Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer days coming to an end

Well, maybe.  It's still in the 90's here & I actually had the "littles" out playing on the slip and slide today.  While most people are thinking of pumpkins and lightweight jackets, we're still keeping the air conditioning on & trying not to sweat to death in September.  LOL.  Most of the time here in NC we are in shorts until November.  Sometimes we luck out and get to wear pants in October but not often.  But, since my kids are outdoor type of kids, it works out well.  So, a glimpse of what we've been up to around here besides bubbles. 

Alyona, up to some of her trampoline moves.  Practicing back bends first. 

Bojan, still trying very hard to learn how to ride a bike.  Between the clubfoot and the prosthetic, it is proving to be a very difficult task.  But, won't let him give up and he has come a long way.  He has it for awhile until the knee locks up.  Working on it.  All of them need new bikes too and working on that as well.  

Nik  exploring more outdoor creatures before summer comes to an end.  In the background is part of the "tent" Max carved out of a tree & rigged up.  

Max after just putting together a small shed.  Life jackets and such were wilting and we just needed  a place to put things.  This did the trick.  

Another last look at the house in the midst of summer time.  Green grass is slowly fading to brown to make way for fall.  You can definitely tell from the picture the windows on the left side of the house are new.  LOL.  

You can slowly see summer flowers starting to fade away.  Flower boxes are not so full of color any more.  

Impatients still hanging on.  Yet, I still sort of am ready for fall.  So, I put out two mums and mums around the mailbox.  Now, if only the cooler weather would come.  Summer days are indeed slowly fading.  But, the kids and I have lots of fall activities including two birthdays.  Bring on fall!  We're ready. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Magazines available

I thought I'd do a brief reminder that there are still magazines for sale on the right for our fund raiser.  It's just one simple fund raiser in case people need some magazines.  It really does have an awesome selection of magazines and makes a great gift.  Also, some great teaching tools for the kids since they've started school.  Prices are wonderful and we've received the magazines we've ordered.  Please feel free to pass the link along to others.  Fantastic deals!   I have to get the social security mess(Irina & Max) figured out and the kids' school situations worked out first before I can dedicate a little more time to fund raising efforts.  The money I make from babysitting goes directly towards the adoptions as well.  So, with working during the day and regular life, I just need 15 more hours in a day to get the fund raising stuff going.  LOL.  It will come.  I just have to be patient.  So, for now, pass along about the magazines if you get a chance.  We will have a correct donation bar for a chip-in button tomorrow.  Right now, calculating about what we'll need to raise to get everyone home.  Once that's done, I'll tailor the fund raising stuff appropriately.  Again, it only takes a thousand people giving a one time donation of $10 to most likely get the amount we need.  People do giveaways so thinking of that idea as well. 

Besides the wait, I think the hardest part of adoptions are getting the funds together.  The adoption tax credit helped but never ever was everything that was needed.  It's very hard to ask for help from people.  We know if we decided to have a child by birth, 100% of our costs are covered.  Whether there is something medically wrong w/ the child or the pregnancy.  You are not given that privilege in adoption.  A child is a child and I really wish people would see things differently sometimes.  The cost of adoption is comparative to having a child.  Years and years ago, I had a cousin who had medical issues.  Bills that racked up well over the $100K mark were covered by insurance.  We do not have that option in adoption.  Insurance does not pay to "go get a child."  Only to "have a child."  Frustrating to adoptive parents.  I do think though that if you feel w/ all your being that adopting a child is what is meant to be for your family, than that is what is to be done even if fund raising must take place in order to get them home.  I think what burns me up more than anything is when people say oh,your just buying a child.  Umm, no.  We're paying to go bring the child home, we're paying for legal documents, paying for court costs, hotel stays, making an orphanage donation so that the children left behind will have necessities to survive, etc.  We are by no means "buying" a child.  Okay, soapbox over or I could go on all day.  More fund raising efforts to come in the next week or so.  More details on costs.  Also, more hanging around pictures.  And more happenings here too. 

Adoption update

I know some on here are new to adoption so thought I'd share where we are in the process.  We are going to be adopting 3 children from Bulgaria, all special needs.  Right now, we have an approved homestudy for that.  Next step you have to do is work on getting I-800A approval.

Believe it or not, this is organized.  LOL.  All my kids have color coded folders for documents.  As soon as we know we're adopting, we get  a new folder color for each.  These folders are from all our previous adoptions.  Well, this set of documents was the I-800A forms that had to be filled out.  I wanted them gone the next morning as 1) they need to go out quickly & 2) I didn't want something on this set.  Keep in mind... peanut butter on passports, jelly on medicals, dog prints on some apostilled stuff.  I've become an expert at making it look "normal" again rather than having to redo it all.  So, to avoid what I knew we be a playdough disaster, I had to press on and finish it no matter how late it was.  Warren & I were looking through all folders that night.  Why?  Because on these wonderful new forms compared to the last time we adopted, you have to list ALL your previous adoption I-600A approvals.  The exact date.  URGHH!!!  I don't know how we pulled it off but we found all dates.  Filled them out and it was ready to go.  I got two different answers for a question # 3 from folks so we'll just see how that one turns out.  LOL.  For those that don't know, the I-800A for a married couple (2 sets of fingerprints) is $830 total.  Yes, it was overnighted.  Not that that means anything b/c first stop is a clearing house that is actually a bank in Texas.  But, I feel better knowing I do everything in my power to get things there in a timely manner.  So, now we wait to hear when our fingerprint appts. will be & then wait for approval.  Some folks going to Bulgaria have traveled on first trip w/out I-800A approval and some have not.  Keeping fingers crossed we can just go.  I know, wishful thinking.  But, hopeful nonetheless.  There was an official MOJ meeting on Sept. 10th.  I need to find out when the next MOJ meeting will be happening as that is the one that things "should" happen at in regards to our case.  

Our dossier is complete including approved FBI fingerprints.  I know it will still need to be translated which I hope doesn't take all that long.  We are at a point where pretty much everything is out of our hands & in control of someone else.  I can honestly say I absolutely HATE that feeling.  I'm one who likes to be in charge, in control of a situation.  But, as I tell PAP's, there are 3 rules to follow in adoption.  1)  Be flexible.  2)  You are NEVER in control.  & 3)  ALWAYS expect the unexpected.  You do that and you're fine.  I'm trying to practice what I preach but it is incredibly hard.  Being honest here.  Hard when you know children wait and they have to wait on paperwork.  I understand the importance of it, I do.  But, it does not make the wait any easier on us or the kids that wait for families.  Anyhow, that is where we stand right at the moment.  I'll update the adoption front as soon as I know more.  I do know we will most likely need to fund raise a bit here soon.  We have money set aside that was borrowed but don't feel it will be enough.  Have to get more details for sure.  A lot depends upon travel costs for sure.  That and some of the fees are in euros.  It keeps going up due to a weak dollar.  Keeping it all in perspective for sure.  I'm good at keeping costs down even during an international adoption.  I rented apartments in Moscow versus hotels.  Saved hundreds a night.  Got my own visas instead of going through an agency.  All gift donations were purchased throughout the year during sale times.  Never over pack.  Things like that.  Airfare though is something that is difficult to save on.  there are great fares out there but still anticipating tickets being between $1000 to $1500 a piece.  That would be around $3K needed on first trip to fly alone.  With the 3 kids & us coming home & possibly Irina flying w/ us on the second trip, it will be quite a chunk for airfare.  I've heard travel in country costs in Bulgaria aren't too bad.  Time will tell but with this type of adoption, you must prepare for costs.  I am really trying to do that now to make sure we have enough.  Always a fear for every adoption.  But, have faith as it always seems to work out in the end.  That's my brief update on adoption stuff.  Can't wait till I can give you all big news.  Now, that will be a very great day! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My bubble blowers

Thought I'd share a few pictures of my bubble blowers.  Though I bought the bubbles for the "littles" I watch, my kids I think enjoyed them more. 

Alyona trying to get a big breath in for that big bubble.  

Look at those chipmunk cheeks.  LOL.  Bubbles are fun at any age.

Alyona is truly serious about these bubbles.  She finally did get some going.

Irina stopped for a photo for me.  Though she didn't blow any bubbles, she tried to help them out some.  

Nik had no trouble getting some bubbles going.  

They were blowing bubbles till dark that night.  Something just so innocent about bubbles in the air.  

Nik, just watching what he had just created.  

I have many more pictures in my camera and many more things happening around the house.  Been very, very busy lately.  It's a good thing though.  We are still trying to get used to our school schedules around here.  We have a private speech therapist that comes twice a week for Nik.  Bojan has Chorus on Thursday evenings.  Youth group for the teens is on Sunday evening.  Irina is driving a few times a week.  I watch some tots everyday.  So, busy for sure.  Homework has been a huge nightmare.  Still have not heard of when Bojan's surgery is.  Nik's is still scheduled for Oct. 13th.  We're on the hunt for a bit larger vehicle.  Umm, yes, that means a bus this time around.  Crazy, huh?  Will get interesting for sure.  Of course, this is the least of our concerns.  Right now, just looking.  Our trade-in value is currently double of what we actually owe on it so that is awesome.  Hoping not to have higher payments.  Got to go.  Having a late dinner.  Grilled shrimp and veggies over rice.  More to come later hopefully.  Right now, trying to catch up.  Even getting back into my cardio workouts.  thank goodness.  Love it when I get to exercise.  helps immensely. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Amputee training camp (part II)

Well, need to actually get to Bojan & how he did.  These past few days have been beyond crazy busy and throw in a throwing up kid and well, all bets are off to get things done.  Alex is fine but does throw off a schedule.  Last post was regarding a training camp we were invited to.  This was to teach some new techniques and such.  They had many different drills for the kids to do.  They were divided up into kids & adults and I think newbie wearers as well. 

Bojan doing one of the drills.  Trying to go back & forth w/ his legs.  

Bojan practicing his soccer moves.  They were teaching them control and balance.  They even showed Bojan a different way to run w/ his leg which he thought was so cool.  

Bojan taking off running.  Love an action shot.  Just look at him go!

At the end, they had 3 groups compete by doing all the techniques they learned.  Pretty cool as my kids saw some of those athletes just fly across that field.  It was amazing!  this is Bojan waiting his turn in line.  

This was some of the course in the "grand finale."  Bojan is moving right along.  In this one, he is about to turn around & run backwards which was really cool. 

There were a few motivational speakers there.  This lady, Diana, was no exception.  Amazing woman and incredibly athletic.  Very impressed by all she had to say.  I like how the older men & women really took the time to talk w/ the kids.  Makes a difference for sure.

This was another speaker here, Kelly Bruno.  Another little interesting tidbit about her is she is on the upcoming Survivor.  It was interesting talking to her about the show.  Though obviously contestants can't reveal a thing, neat to hear different things about life on Survivor.  I always wanted to go on Survivor or the Amazing Race.  However, I know I 'd be too chicken to do some of those stunts they put on the Amazing Race.  LOL.  

All in all, great time there and so glad Bojan got to learn different things that will benefit him.  Also, nice when they get to meet others w/ limb differences & see just how successful they can be.  Though, Bojan already has that can do attitude so I'm truly not worried about him at all.  More worried about his smart alec ways these days.  A big thanks to the folks at Challenged Athletes Foundation that put this together.  Great workshop!  

Afterwards, we drove home and let the kids play all afternoon.  Next morning was church.  Catastrophe that morning getting them together.  Just ridiculous and won't even bore you all w/ what all happened.   Was not happy.  Came home, had lunch, and tried to clean up a little.  Just a few short hours later the teens were off to youth group.  Warren & I decided to go to Walmart to pick up some things.  What kind of parents are we that we forgot, yes I said forgot, about the teens at youth group?  Ran through the store to the register to pay and move on.  The teens were no worse for wear and everything turned out okay but I felt terribly guilty for doing that.  Girls had a great time but Max does not want to do youth group any more.  Trying to ascertain why.  Probably just not his thing and that's okay.  Was hoping he'd enjoy it as much as his sisters do.  We really got nothing done at home last weekend and that has put me behind the whole week.  Need some catch up time.  More to come.  Hope you all enjoyed seeing Bojan in action. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Amputee training camp (part I)

Well, this past weekend has been beyond busy.  Irina went driving in driver's ed for the first time and was terrified.  Fortunately, she has a special ed teacher as her driver's ed teacher so he has patience.  And, the girl she is riding w/ has something in common w/ her as both their dad's work at the same place, same building.  Small world.  Anyhow, we will be practicing with Irina very soon here as well.  Saturday morning we woke up super early yet were super late for our event.  Typical here & desperately trying to break that cycle.  Children w/ FAS are not the easiest to make a transition with.  Always causes strife.

 Yes, this is Nik yelling back at me when I told him to NOT stand on the stool to reach the bowls for the oatmeal.  yep, what a way to start the morning of a big day.  Ignore Warren's clutter corner as we call it. 

Anyhow, we left w/ our 6(Max was gone due to work) & our neighbor's 3 kids that I watch.  I had no idea how this event would work.  Didn't know if they'd have anything for the other kids to do while Bojan trained.  In the mad rush to get out the door, we had forgotten remembered that Warren glued Bojan's running leg back together the night before. 

Yes, one running leg super- clamped together.  Warren has become super great at improvising when our kids break all kinds of stuff.  

We had a fairly uneventful car ride there for an hour.  Thank goodness as we had enough of a crappy start to make up for it.  Got there and Bojan went straight to work learning all kinds of things.  This event was put on by the Challenged Athlete's Foundation.  The same folks that gave the grant so that we could get Bojan's running leg.  Simply amazing folks for sure!  Their generosity is beyond measure.  The event was well organized for the athletes.  Wished I'd have known there would be absolutely nothing for the rest of the family to do but watch b/c it really was difficult on all the kids we had with us.  But, we did manage to keep busy.  

Alex found another little boy to entertain himself w/ by playing soccer.  One of Alex's favorite pastimes.  

Nik playing soccer w/ the big boys.  And, once they all got bored w/ soccer, then they improvise w/ paper....

Thankfully, we had a huge soccer field for them to run loose at.  Alex is on the other side tossing over the paper airplane we made.  Kept them entertained for awhile at least.  

Yana gave Alyona a few piggy back rides for a different view.  No idea why she's doing the Wolfpack hands.  NC State has the mascot called the Wolfpack & everyone does the wolfpack hand thing during games.  This area is very competitive w/ Duke, UNC, and State.  Personally, I'm not into any of them though years ago I'll never forget my experience going to a UNC game.  

Nik & one of the "littles" watching the exercises together.  They had gotten bored of looking for bugs in the giant field w/ no success.  All were starving by this point too.  I had forgotten to bring snacks.  

Always time for a photo op for sure.  

To solve boredom, I had various kids take pics.  Then, the batteries ran out.  That's why you'll see none of lunch.  Which, btw, was delicious!  Jersey Mike subs and chips.  Hit the spot after a long day outside.  

Can you even guess what happened here?   Yep, all of them in trouble.  The look on their faces tells it all.  They were NOT happy w/ me that I made them all sit down for awhile to think things over.  Must say, none gave me any lip about it and was actually surprised that they sat there w/ out complaining.  For the most part, they did awesome.   They really did.  

Now, didn't think this would get so long.  So, I'll write another part later & that part will have all of Bojan & what he did and how he did.  Very cool stuff.  I can say Bojan did learn a bunch for sure and it was worthwhile going.  Very thankful that we were invited.  Stay tuned for pics of Bojan and a local "celebrity" that will be on national tv this week.  Lots going on here and will update more for sure.