Friday, September 30, 2011

Soccer in the rain

A few games ago, we ended up w/ a cold, wet rain for soccer.  It was actually some of the first cooler weather we had.  But, you know soccer.  You play whether it's raining or not.  Helps show the kids commitment and teaches the parents to appreciate a good lawn chair & spare blankets in the car.  Figured I'd share a few pics from that day.

Alex, waiting for his game to start.  He's ready to play ball and at least this day we didn't have to worry about him over heating. 

Nik keeping warm with a giant beach towel.  No, we couldn't find a boring color to blend in.  Had to be loud yellow.

Alex, taking his turn at goalie.  Not bad for his first try as goalie.  Dash though prefers playing the field.  He's nicknamed Dash for a reason you know.  LOL. 

Yep, that's me pretending I know how to play soccer with the kids.  There was  break in between games and we kicked the ball around a few minutes.  It is fun playing with them. 

 Ahh, Warren was in the right place at the right time to hold the sign.

Alyona, making her grand entrance.

Alyona, taking a water break.  Look at how healthy & strong those legs look!  For those of you who remember, Alyona was our skinny minnie when she came home from the orphanage.  You could form an O w/ your thumb & middle finger and go from her ankle all the way up to the top of her thigh.  Not any more!  Thriving.  Got to love those transformation stories folks.

 Nik, catching a break during Alex's game.  This was a break in the rain as well.

Now, the smart one is not Alex here in the car blanket.  No, the smart people are the ones behind him w/ the giant umbrella.  That is the way to watch a game in the rain. 

Yana does not care about fashion here for sure.  Her goal is to keep warm.  Stylish any time.  

It was nice that all the kids came out to this game to support the younger kids.  Tomorrow, that is not the case.  The older ones said they wanted to stay home.  I said that's fine.  They need a break too some times.  Got to get to bed as it is an early day tomorrow.  I'm already tired and it's not even tomorrow yet.  Still, looking forward to a day of soccer games and a day of beautiful weather.  Have a wonderful weekend and more catch up posts coming soon.

Flabulous to fabulous

Okay, I promised I'd do this and now feel totally guilty.  Now, I guess I should start on the plus side & not the fact that I ate a cupcake for breakfast this morning out of sheer weakness.   I'm trying to make little changes.  Step by step.  I am drinking a lot more water.  That is a positive change.  I am doing stretching every day and light weight lifting.  Again, positive.  I am walking everyday.  Positive.  However, I have to be honest.  Have not changed the eating habits to where I need them to be.  Umm, hence the stupid cupcake.  I know what I'm supposed to do.  Hey, on a positive note, I did lose 2 lbs. this week.  I know I can do this but I also know I need help. I really do.  I need a buddy.  To be accountable.  I have a schedule all mapped out of when I want to work out & it just never seems to come to pass.  Meetings for the kids or watching the kids or taking them to soccer or church.  By the time they get to bed, it's way too late for me to work out.  I want to work out in the morning but by the time I'm done doing stuff, it never seems to happen.  Anyone else have this issue?  I need to be able to wake up 30 minutes earlier and just get it done.  No matter what.  That is my goal this week.  The thing is I know once I start this, I can do it.  I just need to start it is my problem.  I always hated running but I loved biking. Used to bike all the time.  Trouble is, now kids have broken all the bikes.  Not joking.  They're all broken.  Not trying to make excuses as I can always walk.  Walking is free so truly, I have no excuse. 

Please, if you see me, tell me to move it!  I"m so ready to lose this weight.  I am.  I have done little steps but time to take the big plunge.  I do hope that next week I can add that I have actually done something more.  Like the cardio I need to do.  My goal is to be twenty pounds light when I fly out to get my kids.  Umm, that is not long!  I need to get moving.  18 lbs left to go!  Well, I need to lose much more than that but that is my goal for picking up the kids.  Hey, need to be down that much just to carry all that luggage.  LOL.  Oh wait, I'll probably be toting "little bit."  Either way, I have all the motivation in the world to do this.  Need to just move it. Feel like the line on Madagascar... "you've got to move it, move.  You got to move it move it.  You got to....MOVE IT!!" 


Posted about the pups the other day that are now a year old.  Time for a Digby update. 

Digby still continues to be loved by all.  He's still our mellow fellow.  He listens, stays in the yard.  One thing we've noticed lately is he is jealous when we pet the other dogs.  He'll bark and get right up next to us.  Pet me, pet me.  And we oblige for sure.  Digby is still possessive about food but only human food.  Digby plays every day with Kota and Alaska.  I only really have good things to say about Digby.  He really is at home here.  Doesn't mind the kids.  Even got used to the noise level here.  He used to run and hide.  Now, he could care less how loud it is.  Doesn't matter what the kids are playing.  Digby loves to be loved.  And we do not mind one bit.  Just thought you'd all enjoy a Digby update.  

More to come.  Trying to play catch up on here.  It's a Friday evening.  baked potatoes are in the oven.  Late dinner tonight.  Warren is coming home and going to cook grilled chicken.  Tomorrow is very busy with  Bonus is we get to sell some apple pie filling!  And, it is supposed to be a cool, gorgeous day.  Can't wait to sell and watch them play at the same time.  I plan to get up super early, go to yardsales w/ some of my girls, come home & bake a fresh apple pie (hey, it's easy w/ EZPZ pies!), cook breakfast and off to soccer all day.  After soccer, we hit Sam's for the monthly food shopping.  Home to relax and watch a movie.  Sunday is church and youth group later that evening.  At one point the lawn will have to be tended to or people will begin to think the wild kingdom belongs here.  This is our first weekend in October.  There are 5 weekends this month.  Wow.  And every one of them is booked.  Reminds me, invitations will need to be made.  Hey, we'll get there.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  I will catch up on some blog posts and get thank yous out at one point.  I owe people a ton.  Glad it's Friday.  One project for school today did not go as planned.  Scrapped it.  Did not turn out.  Some times you just go with the flow. I did let them paint mini pumpkins which they really enjoyed.  Pictures are still in the camera.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.  The weekend is going to be just beautiful and I do believe fun.  You should see how much Alyona has improved in soccer.  Nik & Alex are doing very well too.  One day, I need to video tape them. 

Which way to go???

You ever have one of those days where you don't know which way to go?  You feel like you are going in ten thousand different directions?  Well, that's me.  That's the way I feel lately.  Relieved we recently received a court date yet have that new parent pit in the stomach nervous feeling.  That's not a bad thing.  NO, it's not.  It's a great thing.  It means it is becoming very real.  Thinking these future children are really going to be a part of this family forever.  Preparing for them.  Simple things really.  But things that do have to be done.  Assigning new table seating, making the table to seat 12 versus 10, assigning seats in the van (curtails some of the sibling squabbles), making dental appointments(January), making medical appointments as there are waiting lists for certain specialists, notifying HR of pending children soon so they'll have immediate insurance, getting a little more clothing for "little bit," getting another bed (long story here), and other little things.  You become aware that this long awaited process is finally nearing an end.  The kids will be coming home.  I know it is two weeks away, October 14th.   I know I can't rush it.  It will be here before I know it.  And I know that it is only court and then we have another few weeks to wait till we can go bring them home.

Before I know it, I will be a mother to 10.  It sounds like such an enormous number to me now.  Not sure why.  Maybe the double digit thing??  Many tell us 7 is a huge number but I don't think so at all.  10 feels right.  It does.  We'll have 5 girls and 5 boys.  no, never planned it that way.   Just the kids that seem meant to be in our family always seem to find a way into our family.  These three children coming home truly do feel like a part of our family.  I honestly can barely stand waiting to share things about them with you.  I want you to know how great they are.  What they're like.  What they look like.  Soon, I'll be able to do that.  Once they are my children.  Officially.  See, for now, we already consider them our children.  I think that is the hardest part of international adoption besides the waiting.  Not being able to share pictures with others or details of the children you've come to know.  Just as with our children home, it is natural to want to share.  Very difficult not to but you follow the guidelines set forth by whatever country you are adopting from.  Don't worry, I'll have plenty of photos to share with you once they are home. 

For those that don't know, court is a very big deal in the international adoption scene.  This is where the judge reviews every aspect of your life to make sure you are ready to raise the child/ children you are planning to adopt.  With us, since one of our children is of age to give consent, he must give consent to the adoption.  When you get to this point of an adoption (court), you have already visited the children, your life has been reviewed & reviewed again.  You have had more fingerprints taken than someone on the most wanted list.  You have redone your dossier documents at least once by now...typically.   You have worried, laughed, cried, rejoiced, and experienced many other emotions throughout the whole adoption process.  You have learned what patience truly means by now.  You really know what love is.  It is going across the ocean and back again.  More than once mind you.  I think international adoption makes parents tough in order to survive the next umpteen years with them.  Your thinking changes of how you handle certain situations.  For us, we go with the flow.  Not sure that's the right parenting approach but so far, I think they're doing beautifully.  We always say do what works. 

Been a long awaited process.  I feel we are now at least three quarters of the way there. I feel we can almost stop holding our breath.  I must have asked our poor agency at least 10 times this week if we needed additional documents.  They must think I'm spastic by now.  Thinking are you sure she's not a rookie??  LOL.  You just get to this point of waiting for a court date and it finally comes.  You just want to make sure you've left no stone unturned.   You want it all to come out right.  Why?  Well because it of course means that the children will finally be your children to love and to cherish.  Orphans no more!  For us, it means this journey of adoption will come to an end.  After 12 years, our family is complete. A forever family of 12.  I know, I know, I've said this before but this time, I do believe we are finally complete.  So, though I feel like I'm going in a few different directions making sure everything is finished & ready, I think I'm doing okay.  I'm ready for this family to be whole.  To be one with each other.  To enjoy some great times together.  The kids here are already planning things for the new kids home.  Umm, yeh kids you might want that money tree to grow.  LOL.  They want to plan things that we've never done.  Cracks me up.  I call it their dream list.  Yes, we're going to plan family vacations and things of that nature.  However, I think Disney and cruises are out of reach for now.  Hey, they're dreaming big.  But, going on trips like we did this past summer to an amusement park  or Hershey Park are not out of reach.  Our dream is to go cross country and back.  Again, our dream.  That and surviving a month long trip with ten kids.  I think this coming summer we'll be doing a family reunion (in this area), the Bulgarian Reunion, Deaf Camp in the mountains, a week long beach trip, a FAS Camp, and maybe exploring a few of the southern states.  Time will tell.  For now, it is just the thought of being able to make & think of plans that includes ALL ten kids that is the exciting part.  I can not wait for the next step of this long awaited journey to be done.  It is time. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Help spread the word of a little boy who is truly running out of time!  We have 3 weeks!  Yes, you read that right, just 3 weeks to find this little guy a home.  He is located in EE so it is an international adoption.  It is a two trip process though some that go to this country decide to return home to wait it out, thus making it 3 trips.  He has a $5,000 grant toward his adoption.  His fees are special needs fees.  It is vital we spread the word to find his family.  Why?  Because he faces transfer in 3 short weeks.  To a facility where he can NOT be adopted from....ever.  He is doomed to a life w/ no family love.  None.  It's not fair.  This child deserves a home.  This is an amazing child.  His personality just shines on through.  Mentally, he is healthy.  Physically, he has arthrogryposis.  It affects his legs only.  They are in a criss cross position.  Here, he could easily get the help he needs.  That is all that is holding this child back.  Though, doing all he does, there is NO holding this kiddo back!  Nope, not one single bit.  He has a few other issues but most are related to the arthrogryposis or are minor.  This 6yo little boy has so much potential.  If he is transferred, it is all lost.  Gone forever.  Please, please help me spread the word about Jack.  I would love to have this little guy find his family before his fate is sealed.  The thought of this kid that has so much life, so much spirit, so much potential, just disappearing is almost to much to think of.  Many of you know what being transferred to an institution means to a child this age.  He only has 3 weeks for his family to step forward.  Otherwise, he is definitely being transferred to a facility that does not allow international adoptions.  Please help me find this wonderful little guy a home.  For more information, they can contact Katie.  She will give you more detailed information.  For all those out there, help spread the word about 'Jack.'  Just 6 years old.  So much ahead of him if he had a family to guide him and love him.  Help him get that chance.  Thank you very much.

Homeschool Update

Randomly throughout the year I thought I'd touch on what we do in homeschool.  As you all may remember, I homeschool the 3 youngest.  This is my first year with them.  It is our first month into homeschooling and are done getting our feet wet.  We are learning what works and what doesn't.  They like workbooks.  They are not much into lectures unless right after lunch.   Yeh, haven't figured that one out yet but that's when we do it.

This is Alex doing some very basic review.  I had to see really where he was and where we could start.  He seems steady on a 3rd grade level for some things and second for others.  He's in 4th grade.  So for now, we're reviewing a few 3rd grade concepts and moving on.  We are studying science as a group and got behind on planets so we're still on that subject.  We finished up Native Americans recently and now are into New World Explorers.  Just did a map today and had them label the oceans.  Nik is really into geography & where we are in the world.  See, with kids w/ FASD, you can not pile a whole lot of details or they will not remember it.  Just the way it is.  We cover many general facts and try to relate it to something visual if we can.  Today for example, we talked of the Wright Brothers. Had them make a rotor to see how the basic concept works on a plane.  They had a lot of fun dropping that from the top of the stairs.  We plan on going to Kill Devil Hills some time in October w/ the homeschoolers.  Nice to be able to talk about something and then actually see it.  Another field trip coming up is to the pumpkin patch. 

Alyona is way further behind than I ever thought.  I say that to be honest, not mean.  I will say she is motivated by the workbooks.  She likes to see just how much she's done.  Right now, she is working out of a kindergarten workbook and struggling very much with that.  She can seem to do first grade math though.  Alyona is in 5th grade and is 12 years old.   Her FASD is more severe than many of the rest and her brain is effected quite a bit.  There are gaps in her learning and we are trying best to compensate for that.  She was crying the other day on the soccer field.  She was sitting there and wanted to do her workbook which is fine.  Told you, she likes these workbooks.  Well, another kid walked by and said that's so easy.  I think this is the first time she realized she's different and can't think like the rest of the kids.  It hit her hard.  It always does the first time.  I remember when it happened to Irina.  All my FASD kids at some point will realize they are different and you can't shy away from it.  You have to explain why.  You have to give them a bit of confidence back but not sugar coat it at the same time.  It's a balancing act for sure.  So, for now, getting Alyona's confidence back and showing her she CAN think for herself is priority. 

Nik just needs ton of vocab and phonics.  So, that is what we do.  I read everyday to him.  Do phonics everyday and he has speech 3X a week.  He is really enjoying science and geography though.  He is taking a science club right now & they're making rockets.  Yes, somehow I too have a feeling the next set of drawings will incorporate a rocket. 

All in all, we're going slowly but we are learning.  We're learnign at their pace though, not the pace the school sets that they could never achieve.  All my kids have potential and lots of it.  I used to think Alex was lazy.  Umm, no.  It's that he could not do the level of work they were giving him.  Now, he is comfortable with where he is and eager to learn more.  Next semester, I'm having them take classes at a local academy.  It's a great homeschooling program and classes are about $10 to $15 a class.  I want them to take 2 classes each. 

Just wanted to update a little of where we are.  I'll try to do this once a month.  I'll also take pictures of our lap books so you can see how we are learning.  Well, need to get going here.  Many more posts to come this evening.  I have a very special post on a little boy that MUST find a home in 3 weeks or he is doomed to an institution where he can never ever be adopted.  This kid deserves a family.  Wait till you hear.  I"ll need  your help spreading the word because this little boy truly is amazing.  More to come this evening.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nik's drawings

Yes, another installment so quickly.  Nik is drawing a lot more now that school started up again here.  Plus, the added bonus of Halloween tends to fuel his twisted creative juices.  So, time to get to it. 

We have this book called Halloween Doodles.  Kind of a neat little coloring book.  Pretty harmless.  You know, decorate the witch's hat, fill up the candy bowl, etc.  This one was haunt the house.  You can see he clearly labeled Alex.  He told me Alex was trick or treating and he was going to die b/c a monster would get him.  He added a laugh while explaining this.  I think that was just to get Alex mad though.  So, Alex is at the house.  Under the house, you can see green eyes.  On the first floor w/ the stairs is clearly a monster.  I asked what the floating blue thing was & he told me a severed head w/ blood dripping down.  Hmm.  Middle of the book he tried to spell Goosebumps.  End of that is a ghost as you can clearly see.  Oh, pink thing on the side is a blob.  Explained in next photo.  3rd floor has a yellow something.  Not sure what.  In the middle though he told me it was a tornado.  In the house.  The final picture is of these metal teeth that chomp down on you.  Max said that's a langdolier!  LOL.  

Now you can see where he got the blob idea from.  I love how he makes the blob w/ an angry set of eyes.  The title of this one was trick or treat.  

I hate to think what he'd be for Halloween if I ever gave him an option.  For  now it is whatever you can find in the costume bin.  He is very much into monsters and scary stuff.  Yet, this is the same cuddle bug who is fascinated w/ geography and astronomy.  It is really a total package with Nik.  Not one thing defines who he is.  Just so much to him.  The monster artwork is always a neat thing for him.  Yes, he can draw sailboats and flowers just as well.  He just prefers to try and make a scary scene out of everything.  Believe it or not, he is just a normal boy w/ a great imagination.  I know one day when he's older he'll look back at these drawings and just laugh like crazy. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The phone call.....

we have been waiting for finally came.  Are you ready for this folks?  Are you?  I know we have been ready and waiting a very long time for this.  Our court date has been set and it is for October 14th!  That's right.  In a little over 2 weeks.  I am excited beyond words which I know you are thankful for b/c it will finally be a short post.  Alyona screamed w/ excitement when she heard the news.  Her words "  my sisters are coming home!"  We are beaming right now.  I know we have to wait for court before it is all official.  Hoping all goes well.  No updated docs are needed.  Relief there.  Will remind you all for happy thoughts and prayers on October 14th for sure when the time is near.  I know our kids over there are ready to come home.  We're ready for them to be home.  It was such a wonderful connection when we all met in June so I know we'll do well as a family.  Praying to have them home for the holidays.  I am just so happy right now.  I know October 14th, I'll be even happier.  We are finally coming to an end of our adoption journey.  This is the final chapter.  We can start making plans w/ ALL 10 kids involved.  I can not wait till they are sitting at the dinner table with us. Or playing outside w/ their siblings.  For all those waiting, it is indeed worth the wait.  More to come as we find out more.  I'm sure we won't have any guesses of travel dates until after court of course.  And remember, our children are in two different regions in EE.  That takes quite a bit of organizing and very glad we have an awesome team over there doing that for us.  This has turned out to be a wonderful day indeed.  Still smiling here.

Apache Shields

Homeschool we were studying about Native Americans a bit before we dive into the New World Explorers.  Using the Homeschool in the Woods one his go around.  My kids are extremely visual so the hands on activities work really well for them.  I only wanted to touch on Native Americans.  With my kids and processing issues, I must keep everything very simple.  Not fill w/ a lot of details.  So, we did not go over all the different tribes and things.  Touched on Indian life, how they got here, etc.  We decided one day to make Apache Shields.  The real Native Americans used animal hides and things and berries to paint with.  We used canvas and paint in the supply closet.  I let them make their own designs.  The "littles" were here that day so participated as well. 

 The "littles" got straight to work.  My kids took a few minutes to really think about what they wanted their shields to look like. 

Only in homeschool can you wear slippers while studying art and history.  Alyona had a tough time deciding what she wanted her shield to say or represent.  

Nik starting on his shield.  Any guesses on what he's going to make?  

 Alex really got into this and loved to use the colors.  He said he needed to make his shield to scare away the animals. 

Any guesses now at what Nik has decided on?  Really, I thought it was quite clever the way he decided to make stars.  Frankly, I was just impressed that all worked together w/out screaming or fighting over who got what paint.  There were NO issues.  Shocking, I know.  They were all kind and they shared the paint.  Maybe it helped that I gave two trays this time.  LOL  I'm learning too.

Proud to be an American as usual.  Nik loves the American flag.  One day, I hope he learns the significance of it.  

 Alex was very proud of what he came up with. I think it turned out great.

Here's four of the 5 finished shields.  Alyona's wasn't up here when I took the pictures.  She decided on a butterfly with her name on it.  Our girlie girl for sure.  Was a nice little project for a nice day out.  Today is dreary and we're sticking inside today.  It's too muddy to even play on the swingset.  Right now, they're all doing workbooks.  I read to those who can't read this morning.  Getting ready to play "store" to teach about money.  Next history stop is the New World explorers.  We're also going to study the Wright Brothers at the end of October w/ a hopeful trip to the memorial and such in November.  Would love to camp there but we'll see.  We have neurology today which Warren took a half day to take Alex & Max to.  I pick up Yana and Yana is going out w/ a neighbor friend of mine to celebrate their birthdays.  They both have it on the same day.  The rest of us have Alex's soccer practice tonight.  They are having such a great time at Upwards soccer and learning so much.  Love it.  Tomorrow is the science and cooking clubs.  I am really glad I'm starting out slowly w/ my kids and didn't sign them up for a ton of things in the homeschool community.  I will sign them up for some classes in January for next semester.  But, starting slow was a good thing for us b/c gee whiz, they have enough other activities to keep them busy.  And me for that matter.  More to come.  I know I got 6 blog posts in yesterday but doubt that will happen today.  We really have a lot of ground to cover since tomorrow is story time and since Irina has an appointment at the doc.  Enjoy your day everyone. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nik's drawings

Little "Stephen King" is at it again!  LOL.  This time, in speech therapy.  See, they have to draw different cards.  they use them in the memory game.  Let's just show you the cards he drew & then pick a few of them, shall we??

 Just soak in a few of the cards above for a moment.  Then, I'll explain a few.

He was to draw something for the word fall.  Nik doesn't just draw someone falling, does he?  Oh NO.  He draws someone being pushed off a pier into a sea of pirahnas!  Look at the angry fish in the water.  Where does he come up with this stuff?!

Hey, at least Alyona is smiling in this picture.  He was to draw fat.  he drew his sister...pregnant!  Showed what the baby would look like inside as well. 

All he had to draw was a fish.  But no, not my kid.  Nik draws some monster fish eating a guy!  Look at those teeth on that fish.  

All he was to do was to draw a phone.  He drew an entire seen.  Someone was getting hurt and he's on the phone calling the police.  I know the guy up in the right was a policeman.  I forget who he was going to arrest.  It's either Alex or me or Alyona.  Not sure.  Guessing one of us, maybe Alyona, b/c the sad girl looks pregnant.  

Where in the world does he get these thoughts from?!  I haven't even showed you the Halloween drawings yet.  Seriously, he drew the langdoliers!!!  When this kid learns to read, watch out.  He'll be all into the Stephen King books, I'm sure of it.  He loves Goosebumps movies.  I'm telling you, this kid could make a teddy bear scary.  One day, I'll have to show him when he's getting married all the stuff he's dreamed up.  

Well, this is post # 6 for one day.  I think I'm done for the evening.   More to come tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a neuro appointment for Alex & Max.  Nothing special about it for sure, just check ups.  Will most likely get the referral for Alex to see an endocrinologist though regarding his severe over heating and in ability to cool down.  Just want to be on the safe side.  Enjoy your evening everyone.  I'll try to keep Nik's artwork to a minimum.  He was supposed to draw a fork & he drew what looked like one giant pitch fork.  Maybe he'll be a cartoonist when he grows up.  Who knows.  Just know I love this kid! 

It's been a year....

since they came into our lives.  An entire year.  What am I talking about?  The puppies!  As of today, I believe we should call them the dogs.  For as of today, they are a year old.  Well, we haven't had them quite a year but they were born a year ago.  We got them in November, a few weeks after they were born.  Do you remember what they looked like?

 Kota and Alaska checking out their view of the front yard, their first day home.

Puppies getting used to Bojan.

Kota, seems very much in charge.  You think this is how he got the nick name King Kota? 

Alaska, looking a little shy.  She was checking out the back yard.  

The puppies have sure kept us on our toes this past year.  We had never had Austrailian Shepard mixes before and well, let's just say they have more energy then all our previous dogs combined!  They still chew but not nearly as badly.  They still escape but we are about down to once a week.  We're getting there.  They get walked/ ran several times a day.  We'd love to be able to fence in the yard.  Remember, we tried that earlier this year and it failed.  They just jumped the fence.  Need a 6' at least.  Working on it.  The kids and the dogs have done very well together.  We're still working on them not jumping up on people when they walk in the door.  That's a tough one.  For all their puppy antics though, we wouldn't trade them for the world.  They've come a long way and we've come a long way in love with them.  Dogs are a form of therapy for many of our children.  They are always there to listen or for something to cry on.  It does make a difference.  Alaska is our cuddler for sure.  She is a people person and a permanent lap dog.  You will always find her in someone's lap here.  Then you have Kota. He's the playful pup.  Always wanting to play tug of war w/ one of the kids.  Yet, loves his belly scratched.  Kota still likes to think he's in charge though over the last 2 months, that has really, really been cut down a bunch.  All in all, we have truly loved having the dogs here the last year.  It's been a wild ride.  Many items have been lost to the puppies.  However, you learn it's not the items that are important in life.  So, we live w/ that chewed up baseboard:

Kota loves to still chew up the wood.  We have not one nice window sill or baseboard in this home any longer.  Again, not the things that tend to be important though is it?  It is the people and pets in your lives.  We can't imagine our lives without the puppies dogs in it.  It's been an incredible year with the pups.  Love you Alaska and Kota! 

Cross country-- Yana

When Yana first told me she wanted to join cross country, I can honestly say I did not take her seriously.  Now, before anyone jumps on my case or says that's mean, I guess I should explain.  Over the past couple of years, Yana has said many, many things that never came to pass.  We'd get hopes high & expectations low.  She'd swear she'd study, she'd do this, she'd change her ways, etc, etc.  We heard it all.  However, I always say with every new day, there's fresh hope.  We'll finally, she has stuck with it!  I will tell you about the rest of all her positive changes in another post.  This is all about cross country.  They only had one home meet this year and I loaded up the kids and we went.  Got there in time to see her do her last lap.  I think they go three miles. 

 Yana, coming around the corner.  She really looks like she's concentrating.

Do you think she's happy she completed the race?

Happy to have some water.  I think she's beaming with pride.

What would the day be without brothers goofing off?  

Yana set a personal record that day I believe.  I can't remember the time. I think it was in the high 20's.  Very proud of how she tried out for cross country and stuck with it.  She has improved so much.  This was her first year ever doing any extracurricular activities with the school.  She attends practices and races.  Yana has really done a great job.  We are extremely proud of her and her cross country.  She has now decided to try out for track in the spring.  For those reading this who have kids with "issues,"  please do not count them out of anything.  Some of it will come to pass.  Yes, it's work.  But it is work worth doing.  Just look at the pride above.  Those smiles say it all.  Yana has truly transformed a lot this past year.  For now, just wanted to share her accomplishments in cross country this year.  Only 4 more meets left.  I can not wait to hear about that last race.  We are extremely proud of her. 

Nik's makings

Well, haven't done this for awhile.  The other day, I let the kids have playdoh. 

Not really exactly sure what Nik made here to be honest.  I just thought it was cool looking.  He comes up with such things all the time.  Just had to share.  One of those pointless posts thrown in every once in awhile.  Next post... cross country. 

Big changes to Chaos Manor

I haven't had so much time to write these past two weeks.  We have been really busy lately and trying to make some big decisions.  One of those decisions had been made.  That decision was to homeschool.  Another decision is whether or not to drop ASL.  That will definitely be a separate post and I will need opinions on that one for sure.  Another big thing happening here is obviously us  bringing home the three new kids.  That brings us to another big decision.  Has something to do with this:

Our home.  It has been our home for 7+ years now.  We moved here when we were in process(go figure) for Yana and Alex.  Moved in here in April & brought them home in May.  We had two days to find a home.  Long story on that one.  I'll spare you the details.  Just know nothing we do is ever the easy way.  LOL.  We have the best neighbors here.  I mean think about this for a moment.  There are not just 7 kids here & 3 dogs.  No.  There are 7 kids here that all have issues & most have FAS. Yet, our neighbors take it all in stride.  Before our old neighbors moved out, I asked if they minded the screaming.  He said we don't mind the screaming if you don't mind the dirt bike.  Nope, not a bit.  Nik does indeed scream.  Lately, we've gotten him to curtail that screaming quite a bit.  Let's face it though, deaf kids can't hear, especially, if the implants aren't on.  They have no idea how loud they're being.

Anyhow, we love the neighborhood, the community and w/ this market, we know we'd never be able to sell this home.  I know big families sell homes w/ 10 kids and dogs in them, but I am still amazed at how they keep above the chaos and mess that comes with it.  You can clean up one mess, and ten minutes later, there's another one in another room.  We have tons and tons of traffic in this home.  Tons of traffic.  We paint our hallways and baseboards every spring and touch up paint where needed.  If you were to walk through the hallways now, you'd think it'd never been painted.  LOL. Got to remember, there are toddlers here at times as well.  And yes, I let them paint.  Go tell them to wash up and they insist on touching the walls all the way to the bathroom. I'm making them wear rubber gloves next time.  But, knowing my luck, they'd wash w/ gloves on, and continue to drop leftover paint all over.  It's a no win really.  A house with marks I feel has happy kids.  I've been into homes that look like museums and that the kids don't look like they can touch anything.  Erie feeling.  Our house is not a museum but a home to be enjoyed.  Dirt and all.  Whether they've been climbing trees, looking for bugs, swinging, swimming, or whatever, it comes in the house with them.  And, that's okay.

Point I'm getting to is we have finally decided to stay.  After 2.5 years of desperately wanting to move, we feel this is our home and is where we belong.  However, there are some things we need to take into consideration as our kids age.  Some may not be able to leave home but we would still desire for them to have that semblance of independence.  This is where the changes are coming.  The past few weeks, we've spoken with our bank and contacted several contractors/builders.  Plans are being drawn up and we are waiting (while holding our breath of course) for estimates.  This is not a small job by any stretch of the imagination.  In it, we would not only expand but do some needed repairs such as a new roof.  As you all know, when houses reach twenty years old, some things will need to be replaced.  We are fortunate enough to be in a home that I feel was built fairly well.  Isn't to say it doesn't need work.  Anyhow, IF the estimates come back in the ballpark we are figuring them to be, we will proceed.  By doing all this, it is a definite that we would never be able to move.  It will have priced itself out of the neighborhood.  You all know what I mean by that.  Square footage wise, it would be the biggest house.  We do not like that idea but if we are to be here forever, we need to make these adjustments.

Many will say don't do this during an adoption.  We moved in the midst of Yana and Alex's adoption.  We know exactly what we'd be doing.  Financially, this will not cost us additional money.  Okay, in the long run but  you know what I mean.  This would be a total refi & construction loan tied into one.  See, since we've been trying to decide for over 2.5 years (very indecisive) whether to move or not, we never refi'd during that time like most of America did.  To get a much, much lower interest rate.  However, this is not about the payment.  Though, a big consideration to be sure.  This is about giving our daughters the independence they will most definitely need in the near future.  Well, Alyona quite a ways a way.  This would add about 2000 sq.ft. more to this home roughly.  All permitted work of course.  All professionals.  In the past, all repair work around here has been done by Warren since he's so handy.  Lately though, his hours are getting a little later in the day.  We've run out of hours during the day for any extra work outside of raising our kids. 

Whether this idea comes to pass is another story.  We must wait and see.  All the details.  We may or may not be able to do this.  If we can't, we will still on our own this spring make the garage into a room and move Bojan and Max down there.  They all would fit in the bonus room, all 5.  However, as boys are teenagers, I know they would desire not to be with the elementary kids & have that bit of separation.  So, we'd float a floor in the garage & convert to a room.  Don't even ask where the stuff would go that is stored int ehre.  No clue.  The garage is already finished and windows are new.  So a coat of paint, float a floor and we're good to go.  If we do that one, and not the big addition, I think we would still contemplate moving.  Hope to have answers in the next week or two.  It's a scary thought.  All of it.  Max drew up some of the plans for us.  

Manic Monday

Well, weekend did not go as plan but that's okay.  Still worked out though and that's what counts.  Won't bore you with the weekend.  Today is Monday and ready to start the week off.  busy week again as usual.  Again, it won't slow down until November.  Which is perfect.  This week we have cross country and soccer as usual.  Alex and Max have a neurology check up.  Don't expect any surprises and asking for Alex's endocrinology referral while there for sure.  Irina has a check up w/ the ped.  It is a follow up from her neurology this past week.  Her blood pressure is elevated and they just want to make sure all is a-okay.  That is one thing that is very difficult (in my mind anyhow) having adopted children.  No past medical history.  None.  It's hard.  We work with what we have though.  Kids also have church clubs this week. It really is cool and they love it.  Nik & Bojan are doing the science club.  The rest are doing the cooking club.  Just nice to do and they are going to learn a ton. 

Today, we've done some art, reading, and language arts.  They are currently watching a movie (short one) and then we're going to eat some lunch.  After lunch, it's back to workbooks and then science which we'll do together.  Out for some play time and then back for a little math.  After speech therapy.  I'm working on some paperwork stuff.  Nothing exciting.  We have an appointment with vocational rehab this Thursday.  I am actually looking forward to getting Irina started on the career path for sure.  She is excited as well.  Just hope they do not continue to do what WJHS did last year.  All they did was have the OCS students clean.  Anywhere they went.  That's  Yes, cleaning is a skill but seriously, they could have been learning so much more.  This is different than the schools and works w/ adults so hoping for a fresh perspective here.  These group of kids have plenty of skills and I refuse to have her pigeon holed into something.  I have no issue speaking my mind at these meetings.  We put up w/ it for a little while last year just due to what all was transpiring at home.  I'm sure you all remember those tough few months.  Now that all is clear, total focus can be getting Irina situated w/ a job.  Any advice before I meet w/ the voc. rehab folks, please share.  So far, I really have enjoyed speaking to the guy on the phone about it all.  He has answered many of my questions and NO attitude!  He was respectful and very understanding.  I do think he'll help Irina with a job.  Time will tell though.

Nothing new on the adoption front...unfortunately.  I just want a court date.  That's it.  Just a date.  Maybe this is our week.  Our turn.  Our time.  It's been a long time. The wait is excruciating.  Doesn't matter that these are our 8th, 9th & 10th children.  It's still a hard wait.  Just, you learn to handle it better when you've done it before. 

Well, started this in the morning.  Still much to catch up on.  HOwever, blog is always last on the list as family life is a bit more important.  Tonight is Monday.  There are NO activities on Monday nights which I love. A break to start off the week.  Warren and I always watch Castle.  Really enjoy that show.  Or maybe it's the quiet time w/ out the kids up I enjoy.  LOL.  Not sure which it is.  Nothing special happening this week or this weekend.  Just soccer and church.  And, we have a birthday coming up soon.  And, I still have to write about the sweet sixteen that happened here.  Gee whiz I'm behind.  Oh well, it goes to show you life goes on.  Hope everyone has a wonderful week.  The weather is gorgeous here but can not wait till the weekend.  Going to be in the 60's.  Wahoo for chilly weather.  Okay, so it's chilly to those of us in NC.