Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!! (part II)

Told you I'd be back.  We left off w/ Christmas Eve & the happenings around here.  Once we woke up at o'dark-thirty, it was time to gather everyone to start opening presents of course.  Feet could hardly stay on the ground b/c they were so excited.

Notice Warren? He can barely open his eyes.  Pups were a little unsure of everything in the beginning.  Alyona is admiring her new slippers in the background.

Pups are still on the chair sleeping.  There is a pink letter on the coffee table that Santa wrote to everyone also reminding them that the puppies were a wonderful big group gift.  Alex is reading a letter we wrote.  He found oranges, apples & this letter in this stocking.  Everyone gets goodies in their stockings.  Not typically fruit.  LOL.  however, as I said before, Alex had a rather rough week.  Okay, it was downright nasty.  I'll be honest.  Ask any of the kids.  So, we wrote him a little poem & basically said why he was getting the fruit instead of "goodies" & also told him that he would have to "earn" back the stocking of his stuff.  Do you realize his ENTIRE personality changed for the rest of today?!  It was unreal.  Like a different child.  Maybe it is just b/c he wants stuff back or b/c the peak of the holiday stimulation is over.  Don't know.  We all know though, we really like the "new" Alex.  BTW, he has already gotten most of his stocking back.  Santa also made sure to say be good Alex, I know you can.  Later, he said "I think I like being good better."  I do hope that sticks.  I really do.  He's a good kid underneath all that hurt.  he really & truly is.  Just need to make sure he knows that enough. 

Alyona showing off her new mp-3 player.  All four of the younger ones received one.  They absolutely love them.  Yes, even Nik.  (get to that later).  All four want to be like their older sibs so this is a small way to imitate them a bit.  Plus, they love music.  Did I tell you they all take after me (w/ the exception of Bojan)?  Not a one can carry a tune in a bucket.  Just like mom.  They have been singing along w/ the mp-3 player all day long.

Yana, very delighted in her gift.  The three teens each got a giftcard.  Yana & Irina to Target and Max to Best Buy.  Hence, why their piles were rather small.  They did not mind one single bit.  They are at the age where they would rather choose for themselves a present.  Now, we are going to take them this week to see what they'd like.  The girls have already said they want some new clothes.  Max isn't sure quite yet what he desires.  Can't wait to see.  Irina has the most as she saved all her birthday money thus far from relatives and still has money leftover from cleaning houses. Very excited to see what she picks out.  Irina has OCD which is no secret.  What makes this hard is she typically doesn't wear new clothes she gets as she is too afraid to get them dirty.  She literally has some shirts hanging in her closet w/ tags on them.  We tell her we have a washing machine but she still doesn't want to.  She also will not wear but one pair of shoes at a time.  She told me she likes to wear them out before getting the other pairs out.  Going to try to really make this shopping trip fun in hopes that she'll loosen up a bit on the getting things dirty issue.  I want her to look & feel good about herself.  Women reading this know what a new outfit can do for you sometimes.  We're also getting all 3 girls' haircuts.  they go through stages of wanting it cut & then not.  Girls. 

Bojan reading about his new e-book.  Bojan is our reading and literally just soaks up books as much as he can.  He has already started reading today.  Gulliver's Travels & Metamorphises.  Now the other kids are interested.  It is pretty cool.  

And yes, every single one of them got a snuggie.  Yana is figuring out how to put hers on.  Max had just opened his box.  Can I just tell you they LOVE these things.  Alex said it was his favorite present.  LOL.  They wore them all day long.  Too funny.  They said "Mom, you have to get one of these!"  I'm in no rush.  I lucked out on Black Friday at CVS with these.  They were over half price so made it nice indeed. 

Alex kept taking Bojan's alarm clock all year.  We decided it was high time Alex had an alarm clock on his own.  Do you know where it is now?  Same day?  In Yana's room.  Why?  Because Alex has decided he doesn't want an alarm clock.  How's that one for irony?  Notice the puppies zonked in the background?  Wish that could have been me.  

Just another view of the organized chaos.  They had a lot of fun opening gifts from Santa.  Nik is holding up the Zhu Zhu pets.  They love these things.  Alex wants to use some of his money to buy some.  Alyona received mostly baby doll items as that is what she wanted.  Nik did get his camera & remote controlled spider.  He didn't get one toy that we have yet to figure out what it is.  He keeps signing something that doesn't quite make sense but has todo w/ light and stars.  Nonetheless, he is definitely happy with his new toys.  

More to come.  We had an awesome day today & hope to wake up to a white morning tomorrow.  If so, it will be hot cocoa and snowball fights for sure.  Puppies should be fun to watch.  This most likely won't be good packign snow so won't be able to sled.  Maybe, but doubtful.  Still, kids and I are up to a snowball fight.  Though I must admit, it really isn't fair to gang up on mom.  Merry Christmas to all out there.  Hope your day was as relaxing and wonderful as ours. 

Merry Christmas!!! (part I)

Merry Christmas!  This post may be choppy as Nik woke us up screaming throughout the house at o' dark-thirty this morning.  Got to love it.  Still dark outside, I managed to get my feet to move in the direction of the living room.  Bojan was the last to arrive downstairs.  Not quite sure what he was doing as usually he's one of the first. 

I'll go back to yesterday.  We try to just chill out during the day. 

Max helping Nik make a gun out of kinex.  The boys all LOVE kinex.  And, they get so dog gone creative with them.  
 Another thing they did Christmas Eve was make bead necklaces & bracelets.  Even Warren helped them out.  One of my friends came to the house and gave the girls some bead making items and the boys some wooden items to build.  They had such a great time doing them.  Thanks a bunch Jamie!  Her boys seem to enjoy themselves as well when they came over. Nice to catch up with old friends here and there.  Okay, she's definitely NOT old. 

 Some more bead making.  They are really serious about it.  Irina made me a gorgeous necklace. 

 After all the bead making and kinex making, church service, driving around looking at lights, movie watching( A Christmas Story of course), it was time for them to settle into bed.  Alyona and Nik did not want to miss out on Santa who comes downstairs obviously.  So, alyona slept in Irina's room & Nik slept in Yana's room.  My kids have lots of "Russian blood" still as they sleep w/ hardly anything on them.  We have tons of thick comforters but they all go for these thin little blankets.  Meanwhile, I have an electric blanket, warm pj's on, and a down comforter.  Hey, as long as they're comfortable. 

In our house, each of the kids has a pile of presents with their stockings in front of them.  Nik's is on the right & Alex's is on the left.  Despite size of piles, it is an equal amount spent on each child. 

Max's pile is in the papasan chair & Bojan's in the other little chair. I still am surprised none of the kids mentioned trapping Santa in the fireplace w/ the plastic sheet.  

The girls' piles.  Left to right... Alyona, Yana & Irina.  

There was very little sleep as the kids went to bed late.  Kept getting out of bed to catch Santa.  URGHH!!!  Got up super duper early and were rip raring to go.  More to come on Christmas Day 2010.  Really has been peaceful today and filled w/ quite a bit of joy.  Pictures to come.  Stay tuned for more of the Christmas Chaos at Chaos Manor.  Little surprises for sure.  Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.  Be back soon. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mud & mattresses

My kids play outside all the time.  Well, things are bound to get dirty.  Just sometimes you wish you're kid didn't have close to $16K on his head.

First, I had to find the things.  Then, I had to take in what they looked like.  Notice the red light on the one & the other one's red light is not working?

You can click on any of the images to see just how much mud is embedded in one of these things.  

Lots & lots of mud.  Fished out w/ a toothpick & tiny brushes.  Took me forever.  This was on that day that I felt like a mack truck hit me.  Same time I was cleaning these out, some of the "littles" were begging me to make play dough.

We were very blessed the other day by a friend at Warren's work.  She gave us not one, but two sets of mattresses & box springs!  Now, we really needed to get all the kids new mattresses.  Irina just got hers.  Yana & Bojan needed the mattresses the most so they went to them.  They were thrilled to say the least.  Put it this way, Yana's previous set was just a glorified bean bag it seemed.  This was a generous gift to our kids & helped out a bunch.

This is Max changing out Bojan's bed.  This will actually be the first time he slept on a mattress AND box spring.  Before, he had a bunkie board but did have a mattress w /the built in springs.  Ignore the walls.  The patches are test paint sections for the girls' future room.  Kind of a mint green.  BTW, this is the back section of the room.  There is a whole other part to it.  One day I'll take a picture of the whole room.

Aren't they awesome?!  BTW, all 3 kids have slept beautifully now.  We no longer hear Irina's creaking bed at night.  Some of our kids still do the orphanage rock but mostly when sleeping or scared.  Many of them have stopped but we have a few that still do.  This was just such a generous gift.  Don't you love those test painted walls??  My kids' rooms are the less is more approach on the walls for a reason in case you're wondering.  Before, at our other home, Max had a 3-D paint job professionally done.(we used to live in the model know, the one that fell apart)  Anyhow, he did not sleep that well & just seemed to be too much for him to handle.  Came here & we've made things plain on the walls & that actually seems to have helped a bit.  Now, the girl teenagers have all kinds of stuff on their walls.  

The same person that gave us the beds, had a few extra jackets that the teen girls were able to use.  You can tell Irina is happy with it.  

Well, tomorrow is Christmas.  We had a nice service tonight at church.  I was sure one of my kids would light something on fire but it went off w/out a hitch.  Candles in hand and all.  We then went to look at lights which was extremely short-lived as all were hungry.  Homemade potato soup that has been simmering all day in the crock pot.  Right now, all are getting ready to watch a Christmas movie.  Too much excitement to go to bed.  Alex got in trouble for hitting Nik & Max.  Today has not been his day so hoping tomorrow will be better for him.  Everyone in life has an off day so maybe this is just his.  Was proud of Max though as he did not retaliate.  Progress!  Can't wait to share tomorrow.  I love watching them open presents.  Didn't take any pictures tonight b/c going to church is a special time for us & I don't really think taking pictures the whole time is our kind of thing.  We just enjoyed an evening together there and at home.  Simple.  

Now, off to do some last minute wrapping, mostly for the puppies.  Have a very Merry Christmas everyone! 

Happenings at Chaos Manor

I know this is supposed to be a flabulous to fabulous post but come on folks, it's the holidays & I don't even want to get on the scale.  LOL.  Though, at the last doc appt. I apparently lost a little.  And during a cookie season of indulgence, I'll take it.  Many things going on here & why I haven't written so much lately.  Simply put, it's the Christmas season, kids are out of school, many have been sick & just busy.  So, I need to catch you all up on a few items.

Adoption Front-- Sent the check overnighted for Irina's biometrics.  Waiting on that fingerprint appointment for her.  Once paper is in hand, we'll go down there in person, waiting & hoping they'll see us before our scheduled appointment.  Shoot, if tears would help, I'd shed a few.  Once this is done, approval of the I-800A is ready to be done.  That is then sent with our "official" dossier to be given a travel date.  This just seems to drag on.  But, so far w/ any adoption this has been the case.  Then, all of a sudden everything happens at once.  Just need to be prepared.

Re-adoption front-- It's been approved by the court!!!  Wahoo, Irina is officially this state....after 10 years.  LOL.  We beat our deadline of the 27th, her birthday, so that it will count.  Told we "may" need this to be the case when she applies for SSI as an adult.  No they won't take our income into account but they have all kinds of "funny" little rules that have to be in place.  Again, this is all new to us since we do not collect SSI on any of our children.  I'm learning as I go.  Intentions are to re-adopt the other 9 once the Bulgarians are home.  That batch we will most likely do on our own as we can't afford to go through a lawyer again.  Only reason we did it this time was due to the time constraints & we couldn't have gotten the 90 waiting period waived where lawyers can.  Anyhow, it's done and a sense of relief.

Serbia-- Bojan is from Serbia.  Over the past few years, I've kept in touch w/ his doctor that was there at the orphanage.  Jasmina has one of the kindest hearts I know & does so much for the children there.  Anyhow, I've been horrible this past year at keeping in touch the way I should.  Not only w/ her but w/ someone else that is very special in Bojan's life.  She's great too.  So, I decided to get my act together & get back in touch.  Made an online photo album that they send you as well. I will give that to a family traveling soon & they'll deliver it in person to Jasmina.  I'll have one for his very special person as well to forward to her.  Part of me truly wants to take Bojan w/ us on our first trip to meet her but just don't know if we have the funds to do it.  Yet, it is the trip of a life time & probably the only time we would be able to meet the important people of the  first few years of his life.  I'm thinking really hard about it all.  Trouble is, it is two weeks & the first trip would be tough for us to do as emotions would be high going to Bulgaria.  Second trip may be better & then I'd have Irina and Bojan w/ me.  We'd do a stop over in Serbia and then onto Bulgaria to pick up the kids.  Time will tell.  Just an idea I'm throwing around.  First, have to ask if they are open to it over there though I know they will be as over the years I've been asked if we ever get the chance to visit, to do so.  Would love to as I think it would mean so much to Bojan.  

Testimony-- We were asked if we wanted to give any testimony at church during Upwards season.  We said sure.  So, it will obviously be on adoption.  Nervous but you never know where things can lead.  Maybe others will be led to adopt.  Need to pick a date soon. 

Me-- I know, not the most interesting topic but I'll cover it anyways.  I was rather sick this past week.  Mostly head cold, sinus stuff.  But, when you have 15 kids here, it just makes it that much worse it seems.  Tuesday was truly rough.  I had 4 "littles" here & I took them to the bounce house. Okay, so that was probably one of my brighter ideas.  They wanted me to jump w/ them but I kindly told them Ms. Stephanie's head would explode.  Came home, all ate hot soup for lunch & I tried to convince them a movie was the best option.  Luckily, it was early release so by this time my high schoolers were here to help.  Then, friends came over too.  Now, usually I'm okay w/ this many here & join in at times on the action.  But my head & face were just hurting.  Able to convince them homemade playdough was awesome  & that sparklers in December were the greatest thing since sliced bread.  That is until one of the "littles" went running w/ said sparkler & ended up burning herself near her hair.  The scene though played out like a movie.  All of us are out there but Max & I were the ones lighting them & getting them safely into hands.  Old & young.  Picture this:  Alex is trying to carry her, she's screaming bloody murder, and all the while Alex is screaming "she's on fire, she's on fire!"  If she was on fire & all those marks were truly from fire, I had to get her to the hospital.  Well, once I get her in, I discover those marks are NOT soot.  No, it's mud & dirt from where she fell.  There was one little burn mark.  A little TLC & she was good as new & ready to go outside & do it all again.  This time, she did not run a once. I've just been run down this week as I've been sick & need a break.  cAn't get one though for sure.  The next day I went to the doc who said "you look rough."  Ummm, not the best thing to say to a patient who hasn't slept in days, has had more kids at her house than a day care, hasn't finished Christmas shopping, & is sick as a dog.  We know them well there though & they know us so antibiotics it was & I was off.  Told no activity outside for a few days & to rest for about a week.  Then he laughed.  Yes, told you they know us well here.

House repairs-- house is holding up.  Thank goodness.  After the holidays the handyman will be back to fix the back door & "silly putty"(plumber's putty) will be gone along w/ all the rot.  No more leaky door & wet floor when it rains.  My parents had given us some cash for Christmas & we thought it was best to fix our door.  Rot was spreading.  Rest of the stuff has got to wait until after the adoption.  There will be a whole separate post on adoption expenses & some of what is happening with it all. 

House arrangements--  This has got to be taken care of ASAP but we are finding it difficult w/ the limited time we have.  Already booking up over our Christmas break.  With doc appointments, not fun parties.  LOL.  For a temporary solution to more kids coming, we are moving all 5 boys to the front bedroom.  Then Alyona & her new sisters will have the back bedroom.  These are the size of bonus rooms, not regular bedrooms.  Just in case anyone is wondering.  Yana & Irina will remain in their separate bedrooms downstairs.  Long term is to add on to the home & make a transition type living space for Irina and some of our other mentally challenged children when they need to learn to live on their own.  However, for now, we are doing this.  We have to first see what the bank will allow us to do.  Credit is fine but banks have changed how they loan money.  Dramatically.  Going this coming week to see what may be possible.  Refinancing would benefit us but houses aren't appraising for what they used to.  Anyhow, we have to get all the kids in rooms so for now 5 boys in the front room & 5 girls among the other 3 rooms is the only option.  Trouble is, we need to repair all the holes in the boys' old room and then paint the whole room.  Need help but hiring a painter is out of the question.  So is getting the kids to help.  Trust me on that one, we did it before.  We don't want to do that again as SO much paint is wasted.  Trying to find time.  Warren may have to take off a few days in January to try to get it done.  It will get done though & that's what counts.

Puppies-- Alaska and Kota are growing like crazy.  We're having a lot of fun with them for sure.  Love it.  They each have their own personality and so glad we got two at once.  They are very close yet independent.  They used to sleep together but now have their own spots they prefer.  They do go exploring in the woods together though.  And they love all the kids, ours & visitors.  Couldn't ask for better dogs.  BTW, all of this litter was adopted out.  They both go to the vet on Monday.  Healthy dogs w/ quite a healthy appetite.  I don't even want to know what they weigh now.  They are starting to get to heavy to carry.  They know sit but need to learn other commands.  Working on that next.  They come when they are called... most of the time.  So happy we brought them home.  I posted some precious puppy pics on the last post.  Check them out.  Click on them to see the cutie pies.

School-- School is out for now.  We are going to homeschool Irina this semester & find her a job.  Hopefully.  Jobs are hard to come by as we all know.  We will begin homeschool some of the others in the fall.  Need to wait till the other kids get home plus I hate starting mid-semester.  I like doing unit studies & this will be my first high schooler so I'll learn as I a point.  her cirriculum will be much different than most as it was different at school too.  Our plans are to do things a little differently next year as a family.  We will be traveling more for sure with all the kids.  Want to explore more places, be more hands on, & learn much more.  Kids are already telling us what they want to learn & where they want to go.  We want to be one of the families that watches the groundhog in PA to see if it sees it's shadow or not.  Learn the area, go to Philadelphia during that same trip & learn some history.  Again, hands on.  Making lots of changes for next year in the way we do things and what we want in life for all our children.  For now though, keeping w/ public school & just homeschooling Irina in January.

Christmas-- Well, it's tomorrow & I'm dealing with the same things I deal with every year...over stimulation.  Our two RADishes have been in rare form the last two days.  Oy~!  Is all I can say.  Yana and Alex have driven me nuts.  Being honest here & these are MY kids, MY experiences... your mileage may vary.  What I've noticed w/ my kids over the years is that holidays are a bit much for them.  They can handle it & do but boy do we have our moments.  This morning was one of them.  I told Alex how about a game of dodge ball, just you & me.  Just you & me kid.  He did not accept my offer.  I had had just about all I could take of Alex.  He was mean to everyone to the point that everyone was asking me to send him outside.  He then proceeded to "play" outside.  Took the soccerball & kept pelting it at the brand new windows!  URGHH!!!  That's when I offered him that game of dodge ball that never took place.  You all may think that's mean but that is the only way Alex will "get" what you are talking about.  He knew I was serious then if I was challenging him to a game as he thinks he is the king of sports & can do anything.  I've tried to find distractions, things for him to do, etc. but it's of no use.  He's out of routine, out of sync & we all just have to muddle through.  What makes it worse is we go to my in-laws the day after Christmas which then will send him into another episode as he's out of whack w/ the schedule.  The other kids are fine but Alex has been my greatest challenge for sure during this break.  We'll get through.  Just want to show others that it is not all roses for sure.  RADishes can heal but will always have some issues & typically other dx's as well.  With these dx's, structure & routine is key & during a holiday, that is all thrown out the window.  Again, we do this every year, it's okay.  Just tiring after such a week of not feeling well.  I really did digress.  We've been baking some cookies today but eating most all of them.  LOL.  Kids cleaned the whole house as they want Santa to see it.  Umm, yeh kids cleaning it one day out of the year will make up for the rest of the year.  No.  All in all, they have been good.  Just hope they can make it through church this evening.  Afterwards, we plan to drive around the neighborhoods looking at lights.  Then, Santa time!  They are all ready & should be interesting to see how they & the pups react to Christmas.

Sick ones-- Bojan was literally in bed all day yesterday throwing up the entire day.  Thankfully, he's fine now.  and, we didn't need to get him IV fluids.  Huge relief.  Nik was feeling just as rough but never threw up yesterday.  Speech therapist did not come in.  LOL.  I'm on antibiotics now & finally turning a corner.  So, everyone is getting healthy again.

That was a little of catching up.  There is much, much more.  Alex is already better this afternoon than this morning.  Thought of erasing what I wrote but I think it's important for others to see you can live with kids w/ severe mental, emotional, & behavioral issues but it can be challenging at times.  No, I would never had played dodge ball w/ him.  Mainly, b/c he'd beat me.  I've gone for walks w/ just Alex to try to get the calm & reason w/ him more.  It works short- term & then he's back to the same old, same old.  We're getting there slowly.  Excitement is in the air for sure here.  All are trying to guess what they'll get from Santa.  We'll see.  I do need to take a picture of the pups w/ a note.  That was their group gift...the puppies.  They knew this but I'm sure have forgotten.  I'm interested in what the teens will think of their gifts.  They only got about 3 but you'll see why.  Reminded all the teens I spent the same on everyone but you can but more little items for the younger kids for less money than what yours were.  They've all said yes mom, we know.  Tomorrow you'll all find out all the goodies they got.  Right now though, getting ready for church.  For that is the real reason we celebrate this season.  Don't want my kids to forget that.  Need to go get all of us ready for service tonight.   I know this sounds terrible but not sure how long they'll all make it there.  Hope it's not an overly long service.  I'm assuming no children's church so should be interesting.  They all have ants in their pants right now.  Enjoy this Christmas Eve.  I know we are!  More to come later.  Pictures too.  And that concludes my long, boring catch up post.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Presentations, pups, & playdough

Okay, this is definitely a catch up post.  I know I've been under the weather & still am.  But, antibiotics seem to be helping.  doc said get some rest & then he started laughing.  He knows our household well.  The week has been beyond chaotic.  Kids had some presentations at school & I took two of the "littles" with me to the presentations & parties.  They did really well & only one running to the potty episode.  Alex had a presentation on Christmas in Russia. 

Alex displaying his work & some items I scooped up around the house.  Some of the few left.  URGHH.  Kids have broken a good chunk of our matroshka dolls.  I know, they should have been up high.  don't worry, we can get more. I might add that Alex dressed himself.  With a shirt on backwards AND a hole in it!  URGHH!!!  My kids.

Okay, so Alex wanted me to make a "Russian" cake...aka, flag.  fine.  However, it turned out like garbage so I didn't even take it to school w/ me.  Kids said it tasted great.  I'm just picky as to what desserts leave this house.  I used to decorate cakes but with this one, you'd never be able to tell that.  So, kids had it as snack afterschool that day.  Still can't find my real Russian flag.  (tell you that story another day). 

Now, we were between running up & down the hall for presentations at the same time.  We did Alyona's first actually.  

Can you tell she was a little nervous??  She did great though.  Hers was on France.  Afterwards, they had a little party.  

A little more relaxed as you can see. 

Pups exploring the woods by our house.  Kota is munching on some branches.  they love the outdoors for sure.  Right now, working on boundries.  Interesting for us as we don't have a fence or training collar.  Key words & sounds but I forget puppies need lots of practice.  But, Bear & Aspen learned so these two can too.  

Alaska is comfortable sitting like a human.  It's crazy.  Alyona is just as comfortable.  Despite us having plastic all over the windows & fireplace, it's still a bit chilly in here.  Hence, her winter coat & boots in the living room.  Thinking of reconnecting the fireplace.  We'll see.  Many of our kids are impulsive so we know that could be a dangerous thing to do.  We'll wait & see.  

This is Kota actually asleep w/ my slipper.  He fell asleep chewing it.  What a dog.  They love sleeping on the stairs.  Eventually, they're going to be too big.  

Both pups asleep on the stairs.  Notice the size of those paws.  Yep, we're in trouble.  LOL.  He still seems to be growing faster than her but vet told me males will typically be bigger anyhow.  This is why puppies are so dog gone cute.... so you don't kill them for all the stuff they chew up all day long.  You see them like this & well, you're heart melts & know they'll grow out of this stage soon enough.  

This is just one of the things you do when you have 15 kids at your house....homemade playdough.  Kids love it b/c it smells like chocolate.  He & one of the "littles" had a great time w/ this stuff.  I'm not exactly sure what his creation was but thought it was cute.  

I will have to catch you all up on happenings here at Chaos Manor in a separate post.  Lots & lots going on as usual.  Catch up post next,  I promise.  For now, have to go out to Food Lion for some groceries.  We had a wonderful surprise in the mail from friends of ours in Charlotte.  And, with a snow storm coming, stocking up on a few extra cans of soup is an awesome idea.  We have heard from neighbors in this area that last snow storm electricity was out for quite some time.  Getting prepared just in case.  More on the upcoming possible snow storm soon. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Under the weather

This will be a very quick post.  I'm feeling rather under the weather.  Mostly sinus mess & basically really, really stuffed up.  Headache like someone took an ice pick to my head.  I have many messages & things to return to people.  However, health comes first when you have a family such as ours as we don't really get a "break."  So, I need to get as much rest as possible & shake this thing.   I apologize for not returning messages & such.  Not trying to be rude.  Just extremely exhausted.  Had the 4 "littles" today & my 7 got home from school early & 4 of their friends came over too.  They understood I wasn't up to par.  I think taking the "littles" to the loud bounce house today may have done me in.  LOL.  Just here briefly to say I most likely won't write much today or tomorrow.  So, in about 2 days I hope to be as good as new & catch up on some stuff.  Today just has dragged on forever & digging mud out of both Nik's implants did not help me.  Making homemade play dough was not much help either.  Though, it did keep them entertained for awhile.  Warren is being a gem & cooking tonight.  Going to eat, rest & finish some stuff up tonight.  enjoy your next few days.  Oh, & if someone on here posted about the pics of the Bulgarian kids, write me privately at and I'll explain why they're not up here.  I tried to write you but couldn't get the email address it seemed.  Got to go.  Already this screen has hurt my eyes.  Hope everyone is healthy out there.  I'm exposed to quite a great deal of germs around here & at school w/ them.  And, the places we go.  The vitamin C & D & being outdoors everyday has not held up to snuff.  LOL.  Still managed to catch something.  Talk later when I'm more coherent.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Question answered

Hello all.  I've had a few write me privately asking if Nik's issues could be part of AB(Advanced Bionics) recall.  It could be.  Chances are slim I'm hoping.  We did receive the recall notice but it was AFTER he started having problems.  Once we got that we said well, maybe but so few have had issues out of the thousands and thousands they've done.  Unlikely.  But, you just never know.  We called our audiology place & we have done everything they suggested.  Used the backup implant, changed the programs, etc.  Anything and everything.  Nik now refuses completely to put it on.  And it is NOT b/c he doesn't want to.  He keeps telling us to fix it & that it hurts.  I mean really, really hurts.  We go back next Tuesday for a follow-up for Nik.  Hopefully, we'll have more answers then.  But, with the first reaction when we activated him, I was VERY uneasy about it all.  Back of my mind I kept thinking "great, we took away all his hearing & this side did not respond."  After awhile though, they got it to where he could tolerate it & it seemed okay.  Don't know what to do at this point.  Can only wait.  Praying it is not the internal device.  However, these are brand new processors and nothing seems to be wrong externally.  any suggestions of what it might be, do send them my way.  Like I said, other CI is just fine.  You have to literally pull that one off of him to get him to take it off.  He loves it, kisses it.  New one though, a totally different story.  Maybe just an adjustment period but doubtful.  Nik's new implant was part of the recall but I just can't imagine that being the problem.  Yet thus far, none of the troubleshooting ideas are working.  He has a private speech therapist that comes to the house 2X a week.  Going to see if she's seen anything like it.  He'd wear it the pass few weeks but only after signing hurt & being squimish for awhile.  In addition, he'd pull the magnet off quite often.  Almost to get a "break " from it but hated putting it back on.  Today, was different.  It was more of a very painful face & he refused to put it on.  Now, one of my kids is in pain, not going to force the issue.  Well, maybe w/ Bojan b/c he's a whimp about getting back up after surgeries.  LOL.  He knows this too as I tease him every time.  Doc says it's fine.  anyhow, sidetracked.  Back to Nik.  I won't push an issue if one tells me they're in pain.  You can tell by Nik's face, it truly hurts & not just a quick pain either that will subside.  So, for now, it's off.  Totally off.  He obviously can still hear out of the other ear.  Just wanted to do right by him.  Forcing him to hear in pain is not right to me.  Again, this is my child and my decisions.  I know CI's are quite controversial.  We did this b/c Nik was literally begging for surgery.  In addition, the other side was extremely successful.  Just wanted to answer the questions of yes, it is *possible* for Nik's implant problems to be part of AB's recall of the device.  I just can not imagine that being the case.  Impatiently waiting till next week.  Really want it to be something stupid wrong w/ it.  Don't need any more drama, that's for sure.  Any suggestions for trouble shooting, do send them my way.  Thanks.

First Noel & a vomitting sheep

Well, forgot to post about last Sunday's church Nativity play.  It was that evening.  Bojan was a wiseman, Alex an innkeeper, Alyona a townspeople and Nik a sheep.  Give you a few pics. 

Bojan is the one in the middle.  He did really well w/ reading the parts & such.  

This was before the play started.  Later in the play, when they were supposed to sing, Nik signs to me he's sick & that he's going to throw up!  So, he comes running to me & I take him to the bathroom.  He never did throw up but did have a fever, you could tell.  I knew the play wasn't long so let the others finish up while I waited w/ Nik in the hall.  He fell asleep on me.  Others continued in the play.  

They even did a song completely in sign but Nik wasn't even awake to participate in it let alone see it.  Very thoughtful of the church to do this.  Told you we go to a very awesome church!  The ministry for the kids there is wonderful.  From young to old, they all have something at the church.  

Well, someone had to wear Nik's hat while he was sleeping.  I know I'm going to regret posting this but what the heck.  

Can you tell he's sick?  Now, what has me concerned about this incident was it seemed to be connected to his implant.  He was really complaining it hurt him ,etc.  We obviously took it off of him.  Just the new implant.  Old one is fine.  I still have this gut feeling something is up w/ the internal device, not the external processor.  We'll see.  but, you shouldn't get lightheaded, etc. from this thing & it appears to have happened that evening.  Again, searching for answers but this was just too odd.  It was not all due to him having a fever as that quickly went away.  

He did not feel well for a few hours after we took him home.  Didn't even want to sit up.  I think he was a bit dizzy.  

Nik, not too long after the last picture.  Easy to get a temp taken when you have a Kinex dragon to play with.  Great yardsale find at $3.  My kids love it.  He was fever free in this pic as you can see.  

The kids enjoyed being in the Nativity play and had a great time.  Wished Nik had felt better but he still had fun.  Just wanted to share before I forgot about it.  Puppy pics to come tomorrow. 

Manic Monday & It's in the air...

the feeling of Christmas.  In fact, it's everywhere at this house.  Last day of school for the kids is tomorrow.  They have already counted the days down till Christmas and not surprised they haven't worked out the hours yet.  Christmas lists still remained the same.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Kids have decorated the tree.  They keep putting all those tacky ornaments on it that they make at school.  I know they think it's cool but they are really tacky construction paper things.  Oh well.  ONly young once.  Here's a shot of the tree:

I especially love the sippy cup sitting on the coffee table.  Adds that sentimental holiday touch I'm sure.  That big red thing hanging towards the bottom middle of the tree is one of Nik's tacky construction paper ornaments.  Really, I don't get that sentimental over something the entire class made exactly the same.  I know, I know I shouldn't feel that way but I do.  I keep the stuff that my kids actually make me on their own.  Now that has some meaning.  Have all those items in a draw that is way too small now.  One day (yeh, right) I'm going to get organized & put them all in a scrapbook & label them.  Yes, one day.  Not today of course.  

I've been under the weather for 2 days now.  Sinuses hurt, stuffy nose, etc.  Cold I'm sure.  No biggie.  Best thing for it is rest but in this house that is near impossible to do.  Today I had to watch the "littles."  I was able to talk them into becoming "Santa's Helpers."  Had them help me wrap almost all my Santa presents while they wore a Santa hat.  It was great!  I actually got something done & they had fun.  

Warren & I are going to Wally World tonight to get  a few items & some stocking stuffers.  Also, I'm going ahead and paying any bills sitting in the basket before I forget about them.  I'm on an organizing mission here.  

We have to send off another fee to immigration for Irina's biometrics.  Never mind that I specifically asked earlier if I had to send ANY money w/ this form.  A firm no was the answer I was given.  Got to love this.  Frustrated for sure.  Nothing I can do.  I'm not in control and that's okay.  Just follow their rules, get through it asap and then go meet the kids.  I know they'll be worth all the paperwork headache & extra fees.  So, we go with the flow.  Just hard when you know this is the very last piece of paper needed.  Oh well.  Wait it is.  Did I mention I suck at being a patient person?  Yes, I do.  

Warren is taking Bojan for his socket fitting tomorrow morning.  I need to take Max & Alex for bloodwork at some point in time.  They get thoroughly tested every so often due to the meds they take.  Irina has a neurology appointment this week as well.  Nik goes to the CCCDP for adjustments of his implants.  Now, Warren & I think there is a serious issue with the new one.  It happened as soon as he was activated back in November & has since continued.  He tells us it hurts, especially when he first puts it on.  We have tried putting it on a lower program, switching the processor to the backup one, etc.  Nothing has worked.  Today he refused to wear it which was a first ever for him.  His old implant he has no issues whatsoever with.  Part of us is thinking maybe his was one of the ones effected by the AB recall of the device.  Hope not.  Called & they told us to try the things we've already tried but I agreed anyhow.  Partly, b/c I know we'll be there next week anyhow so not too big a deal.  However, I just have this gut feeling something is really wrong internally, NOT externally.  But, I'm not the expert & hopefully just some simple troubleshooting problem.  I don't know but can't wait to find out.  I will not continue to put it on him if it hurts.  He wants it fixed though.  So, that part is great.  We want it fixed too.  Meantime, his old one works & of course we always sign with him.  I'll let you all know what the deal is with it.  Hope it is a simple problem but we've troubleshot everything we could.  

Max had an IEP meeting today & we didn't miss it!  Warren went to this one.  We are satisfied w/ the outcome.  Max will be taking art next semester for sure.  That should help w/ his lack of motivation.  Another thing that was interesting was that they said Max is one of the brightest there but does NOT hand in the assignments.  Here's where the FAS comes into play.  He's in a class that is kind of like study hall.  The teacher literally watches him fully complete the other assignments but then he forgets totally to turn them in.  So, they are all zeros then.  URGHH!!!!  They discussed solutions for that today since he is doing the work.  Has to get from point a to point b & for an FASer, this is hard to do.  Anyhow, they worked up some solutions so see how that goes.  They said he had great grammar.  That is the one thing I really worked on w/ them during homeschooling.  Their grammar sucked from school.  Really did.  Hate it when I hear teachers speaking incorrectly.  URGHH!!!  He improved when I had him & apparently, it payed off.  

Puppies are doing fine.  I'll have puppy pictures up maybe tomorrow.  Like I said, I've felt really off the last two days.  Need some good sleep.  Maybe Nyquill is in my future.  I think this is enough for Manic Monday.  Need to make dinner & then go to Wally World.  We may stay up & watch the Lunar Eclipse tonight.  May have the kids go to bed & then wake them up.  We'll see.  Got to run.  enjoy your week. 

Feelings of an FAS adult to be

Right now Irina is at a point where many FAS older teens go through.  Or at least what I hear from other parents.  They really don't have friends at this age.  Remember, Irina doesn't really fit into the special needs category.  So, any function that caters towards special needs she really doesn't fit into at all.  Downs children have events they go to here and they all fit in.  Autism has groups that meet as well.  FAS is just not as well heard of.  Yes, we have a small little support group but nothing we could "put on" to make the kids all feel like they belong.  So, anyhow, Irina does not fit in w/ the special ed crowd and does not fit in with the "normal" crowd either.  She doesn't have any friends at school.  She does a youth group which she likes but she told me she thinks they only talk to her b/c they feel like they have to.  I am hoping that's just her perception b/c she does enjoy going.  Other than that though, the same thing is happening w/ the only friend she has left.  They've been friends for years but she is starting to "outgrow" Irina.  This happens with all her friends.  Once they reach a certain maturity level, they kind of let her go.  We totally understand that, but Irina does not.  She doesn't want a birthday party b/c honestly, she doesn't have any close friends.  It is really hard living in between in an FAS world.  I'm going w/ her to apply for jobs this weekend but doubtful she'll get one.  Jobs are tight here for sure.  Trying to find things for her to do. She is our oldest with FAS.  We are learning new things as parents as she ages.  Trying to do what is best for Irina.  Many FAS/ FAE children really struggle fitting into society as adults.  There was a recent discussion on one of the FAS boards lately about adult FAE children holding down jobs and such.  It is very hard to watch at times and hard to comfort her.  She told me the other day "mom, I wish I didn't have a disability."  As a parent, it's hard to hear.  And yes, we try to do what they all say.... point out the positives, explain the why, etc., etc.  Blah, blah, blah.  That does not make a difference to IRina my friends.  She is the one living with FAS and the one that is going to try to make it in life.  Hoping we can think of something soon.  For now, trying to keep her busy.  May take her with me today to do some Christmas shopping.  They don't call FAS the invisible disability for nothing.  Part of the reason for this blog is for people to get  a real taste of what it is like living with FAS on a daily basis.  The struggles, the accomplishments, etc.  This is a bump that we have to deal with and get through together with Irina.  Her birthday is coming up soon.  She really needs birthday wishes from people.  I'm going to try to get some friends and family to remember her birthday and call her and such.  Make her feel as loved as I love her.  Irina doesn't want a birthday.  She knows she doesn't really have many friends and it is just hard for her. She also can see the differences more clearly now.  She's terrified to be an adult even though we told her many,many live at home for a very long time nowadays.  Whether you have a disability or not.  I know Irina knows what others are doing at 18 and that some of that she may not be able to do.  Like, go to college, drive a car, etc.  It's a lot for a little girl to swallow.  And yes, I say little girl as she is still mentally around 12 years old. What 18 yo's do you know that color their parents pictures out of a coloring book?  Very, very few.  She's proud of her work & we're proud of her and hang it up.  However, some times it is also hard to watch b/c I know her choices in life are indeed going to be limited by FAS.  That' s a fact that you can't change.

As parents we have to make many, many decisions in life for our children.   We decided to parent our FAS kids quite a bit different than what I hear most others do.  Just gathering by the boards I'm on and the support group I attend.  We do not go to therapists.  We do not do a special diet.  We do not do behavior modifications.  We treat them as regular kids.  Yes, we know they have a disability.  And yes, some times we do things a little differently such as choose a not so crowded time to go to a restaurant.  But, for the most part, they are punished for the things they do as regular kids would be.  My RADishes that punch holes in the wall are made to repair them.  They are not off the hook b/c they flew into a rage.  Sorry, not here.  I will say this last month all of us have slacked on chores including me.  I can't remember when I last made my bed.  Grand scheme of things, not that important.  But, told the kids over Christmas break them & I are getting back on track w/ chores.  In our house we say what we mean & follow through.  I think that is key in any family & parenting...follow through.  If it comes out your mouth, you best be willing to follow through.  Shoot, one of my daughter's missed a field trip.  Point is, I try not to treat my FAS kids differently b/c I know as adults society will not cut them a break.  Society won't understand b/c they "look normal."  Ooh, I get that all the time. Drives me nuts b/c it's NOT normal to have permanent brain damage.  It's not.   So, I'm trying to find a balance. How much do we share with others at this point?  When she is applying for a job do we share that she is mentally challenged?  I think we'd almost have to as she can't perform any tasks related to money.  She would not be able to work a cash register.  Yet, I don't want them to treat her differently either.  That's what others at her high school do.  Since inclusion(HATE IT!!!-- but it is different in every state), Irina has gained a lot of weight (about 40 lbs since September) and very low self-esteem.  They single them out.  She told me they announce all the OCS students come with me and that all the other kids then know she's retarded(Irina's words,not mine).  I hate that she feels this way.  It has come to light for her that she does have a disability and she is trying hard to deal with it as am I.  I don't want her to feel pity for who she is.  Not at all.  We clearly explain it is not her fault. FAS is though something she'll have to learn to live with.  We are trying to give her the tools to do that as best we can. 

So, when it is her birthday next Monday, those local maybe wish her a Happy Birthday.  I know it would mean a lot to her to know she's thought about.  Coming from Mom & Dad just does not quite mean as much.  You all know how that goes.  Hoping we can figure this all out together with her.  FAS as an adult and what it means.  We're both nervous about it, I can tell.  She's 18 almost and yet doesn't want to turn 18.  Irina told me she'll have to make more decisions when she's 18 and she's not ready for that.  I told her it's not like you're leaving home. Nothing is changing but your age.  That's it.  Any other suggestions to put an FAS child's mind at ease about becomign an adult, do share.   I know this was an all over the place post.  Didn't mean for it to be but thought it's important to share.  See, many read who are new to adoption or new to FAS.  We've been at this for awhile & still exploring new territory with our FAS children.  It's a learning experience at every milestone & age they reach.  Also, most blogs speak of the young kids when adopted.  I want people to see that it is ongoing...parenting that is.  Especially, if your child has a disability such as FAS.  It will be lifelong.  So, bare with me as I share bits of pieces as my oldest enters adulthood as a person with FAS and what all that means.  Maybe we can all learn something together & Irina can be our teacher.  Time will tell

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Oceans apart, a birthday missed

I know I can't give exact dates yet, but I have a little girl across the ocean who is celebrating a birthday some time this week.  Will anyone sing to her?  Will anyone give her a present?  Will anyone give her a cake?  Will anyone make this her most special day?  Doubtful.  It's hard.  I'll be honest here so bare w/ me as I know many other adoptive parents feel the same exact way.  Many not in the adoption community ask how on earth can you love someone you've never met?  I think birthparents love their child as soon as they find out they're pregnant.  Same thing here.  You commit to a child and will do everything in your power to have your child come home as soon as possible.  You love that child with all your heart & soul despite never meeting them. 

I'll give you an example w/ Alyona.  Alyona was online.  Just a photo I saw & that was it.  I was hooked.  I felt grief when I saw a 'hold' status by her name.  Even more grief when I called & was told she had a family.  I felt like I had lost MY child that I had never even met.  But, I dealt with that loss and moved on.  Only to find a few months later her status was lifted & she was free & clear for adoption once again.  Right now, she's upstairs giving me a headache by practicing her recorder.  She is my daughter.  I love her.  I love her just as much now as I did when I first saw that picture of her and just knew she was mine.  It's a gut instinct you have as an adoptive parent.  Somehow, you just know which child is yours.  I have seen hundreds of pictures over the years of children available for adoption & files of medicals due to advocacy work.  Yet, each & every time I knew exactly which children were mine.  I saw Alex's picture but was told someone else was hosting him.  Again, that feeling of loss.  2 days before they came, I was informed the other family dropped out & that I could host him.  He was MY son. 

Knowing which child is yours helps with that bonding I feel.  I truly want to see my daughter.  Yes, a daughter I've never even met yet but has grown in my heart.  I know as much as I can about her w/out even meeting her.  So today, is hard.  I've been thinking about her lately.  A lot.  I can't imagine celebrating a birthday without her.  I want to be the one wishing her Happy Birthday first thing in the morning.  I want to be the one making her cake.  I want to be the one to see the smile on her face when she opens her first present. I want to be her mom.  Plain and simple.  I hate being oceans away. 

So, how can you fall in love with a picture or video many ask us adoptive parents?  I ask those same birth parents how they can fall in love with the ultrasound picture.  You just do.  It's instinct.  You know your child.  You love your child unconditionally.  I know this won't matter in the grand scheme of things when she's here permanently for years and years.  But for now, I am just beyond ready to go and get on the plane.  Very ready.  Adoption teaches you more patience then you will ever want to learn.  Trust me, I didn't want to have this much patience as a parent.  I didn't mind being an impatient parent.  LOL.  In adoption though, you learn to wait.  Makes those waits in restaurants or amusement fair ride lines seem like nothing.  For now, I wait.  That's all I can do.  That and send kisses in the wind to her.  She is my daughter through and through.  I know it.  Whether you think I'm crazy or not.  Sometimes a crazy kind of love is the best kind.  So, you can call me crazy.  I love someone I've never even met before. 

Need to get going.  Yana & Irina have youth group tonight w/ a gift exchange.  I'm making two cakes for it.  Hopefully, have time to decorate them as well.  This coming week is obviously busy.  The week before Christmas.  And yes, my kids have been counting them down.  Have a wonderful weekend.  More to come this week.  Immigration...URGHH!!!  Tell you tomorrow.