Friday, September 10, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Thanks for the comments & advice on Irina's situation.  Many special needs' parents struggle in this district for resolution to issues.  I have a friend that had to hire an advocate b/c this county doesn't recognize dyslexia as a disability.  It's true.  An advocate came into Alyona's classroom about 2 years ago & discovered that only 28 minutes of academic learning was taking place throughout the day.  Our cases have gone to the top to the DPI(dept. of public instruction) in Raleigh.  It's just hard to keep fighting.  It really is.  But, in the same breath, we know we must.  It is for their benefit, the kids.  That's what matters.  I had written more but I'd honestly rather take a break from all the school & adoption stuff & share pics of the kids and what we did this past weekend.  It was honestly nothing special.  We hung around the house and it felt so good to have no planned schedule whatsoever.  I really didn't take too many pics b/c honestly, we were working pretty hard on cleaning up the yard & the outside of the house.  But, did capture a few things.

You have no idea how long it took to clean up this mess.  I have no unearthly idea what possessed me to make bird houses w/ all the "littles."  2-- 2yo's & 2--4yo's with knives, 1 jar of peanut butter, busted bag of birdseed and close proximity.  What could go wrong?!  This is the first AND last shot of peanut butter bird feeders I believe.  Those wondering...bad, bad idea.  kids loved it though.  One had peanut butter all over her hair, one little boy was downing peanut butter w/ birdseed on it..yuck and one little girl was just covered in it.  Yes, not the project of the year.

Something about a boy & his knife.  He was trimming the woods w/ this machetti.(no idea how to spell that word).  Max made the handle for the blade himself out of mahogany.  He found the blade in one of the houses he worked in.  Only rule is if we ever see it unsupervised, it's gone for good.  So far, so good.  

So, besides cleaning up the yard and porch, there was some goofing off of course.  Bojan, stage center as usual.  LOL.  Alex is wondering why I'm taking a picture and Bojan is using a pizza cardboard thing he found in the yard(yes, they throw them as frisbees every time we have pizza) as a shield.  What a ham.  He can turn anything into a theatrical performance. 

Alyona, helping me to deadhead some flowers.  Hard to believe these Tree Rose of Sharon bushes started out as little .20 sticks!  They are always so beautiful to me to pull in the driveway & see them.  So is the little girl standing next to them!

One last look at summer blooms I'm sure.  Love the color of them.  

Well, this was part I of Labor Day Weekend from last weekend.  We'll have more later.  Kids are still up.  Have to get up super early so trying to get them to bed.  Easier said than done.  Going to be cool here finally tomorrow.  Perfect for a day outside.  Can't wait to attend a new event and meet some great athletes.  Hope they'll be able to teach Bojan something new.  Let you know. 

A letter from my daughter

My daughter handed me a letter yesterday.  Guess she knew I needed a pick me up.  I will copy it verbatim.  Here goes:

To:  Mom  From:  Irina

Mom you are the best mom I could ever had!  You didn't have to choose me, but you did.  You have a good heart to adopted all of us!  You also going to adopt three more.  Wow, what a mom.  You could of got any other kid then me.  But you choose the nice and sweet girl.  Yes I do bad things that I regreat and say I hate you but you know that is not true.  I love you so much at the bottom of my heart.  I just wanted to tell you how much I love you.  don't think I am kissing up cause I am not!  

Sincerely:  Irina Boyd

That was the letter.  Hearts all over the page, whole thing written in cursive.  I left the grammar & spelling as she had it.  It's who she is.  It was meaningful.  It came from her heart and best of all, she knows I love her.  Yes, FAS kids can turn your world upside down & inside out but sometimes(as you can see here), that is a wonderful thing.  Just thought I'd share.  Yesterday was thoughtful Thursday & just thought I'd highlight a piece of it. 

Well, have some kids that are ready to go outside and play.  Can't wait for tomorrow's amputee training camp.  Should be interesting and weather is supposed to be gorgeous.  Pictures of course. 

I-800A form help

Okay, it's after midnight, Yana is STILL up working on a school project and I'm still up working on the stupid I-800A form.  Everything is filled out, check written, and forms w/ it.  Only thing I'm drawing a blank on is Part 3 # 3.  It's on page 7 and hoping someone out there can answer it before the morning.  LOL.  Trying to get it overnighted by tomorrow.  Got it today(homestudy), sending off I-800A immediately.  Anyhow, it is asking to provide a description of preadoption requirements and not quite sure what to write here.  Any ideas, send them my way.  I want this out of here!  Watching 4 kiddos tomorrow so really want this done.  I guarantee w/ it being laid out on the dining room table that it will either be covered in oatmeal or playdough if it stays there.  Remember, so far we've had peanut butter, dog prints and jelly on various forms mailed off to important agencies.  Hoping to break that trend.  SO, SO much has happened in the last 2 days that I will catch you all up.  Right now, head still spinning from too many things.  Will have time to breath this weekend.  More on all kinds of stuff forthcoming.  Just to let you know, it is dog gone hard to look for previous I-600A approvals and their exact dates.  Yes, we have all our papers and folders nicely organized and labeled.  Just didn't know what label to look under.  LOL.  Not to mention Max & Irina's old papers were laying on the floor by Alyona's bed.  Don't even ask.  Long story.  Did I ever mention this is our L-A-S-T adoption ever?!  Well, if not, IT IS!!!  Too old to stay up this late.  Yana is almost done & it's quarter past midnight.  You think I can convince 2-- 2yo's & 2-- 4yo's that we all should take a nap?  Yeh,didn't think so either.  I guess this is practice for upcoming jetlag.  LOL.  Goodnight & any answers, let me know.  Thanks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bug boys

As almost all of you know, my kids love any creature that resides outdoors.  They are always outside catching something.  I found a great net container at a consignment sale.  they have had nothing but fun w/ it.  Thought I'd share some photos of a few of their captures.  Some, have been quite impressive though I have not taken pictures of everything.  Just needed a word break from all the events the last few days.  Adoption stuff is moving right along and school stuff is taking up a bunch of my time.  Anyhow, thought I'd share some interesting captured critters. 

The kids about lost their minds at the dinner table when they looked out and saw this huge moth.  They dropped their forks & we're off for the hunt.  

Nik, proudly displaying the frog he & one of the "littles" caught.  Amazing we don't have a case of salmonella here w/ all the reptiles caught in this house.

Irina holding a praying mantis.  they hold anything.  Dragonflies, ladybugs, worms, frogs, spiders, bees, etc.  It's nuts!  

A horned worm that was eating my tomato plants.  No fear.  The pile of bikes in the background was b/c we were going through every single bike seeing which ones we could salvage & repair.  Honestly, all the kids need new bikes.  It's just not going to happen right now so fixing what we can and making things work as best we can.  Warren was able to rig Nik's bike up.  So,there is a 20" wheel on a 16" bike.  LOL.  But, it rides, and he loves it.  We may be able to get Nik a new bike for his birthday next month.  Others need it too though.  But, 7 new bikes at once would be difficult.  Not to mention mom & dad need one too.   Our kids love to ride bikes.  Thankfully, not all at the same time.  That helps right now.  Don't know how we let them get in this bad of shape.  Well, I do but can't really help it.  We have a storage issue... no place to put them.  Thinking of trying to rig something up temporarily to protect the bikes from the elements.  mean time, keeping an eye out on Craigslist & yardsales.  

It's finally quiet in here.  Yana worked on homework from 3:30 until 10:30.  I think that is just ridiculous and it's every single night.  Irina is still having a very hard time in school.  Open house is tomorrow.  Speech therapist came.  She comes 2X a week for lessons at home.  So, today we were rather busy w/ school stuff.  While I was busy helping the others, Nik & Bojan were taking turns on doing something stupid.  Of course.  So now, I have 2 sons that will be going to school w/ 2 giant round hickeys on their foreheads.  All from a lightbulb suctioning tool they thought they should stick to their foreheads.  Folks, this will not be going away any time soon.  URGHH!!!  How do they come up w/ some of the stuff they do?!  More to come tomorrow.  I'm guessing my Labor Day Weekend post will be about a weekend late.  Oh well.  Life happens. We just have to go w/ the flow here.  Can't wait for the weekend.  That should be fun.  Going to a prosthetic/ amputee training camp for Bojan.  Meeting professional athletes and all.  Kids are excited.  Warren still needs to fix Bojan's running leg.  On the list.  That to do list just keeps growing. 

Quick update

Just got word that homestudy is officially going out today.  Better than that, it will NOT need the amendment.  See the state of NC changed how they process child abuse clearance checks.  Really, too long to explain.  Since it was just changed(last week), we sent our papers in right away knowing it may be awhile to get these back.  Plan was to do an amendment to the homestudy.  Can you believe they actually came in already?!  Very happy as no amendment needed.  Kind of glad it didn't go out yesterday in retrospect.  Very happy news. I-800A will hopefully be sent off tomorrow.  OMG!  We're actually doing this.  In the adoption process, it hits me at various times.  It really does.  Now, feeling very real to me and I think that is wonderful.  So much to say but more to do so for now, signing off.  Be back later & eventually finish that labor day post w/ pics.  I'll also be doing updates on all my kiddos. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We...are...approved!!!! (sort of)

Finally.  Our homestudy was finalized today & should be on the fedex truck right now headed to the placing agency.  For those following, we were missing one reference letter & as soon as that was received, everything went full speed ahead.  Wahoo!!!  We are on a time crunch deadline and still wishing & hoping and praying w/ all my might that this will all fall into place as it is supposed to.  The homestudy was the last missing piece of the dossier for Bulgaria.  Tonight, Warren and I will double check our I-800A form to make sure all is in order.  That would be the next hurdle.  As the I-800A is being processed, we are hoping for an official referral to come.  Though the I-800A form is part of the dossier, I've spoken w/ many families that have already come home or are in process who visited their child on their first trip w/out the I-800A approval completed.  That would be wonderful as I know it takes quite a bit of time to get approval done and it would be to the benefit of the children to get the ball rolling so to speak.  BUT, this part is totally out of our hands completely.  We comply w/ whatever they tell us to do.  Bulgaria is a new country for us. 

URGHH!!!!  Back on the rollercoaster.  Okay, earlier today homestudy agency wrote & sent me a copy of the homestudy.  Said it needed my approval AND the placing agency approval to check for corrections or see if anything else was needed.  Then, they said they'd overnight it to the placing agency if all was a-okay.  Called the placing agency today to make sure they received the homestudy email & they had.  Said they would look at it later but I reminded them the time frame they put me on here and more importantly, that we are on the EST zone and they are on the west coast.  So, our office would obviously close here earlier than the placing agency.  Hope that all made sense b/c right now my head is spinning.  Anyhow, they reassured me.  I went to the post office to mail the medicals that had been apostilled.  And yes folks, these documents had jelly all over the front of them.  NOT KIDDING!  I sat there staring at them hoping it was actually the copies I had made & not the originals.  However, being the "professional" mommy I am, I took care of it.  Can barely tell there was something on it.  Recap... peanut butter on passport apps, dog prints on some apostilled docs, and jelly on the medicals.  Yes, this is true and this is real life.  Back to the story.  I mailed off the apostilled medicals.  The last dossier docs that needed to come from us.  The homestudy was that missing piece.  I was SO happy to hear it would go out today as it was imperative.  Thought it was a done deal.  Umm, nope.  Homestudy agency just wrote me back to let me know that they hadn't heard from placing agency so they could not fedex it out today.  I'm so bummed and a mix of emotions.  Ready for it to be done but trying not to stress it.  I know tomorrow will come but I will explain later the time frame & why this is so important to get done asap.  And yes, a day could indeed make a huge difference in things. 

Good thing I'm walking tonight.  I need some fresh air & new perspective.  LOL.  Really, I'm trying to live by the rules I tell others when it comes to adoptions.  Easier said then done, I know.  But, just as the other adoptions, they all work out in their own due time.  For now, do whatever I can do or am supposed to do.  Such as the I-800A.  Other things that are out of my hands, let it go and put focus onto something else.  Like 5th grade math homework for Bojan.  Speaking of which, time to do some homework and then cook some guacomole/ salsa chicken.  Just wanted to give you all a quick update.  More to come but for now, life goes on and I must get to daily life duties.  Helping w/ homework, cooking dinner and exercising.  Pictures forthcoming from a lazy Labor Day. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Irina is struggling

With all that is going on, I needed to ask those out there who've had something similar happen, how they handled it.  Talking no longer works.  Reassurance, distractions, are not helping a bit.  A quick recap.  Irina will be 18 years old in December.  She is dx'd w/ FAS/ microcephaly, OCD, MMR, anxiety, and the list goes on.  Typically, I don't discuss all their issues & have left a few of hers out.  However, since I'm asking for help, thought the more info, the better.  Irina is simply put struggling with who she is.  Though she is almost 18, think more of a 12yo.  Usually, the best way to gage behavior for a child w/ FAS is to think of the FAS child as half of their chronological age. This is so true.  Irina is struggling greatly with high school and the high school is not helping matters.  Yes, we are planning on pulling her out to homeschool her.  No, I can not do it this instant.  So, I have to find a solution now for the issues at hand.  Anyhow, she is in the occupational track for high school.   This is where they train expose them to different careers.  BTW, so far I am NOT impressed by what I've heard b/c she can learn to wash tables at home.  But, not getting into this right now.  Irina has six other students she has no other choice but to ride w/ as they're in her OCS track too.  The same girl is the one that gave her so much trouble last year.  URGHH.  Told the school to separate her.  I am keeping records of things.  I have contacted the job coach & she is redoing seating tomorrow.  Irina is being called all kinds of names.  Degrading name for someone of color & Irina nor us can really understand why they are doing this when she is not even a different race.  Makes no sense.  She said "mom, I'm the only white person on the bus."  They all gang up on her as she's a different race & really the only one that I gather that actually cares about school.  Irina is actually concerned for her job coach getting tickets.  NONE of the others buckle up.  I said doesn't she make them.  Irina said yes mom but they take their seatbelts off as soon as she starts driving.  Getting called names & yet she's concerned about them.  I wish others could have her heart.  They might learn something! 

I have another son at home complaining he's Asian.  URGHH!!!  Another HUGE problem is many people at school calling her retarded.  BTW, these are other kids in the SAME situation.  Again, makes no sense as their academics is not the best either.  Her behavior has changed at home b/c of this.  So has Max's.  Remember, Max is Asian so he gets teased too sometimes.  And he's such an introvert, it doesn't help.  He won't have any snazzy comebacks.  now, if this were Bojan, he'd be right there w/ a joke comeback or something.  But Max is more angry nowadays at everything.  Frustrating.  And, I know it's the school mess.  The sooner I pull these kids from school, the better. 

So, suggestions on how to handle things from here.  I am hoping that after this Friday, I will have a clearer idea of time frames for many things.  There are a few things brewing in the works that I have not made public quite yet & probably won't for awhile.  Not bad things(actually, good things), just changes in general.  It's not really the adoptions that are the reason I don't want to pull the kids yet.  There are quite a few reasons that I can't go into right now.  Meantime, I'm trying to keep them afloat so to speak at school.  We are trying to do a few more family activities to help w/ things.  Get their minds off things a bit.  It does help b/c when they are here doing something w/ us, much happier.  shoot, today we just went to Walmart & Big Lots.  Had the "littles" w/ us as well today.  Max & Irina do very well w/ other kids & their younger siblings.  Keeps them occupied I think.  I want to help Irina find a job but around here, there is not much out there especially, for new teens w/ disabilities.  Plus, can't do a thing till we get her passport back & then straighten out her social security card. 

Irina is struggling w/ being different.  She knows she is but has a hard time understanding it all.  Many of you reading this on in process of adopting special needs children who struggle w/ delays.  It is a lifelong issue.  It comes up at various stages in their life.  Much easier to deal w/ when they are younger for sure.  No one can understand why your almost 18 yo isn't driving yet or doesn't have a job yet.  No one can understand why she may not behave quite like a woman that age would.  No one can see the internal struggles she deals with daily.  Irina does know she has brain damage from FAS.  She knows this and works through it w/ me.  Right now, she wants a guinea pig.  Don't want to but she does have money to spend.  And, I do think it would give her something to take care of and keep her mind busy with.  She has a plant & does fine.  But a moving, delicate creature may help too.  who knows.  We're carefully considering it. 

It's very hard to deal w/ an issue that comes up w/ a child w/ FAS.  They tend to not be very rational about things so you have to tip toe around things to get your point across.  Seriously.  Irina asked us today if she looked retarded.(Irina's word choice, NOT mine!)  She said "you know, you can look at Alyona and tell there is something wrong w/ her.  Is it the same for me?"  Now, until this point, I honest to goodness never saw any of my kids as slow.  I was shocked she said that about her sister as I've never looked at Alyona any other way than just my girlie girl.   Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a little girl.   Same way I look at Irina...just a big girl who is growing up.   They both have good & bad as does every other human being.  I see them as my kids.  I want Irina to see herself as a young woman with the world in front of her.  Instead, she is seeing society notice her differently.  If any of you know her personally and just want to write a quick note to her that would be wonderful.  She loves getting mail SO much.  She checks everyday even though she rarely gets anything.  she used to have another FAS penpal but that kind of fizzled out.  I know it is hard being a teen in general.  But a teen w/ a disability must be the pits. 

I'm contacting the school AGAIN tomorrow.  I contacted them last week as well as the job coach.  But, the racial slur stuff & everything else, we just found out about this past weekend from her.  Let you all know what they say.  Next post should be a little more upbeat.  We did have a very productive & relaxing weekend.  Will share later w/ pictures.  For now, more papers for me to sign.  Just felt I should share.  I wanted this blog to be honest and about some of the major issues we face w/ children w/ various disabilities & abilities.  It is real life.  This is not a scripted movie for sure.  Some days are tougher than others.  Today was one of those days.  Listening to your daughter struggle w/ who she is is very though.  Especially, when you don't see her any differently than anyone else.  Suggestions welcomed. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What we do after school

Our routine after school is not the easiest to accomplish.  I watch kids during the day and then my kids start coming home at 3pm. Other kids leave around 4 for 2 of them and 5 for the other 2.  My kids come home at 3, 3:30, and 4:30.  We do not do sports in the fall so don't have that stuff during the week.  We will be doing youth group though, working at Peacehaven 2 weekends a month, hiking one weekend a month & whatever other activities tend to pop up.  And trust me, they do.

First, all the kids get home and get settled.  We have snack only after I check their lunch boxes.  Max usually has his homework done when he gets home as he wants to be ready in case they call him to work.  (he works occasionally for the guy across the street doing some yard work and such).  So, Max will usually play w/ one of the "littles" who is more than happy to finally see another male in the household.  LOL.  Poor little guy is surrounded by baby dolls all day w/ all the girls in the house.  If Max is not playing w/ one of the "littles,"  he is drawing.  His passion of course.

Max drew his school mascot.  His teacher asked him to draw a "buff" ram.  This is what he did.  She found out he could draw so asked him to.  I think it turned out great. 

This was his original drawing.  notice how he spelled the name of his school?  yep, wrong.  But instead of just adding an 'e,' he made a whole other picture.  Just don't get that.  

While the older kids are doing that, I'm still making sure the little kids are fine and playing.  If they're not running around, that's the time I sign papers if the older kids have any.  Since Irina is on the OCS track, I have to sign papers weekly for her to go out on jobs.  For no pay mind you.  Anyhow, everyone gets settled into the homework routine.  The teens get straight to work if they're not goofing off.

Irina, working on some Algebra.  Notice the playdough tool right next to her.  

Yeh, not much work going on.  I usually will get the younger kids to color while the older ones do homework & I sign stuff or help whatever age needs it.  Whether young ones while coloring or older ones w/ homework.  We're still all working on the afterschool routine but finding out what works and what doesn't so that's good. 

I'm also learning that I need to get dinner started earlier.   Last week we realized we hadn't fed any of us at 9 o'clock.  Is that bad?  LOL.  Last week, we were not the parents we had wanted to be for sure.  Realized Alex was missing his toothbrush(doesn't tell us for days), hadn't fed the kids until late one night & when we did fed them Mickey D's, didn't care if they even matched to get to school last week, forgot the tooth fairy mouse(don't ask) 3 times in a row, and the list goes on.  Yes, we needed a break this weekend to recoop.  And, we are.  Much organization going on inside & out of the house.  Shoot, even the dog is getting bathed.  Menu is now in place to make things a little smoother.  In other words, we're getting there.

2 days during the school work, Nik also gets private speech lessons at home.  This takes place around 7.  

Nik, practicing his speech.  

I wanted to capture him in all his excitement but he ended up doing this the little stinker.  This was the night he finally learned to say the word 'no.'  Wtihout an 'm' sound.  I know I'll regret this later....him learning to say no.  He can also say Nik now.  Very proud.

At the end of a long day, you best not fall asleep in this house.  Poor Alex was the victim of his siblings' mayhem.  This happens nightly.  Not the stickers but Alex falling asleep.  School just doesn't understand his issues.  Kid gets home, all bottled up w/ energy w/ no release as he has to do homework he doesn't understand.  More frustration.  He has only a 2 hour window to get homework done, play, get a bath, eat dinner before he ends up like this.  Working on a solution and no, playing first definitely doesn't work as we've tried that one.  

Kids start going to bed at 8 though Alex is usually out by 7.  Alyona & Nik go at 8 though they'd stay up all night if you let them.  BTW, FAS kids do need a lot of sleep.  Bojan goes at 9.  The rest are allowed to go to bed at 10 as they're older teens.  Though Irina goes to bed at 8 as well.  Problem we have is Bojan and Max stay up at chit chat & act out movies at all hours.  

Just thought I'd share some of our after school routine.  Nothing special.  It's Labor Day Weekend.  I'm one of these early risers no matter if it is a day off or not.  I've been typing this while my entire family is sleeping. Lucky dogs.  It's 9:10 & I've been up since 6:45.  Oh well.  It's a beautiful day out& going for a walk this morning to enjoy it.  Scrambled eggs, a neighborhood walk, and take Bear to get groomed.  And more organizing.  We're thinking of doing something w/ the kids tomorrow but honestly, everyone really seems to need this rest.  We're going to an amputee camp thing next weekend on Saturday & Sunday is church.  So, having a mindless, organizing, relaxing day tomorrow instead of going somewhere may make sense.  We'll see.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  We are.