Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's broken now??? ( A little FAS)

For those somewhat new here, we have 7 kids with a variety of issues.  The main issue being FAS.  That is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Some of them are dx'd with FAS, some with FAE.  Though frankly, one is not less severe than the other.  That, I can assure you.  There is some myth out there that if they don't have the facial features, it is some how less hard for the child.  Umm, no.  They still have frontal lobe brain damage and still have a host of issues to over come.  In many instances, FAS is not the only dx a child will receive.  All ours have overlapping issues.  So, a day in our home is not what a typical home will have going on.  Your children most likely can learn from their mistakes and understand them.  Your children most likely have cause and effect thinking.  Your children can think independently without having an "external brain" thinking for them.  Your children can most likely process things when they are said at a normal processing speed.  Our children can do none of these things.  This makes for somewhat of a pressure cooker environment at times. 

Lacking many of those things listed above, will inevitably lead to chaos and broken things.  Lots and lots and lots of broken things.  I'm not exaggerating either.  Years ago, one of our therapists thought I was exaggerating about the amount of items being broken each and every week at this home.  Needless to say, I was a litte "hot" about that.  So, the following week when she came to the home, I had the list in hand of what had been broken, who broke it and how it had gotten broken.  She said, "oh, I had no idea this is what life was like."  To us, it is just a different kind of normal.  And that's okay.  But some days I will admit, it gets old.  I get tired of telling them 20 times it's going to get broken and only have it broken later.  A small (& I do mean SMALL) list of what has broken over the last year or so.  This does not count all the dishes nor cups.  BTW, we have switched entirely to plastic dishes and cups. 

Pool liner-- $500 (skateboarding attempts w/ real skateboards in the pool)

Window -- $250 (Max & Alex were throwing shoes at each other night before vacation.  Alex ducked...urghh)

Bicycles-- $100 roughly for each one...countless broken (Max "tinkers" with them and tries to create other items out of bicycles)

Back door-- $1200 (Irina kicked it in beyond repair during one of her panic attacks when we weren't home)

Dishwasher-- $400 (Irina cleaned it out herself & broke pieces) Still using it but it really does need to be replaced

Washing machine-- $1000 (Irina and Yana have been overloading it and not working it right as well)

Cochlear Implants-- $16,000 (Alex threw both Nik's implants down the woods.  Why?  b/c in Alex's mind he'd be able to find them & collect a reward).  URGHH!!!

Wine Glasses-- $200 (Nik climbed on the counter to get glasses and knocked them off.  These happen to be very rare glasses that I was given years ago from my mom.  Beautiful glasses.  He broke 2 of the 10). 

DVD's-- $400-- guessing the amount as there were too many to count.  Kids don't know how to handle them and scratch them or break them.  I can't replace them for what I paid for most of them.  (I used to work at blockbuster)

Glass top patio table--$200 (left umbrella open during a wind storm)

Water leaks (3 of them)-- Kids busted the pipes loose from cramming stuff back under the sink to help clean up. 

I will stop just because this would literally take me days to write.  I think you all get the picture.  It is constant things being broken.  Alex always cuts his shoe laces up and then uses everybody elses shoe laces.  Then, we have issues as no one has shoe laces the next morning.  Yet, Alex sees nothing wrong w/ that.  Just like 2 of the boys saw nothing wrong w/ "freestyling" today.  Really?  Are you kidding me boys?  Did you have clean underwear?  Yes, mom (in a sarcastic voice).  Why on earth not put them on??? 

I will say, they are doing better w/ the puppies. Though, I could have really laid into Yana  yesterday.  She put the puppies on the trampoline b/c she thought they'd like it.  URGHH!!!  She is 15yo btw.  You'd think she'd know better.  It's been a FAS week of this kind of stuff.  Today, we go out to eat.  Oh, some of you will really appreciate this one.  Chinese buffet.  We never let them go up at once.  Too much chaos and not enough supervision.  Eyes are bigger than their stomachs.  LOL.  Anyhow, Max comes back to the table w/ a plate full of food and sets it on the table.  He had just come from the hibachi grill.  You know, where they cook the food right there in front of you and give it to you.  Well, I look at his plate and said "Max, you can't eat that!!  It's not cooked!  It's raw shrimp!"  He said well they said it was okay.  URGHH.  No, that's not what they said folks. They said it was okay for him to pick his own food out and then they cook it.  Remember, he to is 15yo but due to the FAS, one of us should have been there.  Kids with FAS will misinterpret much of what is said.  Happens here all the time.  I mean all the time.  We had a good laugh at lunch and so did the wait staff.  Glad we can help amuse folks. 

What is the point of all this?  Don't really have one.  Kind of just venting I guess.  Love the kids but sometimes, sometimes I just wish it weren't a daily occurrence... the breaking of things.  So, it was all in good timing that blessing of a gift the other day.  A washing machine it is.  Well, that and new glasses for Max.  See, that's another thing.  Unless you notice certain things on your kids dx'd with FAS, they will forget to tell you.  Happens to us all the time with shoes.  Alyona went from a size 13 to a size 1.5.  I've had one kid jump from a size 2 to a size 5!  How can they forget to tell you they're  small?!  Well, it wasn't till recently Max told me his glasses were all broken.  Had to order new ones.  Wrong lenses came in them so had to order new lenses w/ the correct strength.  Max has a spot on his optic nerve.  We really have to watch b/c lately, his eyes have gone really bad really quickly.  He was just to the eye doc this summer.  May ask our doc just in case.  He lives a few doors down which makes it very convenient.  Insurance only pays for an exam once a year and $200 worth of glasses once every two years.  He's been needing new glasses about once every six months and an additional exam.  So that gift will definitely help with some medical expenses.  Well, some of them.  Still mad at Duke for not listening to us when Bojan had surgery.  Cost us an ER visit later that evening. 

Next post will be our Thanksgiving post.  I know, I'm a little slow with that.  I've had a bunch going on so really trying to play catch up.  However, we went shopping a bit earlier today and then to lunch.  Tonight, we are going to go see Christmas lights w/ an old fashioned candy store.  It's great!  We go every year and it's only $2 a person.  Older ones have outgrown it but they go to get the candy.  LOL.  Deal is we won't bring them candy back if they stay home.  They always come along.  Check out the fun.  Hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  After Meadow Lights, we plan to come home and put up the Christmas Tree before Nik drives us insane.  Got to go get ready.  Our kids don't do the best in big crowds so we found if we go right when they open, not too many there and then it's off to visit with Santa.  Love it.  And let's not forget the candy shop.  Can't wait. 

Got to go get ready.  Perfect weather.  In the 50's.  We were just in shorts two days ago here.  No snow in sight.  I'll have some pictures from Thanksgiving a little later.  Right now, time to enjoy some Christmas lights and kids hyped up on candy.  And a bag of non-perils for me! 

Friday, November 26, 2010

An incredible blessing

Wow, I don't know how to start this post without getting too emotional.  I guess I should dive right in.  For those who don't know, we go to a little church called Ebenezer United Methodist Church of Raleigh.  It took us quite some time to find a church that can put up with us AND our kids.  We can't go to a church that is too big.  We tried that and the kids with FAS have a very hard time in the crowds.  Two in particular go into an autistic state where they rock and so some different things w/their hands.  Then they feel bad after service as they feel someone is staring at them.  And personally, we do not like going to a church that puts down other religions.  In other words, it took some time to find a place we were all comfortable at.  And, we finally did.  The people are wonderful.  Great Christians with a real desire to serve the Lord.  Always there when you need an ear or even a ride.  Always encouraging.  Always having Jesus in their hearts.  They serve the community in a variety of ways.  Though small, their presence is felt.

Well, on Tuesday, Pastor Ed came over to the house.  Happen to brave Chaos Manor when all the kids were out of school, their friends were over, and the littles were still here. Brave man.  He came over to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving and deliver a card to us.  Pastor Ed said it was a gift from an anonymous person.  He said they did not want to be known.  I didn't open it up then.  Was just enjoying the company & the chaos and well, one of the littles fell on her face & I needed to tend to that.  Decided to open it up later thinking it was our first Merry Christmas card of the year.  Christmas card indeed!  I opened the card and read it and was just taken  a back that someone felt that way about our family.  Cared enough to put things in words.  Glad I didn't open it when the Pastor was here or he would have thought I was just a blubbering mess.  Here is what was printed on the front of the card & then inside:

To the Two of You 

Special Blessings at Christmas Time

Wishing you both a Christmas that touches your hearts and blesses your lives with warmth and happiness-- the way it should for two special people like you.  

Merry Christmas.  

Then, on the inside of the card, they hand wrote this scripture:  

He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in His arms.  And carries them close to his heart;  He gently leads those that love young.  Isaiah 40:11. 

Also written was:  We greatly admire your family.  We pray this will help your family as we enter this Holy Season. 

It still is hard to fathom that someone feels this way about us.  This was from a few people I think he said.  There was money in the envelope.  I won't say how much.  That's not important.  Suffice it to say, it is plenty for our kids to have a nice Christmas.  We also intend to finally get Irina that new bed that she needs.  She has outgrown hers and it is modified w/ many, many, many planks underneath to keep it up.  Pieces are broken off all over it.  Yet, she has not complained once.  I've been trying to keep an eye out for a new bed at yardsales or Craigslist but it never panned out. This will allow us to get her the bed she truly needs, give the kids a great Christmas, and to hopefully get a repair or two done.  (van now has all kinds of lights going off on it).  So, to say it came at the right time is an understatement.  I just am still in awe of it all.  When you set off to do an international adoption of any type, you inevitably will have to make sacrifices and have your faith tested over and over and over again.  Some sacrifices must be made by the whole family in order to bring the kids home.  Our kids understand this as they've been through it.  However, as parents, you still don't want your kids to have to endure more sacrifices as they've done that the whole time they were at the orphanage.  Once again, it has been proven in adoption that the Lord will provide.  I truly wish I knew who it was to know that they have made a world of difference in our family.  I can barely wait to see the smiles on Christmas day.  Or to hear what Irina will think of her new bed that does not squeak every night.  She still does the self- stimulation orphanage rock.  She was 6.5 yo when we adopted her and though she outgrew a lot of it, she still will rock sometimes every night.  Well, it wakes Warren and I up every single night.  So, a new bed is not just wonderful for Irina but for the parents as well.  LOL.  Not being able to say thank you is so hard as I want to make sure they know just what this means to our entire family.  We will indeed pay it forward.  I don't know when, I don't know how, but I just know we will.  Warren and I are trying to decide how it will be best used.  I do know one thing that we really want to do.  We really want to take the kids out to a nice dinner.  No Micky D's, no subway, pizza, etc.  Nothing wrong w/ those places as they can feed many for not as much.  Just every once in a while it feels great to take all the kids out w/ us, sit down and really enjoy a meal together.  It's something that is a real rarity in this house.  We would want them to know though it is b/c we were so incredibly blessed by a wonderful Christmas gift.  Of course, this is just an idea.  I know repairs are what is needed.  We'll see.  Put it this way, it is something Warren and I will spend some time thinking through.  Making sure it is being used for its intended purpose.
Anyhow, I just really wanted to say how incredibly blessed we were by this gift.  I know we just did a food drive but it is not the same thing as everyone contributed to the food drive.  I just played a simple part of organizing it and buying some things for it.  I really want to one day be able to be the one playing secret Santa to a family.  For them to really feel the way we feel.  What an incredible gift on so many levels.  There are truly Angels among us!  We promise to pay it forward in the future. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Orphan's Prayer


Each night before I go to bed I fold my hands and bow my head
Praying for a family and the day she will come for me I ask God
to watch over my friends at the orphanage The place that I call home
Wishing we find families and rooms of our very own.
I finish my prayers and climb into bed
Hoping that God heard what I said
My prayers usually turn out to be my dreams at night
Hoping they will be standing there when I wake to the morning light
One very special morning, I will hear their call
I jump out of bed and run down the hall!
Is it them, Is it them, is that why they've called my name?
Running I hear them shout "It's them, it's them, they finally came!"
Have all my prayers been answered, have all my dreams come true
There they are in front of me, Oh Mama & Papa! Oh Mama & Papa!!
Is it really you?

"Yes, it is my darling, We've come to take you home,"
"We will love, protect and cherish and you will never be alone."
Mama & Papa looks at me so differently a look so new to me,
They touch me so gently, just as I dreamed it would be.
As I look into their eyes I watch them fill with water,
They embrace me and whisper, "I love you so my daughter".
They take my hand and hold it tight, I will never
let it go, I hold with all my might. Hand in hand we walk together,
No one needs to speak; we know this is forever.
And through our journey when we finally meet each other,
She will have found her dream and I will have found my mother & father.

I had reposted from another blog I came across.  Thought it was worth it.  As I enjoyed a meal with my family, I wondered how my children are doing across the ocean.  Are they hungry, are they cold?  I just don't know.  I can only pray that they are well taken care of.  However, no matter how well taken care of they  may be, no one can take the place of a forever family's love and attention.  Please, please do not forget about all the orphans still praying for a family on this day of Thanksgiving.  I know we haven't.  Need our addendum asap to then get I-800A approval.  Hope you enjoyed the poem.  More to come tomorrow on our incredible blessing.  


Before Thanksgiving happens at Chaos Manor, we do a few things to prepare.

We clean the house.  Bojan & Alyona decided to tackle the master shower.  We really need a new bath but definitely not in the budget.  We have tried literally almost every single cleaner out there known on the market, but can't seem to get the grout clean.  However, w/ all the cleaners used on it, it has got to be the most sanitized shower around.  LOL.  The kids like doing our bathroom b/c they get to listen to the radio while they clean.  And sing along of course.

After some serious cleaning, they take a break and watch a movie.  Notice, there is finally nothing on my floor but the dog & kids!  Ahh, victory. 

After the movie, it's time for some outside play.  Nik is finding a new way to ride the scooter.  Max saw that the wheel was broken so took one of the bike wheels to fix it.  

More playing.  Even a neighborhood kid came over to help at Chaos Manor.

Time for watching puppies play like puppies do.  

And of course before Thanksgiving, you must watch puppies explore new places.  The pups in our backyard.  We didn't let them go in the woods yet.  They're not ready.  Not till they can listen and are stronger to climb up some of the drop off areas.  Oh, and be able to swim in the little creek.  For now, they are just happy exploring leaves and wondering what squirrels are.

Wandering around the yard spotting berries to use for the upcoming Christmas season.  Beautiful bright red.  Gets you in the Christmas mood.

After spending some time outside for the pre-Thanksgiving festivities, everyone comes in.  Including Kota.  He has decided the stairs are a comfy spot.  Take a look at the size of those paws.  Umm, may have a bit of growing left in him.  

Time for a shower.  Alyona has finally learned to wear a robe after a shower.  You'd be shocked at how long it took her to learn that.  The trick to teaching her?  Well, it got to the point I couldn't take her running around in her birthday suit anymore.  So, I told everyone if they saw her running around, they could spank her.  Well, it took only 2 days for her to realize everyone else in the house was tired of seeing her w/ no towel on too.  Don't know why I didn't think of that earlier.  BTW, no one ever really spanked her.  She can actually run fast when she wants to.  LOL.  

Nik & Max helping to load the groceries in the car for a very late delivery.  We decided to do a food drive for  a family friend.  HUGE help from the community and great response.  Full car load and it was headed out.  Max & Warren made the delivery.  They didn't even know we were coming which always makes things that much better.  What some of you don't know, is a few years ago we were having a little tough time financially.  Lots of medical bills for the kids & many things broken it seemed.  People had gotten together and helped us out that Christmas & it made the world of difference.  Enabled us to catch up on lots of medical expenses and repairs.  Well, we feel since it's okay now, we should at least pay it forward.  We absolutely love our community.   They really do help each other out.  

Well, that was a little pre-Thanksgiving activities around the house.  I'll fill you in on Thanksgiving shortly. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This & that pictures

Just some random pictures from this week.  Enjoy or laugh.

Nik really wanted to be like his big brother.  So much so, he put his leg on.

If you have a real, whole leg, do NOT try to squeeze it into your brother's prosthetic.  It may will get stuck & your older brother will have to pry you out of it.  Nice, huh? 

One day, I swear I'll try to take a shot w/out stuff laying all over the floor.  Sigh.  Well, this is Alex.  Can  you tell he has temperature regulating issues at times?  He loves that hat for whatever reason.  Wears it to bed a lot of times.  BTW, it was about 75F that day.  I honest to goodness don't know how this child survived the Russian winters, let alone freezing to death (literally) in an apartment.  Just miraculous.  To help w/ temp regulating, we simply put blankets all over the living room.  Alex is sitting on about 3 of them.  

Alyona is developing her own style.  Unfortunately, it is part Punky Brewster.  She puts this one pony tail on the side of her head.  Looks ridiculous but I let it go...most of the time.  I try to let my kids have some independence.  Whether I like it or not.  LOL.  

I'll share more later.  For now, need to make a shopping list and get some sleep. 

Manic Monday

It has been a bit of a crazy day here.  Nothing totally crazy thank goodness.  I went to Bojan's Thanksgiving Feast at school which was nice.  Took the 2 "littles" with me.  They had no trouble eating, especially when we hit the dessert table.  Told everyone 2 and 2 items only even before we hit said table.  No complaints.  They were awesome today which was an added bonus.  HOwever, we are potty training and of course Bojan's classroom was at the end of the hall.  I scooped her up and ran to the bathroom.  I'm sure the other parents there must of thought she was injured or something odd was going on.  But I knew if she had an accident, she would refuse to put pants back on.  Just what she does and frankly, didn't feel like having a half naked kid in tow.  LOL.  Running it was.  We made it.  Bojan decided to come home.  Nothing going on at school today or tomorrow so I let him.

Puppies are doing well.  Everyone is still smittened with them.  They did not sleep through the night last night which is tiring to say the least.  But, we are all in love.  It's been great to have that energy back in the house once again.  The female is now named Alaska.  The male is now Kota.  We were going to name him Dakota but just too many syllables w/ both dogs.  Kota is already starting to respond to his name a bit which I'm shocked at.  He is the active one for sure.  Alaska is just sweetness.  She has her moments though.  She has learned what people food is even though she was not given any yet.  Trust me, in this house, she'll learn quickly w/ all the dropped food.  Plus, Warren used to cook Bear and Aspen their own burgers some times.  I'm sure these two once older will enjoy cookouts as much as the other two did.  Their personalities are beginning to show quite a bit.  During the day, Kota likes to sleep on one of the soft kids' chairs we have in the living room.  Alaska will go to the bedroom and sleep on the dogbed.  Yet, at night they both sleep on the dog bed.  Nik loves getting the dogs to chase him around.  Wears them out for sure.  they've already proved they can handle a bunch of kids and not be timid.  Though, when Alaska wants to be left alone, she crawls under something.  Smart dog.  Aspen used to do the same thing.  Kota could care less about being under something.  He yearns for the action. 

Well, I started this yesterday, Monday.  It's now Tuesday evening which gives you an idea of how crazy the last few days have been.  Bojan went to the prosthetic doc today.  He had to get casted for a new liner then he'll get casted for a new socket.  They were shocked to see how much he had grown.  We could have strangled Bojan right then and there.  URGHH!!!  Warren took him so thankfully I didn't have to endure the embarrassment of my own son and what he had done.  For aka, when they get casted, you pretty much have to take the shorts off & be in your underwear depending upon certain lengths of the leg and such.  Bojan had NO underwear on.  What?!  Who does that when they know exactly where they're going and what will happen?  URGHH!!!  To be sure he was grilled by Warren in the car & then by me when he got home.  Stupid, stupid.  No other word for it.  For a smart kid, he has NO common sense.  He didn't wear any to school either.  Sometimes, I just don't understand my boys.  I really don't. 

For Thanksgiving, we will have company.  Warren's family is coming on Thursday for Thanksgiving.  Should be fun.  Tiring, but fun.  Frankly, Warren and I are wiped out from the puppies schedule of wanting to get up at night.  I know they'll outgrow it so I can't complain.  Though, I know I am. LOL.  So, we have all day tomorrow to clean and bake.  Speech therapy will happen tomorrow as well as a few local errands and the chiropractor.  Other than that, home.  Tomorrow, we will also be delivering food for a family friend who needs a little extra help.  I did a food drive over the last week.  Feel if we have food on the table, there is no reason someone I know should not have food on the table.  Plain and simple.  Anyhow, we'll get it all done and maybe do a little shopping on Thursday afternoon.  Yes, a few stores are open.  I'm still not sure about venturing out w/ the Black Friday crowd.  Things have been tight and the main gift is the puppies.  However, tonight an amazing thing happened.  I will do a seperate post.  It deserves a second post a blessing of this magnitude.  Unexpected one at that. 

Just wanted to say it's been a bit busy.  I'm sure it has for everyone out there.  I have much more to say for sure.  Tons happening at Chaos Manor.  Isn't there always??  Yet, I don't think we'd have it any other way.  Okay, so I'm lying.  I'd love to have more sleep this week.  2 puppies.  We're we thinking that through?  LOL.  It has been so, so much fun though watching the kids play with them.  So much fun holding these tiny pups as I know they won't stay tiny for long. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Murmansk Adoption Journey (pics)

Okay, so with puppy mania I haven't gotten around to writing the second installment of our Murmansk adoption journey.  However, thought I'd share a few first trip pictures to tide you over.  LOL.

Nik in the famous ball pit that all adoptive families seem to experience.  Typically, orphanages will have a sort of play room for the kids.  That's where we were taken to for all our meetings w/ them.  Well, between that and them romping all over the director's office.  Got to love those pink tights on Nik.

Alyona never could really get on this ball that was as big as she was.

This was my 4yo!  Yes, 4yo wearing a size 18 months clothes when we brought him home.  Tiny little thing.  

This was Alyona's teeth when we went on trip one.  Most older orphanage kids come home with tons of decay.  Alyona was no exception to this.  Thankfully, we work with a wonderful dentist.  He used to do humanitarian work on Moldovian orphans.  He fixed her up very nicely.  

You can't tell too much by the picture as they had her dressed in many, many layers.  She was boney.  She weighed 24 lbs. I think.  She was 7 years old.  She fit in our laps.  The full of life kiddo was not there.

Nik with his speech therapist.  I know, kind of funny as they didn't even know he was deaf.  No hearing aids,no implants, yet at least they were trying to teach him to speak even if he couldn't understand them.  See how plump Nik is compared to Alyona?  Nik was sweating from all those layers.  

This was there playground.  Well, they called it a playground anyways.  Our kids played in the snow on the second trip like crazy.  There was a playground near the apartments we stayed in. 

View from our hotel.  No, it was not the best view.  Nor the best room.  We were over the disco floor.  You can only imagine the noise.  We survived.  opened the windows even with snow on the ground.  The Russians tend to cook you inside the buildings.  Others who've traveled to EE completely can relate.  You dress in layers and peel them off once inside.  And, you're still sweating. 

I'll share more later.  Like I said, puppy mania has taken over this household.  I take back the statement I made about the female.  She is definitely just as full of energy as the other one.  More to come soon.  Just busy this week. 


URGENT!!!  We must find this little boy a home soon or he will not survive for long in Russia.  They just do not have the medical things necessary to help him.  There is a website set up for him now: 

I can tell you a few more details that are not on the website.  For one, I know the agency working to help him.  Anything you want to ask me about them, please don't hesitate to ask.  I tell it like it is and I'm sure you have all figured that out on here by now.  They are having special needs fees for him so that will help.  Also, he is located in Moscow(says on the public website set up for him so figured I can mention that on here too) so costs would be a bit lower w/ no in-country travel.  In addition, you can get an apartment there & save on costs.  That's what we've done when we traveled there.  This little boy has a $5 grant with him.  In addition, in about the last day or so, over $3100 has also been raised for him.  As we all know, Russia is one of the most expensive place to adopt from.  They are doing all they can to make the costs low and also try to raise funds in order to find him a family quickly.  I hear he is very alert and smiles when people come into the room.   He needs love, life, medical help and basically a family can give him all that and more. 

go to the website, and take a look. Maybe you are his forever family.  Please pray for this little guy.  He needs it more than you realize.  For all the big families out there, sorry NO large families is what I've been told.  However, singles are fine!  Please help spread the word about precious Anton on Facebook, blogs, emails, etc.  I just know his family is out there and waiting for the word.  Thanks for all your help.  More to come but right now trying to sort out this coming week and get organized.  Yes, I know organization is a battle I always face.  Hey, at least I try, right?  Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  My kids have been in puppy heaven all day.  Many have stopped by to visit these little ones.   And such a beautiful day for us all to play outside.  Warren is at work.  Much to do so need to go.