Friday, July 8, 2011

I-800 Update

Okay, Wednesday, I called Immigration.  We have a nice lady now & I'm SO thankful.  Asked for a status update.  She said I see it's been received & I should have it on my desk tomorrow.  If I don't call you, it's fine.  Wonderful.  Today, you guessed it...I get the call.  I said I know you wouldn't be calling me unless you needed something.  Yep, sure did.  Somehow, there were no English translations w/ the kids' social & medical histories.  She also needed a copy of the I-800A approval but said she could get that herself from the files.  Also needed an Article 16 from the agency & our training certificate copy.  Fine.  I'll work on all that.  She told me if I can get it to her in an hour, she can approve it today and send it out.  I start calling my people.  Start hunting my emails and got my adoption paperwork scattered all over the floor to try to find stuff.  Did I mention I had 15 kids here today???  Do you think it was a bright idea trying to find this stuff, 15 kids wandering around, while I had homemade french fries cooking & the chicken cooking for fajitas for lunch.  Nothing like timing, huh?  Started giving orders & making sure nothing was burning.  Lady calls me back and she has found some of the missing items.  Still needed all the English translations.  And our training certificate.  You know, the class you take saying you're ready to be an adoptive parent.  Umm, after a certain #, you should be automatically exempt.  I didn't even have to read through the info, I could skip right to the test & answer all the adoptive parent questions.  Anyhow, long story short, we never did make that hour time frame but gave it a great shot.  So, looks like approval will come Monday instead of today.  Still okay.  Next part will be to get the Article 5 from the Embassy and then the NGO can request a court date.  Ahh, the ever awaited court date that makes the kids OUR kids forever more.  The court date that gives us an idea of when we'll be traveling.  So, just had to update on that bit of info. 

Got to go soon.  Boys have work to do.  I'll explain just what they did in another post.  Let's just say I bagged up some stuff today.  More to come. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

not so thoughtful Thursday

I know I usually do a Thoughtful Thursday post.  Well, not going to this go around.  Thought it would be interesting to turn the tables and do a not so thoughtful Thursday post. 

 Does Alyona looked confused?  Well, she has every right to be.  Earlier, she was introduced to Yana's new boyfriend...Jason. 

Recognize anyone?  Yeh, Yana and her friend cooked up this little skit to trick Alyona.  This is Jason, aka...Yana.  Not sure what was w/ the black lipstick though.  What boys wear black lipstick?  LOL.  Hey, creativity I guess.  They did this on Alyona's b-day & it was all they could do not to crack up every time.  Hence, the not so thoughtful Thursday post.

Next, we have Max.  Okay, Max deserves a position in the not so thoughtful post as well.  See, last night we went to a church family night.  Alex did something & frankly, I forgot what.  Anyhow, in the car he said "sorry mom & I forgive you."  I yelled back at him:  "you forgive ME?!"  That's when Alex screamed "MAX!!!"  Max was laughing hysterically.  Max was telling him all the wrong things to say during this so called apology.  Lovely.  Not so thoughtful, huh?  

We also have Irina.  She has been trying to do little things to annoy Yana.  Like knowing she's drinking out of a certain cup and purposefully dumping it out into the sink and then claiming she didn't know it was Yana's.  Umm, not so thoughtful sis!  Now, these two are sharing a room. It will either help this situation or escalate it.  Stay tune and see in the upcoming weeks.

Alex was another I can list on not so thoughtful Thursday.  Alex today had an incident.  Okay, we've been watching Criss Angel's Mind Freak all morning.  Don't ask.  We're addicted now to this illusionist and trying to figure out how he does it.  Anyways, Bojan had received a magic kit for his birthday in January from my parents.  All in tact.  Well, he and Matthew ( a not so little "big little" I watch during the summer) were practicing their magic tricks to do a show.  Alex decided he should cut Bojan's cards w/ scissors b/c he thought they were supposed to be like Matthew's kit.  Umm, no, they're different son.  

I know this is a different twist but thought I always tell the good they do, everyone once in awhile, you need to see that they are sneaky too sometimes.  Picture posts to come tomorrow.  Kids are outside making wands.  I'm going to make banana nut bread w/ some ripe bananas we now have.  Warren and I just came back from a walk w/ the dogs.   The pups still can not walk on a leash.  URGHH!!!  Only one is Digby who does great.  Now, Alaska is getting better but no where even close to being good on a leash.  But hey, progress is progress.  Warren said if we could hook Kota to a dogsled team, we'd have it made.  another late summer evening.  chicken fajitas and fresh corn on the cob for dinner.  It was great.  Irina & Kyle are spending the night w/ friends.  Kyle is our house guest, teaching us ASL and all about deaf culture.  Have had no "littles" this week.  Really trying to play catch up and get organized.  Tomorrow, we may do a scavenger hunt, finish making wands and make carmel apples.  Should be a good day.  Saturday is a homeschool conference and possibly (if there's time) a carnival.  Trouble is, they are at the same time so we'll have to wait and see.  Sunday church and the start of VBS (vacation Bible School).  All kids are going.  Wonderful!  

No new news on the adoption front.  Called the FBI agent today & apparently, they are NOT happy if you call just after that stressed 4 week mark on the phone.  LOL.  Yes, it has been over four weeks I told the lady.  Though, I truly had no idea how long it had been.  She told me it was just a little over 4 weeks.  Umm, I don't want to say someone is not telling the truth but I'm pretty sure we sent that at the very end of may.  I know for a FACT it had to have at least been the first week of June.  Going to check my receipt just out of curiosity.  Really people, there is NO SENSE in calling & checking on those fingerprints.  Seriously.  They are taking 8 weeks to process now. And the agents will tell you not a single week sooner.  LOL.  I asked the status of our prints as these are just repeats b/c they expired.  I was told they are being processed.  Okie dokie.  Can't tell me where they are in the process? No.  Okie dokie.  Look forward to seeing them in the mail.  Again, no sense in calling.  If you know they got there, just let it go.  I needed a new set for court.  So, our medicals and fingerprints we just got done.  Should be absolutely in date for court.  Praying those are the only ones that needed to be redone.  Called immigration.  Now, Nina was very nice to me I must say.  She sees where our I-800 arrived.  She said it should be on her desk tomorrow to process.  (this was yesterday).  She told me if I don't hear from her, she doesn't need anything else.  Wahoo!!!  So, maybe we'll have notice of approval early next week.  Wouldn't that be awesome?!  I think from there, they acquire the Article 5 letter from the Embassy.  Then, from my understanding, we would be allowed to be submitted to court for a court date.  In the adoption world, first there is no happenings, then everything tends to happen all at once.  Got to get going here. 

Going to hunt those tigers

I know I had written something I had read in the car while on our trip.  It struck a chord w/ me and I have realized some things need to change around here.  And change now.  There was a little book I picked up at a yard sale that came with Tim McGraw's CD, Live Like You Were Dying.  Now, not a big book but a little book w/ many words of encouragement.  You can summarize it in your own way.  Kind of goes along w/ the song.  The song talks of what you'd do if you found out you were dying.  What would you do?  Would you sulk and talk about the options and how much time you had left?  Or, would you go bull riding for the first time, forgive those around you that you hadn't, love deeper?  Would you want to go out and experience life?  I mean truly experience life?  Why not?  Why not do it NOW?  Why wait?  You have no idea how much time you have left.  None of us do.  There is so much out there to experience and no, it doesn't all cost piles of money.  Make your dreams come true.  Just do it.

I think we are starting to take that approach around here in baby steps.  Truly, we shouldn't have gone on our vacation to Hershey and Knoebels.  Even with my parents paying the park admittance fees(rides) it still cost us money to go on the trip.  Gas alone and hotel costs are not easy for a family of 9.   However, we had been extremely stressed these last few months.  CPS, crazy things with the adoptions, rough medicals, and too many other things to name made life at times wishing you were somewhere else. We needed to get away.  This was not for a just for fun trip.  We need some regrouping as a family.  Hence, why no blogging or electronics allowed on this trip.  Yes, we could have saved the bit we spent.  I know we needed to save for our adoption expenses coming up.  However, we have spent the last year, ALL of us, sacrificing many "extras" so that we could bring these 3 children home.  That is not easy to do. I took on a full time job.  Kids gave up a few things as well.  Is it worth it?  Yes, without a doubt!  In the same token though, we needed a break as a family.  We needed to have fun, we needed to be away, we needed to dream.  We did all those things and more.

While away, we discussed what we wanted to do when all the kids were home.  Our kids know we have to pay things off.  They know our dream is to take them next year on a big summer vacation across a few states.  It was great hearing what they wanted to do.  It was great watching them smile on the rides.  It was great watching them learn.

Back to my story.  If you want to hunt tigers, you have to go to where the tigers are.  That is such a simple statement yet so profound.  If you want to do things in life, you have to experience it.  You have to go to what you want to see and do.  We know this.  We do.  There is so much we want our kids to be able to experience.  So much they missed out on those first few years. Keep in mind, this was the first time ever that 5 of my 7 had even been to an amusement park.  A first for many of them.  It was great to watch that thrill of excitement as they tried a ride out for the very first time.  I want them to experience that feeling many more times in life.  All 10 of my kids.  The beach this summer.  I want to take the kids to the beach.  We only live an hour and 20 minutes from the beach.  Yet, it seems so far.  But, I intend to go w/ them.  Yes, I'll be dragging Warren along.  He is more of a mountains kind of person.  Me, I could live at the beach.  Leave it all behind and live at the beach.  Anyhow, to hunt tigers, you have to go to where the tigers are.  Bottom line. 

So, for our family, we have decided to hunt tigers.  If we want to learn about something, we're going to go learn about it.  If we want to do something, we are going to attempt to do it. Now, I know all this also has to have a practical side b/c let's face it, you can't do it all and you surely can't afford it all.  I mean really, we'd love to RV across the country but money is a huge obstacle for that.  So, we are looking at alternatives.  This year we desparately wanted to go to the FAS camp in October.  However, I know we just can't afford it right now.  It's hard b/c my kids need to truly connect to kids like them.  So, since we can't do Disney or go to FL, we decided why not have other kids here that have FAS.  So, in August, we are going to host a group here.  Some will be local & some will be coming from a few states over.  It's not the same yet in a way it is.  We'll still have the same concept and plenty of fun and food here.  When kids w/ similar disabilities get together, there is an extreme comfort level.  It really does help as part of the healing process to know they are not alone.  So, I'm trying to plan a few things for this little gathering here.  Trust me, there's plenty to do.  Can't wait to meet other families like ours and what they do.  Though we couldn't go out and hunt the tigers this time, we found a way for the tigers to come to us.  We will be doing a lot of rearranging and thinking in the upcoming months.  A lot.  There is so much out there in the world for all of us to experience.  I don't want to be held back from it all.  Our family intends to experience many new things this year.  I can barely wait. 

There are a ton of activities to do around where we live.  And even more just an hour or two away.  Some if it costs money but even more does not.  So never let the money factor be part of your problem.  Find a solution to hunt those tigers.  It's within reach.  We want to start grant foundation when we're done w/ our adoptions.  Yes, I do think we're done at 10 but as I've said before, always expect the unexpected.  Starting a grant foundation sounds so out of reach right now.  However, if we truly want to do this, we have to just go.  Go and do it.  We are trying to embrace this new attitude of experiences.  For quite some time, we were afraid to go to too many places w/ our kids.  However, over the years, they've gotten better, we've gotten better, and well we just all click now as a family and can for the most part, avoid meltdowns.  We do not ever let our kids dx's stop us from doing things.  Granted it's been ages since Warren and I have been out together on a date.  Yet, we can go for a walk around the neighborhood or run a quick errand together.  working on finding a sitter to feel comfortable to go out for a dinner date.  In fact, someone actually volunteered this morning!  Who knows, it may happen.  So, don't let things stop you from pursuing your dreams.  You want to be an author, go for it.  Say you don't have time, don't make excuses.  If you are at the computer, you have time each night.  Even if it's just 15 or 20 minutes to write, do it if it is a dream.  Warren and I have many dreams.  Many tigers we want to hunt.  It can happen.  There are many, many new things Warren and I will be doing this year w/ our family.  More I will tell you about in the upcoming months.  It's never dull here at Chaos Manor and I don't actually think I want it to be.  Too much to see and do in this world. 

You will be hearing more from this bunch soon.  Real soon.  For now, focus must be on getting our kids home from Bulgaria.  I used to think raising $4800 would be impossible.  Now, I don't think it will be. I know w/ some hard work we can do this.  Yes, we can.  Must get a fundraising post going and what our plans are.  One person once told me "nothing is impossible, unless you try shampooing a porcupine."  I kind of like that thought.  We're going to try to do the "impossible" and raise $4800 in 3 months time so that we can bring our kids home.  Again, separate post.  For now, just wanted you all to know the Boyd Bunch will be hunting those tigers wherever they make take us! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chaos Manor Happenings in pics

Thought it was time for a post of what's been going on around here.  You know, some things that I don't post about or behind the scene going ons. 

 Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to why Warren is walking away from the house w/ two and a half dozen eggs???  Seriously, you won't believe this one.  Okay, we went to the store as soon as we came home last weekend.  We found the eggs still in the car, this Saturday!  Can you say yuck?  It's been in the high 90's here.  Definitely hotter inside the van.  Yep, they were pretty much cooked and then rotten.  The sad part is, someone was sitting by the eggs and never took them in the house after the store...URGHH!!!  No wonder I'm broke, having to throw food away.  And no, this is NOT a first time incident w/ food being left in the van. It has happened w/  a frozen turkey, chicken and orange juice to name a few.  Seat checkers are going to have to start paying up b/c they sure aren't doing their job.

Okay, we can not ever keep a can opener in this house.  Can't have the automatic ones b/c our cans are jumbo sized of course.  So, Warren found this can opener but none of us could figure out how to work it.  Warren finally figured it out.  Still did not do the job.  Another failed can opener.  We do need suggestions b/c none of ours have worked thus far.

Alex seeing what shapes and designs he can make out of buttermilk pancakes.

Ahh, another victim of the dog.  This is Nik's T-mic.  We now have absolutely no spares.  Going to work on getting another one for sure.  It looks like cheap plastic but I can assure you, there are NO cheap parts for Nik's implants.  And yes, we've replaced about every single part.  

 This is the old grill that has fallen apart.  I beg Warren to throw it out but this is the one he uses to cook fish on.  Puts the fish in a pan of course, not on that thing.  Well, opened it up the other day and this is what was found.

 A nice little bird's nest.  With little robin's eggs in it.  Kids all took a peak.  It was kind of cool.  Around our yard, it is surprising for the kids to see nests and eggs.  We've also been able to witness just hatched birds begging for food.  

This is what you would call epic fail.  Do NOT, do NOT buy those wildflower seed packets.  Yes, this is them.  YOu get wild flowers every once in awhile but for the most part, it looks like weeds.  So, Max will take a weedwacker to it and take care of things.  I think next year I'll stick to something else.

Today is Wednesday.  We have a church picnic type thing this evening that we'll be going to.  Other than that, hanging out here.  Picking up our produce from the farmer tomorrow.  Keeping this week low key to balance out the past few weeks.  Saturday, we have a homeschool conference and if we make it out in time, we can come back and catch part of a carnival.  Sunday is church.  Hoping to do something w/ the kids afterwards but Warren and I have not decided what as of yet.  Other than that, not much happening this week.  That's a good thing.  Gives us time to catch up on around the house cleaning and preparing for homeschool.  Got to go.  Going to attempt to call the FBI and immigration in a minute.  Ahh, wish me luck.  Enjoy your week everyone. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th 2011

Wow, already another mark that summer is hurrying along.  This actually is a great thing b/c it means we can get our kids soon.  Hoping to hear something soon about that I-800.  See, I hear once it gets to TX lockbox, it takes 7 to 10 days to get to MO for processing & on our agent's desk.  That should put it already on immigration agent's desk.  Keeping fingers crossed here.  I know they received the application b/c i got that notice in the mail.  However, it was a holiday weekend and you know that always slows work down for everyone.  Trying to be patient in this part of the process.  But, knowing one approval leads to another that leads you each time a step closer to your kids, well, you just want it done. I say they put adoptive mothers in charge of these approvals and you wouldn't have any on the desks.  Yes, I 'd read them but shoot, by the time you get to this part of the process, you have already passed immigration, FBI checks, child abuse checks, a homestudy and just about any other check they can put in front of you.  So, this part should be relatively quick all things consider.  We shall see.

Now time for 4th of July pics.  What would it be w/out corn on the cob?  Well, we shucked the corn but somehow all of us got distracted and literally left it here on the table.  We're having it tonight instead.

Nik went around the yard picking some daylillies and wildflowers.  I think they make a great centerpiece, don't you?  He knows I love flowers.  And, Nik's favorite color is orange.  

We started out the day w/ a homemade buttermilk pancakes and sausage.  Kids cleaned the house and the rest of us worked outside.  I'm burned today so not leaving the house today.  Hence, a few posts, bill paying, grant searching and the like.  Kids are vegging out today after such a big day yesterday.  Kids and all of us went for some swimming.  It was great.  Nice and relaxing.  New neighbors came over for a bit but did not stay long as they have a very allergic daughter.  They are great though and can't wait to chat w/ them a bit more.  After filling up w/ burgers and dogs, we drove on over to the fireworks.

Got there just in time for when they started.  We only walked a few feet from our car & they started up.  Not huge, this is a local celebration but it is still enough for us to enjoy.  

Before we left, we gave everyone glow sticks.  Wasn't sure if anyone would want them but all 9 of them, 10 if you count me, wanted to wear the glow stick necklaces.  Yana couldn't get hers to tie so she figured painter's tape would help.  Not sure why she thought that but she did. 

This is the 9 of them.  7 are ours, 1 is Max's friend, and one is our house guest.  If you look closely, you can see Max videotaping the fireworks.  He loves his video camera.  They film stuff and then play it over and over again.

Now, this is the bunch coming from our gas station visit.  Alright, one of the girls' friends has turned us onto these slushies.  They are HUGE.  And good.  Very good.   They have about 10  different flavors.  And best part, they only cost .69 a piece!  Nice way to treat the kids for not much money.  Love it.  We kept telling the kids if you drink it faster, the better it tastes.  Yeh, they don't fall for the brain freeze trick any more.  

All in all, nice relaxing weekend and enjoyed it very much.  Today, just vegging out really and getting things done around the house and on the computer.  I have a lot to catch up on.  Got a set of insurance bills straightened out.  Knew I didn't owe that money.  Next goal is to fight the speech therapy issue.  Hate it b/c you have to be on the phone & that doesn't always work in this house.  Going to convince the kids to sand the gourds so we can make birdhouses out of them.  We'll see.  Hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July.  Have a wonderful week.  More posts to come. 

Happy Birthday Alex!!!

Today Alex is 11 years old.  Can you believe it?!  I know I can't.  He came home at the age of 3 years old.  Almost 4yo.  
He has come so far.  Alex has grown up through the years in so many ways.  He is our son that suffered the most in his early childhood.  He has conquered so many things head on, that most adults couldn't do.  Alex's spirit is strong in him.  Alex is our athletic one.

I know, I know, you shouldn't label the kids.  But hey, we do  and don't care.  Each & every one of them has their own talent.  Alex's happens to be sports.  When you can't beat your kids' obsessions or impulsiveness, you find alternatives.  See, Alex always is throwing or kicking something.  Does not matter where it is or what it is.  So, naturally, sports are great for him.  Alex has taken baseball, basketball and soccer over the years.  He also did running club this past year.  This past year as you may know was very hard on Alex so no sports were played.  However, things are back to normal and he is ready to get back in the game!  Most likely, it will be soccer in the fall, Upwards basketball in the winter and who knows about spring at this point.  I think his brother Logan will be right alongside with him. 

This is Alex in the black shirt at his awards ceremony.  He refused to get his haircut btw.  Thought he looked "cool."  He was receiving the physical fitness award in this picture. 

Anyhow, Alex has grown leaps and bounds.  That scared little boy is no more.  The picture above was taken the week or so after we got home w/ him.  He was scared to go in the water.  Now, he does flips in the water.  He was so scared of many things back then.  Scared of noises, scared of being thrown in the trash can, scared of water, and too many other things to name.  Yes, Alex certainly has come a long way since he came home.  Today, we celebrate his birth.  See, no one really knows exactly when Alex was born.  There were dates of July 4th, July 5th and July 17th on his paperwork from Russia.  We went w/ July 5th.  Not really sure why.  I guess we wanted him to have a separate day just his own.  Alex has shown a lot of growth this year even during times of such adversity a few months ago.  Alex, I can not wait to see what the future holds for you.  He is growing into quite a young man.  As he told me today, mom, only 2 more years till I'm a teenager!  YIKES!!!  where did that 3 year old little boy go?!  Cherish the time you have w/ the little ones.  Because soon, they won't let you touch their hair b/c it's too cool.  They will back away when you mention a certain girl's name. Yet, they'll still want to be loved and hugged every single night.  Happy 11th Birthday Alex.  May all your hopes and dreams come true.  We love you! 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Manic Monday

Well, it is Monday though it doesn't feel like it. It was far from manic today since it is the 4th of July!  I think I've had one of my better 4th's this year.  Just relaxing really.  We all woke up kind of late.  Had homemade buttermilk pancakes and sausage.  Kids cleaned up the inside of the house.  We mopped w/ pinsol clearly forgetting that Kyle is severely allergic to pine.  Umm, yeh, not good.  He was okay, and felt bad about it.  Nothing major, just now we remember for sure.  Warren worked on fixing the fence issue we have w/ the pups.  Redoing the entire fence, raising it up.  Pain in the neck and hopefully it will work.  I was busy cutting all the hedges and pulling weeds and such.  After that, I got to do my 50 laps of swimming.  Yes, swimming and relaxing in the pool.  Hot summer day, just soaking in the sunshine.  Not a cloud in the sky. 

We all had lunch at some point today but forget when.  Had the new neighbors over for a short time.  They have a daughter that is severely allergic to things.  Like epi pen allergic.  Despite us scrubbing down, she couldn't stay long.  We really like the new neighbors and I think we'll all have fun together.  Tons of burgers and hot dogs so leftovers for tomorrow.  We hung out for a bit around the house.  Looked like  a major storm was coming so we were deciding whether or not to go to fireworks.  We went. 

Went to Cleveland's fireworks this year.  They're not huge but enough for us to see.  Enjoyed it.  As soon as we got in the van, the bottom fell out of the sky. It was just pouring buckets out.  Decided to go the long way home and stop off for slushies for all the kiddos...and us. Tons to choose from at this gas station.  And, a giant cup for just .69!  Everyone was thrilled at the impromtu stop made.  We dropped the one "extra" we had w/ us today off at home.  We came home and older kids & house guest Kyle are watching some scary movie.  I'm not into scary so I'm up here.   We are learning many new signs and trying to keep up.  Learning a lot just by facial expressions and mannerisms.   It really has been a great learning experience for us. 

Tomorrow is the start of the week for us.  No appointments scheduled but do need to get Yana that physical.  She has been running though.  Can't wait till she tries out. Going to try to sign up Alyona for dance this fall.  We'll see how that goes.  Lots going on.  Waiting on the I-800 approval still.  This week would be great for it.   Hey, I can dream, can't I?  Tons of great kids to advocate for so be waiting.  Still need a home for the CF sibs.  Great kids.  Well, got to go.  More to come tomorrow along w/ pictures from this weekend.  Just really enjoyed today. 

Happy 4th of July! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Teen Update

I haven't done one of these for awhile and figured it was high time.  Start with the oldest & work my way down.

Irina-- Irina is 18yo.  Well, we are a few weeks out of school and you can already notice a tremendous different in her attitude and mannerisms.  Like a weight had been lifted from her.  It is nice to have her back.  We still have a ways to go but we're getting there.  She is definitely going to be home schooled this coming semester.  I've already spoken to the vocational rehabilitation folks and we'll be meeting in August on Irina.  They help developmentally delayed & disabled adults find jobs.  they will assist Irina with this.  She will have more flexibility since she is home schooled.  Looking forward to this new chapter in her life.  She has still not decided to retake the driver's test for a fourth time but we're working on her.  For the first time in forever, Irina has not gained weight this week.  This is major for her. See, the stress of school was causing her to gain weight.  Doc said to pull her out of school.  Sure enough, it has stopped.  Now, we work on reversing all the weight that came on from school and stress. Irina and I have come up w/ an exercise plan together.  Praying she'll start committing to it.  Doc did all the blood work and it's fine.  She's confident that Irina will return to normal since she's out of school and the stress of the CPS stuff as well.  It's been a very rough year for Irina but looks like we are slowly turning a corner in the right direction.  Talk is of her future and what she's going to do.  Irina is looking forward to VBS and starting back to youth group.  So, slowly but surely, we're going to get somewhere.

Max-- Max is 16yo.  Max is working here and there for people.  He's painting, he's mowing grass, etc.  Today, an old friend visited us.  Max definitely will be finishing her son's mural he did.   Most likely doing that next week. The elementary school the kids went to has asked Max to paint a mascot for them.  I told them he would.  Well, they asked me, not Max.  I volunteered him.  LOL.  So, need to go to the school this coming week and ask.  He's mowing grass for folks as well for money.  Max volunteers to cut the church's grass each week and he loves doing that.  He's also been helping around the house quite a bit.   Max is extremely healthy and no med changes need to be made.  His eyes took a dive but nothing new lenses couldn't fix.  Max is struggling with school. He is still staying at the high school next year but I'm disappointed how they're handling things.  See, he has a severe learning disability in math and they are not addressing this issue.  It is frustrating to say the least.  They knowingly let him fail.  They know he'll fail but say he has to take the course and fail it at least twice before they can do anything .  Nice way to help their self-esteem, huh?  We're meeting in August.  I refused to let him go to summer school for math only to fail yet again.  Not worth it.  Told them we'd discuss in August.  So, we are at a stand still in that department.  Otherwise, Max really is doing very well.  We have no complaints.  He's grown into quite a nice young man. 

Yana-- Yana is 15yo and will be 16yo in September.  Oh we've come a long way yet have had some stumbling blocks this year.   We've only had one RAD rage this entire year.  This is quite an accomplishment.  Yana has learned to control the external factors that set her off.  She has learned to disengage when something happens.  Yana is on no meds.  She has come a very long way with school.  It will be a very tough decision this fall deciding whether she is to take the academic track or the OCS track in school.  We are reviewing everything the next few weeks and making a decision in August.  She too will go to Max's high school.  She is still weak in the English language in general and the CAPD(central auditory processing disorder) does not help much.  Again though, she has tons of motivation and drive so we can definitely work w/ that and encourage that.  She did all her projects on her own last year and all work.  Now, Yana is very healthy other than her migraines.  We are not medicating for them other than over the counter.  They seem to be better in the summer so I too am wondering if this is more school stress than anything.  Yana has taken up running and will be trying out for cross country.  She runs almost everyday.  So, that is awesome.  Yana is anxious to find a job.  Relieved.  Seems like she has turned a corner so we are cautiously optimistic.  

Overall, teens are doing okay.  Parenting teens is not easy.  And our teens have many mental health issues and dx's that complicate even the everyday stuff.  So, to say we are doing well w/ the three teens, makes me very proud.  You must understand though we never thought this would be the case a few years ago.  Praying it continues down this path.  I know we have done things differently than other parents but we feel it has put them in a better position to handle things both academically and in society.  Hoping I'm not eating my words this coming year.  LOL.  So, all teens healthy, have a job or getting jobs, getting along w/ family...for the most part, and going to school.  We are slowly going to be giving them a little (& I stress the little part) more flexibility and freedom since they've shown us they can do it.  This is a fine line we're walking.  Keeping a close eye on things.  Thanks for letting me share about the teens.  Raising teens is not easy for any parent.  Period.  They are very challenging at times.  Yet, seeing their accomplishments is rewarding as well.