Not much but still a lesson had to be learned.  Other things broken around here are just from either not knowing or some from over use w/ the number of people here.  things will break.  Just part of life.  Most things, we don't get upset at.  The more expensive things well, it is really hard to say that's okay, we'll just get another one.  Example, the pool liner last year.  Or the back doors the year before that.  They were double doors to the outside and were locked.  Even though Irina is old enough to be home alone, she can't handle it.  I was late coming home from an appointment and she was here.  Went outside and locked herself out.  Kicked in the doors so hard, broke frame & door and all.  Adrenaline surge I'm sure.  That was a $1200 break.  Those kind of breaks are harder to swallow than the others.  Most people think having kids with special needs there are medical costs.  Well, yes there are but people also need to consider costs they might not think of.  If you have children w/ frontal lobe damage(such as in FAS) or mental challenges, their judgement will be not up to par and things will happen.  Yes, most are not intentional but it will still be an additional cost to incur.  I want PAP's to consider this when adopting a special needs child.  Shoot, yesterday Bojan dropped his leg on the stone fireplace and most likely chipped a piece off.  At that point of the day, I honestly didn't even want to look.  I was having just one of those days.  We have them where one thing after another seems to happen here.  That was yesterday.  Anyhow, just saying if you are considering adopting a special needs child, make sure you budget for costs even if you put a question mark in that cost column.  Irina currently does not have a ceiling fan in her room.  Why you ask?  B/c during a sleep over, Yana did a stupid dare & stuck her hand up into the blades as they were going full speed.  Yep, she did.  Warren is going to try & fix it but said most likely, this will need replacing.  Last fan we replaced had a burnt up motor b/c Nik threw a bra up in it from the laundry pile.  Again, budget for the unexpected.

Lots and lots happening today.  Need to upload some pictures for you all.  Soon, I promise.  More to come. 

How to get dirty? How to get 'em clean!

Trying to catch up a bit on things.  I will have quite a few posts but at the moment trying to get some stuff done around the house and paperwork.  As most on here know by now, I not only have my 7 kids during the summer but also sit for 4 others most days.  In addition, there are always other kids here as well everyday.  Some days you just go w/ the flow.  Today, it's a 102 outside.  Not the best to play outside.  So, w/ only 9 kids here today, I decided it was time to pack up and go to Walmart.  We all picked out a movie, well 2, and our own "theater" candy.  Each got whatever candy they wanted  stipulation being they can't go over $1.00.  Had to put that one in there when Max spotted a $6 candy bar.  Ummm, I don't think so kid.  They were all thrilled.  Especially, since I had leftover giftcard money and treated them all at lunch at Micky D's to take home.  We ate at the house, watched a movie all while enjoying our candy bars.  Now, some are swimming.  It won't last long out there as even the pool is just not refreshing.  Too hot.  Even added cold water!  Enjoying the day today.  Tomorrow, just as hot so craft day...inside.  Previously, I had let them have fun w/ paint.  Okay, I go to yardsales and get bins of craft supplies and just let imaginations fly.  It was in the 80's a few weeks ago and perfect to be outside.  Well, they had watched the movie Avatar and loved it.  I said, why don't you think of warrior names.  They did though most were not original.  Most took on Ninja Turtle names.  Oh well.  At least they were somewhat thinking.  LOL.  Anyhow, decided to keep those creative juices flowing.  I found a bag full of tatoos and said you can decorate your bodies.  They then asked if they can use paint.  I said sure, why not.  Make sure it's washable.  I came outside and found this:

Figured, it can't get too bad, they're almost done.  Umm, no, they weren't...

If you don't recognize this kid, it's Nik.  BTW, the sticks are their warrior spears which they painted as well.  Then had to do battle with them.

Amazing how just simple paint can transform a kid's spirit.  He feels strong and fearless in this picture.  He can do anything!  The kids even painted each other.  Kind of cool some of the stuff they came up with.  How on earth do you get this mess clean??

Why with a good spray of the hose of course.

Bojan getting cleaned up.  Had no trouble finding kids who wanted to spray the warriors.
Believe it or not, they were laughing the whole time they were getting sprayed.  Looks terrible but they had so much fun.  A little too much though b/c they keep asking when they are doing it again.  URGHH!!!

Many more pictures to come and posts as well.  Right now, really trying to finish up the dossier docs.  Our doc was filling them out & then calls me.  I'm fine, my checkup was just a few months ago w/ full blood work and such.  Warren hasn't been seen for awhile though we did go to the health fair.  Remember, he had better bp than me.  Anyhow, he now has an appt. for the 21st of this month.  Wish it were sooner as she won't sign docs until the appt.  Bummer.  I will probably send dossier docs on w/out the doc form and send that the week he has the appt.  Excited to get these things finished for sure.  more on all the adoption front later.  

For now, just summer fun is our concentration w/ the kids.  We plan on going to a family fun fest this weekend.  A little carnival locally.  And Alex's birthday party of course.  Rest of the weekend, what's left of it, will hopefully be spent fixing more of the house up.  Getting there piece by piece.  More to come.  A friend of Alyona's & her mom are coming over now to swim.  Pictures galore these next few days so be ready.  Some cute kids coming your way. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Help for the house...

As some of you are aware, we do not live in a mansion.  LOL.  I don't believe most people do.  However, we do love our house, our neighborhood and our community.  We are here for the long term it looks like.  Our house has had to grow as our family has grown.  It has almost doubled in size.  Part of that is in part due to 1000 sq. ft. that was unfinished when we moved in here.  We finished that.  We also made our back deck into our dining hall.  The old dining room and old kitchen were combined into one kitchen.  We moved in this home with 2 kids.  At most, thought we'd have 4 children.  Never, ever thought we'd have 7 kids, let alone 10.  Go with the flow here.  With special needs children, some adjustments do need to be made.  And, we have.  Now, we'll have 3 more kids and need a place to put them.  There is room now but having teens share w/ 3yo's and such would not be a good idea. LOL.  Yana and Irina have their own rooms downstairs.  Alex & Nik share upstairs as well as Bojan & Max share a room too.  Alyona is currently "roomless."  She sleeps on the floor on a dogbed.  Wait!  Before you say anything, the dog bed is her choice, not ours.  It is a security issue and remember, Alyona is 11yo but more like a 4yo with some issues for sure.  We do what makes our kids feel comfortable in their environment.  Alyona wants to feel enclosed.  Even sleeps on the floor when she sleeps in her sister's room some times.  There is indeed a bed for her, but she chooses not to sleep on it.  I do think she'll sleep with her new sisters though.  So, for that part.  We need to convert our current garage into a bedroom for the girls.  We're working on how we're going to do this.

Before we can even do this part of the conversion however, we must fix immediately a lot of issues that have come up w/ an almost 20 year old house.  It happens.  And with our children and their issues, they came always came last.  It is starting to show.  So, time to do something about it.  We have an awesome friend who lives a few hours away that has offered to put together a work crew to come help us out.  I can not tell you what  a relief that is.  It is impossible here to do it all.  We are constantly having to stop what we are doing to check up on what they are doing--LOL.  And sometimes their "help" is a little more than we want and we end up having to fix more than originally anticipated.  Remember last year when Max wanted to "help" clean the pool w/ the long net?  Sliced the liner wide opened....$500 repair.  Nice help, huh? 

Anyhow, we have a few people coming on the weekend of July 24th and 25th.  A friend of mine offered to take two of the little kids for the weekend.  Bojan's friend's mom also offered to take the other two kids for the weekend while we do this.  Wahoo!!!  The 3 teens will be here to help us out. Whether it is cooking for the whole crew or actually helping out.  Max I know will be helping out.  This entire weekend we worked on the yard and the house.  Not even near done.  Some locals have also asked how they could help.  LOVE IT!!!  So, if any of you locals want to work hard, have some good company & conversation and good food, come on over that weekend.  It is open invitation to anyone.  People have asked me the details so figured I'd just put them on here.  We'll be working Saturday the 24th and Sunday, the 25th.  Come any time, door will be wide open I'm sure.  Someone in our neighborhood has even offered to let us borrow his tools.  I'm a little hesitant as I don't want something to happen to someone else's stuff.  So, will probably rent what we need.  Max has lost or destroyed most tools Warren had.  I promise to do an FAS post one of these days that will explain a bunch of this stuff. 

I can not believe the generosity of people.  It really melts my heart.  We have folks driving hours to come help us out for the weekend.  I need to organize greatly and will work on that tonight w/ Warren.  So, anyone want to come & help out, please do let us know.  I need to try to get a head count so I can organize the teams better at the jobs we're doing.  Some of what we will be doing is:

Replacing rotted ballisters on porch
Painting around door of dining room outside as it is starting to rot
Painting outside window trim
Replacing 4 front windows due to excessive rot (have the windows)
Fix the leaky roof
Dig a trench in the yard due to the flooding in the yard

I have about a page list.  This is only a few things.  Trust me, there is plenty of work for everyone and anyone who wants to give it a shot.  LOL.  Don't be afraid to make a mistake here that's for sure.  I'd LOVE to finish the upstairs bathroom as we currently have 7 kids, soon to be 10, sharing 1 bathroom and the master.  It's not working for us at all.  Who knows though.  Priority goes to rotting stuff.  This is our mini extreme home makeover so we can get the kids home to a safe home at the very least.  It is safe now, don't get me wrong.  Just w/ the age of the home, we need this done or it can become bad down the road.  Some of the major issues we can't address right now such as the septic system load and entire roof replacement.  But, we can definitely get the home to a nicely repaired state.  Do let me know if any of you are interested in helping out w/ the house.  I do need a headcount for tools, food, and jobs.  I know I've had a few people here tell me they want to help & frankly, we can use all the help we can get on this undertaking.  However, I have forgotten exactly who all said they'd help.  So, even if you already have told me, can you please tell my forgetful brain again so I can mark it down this time.  Thanks a bunch!!!  I'm looking forward to it and can't wait to get started.   Promise the next post will indeed have pictures.  LOL.  Enjoy your week everyone. 

Just dreaming...

Hey, if you're going to dream...dream big.    I received a catalog the other day of playsets and beds.  Ahh, to be able to have one of these in the yard.  Now, when I say dreaming , I mean dreaming.  You'll understand when you see these things.  Gorgeous but definitely not w/in our price range.  Frankly, not w/in the price range of the average American families.  LOL.  But, it is wonderful to dream.  Warren built our last playset about 10 years ago.  Plans were out of his head.  The kids have literally used it everyday almost.  Gotten great use out of it.  You think he can build me one of these dream sets??  You'll have to look at the site to understand.  Here goes: .  Only look if you want to dream.  Aren't they cool?!  Again, a dream for sure.  But, I was looking at the bedsets.  More reasonable than the playsets but again way out of our league.  Still, I do think Warren may be able to do something similar.  We have to get beds for the new girls and Alyona.  I would love for him to build something of this sort.  The Rhapsody Bed 5 is what I'd love him to make.  I think all the girls would have a blast in that.  Okay, out of dreamland.  They are some of the coolest playsets I've seen yet.  The Serendipity series is out of this world.  Have fun and do let me know what your favorite is.  You can view a few of each series.  Just had to share.  Be back w/ more reality stuff later today. 

Nik's quick update

I figured I hadn't done an update on Nik's audiology stuff for awhile nor his health.  He's healthy as a horse and a fish in the water!  Thank goodness.  His audiology stuff is a little different.  They've readjusted his settings on his implant and he has tolerated it well.  Nik is also in the process of pre-qualifying for another implant on the other side.  It has been proven time and time again w/ research that kids w/ AN(auditory neuropathy) doing incredibly better w/ bilateral implants.  I'm SO incredibly excited at the thought as Nik has wanted this for months now.  And, when a 7yo tells you they WANT surgery, you should listen.  They now the end justifies the means even at such a young age.  Don't know when we'll hear anything about that and know full well it takes months to get it all organized so not even asking at this point in time.  Glad it has been started though.  I do think his language will explode once bilaterally implanted.

Nik started speech therapy at home yesterday.  We have a lady that will be coming to the house twice a week to work w/ him and then we in turn can work on some things at home.  It does help.  It is covered 100% by our insurance for a certain # of visits so I'm thrilled.  Nik is trying very hard to talk but still uses ASL for everything.  And he will need to do that lifelong.  It is very evident that he can understand a good part of what we say.  We are coming to terms with how we will communicate with Nik.  We want to be a part of everything he says and thinks just as we are with our other kids.  It's hard as we don't know ASL yet.  We're learning but I'm just anxious to really know it.  I know things will come with time and Nik is starting to pass me in what he knows.  It's great but part of me feels like I'm losing out on stuff with him.  Conversations.  I want to have a deeper conversation with my son.  Of course, there is only so deep you can go w/ a 7yo anyhow.  But, I think you all know what I mean by all that.  I will be practicing more for sure.  At least half an hour every night I'm devoting to studying ASL.  If Nik ever learns to speak, fine.  If not though, I will have that communication with him that a parent needs to have with their child.

So, overall, Nik is doing beyond well.  Loves playing w/ his sibs, misses "his" Ava, and is learning every second.  He wants to read so badly and it appears he will this year.  Very happy about that.  Nik has come so, so far.  A child that was well written off at the orphanage years ago.  One that was headed to one of "those" institutions.  These kids have much potential if just given the chance.  My kids are living proof of that.  With Nik, no one even cared enough to figure out what was wrong.  he was  essentially a sheep for all those years at the orphanage following what others would do.  Now, he is an independent thinker b/c he can hear.  Because someone cares that he can hear.  Someone cares what he thinks and wants him to communicate.  So, some of you reading that are new to adoption and worried about that leap of faith you are about to take, don't be.  You learn as you go.  Your child will be your best teacher too.  Don't feel sorry for them.  I hate it, hate it when people take pity on my kids.  They don't need pity.  They need guidence and love.  Not pity.  Deaf kids do not need pity for sure.  Nik gets in trouble just as my other kids do.  The rules are no different for him just b/c he's deaf.  He knows this.  Though, he has scammed some of his teachers.  URGHH.  Claiming he didn't know how to tie his shoes.  They'd do it for him.  I fixed that problem.  LOL.  Told you he was smart...and lazy.  Why should he be no different from my other boys.  Getting sidetracked in this whole post.  Long story short, Nik is doing great.  No issues.  Learning a ton and loving summer.  Will have more posts and pictures this week of everyone.  Just lots and lots to do.  We are going to a local Family Fun Fest this coming weekend and having Alex's party.  The fun fest is like a mini carnival so looking forward to some fun there with the kids.  We are trying to work on the house.  We really, really do need to get it in order for the 3 new kids coming home.  Alyona and her new sisters need a room.  I will tell more of what we're doing with that very soon.  Alyona is beyond excited and I can't blame her.  Stay tuned for many, many more updates and pictures.  Lots to catch up on.  I don't have the littles today so we are going to be really getting things accomplished.  Organization is key here.  Just 8 kids here today so light load.  have a wonderful day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Alex!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!!!!  That's right, Alex is 10 years old today... July 5th.  Can you believe it?!  I know I can't.  Oh, so many things to say about our Alex.  Him even being here is more or less a miracle that one day soon I'll share.  But not today.  Today is a day to celebrate his life not mourn the past.  Alex has blossomed more than we could have ever imagined.  The years have been good to him.  Trust me, this child experienced more in the first few years of his life than most adults combined.  Alex is our sports loving, heights fearing, speed loving, loveable,bug- collecting, laughable child.  Alex has become a very loving and empathetic big brother.  Which for a child overcoming w/ RAD is hard to do.  It was a stunning transformation for sure and one child that most had written off.  But, Alex's spirit perservered and here we are today...celebrating 10 years of a long wonder-filled life.  Here is the first picture we ever saw of our Alexander:

The first picture was Alex's referral picture.  First picture he apparently ever had taken.  Second one is of Alex at the end of school for an awards ceremony.  He's grown into quite a handsome young boy if I do say so myself.  Alex's birthday is today and has so much to celebrate.  He has asked for a watch for his birthday and a yellow cake w/ Mom's icing.  (I make my own and they like it better than the can).  Not too much of a request is it?  That's our Alex though.  He likes to live simply.  
Today we went shopping at Target.  Just had the 5 kids w/ us.  Alex out of the blue said he wished he had a wish that could come true.  Me, being the mom I am, was thinking  oh, this should be good. He'll wish for Pokemon or something.  So, I of course take the bait and say "what would you wish for then Alex if you were given that one wish?"  Alex said "I wished that Nik could hear and talk."  Boy, did I feel like a fool.  He DOES care!!!  How is that for being that sensitive to someone else's needs & doing all on his birthday?  I was extremely proud at that and for the first time really so how much Alex has grown.  Alex is our birthday boy today and we are going to celebrate shortly.  He's having a party this coming weekend w/ friends.  Happy Birthday Alex and wishing you many, many more Happy ones to come!  Enjoy this day that we celebrate your life.  We love you.

What is with this kid?!

As some of you have followed in the past, you know our youngest son Nik has a passion for drawing well, ummm, unique drawings.  He loves to make expressive faces and such.  It's interesting to say the least of what this kid comes up with.  I will post more drawings later in the week that I found that the teachers gave me at the end of the year.  For now though, he is into Dominoes.  Sets them up all over the house.  The other day, he set this piece up:

Now, the first picture is really not the best as it is just part of it.  And, it is upside down.  It's a person shooting a gun.  Aimed at the "bad" guy.  Does he look bad & evil enough?!  Look at the mean eyes look.  The feet and the hands.  and of course, don't you love all those teeth?!  Nik is crazy.  The kid is just crazy.  How's he come up w/ this stuff?  LOL.  I could never make this stuff for sure.  Shoot, I'm lucky I can draw a stick figure and he's making art out of dominoes.  So, when do you think I should start that therapy anyways?

Things are going great here.  Just been really, really busy. I will try to write more later as today is Alex's birthday.  so, going to go ice a cake in a minute per Alex's request.  Shrimp & veggies on the grill for dinner and then cake after.  Great way to end a fantastic weekend.  Tomorow, I only have 1 extra child here and NO appointments.  Light week.  Making the most of it and we are going to be on a mission to reorganize a closet that should really have been condemned.  It is a catch all family closet.  I'm frankly afraid to go in there.  We are going to tackle it and then every downstairs room will have been thoroughly organized.  Got to go and ice a cake.  I will have many more updates tonight and tomorrow for sure.  Stay tuned for much, much more and many, many more pictures.  And they won't be Nik's drawings either!