Saturday, July 24, 2010

What'd they do??

Thought I'd play a bit of a guessing game.  Any ideas what they did here?

I'll have the answer to this one on my next post.

Any idea what happened here or even what that is?  

Be back tomorrow.  Windows are installed!!!  Did I tell you we have the BEST friends in the world?!  People came to help out and another family kept the four youngest kids.  Helped immensely not to have them here.  In fact, right before they left, Nik almost destroyed a set of window w/ a weight.  Got to love it.  To make things even better yet today, our friends that watched the kids gave us a nice set of bunkbeds for the new ones.  so, kids are all covered for beds.  We'll need some new bedding but other than that, we're great!  More to come tomorrow.  right now, we're all just exhausted.  We're working more tomorrow.  Heat index...115.  Need I say more? 

What did you say???

As I've said before here, conversations get very interesting at times.  Thought I'd share some of those with you.

Yesterday in the van, I went to pick up Max & Irina from Driver's Ed.  Everyone was in the car & we're headed home.  Lauren was w/ us too.  Anyhow, someone(I think Irina) starts talking about the man who can walk on water.  Someone else in the car said you mean Jesus.  She said no, the guy on tv.  The illusionist, I forget his name.  Then they got back to Jesus.  Alyona then says "I tried to do that once in the tub but it didn't work."  She was so matter of fact about walking on water in the tub I just had to crack up.

At the table, I was making a list for groceries.  I asked everyone what we needed.  Alex said bananas.  I said Alex, what on earth do we need bananas for.  Keep in mind, I have a dozen sitting on the counter for banana nut bread.  Anyhow, Alex said "you know, bananas for the pumpkin bread."  I said you mean banana nut bread?  He said "yeh,that."

I come into the living room and it's just complete chaos w/ everyone yelling.  In the midst of it all, I scream "Alex, give your brother his leg back now!"  I'm sure that is not something you hear every so often in your house.

Max, what on earth are you doing?  He comes in the house w/ a towel wrapped around him.  He had decided he'd get in trouble if he came in the house dripping wet.  Umm, never stopped anyone before.  LOL.  Hence, why we have tile versus carpet from the pool area.  Anyway, he says "I took off my pants so I wouldn't get the house wet."  What?!  Yep, true.  Thankfully, very secluded lot.

More I'm sure will come to mind.  Just things that caught me a bit.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What we do on a hot day

Well, it is Friday and the heat index is 110.  The pool feels like a hot tub.  Been in the high 90s all week long.  We went to Sam's today to get supplies.  Some of the kids didn't go so we had 9 w/us I think.  BTW, do NOT stop at sample stations w/ 9 kids.  The folks don't mind at all, it just takes the shopping trip way too long then.  LOL.  And, a two year old w/out a sippy cup taking a lemonade sample is never a good thing.  Just a mess on the floor.  We made it through there and to the Secretary of State's office.  Warren was off work today. 

Thought I'd share some pics though of what my kids do when it is boiling outside.  I think they may try to boil an egg on the sidewalk later.  Here are some other ideas we do:

We eat ice cream first and foremost on hot days!  Always a supply of ice cream here.  this day, it was fudge swirl w/ fudge topping and whip cream(a rarity usually).  All enjoyed.  

We do crafts as well.  I usually have an endless supply as I pick them up at yardsales.  Helps on days like this.  They are making pendants here.  We have guitars to make as well.  We also do homemade playdough sometimes.  

We watch tv.  Yes, that is how they pick movies out.  Rule is to have them picked up before dad gets home.  It is one of his biggest pet peeves.  They were also playing uno.  Cards all over the floor.  Gum bucket on the table.  Just a mess.  I let them make the mess during the day but it does indeed have to be picked up in the afternoon.  

We swim on hot days.  In their clothes no less.  I have no idea why they went swimming in their clothes this day.  Pool is finally turning back blue again.  

We swim some more.  This is Alyona just hanging around.  

Those are just a few of the things we do on a hot day here at Chaos Manor.  We'll have more pictures later this weekend.  Going to be very busy here w/ repairs going on.  Enjoy your weekend everyone and stay cool. 

Flabulous to Fabulous

I thought it was high time I got back on track from flabulous to fabulous Friday posts.  I fell off that weight loss wagon the last few weeks and must admit, I am very ashamed.  But, a few things have changed.  Exercise is a definite stress reliever for me and this adoption rollercoaster is full of stress.  I woke up this morning and stretched and weight lifted before breakfast.  With a heat index of 110 today, not much outside activity going on until later today.  Our neighborhood has a walking club!  I start this evening.  It is M-F at 7:45 pm.  Irina and Yana are joining me. Though Yana is currently going w/ the runners of the group.  I'll catch up to her.  LOL.  Saturday & Sunday they go at 6:30am.  Umm, yeh, I'm not making those sessions.  So, the plan is to stick w/ stretching, weight lifting, and walking daily.  I want to add 50 laps of swimming most days that I can.  Current weight is 192.  So, no gaining.  That's a good thing.  I want to be in the 180's by next week.  You all can track along.  I think having the walking club will hold me more accountable.  No excuses.  They come by the house!  Can't get out of it then, huh? 

I also think having an outlet away from the kids sometimes is a good thing.  Well, two will be w/ me but no big deal.  A break from the chaos to regroup and speak w/ other adults.  No worrying about what they're doing.  I'm VERY excited about all this.  Another biggie, I had given up chocolate.  Now, I'm very much a chocoholic and would have chocolate in some form or fashion nearly everyday.  Seriously.  Can't believe I just admitted that.  I'm not a coffee drinker so chocolate is my little bit of evil I suppose.  2 days, no chocolate. Then, came today.  I taste-tested my homemade icing for the cake I made for the volunteers coming over this weekend.  No more though.  I didn't even have any ice cream today w/ the kids.  It's baby steps but I'm gettign there.  I said Warren & I want to be at least 20 lbs. lighter for our first trip.  I'm trying to limit the caloric intake as well to about 1200 calories a day.  Coming pretty close each time.  So, with these steps, I will do it!  I have no doubt.  I have more motivation than ever before and my friends in the neighborhood are pushing me.  They may have to push me home in this heat today but I'll get there.  I think during an adoption having another thing to focus on does everyone some good.  got to go.  Think the "littles" will be up from their naps soon.  Warren is getting ready to clean out the garage.  Huge job.

Today, went to SOS office.  Day later than I thought we would.  Turns out, 2 docs were not done correctly.  So, off to the bank soon to get renotarized & then apostilled on Monday.   Sad part was, I double checked these & can usually spot the notaries mistakes.  We've had wrong names, wrong ink, wrong wording on previous stuff that I've caught. This time, she forgot to acknowledge it.  Easy mistake, it happens.  It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, just something else I need to add to that ever growing list of things to do.  Par for the course.  My final two references that we had to have in addition to the other 3, are being very gracious to write their letters quickly.  Told you we had the best friends and neighbors ever!  Seriously, we do.  More to come this weekend.  We will be very busy working.  heat index today is 110.  Work is outside.  Got to love it.  When I say we have dedicated friends and neighbors, I am NOT lying or exaggerating.  These are people volunteering their time to come and help us out and help us work on things for the new kids.  I still have yet to think of how I'm going to thank them all.  Incredible people for sure.  More on that at the end of the weekend.  Come on over if anyone would like.  Anyone is welcomed.  I ahve a feeling we'll be working/ swimming/ working/ swimming.  LOL. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Simple pleasures

Thought it was high time for some pictures.  So, we'll do some simple pleasures around the house.

He is SO happy he can hear music now!  He loves it.  Can even bob his head w/ the beat.  something not possible a year or so ago.  Thinks he's mister cool now.  

This is one of my simple pleasures...a new plant.  These are a variety of succulent plants that were half price at Lowes.  Used to work in a florist shop so can bring a good deal of these back to life.  I have another sitting on our dining room.  you can click on the picture for a bigger view.

These were on sale as well & I made the girls repot them.  We gave one to Yana and one to Irina to take care of.  We believe that all our kids should be responsible for living things.  Whether it's plant or animal.  They both love the peace lilly and will be great to see them care for something and watch it grow.  They had fish before.  Once Alyona gets her new room, she'll have something to care for as well.

A foot spa bath w/ lotion.  ALL the kids have enjoyed this.  ALL of them.  It's funny b/c I was intending to sell this b/c no one used it.  Brought it out in the for sale pile & that was it.  Hasn't been put away since.  They love it!

What a great simple pleasure... a boy and his dog.  Should say young man. This is Max w/ Bear.  Again, the best dog in the world!

Another simple pleasure.  Football on a summer day.  This is Alex.  Posing of course. LOL.  We've noticed Alex is filling out more and are monitoring him very closely.  He is on meds that can have him gain 60 lbs in  a month's time!  Neurology & us watch closely.  We just upped his meds and want to track the weight too.  This age, weight gain is also common due to growing.  Easy to monitor.  It is definitely NOT from him being sedentary & sitting still. Dash is always on the move.  

What better a simple pleasure than your daddy letting you sit on his shoulders while you watch tv?  Nik loves climbing all over Warren.  Poor Warren.  Nik has grown so much he weighs 50 lbs now!  

Hope you enjoyed some of the simple pleasures around here.  I know I do.  More to come tomorrow.  However, I'm watching the "littles" and getting ready for this weekend of hard labor.  Won't be a whole lot of blog posts.  Enjoy the weekend everyone.

An Adoption Anniversary (catching up)

Preface this w/ saying I started this back in May.  Also, there is much openess on here about RAD so be prepared.  And now to start.

aka...Gotcha Day.  Yes, we have one of those this month.  May.  Don't ask me the exact date b/c I truly couldn't tell  you.  I do not keep track of that.  We keep up w/ birthdays and we're doing good.  LOL.  I know the month and about the time frame they are adopted but not the exact date.  All I know was this adoption was one for the books.  Seriously.  6 years ago, we adopted Yana and Alex.  It all started the year before though.  Warren and I had Irina and Max for a few years and wanted to know if we should think about adopting more children.  We decided the best way to know if we were ready or not was to host some kids in summer of '03.  You know, b/c they say you don't HAVE to adopt the kids, just host them.  Yeh, right.  LOL.  Well, we were to host 2 kids, Yana and Zhenya.  What you don't know is that secretly I had wanted to host this little 2yo boy named Alex but someone else was going to.  Well, I think it was two days before they were due to come, they asked us if we would mind adding Alex to our home to host.  Sure, what's one more kid.  Apparently, that has become our motto.  I will post the adoption story from Stavropol later this week some time.  It is a long one.  Corruption involved.  Craziness beyond belief involved.  It is too long so I'll post separate from here.  Just know it's one for the books.  Anyhow, I thought you'd like to see the referral pictures of Alex and Yana from a few years back.

This was Alex.  He was about 2.5 years old here.  Just taken away from his home, sent to the hospital, into rehabilitation, then to the orphanage and then to us to be hosted.  Yikes!  Tell you about those shoes later.  Well, tell you about them now. When he came to us & Yana to be hosted.  We actually took them straight to Walmart for new shoes.  Both had on shoes that were about 3 sizes too small.  I wouldn't even let Yana walk until AFTER we had gotten her new shoes.  It was just sad.  BTW, we raised $500 that week for the orphanage director to take back & buy them new shoes.  All the kids.  

This was Yana's referral picture.  She was 6 years old here.  Almost 7yo.  Quite the change for sure.  They never seem to smile in these pictures.  Why would they?  Orphans don't have the best of the best life you know.  And I'm not speaking materialistic either.  I'm speaking of simple things like love and hope.  Yana had a very strong religious faith & I'll speak of that later.  I think that actually kept her on the straight and narrow unlike her bio sister from what I hear.  Amazing what something as simple as a family can do.  

Alright, the nitty gritty.  This is not to criticize the kids nor just tell of the bad.  It is to show the progress, the amount of growth that took place over the last six years.  I will have to shorten this as it is way too long a story to tell.  Alex came to us at 3 years old.  Here's a picture from about a month after he came home:

 Ignore our white bodies.  But you can see Alex is still scared.  Timid little boy.  Very, very traumatized past.  Suffice it to say, he was the worst case we've ever had of child neglect.  The stuff that you think can only happen on a tv show does indeed happen in real life.  Imagine the bad things that can happen to children and it most likely happened to him.  I will not share everything that happened to our son but I think it is important to share some so you know where he came from.  He was with his birthmother but mother was NOT a term I'd use to describe her.  That sounds horrible, so be it.  It was a horrible scenario.  No two year old should have to go through what he did and then be left to die.  Literally, left to die.  He was found freezing to death, naked, starving and abandoned in an apartment.  I won't go into detail of what happened prior.  Just know, it's bad.  Put it this way, we were not given any of his records until after court.  After.  I read them at home, couldn't get through it all w/out crying.  Never could finish it then.  I came back to those papers two years later to read what had happened to him cover to cover.  No wonder he had hurt.  Who wouldn't have.  We knew a little of what to expect from kids that come home from an orphanage.  But not to this extent.  Never in a million years does someone expect to come home w/ not one but two RADishes.  Two.  Alex is dx'd w/ RAD, PTSD, FAS, one kidney, ADHD, etc.  When Alex came home, we kept him home.  He came home in May, turned 4 in July.  We brought Bojan home in January.(Best decision ever made for Alex).  Lots going on.  Took Alex to school when he turned 5yo.  First few months into it, realized it was a huge, huge mistake.  In the meantime, I was calling every psychiatrist, psychologist in the area.  Not a ONE, not a ONE would take his case!  not a one.  They were all telling me he is going to become a sociopath, disrupt the adoption ASAP.  Seriously, this is what I was being told to do w/ my son.  Over 100 people I called.  I stopped writing down names and #'s of whom I called.  It was gut wrenching.  So, instead of giving up on my son, I took matters into my own hands.  I went to school and took him out of Kindergarten.  This was in October.  So yes, he is legally considered a kindergarten drop out.  I decided to regress him myself.  He needed the bonding time w/ me one on one.  I was about to embark on unknown territory and it terrified me to the core.  I'll be honest, the thought of being w/ Alex 24/7 was frightening.  I didn't want to do it.  Not a bit.  But, I knew I had to attempt to save his life.  We were his only hope.  He could not look us in the eye, had no empathy, no compassion, no soul almost, hoarded food. You name a RAD characteristic, I can guarantee you he probably had it.  Not all of them but most for sure. 

We went on to heal Alex.  I took away from other parents, books, our previous psychologist, etc.  I put it to use on my son.  Regressed him and let him heal.  He had to see that we would not abandon him like everyone else did in his life.  That trust had to rebuild.  And slowly, it did.  He actually acted out some feelings he experienced while in the apartment.  It was really eye opening for me as I never realized just how much it did effect him. Today, this is a normal, well adjusted little boy turning into...gasp.... a preteen before my very eyes.  He is sweet, though a little devilish at times, amazingly athletic, fearful(trust me, a good quality), loving, and too many other things to name.  This was  a transformation like no other.  Trust me, the anger, resentment, no eye contact, lack of empathy, meanness, no soul look was more than I could handle at times.  Thankfully, Warren & I are a team and we knew when each other needed a break.  This little RADish has turned his world around.  Very proud of all that he has accomplished.  He has friends now.  Yes, he still has trouble w/ lying but we're working on that.  Alex does have other disabilities from FAS so that is another issue.  He has trouble forming a clear thought in his head.  We are working on him slowing down when he talks.  But all take that over all the other stuff in a heartbeat.  Alex is on medication.  I honestly don't think he'd survive w/out it.  We've tried that path.  Alex came to us at 3 years old, almost 4.  He is now 10 years old.  He used to be afraid of being thrown in the trash can.  Now, he lets his brother throw him in the air on the trampoline & in the pool.  He used to cringe in fear every time we'd raise our voice.  Duck as though we were going to hit him (clearly it had been done before in Russia).  Now, I have to scream to get my point across and he doesn't flinch.  LOL.  I love knowing he can be in a regular classroom w/ regular kids just being a boy.  I think for us, that is a big moment.  Realizing, he is just like every other kid in his class or just like his friends.  Yes, Alex still has issues & I don't want you all to think it all magically disappeared.  However, we don't live in fear every second of what we were told years ago of Alex... disrupt him, he's going to be a sociopath.  No, I don't think so. he's going to be Alex.  He's going to reach his fullest potential and all b/c we decided not to give up on him.  I know many people don't want to hear their kids have RAD or FAS.  Hey, I didn't want to hear it either.  Yet, it has made us better parents I think.  You can NOT live w/ these kids if you don't have patience.  I learned patience quickly.  I think it is to amazing how the kids seem to end up where they belong.  Someone else was supposed to host Alex.  We were called just 2 days or so prior.  Meant to be for sure.  Here is a picture of Alex from May:

Now, onto Yana.  My oh my.  This child has surely given us a run for our money.  Don't know if I ever said this before or not, but when we brought Yana home, she was being a witness to teachings of prostitution by other girls in the orphanage.  She told me she never did anything but you really can never be sure.  Sad to say.  I mean, she was an 8yo girl.  But, when you are to leave the orphanage at 16yo w/ no family to go to, no money, and no job skills, what else can you do to survive?  The life after an orphanage life is a horrible one at best.  Wish it would change.  146 million orphans worldwide.  some need to go home.  Sidetracked. 

Yana came home and was an absolute nightmare.  I'm not going to sugarcoat anything so I think you all need to be ready.  This was beyond a RADish if that is even possible.  She would rage for hours.  Literally hours we'd have to sit on top of her to hold her down.  She got too strong for me after awhile.  I was stunned.  I mean, we had Irina and Max before these two that had issues but neither of them had RAD.  Neither of them had rages.  Max had night terrors but that is nothing compared to a RAD rage.  RADishes could give pro wrestlers a run for their money no doubt.  I had never seen that much anger in a person. She would get so full of rage, her capillaries would burst.  We would be called every name in the book.  Never knew some of those names existed!  We were hit, kicked, punched, spat at, my glasses broken, furniture broken, holes in walls, etc.  You get the idea.  She would threaten to kill us,threaten to call the police on us, etc.  Told us she would tell people we beat her.  The words kept flying out.  On the advice of others, I did videotape her at times for proof later on if she ever said anything.  I know too many other good families of kids w/ RAD that have been falsely accused.  Hence, the videotape.  She would punch herself yet scream at us the same time that we were hurting her.  If you are not the parent of a child w/ RAD it is hard to imagine.  I heard about it before adoption, we all have.  But to experience the horror and trauma of it all, it was too much to bear at times.  No one understands unless you live w/ a child w/ this disorder.  Her rages were almost daily when she first got home.  We practiced hold therapy and some other stuff we did.  She hated me w/ a passion.  We've attributed that to her mother abandoning her & her father being the only one who ever visited at the orphanage.  No matter what happened, it was always MY fault.  Even when Warren would explain the situations to her.

The rages got less.  We haven't had a rage in this house forever...knock on wood. (about 2 years now) We tried community support via mental health but that only made things worse.  We have found over the years that the outside help believe it or not interferes w/ their healing.  Again, ONLY our opinions w/ OUR kids.  --seek out professional help if you have a child suspected of RAD.  So again, we did it our way.  Took time.  Lots and lots of time.  Did I mention it took time.  Throw in a hormone changing adolescent and you get quite a cocktail of emotions.  Geez, no wonder I'm tired.  The outside docs that came here dx'd her w/ RAD/ PTSD/ ODD/ etc.  We taught Yana how to control her anger.  She now goes off on her own either to the hammock or to her room.  We never, ever talk to a RAD child after they are angry.  YOu will not get anywhere w/ them.  Trust me.  We wait it out.  And allow them to tell us when they're ready to talk b/c they know they will not get out of it w/out talking. They also are aware if they rage, they will get punished.  They are grounded.  It got serious the one time w/ Yana that we took her privileges away.  You know, a room.  Made her sleep on the floor, no privacy of a room, no radio, no nothing.  Basics and that was it for a month.  That was probably the best thing we had ever done.  After hearing the unfair speech for days and the I'm going to run away deal, she finally realized we weren't going to waiver.  And that is key to parenting a RAD not waiver.  Well, that and do not play their game.  They want you to get mad at them.  They do.  It doesn't help.   As a parent, you have to step out of who you are at that point in time.  We disassociate ourselves.  Somewhat think of it as dealing w/ another person and not your actual child.  I mean, who wants to see their child hurting so badly.  Not I.  Now, all this pain, heartache, trauma and hurt has to effect everyone, right.  Yes and no.  Our kids have seen hold therapy on all the kids, not just one or two.  I remember one day I was holding Alyona in a fit on the rocking chair.  She's screaming bloody murder, I'm talking softly to her and rocking her.  Alex comes up and says to her, Alyona, the sooner you stop, the sooner mom will let you go.  You know she's not hurting you, she just loves you too much.  Kind of a funny way to put it but he got the point across.  They all know the rages or fits are temporary.  It has been alright for the other kids to experience Yana's RAD and Alex's.  Though they both have RAD, it manifests itself differently in each one.  Alex used to steal.  never from a store but from family members, friends, etc.  He even stole someone's shoes at church 2 years ago!  I was horrified.  He hasn't done that in ages. Though I will say we're still working on the lying.  Yana has had her fair share of lying.  BUT, she has finally, finally learned that lying does not pay.  You will get caught in this house.  You will get punished.  Period.  No exceptions. 

Yana has come a long, long way academically.  VERY long way.  She will be in a regular class next year.  Her emotional growth has excelled as well.  This was a girl that did not want to be touched, or hugged, or kissed.  No gentle kisses on her forehead or anywhere.  Almost like she was afraid of human affection or human contact.  Not anymore.  She will come up and give us a hug.  Not all the time mind you, she is a teenager after all.  LOL.  Her emotional & mental damage was extensive after life at the orphanage.  Not any more.  I can say she has healed.  Just yesterday, the girl who a few years ago wanted nothing to do with me, came up to me and said "mom, anything I can help you with?"  So, I can safely say she has healed.  I think that sad, scared little girl has grown in many ways, don't you?

Not the best shot but you can clearly see she's just goofing off for me in the camera.  

I've always believed animals are a great healing therapy for kids who have survived so much trauma in their lives. This is Yana petting an Emu at our friend Mary's farm.  Definitely not the violent child anymore.  We have a calm,loving, emotionally intact young lady.  She has come way further than I ever thought she would.  She asked me today if she could do early college!  It's a course here in high school they take and at the end of high school,end up w/ a 2 year college degree.  It would be wonderful but she still has to catch up some more.  She said mom, I'm going to do it.  I'll get tutors, stay after school, read more but I want to do it.  I don't want to be lazy anymore.  Again, it's been a 180 and now we just have normal teen issues.  I'll take that any day.  

for those out there experiencing a chlid w/ RAD, I can say hang in there. Dont' quit.  Don't give up on them.  Some can heal,some can not.  We had two very, very tough cases.  It can be done.  It is different for each child.  Seeing the changes firsthand though makes it so worth it.  All the days having to hold my child down so she wouldn't hurt herself or others are worth it.  Over the years, she has apologized for all those fits.  don't get me wrong, it's not all roses.  But definitely a beautiful bouquet now.  We have the typical sibling fights over clothes but nothing like it used to be.  She shows empathy.  She shows genuine concern for other people in this family.  I still can not let her watch violence w/ military.  She is terrified of military.  They used to live near Chechnya and apparently, she remembers a lot of soldiers and guns.  

Yana and Alex have turned their lives around and ours.  There were days honestly when I never thought we'd make it.  Now, I have Irina and Yana going swimming w/ friends today.  They have loving bonds w/ everyone in this family.  It's such a different atmosphere from when they first came home.  They were challenging.  Yes.  But they were well worth all that headache and heartache we went through.  Those scared, terrified little children are no more. They are healthy, happy, well-adjusted, and normal kids.  I was honest here and I hope everyone appreciates that.  I read so many rosy stories, I think every once in awhile, the adoption world needs to know these children exist. Their parents cry for help and no one listens.  It's time we do b/c as you can see, there is unlimited potential and great love underneath all those layers of emotional hurt.  You just have to peel it back some to find it.  To all those docs who told me my kid would be a sociopath and to disrupt my adoptions I'd like to tell you something... "I told you so!"  

This was an honest post and really just a glimpse of RAD.  Reading about it and experiencing it firsthand are such different things.  Would I ever parent a RAD child again?  Not willingly BUT if one happen to have RAD and they were my child, I would help them heal just as we did for Yana and Alex.  We are not the best parents in the world.  Shoot, our kids will tell you that.  (especially, when they're grounded).  But, we try really hard and believe in not giving up on them.  We've been told so many things about our children from "professionals."  Take it w/ a grain of salt and let them lead the way to reach their fullest potential in life.  

Driver's Ed & disabilities

As most of you know, FAS children come w/ varying IQ's.  Some lower than others.  It's just the way it is.  Tack on some developmental delays from orphanage life, and it can make learning rather difficult.  This is what Irina is having to deal with right now.  I'm not going to lie.  And, I'm not going to lie to her and say it will all be okay.  This is life and sometimes life is hard.  Bottom line.  Many teachers have said "oh, that's okay, nice try."  That's not what your boss is going to say when you have a real job.  All her tests have been modified her whole life due to her disability and academic levels.  I fought the school on this and HATE when they let her make up a test.  It's not right.  Kids need to learn it is OKAY to fail, it does happen in life.  Relationships fail, jobs fail, tests fail, equipment fails, etc.  We tried instilling this in her at home that it's okay to fail and that life goes on and you can try again.

She is having a most difficult time in driver's ed.  She literally will study all day.  It's hard to watch.  It really is.  She wants it so, so bad and is trying so, so hard.  Deep down, I know she will not pass this time.  This is her first try though and I am not putting much stress on it.  However, she is.  All her life in school & by others, it's been nice try, good job, or you'll get it.  Not this time.  She is trying.  that's not the issue at all.  HOwever, her delays and disability are significant and it shows.  With FAS kids, it is all memory issues.  They don't have much of a short term memory capability.  Hence, why you have to say things 20 times over.  This is all short-term learning stuff.  She also hates the fact that she's one of the older ones in there.  there is an older kid in there though.  Irina rushed through her first test & failed b/c she didn't want to be the last one finished.  And she KNEW the material.  URGHH.  She's too concerned w/ others thinking she's retarded and tries very hard to hide it.  I can understand why.  Any teenager would naturally want to hide things they don't like about themselves.

So, what are we doing about all this?  We haven't let her quit.  We want Irina to see that some things in life my be hard but we can trudge through them.  We've told her it is okay if she doesn't pass, she can take the course again.  I feel having her quit now, she'd lose out on what she needs to know anyhow.  Max said she is fine in class and nothing out of the ordinary.  I would love, love for her to pass the course.  She's working hard on it though and that is all I can ask for.  I am proud that Irina is facing something that she sees as being impossible to do and doing it w/ all her might.  I'll let you know how it ends up.  They have 4 more days of driver's ed and then a big test.  We'll know at the end of next week.

I will post some more later.  We're getting the house organized today.  IRina and Yana went w/ their friend to the Y to swim.  Bojan went to a friend's house as well to play.  A friend came here to play w/ Max & Alex.  So, been a very light day.  Tomorrow, all kids are aware we are work, work, working!  Got to go. 

Thoughtful Thursday

I thought I'd get back to some normalcy here.  this adoption rollercoaster ride is not for the faint of heart for sure.  Still some major obstacles and hurdles to overcome.  We'll get there.  Onto to other things for now.  Those new, I do thoughtful Thursday on here b/c living w/ FAS children, you have to remind yourselves sometimes of all the good there is in them as well.  It is far too easy to forget that.  So, here goes.

Irina-- She made a necklace for me that said "Angels love my mom."  Really, really thoughtful.  I wore it until I thought it would choke me.  She made the necklace a tad too small.  So now, it's hanging up instead.

Max--Max has been seeing that Irina is struggling very much in driver's ed even though she's studying so incredibly hard.  Her disability is holding her back.  Max is taking the same course and helping her w/ studying.  Thoughtful for sure.

Yana-- Irina was crying the other day at the table.  This was due to driver's ed and I'll have that in another post.  Irina hates it when people ask her why she is crying.  Alex asked...of course.  So, Yana covered and said it was allergies and that Irina had gotten something in her eye.  So thoughtful to consider her sister's feelings.  And that, my friends is an act of kindness coming from a RADish!  I think it's awesome.  Care and concern. 

Bojan--  Bojan saw I was cooking dinner all by myself the other day while trying to make a few loaves of banana nut bread at the same time.  He came over and asked if there was anything he could do to help.  Very thoughtful.

Alyona-- Alyona wanted to bury the grasshopper Nik had burned a hole through(yes, I'm well aware that is a whole other post).  She stood there w/ the dead grasshopper in her hands stroking it's back.  Alyona said we have to bury it.  Thoughtful to care about even a small insect.

Alex-- Saw Nik was struggling to make his craft and offered to help.  thoughtful act indeed.

Nik-- The other day Warren worked late.  Typically, Nik doesn't ask about Warren much.  Nik is still very, very much a mommy's boy.  The other day Nik came up to me and asked me where daddy was and when he was coming home!  He missed his daddy and that for me was a turning point.  Warren gets nervous sometimes b/c he can't sign as much to Nik as I can.  He doesn't want Nik to think he doesn't love him.  I can say, Nik loves his Dad just as much as mom.  Nik asking where dad was & when he was coming home the other day was thoughtful in my opinion. 

I will have more posts later.  Trying to get other things done.  Work crew of a few volunteers is coming on Saturday.  Other friends have offered to take the four younger kids for us.   Lots to make, bake, rent, organize, etc.  I didn't even turn on the computer until noon today.  Needed a break for sure.  Speech therapist came early so we had to improvise as I had to go pick up Max & Irina.  Yana stayed home w/ him.  Nik is really, really improving on speech.  I promise to make a video of him one of these days.  Got to go.  Stay tuned for more later.  Pictures too!  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everything is going to be okay.

That is my mantra now.  Every problem has a solution, somewhere, somehow.  My nervous knots are subsiding, I'm getting stuff done, made calls and am at a peaceful state right now.  I will fill in more later over the next few days.  For now, I have to go.  Just wanted to say, we are just that much closer and those baby steps are becoming toddler steps.  Can I just say I have the BEST agencies in the world who "get it."  They really & truly "get it."  Again, more later & I do have to go.  Much, much to do.  Just had to share that it's always darkest before dawn.  As most of you adoptive parents out there can relate, you already knew that.  More to come.  Priority has to be for other things, not the blog.  Some wrote me privately though & didn't want to leave anyone hanging.  Thanks for all the support. It really does mean a lot when you go through those bumps in the road. 

Awards-- continued (old post)

Okay, was weeding through some posts to edit & found an old one from June 12th that I never had put up.  Oops.  Didn't want them to feel left out so have to post no matter how late.  They say better late than never.  Hope so.  

Well, so far we've covered the teens and their awards.  Time to brag about the elementary kiddos!!!  Nik we've covered already.  We'll start w/ Bojan and work our way down.  Bojan shocked me.  He really, really did.  He recieved a pile of awards.  Really did an awesome job.

Okay, none of the pics I have of Bojan was he smiling.  Totally out of character for our drama king.  Oh well.  Bojan is standing here w/ an Art Achievement award.  A person is selected from each classroom.  He was chosen from his class.  That was surprise #1.  Surprise #2 for me was he was in Showcase of Stars for a piece of his artwork!!  Now, showcase of stars is a big deal here & it is county wide.  Not just his school.  Get this.  He never, ever told me he was in it.  I guess he just didn't think much of it.  Amazing.  

He looks thrilled, right?  This one was for the National Fitness Award.  Bojan does have physical limitations but as you can see, that does not limit him one bit.  

Bojan also received an award for good behavior.  Classroom award he received loveable jokester.  Figures.  Bojan is only receiving special ed services for reading.  He can get out of that now but we all decided a few more months to be on the safe side.  So, a few months into this coming year and he will receive NO extra services for school whatsoever!  Great progress for sure.  He loves to read and loves everything Egypt.  Wants to learn heiroglyphics.  Bojan is sure to go far in life.  

Next is Alyona.  Alyona is in a self-contained classroom.  It is ages kindergarten through 5th grade.  Alyona is working on learning to read.  She is getting there slowly.  But to measure where she was to where she is now, she has grown by leaps and bounds.  Alyona received a few awards as well this year.  She received one for behavior and art.  I know she received a few others but can not recall right now.  IRina decided to clean up the stack of awards we had & I'm still searching for them.  URGHH.  Her class also celebrated June birthdays which was nice.  Still can't believe she's 11.  Here are some pics from the awards. 

This is her reward for excellence in academics.

This gives you a little perspective on her size.  These are the birthday kids.  Not all are older than Alyona just to give you an idea.  In fact, I believe she is older than some here.  Not sure but I think.  She hasn't grown much but that is for another post and how she feels.  This post is about celebrating her accopmlishments in school.  She did beautifully.  She loves dressing up for awards.  I think she is gorgeous.  How about you? 

This post was from June as I'm digging through old posts I started but never finished.  There are probably holes in this one so sorry about that.  Just know I was extremely proud of the kids this year.  All made tremendous growth in school.  Some got out of special ed.  Many have become their own self-motivators and that is just wonderful to witness.  Think this concludes all the award ceremonies.  I'll have more posts later as I dig through the archives.  Amazing how much I got interrupted.  Well, not really considering where I live.  LOL. 

Monday, July 19, 2010


For the first time in this adoption journey, I am truly nervous.  Things are going a little crazy right now. There is one really, really major homestudy snafu and really hoping it gets resolved.  This is the only hold up right now.  I don't want to say anything yet.  So, I won't but will fill you all in later as I know others who have had the same issue.  I want to be confident.  I've seen things like this happen all the time & I'm usually the one telling everyone it's okay, it will work itself out.  There are 3 things I tell every single PAP:

1)  Be flexible

2)  ALWAYS expect the unexpected

3)  You are NEVER in control.

Though I tell others this all the time, I have yet to follow my own advice.  Can honestly say my stomach is in knots waiting and wanting to know something.  We have done 7 adoptions.  All different.  All had their "issues."  From corruption on an orphanage level, to not knowing when we were getting home to ending up in a hospital in Russia, to moving in the middle of an adoption and to whatever else you can think of.  We've probably experienced it.  Right down to them thinking we would have to life flight Alyona home from Russia to  Max smearing feces on the wall when we first got him to family members not happy we're adopting to you name it.  We've experienced it all.  Yet, by experiencing a variety of things, I think it has actually made us stronger.  Negative things tend to bounce off of us better now.  That is a great quality to be able to have.  So, in a way, I'm glad some of this stuff has happened.  It made me realize to stay strong.  I remember when they told us we'd only be able to bring Alex home & to go & get him and get Yana later.  We refused until we could get both together.  Deep down, I know these kids need to come home.  They belong here.  I have that same feeling I've had w/ all 7 of my kids.  That I am sure of.  I'm just having trouble w/ the here & now and keeping the faith that this will all work out the way it is supposed to.  Just wanted to say that even us that are deemed "experienced" adoptive parents get nervous and have issues pop up.  Deal with them and move on.  That is what we are trying to do.  Keep you posted and will tell more a little later.  Stay tuned as the journey continues.

do you ever....

Let your kids eat ice cream cake for breakfast??

they all loved the ice cream cake for breakfast.  This was from the other weekend.  All the stuff is all over the floor b/c we were doing some hefty duty cleaning.  Ice cream cake & cheetos for breakfast.  Yep, parenting at it's best.  

Do you ever find surprises under the bed?

Well, in our massive spring cleaning efforts, we cleaned under our beds.  This was found under MY bed!  A bent up school spoon.  Not sure why or how and probably really don't want to know. 

Do you ever wish summer could last a bit longer?

I know this little fish sure does wish summer could last longer.  They spend so much time in the pool and love it.  So do I.  

Do you ever....

let your kids have a candy bar w/ a white shirt on?  Yes, in case you are wondering, it is a big mistake.  This shirt did not stay white but did come clean.  

Did you ever?

Stare in wonder as your children are discovering new things.  Their eyes light up at simple things like sparklers on the 4th of July.  Such an innocent time.  No worries in front of you, just the simple joys of discoveries.

Do you ever wonder?

How we got the most tolerant dog on earth?  We did!  Bear is super easy going and w/ as many kids as are here on a daily basis, he is the best.  He takes everything w/ a grain of salt.  We love this dog to pieces.   

Do you ever....
think that your kids will never learn to wear shoes?  My kids are rarely, rarely ever seen in shoes around here.  They stay barefoot even in winter.  Yes, there was ice on the ground and they're walking on it barefoot.  It's nuts.  My kids do own shoes and socks, I promise.  they just love to go barefoot and stay dirty. 

These are just some of the things we wonder.  What are some of the  things you wonder if others have done? 

Rolling with the punches

Oh do I ever have a bunch to catch up on.  I guess I should start w/ why I haven't been posting a whole lot on here.  I have been concentrating on a homestudy snaffu (isn't there always at least one in the adoption world?).  I can't give details right now but will later on.  We should have it worked out hopefully by tomorrow & homestudy approved officially shortly after that.  The homestudy has to be done ASAP.  It has been brought to our attention that it is critical it get to Bulgaria.  Again, no reasons yet that I can tell you.  Will share once further into the process.  Dossier paperwork is nothing compared to the Russian dossier paperwork.  Like night & day.  Doc will not sign Warren's until he has another checkup.  We just went to a health fair & all is fine. However, legally, doc can only sign when she sees him.  Fine.  The soonest he could be seen was next week.  I could have sworn he was seen earlier this year but guess I was wrong.  I was seen I know.  She signed my papers already.  We'll pick up all once he is seen next week.  No biggie.  All that dossier paperwork will be apostilled at the same time & sent to Bulgaria along w/ that homestudy.  I feel like we are getting closer.  I know once that dossier is officially registered over there, a huge weight will be lifted.  I really am ready to go.  Kids are ready for us to go.  The wait in adoption journeys are the hardest part.

Aside from the adoption stuff, there are other happenings at Chaos Manor.  Such as Irina and Max are going to take driver's ed.  Yikes!  I'm not really ready for that yet.  This is just the course part of it.  Irina is 17.5 years old.  Max is 15.  With FAS children, it really is not best to let them drive at 15.  many reasons why.  Main reason is w/ the type of brain damage they have, it is their judgement that is impaired.  And poor judgement & driving do not mix in my opinion.  Again just my opinion.  But, I'm also slowly learning from other parents of FAS children who have been through this phase.  The good thing is w/ this economy, many of their friends are not driving either.  Irina does not really want to drive & that is fine w/us  but felt she needed to take the course in order to better make that decision.  In this house we have kind of decided that our kids will need to be at least 17 before we let them drive.  Max is 15, his b-day is in March.  Now, maybe he'll show the maturity to drive at 16 but I just don't know yet.  With each kid, we'll make that choice.  Here is my thinking, if they get into an accident or do something w/out thinking(common in FAS kids), the court system will not cut them any slack b/c of their disability.  That have to learn the realities of life.  Our job while they live here is to keep them safe.  If that means their decision is impaired, we don't let them drive.  That's just the bottom line.  Hope everyone understands.  It's not about being mean, but about what is best for them.  Till they can better make decisions.

I have a whole other post to do on Bojan and his legs.  Will get to that one soon.  I started this post a few days ago.  Life does get in the way some days.  But in a good way.  Warren's doc appt. is this Wednesday.  We're then getting everything notarized and then off for apostilling.  Then, our part of the dossier will be done.  Wahoo!!!  For those new to the adoption world, that is a huge step. 

What other tidbits do I have?  Kids are doing excellent.  Yana is trying to train so she can try out for track next year.  Actually glad she is committed to something.  We are enjoying our lazy summer days of July.  Fresh tomatoes are growing like crazy from the garden.  I have no peppers due to two children who pulled ALL the little peppers off.  URGHH!!!  Nik blamed one of the "littles" and one of the "littles" blamed Nik.  Got to love it.  I personally think it was the two of them together b/c they're always getting bugs over there.  Chives are great.  So is the basil & oregano.  Zuchinni, I don't know what the heck happened.  Still trying to figure it out.  Gardening takes practice.  hoping next year we can expand the garden and a fence will probably be next around it.  We'll see. 

We went shopping yesterday & boys enjoyed it.  Warren only gets 2 pair of shoes a year.  He's always worn the same shoes which I personally hate.  So do the kids.  We've all tried to get him to try something else but a no go.  Can't blame us for trying but hey, it works for him as he says.  LOL.  got an awesome deal & found Alyona shoes for just $5.  Then, we tried an outlet and stayed maybe 2 minutes in there.  Umm, no.  Not a deal at all.  We were trying to find mattresses on sale as some of the kids have gotten older and are really in dire need of new ones.  So, searching around for deals.  Happen to stumble across Big Lots.  Stocked up on some school stuff as they were having a weekend only sale w/ 20% off your entire order.  Since we have to have pens & pencils anyhow, it is a stock up deal for sure.  Helped put a dent in school supplies.  It is a couple hundred dollars usually for us to get started on school stuff.  Nuts.  And that's with hitting all the deals and stocking up when big sales happen.  Just was nice yesterday finding some deals and chatting w/ three of the boys. 

What else is going on.  Pool is green.  Stupid pool was crystal clear all winter & spring long.  Cleaned it, treated it &  is not turning.  Goign to take a sample to the pool place & get it back in order.  Should have turned back somewhat yesterday when we treated it but not a bit.  Hope to have it back to normal w/in the next few days.  More going on and I'll get to it when I can.  More pictures to come I'm sure.   Only one extra kiddo here today so we'll get some things done.  Going to have a field day today after lunch and then an ice cream sundae here at the house.  Should be fun.  Right now, they're playing the Wii.  They said they'll play monopoly next & help set up for our field day.  I may even race some kids.   On second thought, probably not.  Have a great and productive week everyone.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rainy days

Finally, a rainy day.  Not many people would want a rainy day but trust me, NC needs a lot of rain and soon.  So, glad it is raining out.  Plus, it gave us a day to organize this house a bit more.  And that is always useful.  However, just wished I hadn't filled up the pool for a few hours earlier.  Now, it is literally overflowing.  It happens.  Well, thundering so have to finish this post a bit later.

And it is now later...a day later.  Warren has been busy at work all weekend.  So, kids & I stayed here and stayed inside for a change.  We really are outdoor people so being inside for us is a bit different sometimes.  We vegged out yesterday watching movies and organizing.  Lots and lots of organizing.  I found some old boarding passes from Alyona & Nik's adoption and they had spelled Nik's name wrong.  Amazing the things you catch years later from these adoptions.  Unlike most families, I do not have an unique scrapbook or video capturing the adoption.  Not for a lack of trying.  We video taped all of Max & Irina's adoption until Max erased it at the ripe old age of 4yo w/ the one touch record button.  Ahh, parenting mistake #2.  LOL.  Now, most of mine have a life book.  Umm, not completed by a long shot.  Maybe that will be my goal when they all go back to school.  On the days I don't watch the "littles."  I doubt I 'll get them done but nice to dream.  I'm more of a picture person and hopefully my kids can forgive me years later when they ask me how old they were when they lost their first tooth.  Shoot, I don't know how old I was when I lost my first tooth.  Anyhow, sidetracked as usual.  Get back to our rainy day yesterday.  What do the kids do?

We have all kinds of craft stuff laying around the house that I pick up at yardsales.  All the kids decided to make necklaces.  Nice that they were actually working together to help each other find certain letters.

Goofing around is always a good thing on a rainy day as well.  

More goofing around.  I don't know why he has goggles on for dinner and I really don't care.  Yep, somethings you just let go.

and what better things to do on a rainy day then go through a bucket full of gum.  380 pieces.  I'm noticing in these pics that my kids change clothes way too often throughout the day.

You have to be totally bored on a rainy day to do this.  A friend of theirs brought a pediegg over and all the kids had the best time w/ it.  Funny to watch them all.

Are they having fun yet??  Nik couldn't control his laughter on this one.

My kids will swim anytime... even in the pouring down rain.  Doesn't stop them.  Rule here is they are allowed to swim in the rain as long as it's not lightening or thundering out.  Well, close thunder.  

I think my kids could have fun anywhere so a rainy day is nothing for them to get through.  I have some other posts started but really got sidetracked today.  Went shopping today.  Max, Alex & Nik went w/ us so we treated them to Goodberry's icecream...yumm.  We don't always take all the kids w/ us and we don't always take them out somewhere when we go.  But, sometimes spur of the moment stuff is nice to do.  Boys loved it of course.  We even got to see some folks racing remote control cars.  Kind of cool that they could even do stunts.  Helped some folks jumpstart their car and then it was off to home.  Need to get some more work done so chat tomorrow a bit.  BTW, the windows we have to install may not fit.  More on that tomorrow.  We're working it out.  Never dull here, never dull.  Oh, today someone bought a rug from us.  Remember, we're selling some things to make room for the new kids & raise a few dollars in the process for the adoption.  Anyhow, while she was here, Alex insisted his brother Nik was a murderer (he killed a moth apparently by catching it), Alyona came out to tattle more times than I could track & Irina came out to say all were fighting.  She must have thought this house was nuts.  No, just a typical day here at Chaos Manor.  Other than that, smooth day.  More tomorrow.