Saturday, December 31, 2011

Talent... this time, Warren's mom

Warren's parents live in NC as well and only about two hours away.  Warren's mom is super duper talented.  I know I've never mentioned it before but felt it was about time.  Her name is Pat and she is an artist.  And a dog gone good one at that!  She teachers art classes and also sells various art work.  Beautiful pieces to be sure.  I thought it was time I share some of the.  She is very, very modest about her artwork but I believe more need to see it.  Just is peaceful to look at.  Many nature scenes.  She has her own studio.  My kids are fortunate enough to get to go there when they stay with them and they get to do various pieces of art.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.  The new kids were in awe.

 Okay, forgive the very poor picture quality and I'm sure you'll see reflections in a bunch of these pictures.  I was just snapping.  This is part of a painting.  Look at that deer in the snow.  Beautiful. 

Some more pictures.  Many of these are scenes from local areas.

 Birds.  Definitely nothing I could draw. 

She has such a variety of talent.  That clay sculpture to the side is one she was working on as well.  The picture at the bottom is actually a mirror that is painted on.  It's gorgeous but is currently reflecting the back wall.  

Just another peaceful feeling scene to me.  You can just picture the quiet, can't you?  

 Some more paintings.  This by the way, is only a very, very small portion.

Okay, this is MY absolute favorite piece in the whole place.  I know it is unfinished at the moment.  She's not done w/ it.  However, you can clearly see the beauty of what it will be once finished.  Imagine it lit up w/ lights behind it.  

 She told me the white bird is not done and I'm guessing won't be white as it is a cardinal....our state bird.

Just look at the detail and the time that went into this piece.  I can't even paint by numbers but she produces these type of pieces all the time.  Still in awe.

 Another painting.  Campfire by the lake.  I can picture myself there.  I think that is one of the beauty of these different can visualize yourself in complete peace with nature.  Or, at least I can. 

Summer, admiring one of her Nana's pieces of artwork.  Reni and Logan kept asking if she painted them.  We kept having to tell them every single one in here.  

Just couldn't go on without sharing her artwork.  I think it is amazing.  It's very beautiful to me and it is an honor knowing someone with that much talent.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Sorry I can't do the pieces justice w/ my limited photography skills.  Trust me, in person you'd be stunned. 

Darts, dear friend and drama

Well, it's New Year's Eve.  Alyona and Reni are spending the night at a friend's house.  The teen girls have someone staying here.  All are watching a movie.  I'm up here catching up on emails and posts.  Hoping tomorrow we can finally stay home and go nowhere.  Would be nice to catch up on some lingering house stuff.  We are diligently organizing and reorganizing in order to sell.  Crazy.  Even though it will be an "as is" sale, you still have to be 'show ready.'  12 people, 3 dogs, equals nowhere near show ready.  Not a bit!  Hey, giving it a shot, that's for sure.  Time for some more pictures.

Warren, getting ready.  For what?

 Look at the top of his head.  Yes, the kids were taking turns shooting nerf darts at Warren's head.  I still can not believe he let them do this. 

Over the years, I've met some dear friends online.  The other day a wonderful surprise came in the mail very unexpectedly.  Kids tore open the box.  Inside were all kinds of goodies. If you'll notice, there is some LA flare.  This family is from LA.  A lady in the process of a Bulgarian adoption.  She cared enough to send our family, she'd never met in person mind you, a Christmas box.  Everything from socks to some creole seasoning.  So neat.  We have really enjoyed the various goodies.  And believe it or not, there's still some left!  Thank you Janah! 

 Summer, enjoying some of the LA Mardi Gras beads.  My teens had no idea what they're for.  LOL. 

What would a dinner be without some drama in our house.  This shot caught Alyona just finishing up slapping Irina on the head.  Nice, I know.

 Alyona, not wanting to be seen now.

Ahh, maybe just a bit.  Face was all red. 

Nik and Reni wanting to get in on the action w/ their cameras.  Notice the nice piece of orange in Reni's mouth?  This was a dinner gone bad.  Well, not really as 11 out of 12 were laughing.  And, before you jump on things, let me explain a bit more.  We have some drama kings and queens here for sure.  Something little will be totally blown out of proportion and this is what happened here w/ Alyona.  It just became absolutely ridiculous.  And, the thing was you could get Alyona to stop crying and start laughing on cue!  So, these were real, but fake tears at the same time if you know what I mean.  She could turn them on and off.  So, we just all decided to make it funny versus playing into the drama.  It ended fairly quickly after she realized we weren't playing into the 'show.'  Now, if this were more "real," obviously there would be no pictures and we'd tend to the issue at hand.  But this was one of those just stupid, stupid scenes that kept growing.  By the end, all of us were laughing including the one crying.  At first, Reni was so concerned about Alyona.  Shortly, she knew this was not "real."  She was not hurt or distraught.  She just wanted attention.  Even though she doesn't speak English yet, Reni got right in there and started teasing her sister.  I ended that one quickly though.  Though we're all playing around, kids know certain rules still apply.  

I shared b/c I know some of you other parents must have some drama in your house as well.  This is a whole lot better than when they pretend they're hurt.  In our house, that is Logan through and through.  They all eventually learn the drama doesn't get you the attention you seek.  Part of it is an orphanage learned behavior.  The louder or more dramatic you were, the more attention you received.  They have to slowly unlearn this over time.  And yes, some of ours from years back are still learning.  Kids. 

Bojan's Band Concert

So, going through some old pictures and can't believe we forgot to post about this as it was important to Bojan.  Bojan is in band for the first time this year and learning to play the trumpet.  For those that don't know, Bojan is not just missing his leg.  He's missing a finger as well.  In addition, he has many shortened digits and such.  So, we weren't even sure which instrument he'd be able to play.  Well, looks like trumpet suits him just fine.  We weren't home long from Bulgaria when we went to his concert.  Thought I'd share a few shots from it.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  He really is learning and growing in his playing.  Neat to watch.

My handsome young man before his concert.  His first concert.  Sorry about the skeletons on the tree.  Hey, there's a tree there and that was a huge accomplishment for just getting home w/ three new kids.  

Since Bojan got a picture taken, Summer wanted one in her dress.

Happy little girl.  This was before her hair cut.  She is another girlie girl of mine.

Killing time waiting for the concert to start, Nik decides to start braiding Yana's hair.  Many of my boys know how to braid since they have quite a few sisters.

Bojan, walking out.  He's the one in the suit.  Many of the other boys in his class took theirs off.  Don't blame them, too hot.  But, I think Bojan looks sharp!

Bojan in action playing the trumpet.

Bojan, waiting for instructions from the director.  

 The whole 6th grade band playing together.  It's fun b/c I remember those days when I was younger.  See, Warren played the trumpet and I played the flute/ piccolo all the way through my first year of college.  Bojan is our only musician in the bunch thus far.  Nice to see someone else w/ an interest in music.

And, the family coming home.  Certain events, we ALL try to go to if we feel it's important to one child.  We don't make them come to all events but the more significant ones, yes.  I think it is good they support one another.  

More to come.  But, it's New Year's Eve and Warren just brought the burgers in!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Blessings abound

This Christmas Season was one blessing after another.  Now, some might not consider them a big deal but I do.  Just shows you the kindness out there. So, thought I'd share a few in pictures.

All that candy is not for Nik.  This gift was sent to us from the kids' Upwards Soccer coach.  Coach Chris!  It was such an unexpected and sweet, sweet surprise.  We really enjoyed it.  It did not last long in this house.  And yes, that is my luggage from the Bulgaria trip in the background.  We are just slow some times.  Well, more like sidetracked.  Can't imagine why.

 When we went to go get our order back in place w/ the local farmer, he wished us a Merry Christmas and gave us a bunch of goodies.  Candy, fruit, and nuts.  We really enjoyed this one!  So lucky we got strawberries for breakfast to go w/ our pancakes.  Thank you Gary. 

 One of our neighbors dropped off two boxes.  Kids lit up when they opened them.  There were 10 light up balls in one box. 

 And a huge pile of candy in the other box.  These are the same kind neighbors that gave us our Thanksgiving turkey.  Martha and Rob are great neighbors.  We are very fortunate to have them in our community.

Poprocks never go out of style.  Faces are priceless.

Nik's face w/ the pop rocks.  Sorry so blurry.

One of Max's friends even brought us an entire box of candy.  I told you we have nice young men living here.  Just was very thoughtful of him to think of all of us.

Here is another one of my girls' friends.  We have known her for years and she was for the past few years always called our "8th child."  We obviously had to rename her recently to our "11th child."  She is not taking to the name well as she was here first.  LOL.  Seriously though, we love her.  Just a great young lady.  She lives right down the street.  Well, she even brought me something for Christmas to open.  

What else would it be but chocolate.  I was mean, I did not share. I kid you not.  Kids had piles of candy and chocolate.  These were mine.  LOL.  

It was just really nice to find surprises on our doorstep from the mailman or things a neighbor left.  There was even one box full of oranges, apples and grapefruit on our doorstep when we came home from the Christmas Parade.  Was very  nice and a reminder of the generosity and kindness in people.  It was especially fun teaching the kids that you don't have to know where everything comes from.  They agreed one day we should surprise someone as well.  Thanks to everyone who was so generous this Christmas season and for all the wonderful surprises.  It meant a lot to us.  Also taught us a lot which was fantastic. 

Christmas Eve suprise

Well, the other day on Christmas Eve we received a surprise phone call.  The phone call was from Santa! 

The kids were just a tad excited.  At first, Alex did not believe it was Santa.  Alex assumed it was Dad.  

Alex really changed his mind when I told him to look in the kitchen.  He saw dad standing there...with no phone.  Alex was saying "it really is Santa!"  The kids talked forever here.  I'm not quite sure why Alex's eyes are so dilated.  This typically only happens during RAD rages or meltdowns.  Was weird seeing them this way in a normal emotional response.  So, who was behind the Santa calls?

Maxwell!  He had SO much fun doing this w/ them.  It was great.  

Alaska, waiting patiently for Santa to put things in her stocking.  BTW, stupid dog kept chewing the lights.  So, they didn't work on the bottom part of the tree.  

It really was neat to see the looks on their faces while they were talking to Santa.  Even Reni and Logan knew who it was.  They were all so giddy afterwards.  Gee, should have done this before dinner.  Might have been a more peaceful dinner.  Oh well, next year.  

Warren has to do some more work here this evening.  So, hoping to get a blog post or two up.  He got home at 10pm this evening.  Poor guy.  This was his day off.  And yes, working tomorrow as well.  Hope this doesn't happen next week.  It's his birthday.  He and Bojan share the same birthday.  I want to do something special but revenge is bittersweet.  See, my b-day is shortly after his.  So whatever I would even conger up, he'd do it ten times worse to me.  LOL.  Bojan is turning 13yo and Warren is turning 50.  Lots of big celebrations.   Bojan has yet to tell me what he wants to do for his birthday or even what he wants.  Nothing like last minute kiddo.  For those wondering, I'm finally catching up on a few emails too.  Wahoo!!!  Getting organized is one of my resolutions.  I'm off to a grand start.  Under the bathroom cabinets.  In the closet, etc.  I was on a roll today.  How long before they mess it up? 

Summer's birthday gift

Trying to catch up on some posts today so may be quite a few going up.  The 19th was Summer's 5th birthday.  First one celebrated in America.  My mom sent her a present.  So, it was time for her to open it. 

Summer, opening her box of goodies.  

 Kota is just as interested in what she got.  Summer received some leggings, a skirt, a shirt, and a jacket.  Just this fashionita's style.

Summer inspecting her new jacket.  Loved the trim on it.

Jacket was a huge hit w/ Summer & it's all she wears now.  She looks really cute in her outfit too.  

Don't know who snapped this shot w/ my mouth wide open.  Oh well. I was zipping up her jacket for her.  She was so happy and lots of smiles.  Thanks mom for the cute outfit and jacket.  Summer loves it and already has gotten a lot of use out of it.  

More to come.  Warren is at work today.  Yes, it's his day off.  Got to love IT.  He's not sure when he's coming home.  What he's trying to fix is not working a bit.  Translation:  he'll be there forever and a day.  Max & Yana have a party this evening to attend but thankfully, in the neighborhood.  I'm severely night blind so no driving for me at night.  Rest of us are just kind of vegging out today.  We did some serious cleaning earlier and will do more tomorrow.  Was hoping to go to Sam's today but that's not happening.  Warren and I go there together as it is much faster than one of us going w/ the kids in tow.  Plus, they'd rather stay home than grocery shop.  Made our own dog chewies today.  Umm, not doing that again.  The homemade dog treats did turn out though so making those each week for sure.  Dogs ate them and that's all that counts.  So, store bought dog chewies yes, but homemade dog treats.  Hey, you do what works.  Next, we're working on making our own cleaning products.  Used to make my own soap so know we can do that.  Going to attempt to make our own window cleaner, floor cleaner, laundry detergent and all purpose cleaner this weekend.  If it work, wonderful.  If not, not a lot out of our pocket.  Trying to still cut costs here and there b/c as of January, our insurance goes up.  Plus, the kids are finding it interesting trying to make our own items here and there.  So, if some of it works, we'll let you know.  There are tons of recipes on line for various things.  It's all trial and error and best to try when we're all at home and on a break.  More to come. 

Potty training a 5yo???

Coming here to ask for advice.  I have potty trained toddlers before.  This is different.  A little background info.  Summer was said to be potty trained at the orphanage.  I asked.  I was curious b/c not only she wore diapers at 4yo but so did her roommates at the orphanage.  That's why I was wondering.  Summer is now 5yo, turned 5 last week.  However, emotionally she is more like 2yo.  She is delayed but mostly PI delays from what I can gather thus far.  Yet, some things she may be more delayed in.  Still figuring her out.  She is said to be missing her corpus callosum in her brain.   That can also cause some delays.  Waiting on MRI results on Jan. 10th.  She had it done a long time ago.  Hate waiting.  Anyhow, we are seeing what those results show as well.  May give us some insight. 

Summer is a very happy little girl.  Yet, cries at the drop of a hat. Like I said, emotionally very, very immature.  Back to potty training.  We tried to get her to go on the potty in Bulgaria since they said she was trained.  No part of it.  She wanted no part of it whatsoever!  She does not care whatsoever if she is wet or dirty in her diaper.  Not one single bit.  She won't tell you if she's wet or dirty.  She'd sit in it all day if you'd let her.  We don't but she would.  We have tried many, many tactics.  Typical things you would try.  We're at a loss.  After many, many, ruined pairs of underwear, we have let it go for now and back in diapers/ pull ups.  We have tried to cheer her own like crazy when she's on the toilet, we have tried the training potty, we have tried underwear over the pull-ups.  Anything and everything.  Nothing is working.  She has NO interest or desire in potty training.  She is 5yo now.  Truly, I didn't think this would be an issue. 

So, I'm asking for suggestions that other parents of developmentally delayed kids have tried.  Is she just not at the point where I should try yet.  Maybe too much for her brain to process at the moment?  Not sure.  Suggestions or ideas are very welcomed.  Like I said, we've done this potty training thing before.  Just this seems to be a whole lot different w/ Summer and can't pinpoint why right now.  She's seen her sisters w/ underwear on.  We've made a BIG deal about the whole underwear thing.  Just not working.  Thanks in advance.  This is what she does w/ the training potty: 

She uses it as a stool.  Which is fine b/c we've really been working w/ her on the big potty instead.  She has peed on the big toilet before.  So, I know she can do it.  However, it was not b/c she told us she had to go or anything like that.  Just ready to be out of diapers.  Can't wait to hear what you all have to say. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nik-- ADHD/ FASD time to talk

Going to be honest here so watch out.  Up till now, we have concentrated solely on Nik's deafness and how to help him with that.  How can he reach his fullest potential by the resources we give him? Does he even want to?  Does he want to speak?  Does he want to sign?  As of late, we've notice he's been lazy lately.  He's also been like a squirrel on speed.  Okay, so I knew day one he had ADHD.  It's really a no brainer.  I mean, I have 3 other kids with it, it's not like I don't know what it is or what to look for.  I also have 5 other kids w/ FASD.  I knew from the get go Nik has FASD.  Again, no brainer.  However, we were so focused on his deafness and language, that we failed to address either the FASD or the ADHD.  It has become blatantly obvious over the last few weeks this needs to be addressed ASAP.  no delaying any more.  We just can't.  Poor kid is suffering.

I feel a bit guilty.  Knowing I should have addressed this earlier and not focused solely on his deafness for he is not only deaf.  I knew this, I did.  However, I also know some kids can be handled w/out medication.  And, some even outgrow ADHD.  Nik is not one of those kids.  He will need pharmaceutical help and I'm okay with that.  We have 3 children, well 4 if you count Logan but his is epilepsy, on meds.  Nik desperately needs this.  He is all over the place.  Constantly in motion.  Can't do his school work.  Can't really focus but when he does focus, it is a hyper focus like the other night.  He wanted Warren to fix his paper airplane but Warren was working w/ the older kids on something.  In addition, it was way past Nik's bedtime.  He just melted down.  Couldn't let it go b/c he was so focused on the airplane.   It was hard to watch.  I've noticed a slight decline in him lately and it's NOT because the new ones are home.  It's not.  This was a little noticeable even before they got home.

I remember what Max told me when we put him on meds years ago.  He didn't know they were meds btw.  We told him they were vitamins b/c we wanted his input.  Max said to me one day "Mom, am I going to take these forever?"  I said why?  Max said " because for the first time in my life I can think straight."  He was 6yo I believe at the time.  It was then I realized I should have started the meds sooner.  Feel the same about Nik.  Should have done this last year.  Thought about it but guess I was being cautiously optimistic.  This week things have become way too clear.  Nik needs meds and needs them soon.  And that's okay.  It won't change who he is a bit but will hopefully allow him to lead a better life.  Fewer frustrations, fewer meltdowns, fewer failures due to no focus, etc. He too will hopefully be able to think clearly as Max puts it.  This will not fully help the ADHD or FASD.  That I know all too well.  I also know that if right meds are found though, it will allow him to be the best person he can be.  And that is all I want for Nik.  To be the best kid he can be.  To not feel so eaten up inside.  To not be so frustrated.  To feel relief and feel like he can function.

I'm telling you all this b/c if you have a child w/ special needs and focus on one need, you're possibly not doing all you can for the child.  Even though, like myself, you think you are.  ALL our focus was on how to help Nik achieve w/ his deafness.  Yet we can't fully do that until we also help him with his ADHD and FASD.  So, that is our next step with Nik.  Yes, we'll continue to help him with language but if you can't focus long enough to do the sight words or phonics, how can you help w/ language?  Called our neuro but now they need a referral from the ped.  Seriously?  Can't you just trust the parent who's done this for 12 years now AND been seeing you for 11 years now?!  Oh well.

Nik will flourish, that I have no doubt.  I guess my guilt lies will he have flourished more or faster had I addressed this years ago?  Should I have waited so long?  I know you can't change it now.  I"m over that. Just want to make sure I do right by Nik is all.

Christmas the aftermath (part 2)

Yes, Christmas Day seemed to last forever at our house.  Maybe it was the 5:48 wake up call that did it.  Don't know.  But, few more pictures of what we went through and then moving onto other topics for sure.

 Max got all kinds of hot sauces for Christmas.  He decided he should try them by drinking a little of them.  I think the habenero got to him. 

 He couldn't get enough water.  

Ahh, finally daylight!  And what is my daughter doing?  Messing w/ the sauces that Max just burned his mouth with.  

Is that not the biggest whoopie cushion you've ever seen?!  Alyona and Summer watching in amazement.  Irina said after this she's never blowing that up again.  It took quite some time.  They busted the smaller self-inflating whoopie cushion they got.  

 What's with the serious face on Logan?  LOL.  And w/ a toy drum to boot.  He holds the sticks and bangs on the drums as if he's played before.  It appears he's played the drums.  He told me he did in Bulgaria but not sure what capacity since he is so young.  We'll find out once we have more English.  Still, interesting for sure.  See, even older kids have many mysteries inside.  Did you know this kid break dances?  Yes, he does.  Kind of funny to watch. Now, Nik imitates him. 

Alex taking a break w/ an apple.  The day was getting to him.  He holds it together for quite some time but then will meltdown after a bit.  And this is why we always ask people to come to our house for Christmas.  It's just hard on him.

And this is precisely why Max asked for a keep his younger sibs out.  

We had turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple pie, etc. for Christmas Dinner.  Which btw, Yana did not attend till later.  URGHH!!!  If you tell me you are going on a short walk, you best define the word 'short.'  More on that situation later.  Teens. God gives you these challenging years so that you appreciate it when they do leave the nest!   That is not a real chocolate Santa by the stove in case you're wondering why it's not melting.

Alex's nickname at dinner is neanderthal man.  Look at the size of the drumstick!  What you don't see is the pile of turkey behind the drumstick too.  This boy can eat.  And in case you're wondering, our grocery bill is just about as much as the mortgage every single month.  He is part of that reason.  LOL.  

Alex, Logan and Summer all plugged in.  Well, Summer's just trying to listen.

Alyona and Logan listening to some tunes.

 This just about sums up the day for you.

All in all, they didn't do too bad for all that Christmas stimulation.  And a few things broke.  Yana bricked her brand new tablet that took Warren 2 days to fix!  Nik broke his player before he even got to use it.  Alyona broke her mp-3 player.  She left her headphones on the floor, someone stepped on them and she plugged  jammed them back into the player.  So broke it for good.  Logan broke the gun by trying to yank it out of the package.  They spilled slime downstairs, upstairs and in the pantry.  Whoopie cushion broke.  Many broken things but spirits were still up.  And that's a good thing for them.  We fix what we can as best as we can.  Kids had a great Christmas though despite the mishaps.  They really enjoyed all their gifts. Though tired, it was nice to see them so happy.  However, there is fallout when you have FASD kiddos and too much happening.  Attitudes these past few days have been almost unbearable.  We're on the upswing so that's good.  So much more to share.  For now, Warren is trying to fix the computer that Max infected w/ a virus.  A wicked one.  Lovely.  And yes, it had antivirus stuff and all that on it.  See, Max did not load some of these things on his computer.  Lessons learned.  Lessons learned.  

Warren has to go to work tomorrow.  Bummer.  Today we actually got the citizenship papers back to social security office.  Was very quick.  Love it.  Summer has already gotten her card.  Alex is spending the night w/ a friend this evening.  Max works tomorrow.  Max and Yana have a party to go to tomorrow evening.  Alyona and Reni are spending the night at a party New Year's Eve.  Tomorrow, we're all cleaning this dump or no one is going anywhere!  Still looking like a demilitarized zone.  More on Nik in a bit.  Just wanted to finish up some of the Christmas posts.  And nope, never did get those Christmas cards out.  Still have yet to get the family portrait done either.  My to do list is not getting to done.  Hey, I figure I can start fresh next year right?  Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe New Year's weekend.