Saturday, August 7, 2010

What did we do today?

Not much.  But, a few things.  Yana and I woke up and went to yardsales.  Bunch of great bargins out there & some cool stuff to boot!  

Not a great shot but you can see some things.  The kid in the background is Bojan folding towels.  On his own.  Still stuff on the floor but we'll work on that.  Even a watermelon.  Anyhow, there is a big hamper that we picked up at the yardsales.  Gigantic really and it will help w/ 5 boys sharing it.  Now, for those that don't know, Max loves to build, tinker, carve, etc.  Loves cars too and recently built a "garage" out of cardboard.  So, I found this wooden garage today w/ a deck above it & he was beyond thrilled.  I made Yana swear to me she would not tell Max it was from a dollhouse thing.  Can't tell on it's own.  She told him later & he gave it to Alyona to store her barbie car in.  URGHH!!!  Can't trust these kids w/ any bit of information.  

After yardsales, Warren & I went to Sam's for some food.  Much quicker w/out the kids and plus, we had left them watching a new movie at home... Diary of  A Wimpy Kid.  They said it was okay.  While we were away, Irina took a nap.

Horrible picture & she'd kill me if she saw it.  I didn't take it, Yana did.  Notice the bugs all around her?  Yana was trying to get revenge after Irina asked Yana kindly if she wanted a cupcake.  Yana of course said sure.  She bit into a coffee ground cupcake...YUCK!!!!  So, Yana has been trying to get revenge for awhile now.  Nothing has worked .....yet.  Give it time.  

Came home from Sam's and went to a friend's house to pick up snacks.

We received 5 boxes similar to this filled with all kinds of snacks.  This will come in super handy when school starts for sure.  BTW, those nutcrisps are awesome!  

The rest of the afternoon the kids spent doing a few different things...trampoline, swimming and bug collecting.  Yana went for a run.  

Bojan taking a break from swimming.  Not sure what all the bracelets are for.

Alex after a swim.  He looks a bit tired.  He swam hard and we had such a long week w/ VBS festivities.  

Yes, the grass is as bad as it looks. Hopefully, it will get mowed tomorrow.  Anyhow, this is Nik after swimming.  Goggles still on and looking for bugs and lizards of course.  I don't know what I'm going to do when winter comes & the bugs are sleeping.  My kids really do love being outdoors and so hard to keep them in more often in winter.  So, I let them soak up as much outdoor activity as possible.  

Ahh, our new place of peace is being put up.  Remember, the old hammock was on it's last leg.  So,, sold a few things we didn't use anymore and we purchased a new one.  this one was actually bigger than we first thought so had to tie it among two different trees.

This is Max's idea of helping.  

Yana is excited about the new hammock going up.  This is always a peaceful spot in the yard that all of us retreat to at some point during the day.  This is the view once you lay down:

Seriously just feels like you are floating in the air.  In the fall you see the leaves changing colors.  Just gorgeous and a true beauty of nature.

Warren, reaping the rewards of all his hard work today.  Even though it was kind of a lazy type of day, we still did get things accomplished.  Tomorrow we plan on going to church, having a lunch at the church and meeting some new folks and then maybe a little back to school shopping for the kids.  I was fortunate enough to get ALL the boys' clothes at yardsales today and they loved it.  So, only Irina needs pants and Yana needs a bunch of stuff as she grew much taller.  Don't know how, but she did.  Trouble is finding shorts that don't look like they should be considered underwear.  Tough to find.  Drives me bonkers.  We'll get there though.  

We'll also finish the yard tomorrow and clean the house.  And the poor dog.  Bear desperately needs a bath.  We are hoping to take the kids somewhere next weekend.  Let you know a little later in the week.  Got to go.  Still one kid to get a bath. 

A demilitarized zone!-- LOL

Yep, that is what my boys seem to live in at times.  Alright, I pretty much let them have free roam during the day & pick up before bed.  However, w/ VBS this week, frankly, we have just fallen off the wagon and chaos has resulted upstairs.  The boys asked if they could make a fort upstairs w/ the bunks.  Sure, what could happen?  Umm, think mom BEFORE you say yes to any ideas your sons have.  Here is what I found:

Yep, that is the fort in question.  That burgandy colored thing is the rug from the floor.  Nice touch, don't you think?  BTW, that is Alex & a friend shooting at me as I enter the room.... they shot me w/ nerf darts.  

This is a shot of most of the room floor.  There is also another section to this room that goes back to the right.  I've told them at this point it is a fire/ safety hazard issue.  So we have to pick it all up mom?  Yes, Alex...all of it.  Notice the stop light on the door?  Nik made that when Irina was taking Driver's Ed.  IRina made one so Nik wanted to.  I'll have to take an after shot of this room.  It does look better though still needs some work.

This is w/ 2 boys in it.  What on earth kind of demilitarized zone will we have with 5 boys in it!?  Yep.  As a temporary solution, we're moving all 5 boys in here, have the 3 young girls in the back room, and Irina and Yana will remain in their separate rooms downstairs.  this will allow us time to work on a solution for housing them all.  Our plan is dependent on the monetary situation of course.  IF we have enough next year(spring), we'll add on a garage w/ rooms above it.  If not, we'll simply convert the garage to a room for the girls as it is already mostly done.  Have to float a floor & change out the garage door.  Time will tell.  These rooms upstairs are 500 sq. ft. a piece so not like their cramped for space.  Only if it looks like the above picture.  LOL.  

Had a good day so far and talk about it more later and another FAS post coming up.  Life w/ an FAS child will be coming soon.  Never dull, I can tell you that much!  Have a great evening everyone. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

FAS-- it's time we talk about it

Okay, I know I've said many times before I'd discuss FAS.  It is indeed a part of our family and will be for life.  Many people have misconceptions of FAS/ FAE and I'd like to dispell some of those misconceptions on here.  I'd also like to discuss what life is like w/ an FAS child.  I'm going to be honest so if you think I'm being mean, I'm not.  It is honesty.  It really is.  And unless you live the life w/ a child w/ FAS 24/7, you still will NOT get it.  We tell folks all the time and again, unless it is a part of you everyday, everyday, you will only be able to understand a smidgen of this complicated disorder.  The only birth defect that is 100% preventable.  The only one.  There are so many things I'd like to discuss but know it is just information overload for some. 

The myths.  Oh, my are there SO many myths out there regarding FAS.  I think some folks actually panic when they here the diagnosis.  Like it is an end all be all kind of thing.  It's not as long as you take things piece by piece.  I think I was very fortunate to have no idea what it was exactly that I was dealing w/ for a few years before I got a diagnosis.  Maybe it would have scared me off like so many other people.  I don't know.  I digress.  Back to FAS and the myths. 

Myth #1--FAE is much less a problem than FAS.  Umm, no.  Only difference really seems to be that they don't have the facial features of FAS.  It does NOT mean it is any less difficult or that you won't have as many problems.  I know this for a reason.  Yana is one of the most difficult children we have and she has FAE, not FAS.  FAE is just as devastating for families and it does not make it any less significant than a child being dx'd w/ FAS.

Myth #2--Children w/ FAS are not very intelligent.  Umm, wrong again.  85% of children w/ FAS will have normal to above normal intelligence.  This seems to be the statistics w/ our 6 as well w/ FAS/FAE.  There are not nearly as many children with FAS that are mentally challenged as well.  I have 2 that are mentally challenged.  The rest are of normal intelligence.

Myth #3-- FAS children will always be medicated.  I have heard people say this over and over for many years.  This is just not true.  Yes, many are indeed medicated and so are some of mine.  Out of my 6 though, 3 are medicated.  Sometimes it is also a personal choice parents of children w/ FAS make.  We were given the choice to give Yana mood stabilizers years ago.  We opted against it b/c we truly thought we could help her heal.  Was it an easy call?  NO!  There were times I wanted to cave and go for those mood stabilizers but did not.  Now, my three that are on medications I do feel could not survive w/out them.

Myth #4-- FAS children will land in jail, get in trouble w/ the law, go to an RTC, end up pregnant, etc. by the time they're 14, 15, 16, etc.  I heard this for many years and can tell you it scared the crap out of me!  I was terrified I'd always be one of those mothers who ended up at the jailhouse w/ their child.  This is a myth.  Yes, these children are more likely to get in trouble given their lack of judgement and lack of cause & effect thinking, but frankly, it is NOT a definite.  For us, we now have a 14yo(almost 15), 15yo and 17.5 yo.  None have been in trouble w/ the law, none have gotten in trouble in school(other than the minor note passing or gum chewing kind of stuff), none have gone to an RTC, none are pregnant, etc.  Could it happen?  Yes.  But it could happen to normal families too.  I had a relative once who got in serious trouble in high school.  NOT an adoptive family, but a "normal" family.  It happens.  Just b/c you have FAS though, doesn't mean it will happen to you.  And, I do believe there are things you can do to help prevent it from happening.  I'll discuss that at a later time.  Not saying it's a guarantee it won't happen but can't hurt.

Myth #5-- I had an IA doctor check out my referral and it's fine.  Oh my.  If I had a dime for every time I heard about a family who was told their child is low risk, I'd be rich.  I have heard from quite a few families that had their referrals reviewed by IA specialists and said they had nothing to worry about.  Though I do think nowadays they are being way more cautious than they used to be at saying that.  

Myth #6--Almost all children coming from EE orphanages are alcohol effected.  Just not true.  Though, the number is incredibly high, not all are effected by alcohol.  Of my 7, 6 are alcohol effected and all those are from Russia.  I think the current statistic is 57% of kids adopted from EE are alcohol effected. 

Myth #7-- If I have a child with FAS, I will not be able to take them out anywhere.  This is not true.  Yes, you will have to modify things and maybe do a quick behavior lecture before you go into a store but it really isn't too bad.  I shop with not only my kids but some of their friends as well.

Myth #8-- My FAS kids will not be able to have friends.  Though it is true they have a tougher time making friends, it is not impossible for them to have friends.  And no, their friends do not even have to know they have this disorder.  My kids do have friends.  Alyona has 2 close friends.  Irina has 2 close friends.  Same with Yana.  None of them have issues w/ getting invited to go places or to parties.  However, mine know what are expected of them and I have no issues w/ telling my kids they can't go back somewhere if they were to misbehave.  Just ask Alex who missed out on a sleepover one day.  They remember that stuff. 

Myth #9-- FAS kids won't be able to learn much in school due to their disorder.  Umm, big fat NO.  Don't ever let anyone tell you your kid can't learn.  Not true.  They told me Irina would never pass a second grade level.  She's going into 10th grade.  She can do about an 8th grade level in most things.  Way past the doom & gloom predictions.  However, I push my kids quite a bit.  We don't accept "I don't know" as an excuse in this household.  Just this morning, I did not allow Alyona to leave the table until she answered a question.  And yes, it may sound harsh and mean but did I get an answer?  Yes.  Is she any more traumatized from the Q & A session than before we started?  No.  Though Alyona is much more mentally challenged than the rest, I do know that she is capable of doing certain things.  I want my kids to reach their fullest potential and sometimes have to push to get it.  Alex is repeating third grade this year.  He'll tell you flat out he was lazy last year.  It was true.  Warned him all year but he didn't listen.  Sometimes, it is just life lessons these kids have to learn.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But I truly believe every FAS child is indeed capable of learning much more than professionals give them credit for.

Myth #10- My child "looks" normal so they must not have FAS or FAE.  I think many folks have this misconception of how a child with FAS should look.  What many don't know is many grow out of that stereotypical look as they grow older.  The facial features become less and less prevalent the older the child gets.  I personally think this is why many adopting older children don't consider that their children may have it.  Out of all our kids, Alyona is the one who still seems to have the facial features we all associate with this disorder.  We recently went through the kids old pictures.  It is abundantly clear now to us the features they all had when younger but isn't very noticeable now.  What gets me about this look is how it is just so differenet from child to child.  Nik's birth mother we are told drank almost everyday.  Heavy drinker yet he is the one with the least characteristics of FAS/ FAE.  A big myth though is going strictly by looks to dx the child.  There is a very, very small window of opportunity for the facial features to develop in utero.  If the mother did not drink during that window of time, they will not have those predominant features.  I can't remember if it was around day 21 of pregnancy or not.  Have to get my fact sheet out one of these days.  

Now, my little disclaimer...  I am NOT a professional nor do I claim to be.  These are simply myths that I myself have noticed over the last ten years.  Things I've heard on boards or at seminars or from other families.   These are really just my observations,nothing more.  

I will talk tomorrow about FACTS of FAS and symptoms of the disorder.  After that, I'll have another post about things we do in this house to help minimize the effects this disorder has on our children.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  We have a tax-free weekend here and plan on taking the kids school shopping.  Yikes!  Wish us luck.  LOL.  I think we'll divide and conquer.  I just have my kids here today and it is remarkably quiet.  I think everyone is tired a bit from VBS.  We all had a great time and can't wait to go on Sunday to church.  Max is actually reading some scripture.  He's going to memorize it!  We asked if he was sure and he said yes.  This is huge for him for 2 reasons:  1)  Max hates speaking in front of people & especially, crowds.  2)  Max has FAS w/ short-term memory issues & trouble memorizing stuff.  I can not wait to see him speak.  It will be quite the accomplishment for him for sure.  Very proud for him to take the initiative to do it.  Keep you posted.   

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blessings abound

I needed something a bit upbeat as last night  was about all I could handle.  Last post recounted a day that never seemed to end and little things happening here and there.  Well, I never did get that workout in, and the monster storm moved in.  This was probably a little close to intensity of some of the hurricanes we've endured over the years.  The dog went spastic.  Warren, Alyona, me, and Irina sat in the living room w/ Bear for the couple hours it was over us.  Flashes of lightening so bright it hurt your eyes while they were closed.  So, we woke up this morning rather sleepy but that's okay.  No big deal.  Irina is helping a neighbor watch kids today so she is not here.  Speech therapist came & wondered why I looked so tired.  Yes, it is that obvious.  Anyhow, remember me saying my kids take things very literally and we really have to watch w/ what is said in church to them.  Well, Alex was told to collect money.  Mind you he takes a few words and runs w/ it.  So this morning, what does he do?  Why he steals money from the rest of the family!  Yep.  In his eyes, that is collecting.  URGHH!!!  Not the day I really wanted to explain the difference but I had to.  I know the church means well & trying to teach the kids but for my kids they just don't get it.  Brain damage in some FAS kids is just too much to process certain information.  Alex is one of these kids.  I appreciate him wanting to collect money for the church but he definitely went about it the wrong way.  Lessons.  Learning lessons.

Now, that is a mouthful.  Don't get me wrong, this week hasn't been filled w/ bad things, just one of those weeks filled w/ lessons here and there.  And life is always good if you're still learning lessons.  Now, for the title.  Thought I'd find some of the good this week since I sounded so doom and gloom.

Summer flowers are still in full bloom and great way to walk up into your home.  Love flowers and you just can't help but smile when you see fresh flowers in bright colors.  These impatients spread further and further every single year.  Love it. 

Wanted to tell you about a few of the blessings we've experienced the last few weeks.  We have had friends come in scorching heat to help us install windows.  We have had friends take the four youngest kids so that we could do that.  I was wondering how I would clothe everyone this year and looking for the best deals.  Shoes for 7 are not the cheapest thing in the world.  Someone contacted me out of the blue and asked if I had anyone a certain size that could use brand new sneakers.  Max was beyond thrilled.  Had another lady ask if we wanted her boy's clothes.  She has given us clothes before as well.  What is even better is that her dad had recently retired from the YMCA and had a bunch of girls' clothes from the lost & found that no one had claimed.  She asked him not to throw them out & see if I wanted them first.  They also have a mattress for us as well.  

though he doesn't look happy in the picture, he wasn't having a bad day.  LOL.  Just didn't catch him smiling and he just finished working in the 115 degree heat that day.  But, Max still helped out to carry the beds in.  Yes, we were blessed w/ a set of bunkbeds for the new kids.  These will go in the front room and then the new girls will get Max's old set of bunks.  We'll spray paint it white.  These beds even came w/ the mattresses.  

In addition to some clothing, furniture and a pair of shoes, we were also blessed by a lady at church named Ginger.  We'll go later this week and pick up some food from her house.  Her husband works for a company and if anything is dented, overstocked, etc. , the stores just get rid of it.  She has given us things before and it is great as this is all snack food that the kids can use in the upcoming school year.  Well, anytime for that matter but it truly does help.  

During an adoption, costs are always a big factor.  Though you have enough to support new children, you are always scrimping and saving and trying to pay for dossier fees, immigration stuff, travel, etc.  Being blessed w/ things at no costs definitely helps to offset the adoption expenses we incur during this time.  Once school is in session, I will most likely definitely get into fundraising for the adoption again.  We have the majority that we borrowed but still guessing at least $10K will be needed just in airline travel alone.  So soon I'll do some giveaways and maybe even have a pancake breakfast.  Who knows.  Need to take care of some of the kids' surgeries first.  Bojan and Nik mainly.  After that, I'll feel confident I can fundraise w/out the worry of kids & surgeries.  Hope that made sense.  I'm still tired from the storm.  

Guess I'm writing saying that the little things that people are generous with are helping us immensely and allowing us to cut some costs so that other money can be used for the adoption expenses.  This weekend is also tax-free weekend here.  So, we have gone through the kids' closets and know what they need and don't need.  Taking some shopping tomorrow & of course for some school supplies.  It's amazing that in adoption journeys, the big question of how are we going to do all this is somewhat answered along the way.  Bits and pieces here and there.  Every little bit helps and for everyone who has blesses us with either volunteering, donations, clothing, etc., know that it does not go unnoticed and in turn, you are also helping to bring three children home from an orphanage that really do need a family.  Thanks for being a part of the process even though I know some of you don't think what you do is a big deal.  Trust me, it is.  A little goes a long way.  It really does.  Whatever we don't use, we always pass onto someone else as well.  I truly believe in paying it forward.  Enjoy your day everyone.  This is the last night of VBS.  We plan on hanging out at the church for a bit this evening getting to know some other folks. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just another day (w/ a little FAS & RAD)

Today is Wednesday.  We got up this morning (late) to take the bunch to the post office.  Why?  Because Max & Irina need passports so we can fix their social security cards.  Long story  but I explained it in an earlier post.  Anyhow, got everyone ready & loaded the 8 in the car.  For some reason, I think everyone was grumpy this morning.  Got there and post office looked abandoned.  Our appointment was at 9:45 but it doesn't open until 10.  Hmm.  Anyhow, hung out in the post office and met a nice lady behind us.  She was great w/ the kids and kept them entertained.  Finished up w/ their passports.  BTW, they raised the passport fees as of July 13th 2010.  yep, just missed it.  So, the new fees for adults are $110 + $25.  Minors:  $80 + $25.  Just an FYI.  Office was not allowing anyone in except for parents & 2 kids getting passports.  She looks at the rest and says "well, they all look old enough to be okay out there."  Umm, no.  NOT kids w/ FAS.  They are NOT their age & do NOT act their age either.  I know folks don't know this & my kids can be "deceiving" when you first meet them b/c they'll act "normal" the first few minutes.  But, as other FAS parents are well aware, it only takes a minute for things to go south.  We stayed by the door w/ the little window to keep vigilent watch over the kids out the door.  I can not say enough of a thank you to Loralei.  The wonderful lady that just moved here from Arkansas.  She stayed w/ the kids while we were in there.  Her and her daughter Victoria.  How amazing was that?!  Right place, right time.  She kept them entertained while we finished up.  After we were done w/ the passports, we mailed some more dossier docs overnighted.

The ride home was filled w/ conversations.  You've got to love it.   Bojan said "what if God made everything whip cream?"  I swear, the stuff this kid comes up w/ drives me insane.   Conversations that came after were nothing short of strange.  Max said "then you'd just eat yourself."  After that, Alex decided he should share the "God sightings" that he shared at church.  Now, what the volunteers don't quite understand about my kids is they take everything literally.  VERY literally.  Anyhow, Alex said "well, she said I could share anything and that anything is a God sighting."  So, what does my son share?  He decides he should share about the time he swung the bag of glass around & cut himself up on the leg & needed stitches.  Wonder if he shared the reason he was collecting the glass & garbage in the yard in the first place.  He was being punished & had to collect the trash in the yard.  The rest of the kids were arguing in the car that that is NOT a God sighting.  I have to agree on that observation but Alex insisted the lady said anything counts.  That lesson for another day I'm sure.

Got home & the "littles" came over.  Since Warren had taken a half day, we decided to order everyone pizza.  So, loaded up a few of them and went to pick it up & stop off at the store for a few things.  'S' picked out some apples for us all & oranges.  I picked up some zucchini as ours in the garden did not produce.  All were excited that Warren actually picked up some soda.  Dropped of course before it's put into the cart.  All went well.  Warren was on his way to work.  Then I guess they decided it was time for me to have one of those chaos days.

I figured out who has been tampering w/ the garden.  My bug hunters....Nik & one of the "littles."  I'd suspected for awhile but today was confirmation.  They try to collect the dragonflies on top of the the middle of the garden.   While trampling the plants of course.  No biggie.  Life goes on.  Go inside & Alex & 'E' were just wired.  I swear I did not give either any caffeine shots.  LOL.  We seriously need a hamster wheel in this house.  Period.  I had just finished saying "NO running in the house or someone is going to get hurt."  Sure enough, 'E' runs into the couch full force & falls down on his head.  He was fine but still, shouldn't have happened if Alex & him weren't having so much dog gone fun as they both put it.  I hear "but mom, we're having fun" from Alex & "but, Ms. Stepanie(yes, the way he says it), Alex chase me & fun."  Had to go through the same spiel again about no running in the house, just outside. 

Now, Max wanted to go play at a friend's house.  Fine.  However, he decides he should argue w/ me in the car about having to wear a seatbelt.  Normally, as a parent of an FASer, I would have made him get out & stay home.  however, it was one of those days that I frankly had had enough already & didn't want to deal w/ it.  Weigh your battles.  Weigh your battles.  Plus, argument was very short-lived but in the grand scheme of things was really no big deal considering he put it on.  However, I was not very happy as he is not allowed to play mature games at all whether here or at someone else's house.  He was repeating stuff in the van on the way to church that he apparently played at his friend's house.  URGHH!!!  Hence, why it is banned in this house despite him being 15yo.  Remember, FASers are much, much less socially & developmentally immature.  They must have limits.

Max comes home.  Then, we have a "mean girl."  Ever see that movie?  Well, that was Yana today & currently she is being lectured by Warren.  Suffice it to say, we are extremely disappointed and I'm just not happy about the whole thing.  More on it later.  She started off w/ the RAD attitude but held it together. 

Drop them off at church.  Go to Walgreens to get milk.  Have a 15% off coupon that apparently wasn't good for dairy.  Figures.  Came home & relaxed a bit before picking them up.  Pick them up from church and again ask what they learned.  That God is w/ you all the time.  Fine, sounds reasonable.  Then it starts... the conversations.  Then, the fighting. Then we hear Alex bit me!  Warren says "Alex, keep your mouth shut.  Bojan, keep your stuff(hands, legs) away from Alex."  Bojan yells back "I'm not putting my stuff in his mouth!"   The older teens erupt in laughter, little ones having no idea what was really going on.  Thank goodness. 

Get home and told the kids to get baths.  You'd think we'd ask them to cut off arms.  Yes, the novelty of the new bathroom has worn off.  Everyone was wired.  I go to turn off the light in Nik & Alex's room & scream at Nik.  Why?  Because he literally has magnets all over his face & head.  On his ears, on his implant magnet, on his tongue, up his nose, in his ears, etc.  Did not want this day to end w/ an ER visit as well.  It is now 10:30 at night, and I have 6 children up.  Count them...6!  Thank God this is NOT groundhog day.  I would not survive.  LOL.  I am getting ready to workout.  Yes, I know it is late but this has to be done before I lose my mind.  I will wake up refreshed, renewed & hopefully, revived w/ a new attitude.  Okay, so that's my goal.  Whether or not that happens in the morning is yet to be seen.  Good night everyone and just here to remind everyone that these days happen here at Chaos Manor as well.  On an upside, we have been having a good time getting to know others at the church this week & look forward to tomorrow as well.  Pictures to come tomorrow as well.  For now, good evening.

Boys have a bathroom!

Finally, the boys have a bathroom.  After 4 years of trying to get this bathroom finished, it is.   When our friends came to help us install the windows, they also helped us finish the bathroom upstairs.  VERY excited about it all as all that is left is decorating.(waiting for fall yardsales)  So, here are some pictures of the finished bathroom.

You walk in the door & face forward, you see the bookcase.  Eventually we'll put towels and such on the shelves.  Bojan's handrail(laying on the shelf) is now up and functioning just fine.  

Sink is on the left as you first walk in the door.  This is  a small bathroom w/ a weird angle but we made it work.  Chose a very muted grayish blue color.  Not too girlish or boyish.  Perfect as we'll have both girls & boys up there temporarily.  

part of the shower.  sorry, picture was taken before all the caulk was cleaned off the walls.  Kids think it feels like a hotel shower & I have to agree.  Bojan can sit down in this shower which he loves.  

Just another view so you can see the angles.  Not really a bathroom made for big people.  LOL.  But, works for the kids and that's all that counts.  Plus, plenty of room in the shower for sure.

If you look in the previous picture, you see a bunch of little things on the white shower curtain.  Nik was NOT too sure about this shower curtain and the close-up gives you the reason why.  For those new, Nik was stung about 30 times two years ago.  He is not too keen on bees.  

That's our new bathroom upstairs for the kids.  Boys have been very pleased w/ having a bathroom of their own and it has helped immensely w/ nighttime bath rituals.  Love it.  Need to get going.   Kids are all fighting over the "best" seat for the movie today.  URGHH.  More later.  We have VBS this week so just been a little late & too busy to write on here. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dossier docs

For those new to the adoption process, you have this packet of papers called a dossier to send over to the country you are wishing to adopt from.  It is filled with everything from FBI fingerprints to photos of your home to income information to the all important homestudy.  It is a plethera(no idea how to spell that word) of information.  Your life is on all these pages for someone else to determine if your life is "good enough" to adopt one of these precious gems from their country.  The dossier is a HUGE step after the homestudy.  We actually gather docs during the homestudy.  We try our best to collect docs as late as possible as all documents in these countries expire.  That's right folks, those fingerprints expire despite them being on your hands your entire life.  Oh well, you do what they say, smile and know it is all worth it in the end b/c your children are outside searching for bugs together.  Well, mine are this morning. 

These are just some of the documents for our adoption.  Not many in this stack but doing a little at a time helps to keep order.  Yes, those are clean clothes on the floor waiting to be folded.  I put these here as the dining room table was covered (don't ask) in jelly.  I refuse to have another sticky, stained document going to any official party.  These were safe temporarily as the kids were outside.  

We have very few documents left to gather.  In fact, we are just waiting on the homestudy.  Keeping fingers & toes crossed that all will go well this week.  Any prayers, thoughts, good vibes our way regarding approval of the homestudy is very welcomed.  We are SO ready to move forward with all this.  

Kids are outside looking for lizards.  Again.  They all just had snack and ate an entire bag of oranges.  I need a farm to keep up w/ their eating habits here.  LOL.  Warren had a rough night sleeping.  Unfortunately, one of our kids still does the orphanage rock thing.  Against the wall.  Above our bedroom.  Thump-thump, thump-thump.  Bojan did this all night last night.  URGHH.  I did not hear it but for some reason I woke up at 5:20.  Though I should have been productive and gone to work out, I just laid there hoping I'd fall back asleep.  No such luck.  Just one of those rough nights.  Started w/ Nik throwing up all over.  Not sick, just full.  Seriously.  Full.  Alex was then paranoid about Nik sleeping w/ him and Alex "catching" it.  Alex has severe PTSD and illness drives him batty.  Simple things for some of our kids can turn into a real big ordeal depending upon their mental health issues.   Fun, huh?  NO.  Just one night like this though won't kill anyone.  Thank goodness.  We survived, we moved onto today and now we're getting on w/ things.  11 kids here today.  Getting ready to take the "littles" on a walk and Alyona.  VBS is tonight so busy w/ that.  Had a lot of fun talking w/ others at the church last night and getting to know folks.  Tomorrow is getting passports for Irina and Max to start the process to fix their social security cards.  Trying to decide what to do for the weekend.  We'll see what comes up.  Got to go walk.  Enjoy your day everyone.  Tons going on this month.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Critters & children

Seems like every time I turn around, my kids are bringing something in the door that does not actually live here.  I swear we could be the Wild Thornberry's & they'd be happy as all get out.  They truly would be in their element...the great outdoors.  Below are just some of the critters they've had in the last week here.

This one was on the car.  Nice leaf camoflouge if you notice.  This was the day it was 117 heat index & my kids are still sweating collecting bugs.  We burn through several of these bug collecting kits a year.  Better than all my storage containers they used to use.

It's bad enough they collect stuff from our yard but Irina brought this one home from the neighbor's yard!  Yet to figure out if it is a squirrel or a possum.  Just know it was dead when they found it.  

Notice that this is NOT the bug collecting container.  Ahh, another container of mine lost to the frogs this time.  They put grass & stuff in to make it more like "home" I'm told.

Warren & I went to do errands the other day.  Came home & found this on our kitchen counter.  there are 7 of them in there!  Yes, 7.  I guess they wanted one for each kid.  They covered it w/ plastic wrap & put a giant hole in the top.  They were rather sad that I wouldn't let them keep the new pets.

I'm sure the neighbors don't know what to think somedays.  It's never too cold, too hot, too snowy, too sunny, or too rainy to catch critters around here at Chaos Manor.  Alyona is in her pajamas, Nik has unfortunately worn those clothes more than one day despite getting a bath and of course it is raining.  No idea why the empty birdfeeder is on the ground back there.  Oh well.  Maybe a not so proud parenting moment here but at least they're learning about nature.  Does that count?  LOL.    My kids love the great outdoors.  Even a rainy day can't keep them inside.  Enjoy your day folks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

They must be fish

August is here & summer is slowly winding down.  Thought I'd share just a couple of pictures I found. 

Alyona & Nik enjoying a swim.  They could careless which one has pink goggles & which one has blue ones.  As it should be...just simple fun.  FAS children need a lot of physical activity every single day.  For us, the pool was just a very wise investment & partial therapy as well.

Irina and Max.  My two oldest.  Here, they are getting along.  Give them 10 minutes and they won't be anymore.  LOL.

No idea why Yana is standing this way & looking all tough.  She's not as tough as she may seem.  

All my kids love the water.  They must be part fish.  It's great b/c we live in the south and it is hot here most of the time.  So, to keep cool, we love our pool.  I do  laps as do Irina and Yana.   Our dream would be to get an inground but w/ the ground here, it is a tough thing to do.  So, maybe in a few years another pool may be in order.  But who knows.  Warren and I are trying to make future plans for the 12 of us as a family & see where the road leads us.  Tough decisions for sure.  Even if we move locally, it is a huge thing for our kids.  Moving counties though may be the best thing for all the kids though.  As they get older, the decisions seem to get tougher.  We just want our children to be able to reach their fullest potential possible.  Time will tell.  For now, enjoying the kids splashing in the water.

A slow weekend

Sometimes, it is just nice to kickback.  Irina and Yana went w/ a friend to the beach on Friday and then spent the night at their house.  I spent the entire day organizing and reorganizing Max & Bojan's room.  It's essentially Oscar & Felix living together.  URGHH.  But, it was done.  Found all kinds of stuff in there.  We are making a list of what school clothes they'll need.  Fortunately, I live in an area where most of us trade.  Works out well for all of us.  That way, we only have to do a couple of fill ins.  So makign lists of everything the kids need.  Our plan is to go to the outlet mall next weekend.  We live only about 15 minutes from a huge outlet center which at some times of the year is filled w/ tourists.  Trust me, you can tell the tourists.  Not that the huge buses in the parking lot aren't a dead giveaway.  Anyhow, lots of variety and great for deals.

So yesterday Warren and I did some of our monthly shopping.  This time, Nik went with us.  Try to take someone a little different each time.  Alex went this morning w/ Warren to get a paper.  Usually, that means a trip to the coffee shop for coffee for Warren & a hot cocoa or soda for one of the kids.  Nik went w/ us yesterday to get our monthly bread supply at Big Lots.  Yes, instead of paying $2.79 a loaf, we pay $1.20.  Helps immensely as we use approximately 40 loaves a month.  Nik suckered us into buying him a toy phone.  It is so, so hard to say no when your son is going to every single noise toy in the aisle pushing buttons, getting a huge grin on his face, and saying he can hear it w/ sheer delight.  So, Elmo phone has been used a lot since yesterday.  Great thing is, he pretends to talk on it.  Priceless.  Before we headed to TJ Maxx, we stopped off at a local pizza place that sells by the slice.  Delicious on a rainy day for sure.  Warren spotted a carry-on bag for just $8.  I said we don't need anything quite yet.  He said but we will.   A small sign the adoption is becoming more "real" for him.  As some of you on here are well aware, it never really hits Warren we're adopting until we are standing in front of the orphanage.  He's just that way.  Has been since day one.  But this time is different.  He knows this is our last adoption ever (oh yes indeed it is!) & I think is more "in tune" with it this go around.  Keep in mind, our first agency almost didn't approve us w/ our first two kids b/c they thought Warren wasn't "into" it.  She told me this years later & we had a good laugh.  She said obviously, we(the agency) were wrong.  Umm, yes.  But, that is just who he is and how he is.  Doesn't say much.  Trust me though, he's into the kids, that's for sure.  He & Alex are out now I'm sure at the coffee shop.  Back to our day.  After we got what we needed from the store, it was back home where all the other kids had cleaned the entire house!  Yep, they sure did.  So, as a treat we decided to take everyone & their friend to the movies.  It is a family owned theater here that everyone calls the "cheap seats."  Costs $2.50 a person.  It's great.  We saw Shrek Forever and enjoyed it.  Came home, ate some late night salad and retired to bed.  Woke up today, and Warren made eggs w/ some fresh chives & basil from the garden.  Going to do a little shopping today & then the kids have VBS(vacation Bible school) tonight.  While they are there, Warren & I are going out to eat to a much needed night out.  Plus, have a giftcard for a local restaurant. Can't wait.

A slow weekend but a needed break from the normal hustle & bustle.  August is going to be very busy for us so keeping this weekend low key would be awesome.  We're doing some fixing up around the house and just organizing a lot.  Seeing what the kids have, what they need, what they don't need and sorting.  Helping immensely.  Hope your weekend is just as slow going.  It's nice to kickback w/ the kids in a theater on an impromptu movie night.  Altogether, just a nice, simple weekend.  I have many picture updates to do soon.  I'll get there. For now, nice to be lazy.