Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you??

Where were you when the world stopped turning?  That song really does hit home.  9/11/01 seems so long ago yet when you see the images, it just seems like yesterday.   Images ingrained, never to be forgotten.  I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was.  I remember going to the school just to see Irina and Max to make sure they were okay.  They were so young back then. I remember worrying for weeks to come what was going to be next.  Just the uncertainty of the time was unnerving. Only ten years ago but boy did everything change.  During our first set of adoptions in 1999, we took a suitcase full of tools such as vice grips and pliers and screw drivers for the orphanage.  Today, we'd never make it on the plane with that type of suitcase.  Times have changed.  I know with all these changes that none of us could ever forget.  The kids watched dateline last night on 9/11.  I forget that half my kids were not even born when this piece of history happened.  The look on their faces said it all.  They were all shell shocked.  Alex asked if it was a movie.  I said no, it really did happen.  The question why was asked over and over.  Just as many of us asked ten years ago.  Thought I'd share a link that someone posted on facebook.  I'll have more posts later on Upwards soccer and how the kids are doing. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nik's drawings (and other bits & pieces)

He's baaack!  Yes, our little "Stephen King" is back.  For those who don't know, Nik has a weird side to him when it comes to drawings.  Some of the things he comes up with others may think disturbing.  Humpty dumpty is one for the books.  LOL.  Well, I knew all the recent news coverage may trigger that inner artist he has.

Ahh, to the untrained eye, this may just look like a mess.  He kindly labeled it so I'd figure it out.  Then, he told me all about it.  All the vertical squiggly lines are the hurricanes.  The loose lines all over the place are water.  Now, you have the giant green monster.  Notice the angry face on the monster.  The monster is shooting upwards to.... me!  Yes, the monster is shooting mom and I am officially dead according to Nik.  At first, I wasn't sure how to take that interpretation.  However, notice on top of the monster.  That is Nik.  Again, clearly labeled.  I asked what he was doing and he said punching the monster.  So, not sure if Nik is defending me by punching the monster or punching the monster to make him shoot me.  I'm hoping for the first one.  LOL.  Our house is on the left also taking on some of the hurricane.  I've kept some of his more "famous" drawings.  Like the Humpty Dumpty or decapitated Alex.  I promise he's not psychologically damaged.  He's not. This is just what he does.  He also draws flowers and nice stuff.  Like the other post a few days ago w/ his self-portrait w/ the sunny day w/ a lake and apple orchard.  Sweet picture.  Go figure.  His art teacher and other teachers last year said it's great and shows he's really expressive. Crazy kid.  

We had soccer this evening.  Late evening for sure.  Went to the grocery store after soccer.  Nik was not on my good list, that's for sure.  He decided he should try out the brushes on the display.  URGHH!!!  On his sweaty head.  URGHH!!!  Made him put his hands on the cart the rest of the trip.  He was playing it up and trying to kiss my hand to make it all better.  As a mother to 7, he has to know by now I do NOT fall for these tricks.  Came home & we made chicken fajitas. Kids just seemed wound up this evening for some reason.  Max was unclear of instructions from class.  Okay, IEP is in place for a reason.  I said I NEED communication from teachers.  FAS kids are not good for remembering a process.  Drives me nuts some days.  So, Yana is in his class and told him he better pay attention next time.  LOL.  She told him to sit up front, it helps.  She sits in front btw.  Helps.  We gave up after a while.  There was no winning here.  I'm sure teacher will write me tomorrow.  Kids are not packed for their trip tomorrow.  Room is beyond horrible.  What is it w/ the boys?!  Girls' rooms are fine.  Rest of the house is fine(for the most part).  But the boys?  No. Clean one day, disaster the next.  I still don't get it.  I take stuff and throw it out.  Somehow, new stuff finds a way in.  

So, normal stuff at Chaos Manor.  Tomorrow is Friday.  4 older kids go to the beach on a youth group trip with the church.  Entire weekend.  Wahoo!!!  Ooh, did I say that out loud?  Yes.  Every once in awhile, a house without teens in it has less drama and a calming effect.  So, Friday, we drop them off at church at 5pm.  Coming back and going to outlets to find Warren shoes.  He only wears one kind of Reeboks.  Don't ask.  His sister and I have tried to convert him to a variety of shoes.  No, didn't work.   Well, the place we go to get everyone shoes stopped carrying his.  I thought I was free of those black sneakers.  Finally.  Nope.  He found out they carry them at the outlets in Smithfield.  For some reason men don't seem as picky as women about their shoes.  LOL.   After that, thought we'd take our 3 out to Dairy Queen.  We haven't eaten out for ice cream all summer.  Saturday, Alex & Nik have a soccer game.  After that, Warren and I are taking them to a home & garden show at the convention center.  It's free.   Gives us ideas for the big change.   More on that later.  church Sunday.  Maybe some park time too.  So, not the most exciting weekend but stuff to do for sure.  And, I intend to once and for all get caught up. 

Okay, it's Friday.  I wrote this yesterday.  Sure was a late night.  I let the homeschoolers sleep in  a bit this morning.  They really needed it.  First thing Alex woke up & said this morning is "solar oven!"  Do you think he can keep up this enthusiasum when we study rocks later this year?  Nice though that he's excited about learning.  More to come in posts.  Trying to catch up and as I'm sure you're aware, blog is lower on the priority list.  As it should be.  Thanks btw for all the opinions, advice and options coming in on whether or not to drop the ASL.  for now, I don't think it is a good idea.  Let's face it honestly.  He is going to be 9yo and has no clear audible speech.  Yes, there are a handful of words/ phrases that he says that we understand but that no one else could.  Cued speech is not an option right now simply b/c we tried it.  I seriously could not get it.  Not kidding.  Plus, w/ Bojan missing fingers, his communication w/ his brother would be limited.  And, it was too complicated for my kids w/ mental challenges to learn.  So, we had scratched the idea 2 years ago when we tried it.  However, I have indeed heard it helps immensely for some.  I've seen it first hand when we go to cue camp every year in May.   When we are around deaf people, Nik shies away and doesn't walk to communicate with them.  This kid really is tough to figure out.  For now, sticking with both and emphasizing the verbal.  I've asked him point blank if he wants to talk or sign.  He verbally tells me I don't know.  I think that about sums it up b/c I don't know either.  Such a hard decision for parents of deaf children.  We'll get there I'm sure.  Some of it I know is trial and error.  Just still so hard. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Being part of the family

Being part of a family means different things to different people.  The other day, my son Nik decided to let me know what it meant to him.

To Nik, it means having your picture on the mantle.  See, we had the other kids pictures and even the new kids pictures up there but he didn't have a picture up there.  Now, before you all jump to conclusions, we did not do that on purpose and there are pictures all over the house w/ him in it.  However, he did not see one on the mantle.  So, Nik got an old picture out that he found.  Carefully measured and cut his own frame out of construction paper.  Even making a backing to it.  A stand too out of paper.  He then proudly displayed it on the mantle for all to see.  In his mind, he was part of the family.  To us, he always has been.

This is one of the things we do when new kids come home.  We already have framed pictures on the wall hanging w/ the other kids pictures so that they feel part of the family.  Now, our wall has a bunch of spaces w/ missing pictures.  Why?  Well, we do live in Chaos Manor and balls get thrown around...a lot.  (Alex!).  Pictures get broken all the time.  I got tired of replacing them.  They are now in a stack behind my door in my room.  I'm one of those people also that takes tons of pictures and then fails to put them in the photo albums.  Is there a way to make that into a homeschool project??  LOL  

Anyhow, I thought it was clever of Nik to do that with the pictures.  I also promised I'd get another one up of him.  Need to print it off & pick it up.  Or, just take one out from behind the door and reframe it...again.  Now, off to do a little more homeschool work.  All three have finished a few workbooks already.  Nik is still struggling with addition.  Once it is in the double digits.  Working on it.  Alex is determined to conquer multiplication.  And Alyona really wants to read.  I think these are all reasonable goals.  I think they can do it.  They're playing right now.  Nik finished another workbook this morning.  We're doing some phonics with Explode the Code. I really like it and makes him think and listen.  Though it is not a self learning book by any means.  I do two lessons a day with him.  He knows after, he can go out and swing or bounce.  My kids need lots of physical activity and they get that here.  Today they are very excited about lunch.  I had free pizza points for a free large pizza.  Yum.  Plus, we need the box to make our solar oven tomorrow for science.  Got to go.  Much to do.  Tonight is soccer as well.  Busy but it's a good busy.  All four of the older kids go to the beach for the entire weekend tomorrow.  Can't wait.  Plans for the rest of us include maybe taking the other three out for ice cream.  Soccer games on Saturday and a home & garden show in Raleigh.  May hit a museum for the younger three this weekend but not sure.  May just go to the park with them.  Or, walk some trails.  Church is Sunday.  Keeping things active for sure.  More to come.  Just have to find time to blog here and there.  That's why some of these posts are so choppy.  Start and stop.  I'm sure all you other moms out there totally understand though. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just had to share

This will be short but couldn't help but share it.  Yana had her very first official meet today for cross country.  Now, last time she ran, she came in 22nd and even walked some of it.  Today, she came in 11th!  Can you believe it?!  And, did not walk!  I just think this is awesome for a first time runner.  That is a HUGE improvement in time in my opinion.  We were very proud of Yana.   Can't wait till the next meet.  We will go to her home meet when they have it here.  We're all going to make signs.  LOL.  I know, she'll probably die of embarrassment but isn't that what family is for?  We made a sign last time and she didn't mind at all.  Actually, her friend made the sign b/c we were out of poster board.   Just had to share what Yana did today.  I thought it was well worth mentioning. 

Apple Orchard Visit (part III)

Well, time for part III of our visit.  Too many pics to put in one post. Plus, I've been a little busy trying to adjust to homeschool routine.  But, still wanted to finish this post just b/c we really did have a good time at the orchard. 

 After lunch, they decided to climb a tree.  This is not a small tree by any means.

 Max, giving Yana a boost up the tree.  This was a really neat tree to climb.

 Max and Bojan hanging out around the tree as well. 

Nik and Yana having some fun while sitting in the tree.  You can see all the woods in the background.  They have trails but we did not take advantage of them this go around.  Still was in the high 80's.  Little hot for hiking.  

Isn't this great!?  All these trees have tire swings on them and my kids are on every single one.  This is Alex, then Nik, & Alyona.  Yana is pushing Alyona down there in the background.  Picnic area is to the left of this.  All nicely shaded.  Just was really a peaceful time to just hang out and enjoy the simple things like an old tire and some rope for fun.

 Warren giving Nik a push.  My daredevil has to stand up of course. 

Nik, enjoying his ride while thinking to himself how he can manipulate the swing to go higher and faster.  For this kid, the higher the better.  

Just look at his face.  He is having so much fun.  He's enjoying last little bits of childhood for sure. He was almost too big for it.  He will be 13 in January.  For those considering adopting a child w/ limb differences, as you can see, it does not hinder them in any shape or form whatsoever.  

All in all, we did have a great time at the orchard.  It was the first time we'd ever been and we do plan on going back some time in the future.  With all ten kids.  Yep, lots of apple pies for sure.  Much to do today so need to get back to it.  Please, if you or anyone you know needs magazines, please click the sidebar.  HUGE selection and awesome prices.  Check it out for sure.  Only takes a second.  And do share the link.  Nothing going on today.  Can't wait to hear how Yana did on her first cross country meet ever.   Tomorrow is soccer practices and scrimmages.  Friday, 4 older kids head to the beach for the entire weekend with the youth group.  I'm totally jealous!  they'll have so much fun, I'm sure.  Might have to take the younger 3 somewhere after their soccer games on Saturday.  September is such a great time.  Really getting into the swing of things lately.  Love it.  Now, I need to go for a walk.  Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apple Orchard Visit (part II)

Time for part II of our visit to the orchard.  After we went out and picked our bushel of apples, we headed inside to pay.  But, before we paid, they insisted we try a free sample of the apple cider slushie.  Now, you all know our family has had a semi obsession with slushies this summer.  We all kind of thought this would be disgusting but willing to try it.   And, we did try it. 

Max was really positive he would not like this.  You can't see but it was gone in record time. He was a convert to apple cider. 

Bojan, Max & Yana enjoying their slushies on the front porch.  Must be nice to relax.  Relaxing atmosphere, isn't it?

Alex & Nik chilling with slushies as well.  Name of the orchard is above them.  Nice little place to check out.  Not overwhelming for my bunch which is always a great thing.  They truly enjoyed themselves.  

I think this picture should be titled wishful thinking.  It was a case w/ all kinds of goodies made of apples.  Apple bread, apple cakes, apple pie, and well, you get the picture.  No, we did not get any b/c we are going to make our own.  To much disappointment to Nik.  He thought he would get dessert right then and there. 

 Then, after our slushies and putting the apple pickings in the car, we headed out back for a picnic.  Max is our cooler carrier.  Nice having muscles in the group now.  Plus, I know he won't spill it. 

Sat down to eat a nice picnic lunch together in the shade.  Just was wonderful weather to do this.  Sandwiches, chips, grapes, & granola bars.  Water to top it off.  By this time, the slushies were well gone.  Too good to keep those around for long.  Really enjoyed our picnic there.  They were anxiously awaiting to do something right after this.  Any guesses?  That will be the next part of this installment of apple orchard posts.  

Soccer was canceled due to rain this evening so had time to catch up on some more items.  Some one came by and dropped off clothes for Alyona and her new sisters which was very thoughtful. Also, she dropped off a few orphanage donations.  Can't wait to put everything in the suitcases.  Kids did great with math this afternoon.  Had roast beef and baked potatoes for dinner.  Hit the spot on a rainy day for sure.  Got a lot done today and looking forward to tomorrow.  Taking the kids to story time at the church.  Back here for some lessons and lunch.  Starting on a lapbook tomorrow with them.  Hope it goes well.  After school, we're just going to hang out at home and probably kick the ball around.  Got a very, very busy weekend with the kids.  Lots going on but always a good thing.  We're ready for fall soon.  Ready to go camping.  Ready to eat outside again without sweating and getting eaten alive by misquitoes.  Ready to go hiking.  Ready to enjoy the breeze through the house with the windows open.  Yes, we still have a ways to go since we do live in NC and "fall" is not the same here as in some other areas of the country.  But, ready nonetheless. 

Apple Orchard Visit (part I)

This past weekend, I wanted to do something different w/ the kids.  So, decided to load them up and go to an apple orchard.  I want them to realize where food really comes from.  Not just put it in a grocery cart.  We went to an orchard that was about an hour and a half away.  Not too bad. 

Some of the kids getting ready to go.  Yes, Alex has a blanket on his lap.  With his one kidney deal, he seems to have temp regulating issues.  So, he freezes in the car.  So  does Alyona and Yana too.  Hence, why we always have blankets in the car.  You'll notice Alex also has a book.  He NEVER wanted to read last year for school.  This year, all over books.  Still shocked at what all he wants to do now.  

Here's a real "peach" in an apple orchard.   Isn't she cute?  That basket was just about as big as she is.  

 Yana and Alyona working together to get some good apples on the top.

One of the baskets.  Took the shot but we were not done picking.  We had two baskets full.  An entire bushel of apples!  Yes, we'll use them all.  Kids thought it was interesting that these did not have the wax on them like at the grocery store.  

Irina, showing off two of the apples she picked.  There were really some gorgeous apples.  We picked red delicious and golden delicious.  Pink lady's won't be ready till mid-September.  Did you know there are over 2500 variety of apples in the US?

 I know Warren will hate this picture but I like it.  Nik looks so content up there.

Bojan showing us the boys' collection of golden delicious apples.

Max looks completely thrilled, doesn't he?  Typical 16yo boy.  LOL.  No, he wasn't this way the entire time.  Actually, he really had a good time.  Oh, and if you've noticed, I have now officially given up on my kids having clothes that match when we go out in public.  I did for awhile but started losing my mind over it.  If they want to wear stripes w/ plaids, be my guest.  White after Labor Day... could care less.  There are far more important things to dwell on than the kids' fashion sense. 

Yana and Alyona trying to imitate the Twighlight series.  Though, Alyona is missing her apple.  Still pretty clever of them.  

Nik getting a boost from Dad.  Max is looking for some apples and I think Bojan is just being an observer at this point.  

This was all taken from outside and during our apple picking time.  Did not take long at all with the 9 of us picking.  Was a pleasant day too.  Nice fresh air and everyone was just relaxing and having a good time.  We were talking about apples and some apple facts as we went along.  I'll write more and have more pictures tomorrow.  Just wanted to share what we did this past weekend. 

Girls & their hair

For some reason my girls never seem content with their hair.  I'm serious. If it's up,they want it down.  If it's down, they want it up.  Can't win for losing around here when it comes to hair and the girls.  Example. 

Yana changed her hair color this past weekend.  I think it looked fine before but no almost 16yo wants to hear that from mom.  And, since I color my hair, I can't really say no but so much.  Doesn't look bad and matches her skin tone.  I'm just used to it the other way.  See, the only picture she ever had of her biological sister is her with very dark brown hair.  So, not sure if that has something to do with things or not.  For fellow adoptive parents, this is truly the age they ask lots and lots of questions.  Be ready.  

Alyona has been loving the fact that her sisters are practicing on her head. They have been practicing braiding.  Alyona loves it because she says it is wavy in the morning.  Now, she insists she wants this style all the time. 

Alyona is definitely happy with the outcome.  Sorry for all the fuzzy pictures here.  Not sure if Irina or Yana took them.  They wanted to document their handiwork.  LOL.  Hey, they're helping each other out and communicating w/ each other so I best not complain on any of it.  

Today is Tuesday.  Getting mixed up.  We got a ton done this morning. Lots and lots of reading and reading comprehension.  Reading comprehension is weak for all my kids.  Nik is really working on sounds.  We also discussed our field trip to the apple orchard and talked about where apples come from, Johnny Appleseed and fall.  Discussed famous landmarks as well.  Had lunch.  Kids are now vegging out for a little free time.  After that, back to work on some math and a walk.  Finish off with science at the end of the day.  Tonight, Alex has soccer practice so we'll go there.  Other than that, I think we're not doing much else.  Later this week we're going to make our solar oven so I best get to work on ordering pizza.  Need a box.  And an excuse to get pizza.  Plus, we have free points saved for a free pizza.  Kids are looking forward to the solar oven experiment.  Me too.  got to go.  Still much to do.  More pictures to come.  Need to load them and post about the apple orchard trip. It really was fun.  And educational! 

What's wrong w/ this picture?

Time for one of those pictures again.  One that you go what?

She just looks plain scary here.  This is Alaska and how she sleeps.  We are told by our vet that some Australian Shepard have a 3rd eyelid.   Not sure what that exactly means.   Just some times she looks a little strange.  This is one of those times.  Weird, huh?

FASD Awareness Day in NC-- read on!

 Finally, someone somewhere will recognize this as an issue and address it.  Even the schools here have not heard of FAS.  That is very difficult for those of us raising children with FASD.  Thought I'd share this as the 9th is just around the corner.  Read on.

NC Teratogen Information Services and
Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program
Contact: Amy Hendricks, Project Director
828.213.0035 work
828.646.7766 cell
September 9, 2011

Governor Beverly Perdue Declares September 9th, 2011 to be
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day in North Carolina

On September 9, 2011, North Carolina will join the world in recognizing International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), alcohol is more damaging to an unborn baby than tobacco, crack, cocaine, marijuana or heroin. While many women stop drinking as soon as they discover they are pregnant, alcohol can affect an unborn baby even before a woman knows she is pregnant. The developing brain is highly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol at every stage of pregnancy, and if a woman avoids alcohol for the entire nine months of her pregnancy, she will prevent the leading known cause of intellectual disabilities and birth defects in the United States: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Each year in the United States, there are an estimated 40,000 babies born with an FASD, which is more than HIV, Downs Syndrome and Spina Bifida combined. Each year in North Carolina there are an estimated 253 children who are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and
1,267 children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). A child with an FASD requires a lifetime of services across various health care and support systems, which means that many families face a lifelong struggle to help their loved ones find supportive education, healthcare, housing, employment and social networks. Individuals affected by an FASD are found in every system of care, making coordination between various systems an integral component of FASD programming. Early identification and diagnosis can help a child with an FASD receive intervention services to maximize his or her potential.
According to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), FAS alone cost the United States $5.4 billion annually in direct and indirect cost. “That is why delivering this prevention message is so important. Alcohol and Pregnancy Don’t Mix! There is no safe time, no safe amount and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy or while trying to become pregnant," said Amy Hendricks, Project Director for the NC Teratogen Information Services (NCTIS) and the Fetal Alcohol Prevention Program. "As the lead agency for FASD activities in North Carolina, NCTIS is educating women of child-bearing age (18 – 44 years) and their care providers about the adverse effects of alcohol use during pregnancy. In partnership with the Centers for Prevention Resources, activities are coordinated across the state targeting local OB/GYN providers, substance abuse providers, allied health professionals, schools and the general community. This on-going statewide awareness effort is necessary to educate communities about the importance of supporting women to have an entirely alcohol-free pregnancy and avoid the devastating, lifelong consequences of an FASD. This is a disability that is 100% preventable.”
For more information or to have an FASD training in your community, call 1-888-810-2800 or visit North Carolina’s FASD website @ If you are concerned that medicines, alcohol or chemicals may have hurt your unborn baby, call the confidential NC Pregnancy Exposure Riskline @ 1-800-532-6302, Monday - Friday, 9AM – 4PM.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Need advice-- drop ASL???

Okay, so this post will cause a ton of opinions I'm sure.  This post as you have guessed by now is about Nik.  A brief background for those who don't know so that you can form a better opinion on what my options may be.  We were told Nik was mute due to trauma.  Umm, NO.  His records in Russia were completely falsified.  Not kidding.  The shot records had dates of shots administered before he was even born!  He is not mute.  They tried to convince us at the orphanage he could talk.  I guess they thought we wouldn't take him if we knew the truth.  Far from it.  From the moment I saw his picture, I knew he was our son. 

Anyhow, long story short, he had auditory neuropathy.  Crazy disorder for sure.  Some days he would test w/ a moderate loss, some days a profound loss.  One time, a mild loss.  Just never knew.  AN is like that.  After talking to the experts, best course of action was to implant him.  I mean really, how would you like to listen to "television snow" every single day, every hour.  That's what it sounded like to him.  Horrible.  Here's  a site that explains Auditory neuropathy.  There are a few sites out there that show exactly what it sounds like to the kids.  It's terrible & honestly, I would have lost my mind listening to that.  don't know how my son lived that many years with it.

Long story short, got him implanted w/ first implant at the age of 6.  Earlier implanted the better.  Our son had NO communication whatsoever in Russia.  NONE.  No ASL, no Russian, no gestures, nothing.  First four years of his life.  To bridge some communication, we learned basic ASL to go get him & bring him home.  We were told sternly by the audiological team to NOT sign w/ him at all.  In fact, since they were not going to allow him sign, that is the whole reason we did not put him in a program at CASTLE designed for kids w/ hearing loss.  It was a very, very difficult choice but in hindsight, the correct one for sure.  Nik still needed attachment & to do this, he most certainly needed communication, even if just basic sign.  So, that's what we did.

Nik was doing so well w/ the implant, he got his second one last year at age 8yo.  Very noticeable difference. The first implant is always impressive.  He'd get so excited and sign to me "I can hear that!"  He'd jump up and down.  Second one you can tell he was a little confused in the beginning b/c more sound was indeed coming in.  But, once he got used to it, he took off.  Did not want to take those implants off for anything.  He told me he loved to hear.  Great!  Right decision.  Now, next issue was obviously speech.

Nik has always received speech at school and at home.  Now, he's getting it at home 3X a week and I work w/him daily.  Our therapists is doing AV therapy and is interested in us possibly dropping the sign all together.  Kind of immersing him in it.  I'm not sure this is the right approach. I see the benefits to it.  Will Nik ever talk?  No one knows for sure.  I'd love for him to have a back up just in case.  Many learn two languages at once.  But, is this the same thing?

See, Nik seemed to get lazy w/ language over the past few months.  Not using his voice OR sign.  Just pointing and making sounds.  We have made him say what he wants now.  I have told him he MUST use either sign or his voice.  He told me he doesn't know how and then smirks about it.  URGHH!!!!  He's definitely not stupid and knows exactly what he's doing.  We don't let him get away w/ it but I know other places he does.  Took them months at school to realize he actually could tie his shoes.  The kid had the teachers doing it by pointing to the shoes and grunting.  URGHH!!!  I yelled at him the day I found that out.  I was livid.  Told him he does it again, he's in serious trouble.  Nik is smart.  Nik does have AN and wears implants.  He can't speak but is definitely getting letter sounds down now.  He doesn't sign much either.  Nik also has FASD remember so we have other issues that go on.  Not to mention the ADHD.  So, I need to figure out what would be best for him in the long and short run.  Would love to hear from others.  Nik is SO smart that I don't want to jeopardize any chances he has for future academic success.  Trying to balance it all and do what is right by him and for him.  So,any thoughts on dropping the ASL as was suggested?  For now, we still continue to sign with him.  That is the gist of all this.  Many more details but you get the idea I'm sure.  Thanks in advance for the opinions.  Wow, 4 posts in one day & I answered most old emails.  I'm jammin'!  Now, if I can get them to bed on time, I consider that a successful day.

What to do with free peppers?

Why you make stuffed peppers of course!  We rarely have stuffed peppers b/c well, let's face it, it is not the most economical meal w/ the price of peppers.  So, the other day, someone had given us an entire bag of free peppers.  All kinds of colors. 

 We had about 18 peppers.  Enough for everyone to have two but most of us ate just one as they were huge peppers.  Put some cheese in the bottom, meat mixture and then topped off w/ a little more cheese. 

They really did turn out great.  We found the recipe on  Wanted something simple & few ingredients.  This was a total meal in itself for sure.  All the kids loved it.  Even the picky ones!  Couldn't believe Alyona ate it.  We had these during the hurricane.  Just was great timing w/ the dreariness of the day.  Now the kids have asked when we'll have them again.  I know we'll have to make it again for sure.  I'm surprised at some of the great recipes I've gotten off that website.  Always neat to try something new every once in awhile.  This one was a hit.  The asparagus soup one time...umm, never...ever...again.  It was so bad we all just started laughing.  Tonight the kids will be disappointed.  It's leftover night.  If any of you ever come across great recipes for big families, please let me know.  I know we'll be doing some crock pot cooking w/ fall coming soon.  Can't wait.  Catching up on blog posts, can you tell?  3 posts in one day so far.  Even managed to sell a few things on Craigslist today so we're getting things done. The entire upstairs was cleaned today.  Did not even ask the kids to do it.  Just a hang out kind of day.  Have a wonderful week. 

Ahh, finding her smile again

As some of you are aware, Irina has had a very rough year this past year.  She is 18yo, will be 19yo in December.  She finally realized she is very different from her peers and that was a hard blow.  Now, we've always been honest with Irina from the get go about her having FAS and just exactly what that means.  We don't sugar coat it or hide it as society will not do that for her when she is an adult.  That's why I think the idea that everyone gets a trophy or modifying work to the point any answer will do, is not acceptable.  It hurts them in the long run.  Trust me on this one.  They sure don't modify the DMV test for them.  Irina had a very rough year at high school last year.  Let's just say people are not kind in high school.  The word retarded gets thrown around quite a bit unfortunately.   The peer "helpers" were not helping her a bit but making fun of her & getting frustrated with her for assignments.  To say last year was devasting would be an understatement.  It was horrible.  Irina even gained weight due to the sheer stress of school environment.  This year something has happened.  Check it out:

Irina has her smile back!  She's interacting w/ the family, anger is less, and she is going out with friends.  She is involved with life again!  This is HUGE!  She is also learning that she must stand up for herself.  Irina is attending a new school this year and is comforted w/ Max and Yana being there too.  Irina is starting to come out of her shell and realize to embrace her differences versus letting them rule her life.  yes, she still has a long way to go but I see changes this year.  In addition,she is tackling her weight problem now head on.  Very proud of all she is doing.  She is joining clubs at school as well.  She wants to be part of society for sure and part of life.  We have always taught our children that not everyone is going to like you.  That's just a fact.  But you really only need your friends and family to excel in life and live it to the fullest.  That is what she's doing now. Living life.  Irina is getting back in the swing of things at school.  She is joining clubs.  She loves youth group at church.  She is going places.  She is out of her room more.  She is talking about the future.  I love it.  She does have issues still.  Those will not go away.  FAS is life long.  But, she is learning to live with what she has been given.  As those with teens know, this is hard to do.  For a child w/ FAS and mental challenges, it is beyond hard to do.  Yet, Irina has shown us that it CAN be done.  Irina will be living here long term.  I have a post coming up on that one.  I do firmly believe now though that she has a great future ahead of her and is going to live her life to the fullest.  Just wanted to share b/c occasionally, I get asked how Irina is doing.  Next time you see her, ask how she is.  Though, I think you'll be able to tell simply b/c her smile is back. 

Must see video

I loved this video and just think it is one to share.  Inspiring on so many levels.  Check it out for yourself:


Video just spoke to me.  Don't know if it was due to the limb differences, the war, or the adoption.  You really can change a life.  Love can indeed go far.  More posts to come.  Hope you're enjoying your weekend. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend update

Yesterday was Friday & we ended up going to Walmart.  Yeh, thrilling, isn't it?  But, sometimes you just have to go to get supplies.  Took a bunch of kids w/ us.  I guess they were bored and wanted to go.  Got what was on our list.  Bunch of monthly supplies and some more school supply items.  Needed another bookcase too.  Noneventful.  Trouble was, it was super duper late. Got back late and had dinner at 11pm!  I think it was more like midnight snack as they had already eaten before we left for Wally World.  Oh well.  It's a Holiday weekend so everything is sort of flexible. 

Saturday, kids hung out w/ friends at the house.  Warren and I did our monthly Sam's run.  Got sucked into buying one of those aisle promos going on.  Now, we did this one time before for our 'chopper.'  It was an in-store infomercial.  Do you know what?  We use that chopper every single day!  No kidding.  It was worth the money & then some.  So, yesterday, we bought a slicer.  Well, according to the guy... "it slices, it dices, etc."  I know what you're thinking.  Hey, I thought it too standing there watching him slice in seconds.  LOL.  Yet, I think this one we'll use just as much as the chopper so not too worried.  Honestly, I think the kids will be fighting over who gets to use it first.  We'll see.  We'll have to do a review so if you ever see these folks in the store, you'll know.  Warren and I also went to TJMaxx.  They had their final clearance markdowns.  The yellow tags.  Hey, if I can get the kids books to read for .30, we do it.  They've already started two of them.  Also, we were trying to get gift ideas for when we return to Bulgaria.  Still needing ideas.  I wanted something really special for a few of the folks that helped us on this journey.  So ideas, send them my way.  I just don't know what gifts to bring on the second trip.  Came home and we all cooked out on the grill and then watched a movie together.  Easy weekend. 

Today is Sunday.  I know, I started this in parts.  Kids slept in.  I was jealous.  LOL.  We had a nice breakfast and then it was off for our drive to the apple orchard.  I'll have a separate post on that adventure.  Glad we went.  Taught the kids a few things and really enjoyed our time there.  Can't wait to share.  Came home and worked on the yard some.  Kids played with friends.  Tomorrow is to be a rainy day.  Going to veg out and watch a movie.  And of course make tons and tons of apple desserts.  Tons. 

Much more to come in upcoming posts.  Just have been really busy and this weekend we just wanted to relax some.  I think we've done that.  Can't wait to share more.  Pictures to come tomorrow. 9:30 and all kids are in bed.  Warren and I are going to watch a movie.  The hectic schedules start back up on Tuesday.  So we plan to enjoy tomorrow.  I'm slowly working on getting back to people.  I have a gold party planned for some time in the future.  Locals, please get in touch w/ me.  Going to send invites and such tomorrow.  Just wanted to give you all a heads up.  Will be a lot of fun for sure.  Oh, if you need some magazines, please do use the sidebar link to our magazine site.  GREAT deals!  Feel free to share the link too as I know kids are starting back to school.  Got to go. Enjoy your holiday weekend.  We are.