Saturday, June 11, 2011

at the airport

Well, sitting in Philly waiting to board to Frankfurt.  ON time.  RDU we sat on the tarmac a bit but not bad.  I am not the best traveler but Warren is putting up w/ me.  That and Dramamine works wonders.  I"m taking more of the sleepy pill once on this flight.  FRankfurt to Sofia and spend the night there.  That is our unique hotel experience awaiting us.  Monday, we get to go see our Summer.  Busy, busy schedule so I'll write when I can.  Keeps my mind occupied anyhow.  Pray for a safe and noneventful trip.  Got to go.  Boarding soon.  We're one leg closer to our kiddos!  enjoy the weekend.  Have to tell you all that the kids did fine w/ us leaving.  No tears so we were good.  more to come later when I can keep my eyes open.

And we...are...out...of....here!

Time has come to really start this journey of ours.  Never did I think it would have ever taken this long.   Goes to show you, always expect the unexpected when adopting.  I can't write long.  Still packing.  Warren hasn't even started packing.  I did get my laps in last night so relieved to get rid of some of that tension.  I am going to try not to get upset when I say goodbye to the kids.  Will be hard for sure.  All the things I'm going to miss I'm sure I could write a whole post on.  However, let's think of all the people/ things I'm going to see & experience.  So much.  Not sure if I'll be able to load pictures or not but will be able to blog.  We'll see.  Our scheduled is jammed packed.  I get to see my little girl on Monday.  So close.  Getting closer.  Must go for now.  Enjoy your week everyone.  Following along.  Hopefully, Chaos Manor's kind of happenings will not follow us to Bulgaria. We'd appreciate prayers for a smooth journey and health during this trip.  Thanks to all who made this possible.  Flying to Philly, to Frankfurt to Sofia.  Write when we land...somewhere.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Change of plans!!!

Just b/c I never have enough excitement in my adoption journeys, we have to stir the pot a little more.  Got an email this afternoon w/ a phone call saying we can indeed leave Bulgaria two days earlier.  This works out phenominally well (except for the extra $300 in fees) for us.  Our biggest worry during this whole trip is the kids at home & what they've been through over the last few months w/ CPS.  Praying it all goes smoothly while we're gone.  SO, SO much to do yet.  donations are still coming in.  Even got one in the mail today.  Thanks Donna!  I know I owe many thank yous and many emails yet.  I will get back to everyone once home.  Today is just a whirlwind.  Getting ready to go to Walmart & to go get shaggy's haircut.  Aka, Alex.  And Nik.  Max is working today which is wonderful.  Coming home, packing, eating dinner, swimming laps & finishing that stupid paperwork.  I know, I procrastinated.  I can not even begin to describe how we're feeling.  On cloud 9, nervous, excited, tired, overwhelmed, happy, all in one.  No time to blog.  Those new to adoption, last minute flight changes have happened to us for about half our adoptions.  Eldo at Golden Rule Travel is the BEST!!!  More to come.

T- 1 day! Nerves have set in

I actually can't believe I'm able to finally write this post.  We leave tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  Whatever isn't done, just isn't going to get done.  I have learned that the house being totally sparkling clean is just not that important.  I wanted it really nice when Rebecca comes.  I just don't want her to feel like she has to clean up the mess that 7 kids leave.  Definitely NOT.  My kids know it is their responsibility.  Bottom line. Once I stopped stressing about having the house neat as anything, I relaxed a bit more.  Not much, but a bit.  All the things that I wanted done before we left, did NOT get done.  I did not get all the school messes straightened out.  I did NOT get the car washed.  I did NOT get the trumpet found.  I did NOT get the homeschool cirriculum picked out. I did NOT get it all done.  I tried.  Gosh, I gave it a good shot.  But for me, I had to weigh what was more important.  After thinking maybe Bojan had strep last night(no, & long story) & Alaska tore her pad off her paw, I realized the here & NOW, the preparing all the stuff to go , preparing the kids for our departure is way more important than that to do list that I'm never getting all to done.  So, I have moved on.

I went to an IEP meeting for Alex this morning.  I informed the school I'm coming to withdraw all my kids from public school.  Again, separate post after we return as to why we are going to homeschool them.  It was an emotional meeting for all of us for sure.  But, we have to keep in mind what is best for Alex.  For now, homeschooling is what is best for him.  Alex qualifies for language therapy based on his processing issues.  His IQ has dipped which has been the norm for all my FAS kids as they get older.  They will start to reach a certain plateau.  Someone explained it best once.  There is only so much room in their brains for information.  As you get older and learn more, some of the old info must get dumped to make room for new info as there is limited space in their brains so to speak.  I do really not know if this is true or is the case.  I just know, So far, the 3 that have come before him, this IS indeed the case.  All scores have dropped as they've aged.  I know it's hard for others to understand.  I'll explain it again one day once I ever get that FAS post up with links included to various research and things. 

Anyhow, meeting went well and they were very gracious and doors are always opened.  Nice to know for sure.  went onto the chiropractor.  Hoping to get rid of this kink in my neck before take off tomorrow.  Then went to local farmer & picked up our weekly veggies & fruits.  Made a deal w/ the local farmer so really does help.  Still costs us a fortune to feed them but any little discount helps.  We got a case of blueberries, watermelon, 2 cantelopes, peaches, 56 apples, 18 ears of corn, two giant bags of potatoes, zucchini, tomoatoes, & much, much more!  Called USAA and made sure our credit card was activated & notified.  Since we normally don't use credit cards(seriously, only time ever used is on adoption trips), we must make sure they don't think we're making fradulent charges.  Getting ready to register w/ embassy.  And pack. No ,still haven't packed.  Don't be surprised if it is done tomorrow an hour before we gone.  Hey, we go w/ the flow here.  Need to go to Walmart later and swim my laps. 

Going to miss things for sure while gone.  Reality is truly hitting me.

Alyona this afternoon said "Mommy, I'm going to miss you."  Oh, cut me w/ a knife way don't you.  It was all I could do NOT to cry.  Really was.  Alyona and Nik have never been through this experience before.  I know it will be tough on them.  Yet, I know it will help them grow to.  They need to know mom & dad will come back for them.  Still, does not make it any easier for them.  Or for me.  Lots to do so I must go.  May write something later, don't know.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.  Can't wait for ours to really start.  This is the beginning of the journey.  Right here, right now.  No turning back.  Going full throttle.  Pushing forward.  Despite any fears.  Despite any unknowns.  We're doing this. One last time.  This is a new country for us.  New dx's.  Some serious ones at that.  New orphanages.  New plan.  We know it took a lot for us to reach this point.  We also know full well we could not have done this w/out everyone's help.  We really couldn't.  Way too many folks to thank.  And hence begins our journey of a life time.  Stay tuned for much more to come the next few days.  I can only imagine. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We're staying where?!?!

This you will not want to miss b/c you may get a laugh.  Okay, first things first.  There are 3 rules everyone should follow when adopting.  Here goes:

1.  You are NEVER in control.
2.  ALWAYS expect the unexpected.
3.  Be flexible.

If you follow these three rules, you will do just fine during any adoption journey.  This adoption journey has tested us more than probably the other 7 combined.  Not kidding.  (once journey is totally complete, I'll tell you the whole story start to finish).  So, it is no surprise that we should have more interesting things happen from time to time.

Everyone who goes to Bulgaria stays in Sofia, the capital at some point.  We are no exception.  Though going to 2 different regions, half our time in country is in Sofia.  Obviously, we need a place to stay, right?

You all know that we recently received somewhat outrageous hotel prices.  We then requested something less extravagant.  We're fine w/ just about anything as we have camped & are pretty simple people any ways.  Well, we got just about anything.  The two regions we're staying in are fantastic.  The one hotel is somewhat like a quaint Bavarian chalet.  Has it's own wine cellar & looks like it will be relaxing.  And no, not b/c of the wine.  The other hotel in the other region is simple but seems fine.

The hotel in Sofia is a little different.  It is called Scotty's Boutique.  It is shall we say...unique.  Now, before anyone out there gets upset or anything else, I will start by saying I have no problems w/ the hotel.  It's just not my kind of thing.  What do I mean by that?  Here's an excerpt from a review:

Scotty's Boutique Hotel just opened in February 2005 and is the first gay hotel in Sofia, located in the heart of the city in a recently renovated and completely reconstructed building which is part of the city's historical heritage. Within walking distance to the major business, government and shopping district. Many restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Opposite the Sofia's Synagogue and the Old Market Hall called Halite. One minute walk to the major Catholic Cathedral and the most famous Mosque of Sofia and the Old Mineral Bath House (currently under reconstruction). Near to the biggest Orthodox Cathedral on the Balkans St. Alexander Nevski, National Museum of History, the former King's Palace and present National Art Gallery and many other historical landmarks.

All staff at Scotty's is gay. At the reception you can get info and assistance whenever you need it. Scotty's is straight friendly, but most guests are gay and lesbian. You can have your own guests at day and night without extra charges; your guests needs to get registred at the reception. He can have a breakfast too. You can walk to several gay bars and clubs: 3 minutes to Exit, 5 minutes to Vital and to Why Not, 10 minutes to Joy and to Twelve Chairs restaurant, 20 minutes to Sax and Kayo, 30 minutes to Flamingo. 

I really was not sure at first how to take all this.  No, we can not change hotels.  The rooms have been paid for.  Our take in all this is we signed up for whatever may happen.  Just b/c it may not be who we are, does not mean we can't sleep there.  We said from the get go we were up to anything.  I guess we should not have been so literal.  LOL.  If you look up this hotel on various websites, you can see the rooms.  I think the zebra room would be cool.  Though I highly doubt I can sleep in it.  Now, we are in this hotel for the time we're in Sofia which I believe is 4 nights.  I'm sure I have slept in worse places.  Trust me on that one.  I will not ever stay at a Motel 6 again where they leave the light on for you.  They leave the light on so it scares the roaches.  And those roaches were huge!  So, if this hotel is minus the roaches, I'm good.  I've always been under the impression you should embrace the chaos instead of let it rule you.  There is nothing I could do to change arrangements if I wanted to.  Plus, who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised by our stay.  Please those new to adoption, always obey those 3 rules up there.  That way, you can be open to new experiences...whatever they may be.  
 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hammocks, hostas & hydrangeas

Enough of that adoption stuff.  We need a break.  Seriously, I need a break. I'm feeling totally overwhelmed.  And now w/ Warren not being able to help as much, I'm really feeling it.  Still swimming laps which helps & stress has helped me to shed a few pounds but in the long run, I just want to relax.  Ahh, after the adoption trip.  No, wait!  That's the next trip to PA.  Ahh, after that.  No, wait!  That's the 4th of July & Alex & Alyona's birthday stuff.  I think after July 9th, I may catch a small window of a break.  LOL.  I shouldn't ever complain.  I have a good life.  A busy life is a good life for me.  I get to do stuff with the kids, go places, enjoy things, etc.  Yes, I better shut up now.  Good life.  As I write this my boys are arguing in the background.  Go figure.


 This is one of our two hammocks. A favorite spot of many of us in this family.  Little messy right now but we don't care.  When you're laying in it, it feels like you're suspended in the trees.  Especially, when you look up.


One of the views from the hammock.  A garden full of hostas.  These are just starting out so that's why they're so small.  


 Close up of one of our newer hostas.  Love the bright green for sure.


This is one of the varigated hostas we transplanted last  year.  We cut the ones up at the front of our house off.  Then, plant them elsewhere in the yard.  Takes about a year & they get back to normal shape & grow.  Hey, it's free & I don't think it looks half bad.  


 This is one of the lacecap varieties of hydrangeas we have.  Purplish flowers.


 Another one of the lacecaps right beside it.  They do last in vases. 


Another variety of hydrangeas.  We love this one b/c the flowers are just so bright.  I'll give you a close up view below.

I forgot what this particular variety is called.  I just call it pretty.  


 We love having fresh flowers all the time.  This is from one of our shrubs w/ the mophead varieties.  LOVE that kind.  So big!

 We have bluish flowers of mophead variety. 


We also have pink ones and purple ones.  Just love the look of them for sure.  Must go.  9:30, still no swimming laps done.  Got to get it done.  Enjoy your evening.

Adoption update...again

Yep, towards the end of an adoption journey before trip one, things are forever changing & things starting to fall into place. Happens every time.  No different this time.  Remember when I wrote on here the price of hotels?  Well, I also wrote & told agency we could not afford that.  We don't mind something simple.  Shoot, we camp.  If the hotel has a roof, air conditioning, & clean bedding, we'll be doing much better than any campsite.  LOL.  Now, instead of $125 a night, it is $67 a night.  And, the high end region for $171 a night is now $81 a night.  The other region is $123 per night for 2 nights.  These prices are for our room & our interpreter's.  Explaining all the details on here so that others coming after me know what to expect.  That way, you too can budget.  I have no idea what to expect of the hotel b/c the ones arranging it in Bulgaria said "we booked the most underscale hotel which is very cheap."  I can only imagine.  Since we are only there one night though, I don't care.  As long as critters aren't crawling on me, I'll be fine.  I am awaiting the name of the hotel so that I can register it with the embassy.  Once I know the name, you bet I'm looking it up online.  The hotels I've seen there are beautiful.  And I'm sure that's probably where we were booked the first time but this is about getting my kids home, NOT staying in a luxury hotel.  We must find funds any way we can and if it means sucking it up in a small hotel, we'll be sure to do it. 

Oh, found out we get to meet our little girl on Monday!  Can you believe it?!  I can hardly stand it.  This is a 4yo little girl we will name Summer.  Giving you the name we will give her.  I know you are not supposed to use identifying info on blogs but seriously, there are no kids w/ the American name of Summer.  So, no way to find her.  Her birthday is in December so a ways to go before she is 5yo.  Almost all kids coming out of Bulgaria for international adoption are older kids.  we don't mind one bit.  This little girl will need much help reaching her fullest potential but we intend to work hard to give that to her.  She will be just fine.  I wish I could share her picture.  She is a doll!  I'll ask permission when I'm over there if I could share pics on here but I highly doubt it until after court.  Sorry but you'll get local pictures instead.  I think that was the hardest thing for us for Alyona & Nik...not being able to share pictures.  Though, you know all adoptive parents share pictures anyways.  LOL.  Just not publicly.  I've been good, not a single picture.  Drives me bonkers but we follow the rules to a tee as we never want anything we did to jeopardize our adoptions. 

After visiting our daughter, we will visit w/ the 9 & 10yo siblings.  Girl & a boy.  Very excited to be meeting them.  Older kids are great b/c they will tell it like it is whether you want to hear it or not.  We will be spending 2 days in each region, maybe more.  Rest of the time in Sofia.  So, hoping we can meet up w/ some other families.  Those out there traveling, we'll be in Sofia, June 12th but that would be hard to meet that day.  I know there were a few traveling when we were & talked of meeting up. I think the next time we'd be in Sofia is on June 17th onward till we leave the 20th.  Let me know if anyone wants to meet up.  Imagine, having to go to Bulgaria to meet someone from the US.  That is about all I have for itinerary right now. 

So much more to do.  Poor Warren is really stuck at work.  It's extremely hard on both of us now b/c they are moving his office.  And NO, it can't wait till he gets back.  He may have to be there in the wee hours of the night one night to get it done.  Stinks as we have TONS to do here.  I need his help desperately and can't get it if he's at work in the evenings.  Please pray for a little more time.  Got to go.  Much more to get done.  Enjoy your evening.  May be able to post more soon.  Just priority has to be this upcoming trip & making sure my kids here are okay.  Oh, made a deal w/ a farmer today to pick up produce on a weekly basis for a discount.  It's awesome!  We go there all the time anyhow so why not.  Later.

FAS meltdowns

I know some of you come to this blog b/c we have experience in dealing with children effected by FAS.  For those new, we have 6 kids currently affected.  It is called the invisible disability for a reason. I know I need a sole FAS post but that has to wait till I have more time.  For now, I want to show you what happens to our kids when they get caught in a lie. 


First step is they are called over to be talked to.  Alex does not think he has done anything wrong whatsoever at this point.  Most RAD/FAS kids can't recognize when they do something wrong.  You have to pick away at the problem piece by piece so that they understand.  Trust me, this could take hours. 


 Alex is listening to Warren pick apart the problem.  Piece by piece.  Many FAS kids have processing issues so this is the hardest part to do. 


 Alex is tired here of listening to the conversation.  Notice how he acts as though he's in pain.  It truly is almost painful for them when they finally recognize that they were indeed the guilty party.  Their emotions take over and they honestly don't know what to do next.  Their first instinct is always to lie.  But, if you pick apart the problem piece by piece, you've left them no way to lie & it just breaks them down.  They have to deal w/ the fact that they were in the wrong and try & process it.  


As I've mentioned before, physical touch is very important w/ these kids.  It reigns them in.  In addition, you whisper.  If you whisper, they will stop shouting.  Works every time.  This is him coming to the conclusion(finally), that he did indeed do something wrong.  

With FAS kids, you can not parent quite the same way as a regular parent.  These kids have processing issues.  Half the time, they don't understand what you are saying.  I don't show these photos to show something negative.  On the contrary.  I do it to show you that disciplining an FAS child is a process.  You have to pick apart what happened.  Give them extra time to digest each line.  Then, talk them through a solution.  Our kids do get punished for wrong things they've done.  Even the most severe of kids with mental health issues can learn.  Just takes lots & lots & lots of patience and time.  We're still a work in progress.  However, we've come an extremely long way.  From one kid w/ severe aggression issues & RAD to a kid that can now control it and leave the room when they feel that anger arising w/in them.  You can't get rid of their problems.  You can however effectively learn how to deal with them.  I wrote this b/c this is one of the questions we get all the time.  I know this is just a small part of what we do.  I'll have more on FAS in general & what it is like to live this life once home from Bulgaria.  Just didn't want folks thinking it was all roses here 100% of the time.  It's not.  That just would not be real life.  More to come but must go pick up Irina & then onto Alex's awards ceremony.  Getting stuff done today but much more to do.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bojan's graduation

Okay, I'll try to be nice but I also have to be honest.  Personally, I think it is ridiculous to have a 5th grade graduation.  But, we went.  It is nice seeing our son get awards and things but I think 5th grade "graduation" is a bit much.  When we grew up,you had high school graduation.  Now, you have preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade graduation & high school graduation. I just think the significance of it all gets lost a bit.  Anyhow, that's just me.  To the real stuff... the pictures.


 Irina and Nik waiting for the ceremony to start.  Aren't they cute?  BTW, when one of our kids has a big event, the rule is they all must go.  We think showing support is important.  And no, I don't care what people think taking all with us to such an event.


 It was literally standing room only.  It was ridiculous!  People were lined up everywhere.  And it was HOT.  Understatement of the year.  People were sweating, going in & out of the auditorium.  Found out from Max the school's air conditioners had been broken since the last storm & they kept opening the doors & windows during school. Umm, nice to inform the folks attending this event.  URGHH!!!  They could have at least told folks to wear shorts.  Alex had real trouble staying cool.  Luckily, the people waiting to serve the 5th graders melting cupcakes gave him some water.  Honestly, I thought we were going to be in air conditioning so thought nothing of getting stuff ready for Alex.  His cooling vest still has not arrived.


Bojan was receiving the art achievement award.  He received a student of the month award, award for behavior and I think A/B honor roll award too but have to check on that one.  My kids never ever get any attendance awards due to the sheer # of doc appointments.  And, with Bojan & Alyona's disabilities, they never ever receive a P.E. award either.  However, both receive plenty of awards so it's not a big deal.  Trust me, there is no shortage of awards for them or achievement.  It's fantastic!


 Max and Nik resting.  It was just too hot to stand most of the time.  The ceremony was over 2 hours.  It was very hard on any kids in attendance. 


 Ahh, freedom from the heat.  LOL.  We were very proud of Bojan.  It seemed cooler outside & it was in the 90's that day. 


Bojan and Max goofing around of course.  These two are just inseparable.  I swear they can read each other's minds.  Oh, Bojan & his friend decided to wear Hawaiian shirts.  


 The picture doesn't do it justice but the sky was gorgeous when the ceremony was over.  We went home after to let the dogs out.  After roasting for 2 hours, we decided neither of us was going home to cook over a hot fire.


Went to Logan's. We go somewhere, we all get water. Though all of us were dying for an ice cold coke, it wasn't happening.  We hadn't been out to eat for quite some time so thought it was a good night for it.  We try to go out once a month if we can.  Kids did great.  All were hungry as ceremony ended at 8 or so. 

Nik, glistening in sweat still.  Yes, it was indeed that hot.  Why he smashes his rolls, I'll never know.   They always seem to stick us back in the bar section as the seating is big enough.  Kids always comment on the alcohol pictures but gives us a chance to reiterate the importance of our FASers not to drink.  Always a teaching moment.  


This is what we came home to after enjoying a nice evening out with our kids.  This is courtesy of Alaska,I'm sure of it.  She is our chewer. 


A better view.  We stuffed it back in.  No new couch in sight but this is ridiculous.  

Overall, great time with Bojan.  Kids did well given the circumstances.  Bojan did awesome & really racked up some awards for sure!  Very proud of him.  This was his first year w/ no IEP in place.  Remarkable progress was made.  Though still miffed he doesn't even know the Star Spangled Banner.  Long story.  Anyhow, I still can not believe Bojan is going to Middle School next year.  He has come so far so fast.  I know he'll do great things one day.  That is, if we can survive his comedy routines.  More on school awards & things.  Off to make 3 photo albums now.  And, it's 10pm.  Hey, at least I got my laps in tonight in the pool.  Needed to clear my head for sure. 

Brief update (on the adoption front)

After attending 2 award ceremonies today, 2 parties, & taking the 4 "littles" swimming in the pool, I can finally write.  Just brought Alex back from running club.  Getting ready to clean up the house so that we can shoot a video this evening for our new kids.  Now, we have a son over there that is 10yo.  He MUST give consent in order to be adopted.  It's the law.  So, we wanted to ease any fears he may have a bit by making a video of us and the kids & the house.  To kind of see what to expect.  No chaos scenes though.  That may scare him away.  We want the kids to speak a little bit, show the camera around, etc.  Something simple.  Making copies & giving to their orphanages.  Tonight, we are also making 3 photo albums for each of the kids.  So, keeping busy. 

Kids are getting a little anxious here.  However, I can't really tell if it is from us leaving soon or from the end of school stuff.  Any change of routine does throw off our FAS kids.  Happens each time w/ breaks.  They'll be fine, just everyone on edge a bit. 

The adoption front.  Got a little more clarification and think we'll be okay...for this trip.  Alright, all families typically pay visa fees on first trip.  Told it would be okay if we paid on second trip though.  If we can raise it in 3 days fine.  Highly doubt it so second trip it probably is.  Told the region we are going to is an expensive region.  It is near Turkey.  Looks beautiful for sure.  Also, the price of the rooms is for us AND the interpreter which makes more sense.  Still expensive so they are still working on finding us cheaper rooms.  Praying they'll find us cheaper rooms.  That's $85 a night which is still kind of pricey compared to what I've found online.  Knowing the others at about $55 a night is not so bad.  Hard to swallow though b/c if you look online, you can definitely find a cheaper place to stay.  I shouldn't complain but being that we have NO money left for trip 2, every single penny counts on this one.  For those who don't know, we are going to two different regions in Bulgaria as our kids are in two different orphanages. 

Don't know how we're getting where.  Trusting our coordinators over there & the team.  This is so much different than Russia b/c in Russian adoptions, I had an itinerary every single step of the way.  Here, I have no idea even what regions we're going to first.  Thankfully, we are up for just about anything.  There is a lot going on with these next three adoptions.  We are very ready to get the kids home safe and sound.  Get them the medical help necessary.  I know this will be an emotional trip for us all.  I wish I could share more but don't think it's a good idea at this point in time.  After I obtain more information once in country and see them in person, I'll be able to share some more accurate information.  For those new to adoption, you take the medicals with a grain of salt.  That is what we have always done.  Even this time.  We knew the kids we are going to adopt were special needs.  However, we recently received a little more medical info. Much I will not get into at this time.  I do promise to share but as all of you know, for awhile, things need to be kept quiet till more is final.  Hope that all made sense.  Put it this way, we have a lot on our minds.  I know many questions will be answered in less than a week.  So hard to even phathom.  We are ready.  We are.  When you get ready to leave to meet your new children, there are always so many emotions attached to it.  For us, even more.  Older children know what is going on.  They do.  Yana was 8.5 when we brought her home.  She knew the magnitude of the situation.  Her world was going to change.  'R' & Logan are 9 and 10yo.  They too know what will be happening.  Don't think for a moment older kids don't know.  They meet you w/ hesitation.  They are cautiously optimistic.  You both are.  Praying all goes well. 

In addition, older kids have a hard burden to carry once the parents leave.  See, in many older kids' homes, the other kids make the kid ready to get a family a target of sorts.  It's sad.  They too want families but most will not get one just due to their age.  Sometimes, they take this anger out on the child that is about to be adopted.  We truly hope this will not be the case.  For Yana, it was okay.  The girls felt good about us coming and were genuinely happy that Yana got a family.  Plus, we promised we'd help the others find a family.  Some of them indeed did!  So much on our minds for sure.  Making sure when we go over there, all the kids in his group are treated well.  All of them are given a sense of hope. 

Well, started this.  What would Chaos Manor be w/out some chaos.  We were shooting a video for the new kids.  Alyona got hurt on the trampoline.  Don't think the foot is broken.  Will know for sure soon but about 95% confident it is NOT broken.  Just hurting her a bit.  Video still not done & now Alyona is yelling at her brother again so can't be but so hurt.  LOL.  Now, going downstairs to try to shoot some more video.  Got to love it.  More to come but getting stuff done is a priority right now.  Enjoy your evening.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Typical Summer night

Though it's not officially summer, thought I'd share a short bit of our evenings in the summer.  By pictures of course.


Digby finds his way to Warren of course.  And, the smell of food cooking.


Warren starting to cook some pork chops on the grill.  And no, we normally do not cook that many.  Needed to use the whole pack b/c it thawed out so had these one night & leftovers later that week.


And, while Warren is cooking, some of the kids are out looking for lightening bugs.  Or, as Northerners call them...fireflies.  Kids love watching them.


I know, she already had a bath & is out in her pajamas.  Oh well.  Least she has shoes on.  They love watching them crawl up their arm.  And of course light up.  

Nik loves these things!  You can see some of them lit up even.  Nik likes to use them as a night light.  No, not kidding.  Constantly have to have him take them back outside.  The other day, he literally must have had at least 50 of those things in there.  Crazy.  


Early in the evenings is when we cut our fresh flowers for our vases.


Not a good picture.  We have hydrangeas & iris' now mostly.  Getting ready to be picked are daylillies & these other flowers that I have no idea what they are called.  They look like some type of mum.  I will take a picture one day.  Sometimes I'll put shoots of our gardenias in arrangements just for the wonderful smell.  

Summer nights once schools out consist of very late dinners while we're collecting lightening bugs & then swimming at night.  It's wonderful for sure.  Yep, needed this picture post after the last post.  If  you haven't read it, please do.  I still need suggestions and quickly.  Thanks.  Many award ceremonies tomorrow.  4 "littles" with me too.  Wish me luck! 

MAJOR changes...

Oh much to say today.  I'll get to the major changes at the end.  We are 5 days out till departure and much has happened in the last few days.  More info we have digested.  More about that further down.  Let's see what's going on.  Medical front first.  I'm on the last couple of days of antibiotics for ear infection & sinus infection which was causing vertigo.  Vertigo now gone & ear feels much better.  Still stuff up but lots of that is allergies.  Wonder if I'll have allergy issues in Bulgaria.  Kids are up to date on everything including stuff they need for next year.  Nik's new processors came today since internal mics were broken on both.  Wahoo!  Praying this is the solution.  Major issue we're having now is Bojan's leg keeps falling off.  Lovely.  Have call in to our prosthetist.  Holes keep forming in the cuff allowing air in & then it slips off.  I told you, he needs to work for testing products.  Other than that, I think everyone should be healthy & medical needs met while we're gone. 

Another thing we have to do before leaving is make sure all meds are in order.  Received 3 scripts today in the mail.  Umm, I sent 5 scripts to them.  2 of those are mine that I MUST have before I leave.  See where I'm going w/ this.  Called Caremark.  My scripts are still sitting there for whatever reason known to man.  MInd you, they were sent in the exact SAME envelope.  So, now I had to pay $23 for overnighting them as snail mail would not have made it here by Saturday.  URGHH!!!  An I'm sorry would have been nice but after my run in w/ the FEDex man earlier today, I wasn't about to try to get an I'm sorry out of these people.  Fedex guy is another story.  He knocks on my door & leaves.  Now, here is what I don't get.  He has two boxes, a processor in each for Nik.  Leaves one on the porch and takes the other one back in the truck. I see him tape the note to the window of our door.  I'm HOME folks!  Van is in the driveway & I know he had to hear the kids & dogs.  I go outside and say thanks & he says he needs a signature.  I assure him dogs are inside & that they are all bark and no bite anyhow.  One of the "littles" starts to open the door & I quickly tell him to shut it as I didn't want the pups to escape.  Fedex man gets angry w/ me & says " that really burns me up!"  You know, at that point, it wasn't worth me making a comment.  I just finished signing, and said good day. 

Next battle would be the insurance company...BCBS.  They are saying that Nik's speech therapy will not be covered any more b/c it has to be b/c he is developmentally delayed.  Umm, he is.  Pretty much ALL orphanage kids are for that matter.  In addition, he's delayed simply due to lack of vocabulary & language.  We'll definitely be fighting this one.  Just didn't want to fight it now but now is as good a time as any I suppose. 

Received an invitation for Irina for Vocational Rehabilitation.  Called them this morning.  They will encourage & help her find a job.  With pay.  Wahoo!!  Getting her started in that program & yes, you can do it if you homeschool too.  This was all actually good news. 

Major issues w/ the schools right now.  My kids can not pass the end of grade testing stuff.  They do have disabilities and it is well noted.  Yet, have to take the stupid tests anyhow.  Big time separate posts on schooling in awhile.  Long story short here is that Max will have to go to summer school.  Fine.  It starts the day we get back from the family reunion.  Now, I informed the school today that if I must sign something, I MUST do it now as I'll be out of the country & out of state for the remainder of the month. I do not know if this guy didn't understand or didn't believe me.  So, that is up in the air for now.  I KNOW I have to at least meet or sign something as we've done this before.  Then, teacher tells me for Alex it is illegal she thinks for me to get my own copy of the psych eval before the meeting.  No,it is not.  Teachers seriously need to read the laws regarding special education.  Anyhow, talked w/ the pychologist today who did the test.  She's known our kids for 12 years now.  It is not illegal for my to get a copy.  HOwever, I must sign it out from Smithfield.  URGHH!!! I am not going there.  This is just ridiculous.  Did get the info I needed over the phone from her though. It confirmed my suspicion.  Alex does need to be homeschooled.  BTW, even this lady noticed the difference in Alex emotionally on this test.  I explained then how CPS really messed him up.  This test was given at the height of a lot of this garbage so he was really not himself.  She completely understood.  More on Alex later.  He's made great strides but still has a ways to go.  I think homeschooling will be best for him.  Again, separate post. 

Alright, the adoption front.  I asked for an itinerary.  I got an expense sheet from the Bulgarians instead.  Now, that is also helpful.  However, the info on it is not.  It has us booked for 3 different hotels/ apartments.  2 nights each.  Can you see where this is a problem if we were originally told we'd be gone 10 days?  For newbies to adoption, these kinds of quirky things can happen all the time and you just have to wait & sort them out.  IF we do only need to be there for that amount of time, we must re-book our flights.  BTW, the hotels are WAY more than budgeted for.  $171 per night in one region, $112 in another region a night.  They seriously do not budget like I do.  LOL.   Transportation costs were reasonable.  In addition to this, they had visa costs for the children listed. Now, I thought that was for trip 2 but maybe I'm wrong.  If it is necessary for this trip, we are short the money.  Not kidding.  Nothing like a little last minute stress.  Finding out if it can be charged on a credit card but I doubt it.  I honestly can't remember.  If anyone knows, please let me know asap!  We have 4 days to come up w/ funds.  Keep in mind, I just sold stuff to help w/ donations and things so nothing left to sell.  Crazy.  Just crazy.  In addition to the schedule that is different, so is one of the regions.  Where we thought Summer was, she is not.  Surprise.  Not sure which set of children we're seeing first.  I really want to know.   Agency is working on finding out more details.  If any of you out there ever went to two regions, can you please confirm w/me how many nights you stayed.  Would be wonderful.  Got to go.  Much, much more has happened here.  I can't even write it all.  All I can say is when you have so much happening all at once, coming at you in every direction, you stop, do one thing at a time, and do try to laugh a lot.  Right now, Irina is making dinner, Asian Stir Fry.  She hates it btw.  Kids are getting out of the pool & I'm going in it to do some laps.  Stress reliever.  Coming back in, we're all going to enjoy dinner together, kids will get ready for school tomorrow & Warren & I will take a walk.  Then, after some deep breathing(kidding), we'll tackle the next set of events we need to conquer.  Lots of conquering to do for sure.  POA's, lists, etc.  Registering w/ embassy, you know, the usual stuff when you do one of these trips.  Got to go.  Puppies escaped.  URGHH!!!  I think picture posts need to be next.  They are way more fun. 

Airline rapper

With all the chaos of preparing 7 children for mom & dad being gone for 10 days & getting everything ready for the trip of a lifetime, you just want something a little humorous from time to time.  Flights are boring.  Really boring.  So, starting off w/ a little energy I think is an excellent idea.  This link is a quick rap from a flight attendant.  I thought it was well done & just added that little umph to a flight.  One time w/ one of our short flights, we had a flight attendant & pilot that were truly funny.  Had everyone laughing.  That's what you want, some relaxation & humor on a trip.  Enjoy it.

Rapping flight attendant

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Flowers in bloom

Well, it is spring around here still though w/ summer temps.  Though I have not had the time to tend to the yard & flowers like normal, we still have had a few in bloom.  Thought I'd take a moment to share them. 


 I know the grass needed cutting in these pics but thought I'd share anyhow.  These are petunias by the mailbox.  I buy the trailing petunias(on clearance of course) & also the seeds for fill in.  Most everything I buy at Lowes for about .99.  Clearance rack.  It's great. 


This is some of the trees I got from the 1 cent catalog deal that you get in the mail.  They actually grow!  granted, they pretty much come as sticks but as long as you don't mow them over, they'll flourish. They are tree rose of sharon & get beautiful pink blooms on them later in the season.  


 More petunias.  These are in a container.  And yes, they too started out as dead looking.  So many now that you can't even see the container.  Just water & some dead-heading & they're good to go.


 Needed a little splash of color w/ some hanging baskets.  Notice the green starting to grow by the bricks?  Those are the starts of impatients.  This whole area will be filled w/ flowers in a few weeks.  Beautiful.  And, doesn't cost me a cent.  They go to seed every year & just spread. 


A small hydrangea that I got at a grocery store of all places last year.  It is starting to really spread this year & by next year should have considerable size on it.  Love the pink blooms on these.


 A view of my hostas in the front of the house.  They are starting to bloom as well.  Just adds a variety of color & flair.  Lots of different angles and such.  Hey, & for once these hostas don't have a bike laying in them. 


May not look like much but this is a bucket of FREE day lillies I got from my neighbor who was weeding out her garden.  I have more of these too.  Since they multiply, it works great in a garden.  Daylilies are very hardy.  And, hard to kill.  Just adds more color to the house & I'm one of these people who thinks you can never have too much color around your house.  

More to come on some flowers.  I've been so busy lately.  But, slowly getting things done.  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  We took 10 kids to church today.  Guess it's practice for us.  Came home & cleaned house.  Girls & their friends washed all three dogs.  They are now covered in mud...again.  URGHH!!!  Dogs ate 2 sticks of butter this morning & now Kota has a very upset stomach.  Lovely.  Took girls to youth group while we went to Sam's to stock up.  Been working on stuff ever since.  Needed a blog break.  Break's over so back to work.  Have a great evening.

Blast from the past!

Always neat seeing old pictures & just how fast our kids grow. 


So, can't figure out what I did to space this wrong.  Top picture is from 2008.  Nik w/ his homemade bed.  Sandwich & all so he could watch tv from bed.  Second one is Alyona getting a b-day present.  


Max & Nik from June of 2008.  Both look so much younger.  Happy though.  


 Nik & Alyona enjoying some fun in the pool.  We go through rafts like water.  That's why I buy them for 75% off at the end of season.  Just opened some up today as well. 


 Warren attacking an onion.  No idea why & he will most likely get even for me posting this picture.  This was from June 2010.


Alex LOVES corn.  His favorite.  This was from last year.  Irina is in the background. 

Hope you enjoyed a quick blast from the past.  My kids really do grow up fast.  Can't wait to meet my next 3.  They too have grown SO much since we first received pictures.  Hate the fact these adoptions always take so long.  Worth it but what I wouldn't give to have even just a few extra months with the kids.  I know adoption is a lengthy process but it doesn't make it any easier on parents or what they feel they may be missing. 

What a day!

It's Saturday right now.  Starting this at 9pm and most likely won't finish any time soon.  Why?  Well, it's been a day for sure.  We decided to have an impromptu yardsale to try to raise funds for the orphanage.  Hey, we can't expect people to donate if we haven't tried to exhaust every avenue we have to earn the funds.  Hence, despite being super busy w/ end of school stuff & things, I've been trying to sell things as well.  We only made $70 from the yardsale which was a bummer.  However, right after that we had an ice cream fundraiser.  And I literally mean right after that.


Some of the neighborhood kids came to help.  Believe it or not, there are about 4 people standing behind them all.  it was hot but not unbearable.  By unbearable in NC, you mean 100 degrees w/ 100% humidity.  I think it was only in the low 90's so we were good w/ that.  Plus, snacking on ice cream didn't hurt any.

 Nik was wanting to take a bit of a nap.  He refused to go in the pool b/c he was so afraid he'd miss his friend's b-day party that evening.  Poor kid.  Still learning time.  Told him he won't miss it but he wasn't taking chances. 


 No unearthly idea what Yana is looking at.  Her & Bojan were trying to attract traffic & dancing in the street. 

Bojan showing us what ice cream was available. Clear skies as you can see.  People were very generous.  We made $151 from the ice cream fundraiser!  Kids were so excited and asked how close were were.  Told them we were at $1146.  I know we can absolutely get there to our goal.  Would be wonderful to be able to tell the orphanages.  Please continue to help spread the word.  Just $4 ONE time is all it takes.  There are folks on here who have given TWICE!  That kind of heart just blows me away.   Then we have people who have collected from their Sunday School classes.  Amazing.  There are a couple hundred people who visit this site.  I just need 213 of them to donate $4 ONE time.  Or, at least help spread the word to friends and family.  there are hundreds of children counting on us even though they don't even know it yet.  Please share the story w/ those you know.  Go back and read put yourself in their shoes a few posts back.  All is true.  There are orphans all over the world suffering.  Missing the basics.  We can at least provide a little of the basics.  I guarantee you the $4 will most likely not effect your lifestyle.  HOwever, it would change the lives of hundreds of children for the better.  Just wanted to give the reminder.  I know I sound like a broken record but we are truly running out of time.  We are doing what we can on our end.  Impromptu fundraiser and yardsale on the same day is no easy feat to pull off.  But, we did.  thanks for listening yet again.  Tell others to comb the couches for loose change.  

After the fundraiser, we were beat.  But, had to get other things done.  Nik had a party.  Out of boys' wrapping paper so used Christmas paper.  Oh well.  It was wrapped.  I've decided I am not stressing myself out this week over little things.  Too many big things to worry about.  After dropping Nik off, I spoke w/ a friend/ neighbor of mine that has a student w/ an IEP as well.  We discussed the issues w/the schools here & homeschooling options.  Reassuring when you know you're not alone.  Picked up some things from Wally World and headed home.  Kids helped clean the house.  My kids & neighbor's kids.  Bojan spent the night at a friend's while 3 other kids are spending the night here. Hmm, that is not a fair trade.  LOL.  We're all up and it's midnight.  Well, little kids are in bed.  Big kids are up.  Stupid dares.  Too disgusting to even mention.  Seriously, you'll want to throw up.  Getting up & going to church.  Homemade pancakes, sausage & bananas are on the menu for breakfast.  Oh, and watermelon that we forgot to cut tonight.  Lots going on tomorrow for sure.  HAVE to get this stuff done.  T-7 days and we are running out of time.  

Wonderful day talking to people.  My friend Rebecca(more about this great lady later), brought her daughter over today & Alyona & her played together.  She also brought over a full bag of brand new pajamas for the kids in Bulgaria.  How sweet is that?!  What a gracious heart.  Very thankful for that.  Rarely do orphans ever get anything new.  These kids will look awesome in their pj's. Love it!  

We also got to talk to a wonderful lady I met online.  She is a teacher locally & works w/ deaf students.  Just such an interesting lady to speak w/ and learn from.  Great suggestions.  And, the kids, even teens, were watching & listening intently to her.  Very sweet lady & glad I had the pleasure of meeting her face to face.  Nik was playing shy.  working on that.  Plus, he was so focused on his party.  Wasn't much of a talker today.  

Well, need to try to get some teens to settle down.  I will try to get stuff written tomorrow but honestly, the adoption stuff MUST come first since we are leaving.  Car needs washing, 3 dogs need washing, grocery shopping, house needs to be cleaned, video made, 3 photo albums made, POA's made, I-800 filled out (don't even say it, I'm slow), laundry done, script picked up, start packing (yeh, right), & too many other things to mention.  Again, blogging last on list.  There is more than a ton going on w/ this adoption and with the end of school.  Some items I am not at liberty to share as of yet.  I will but just like the CPS case I had to keep quiet on till all was done, same goes w/ some of this adoption journey.  I do intend to share all, but for now, I can't.   When I tell you money is needed for the orphanages, it is needed for basics.   Praying things will be okay when we go this coming weekend.  There is more to share but for now, need some sleep.  Tons going on is an understatement.  Enjoy your weekend.