Friday, September 3, 2010

Peacehaven (part III)

Last post I think was us walking back up to the main entrance.  Once there, some of the kids just needed a break. 

Do they look a little beat?  I guess Nik thinks he's the king on his throne.  Stacked up high.  What we didn't know was just how much pain Bojan was in after hiking.  His prosthetic socket is WAY to small.  They(prosthetic place) put a piece of clay in it about the size of a ping pong ball & his leg didn't even touch.  Now, when is this kid ever going to tell us something?!  Yet, he NEVER complains.  Most resilient kid.  Not in all areas but in quite a few.  

Not the best picture but sun was in her eyes.  Irina stopping by for a quick pump of the water & some hand washing.  

Horrible, horrible picture.  All sweaty & smelling like a farm but in a good way.  We had an awesome time despite our smiles & sun-squinted eyes in this particular photograph.

Since the kids were all great & well, frankly it was just bloody hot outside, we decided to pull off the road and into a Wendy's.  Frosty's for everyone!  Can you tell they were a bit happy about it?!  BTW, Nik was NOT supposed to be sitting back there.  Little bugger.  It was a great way to end a perfect day at Peacehaven.  Nothing like a chocolate ice cold Frosty.  We love Wendy's.  They do a lot for adoption and I think it is wonderful how they can incorporate it into their sales.  Did I mention it's a Chocolate Frosty?!  It just plain tastes good on a hot day.  No leftovers, sorry.

A bit tired after all that.  don't tell them I put this picture on here, they'd kill me.  LOL.  See, even the teens were tired.  

It was just a really pleasant experience for us and we truly can't wait to go back and work on the farm.  We plan on doing this at least 2 weekends every month.  This weekend they're closed and the kids were disappointed.  they really wanted to go back and work.  Good sign for sure.  Definitely check out Peacehaven of NC.  I put a link in on the first Peacehaven post.  Great organization and great thing they are trying to do.  Special needs children like ours that turn into special needs adults can indeed live a happy & productive life in society.  I truly believe that and continue to write this blog so you all can see that progress I see.  The path to independence. Need to go to the bank.  Post later maybe as well.  Have a wonderful weekend folks.

A day off, passport woes

Well, today I actually have my first day off in ages.  The tots I watch are not here.  The kids are not here.  Warren is not here.  It is so quiet, I actually turned on the tv for background noise.  Sad, but true and no, I'm not kidding.  It's on right now downstairs, while I'm upstairs here.  I've returned a bunch of old emails, cleaned up, ordered some makeup online, went to the chiropractor and made some calls so far.  It's 11:46am.  I plan on doing much more but I'm waiting on ONE document to be delivered to the house.  Once in hand, faxing it to the agency.  No fax machine at home so have to go out for that one. Warren picked up our medicals downtown this morning and we're mailing those out.  So, getting things accomplished.  Just found out meeting at 3 to get that one last document notarized and faxed off to homestudy agency.  Praying for approval and for things to be ready next week to be sent to Bulgaria.  Wahoo!!! 

There is an end and a new beginning.  And end to this part of the adoption process and then the beginning of the dossier part of it. Though we've done all our dossier docs already, you still remain in that process for awhile.  For newbies, once the official referrals are given to you, we are told that travel usually happens w/in about a month or so. That would be fantastic!  I can honestly say I'm ready to go.  I'm ready to go meet my future children.  I'm ready to go see where they came from and what they're all about.  I'm ready to see how their culture has influenced them.  Ready to see how orphanage life has treated them.  After being to 5 different orphanages, I can honestly say each had their good & their bad points to them.  No two are alike and the kids really are affected by this.  Yet, I'm ready to dive into it all again. 

Passports to correct Irina and Max's social security mess.  Remember, they were adopted over 10 years ago.  So, they're social security card reads as if they are aliens.  They are NOT by any means.  They are both full fledge U.S. Citizens.  However, we have to go through a "process" just to get the wording on their stupid cards changed.  Easiest way to do this is to supposedly get them US Passports.  We applied, sent in original birth certs & adoption decrees on August 4th.  We get a lovely letter yesterday saying they need more proof.  Either an alien resident card, original birth country passport or COC.  They do not have a COC.  So, sending in the resident alien original green card along w/ the letter we received.  Hoping they'll process it then.  Keeping fingers crossed on this one as it is apparently a whole different ball game when Irina turns 18, which is in December.  Now, this will give Irina & Max US passports.  We still want to get them for ALL our kids.  But, it is expensive so doing 2 at a time till done.  Let you know how it all goes.  We submitted all this stuff on August 4th.  Let see how long it takes. 

I will write another post on Peacehaven.  My last post on it.  More pictures too.  Stay tuned for more to come.  Next week should be an exciting week for us I hope.  My chiropractor today asked if I'm stressed.  Umm, guess he could feel the tension in my neck.  Yes, a little stressed and waiting is the hardest part by far on any adoption journey.  Still nervous after doing this for so many years.  Go figure.  Nerves will subside,I'm sure.  Right now, just getting excited at the thought of it all.  Enjoy your Labor Day weekend everyone.  I know we will. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Peacehaven (part II)

More pictures from our trip to Peacehaven!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Here goes.

No one is currently living in the yurt.  Well, except for the chickens.  Lots and lots of chickens.  Kids have always held chickens at Winterpast Farm so no issues here either.  Though, we didn't let them touch these chicks.  Yes, yelled at Irina shortly after this picture.  

She just seems to have such peace here in this picture.  Love it.  

Leave it to my kids to spot a giant moth in the middle of this much farmland. 

Bojan taking a stroll down to the animals.  Look at the beautiful view.  

The kids getting to know one of the goats here.  All my kids are extremely comfortable around farm animals.  Though none of us liked the goats licking the sweat from our legs...yuck.  

No idea why in the world Nik is so proud of himself sitting on that tractor.

All the kids wanted to take turns sitting on the tractor.  Kids saw the goats, dog and black angus cows.  They are working on building a chicken coop too there.  Many, many plans and just a wonderful setup.  

This was on our hike back up to the entrance of Peacehaven.  Great walk.  

There will be a part III to this trip.  part III tomorrow.  Just finished signing the new child abuse clearance checks that the State of NC has initiated again.  Nothing like something else to do during an adoption process, huh?  More to come on Peacehaven and what it meant to us to visit.  That's for the next post!  So, stay tuned.

Peacehaven (part I)

Well, this is where we went this past weekend.  It is a wonderful place & truly can't wait to share some more.  Here is a link that gives more detail of what it is about:  

We can not wait to go back.  Our kids are very excited about it.  This is a place where some of our kids may have a future at.(yes, grammatical error)   One thing you'll find about children w/ FAS is that they love hard work and love the physical activity.  Hence, why we have a lot of outdoor toys.  Our kids love being outside.  This place is perfect for them.  We thoroughly enjoyed the people we met there.  They made us feel very welcomed.   Here's some pics from our trip. 

Max & Bojan were up to their usual stupid antics & you can see just how thrilled Yana is by this picture.  

Bojan trying out the U-rake.  Well, not sure that is what it is called.  All the kids got to try it out.  Max stayed behind on the tour and did this the whole time.  He loved it!  They till the ground with this.  The farm is adding about a 1/4 of an acre of veggies per season.  

Kids are all checking out how the compost is made.  What the water hose is on top of it for and what all is in the pile.  This farm is 89 acres so there is lots to explore and learn about.

Nik helping pick tomatoes.  Along with the other kids.  Course, they jumped right out of there when a beagle came from the garden barking.  Too funny.

Nik proudly displaying his pickings.  He wanted me to take this picture.

Umm, spoiling the dog are we kids???  My kids all take to animals.  That's why a farm environment would be ideal for them.  working on it!  

They have sheep on the farm and the wool is sheered.  Here's Yana helping to sort the dirt & things from the wool.  I think it was destressing process for her.  They said she did great.

Alex & Bojan were very anxious to check out the yurt.  They thought it was so cool.  All the kids did.  I don't think heating would be an issue here.  However, cooling might.  We all liked it.  Would need quite a few of them though for our family.  

More to come on Peacehaven in another post.  For now, have so, so much to do.  These posts will be choppy the next few days as I'm starting and stopping quite a bit.  Homestudy completion is critical right now as a deadline is approaching faster than you can say run.  NC JUST changed the child abuse clearance law to of course add to the delight of our process.  A little faith goes a long way though so we should not stress.  Ahh, who am I kidding, I'm totally stressed!  Yep, stressed is dessert spelled backwards so I must indulge later.  Oh wait, no chocolate in the house.  Will tell you all more later on some of this adoption stuff.  Keep praying, sending good thoughts, etc. our way for lightening fast approval as it is critical now.  And I'm not just saying that either folks.  We've done 7 adoptions. I truly know by now when they mean jump and when well, they're just saying jump.  They mean it this time for sure & you don't take anything to chance when there are kids involved.  Stay tuned for Part II at Peacehaven.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Need some good vibes please

Just got a message from my agency.  Next meeting is on September XXth.(not sure we're allowed to give dates.  Still learning the rules so being extra cautious)  This is where the Bulgarian Ministry meets to discuss referrals and such.  My documents need to be in Bulgaria by then.  No exceptions!  As some of you on here are aware, we are literally waiting on one document to be written in order to be completely finished w/ our homestudy.  Please pray that this will be done this week.  This HAS to be approved ASAP in order to get a completed dossier over to Bulgaria in time.  With the Labor Day Weekend approaching (& a hurricane no less), we are under an extreme time crunch.  Good thoughts, prayers & vibes are greatly welcomed at this point.  Got to go.  Won't be much on here tomorrow I'm guessing until I get this adoption paperwork wrapped up.  Thanks for all the support.  I know of a few others on this same time frame we're on.  Who knows, maybe some of us will eventually end up traveling around the same time.  This has happened in a few of our other adoptions.  Again, Bulgaria is very new territory for us though so still learning how it all works.  Don't even know if folks travel together or not.  I know they do in Russian adoptions.  See, even us "old timers" learn something new here and there.   Got to go.

Max's talents

Max is our resident handyman and artist.  He is a jack of all trades and takes after his dad in many areas.  All the kids ask Max to fix stuff first before they'd ever ask me.  Seriously.  And, a good thing too.  Those art projects in school... yep, Max helps w/ those as well.  He loves it and glad he does.  I can't draw.  It is no secret folks.  I suck at drawing.  I had a moment, a very brief moment, in high school where I thought I may be able to draw something other than a stick figure.  I was SO proud that it actually looked like what I thought I was drawing.  Then the art teacher came over.  Stunned, he said "Stephanie, that's a great bat you're drawing."  I said "thanks, but it's a squirrel."  No lie.  Now, Warren comes from a whole family of artists.  My MIL is an artist.  You know, a real artist that teaches art and sells paintings.  Something I could never even dream of.  When I say Max is an artist, I don't say that lightly.  I truly think he has talent.  Below is his FIRST attempt at a shadow drawing.  Here is the magazine he modeled it after. 

Here's the magazine he looked at to draw from.  Hmm, is he a typical 15yo boy or what?!  

I know the face looks a little interesting but this is his very first attempt at shadowing.  He was supposed to have art in high school but school messed up...again.  They did this last semester as well.  He's always done more mechanical drawings such as robots and cars so nice to see him stretch his talents.  

Another perspective.  Again, he hasn't done too many people drawings so for many a firsts, I thought this was pretty dog gone good. 

Max also has handyman status in this house.  And, he is always patient when having little helpers around.

Here's Max and Nik putting up new bunkbeds for the boys.  We'll have 5 boys in the front bedroom temporarily.  3 girls in the back bedroom and then Irina and Yana will remain in their rooms downstairs.  Our plan is to either convert the garage into a room or add a room.  But, those plans seem to be changing too & more on that in a bit.  So, for now, bunks go up.  Now, these are not normal rooms either.  They're each about 500 sq. ft.  It's pretty much a big bonus room.  

Max has to have a lot of patience to work w/ this guy!  

Lots and lots to do tonight.  So, have to go.  Enjoy your evening and much more to come.  Just really super busy lately. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to school pics (teens)

I had posted pictures but not of the teens.  One reason is they got up too early.  Other reason is I forgot to put the chip back in the camera.  So, a day late taking them but here they are. 

Irina, our now 10th grader.  She is begging us to be homeschooled still and we will most likely grant that wish.  It is extremely difficult for FAS children to fit in at school.  It is true of all our FASers.  Typically, they have friends much younger which is fine but in high school it tends to be a social taboo.  Sad really.  We're exploring options and she knows she has to give it a month.  First week is hard for any student.  Not just special needs students.

Max, our freshman(9th grade) this year.  Can't believe he's growing up so fast.  Really is amazing.  He has a love for art and a compassionate art.  He is struggling now too with school and has also asked to come home.  Giving it a month.  I've homeschooled Max & Irina before.  But, this weekend Max found where he truly fits in and I will share more of that later in another post.  

Yana, our trouble maker 8th grader.  This one is going to give us a run for our money this year, I guarantee it.  Hoping she'll prove me wrong.  We'll see.  She is starting off academically on the right foot so that is awesome.  She is the only teen that wants to stay in school but do to some social issues we have w/ her, I may have to pull her from public school.   

I'm excited that the older kids are in school.  I really want them to gain some knowledge and learn new and exciting things.  I want them to have fun w/ friends and try things they haven't tried before(okay, I'm talking sports or clubs here folks!).  Yana wants to try out for track.  I do believe she has a shot at it too.  Max wants to work in art.  Irina wants to work w/ animals.  As they get older, we want them to make decisions.  We are just here to guide and reassure.  I want them to be independent adults so this is a huge changing year for everyone.   

All 3 went to youth group tonight for the first time.  Irina and Yana had a blast.  Max, didn't like it.  Got to remember though, Max really is our "loner" & doesn't enjoy crowds at all.  It may have been too much too soon for him.   I do know Irina and Yana are definitely going back.  Very happy for them to find fellowship w/ other peers.  

Lots more to tell.  But it's late.  Only 2 tots here tomorrow.  Plan to be outside quite a bit w/ them.  Supposed to be sunny.  Enjoy your week.  Hoping for some good news this week so keep those prayers and good vibes coming for a homestudy approval soon.  ONE piece of paper left.  Feels great though as this would be a huge, huge step forward.  Rest of dossier is ready to go.  I'll keep you all posted.  I know this week is going to be incredibly busy though.