Saturday, May 7, 2011

FAS Support Group

We have an FAS support group here in NC.  We meet once a month or when we can.  You know how things can pop up in an FAS household.  We went to the group meeting in April so thought I'd share a little and also a few pictures from it. Obviously, I don't take pics of other people's kids.  But, this is a nice group of people who understand each other & understand each other's kids.  They all seem to play together pretty good. 

This is Bojan.  He is are only child not effected by FASD.  He was enjoying sorting a whole batch of Pokeman cards that his friend gave him.  I mean his friend gave him an entire binder full of cards.  Kept him busy the whole time.  We go as a family to various things.  When Bojan has limb difference events, we go.  When Nik has Deaf events, we go.  When kids have FAS stuff, we go.  Gives them a chance to see various disabilities.  My kids don't think twice about people that are different.  They're more interested in what they do & if they can play together.  I think that's good though.  Hence, why we drag all of them to all these different functions.  And no one had complained.  

The flowers surrounding the church are just gorgeous.  Here's Irina in front of some azaleas.  It was just so beautiful out that day, we all decided to hold the meeting outside while the kids played.  Everyone was in site & was able to play.  Seemed to work out well & the kids enjoyed it.

Alyona and Nik sure enjoyed hanging around the playground area.

Alex and Max shooting some hoops.  They had a great time together.  they were also playing w/ a few of the other kids that came to the meeting.  

Max's expression is interesting here.  He was listening to his music the whole time.  

Okay, Yana had the camera.  Hence, why she is not in a single shot here.  I was at the meeting.  Anyhow, she told Nik to make a funny face & this is what he came up with.  That's my son.  

The meeting usually lasts around an hour and a half or so.  We are great resources for each other for sure.  FAS is still so hard for others to understand as the kids "look" normal.  I hear that SO much.  They're not. 
FAS kids have many issues and each & every single FAS child is different.  It doesn't affect every kid the same way.  People at the meeting understand this.  They totally understand the uphill battles of the schools.  Many of us there are fighting the schools and IEP's.  There are others looking for RTC places.  Again, tough when many are $500 a day or more!  Some are looking for respite.  Everyone there has different reasons for being there but the main thing is we are all there together and all understand what the other is going through.  That is priceless.  We all have an unspoken bond.  Can talk freely and not be judged by others.  Something most of us can't even do with family.  I'm hoping one day a few of them can come over for a cookout or something.  Let the kids swim and play or what have you.  Who knows.  Just know we will try to continue to make the meetings.  I suggest others w/ FASD kiddos to try to make meetings in your area.  It does help.  Makes you feel not so alone.  It really is an isolating disability that very few understand.  I am very glad we have a support group in our area.  And very thankful for the people we have in it.  

One lady even had a talk with Alex one evening regarding what happens if you continue to lie and steal.  She was honest & very blunt with everything.  I had asked her to be.  She used her son as an example of what could happen if Alex continues down this path of lying and stealing (though we have gotten the stealing pretty much under control now).  Alex was listening so intently.  I was amazed.  He was glued to her words.  No matter how many times I told him before, this was someone else.  This was real to him.  And since then, Alex really hasn't had as many incidences.  

After the meeting, we were starving.  We normally eat before we go but we had such a rough day that we didn't have the chance to even grab a sandwich.  So, we took the kids to Logan's Roadhouse to eat.  We all love that restaurant.  Kids love the peanuts they can shell & throw on the floor along w/ endless yeast rolls.  I know it's kind of ironic being surrounded by beer signs after an FAS meeting but we really were there for the food, not the decor.  Kids know we all order water to keep costs down & the four youngest order from the kids' menu.  Trust me, between all of us, there is plenty of food and we usually will have some to take home.  Just was a pleasant evening for all of us.  GReat meeting, kids loved playing & hanging out w/ friends, and we all got a great meal.  

Our FAS Support group meets on the third Tuesday of every month.  If you don't have a group in your area...start one!  It may take awhile to get people going but it is great to have others who totally understand you and your kids.  Just thought I'd share a little about our group. 

Max's drawings

haven't shown any of Max's drawings in awhile so thought it was time I did.

They had to do a pointalism project in art.  This is what he drew.  Made of tiny litlte dots.  You can click on the images to make them bigger.  Second picture is a bit clearer.  I think Max did a great job.  He's getting better at people.  Used to be a challenge for him to draw people.  He's more mechanically in his drawings.  Robots, cars, machinery, etc.  So nice to see him get a more of a variety in his portfolio.  It's also neat to see how he can eye things.  Maybe he is our future artist.  Who knows.  Can't wait to see what all else he comes up with over the years.  I'll try to remember to take some more pictures of his drawings.  They really are good.  At least I think so.  Actually, his art teacher does too.  

More to come.  Since Yana broke my camera and I don't have a new one yet, I'll be going through some old pictures I'm sure.  Plus, there is plenty to talk about anyhow.  Got to go work on the yard some today.  Kids are bike riding w/ friends and my go fishing w/ the neighbor later.  Not sure yet.  The girls and I went to yardsales this morning but weren't too many out.  So, I may take Alyona to some consignment shops later to find shorts. We'll see.  Day is still young.  May go for a hike later.  Maybe we can do that tomorrow though seeing that we're actually getting stuff done today.  LOL.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Teen Update

3 teens in the house....URGHHH!!!!  Yep, that's how I feel some days.  I'll be honest.  It's not all roses raising teens.  Let alone teens with certain issues.  Thought it was high time I do an update on my teens.  The good, the bad and the ugly of it all.  So, here goes.

Irina is now 18 yo.  That is her chronological age.  Her mental age & social age is obviously a great deal lower.  That has become an issue lately for her and us.  Irina has really realized just how different she is from others her age.  Irina wants to try to take the driving test again.  So, she's going to study a little more and try for a 4th time next week.  Remember, this is regular society, not special ed.  There are no accomodations made for people with disabilities when it comes to driving tests.  Hence, why some times they have to study so much harder than the rest of us and take it a few more times.  Doesn't mean they are going to be worse drivers.  Most actually tend to be more over cautious.  Shoot, there are some drivers out on the road w/ normal intelligence & abilities that have NO business on the road whatsoever.  We want to help Irina reach this goal of a little more independence.  Being able to drive would be a huge step for her.  Don't know who wants it or her.

School is still not going well.  Just a waste for her to go at this point but w/ less than a month, she goes.  She even told me they gave her "fluff" grades.  I said how do  you know.  She said b/c I was given 100's for work I didn't even turn in.  Yep, way to teach our kids values public schools.  Now you know even more why I want her out of there.  Irina is working on her health.  She knows she needs to loose weight.  Knowing it and doing it are two different things.  I try to get her to do stuff w/ me.  As, I'm trying to loose too.  I work in the yard gardening every day for about 30 minutes. I also walk once a day.  Would love to do it twice but unrealistic w/the things that go on here and working during the day.  yana even tries to get Irina to walk w/ her.  I've gotten to the point where I think I will make it mandatory she walk the dogs once a day.  That way, to her it will seem more like a chore than exercise.  Sounds crazy but think it may work.  Doc ran all the bloodwork and she's fine w/ everything.  Just needs to lose the weight.  She tells me to tell her to stop eating certain things or remind her.  Remember, FAS kids do need that external brain thinking.  However, when I remind her, she gets really mad at me.  I have decided to have her write notecards of what she wants said when she's eating something she's not supposed to or not exercising.  I will hand them to her.  It will be like coming from herself instead of me.  It's worth a shot.  She used to be the peak of fitness and health.  It was sad watching this happen to her this year.  However, I do know I can get her back to good health over the summer when she's not in school.  She loves to swim.  In the summer, I do 50 laps a day.  Not as hungry and tend to lose weight.  Think I can make it work for her as she loves to swim.

Irina's social life continues to be a struggle.  Again, not uncommon with FAS children at this stage in life.  Not all but a good chunk of them.  Irina will benefit greatly from the new kids coming home.  She likes to play the mother role and keeps telling me how much help she'll be when they get home.  Praying that happens sooner rather than later.  We'll see.  Irina really wants to get a job.  I want her to get one too.  She will be limited in what she can do but we will still search for sure.

Medically, Irina is fine.  She did get dx'd w/ GERD and acid reflux recently.  Now takes medicine for that.  Her sinus stuff is still an issue but ENT said it would be okay to wait for another surgery.  She's had two sinus surgeries thus far.  Looks like her nose must have been broken at the orphanage at some point causing her some major issues.  Her nose literally whistles at times and sounds like a dog squeak toy.  Doc said it really isn't anything that is harmful to her so that's good.  Otherwise, Irina is doing okay.

Irina is in good spirits considering everything that has transpired this year including the added stress of our "situation."  It's been very hard on her.  She is looking forward to going to the mountains this year and doing some things in the summer.  Me too.

Maxwell-- Max is 16yo now.  Max is actually doing well.  He had his driving permit but the DMV took it away due to the stupid school.  Let me explain.  In this state, if grades are not up to par, you lose your license or permit.  EVEN if you have a disability in said subject.  URGHH!!!  I don't expect special treatment for Max but I do expect common sense.  Max has a severe, severe learning disability in math.  Simply put, he can't do it.  Not saying that lightly either.  So, you would think they either 1) wouldn't put him in math in high school or 2) put him in some type of remedial math.  But oh no they don't do that.  The stupid admin puts these kids knowing full well they can't do math in Algebra b/c it is required.  Even Max's teacher said he tries so hard but there is just no way he can get it.  They said he must fail Algebra 2 times and then they'll let him take any other class and count it as math.  Umm, hey stupid school people, how about doing that from the get go since you know for a FACT he can never do Algebra?!  So, all this has down is brought his self-esteem down.  He tells his friend all the time how he wishes he were smart for once.  Nice Johnston County Schools.  Real nice way to treat students who try but have learning disabilities and special needs.  So, Max has the double whammy of feeling bad about math and having the permit taken away.  He can't get it back till he passes math which he never will.  Calling DMV to see how they handle these situations.  I hate for him to never be able to get a license due to a learning disability in math.  Anyone else have experience with this, please let me know.  Thanks.  Now, first semester he did bad in more than one area but that was due to them not following the IEP.  Long story.  Once on track, it's been going great w/ all other subjects.

Max is doing odd jobs around the neighborhood.  Mostly yard work and that's what he loves to do so that's a good thing.  We're going to hire Max at the house as our resident handyman and yard man. Pay him for it.  Just can't afford to tote our three teens to different places for a job w/ the cost of gas.  This will be a good compromise and still allow the odd jobs here and there as well.  Max hangs out w/ a friend of his but Max is still more of an introvert.  That's fine by us.  Max still has a huge passion for art. And, he's good at it. Trying to expand his knowledge and talent.  Not sure where his love of art will lead but all we can do is encourage it.  That's what we're doing.  Trouble w/ a FAS and ADHD child w/ a love of art is completion of a piece.  Many of his works go unfinished.  He's getting better about it but still an area that needs work.

Max is very healthy.  Still on the same meds and they seem to be working well.  Not changing anything.  Thank goodness.  Max has been mad lately about having to move out of his room to one that has more kids in it.  The plan IF we stay in this home is to convert the garage to a room for Max and Bojan.  But, that takes time and Max knows this.  Plus, if we're going to move, it would not make sense to do the room conversion.  Time will tell what we'll do.  Max wants to stay in school next year so we'll let him I think.  So, socially, he's adjusting a bit better which is wonderful.  He's a good kid and we seriously can't complain.

Yana--  Oh geez, lots to say here, especially, after a RAD rage earlier this week.  We'll start with school.  School is going okay.  She struggles greatly but doesn't like to admit it.  We are going to have to get honest with her soon.  We've really been encouraging college and such with her b/c all these years I truly thought she'd go.  However, after seeing what she knows this year and knowing she can not write or spell very well, I think it would be a reach.  We of course are still going to encourage her going to college but at this point, I'm not sure it would be the right fit.  Don't know yet.  Will know more after 9th grade.  She's in 8th.  Has an IEP in place.  However, as with many kids w/ FASD, there are gaps in her learning.  In addition, Yana came to America when she was 8.5yo and started school at 9yo.  So naturally, she'd be behind.  However, I do like the fact that she is highly motivated, does her own projects, and for the most part stays out of trouble at school. 

Yana does not to admit she has any issues which I totally understand.  But, after this week, I think she is becoming more aware of them.  Takes time as children with mental health issues get older to understand how they effect them and others around them.  We address this with all our kids as they hit the teen years.  Always been open about FASD and what all it means.  However, haven't used it as a crutch either.  My kids are expected to have goals, values, and do things like everyone else.  Can't stand it when they say I can't and they know that.  Yana does try and I must say I appreciate that.  She too wants a job which we'll be working on.  Since Max is set on the job situation, we will focus on Irina as she's older and then Yana.  Yana is 15 and we'll let her work at 16yo.  She's excited about taking the driver's permit test.  I think she can sign up for the summer course.  Not sure. 

Yana is in great health.  No real issues.  She is trying to get back to jogging everyday.  She is going to try out for track and cross country in high school.  I think that would be awesome.  She and Alex are the only ones to really show an interest in sports in school.  Bojan is interested in band.  Max is all about art.  Nik is into art as well.  Alyona hasn't quite found her niche yet but it's still way early. 

Anyhow, teens are doing decent.  All want a job which I think is wonderful.  Hey, motivation is half the battle in teens & sounds like we have that one on our side.  All are coming to terms with each of their disabilities and what that means as a teen 7 becoming an adult.  All still possess that teen attitude that isn't quite going away yet.  URGHH!!!  All are healthy except for Irina who is working on losing weight.  All are excited about the new kids coming home believe it or not.  Well, sometimes Max isn't b/c of the room issue but that's to be expected.  All still have hopes and dreams.  All the teens are pretty good compared to what some of my friends have to deal with.  Parenting 3 teens is not the easiest but we're doing it and will try not to lose our sanity during the process. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Locals-- check it out!

I know I've said it before but I'll say it again.  If you are even slightly considering a new pet, you MUST, MUST check these folks out.  Wonderful organization that I can not say enough good things about.  Trust me.  They are in Garner, Cary, Apex and you can call about any of the dogs or puppies.  Or cats.  They have so many varieties too.  From mixed breeds to purebreds.  From  young to old.  And when you see them in person, it is so much different.  That Skip that is there is a wonderful dog.  We were spending a lot of time w/ him when we got Digby.  These dogs are so well loved.  Not saying get a dog.  I'm just saying go look.  Never hurts to just look at the puppies and dogs available.  Last time they had a dwarf cat there too that was cool looking.  Tiny little thing.  Anyhow, please, please take the time to look at these cute animals and pass the link too.  There are so, so many that need and deserve homes.  We have 3 animals from this rescue organization.  No issues and the people are really great to work with. They gave us great flexibility when adopting Digby.  I have a friend who also adopted their dog from Paw prints.  Telling you, can't go wrong.  ALL 3 of ours are kid friendly.  ALL of them.  Check them out and spread the word locals.  These pups need families!!! 

Paw Prints

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blast from the past!

Well, it's May now and since I'm still without a camera (URGHH!!!), thought it was time to look back at some old pictures here and there.  Hope you enjoy taking a look back as much as I do.  My kids have really grown.  From a song in high school "seconds pass & days go by.  Months and years they seem to fly.  When will time ever slow down?  You can't go back to yesterday so hurry now, live for today.  The wheels of life keep turning round and round."  It was a great song & one that would make you think.  Truly folks, make the most of everyday.  You never know what's going to happen tomorrow.  So, enjoy.

Ahh, when the boys were younger.  This is Alex, 5yo, and Bojan, 6yo.  Bojan had not been home in the country long.  Bojan did SO much good for Alex's healing of RAD.  We were told it may be a mistake to bring another home so soon after Alex came home & had severe attachment issues.  Just the opposite happened.  Adopting Bojan actually helped to heal Alex.  They formed a great friendship as you can see.

Ahh, this is before the sisters hit the teen years.  Again, from 2005.  Irina doing Yana's hair.  They got along before the teen hormones hit.  LOL.

Another from 2005.  Daddy dancing w/ Yana.  Don't you love our green carpet??  And there is faithful Bear. Still miss that dog.  

Warren and Nik having some fun on the trampoline.  This was in May of 2008.

This is the bunch at Warren's work family day.  This was in 2008 as well.  You can click on any picture to make it bigger.

some of the bunch from last year at the company family day.  Such a good time every year we go.  Can't go this year as it happens to fall in the same weekend as Camp Cheerio. 

This is mower man from last year.  Max loves to do yard work.  I mean really, really loves to do yard work.  Since it is too much on mom & dad to drive 3 teens to jobs and such, we have decided to hire Max as our resident handyman and lawn care man.  We will pay him to do various jobs.  He loves the idea.  Plus, he's continuing to get mowing jobs from around the neighborhood a bit as well.  Between us and the other odd jobs around, he should be fine.  Now, just have to work on getting Irina set up with a job.  Someone gave me another resource the other day locally so I'm going to go check them out for sure.  

Those are some pictures from 2010, 2008, and even 2005.  My kids have really thrived from what I can tell.  Can't wait for the others to get home and have some great adventures together.  Going to be a wild year for sure.  Got to go.  Repairman came.  $195 for the fridge to be working again.  Had not choice.  Cheaper than a new fridge yet hard since I need to buy airline tickets.  Still waiting for that ONE piece of paper so I can make that call.  URGHH!!!  I know, I know.  Patience.  I'm trying.  Really, I am.  Mean time, making sure anything else I need to do is done then.  We are to fly out June 11th and return the 21st of June.  Warren will be staying home w/ the kids.  I have yet to tell him there will be more than just our kids here during that time as I watch some others when they're out of school.  I do hope some locals will stop by every once in awhile to check in on him.  Just kidding.  He'll do just fine and according to the kids cooks better than me anyhow.  Nice kids, real nice.  More details on what all needs to be done as soon as I can get it done.  I'm a procrastinator for sure.  I pack for my adoption trips pretty much the night before.  Horrible.  Maybe this time will be different.  Hope so.  Going to go work on a grant for a bit before the first batch of kids start coming home.  Going to try to work on several and see if we have any luck.  Glad tomorrow is Friday for sure.  Looking forward to a nice weekend.  Sunny and fun.  Next week, prep for Camp Cheerio.  Again, we're procrastinators and are just so excited, we just throw anything in a bag and go.  Lucky we're flexible. 

Still spring & bits & pieces

Still spring here in NC.  In the 80's though today only in the low 70's.  Beautiful weather for sure.  Our yard still has flowers blooming.  Azaleas are pretty much done blooming.  The iris' are still blooming though and all the hydrangea shrubs will be blooming shortly.  Love those.  Love bright colors in the yard. 

I just love the beauty of spring color and the freshness flowers bring.  So many little details.  Wish I had one of those houses w/ tons of flowers. I'll get there one day.  One day when my kids aren't kicking them over w/ the soccer ball or mowing them over w/ the lawn mower.  So yes, it will be awhile before I have one of those yards w/ all the flowers.  For now, enjoying what we do have here.  

Many flowers waiting to come into bloom.  I had to cut quite a few of these iris' for Teacher Appreciation week.  Then, one of my sons comes home & says his flower fell apart.  I can only imagine him handing the teacher the stem.  Only my kids.  they were supposed to write cards but none of my kids finished writing their cards.  And since we had to deal with our RADish this week, it takes awhile for things to get back to normal in my mind.  You know, what I was supposed to help them do and when.  Hey, we try here.  That should count for something, right?  We're lucky this week Nik even has any shoes left.  The kid is not listening when we tell him to put his shoes away.  Puppies have literally eaten  & chewed up 2 pair of his shoes.  His crocs and his nice flip flops for summer.  when do they start listening to mom??  

Guy is coming to hopefully fix the fridge.  I'm bummed b/c we had gone strawberry picking and lost a bunch of berries to the broken fridge.  It happens.  Just can't really afford to go pick more right now.  When it rains, it pours.  Over $600 to fix the cars (way better than we thought it'd be) and now the broken fridge.  Typically, this stuff wouldn't bother us.  However, with airline ticket booking looming, weak dollar, and jet fuel outrageous, it's penny pinching for everything.  We received taxes back and that goes directly to airline tickets.  I think we have enough to cover our first trip expenses.  However, the second trip is going to cost us a small fortune in airline tickets alone.  I'm guessing between $10,000 and $15,000.  We must fundraise for that.  There is no other way around it.  I will work on fundraising ideas for sure.  For now, have to concentrate on getting the kids out of school and rid of this poison ivy that Bojan, Alex & I have.  Ready for some homemade remedies at this point.  More to come.  I have quite a few posts but when you have one of your kids that needs healing, that is where the focus goes.  Not a blog.  Now that we're on the other side of that healing, I can do some other things.  Lots of plans being made for sure.  Have a wonderful week.  I've had two rare days off in a row and have definitely been able to get some things done.  Trying to work on a grant application today.  Many other items as well. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Speech Therapy

I have some other posts coming up but weighing whether I should post.  How many can truly handle what it's like inside a RAD rage.  Part of me wants to share and part of me says I should wait.  I know some are curious.  I know some live it like we do.  I know some don't understand and want to know the why of it or the triggers.  I actually think it is important to share with other adoptive parents or potential parents.  It's a serious issue though that I think needs a little more light shined on it than what it gets.  Anyhow, for now I'll do a different post. I had off all day today.  It was a very welcomed break. 

One thing I thought I'd talk about is speech therapy.  Nik gets private speech therapy.  In a bit, he'll be doing auditory verbal therapy.  For now, he gets speech therapy at the house two times a week.  On Mondays & Wednesdays.  We have an awesome therapist named Tonia.  Our insurance covers this.  Nik also gets speech therapy at school either 4 or 5 times a week as well.  Nik does a variety of things with the speech therapist at the house.  Most the times we're at the table but sometimes we all venture outside.

Yes, this is what a session of our speech therapy will look like from time to time.  I know, I know.  Not normal.  But then again, neither are we.  And, whoever is here at the time after school knows the rules in regards to Nik's speech therapy.  A lot of time the "littles" or extras will help out as well since they're here.  Notice Alyona's belly in the background?

Notice our yard is the perfect spot to hide stuff?  That's b/c there's stuff laying all over the place.  Oh well, we try to be neat....sometimes.  Okay, there are 3 balls.  Nik is trying to learn yours and my.  So, we hide 3 balls while he & another person are in the house.  When they come out, the therapist asks him to find either his ball or her ball, using words your or my.  He loves the competition that he really listens.  

Great hiding place w/ Alyona, huh?  She thought of it herself which I thought was pretty clever.  

Most of the speech is inside at the dining room table though.  Nik doesn't mind but it is nice to shake it up every once in awhile w/ a game such as this.  He has really come so far, especially since getting the second implant.  Got to go.  Speech therapist is coming this evening.  Nik will have speech therapy for years to come and wonderful we found a great person to work w/ him.  He has made a ton of progress.  

More to come.  Making a ham, mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner.  We ate dessert cream sandwiches.  Kids are taking Digby for a walk and then Kota & Alaska.  I'm getting ready to work in the yard a bit.  Try to work w/ flowers  everyday.  Need to see the beauty in things especially, on an FAS day like yesterday.  Not much happening tomorrow.  Max is racking up some odd mowing jobs for people which he loves.  Works well for him.  Now, just have to work on Irina getting a job.  Slowly but surely.  Got to go.  Though a day off, didn't quite feel like one.  Guess that means I was actually productive today.  Enjoy your week.  I'm looking forward to the weekend for sure.  BTW, in case you're wondering, it is now 9 days till Camp Cheerio!  Yes, my kids are literally counting down the days.  To be honest, I am too. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dead tired, dancing & dreadful hair

No, the post isn't about me nor are the pictures.  Though, I must admit, I am definitely dead tired.  Thought I'd share a couple of odd pics laying around in the files.  But first, some good news.  Irina, Bojan & Nik went to the dentist today.  No cavities nor any issues for any of them!  Wahoo!!! 

We play hard at Chaos Manor.  That is quite evident in this picture.  Nik taking a nap on the couch afte ra long day of play.  Rarely, will you ever find my boys w/ pajama tops on.  

Yana modeling the dress she bought for church service.  I won't even get into the discussion about shopping for dresses w/ her.  Let's just say her & I will probably never ever agree.  Ever.  This was not the dress she started out with.  I'm not made to shop with teen girls.  Nope, I'm not.  Got to love Bojan's face behind her.  

Too goofballs just goofing off.  Trying to replay some scene from a movie.  Yes, they could be in drama.  

And to think, a few years ago these two really couldn't stand each other.  Not kidding.  Yana was taught in Russia to not like people w/ physical disabilities.  She honestly was.  Ridiculous thinking to you & I but the norm over there.  Obviously, she's gotten over that.  I realize w/ this picture there is no order to that pantry whatsoever.  Oh well.  These two love the camera.

This was just funny.  Warren was in the process of cutting his hair.  He shaved two rows down each side.  He looks just silly.  No, we did not keep his hair this way.  Took us forever to convince him he needed his hair cut.  

Those were just some silly pictures I had around that I thought you might enjoy.  Need some humor right now as Chaos Manor is not going all that well today.  Warren and I busted the two teen girls for watching inappropriate things on tv.  Let me explain first.  Saving it for next post.  RAD reared its head and just been a long night.  More to come. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

What are they doing?

Too many wordy posts lately.  And, shocked that I was actually able to get 5 posts out on Sunday.  Thought it was time for a silly type of thing.

This picture may not look like much but trust me, it is.  Just one of those silly things.  First of all, they discovered a you tube channel or netflix thing that you can sing along.  the words are on the screen.  Now, this wouldn't be so bad IF my children (or myself for that matter) could sing.  When all sing together, it's like injured cats howling. It's horrifying.  Seriously.  That is what they are doing in this picture...singing.  Or, some form of it.  Click on the picture and you'll see Warren's face.  Kota's trying to see if he wants to eat the puzzle pieces or not, winter boots are on the floor despite almost everyone in shorts, a trash can is in there for whatever reason, and one of the extras is in the round chair watching it all.  Much happening for such a little picture, huh?  It was just funny at the time.  One day, I will tape them.  LOL.  More posts to come but I have plenty of emails to catch up on first.  Plenty.  If I have not written you back, I WILL get to you.  Just been one thing after another type of week.  Going to the doc's unexpectedly for possible appendicitis for Yana was not in the plans for today either.  You just go with the flow around here though. I can also tell kids are anxious for summer to be here and school to be over.  Nik is starting to count down the days.  Irina said there's 27 days left but I have not counted so not sure.  My kids have counted down to Camp Cheerio however.  Even cleaned out the van already!  Got to go.  Enjoy your week.

Locals-- check it out!

Always like to pass on a good deal.  Well, I've got one for you.  If any of you are in need for windshield repair, please contact Prestige Auto Glass.  They are a very reputable company and do awesome work.  Personally, they've done 2 or 3 repairs for me.  Let's just say yes, the kids DID have something to do with it.  Anyhow, they are prompt, honest and really do great work.  AND best part is they put up w/ 7 kids asking them tons of questions.  Even let them do stuff here and there.  Just like it when you find a good company.  So, wanted to pass on a deal they're having.  $70 for windshield repairs.  The website is:  Prestige Autoglass .  Figured maybe someone local was in need of a deal.  I'm always looking for bargins but good quality.  This is both.  Thanks.

Manic Monday

Already Monday.  What a bummer.  Had a very productive weekend but time to get back to other things.  So many things going on so I'll try to do a brief summary of things taking place this week.  I take 5 kids to the dentist this week.  Hope all goes well.   So far, those are the only medical related stuff this week.  I'm not even bothering calling Duke back for Bojan's surgery stuff.  Want to enjoy the summer and w/ us traveling, I don't want to have to have someone else deal with a cast all the way up his hip.  And, a non-accessible house w/ a wheelchair.  So, we'll wait on any possible surgery.

Trying to get the house organized and our life.  We are making some big decisions and the main one is the schooling situation.  I'm pretty certain we will be pulling Irina, Bojan, Alex and Alyona at the very least.  We may give Max & Yana a shot at high school.  I've had success w/ Max's school & that's where Yana is going.  HOwever, given her history, if she can't stay focused on school, she will be pulled as well.  So, currently looking like 4 kids to homeschool.  Maybe 5 as I'm still torn w/ Nik's schooling.  Not sure what to do yet and exploring options coming up when we go to Deaf Camp.  There are other homeschooling parents there and all kinds of communication issues.  Want to see how they handle it before making a decision.  And, being that the school really only gave me the name of the reading program and didn't tell me much about it, I'm not impressed.  He wants to read.  He is reading but not to the extent he should be I feel.  Again, I'll have more insight once I speak to a variety of other parents and professionals at camp.

After schooling decision is made, we have another huge decision.  To move from this home & county or not.  Warren would have to commute no matter where we'd move to so distance has to be kept in mind.  We feel we need to move from this county as services are not the best for developmentally delayed adults.  I've heard this from many parents who've gone through this process already.  In addition, heard this from the county's mental health center themselves.  There's just nothing here.  This is a big deal as we have children that will be aging into that category soon.  Being able to have a place for them to live whether at our home or close by is a big deal.  Our home currently is not suited for that situation.  Thought about adding another garage w/ an apartment type setting on top for when the kids are older but not sure.  So many decisions for sure.

Okay, I'll discuss more in depth the above later.  I started this whole post this morning before I got a call from Yana.  Her right side was hurting and she couldn't stand up straight.  No fever but wanted to rule out appendicitis.  Still not ruled out yet.  He said at this stage, it would be really early.  So, we watch her this evening and if still hurting in the morning, take her back.  Doc said if fever gets over 100.5, take her to ER.   Right now, she's sleeping.  It could also be ovarian cysts which I have personally and mine also presented as appendicitis at this age.  So, at a wait and see stance.  So, tomorrow I take Irina, Nik & Bojan to the dentist.  Also, waiting to see how Yana does.  Think she'll be fine.  Speech therapist is coming soon so need to go and start dinner before she gets here.  Okay, speech therapist came and Yana is fine.  Bojan looks like his face is totally peeling off!  It's disgusting.  Poison ivy that he couldn't leave alone.  Now, they're definitely not going to let him go to school tomorrow.  He has eczema so when you put the caladryl on him, it looks as though he's had a chemical burn.  He thinks it's funny.  Least he can joke about it.  Alyona doesn't want to do homework.  Yet, I got Nik to do everything but one page for the entire week.  It is definitely a Monday.  Lots to say just not enough time right now.  

Funny joke

This was just too funny not to share.  Would love to try something like this.

Need a laugh on a Monday!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cake and a snake

Odd title but have a little something on both these topics here at Chaos Manor.  Well, the other night, the girls brought home almost an entire cake that our neighbor gave us.  Chocolate w/ vanilla icing.  An Easter Cake that tasted as good as it looked. 

Can you even guess what color icing it is?  

Yes, bright, blue icing.  I think Nik gave his approval just fine, don't you?  I thought it was sweet of the family to think that we might enjoy this cake.  And yes, we sure did!  

Disgusting, I know.  I almost stepped on the thing!  I was going crazy screaming, Alaska thinks something is wrong w/ me and is going spastic, the "littles" are asking to see the snake, wind is about 40 mph at this point, it's starting to drizzle & the storms were coming in fast.  Ran inside to get Warren who happened to be home sick and obviously being nauseous, really didn't want to kill a snake.  However, he knew I'd wimp out so no choice.  It was indeed a copperhead.  Those are poisonous for those who don't know.  Later that day, we killed another snake... a king snake.  Not poisonous but two snakes in this yard is plenty.  On a walk later, we saw another dead snake in the road.  Yes, it's the downside of living near the woods.  All is calm and well now though.  

Next set of pictures won't be so disgusting.  Hope you enjoyed your weekend.  More stuff to come. 

Babies that need a home!!!

Just got word of a new region in Eastern Europe.  A country that must remain nameless but one that I am well aware of that does adoptions and has for years.  A new region opened up to married couples AND singles!!  There are about 8 babies around a year old.  Boys and girls.  They have cleft lip/ palate issues.  This needs to be families w/ that pioneering spirit to step forth and willing to work w/ a new region.  I can tell you how that feels b/c we did this w/ Yana and Alex w/ our agency.  It's not so bad but does require understanding that setting up a new region sometimes takes a little give & take for the region to understand what paperwork they truly need.  I'm only saying this based on OUR experiences but that was years and years ago.  So, times I'm sure have changed & all is good. 

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for people looking for babies or toddlers to adopt.  Medicals will be released at the time of official referral.  If you need further information, please don't hesitate to call Katie at Kids To Adopt .  Their phone # is on there.  And, they just lunched the new website.  So, go explore a bit.  Just thought I'd share.  I try when I find out about certain situations that folks may be interested in.  More to come on the blog soon.  Trying to sort through old emails and get stuff organized.  Easier said than done for sure.  Max whacked himself w/ the crowbar today and Bojan's face looks like, well, no good description.  He's covered w/ a rash that I believe is poison ivy.  Lovely. If it's on your face, you can't go to school.  Hope it's better by tomorrow.  More on all that stuff later.  For now, time to get stuff done.  Like paying bills, putting kiddos to bed, cleaning up, working out, organizing, and discussing all that needs to happen this week.  Never dull here, that' s for sure. 

Opportunity of a lifetime (PLEASE READ ALL)

As most of you already know by now, I try to advocate for various special needs children.  Mostly older kids.  It's hard.  It's the hardest category of children to place.  If you have a 1yo and a 6yo w/the same exact disability and situation, I guarantee that 1yo will be placed w/in a day.  Or, at least that has been my experience.  I feel like older kids are sometimes the forgotten ones.  We have adopted what is deemed to be all older children.  I can tell you, they are in no way older.  They have SO much to give and live for.  Everything is new to them when they first come home.  You still experience so much and with that much more intensity b/c they know what is going on.  I'm not trying to down play having a baby or a toddler home at all.  It is great at any age is my point.  I just don't want the older ones to get overlooked due to misunderstandings.  The biggest misunderstanding that you have somehow missed out on most their life.  NOT true!  Their life is new w/ you.  Everything is an experience with you.  Everything is a first with you.  And the best part is, they know it!  They love it.  Their smile gets bigger w/ each new experience.  I will never, ever forget the day we gave Max pop rocks gum for the first time ever.  You'd thought his head had exploded.  We have never laughed that hard ever again.  Seriously, that was the hardest, deep belly laugh.  We got to experience that together w/ our "older" son for the first time ever.  What a joy!

My kids were ages 3, 4, 4, 6, 6.5, 7, and 8.5.  Next ones will be 4, 9, and 10.   All of these children were deemed older kids.  As if somehow that means something less.  Yet, it doesn't make them any less of a child.  There is so, so much they haven't done and even more they haven't done w/ you.  The first time they try new foods, the first time you hear their English, the first swim, first bike ride, first birthday cake, etc.  I could go on all day long.  You are not missing out on anything but the love of a child and the opportunity of a life time. 

I became aware of a situation a few weeks ago.  Was asked to help find this child a home.  Posted a  few places.  Not a one called about this precious child.  Nothing mentally wrong, just physically has athrogryposis and some other issues.  In other words, he would absolutely thrive here in America.  We have till August to find him a home.  He even has a $5,000 grant.  Yet, no one seems interested.  This is a limb different child.  I have one of these type of children though my child has a different disability.  I have seen blogs of many children w/ athrogryposis and just what these children can do.  Plenty!  It should NOT have bearing on him having a family.  His legs were stuck in a criss cross position.  Most likely, he could have used prosthetics to get around.  However, now that is not possible.  The wait was too long.  For whatever reason known to man, they went ahead at the orphanage and totally cut off his legs.  I am not exaggerating when I say totally amputated them.  I was stunned.  Stunned they did this to him.  He will most likely be wheelchair bound now.  It was hard before to find him a home and now, now it will be that much tougher.  Not only that, the why of it all hurts. It really does.  Why do this to him when they knew people were trying to find him a family to be there for him when he got surgery.  Why do this when he is going to be transferred in August to a really not so good mental institution.  This is one of the bad ones too from what I've heard.  He needs help, he needs a family.  He needs you.  Any of you can help spread the word about Jack.  He will need a special family that can handle his needs.  Again, this kids would really and truly thrive in a family environment.  Legs or no legs.  He'd thrive.  His development is fine.  Upper body strength is awesome.  He does handstands and all.  I can not fathom him going to a mental institution in August. I just can't.  He has way too much potential for that.  Just like Nik did.  I also just don't understand why no one has even inquired about this child.  It just blows my mind and hurts my soul.  I can not give the country he is located in in EE.  Just know I'm VERY familiar w/ this country.  Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more information on him.  Please, if anything help spread the word for Jack.  He has only till August to find a family which b/c of recent events will most likely be much harder.  Thanks for letting me share.  I just want to close with this:  Older kids have not waited this long in orphanages b/c they are no good or no one wants them. On the contrary.  Older kids have waited this long b/c they ARE special and b/c good things come to those who wait.  I think some of  you have waited long enough.  Time to find out more about Jack.  Give me some time to answer you if you write me please.  It's been busy here.  Help me find a family for Jack.  That is the least we could do for this young boy.  I can't wait to see what this kid grows up to do.  Just feel that this is one of these kids really worth talking about and advocating for. 

Max's drawings

Haven't posted any of Max's artwork in a long time.  Thought I'd post one.

Max had to do a pointalism project.  I'm sure I spelled that wrong.  He put the house in the background and some other things he likes.  I see drafting stuff, art stuff, tools, music, tv, etc.  I think it turned out really well.  He's growing artistically for sure.  

The first one was close up.  This shot isn't as clear but you can see the whole picture.  I may be biased but I do think my son is a pretty dog gone good artist.  And, it's something he likes to do.  Need to harness that talent and do something with it.  

Warren and Max are getting ready to install the invisible fence to try to keep the two pups contained.  We have literally tried everything else.  I have never seen dogs like these that can jump anything put in their path.  Digby is great.  Stays in the yard and listens.  Other pups could learn something from him.  Rest of the kids and I have been cleaning up the yard a bit and sorting items.  Need to sell some items and get funds going.  It's going to be tight this first trip.  We'll cross the second trip fund issue when we get to it.  Bottom line, we'll have absolutely nothing for the second trip.  And, that will be the most expensive part.  We are guesstimating airfare for the second trip to be at least $10,000 to get us home.  Yikes!  One thing at a time.  Can't worry about it all at once.  For now, getting through the end of the school year is my goal.  big decisions coming up as well.  Whole other post on big decisions too.  Got to get back to work.  Playing catch up this evening on some more emails. I'm getting there.  Just takes time.  Another beautiful day in NC.  In the mid- 70's and sunny.  Got to love it.  We have to soak it all up b/c in June here, hot as can be and humid.  You don't even want to go outside unless you're in water.  More later.

Special Olympics 2011 (part II)

After the 50m run, she had the softball throw.  Several people were in that and it was SO close.  I couldn't tell if she had gotten 3rd or 4th.  So, we headed to the medal stand to wait. 

What a better way to kill time than trying on Daddy's hat.  Isn't she a doll?

Alyona told us she was tired from working so hard.  Nice nap in the sun.

We ended up waiting a long time for the medal.  No biggie.  So, they told her to come over.  Asked me what she got & I said I can't remember if it was 3rd or 4th as it was so close.  Lady said well, I think 3rd sounds wonderful.  So, gave her a medal!  Made Alyona's moment even more special to get two medals.  Very sweet of them to do that.  you should have seen the smile on her.  She could not stop smiling, showing everyone her two medals.  

Alyona w/ her buddy Tyra.  They are all paired up w/ a high schooler during the events.  This girl happened to be in Max's gym class and said Max is hilarious.  Really?!  We knew at home he was funny w/ Bojan but in school he always seemed to be such an introvert.  Neat to see another side of him through someone else.  She too agrees he tries to get out of gym and hates to run.  LOL.  She also said he's always drawing.  Yep, that's Max.  She was a wonderful young lady for sure!  She too was saying how rude it was of these girls to do what they did at Special Olympics.  We were passing a group of girls (all teens), and apparently one collapsed.  One was starting to scream "we need help!!!"  Warren started running over there as did a few others, girl got up and her friends were aggravated w/ her as was everyone else around.  NOT funny, especially, at an event like this w/ medical issues & personnel all around.  Some people just don't understand their actions.

Alyona listening to her mp3 player while eating gummy bears.  CVS donated a bag of gummy bears to every athlete there!  thought that was rather generous of them for sure.  They were good too.  We headed home for a bit.

Went home to pick up Digby and take him to Petsmart to be groomed.  See, he was a rescue from a place that kept him tied up in the yard all day long.  You felt very dirty after petting him.  Very dirty.  Apparently, he also had more white fur than we thought as it was covered in orange clay & dirt.  Groomer said he was filthy.  We agreed.  She made him beautifuly & unearthed some of his past scars and wounds.  We're treating some of those now w/ some neosporin & watching them.  He was gorgeous when he came out of there & happy.  Not sure when he last ever had a bath but knew it must have been a long time.  They said he was fantastic.  He even wanted to play a bit when he got home for the first time.  Glad we decided to get him groomed versus us doing it at home.  Also, found a coupon online which helped a little.  

After we dropped Digby off, we headed out to lunch w/ Alyona.  She ordered pizza w/ carrot sticks and chocolate milk.  All her choice.  Really thought she'd get fries but she said "mommy I like carrots you know."  

What better way to end a day?!  I gave Alyona my dessert that came w/ my meal.  I was way too full though I did take a bite.  It's an oreo ice cream cookie cake thing.  She's eating the strawberry dipped in chocolate.  Yum.  That was one of the best meals I think I've had in a long time.  

Alyona truly enjoyed her day.  We made it all about her.  She loved going out w/ just us.  Nice special time for her.  We heard those banging medals all day long.  Was just nice to hear.  We are very proud of Alyona and all that she has accomplished.  From orphan to Olympian.  Another amazing transformation.