Saturday, January 15, 2011

Imitation is flattering, right?

Nik is a little creative from time to time.  This may be one of those times.

Nik made this person out of kinex.  I know it may be hard to see in this picture but look closely.  This is Bojan.  How do we know?

Notice the legs?  Quite different.  quite clever if you ask me.  Still not convinced it's Bojan he's imitating?

Too funny.  He even imitated Bojan's misisng finger w/ a smaller kinex piece.  Creative kid for sure.  Told Bojan this is a form of flattery.  Nik was smiling as big as he could w/ his life-sized kinex model of Bojan.  He was even trying to make it walk a bit.  Didn't work of course.

He even had his Bojan shake hands w/ Aunt Lisa when she came to visit.  He was not too happy that the arm kept breaking off every time you would shake it.  Too funny.  Nik loves to build with Legos and Kinex.  Fortunately, I can usually find them at yardsales.  So, really allows him to get creative.  

Well, need to get some other things done today besides a blog post or two.  Girls are still working in the kitchen.  Interesting to say the least.  Need to take a walk soon too but waiting for Warren to come home from work still.  It's 3:15 so hopefully soon.  I'm still trying to stay organized & keep my resolutions.  I think I may actually do it this year.  I know I still owe many of you emails but I'm getting there....slowly.  Laundry has stayed caught up.  Emails are getting answered.  Clutter is disappearing.  Plans are being made.  Not too bad.  And, staying w/ the health plan.  

All the kids did their chores this morning.  All of them.  Only issue we had today was Alex's lying.  RAD children are notorious for lying.  Or, at least many of them do.  This for me is the hardest to overcome.  We have tried every reward/punishment known to man and nothing.  NOT even if caught red-handed w/ a video tape.  It's insane.  I had Yana's lying well under control.  Last night was the first night in ages she lied to us.  She knew we'd be mad if she told us so she lied instead.  See, when Irina and Yana go somewhere together, Yana will take advantage of her sister.  Usually, in the form of money by getting Irina to pay for stuff for her.  Last night, same thing happened. They went to the skating rink which usually will cost $8 a piece.  I told them after Christmas I'm strapped, adoption coming up, me paying for their church activities, etc. I just could not pay. They both had money leftover.  Irina, having way more than Yana b/c IRina just had a birthday.  They got to the rink w/ their friend & it ended up being an all night skate w/ admission fee of $15 a piece.  Despite this being a giant rip off as they weren't staying all night, they didn't call us to come get them. Instead, Yana used Irina's money...again.  Lied to us about it.  Had quite the discussion last night w/ her about it.  How she is going to have to pay Irina back for some of this.  Just some life lessons.  We all have to learn them at some point.  

Overall, kids are doing okay right now and hope to keep it that way.  Max has even earned his tv back if some of you were wondering.  He's almost done spakling his room.  Tomorrow, we should start the painting.  Well, maybe Monday start it.   Tomorrow, it's going to be nice outside so I want Warren & Max to build a bike rack for our Sanford & Sons yard.  It's horrible looking.  Bike rack would most certainly help.  The scrap wood we made the last one out of did not last.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  I know we're going to get stuff done but relax a bit at the same time.  Love it.

Slimey, smokin', and stinky

thought it was time for a few "interesting (or boring depending on how you look at it)" pictures. 

Now, this slimely, little lizard may seem harmless but think again.  I happen to be on the phone w/ an immigration officer inquiring about fingerprints, when for some reason, I look up at the ceiling.  I see this thing & first gut reaction is to scream...into....the phone.  Immigration lady was none to happy with me at that point.  Later peeled the lizard off the wall and gave Nik a few words.  

Should have taken this shot a little later when he was more red.  His face was smokin'!  Yes, another stupid dare amongst my boys.  Ordered pizza for Bojan's birthday.  Comes w/ hot peppers on the side.  They dared each other to eat 4 of them and NOT take a drink or anything afterwards and see who could last.  Bojan's eyes are starting to get red from the heat here.  It is kind of funny to watch them follow through w/ their stupid dares.  It's usually Max & Bojan as Alex tends to chicken out.  Entertainment if nothing else.

Okay, so today we were cleaning the house.  We went into the boys' room (Alex & Nik) and it was beyond stinky.  Just one of those places you wanted to hold your nose shut.  Thought there had to be some sort of rotten food under the bed or something.  Made everyone go on the hunt for the smell.  Until I turned & looked at their dresser.  This poor creature(you can barely see him) was still alive!  I had forgotten they had a fish & evidence proves so did they.  Not sure when the last time he got fed was.  Wish I had taken the after.  They are not ready for their own pet.  Yana now has a clean fish bowl w/ this fish in her room.  I was not proud of the boys.  Who does this kind of stuff??  

Today the original plans were to go to museums and out to lunch.  However, Warren is stuck at work this weekend for an outage weekend.  I thought it was next weekend.  So, we'll just go to museums and out to lunch next weekend.  No big deal.  Just was looking forward to it.  We cleaned the house.  Hurry, b/c if you blink you'll miss it.  Gets cluttered back up that fast.  AFter cleaning up, we all watched G-force.  Thought it would be a stupid movie since it was after all about secret agent spy guinea pigs but it actually kept their attention and mine.  LOL.  Kids now have people over.  Girls are baking a cake for my neighbor.  Well, neighbor & me though they're trying to keep it a secret.  My b-day is tomorrow & they're being nice.  Still funny.  They asked me how to make homemade pie crust.  I'm almost afraid to try whatever they create b/c I can hear them downstairs thinking they can substitute stuff.  Should be an interesting pie for sure.  My neighbor's b-day is today & mine is tomorrow.  I think the girls & their friend are trying to make us both one.  I think I'll give mine to her after listening to the chefs in there.  I will take pictures.  Warren is still at work and it's 2:38.  Got to love it.  Tomorrow we have church and then the rest of the day to get stuff done.  Monday puppies have a vet appt.  Kids are off school so I'll take one or two w/ me to help w/ puppies.  

Okay, girls were laughing, I went downstairs & Kota was licking flour.  Had it all over his face.  Poor dog.  Poor kitchen.  Not sure I want this pie.  May have to say a prayer before digesting it.  Got to go.  Not sure they know quite how to read the recipes and convert some measurements.  Maybe I should have just videotaped them.  Bye for now.  More to come I'm sure. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flabulous to Fabulous

Yes, I'm back in the swing of things.  I was one of the millions I'm sure that made the ever so popular New Year's Resolution to lose weight.  I was doing great before the holiday season but then totally slacked off in December.  And ate cookies.  And fudge.  And cake. And whatever had that chocolately goodness about it.  Well, I decided it was time for a permanent changed.  I had gained weight over Christmas so that was enough.  Couldn't stand it any more.  Decided on little steps would work best for me.  They say it usually takes 10 days to develop a habit.  I started doing that.  Piece by piece.  One change at a time so that it becomes a habit.

Some little habits I'm now doing are little but I figure every little bit helps.  Apparently some of my germaphobe's neurotic behavior has been passed onto me.  I know take Vitamin C Hall's drop once a day as do my kids.  I know in my mind they don't really make a difference but if anything, makes me feel good about finally taking some sort of vitamin.  Okay, I also take vitamin D as my deficiency was so bad, it was almost non-existent.  It was REALLY beyond low.  Doc was very concerned last year but it's totally back to normal and am "supposed" to be on 1000 to 2000mg each day.  I say supposed to b/c some times I am bad about remembering to take it.  Hmm, maybe they should make it flavored like those Vitamin C drops. LOL.  Anyhow, my D levels are checked regularly just to make sure.  Getting them checked made a really huge difference in my life.

I've also made it a habit of drinking at least 4 glasses of water a day.  Hey, it takes awhile to shoot for that 8.   But, it has become a habit for me now which is what I was shooting for.  So, I've accomplished drinking more water each day, taking vitamin C & D, stretching, and weight lifting for a few minutes each night.  All these things have become habits that I do each& every day.  By next week, I want to tell you all I have cardio workouts on that list of "habits."  I've started cardio & have done it for a few days but wait to put it on the habits list until I've done it for 10 days in a row.  I'm actually pretty proud.  I know they sound like small steps but baby steps lead to big steps. 

As far as weight loss goes, I was 197.6 lbs. last week.  Today, I'm 194.4.  So, 3.2 lbs. in a week.  I know it's not much but it IS a start.  I feel if I can keep the habits up & the motivation, I can do it.  What helps is reporting on here. I was dead beat tired last night, did not feel like working out but remember I had to be accountable on here.  Bummer.  Worked out and felt 100% better that I did it.  My goal for next week is to add walking to the regimine every day and say that cardio became a habit.  Keeping fingers crossed.  Oh, and I really want to be done to 191 but not sure if that is a reasonable goal right now.  Shooting for it but even if I loose just a pound next week, I'd be happy.  It would mean I'm losing, not gaining.  So, at 194, I press on.  Hoping to get to 191 next week.  I know 3 lbs. a week in a normal workout is not usually obtainable.  they say 1 to 2 lbs. per week is ideal.  Either way, I'll be happy if I loose anything. 

Overall, feeling better about getting stuff done.  Getting healthy.  So now, off for a walk w/ the "littles."  It's finally decently sunny outside & I think it's important we enjoy it.  Have a wonderful weekend and hope to post more later on today.  For those who haven't started back into health & fitness yet, it is definitely worth it for sure.  You will feel better.  Okay, honestly, the first week is tough to get in the swing of things but after that, second nature.  Good luck to all. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Puppies in pictures

Well, thought it was high time I put some cute puppy pictures up.  Dogs are only puppies once so limited time to snap cute shots of them.  I'm trying over the next week to take a ton pictures of them.  There is a local contest for cute dog pictures.  It starts January 17th to submit pictures to a local paper.  So, looking for one where the pups are actually looking at the camera.  LOL.  Hard to do as usually, we're chasing them.  Anyhow, thought I'd share a few shots from the past month.

This is Alaska enjoying one of her chewies.  Caught a bunch at the after Christmas clearances.  They'll have green & red chewies throughout the year.  Out of the two pups, Alaska is surprisingly the chewer.  

Kota and Alaska love to lay on top of the vent in the kitchen.  They know where it's warm in the house.  

I turned the corner and this is what I saw.  This is the last time I've seen him on the coffee table.  I'm telling you, this dog is going to be a horse.  We call him "King Kota" for a reason.  

I now can no longer keep my potatoes on the ground in a bag or box.  These puppies love potatoes.  That's what Kota has in her mouth.  They love this and also love to chase ice cubes all over the house.  Especially, Alaska.  She stands in front of the refrigerator and barks so we'll push the buttons to have icecubes fall on the floor.  

Two very sleepy puppies.  They love to sleep on the stairs.  Won't move for anything.  Well, maybe for the sound of a cheese wrapper.  Look at the size of Kota's paws.  That dog is going to be huge.  We have a feeling he's going to be around 80/ 90 lbs.  Seems to be growing the rate Bear did and is very solid.  Alaska is much lighter and much smaller paws.  Kind of hoping she stays that way.  She is just a doll.  We couldn't love these puppies any more.  they have added such joy and comfort to this family.  Hope you enjoyed some of the pictures as much as I did.

Adoption Report

I had received an email awhile back (told you I was catching up) about a new website someone was creating.  It is to help connect families that have adopted.  Share photos & things of various regions.  I know for a fact by sharing w/ others, some families have been connected to lost siblings and such.  That is what happened to us w/ Nik years back.  We discovered his bio brother's adoptive family here in the States.  It was a chance on a discussion board once.  Anyhow, the same concept is being done here:  thought some of you might be interested in checking it out.  I know it's just getting started.  Just wanted to share.  More to come later.  Been a long day.  But, I am really getting caught up on stuff.  It's an awesome feeling.  Going to get Max & Irina's certificates so that we can get their permits hopefully Friday.  Now that's scary.  Bojan gets his check socket tomorrow.  I have 4 "Littles" tomorrow but also have Irina & Max here to help.  They have exam week this week so neither go tomorrow.  Got to go.  dinner time. 

Yesterday & Food Inc. & adoption

Yesterday was a day off school.  I had all these plans of stuff we could get done.  Umm, no go.  We all stayed in our pj's all day after having pancakes and sausage for breakfast.  Ended up watching Inner Space on Netflix.  My kids love that movie for whatever reason, I don't know.  We did get laundry done so I guess that could be considered an accomplishment.  Warren worked from home yesterday.  He has to wear headphones in order to work from home.  Crazy, huh?  I was not happy w/ my kids yesterday.  I'll be honest.  I'd like to say everyone did their chores, offered to help out and was just sweet.  But,that would be a lie.  It was a constant battle w/ chores, cleaning, homework and kindness yesterday.  It was awful.  Constant bickering.  URGHH!!!  Each had to find something about the other that they didn't like.  didn't matter who it was.  Max got his tv taken away.  Most got sent to rooms at some point during the day.  Just was not a pretty seen here.  Warren said he should have taken his chances on the ice b/c even an embankment accident would have been better than here.  He was kidding. He's been in a horrible car crash before and knows what it's like.  But, that is how bad itwas here.  You were wishing you weren't here.  Happens sometimes but I had really envisioned a calm day.  Ha!  Not here.  Oh well.  Maybe next ice day. 

We have a bunch I'm catching up on today.  "Littles" aren't here today.  I'm doing this and then catching up on all my emails.  Slowly getting back to people.  Also, working on the next adoption fundraiser.  We have to get serious about fundraising as the reality of costs is becoming apparent.  Apparent that we don't have enough.  We borrowed from retirement, I took on a full time babysitting job and we have  been strict w/ our money.  Net flix was our recent "splurge" at $8 a month.  No going out unless we have a gift cert or it's free or practically free.  Trying to save every penny for this adoption that has been ever changing.  Not knowing exactly how much we needed.  And that is a whole other post.  Most I am still not at liberty to say.  I do promise one day to explain it all.  But, first and foremost we must get on this first trip to go meet the kids.  We got our fingerprint appt. for Irina.  Going early next week to sit & wait & hope we'll get seen early.  It's a crap shoot but hey, we'll try anything.  Once approved, travel is pretty quick from what our agency is saying.  Remember, our dossier was all in but the I-800A.  That was supposed to be approved back in October but we've had delays due to Irina being considered an extra adult living in our home.  Fine.  Now, this is the last part of the delays...getting her printed & us approved.  All that being said, money is coming due.  Thousands of dollars and then airfare.  I'll be calculating just how much we'll need.  My off handed guess is around another $15K.  Out of all our adoptions, this is really the only one we've had to fundraise for.  It's different for us.  All other times, borrowing from retirement or home equity line is how we did it.  part of our  money we borrowed this go around has gone to some major house repairs needed:  Rotted windows that were going into the structural part...$2500.  Rotted door frame....$600.  Septic issues....$500.  Readoption for Irina to assure no SSI issues later....$1200.  Insurance for Nik's implants...$400(I think).  I don't count car repairs as those are expected in any family any time.  We took that $5200 out of the adoption money b/c we really had no choice.  Figuring, we could make it up later.  Now's the time to make it up.  We're going to be doing a fundraiser soon starting next week hopefully.  Magazine fundraiser I'll get moving along w/ again.  Also, going to get that donation sidebar fixed back up.  Also, may try that coffee thing,not sure.  Trying to get creative for around here though locally.  I know Applebee's does fundraisers and we have one right up the street.  May try that one.  Going through ideas.  I like the idea of a chocolate extravaganza held at a big location like a church.  Everyone bakes chocolates, sweets and such and you sell them.  This may be a great idea for Valentine's Day.  Thinking, just thinking today.  More to come of fundraising later this week. 

Okay, Warren and I picked some things off Netflix.  Picked something called Food, Inc. as we thought it just would be something stupid to watch.  Or, at least I did.  This was the most eye-opening movie I've ever watched.  Warren has been telling me this for years and I really haven't paid him much attention.  This is a documentary.  Something I typically hate.  It was really worth watching.  It tracks where your food comes from in the grocery store.  It was eye opening.  Really was.  It has totally totally changed the way we view our food.  Once all the food is finished in our fridges/ freezers, we are changing how we eat.  It's worth the money to change it.   The kids watched this (to my amazement, it actually kept their attention) too.  NONE want fast food any more.  NONE.  You know, any time we ate fast food, we tended to get sick or not feel well afterward.   I know we don't eat fast food often and that some times you just feel "stuck" to, but we do not want to do this any more.  I already have a cooler full of snacks in the van if we ever get "stuck" hungry in the car.  Problem solved. 

It was SO very difficult for any of us to eat the hamburgers Warren made last night after watching that documentary.  70% of the meat you eat has ammonia filler.  YUCK!  We told the kids that is like eating hamburger & spraying it w/ Windex.  By now, it is most likely 100% in the meat you eat as this movie was made years ago.  We had looked into grass fed beef years ago.  We're seriously looking into it again and going that route.  The costs are nothing compared to your health.  Plus, I'm great at budgeting so budgeting some other things out, we can fit this vital thing in.  yes, we'll still eat meat but going to be a little different.  Already found local places here that have grass fed beef and such.  We already get fruits and veggies from local farmers.  Though I know some of those are shipped in too.  We like knowing where our food comes from.  We already really don't buy a whole lot of processed food anyhow.  No boxed mixes except for stove top stuffing.  (I hate making stuffing so I cheat)  Our baked goods are homemade, pancakes usually are though I do have a box of bisquick to finish.  We prefer making it from scratch and frankly, it doesn't take that much longer than an already prepared meal that is full of preservatives.  We only have soda on birthdays or special occasions.  Same rule w/ chips.  This movie really got all of us thinking though.  Still, not wanting to waste all the money of all the food that was just purchased, we will finish off what we have.  Watch this and you truly will not look at food the same way ever again.  I am shocked at what I had heard.  Warren had been hearing it for years on some of the sites he's on.  He reads Mother Earth News and they've had various articles as well I'm sure.  Anyhow, the movie was definitely thought provoking & as if we didn't have enough to think about here at Chaos Manor, well, we've added something else. 

Now, we do use natural products for things like laundry and dishwashing detergent.  Also in some conditioners and soaps we buy.  I have found the extra dollar or two spent to be well worth it.  Since buying natural lip balm, none of my kids get the chapped lips even during this cold season.  None of us have issues w/ clothes any more either.  I have two w/ eczema, one pretty rough in winter time, so this was a big concern before.  I didn't want to do it but said I'll try it.  I do know years ago our grandparents didn't use green or red toothpaste.  Many parents of FAS children I know also do a little more of the natural thing w/ products.  Some do extreme diets as well.   We do notice a big difference in Alex if he has sugar.  Same with Alyona.  They are M-E-A-N.  Plain and simple.  Anyhow, I'm getting totally side tracked on this post.  All over the map. Sorry.  Wanted to tell you about a contest that I entered.  See, we shop at Goat Milk Stuff online.  Love their products & never had an issue w/ any of them.  BTW, their laundry stick is $5.  Looks like a stick of butter but thought it worth trying.  It got out stains on my shades in the dining room that were literally years old.  I was stunned.  So far, it has gotten out any stain we've used it on.  The kids call it the magic stain stick.  LOL.  It's true though.  I know these products costs a little more than going to Wally World but for us, it's been worth it.  Bought the stain stick last year for $5.  Still have it & still a ton left.  I would have spent double that on shout by now at Walmart.  The soap I buy for me.  The kids tend to leave the soap in the tub and waste it.  We have used the laundry detergent all these months.  Seems expensive but we only use a tablespoon each time so it ends up being just a hair more than the ones we buy at Sam's.  Plus, w/the measuring tablespoon in there, the girls don't mess it up.  With the detergents (liquid) my older girls would pour too much each & every time.  Drove me nuts.  so for us, less waste.  I don't get compensated or anything like that.  I just like sharing when I find something that works that may work for someone else as well.  That & they're having a contest.  You can win $50 worth of product.  I think you have to like the facebook page.  Their main website is  There is a contest page that explains how to enter on Facebook & their websites.  thought I'd pass along a chance at winning some good stuff.  Hope you don't mind.  This is already very long-winded.  Have to get some more pictures up later to break up the words.  Hope the day is sunny for you all w/ no snow. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Creativity, choking, and science

Thought I needed a break from writing.  So, some pictures for a change.

Max was bored w/ the tacos we had one night for dinner.  And this is what he decided to do instead.  Umm, if we could just put that creativity into our studies then we'd be okay, right Max?  

Not sure why they were doing this.  These two are always joking around.  Funny, as these two used to be really far from close.  Now, goofing around.  

Bojan is the comedian.  Notice that Bojan is taller than Irina?  She hates that.  Max looks like such a grown up young man in this picture to me. Hard to believe that Irina is the oldest one in that shot. 

Yana decided to do an experiment she learned at school.  It helps w/ the concept of density & bouyancy.  You have to squeeze the bottle & the weighted paper clip will sink to the bottom.  Let go, and it floats to the top.  Nik had so much fun w/ this thing. I kept thinking the whole time it would bust.  No, it didn't.  Was fun to play around w/ it though.

Bojan, writing stuff down for his science experiment on weather.  In this house it is hard for stuff not to get destroyed.  Unfortunately, this too got destroyed the very next day.  This was for extra credit he told me.  

Just thought I'd share a few pictures.  Kids don't have school tomorrow.  We're going to clean and watch a movie I do believe.  Ice outside so not really conducive to playing or going anywhere.  I am trying to catch up on many things so this helps.  BTW, today, the fingerprint letter came for Irina.  Now, we have to go pick a day to go sit & wait at the NBC center to get her printed.  Otherwise, her appointment is on the 3rd of February.  sorry, can't wait that long folks.  I need to get to my kids.  

Time to get more done.  Hoping for a quiet week for a change.  Again, thanks for all the input on Nik.  It really is helping us sort through things & getting to learn a few more things.  

We are making plans for the next few months of trips to be taking.  Most are local.  And of course, most are free.  I know we'll go to a farm, going to a museum that's hands on, going to a natural science museum, going out to eat, and possibly on a hike (depending upon weather).  And that is just in January.  February, if there is a decent weekend, we'll go to the zoo as we have a pass.  We'll also maybe hold a cookout here.  We used to do a Polar Bear Cookout.  Would love to get back into that.  Where we cook out in the freezing cold w/ friends.  Breaks everyone out of that indoor rut you get into during winter time.  March, we'll be working on the house for sure.  Probably go camping at least once in March.  Going to just do the first 3 months of planning and then take it from there.  We are going to Cued Speech Camp again this year.  Love it there.  Absolutely love it there.  Also, possibly planning a trip to Charlotte (just for the day as we won't have hotel costs then) for our annual Orenburg Adoption Reunion. We are also looking into going to an FAS Family Camp for the first time ever.  The museums are free, gift cards for dinner, camping is $12 for a site last time we checked, hiking is free, deaf camp we use our tax money each year & it is VERY reasonable there, Charlotte is a day trip so gas money & then whatever activity they have there (not usually expensive), etc.  sounds like a lot that we're doing but costs are very minimal.  Okay, so the van is a real gas guzzler but what can you do?  Can't afford a $40K Sprinter so for now, it's our gas guzzler on trips.  I am really looking into the FAS Family Camp in October.  I really think it is critical for our kids to be around others w/ the same type of disability.  We do it for Nik.  Why not for the others?  We go to a local FAS support group.  Well, actually, been once but planning on attending each month.  Bojan goes to amputee events.  So I think it only fair we attempt this FAS Family camp.  Plus, seeing others that live the same kind of life we do at Chaos Manor really does help.  Anyhow, trying to find a way to swing this camp.  Money is obviously tight when you do any type of adoption.  Yes, a post forthcoming on expenses & what we may have to raise for this adoption.  

Long winded post.  Geez, sorry about that.  More to come.  Housing plans are in the works and are...well....changing.  As usual, much more to say on housing, possible plans for Irina's travel, photo books going to Serbia, and quite a few more things.  For now, going to enjoy a relaxing evening w/ the family who has no school tomorrow.  Do hope we keep the power on during this storm. Have a wonderful week. 

Explaining a bit of where Nik is

Okay, I've had a few people ask me why Nik is  8yo and in first grade.  I'm going to try to explain all this as best as I can.  So please bare w/ me.  We adopted Nik at 4yo(literally just turned 4 when we were there) from Russia.  They had NO IDEA he was deaf, let alone had major vision issues.  We got him tested right away.  Appointments are usually months out so I guesstimated when he'd be home & made the appointment that way.  Plus, Alyona's situation they were not sure was life or death so that had her at cardiology the day after we came home.  Anyhow, got tested.  Got second opinions & even had Duke tell me "well, he just has a vanilla hearing loss."  No big deal.  URGHH!!!  Went back to UNC and they said well, we'll do an ABR but don't expect to find anything.  Well, they did.  AN(auditory neuropathy).  Tricky dx.  Sometimes they will booth test fine and the next time these kids can come in and test severe to profound.  Yep, all over the map.  Now, UNC kept pushing us to do auditory verbal and whatever we do, don't sign w/ him.  We really were pushed and pushed this theory.  I did not agree and kept signing to him against their wishes as professionals.  I didn't care at the time, I was his mother.  Plain and simple. 

After months of explaining to them the hearing aids weren't working, we finally got the go ahead for one side to be implanted.  Now, keep in mind, we were even being accused of NOT putting the HA on him.  He'd take them off.  He didn't want them.  Found out later from other AN adults & older kids is all the HA do is turn up the noise & it hurts.  Umm, no wonder he really didn't care for the things.  URGHH!!!  Auditory Neuropathy is tricky in that the kids hear sound differently each and every single time.  Try learning the sound for 'b' if you hear it differently each time.  Hard, near impossible.  Long story short, the implants changed this for him. Dramatically changed it. 

While all this was happening, I was unable to get him in any early intervention program here as they end at age 3.  Could not get him in kindergarten at age five as they changed the start date for birthdays.  He missed it by a day or two!  No kidding.  Yes, I fought it.  His birthday is October 3rd btw.  So, he had to wait till kindergarten to go to school.  Started that at age 6yo.  Then, we fought all year to get him an interpreter.  Finally able to get one in....May.  So, w/out understanding a thing all year and no interpreter, we decided to hold him back & start fresh w/ an interpreter the following year.  So, he repeated kindergarten.  He started 1st grade this year at 7yo, & turned 8yo in October.  He's in a regular setting w/ pull out help.  Speech therapy.  We cut back his HI class for many reasons that I will not discuss on here.  He's better off w/out it, trust me.  So, that is why he's 8yo and in 1st grade. 

We pushed and pushed for implants in the beginning.  Talked to the head researcher in the field of AN.  He agreed it would be best.  UNC was reluctant to implant and had to follow protocol.  So many months of testing and months of trying HA.  Now, I can understand it when you have an infant but at the time, we had a 4.5yo w/ NO previous interventions or language.  We knew we were running out of time then.  Past is past. Can't change it.  So, have to deal w/ the here and now.  Trouble is, he is extremely behind in any type of language.  Frustrating for sure.  We feel his best option at this time is total communication.  Now, we can ask Nik some questions verbally and he can answer us yes or no.  Some, we ask in sign.  Working on things.  Someone emailed me a system they use for their deaf child.  Never knew about it before so am glad I posted something about me struggling w/ this decision.  I just have this gut feeling they are giving him more credit for stuff than what he's doing.  I need an accurate account of his learning so that I can make accomadations when necessary.  They have done this w/ my other kids as well so truly, I'm not surprised.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, I don't know.  Just know what I see here and find it hard to believe they see something totally different.  Anyhow, keep you posted.  He's definitely a very smart kid but w/out language, he won't get far.  Whether it's ASL or verbal.  He needs all the communication he can get.   Any more suggestions, please don't hesitate to say.  And please, if you feel we are doing something not right, let me know that too.  I can take it.   Seriously, this is our first deaf child and it's new uncharted territory for us.  We are learning as we go.  Just as Irina was our first FAS child, I know what I'm doing w/ the rest of them now.  In the beginning though, had no idea.  Had to learn from other parents who had been there.  So, now, I need input from others to gage what I'm doing for Nik.  If I can do more, I definitely will.  As a parent, there is always room for improvement.  Thanks.

Manic Monday

It was finally a relaxing weekend this past weekend.  Didn't go anywhere on Saturday.  Kids spent the night here Friday night and Saturday mostly the kids played with friends.  Was nice.   Sunday, we missed church.  Warren had been sick all day Saturday & was beat.  He needed to sleep.  By the time I got everyone organized, the clock was not on my side.  Irina and Yana did get to go in the afternoon with their youth group to help Stop Hunger Now event. Bagging up things to help feed the hungry.  Warren and I got a few groceries.  Trust me, with an ice storm coming, the shelves get emptied quickly.  Still cracks me up here.

It is very cold out.  Something is coming, that's for sure. Whether it ends up being snow or ice is yet to be seen.  Getting stuff done this week.  Immigration for one.  I also need to get Irina and Max's certificates again as they expired for the driving course.  Once we have those this week, we'll take them down to the DMV to take the test so they can get their driver's permit.  Yikes!

Bloodwork came back for Alex.   Now, doc office said it was fine.  Raleigh Neurology called & said his cholesterol was getting too high.  Sometimes, this is side effect of his meds.  We will alter his diet a bit.  Max's cholesterol did the same thing and then balanced back out on it's own.  Who knows.  Just keeping an eye on it and he'll be retested in a few months.  If it remains on the getting high side, we'll look at a med change which I dread.

I'm getting caught up on some phone calls today, surveys to take and emails to answer.  Slowly but surely, it will get done.  I'm on a mission!  LOL.  Even the refrigerator got cleaned out today. 

Thanks so much for all the responses on the deaf & reading post.  It does help coming from other people.  We are slowly learning sign.  Just wish we could learn instantly but I for one know it doesn't work that way.  We go to Cued Speech Camp every year.  We explored cued speech but it definitely was not for us.  Warren caught on.  I could not.  Seriously, I just could not get it.  That & it would be harder for Bojan w/ some missing fingers and shortened digits to do cued speech.  In addition, there is a bit of abstraction to it versus ASL.  Here's a word, here's a sign.  Since some of our kids are very mentally challenged, we figured that was another reason to do ASL.  We still go to the cued speech camp every year and those folks are amazing.  It is really a great thing.  Just not the thing for our family.  We also don't do SEE(signed exact english).  We prefer to do ASL so sticking to it & trying to enhance it.  And for the person who suggested youtube for the ASL lessons, THANK YOU!  I never even thought of that even though I do some Bulgarian stuff on youtube.  Just gives me another option.  There is ASLpro and ASL University that i go to.  I get as much practice as I can.   We go to the cued speech camp every year.  Tried to ask on the deaf group about a signing camp but apparently not as prevalent.  Going to ask again soon though.  The groups that meet are w/ adults.  I really want Nik to interact w/ some kids.  There are HI groups that meet in the triangle area but most are verbal from what I gathered.  May try it anyhow b/c you never know.  Someone also suggested getting him tested in ASL to see where he is at.  You know, I'd never thought of that before.  So many of you all had great suggestions.  Great to hear what others think & to see ideas that I may not have thought of.  I appreciate it.  I've spoken to a few adults that have hearing parents and adults of deaf children.  Trying to get all angles.  We actually did this when we were deciding where to place him for school.  You still worry I think as a parent. 

Puppies.  Oy!  someone asked if it was the male or female doing the peeing.  It's the male, Kota.  They know their names.  Generally don't chew a whole lot they're not supposed to.  Stick w/ their toys and chewies and such.  We let them outside and they most of the time will come back in when they're called.   A few times though they want to explore the woods and that is fine.  However, a couple times they want to run across the road to their buddy's house.  Now, vets & such have told us we can't get the wireless system or invisible fence system till they're at least 6 months old.  Right now, we try to take them out on a leash.  However, they'll escape w/ the kiddos at times.  Working on the kids w/ that too.  Right now we are trying to think of a fencing solution that won't cost us a fortune.  At least until we can get the wireless system when they're older.  Half the back yard is fenced.  There are all kinds of wires and pipes on the other side to dig.  So, need to do it from the back of the house to the woods but too many gaps.  Thinking hard to come up w/ something.  Alaska rarely pees in the house any more.  Both dogs will go to the door when they have to go.  But, the past few days Kota has looked at us and then started peeing wherever he was.  On the stairs (2X)...the ONLY place that is carpeted in this stupid house.  Living room floor & dining room floor.  All of our house is hardwood floors.  So, at least easy clean up.  Kota seems more goofy than Bear.  Doesn't seem to care if he does it.  Now, neither has pooped in the house for weeks.  Trying to get Kota to behave for the last little bit here.  Now, I know crate training is great but we've never crate trained any of our dogs in the past.  Worked out fine.  Seems to be working out fine for Alaska as well.  Kota does fine for everything except these accidents here and there all of a sudden.  Trying to figure him out.  Puppies sleep all night, no accidents.  We let them out about 11pm and then again at 7am.  They're fine.  They sleep on their dogbeds.  They play great w/ the kids.  They sit on command.  Sort of getting shake but it's slow.  Btw, Nik says shake.  However, it comes out 'shit.'  Lovely.  Now, they will come when I call them outside but not when Warren calls them.  Umm, he's not too happy about that one.  We'll work w/ the dogs this weekend on that one.  Overall, they're doing pretty good.  We'll get there.  It's a process.  Just, we haven't had a puppy in the house for over 13 years and it takes getting used to again. 

Got to go.  Snowing and sticking.  And, have to stir the potato soup I made.  Been simmering all day long.  Smells awesome in here on a cold day.  Oh, we bought Netflix.  Ooh,this is SO cool!  Thanks for all the input.  Lots of movies to choose from.  And, so much cheaper than buying the dvd's or going to the theater.  Even though we usually go to the cheap seats anyhow.  I let the kids make sugar cookies today. I think they're all gone already.  Shoot, you have 11 kids here, you need to keep them busy. 

Overall, hoping it will be a quiet week that I can play catch up and give stuff done.  Only chiro appt. this week.  All the kids' appoints are next week.  Bojan, Nik, and Irina. 2 of them go to the dentist, bojan to prosthetics and Nik to audiology.  Can't remember if next week is the FAS support group meeting as well.  Oh, and we're going to a museum next Thursday.  My birthday is this weekend.  Going out to lunch on Saturday w/ some gift certificates we had received from my parents at Christmas.  Can't wait.  So, quiet week this week but this weekend and next week may be busier.  Enjoy the week.  It's snowing here in NC!!!  Won't be 11" like before as we're supposed to get ice.  Still pretty to look at for sure.  PIctures to come in another post.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Deaf and reading

I'm struggling with this and not knowing what to do.  We never thought we'd have a deaf son but we do.  We love him more than you can ever imagine & would NEVER want him to be any where else.  However, at times I feel he belongs at a deaf school.  Let me explain and then maybe some of you out there may have answers or suggestions.  We adopted Nik at 4yo(just turned 4 that same month).  He had no interventions though supposedly had speech therapy.  But, since they didn't know he was deaf, really did no good.

I won't go through all the past few years.  Long story short, he is now bilaterally implanted w/ CI's.  They are working great.  He is hearing everything for the most part.  He can recognize a lot of what we say.  Nik is a total communicator.  Or tries.  We all try too so verbal and sign.  Nik relates best when you do both.  He does not talk in voice nor does he sign to you much.  I'm not sure if he's afraid we won't understand him or what.  Though he is getting much much better about signing to us.  I told him he can teach mommy how to sign more and he said "yes."  Fine.

He is very comfortable in his environment though. He's in a regular setting at school w/ pull out help.  He has a full time interpreter.  I like her but at times think Nik is too close to her.  He kept wanting to wrap up and give her Christmas gifts but nothing to his other teachers or friends.  That has me concerned.  Orphanage kids I feel are at risk some times w/ attachment issues and just forming attachments to anyone and going to anyone.  Nik does not go to just anyone and is shy at first.  He also tells me he loves me and is still our cuddle bug.  Yet, the mom in me is some times fearful that he'll connect to her more for language than me.  I want to be the one he communicates with.  Not a teacher.  I ask him everyday what he did in school each day but he answers me the same way every time.  Maybe that's just the first grader in him, I don't know.  Of course, better than the beginning of the year when he didn't answer me at all.  I'll try to ask him questions all the time.  I guess part of me wants more communication from him than I'm getting.  Don't know.

I like his school, I like his teachers and I like his interpreter.  But, as he gets older, I think it will be harder for him to form friends.  Just this past week I had to write a note to the entire class b/c Nik was begging for a friend to come over & play.  Literally, in tears.  He kept forgetting to give his #'s to friends (part of an FAS thing) & teachers are not allowed to help him w/ that.  Nor are teachers allowed to get phone #'s from other kids for him.  Kind of a stuck in the middle where he was type of thing.  So, I wrote a note to the entire class asking their parents to call if they'd like to come play.  ONE person called.  Just one.  Thankfully, it was his best friend from last year.  They had so,so much fun together on Saturday.  His friend has learned sign right along w/ Nik.  But, he too won't use it either.  Yet, they  played together just fine. This is great for a 1st grader but what happens when he's older & needs more in depth conversation?  Some are thinking he'll talk.  He's 8.  Can say a few words...puppy, people, mom, dad, all our names(well, we can understand them), bye, bad, good, boy, girl, etc.  Just a few words.  Imo, not enough to say he'll eventually speak.  I'm not trying to be pessimistic but realistic.  Would a deaf school be better for him?  I know it would destroy this family if he were sent away.  Where we live,he'd have to be residential.  We refuse to have that happen.  Wonderful school but we'd be heartbroken and I truly believe Nik would too.  He is closer than close w/ his family. 

I need him to have every opportunity in life.  That includes communication.  The place we go to for his audiological care are now pushing us to learn sign as well.  It's on his eval report.  Keep in mind, a few years ago this place was vehemently against using sign.  So, deep down I think they are aware as well or at least have a feeling he may never talk.  Don't know.  I know now though that we need to find more places to speak sign.  I tried to connect w/  a group locally but it was mostly adults.  I need kids for him to interact w/.  I'm going to look for more options.  There is one church that does a signing service.  We may go to that one once a month & our church the rest of the time.  Who knows.  Just know we need to expose Nik to more sign.

Now, the reading part.  I need suggestions on how to teach Nik to read.  The school is just doing word bank stuff.  I'm not sure this is the right approach or the only approach.  There has to be more out there.  I just need to find it.  I posted on one of the forums and do have some responses.  JUst would love to hear from others on here if there is something you use to help your deaf children learn to read.  They told me last year there would be no doubt he'd be reading this year.  Well, half the year is gone & I see nothing.  I inquired the other day & they say he's doing excellent, forming sentences, etc.  I do not see that at all out of him.  Call me cautious or skeptical but after dealing w/ JCPS system for over 10 years now, I know when to question things.  Now is one of those times.  He is not near where he should be.  I don't want them to use his deafness as an excuse either.  I really don't.  He's a smart kid.  Can do anything he puts his mind to.  I know he'll be able to learn to read but trying to figure out how is the best way to teach him.  I'm open to suggestions. 

I know this post was all over the place.  Sorry.  Happens when you are interrupted 50 times while writing it.  Bottom line is I want to make sure we're doing the right thing for Nik.  I know for now his placement is fine.  I just want to make sure it stays fine.  Make sure his education grows as he grows.  Thanks for listening to my babble.  I guess part of me is worried that I may not be doing enough for Nik to reach his fullest potential.  Yes, IEP is in place and all that.  Yes, he gets speech therapy at school and privately at home.  Yes, we read to him.  Yes, we're trying to absorb & learn more sign.  But is all this enough for a deaf child?  Can he thrive?  Again, the deaf school is NOT an option and probably never will be unless we moved closer or they moved the school.  I say move the school b/c the state has actually contemplated moving it & combining it w/ the blind school.  If that were to happen, it would be close enough for him to attend. But, last I heard, that's not happening.  But, who knows.  I guess for now involving him in more deaf activities would help.  I will try to find some more opportunities to do that. 

Got to go.  I'm open to suggestions.  I'm sure I may get some comments for posting certain things but this is truly how I feel.  Oh, and any suggestions on a puppy that keeps peeing in the house, I'm all ears.  Kota just started this back up.  Literally looks at you & then will just stand there and pee.  URGHH!!  Lucky, we have mostly hardwoods floors.  Alaska is fine.  Don't get it.  More to come tomorrow.  Well, if the ice storm doesn't knock out power.  It's supposed to hit later in the day though so guessing if something were to happen, it would be on Tuesday.  Schools are already shutting down.  Not ours yet.  But, if it does what it's supposed to,then the storm will start mid-day tomorrow & schools will most likely early release.  Who knows.  Playing it by ear.  Plenty to eat and plenty of hot cocoa and marshmellows on stand by.  Love it.  Hoping to have a productive week.  # 1 item on my list is immigration. Wish me luck on that one.