Saturday, October 22, 2011

Upwards Soccer

Last weekend we had soccer as well.  I never posted pictures but thought it was time.  We've been very fortunate enough to have such gorgeous weather. 

Nik wanted me to take a picture of him and Warren.  So, I did.  

 Alyona breaking through for the start of her game.  They announce the kids name and they get to run onto the field.

Nik is by far the ultimate camera hog.  Posing for the camera in one of the trees he climbs.  

Nik, waiting for the ball to come his way.  Nik loves soccer just as much as his brother Alex.  You should see the look on his face when he gets a goal.  It really is neat to watch.  

We are really lucky to have such great players on the team.  Good sportsmanship and comradely.  Makes a difference for sure.  We have this week of practices left and then games next Saturday.  I can honestly say I've thoroughly enjoyed this season.  Next season, I will have 6 kids playing soccer and one in track(most likely).  I can honestly say I'm happy they are still in Upwards.  Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.

Are you kidding me?!

Okay folks, for those keeping track, this is our third set of travel dates.  Though they haven't change but by a day here and there, you still have to reschedule everything that you previously set in place.  Makes it crazy for sure.  Doable, but crazy.  Hey, you have to go with the flow when doing an adoption.  We have some of our big items on the list taken care of.  Yet,  no rides to & from the airport yet.  I'll have them one day, date changes, & then not have them the next.  LOL.  We'll get there.  Kids are counting it down.  Getting clothes together for their new sibs.  Since we have 4 sets of virtual twins, I think we got the clothing covered.  Well, "little Bit" will need all new clothes but 3T's are easy to come by.

Today has been filled w/ lots of calling.  Yet, surprisingly, we got school done today & lots of it.  I'm getting ideas of what to cover while I'm gone.  Nothing hard, simple fun stuff I think.  So much to process as we're in November and December months.  Appointments like crazy for those two months for new kids & old kids.  I know it will all get done.  Always does.  Having Alaska eat my planner did NOT help one bit.  Much more going on. Right now, meeting w/ contractors in about 5 minutes.  Let you all know how that goes.  Explain it a bit more as well.  All the pieces have to fall into place for this to even be a possibility.  Find out a whole lot more today.  Kids are all playing at a neighbors so it is completely kid free and silent.  A rarity for sure.  Bojan is spending the night at a friend's this evening so one less.  Warren is making burgers on the grill tonight.  Going to watch Zookeeper I believe.  Redbox.  Other than that, trying to take it easy.  Tomorrow is really busy w/ soccer and getting more things ready for our trip.

I'll have more later.  Just keeping up w/ the changes.  It's alright but don't want it to wear me down either.  Making sure I get outside and away from the computer and telephone.  The only ones not calling me back are Raleigh Neuro...URGHHH!!!  Keep in mine folks, I've been trying to get Alex's endocrine appointment for well over a month now.  We've had the referral.  Just trying to get neuro to send the clinical notes to endocrine.  I'm on a quest to get it done.

Today, got in touch w/ vocational rehab for Irina.  Bunch of bureaucratic paperwork in the beginning so not much we can do at the moment.  They're waiting on the schools.  Biting my tongue here as seems like people are always waiting on the schools.  Voc Rehab will test her as well & help Irina find a job in the community.  We're going to try to help her find one before then but always helps to have a backup plan.

Max's teacher called.  Well, he's the special ed guy there and really understands the kids.  Gave me a report on the three teens, grades, how they're doing, etc.  He knows we like to stay informed and glad he respects those wishes.  We couldn't do the IEP this coming week (sorry, a bit busy) and he couldn't do it b/c his wife is having a baby mid-November.  So, we decided he's going to write the goals & reconvene in January & make changes then if we need to.  Right now, it's going well w/ Max so leaving as is.  Just nice to finally have a school that cooperates & understands.  Thank you Cleveland High School.

Well, burgers were great.  Now, all of us watching Extreme Homemakeover.  Then, we're all watching Zoo Keeper.  Been nice w/ just us veggie out a bit.  Kids are as high on cloud 9 as I am. 

This was written yesterday and never posted.  Today we actually got the dogs all bathed & next we're going to work on washing the van & vacuuming it out.  Soccer games were fun today.  Enjoyed watching them all play.  We had one player get hurt pretty badly on Alyona's team.  Hoping she'll be okay.  May have dislocated her knee.  Ouch.  The whole team prayed for her after the game.  Nice group of kids.  Not much else going on.  Just trying to chop away at my list of things to do.  Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

NEPTUNE-- Nik wants one!!!

Oh my goodness.  I wished I had captured his look on video tape & sent it to Advanced Bionics.  It is unreal.  He is still jumping up and down right now as we speak.  He's asking to go to the doctor (his audiologist) immediately.  No kidding!  What am I talking about?  Well, Advanced Bionics has a new product.  And, we want it desperately.   I should rephrase that.  Nik wants it desperately.  Hoping the costs will work out that we can do this when it becomes available.  What in the world am I talking about?  The new Neptune processor!!!  This CI is amazing.  I don't wear one but I want one even.  LOL.  It can water!  Yes, in water.  In the shower, in the pool.  Don't have to wear it behind your ear.  Would work w/ his current model so no surgery needed.  I have no idea how much these are going to cost.  They have them in Canada but are not available in the US yet.  My son is just dying for one of these.  He was asking if he could go in the pool.  Then he started jumping up & down & saying he could hear in the pool w/ his brothers and sisters.  I said yes.  Nik asked if he could take it in the shower.  I said yes.  More excitement.  He saw how you could change the covers out.  Takes  a triple A battery I believe.  You HAVE to see this thing.  Nik wears Advance Bionic implants.  We love them.   Awesome company and has taken care of him well for things that ahem, should NOT have happened to an implant.  The customer service is beyond great.  They answer any of my stupid questions too. His implant has been very sturdy.  Has to be.  Anyhow, thought I'd share what we saw when looking on the AB site.  I just want  this product here NOW!  How do we get that done?  Just hoping it isn't a fortune.  Hoping they have some kind of trading up program.  Don't know.  Just know this would change Nik's life.  They live in the water in NC from May to October.  Also, in the rain when we play soccer in the spring and fall.  So many great opportunities for him to hear.  Can't wait to ask the audiologist in December when we go.  Here is the site:  Neptune!  Check it out.  I'd love to hear what other folks are saying about it.  Anyone heard anything on the Neptune?  Nik is still amazed at this. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random pictures

Need something to get my mind off that stupid list.  So, what better than just some random pictures. 

Yana was able to go to the State Fair with a friend.  She got this "tattoo" that says love.  I told her how do you know what it says.  Could say frog for all she knows.   LOL.  Thought it was cool.  

I came downstairs the other night & found Max passed out on the hardwoods after he'd finished sweeping the dining room.  Guess Kota was keeping him company.  Almost felt bad waking him up but figured a comfy bed would feel better in the morning versus the floor.

Nik stopping to spell the mums.  Actually, no.  He's stopping to look at the hundreds of baby spiders crawling all over it.  Yuck!  Just what my little "Stephen King" needed to get those creative juices flowing, right?  

More pictures tomorrow.  I'm done w/ the computer for a bit.  Walked the dogs and came back & made eggplant Parmesan.  Umm, never making that again.  Took way too long.  Zucchini bake is much easier & less time consuming.  Oh well, live and learn.  Kids are already trying to help me pack for the new kids.  The countdown here has begun!

Change of plans!!!

In adoption, there is one thing that is constant and that is change.  In fact, it is the synonym for adoption.  My new name is Flexibility. We just got word a few minutes ago that we have to arrive in country a day earlier than expected.  Now, this may not seem like a big deal for some but if you have arranged for airport drivers, sitters, & airlines, it does through a big kink in it.  In addition, airline tickets will most likely go up.  We can't book until Monday.  That would only be a week before we leave.  I'm working currently on rearranging everything.  Just know if you do an adoption, always expect the unexpected.  We'll be picking up "Little Bit" first and then the sibs the very next day.  I'm trying to get a hold of costs and everything else.  I think the reason we are going a day early is I had pointed out that Veteran's Day is a holiday for the embassy.  Just a guess as to why we're traveling earlier.  So, waiting to hear word about the airport driver to the airport.  Got one from but since we're leaving earlier, have to see if this driver will be able to still take us.  Call in to her.  Heard back from travel agency and tickets only went up by a dollar.  Huge relief there.  Within the next few days, we should hear estimates on in country costs such as lodging.  Praying they won't make us do 2 rooms since we have 3 kids.  I'll know soon.  Crazy how it is all seeming like it's going at lightening speed now.  My days are way too fast.  Before it felt like a turtle's pace.  Now, it is lightening fast.  That's  a good thing though because soon, we get to see our children again.  Can't wait to see the look on their faces.  So, all the scurrying around is well worth it.  More to come but that list is nowhere near done.  Got to go.

Thoughtful Thursday

It's been awhile I feel since I've done one of these posts.  For those new, it is where I tell of something thoughtful my kids have done during the course of the week.   When you have multiple children with behavioral issues, sometimes it is too easy to forget the sweet things they do or the little moments that mean something.  This helps us to remember.

Irina-- Without even asking, she decided she and Alyona were going to clean Alyona & her sisters' new room.  Total organization.  She didn't have to.  Irina did it b/c she wanted to.  Very thoughtful of her to think of her new sisters.

Yana-- We came home last night and found she'd taken out the trash, swept the downstairs and walked the dogs.  Thoughtful of her to know we'd all be too tired after a long day & getting home late.  She got home after her cross country meet.  (her team came in 3rd! at the conference meet)

Alyona-- She has really been thinking a lot lately at how she can help her new sisters when they get home.  She is going to teach them all kinds of things she said.  Just thoughtful that her thoughts are on others during this transition time.

Max--  Max volunteered himself for the ice cold dunking booth at the fall festival the church held.  They needed volunteers and he did it w/out hesitation.  

Bojan-- Same as Max.  He too volunteered.  Did not have to at all.  However, he really wanted to help.  

Alex-- He has really shocked me lately.  He wants his brother home so badly.  He has done everything he can to try to get his brothers to help him clean up the room for his new brother.  

Nik-- Came  outside one day and he was raking the leaves in the front yard.  Just noticed it needed to be done.  First one to rake this season!

Just had to share.  I'm really proud of the kids lately.  there has been no sense of jealousy whatsoever and that will help to make the transitions much easier.  Last night at church they told me all the kids came to her & said their brother and sisters are coming home. Let's me know they are happy about this and not jealous or angry or anything.  Not a one of them!  Now, that to me is kind of a shocker b/c I was expecting it.  It is normal.  We've done this before and experienced this before.  Definitely helps to lessen the worry though.  Lots is going on here at Chaos Manor.  Trying to keep it all straight w/ lists and stuff.  We are to leave in less than two weeks and nowhere near ready.  Though this morning it looks like we have a driver to the airport.  Now to get home from the airport.  Slowly, we'll get there.  Slowly.  We've recently hit a major, major roadblock and will have to figure something out quickly.  May ask for suggestions soon.  For now, time to check the kids' school work and do a lecture on colonial times.  And check the quick science experiment we did.  Rest of the day Warren & I will be chopping off the list that is currently 65 items long.  Just like each adoption before this, when we're on that plane headed towards our kids, this will all be a long past thought.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A rainy day & what we did

In between doing things so thought I'd post.  Homeschoolers and I decided today was a good day to take off from work and make up on Saturday instead.  Love that flexibility.  Though, not sure I should write today off.  Took one of the "littles" to story time.  A local church does this every Wednesday.  Read a few stories w/ the kids, have cookies afterwards that the cafe bakes and then all the kids run wild & crazy for awhile.  Usually, there are kids of all ages there.  Some homeschooled obviously as they're older.  Usually about 20 to 30 there.  Today...just us.  Yep, just us.  Still all got cookies but we didn't hang around long.  Went home, made some homemade pizza which we all devoured.  It really was good.  Then we all read.  Let them play after that. 

This afternoon, decided to chat about apples and fall.  And, we decided to make carmel apples.  Yes, the sticky goodness was to be ours.

Alyona washing and then drying off her apple.

Umm, do you think Alex is excited to get started on making carmel apples?

Nik and Alyona carefully covering their apples w/ carmel.  

Alex, helping the "little" with stretching of her carmel.  Nice of him to volunteer.

Apples are ready to go in the oven.  Take a look at Nik's expression in the back.

 Look at all that gooey, chewy carmel my kids put on those apples.  Yum.

Apples fresh out of the oven!  Nice and shiny and ready to be eaten.  I think Nik was happy.  

Not sure what in the world that look is for.  She is enjoying that apple though.  Oh, she decided to work on some of the workbook as well while she ate.

 Enjoying every single bite of that Alex, aren't you?

Nik's not smiling b/c I think his teeth are stuck  together from all that carmel.  LOL.  Really, an impromptu little event was a bunch of fun.  

Now, boys are cleaning their room...while yelling at each other of what belongs to whom.  Got to love the cooperation, right?  This evening, the kids have science club and cooking clubs.  Thought about going to Petsmart after & getting Irina her fish but we will have run out of time I think.  We'll see.  while kids are in classes, Warren and I will sit down w/ pen & paper & go through the to do list, dividing it up.  In addition, make arrangements while we're gone w/ the church.  See, they'll be taking our van while we're gone for a youth group trip.  Anyhow, have to get some things planned out.  And, since I'm down a day runner (stupid puppies!), I have to guess at some of the appointments I had for November & call to reschedule.  Tomorrow, lots of school work to do as we took today off.  No biggie as we're actually ahead in terms of attendance.  Then soccer tomorrow evening.  I know next week everything will be kicked into high gear.  Really high gear.  But, we'll get there piece by piece.  That's why the randomness of today was so nice.  

Most likely there will not be many posts tomorrow.  We're concentrating on school all day.  Then soccer.  Friday, more time to do some things for sure.  Temps in the 60's so excited about cooler weather coming.  I do believe firmly our plans to go camping in November are obviously out w/ the new kids coming home.  Not sure how they'd react to time in the woods in a tent.  LOL.  More English needed for that experience & more adjustment time obviously.  I also think plans to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial will have to wait.  I'll do a separate post on how we handle adjustments when first home.  That will explain why we are not going anywhere in November.  Kids here know we'll do what we planned, just at a later date.  Frankly, they are really in need of a break and I can tell.  So, this is actually perfect timing.  Got to go.  Boys are cleaning their room.  May have to intervene on this shovel & stow method they have going on.  Prepare to hear screams in the next county as I slowly pull all their "shoveling" out from under the beds.  I know, I'm cruel to make them clean up their own messes.  Hey, the one time I pulled everything out from under there, I'm surprised I didn't have to call a health inspector.  I was not happy.  Rule is NO FOOD ever upstairs.  EVER.  What did I find?  You guessed  Old food.  I know I'm not the only parent but gee whiz, how hard is it to actually throw it in the trash your own room?!  Okay, time to make them not so happy when I pull everything out from the bed.  I'm waiting for the right moment.  You know, when they come to tell me they're done. 

I told my boys they have just a few short weeks to get their act together w/ the room before their brother gets home.  Now, their new brother I am told from staff is a bit of a "neat freak."  See where this is going?  However, ALL MY BOYS used to be neat freaks too when they first got home from the orphanage.  they used to line their shoes & clothes up, put stuff away, etc.  Now, they just will lay something on the floor versus putting it away.  Helloooo...if it's in your hand, why not just put it away instead of drop it?  I don't get it.  It's like they hit puberty and wham, the slobs came out.  Has this happened to others too?  Do your boy teen & preteen rooms look like a glorified pig pen minus the mud?  Now, they'll clean this room up.  No lie, roughly 30 minutes to an hour later, it will look exactly the same as before.  They have been grounded, had stuff taken away & not given back, had stuff thrown out, etc.  Nothing seems to have worked thus far.  I have no issues whatsoever w/ any of the girls or their rooms.  Could it be just a boy thing? 

A thing of the past

During an adoption process you get used to many things.  You get used to things like uncertainty, waiting, paperwork, creative thinking for funding, printed pictures of kids to be till you can meet them, your agency's phone #, waiting some more, adoption terminology, homestudy, post placements, social workers.  So many other things you can throw into that pot that we will no longer have to think of as our family will be complete.  Some of it, I truly will miss.  Shoot, we have been adopting since 1999 and some things you just get used to.  One thing I can tell you however, that I will without a doubt not miss is this:

Apostilling.  Yep, won't miss it.  We had gone to the NC History Museum awhile back.  Saw these stickers and just had to have them for some reason.  Hey, just stickers.  Not the real thing (real one is raised & not all gold) but after doing apostille after apostille, adoption after adoption, dossier after dossier, I just got a kick out of these stickers that are like the real raised seal you must have on your paperwork.  Granted, these aren't the real things but rather much cheaper. LOL.  It is one thing I will not miss.  Going downtown to drop off papers to get that golden seal.  For those new to adoption, once you get something notarized,  you then get it apostilled.  In this state, (many adoptions ago) we had to first get it registered & then apostilled.  Now, they have combined the process so much more efficient and cheaper.  For those new to adoption, a dossier is a stack of papers that holds every aspect of your life.  You have to have others sign off that it is indeed truthful and then get those signed as well.  It's a long process but in place to protect the future children being adopted.  

Now, some states have not so nice Sec. of State offices.  We are VERY lucky here to have FANTASTIC people to work there.  I'm not just saying that either.  They are quick as quick can be, polite and not angry.  Years ago (when we got Max & Irina), there was one lady that umm, was known to not be so nice.  She is no longer there.  We personally have never had any trouble.  In fact, they even caught some mistakes from us from time to time.  Hey, better to catch it at the state level than to have it sent over to another country for translation & it be wrong.  We are really grateful for a pleasant Secretary of State's office.  Will be odd to no longer need apostilles for anything.  Yet, in a way, it symbolizes our family is complete.  We are whole.  And thanks to this golden seal, we are complete.  Don't you love the museum stickers? 

Airline tickets

Ahh, the all  coveted airline tickets.  It is the FIRST thing we do after finding out dates for adoption travel.  For those new to adoption, it is in my opinion what you should do as soon as you hang up w/ your spouse about pending dates.  And, that is what I did yesterday.  We received tentative travel dates that barring some unforeseen circumstances (just what this journey has been filled with!), should be our firm travel dates.  However, we won't know w/ complete certainty till Monday.  And that is fine.  You can still put tickets on hold. 

First, you must have travel agents you can trust.  Do NOT, do NOT do this without travel agents.  Too many issues w/ online things.  In addition, these adoption travel agents are highly skilled and trained in the unexpected aspects of adoption.  Such as changing tickets when you were actually on the plane to go home but had to be escorted off due to panic attack & out of whack electrolytes.  Or changing tickets 5 times b/c judge in Russia couldn't get the schedule straight.  Or changing tickets just hours before leaving for Bulgaria b/c your trip managed to be shortened.  Things like that.  And yes, those all happened to us.  TRUST your agent to get you through the unexpected.  For us, there is no better than Golden Rule Travel.  They've done a few of our adoptions and could not be better.  They did not do our Serbian adoption.  I used Axioma travel for that trip & loved them as well.  I had known a native Serbian who told us they are by far the cheapest in the business.  I had to agree.  They specialize in Baltic travel.  Anyhow, other than that, Golden Rule is the way to go for any EE travel.  That is my opinion and I guarantee you many other adoptive parents will sing their praises as well.

Well, Golden Rule came through yet again yesterday.  Now, keep in mind I can not purchase these yet.  We did this so we could see where we stood in the price of everything.  Travel agent is aware we have tentative dates & are not booking yet.  They are prompt and get back to you you very quickly & when they say they will.  Now, based on the prices I've seen online, the trip we took there in June, we were truly expecting to have to shell out around $10,000 for airline tickets for the 5 of us to come home.  I was almost afraid to open the email.  Made sure to have a cup of water nearby so I wouldn't pass out.  LOL.  I went over it like 20 times seeing if I missed something, seeing if it included taxes, etc.  Pending this does not change, for the 5 of us, it will be roughly $3285!  To say we are ecstatic is not dramatic enough.  This helps immensely as we were short funds(still are).  We feel this is an extremely reasonable amount.  Praying we get to book at this rate.  So, those traveling, I can not say enough good things about this company.  I've known them to get fellow adoptive travelers out of some crazy binds when it comes to flights.  Really, I have yet to meet anyone w/ a negative experience with them.  I know I rarely talk about various companies or agencies we use but feel that Golden Rule is so great at what they do for adoptive parents that they need that recognition.  Our agencies also deserve recognition but those stories and names will come after we arrive home.  Too much to tell for a single blog post.  Plus, I want to give proper recognition where it is due. 

As you know from our previous trips, for us it becomes real when we have those airline tickets in hand.  You know you're going.  This time, you see your kids' names & really know it's real.  You are becoming a family forever.  So, I am anxious to book these tickets.  I have patience...somewhat.  LOL.  I'm learning still.  Ready though.  Having a great travel agent during this process is critical. It is a big expense and a huge part of your journey.  So, if you are new to adoption, check out Golden Rule.  These are just my opinions.  Another adoptive parent who's done this for 12 years now.  Just like to share b/c you know I'm all about bargains and great deals.  Hope it helps someone out there looking.  Good luck. 

Church picnic pics

A few weeks back our church had a picnic at the ball field across the street.  Just a casual picnic w/ lots of great food & fellowship.  I let my kids take the camera.  Only showing pics of my family as I didn't get permission from anyone.  Though I know they'd most likely say yes, I feel it would just be polite to ask if I could post their pics.  Have to ask next time.  Though, when I do post pics of others on here, even w/ permission, I rarely will tag a name to it.  Thought I'd share a few pics that my kids took of each other. 

Max giving his brother Nik a piggy back ride.  

Alyona styling some new shades.  Movie start in the making.  Not sure what Bojan is doing in the background.

Alyona & Irina.  Alyona sticking out her tongue & Irina giving a good smile.  Typical sisters for sure.  Alyona really looks  up to Irina.

Nik ate some chicken.  What he didn't realize was it was Bojangle's hot & spicy chicken.  the look is priceless.  Way too hot for him but didn't even spit it out.  

Alex, sneaking over a fence.  There isn't anywhere we can go that Alex can't find a ball to kick or throw.  The child I feel would have a ball glued on his hand if he could.  He lives for soccer & football.  I know, he's not medically supposed to play football.  He only tosses it around in the yard though.  And watches it.  

Can poor Irina find anyone to smile with her?  Everyone wants to make silly faces.  

Just a few of the many desserts at the dessert table.

Picture of our church across the street.  Not huge but comfortable.  

 Alyona goofing off w/ some sticks she found.  She's a reindeer of course! 

Ahh, the rare teen picture.  Yana.  Can you tell she still wants to be a model?  I would love picture without a pose.   Just a candid shot.  I'll get it, I will. 

 Bojan teaching his brother how to toss a stick. 

Always neat to see what pictures my kids take.  One got a zoom of the steeple.  Wish the power lines weren't in the way.  Cool shot I thought.  Not sure who had the camera at this time.

Max helping with clean up.  always goofing around.  Love it.

We all had an awesome time catching up with friends.  Great weather too.  Our church has been such a great pillar of support.  Praying for us at some of those bumps in the road.  Very thankful for them.  And the fact that they put up with a family that can never seem to get anywhere on time.  No matter what time we leave, no matter if things are laid out in advance, something inevitably happens.  Can't say we don't try.  They don't care if one of our kids slips a shirt on that he really shouldn't be wearing to church.(umm, few posts back.)  They're there when we need them and always seem to have encouraging words to say.  So having a picnic with such wonderful people is just a relaxing and fun time.  

Thought it was time to get some pictures up after all these wordy posts.  Now, back to work here.  Taking the kids to story time today and then working at home.  Supposed to rain much of the day so not going to be playing outside much.  Kids have science & cooking clubs this evening.  I need to start that to do list.  I have since added 8 more items to it this morning. So yes, it's in the 60's now.  Don't worry, you take it one thing at a time & you can chip away at it.  More to come later today. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The To Do List

Every family has a to do list before any trip.  Ours however, takes a little more planning.  With that in mind, thought I'd give you a condensed list.  That way future parents in adoption can see what to expect.  Okay, so some of these are just for us. 

1.  Book flights
2.  Find sitter
3.  Shop for gifts
4.  Find more suitcases
5.  Buy more clothes for 3 more kids
6.  Buy shoes for 3 more kids
7.  Find out clothing size for above kids
8.  Find out shoe sizes for above kids
9.  Arrange trip to trash dump while we're gone
10. Clean house
11. Figure out Thanksgiving
12. Figure out the month of November activities for all kids
13.  Reschedule all appointments from when we're gone
14. Make new appointments for new kids (neurology priority)
15. Order meds so kids don't run out while we're gone
16. Get Nik's implant fixed (his spare)
17. Make emergency contact list
18. Go grocery shopping
19. Make arrangements w/ farmer while I'm gone
20. Prepare homeschool curriculum while we're gone
21. Arrange for kids to be gone on youth trip while we're gone
22. Get new tires (only check on here!)
23. Find passports (don't ask)
24. Arrange bedroom for new son (bed currently laying in pieces in the kitchen)
25.  Find another dresser for the girls
26. Make appointment for FAMILY Christmas picture
27. Close pool
28. Figure out dog situation for when we get home
29. Alex is supposed to go away while we're gone
30. Don't panic
31. Tell "littles" parents we'll be gone
32. Write POA's
33. Get orphanage donations organized
34. Umm, forgot about Halloween till just now
35. Warren to take adoption leave
36. Sit down w/ contractors (explaining this one soon!)
37. Write casting director (explaining this one soon too!)
38. Get Irina to DMV
39. Contact Voc. Rehab for Irina regarding job situation
40. Irina applying for jobs (yes, has to be done now)
41. Find out what appointments we had..stupid puppies ate my day runner
42. Finish current fundraisers
43. Find out what funds remaining are due
44. Need to find funds for travel ASAP( more on this later as well)
45. Get kids haircuts before we go
46. Make sure new kids get added to insurance
47. Warren go to the dentist
48. Make permanent seat assignments in van
49. Make assigned seats at dinner table
50. Rig dining room table to seat 12 all at one table versus two. 
51. Prepare kids for new sibs
52. Make links of love
53. Redo chore charts
54. Figure out some kind of food plan for when we get home
55. Try not to lose my mind from this list
56. Assign new sign names for the three new kids
57. Learn survival parenting Bulgarian

Now, this is just a glimpse of what needs to be done to prepare for their arrival in a few short weeks.  It is not easy.  For those who have graciously offered help in the past and we keep saying no, I guarantee if you ask this time, you'll be drafted.  LOL.  There are three children coming home.  No English spoken.  Scared kids, who's life has been turned upside down and inside out.  They are leaving orphanage life behind and beginning with family life.  We have done this time and time again.  However, there are more children this go around.  I am confident though with friends & neighbors' support, we'll be able to make their transition into this family a good one.  My oh my is all I have to say.  More to come.  Taking kids to story time tomorrow.  They have cooking club and science clubs tomorrow evening.  Thursday, early release.  Tomorrow,Yana has her last meet of the season.  Hope it's a great one.  For those I have not responded to yet, I am getting there.  My inbox is really full.  I'm answering one at a time.  Once you get the call, all focus is indeed on that for the first few days.  After that, your head is out of the clouds.  Enjoy your week everyone.  I'm definitely going to enjoy mine.  More tomorrow.  For now, try to get to bed.  Try.  Too much on the mind

Just can not describe it

Do you know how it feels to have such a weight lifted off your shoulders?  To know you are now the parents of three more precious children.  Do you know just how wonderful it feels to have your entire family say the word WOW every few minutes b/c they can not describe it any other way.  We'll be standing around and someone will just pipe up and say WOW, I can't believe it really happened. I just can't believe it mom.  Finally.  They finally get to come home! 

Do you know that feeling?  The only thing that even comes close to describing it is jubilation.  And I know that doesn't even begin to describe the way we feel.  And it's not just one person.  ALL of us have this feeling.  Screams at the table when I told the kids.  Nik running to the calender to see when we were coming home.  The jumping up and down.  Just so much feeling of joy with everything.  Never noticed it before.  Never really thought it's not just Warren & I w/ these feelings during this adoption journey but our entire family feels the ups and downs.  My kids are part of this.  They want to be.  I haven't kept much secret about this process as these are to be (I know, I've said no more before) our last children to come home.  I wanted them to know the steps of what helped to get them home as well.  So in turn, they have felt it.  All of it.  The ups, the downs.  And so today, that awesome sense of relief and happiness we were feeling our kids were feeling as well. 

What an experience for all of us.  I can not put it into words and I realize that.  Sorry, just not so poetic.  Wish I were b/c this would be the perfect poem.  Warren can come up w/ some Dr. Seuss thing I'm sure.   Just had to share some of what we were feeling.  I mean, it's 10:11pm and not a one of us is sleepy or ready for bed.  They have been talking about how they're going to help when the new kids come home.  How they are going to talk to them.  They are talking about what we should do first as a family.  What we should have for Thanksgiving.  The whole 9 yards.  Alex said he can't wait for 'L' to come home & show him some moves.  Remember, 'L' is somewhat of a little soccer star over there.  LOL.  Alex is all about soccer & so is his new brother.  Did not know that until we visited him the first trip.  Alex & him I feel are going to be just as close as Bojan & Max.  I just see the future and LOVE it!  I love everything about it.  Our journey is finally coming to an end.  A very happy ending to a very tumultuous journey.  I can not say enough about how we feel tonight.  Excitement is in the air.  It is enough excitement to match that of Christmas Morning.  Seriously.  That's what it reminds me of in here.  Every other sentence is about the new sibs.  Going through pictures, figuring out sign names, etc.  Much to do but honestly, we are relaxed about it this point.  I'm sure that will change.  Hope you don't mind me sharing as best I could our jubilation in this glorious celebration. 

We are now the proud parents of 10!!!

We received word today that we passed court on the 14th of October.  Excited does not even begin to describe it.  A 4yo little girl, 9yo girl, and an 11yo boy will be joining the Boyd Bunch soon.  For those keeping track, we now have a 4, 9, 9, 11, 11, 12, 12, 16, 16, & 18yo.  Couldn't have planned that if we tried.  LOL.  4 sets of virtual twins.  In addition, 5 girls and 5 boys.  Crazy, huh?  We also received tentative travel dates today.  Don't want to give those out till we know for certain when we are traveling.  We will know for sure on Monday.  It is for the beginning of November sometime.  We'll have to be there ten days just given the logistics of what two different regions the children are located in.  We'll be over there for 10 days.  My kids here screamed when I told them we have travel dates.  Jumping up and down and Nik went straight to the calender to count them out  We will all be home together for Thanksgiving which I think is just wonderful.  I have so much to say.  I won't be able to say a whole lot until after the children are home.  Trust me, I'll be too busy anyhow getting ready.  Though I do think it's important for PAP's to know how our process went and what obstacles we may have run into and how we over came them.  I do believe that helps others in the process of an adoption.  Pictures will have to wait too.  For those who left comments on an earlier post, thank you so much.  Our biggest issues right now are booking flights (can't until Monday but already called agent) and finding a sitter.  There are a few that have already volunteered so that is fantastic.  We are not prepared at all and I'll have a separate post on that.  For now, have to get ready for the FAS support group meeting this evening.  That and now clean up a science experiment that sounded like it just got knocked over downstairs.  Blue food coloring is involved w/ a huge vase full of water.  And, must walk the pooches before we go.  I just had to share this awesome news.  I want to shout it from the rooftops!  The blog post will have to do.  Much more to come the next few posts but limited as to what we can share.  Trust me, there will be entire write up on how great these kids are when we get home.  For now, it is more about the process and steps involved.  There are many steps after court and many things to do once we go to Bulgaria.  Embassy appointments and medical appointments.   Certain processes you must do for every country.  Can not wait.  Our journey is coming to an end soon and we are very happy to be reuniting our family very shortly.  Pray for a smooth process the rest of the way. 

Let me proudly introduce to you.....

 This was post was done a few weeks ago.  I waited to post till we left just to be sure it was okay.  Was given the go ahead so am able to share.  Read & look on!
the three newest members of the Boyd Bunch!  Yes, you heard it correctly, we passed court this past Friday, October 14th.  The children are now considered legal members of our family (from my understanding).  The court decree will be issued this coming Monday.  I am still shell shocked. I really am.  Happy, without a doubt.  I have way too much to do right now.  So, can't chat long on here.  Will write more later this evening.  Just had to share the great news w/ everyone who has supported us along this journey.  We are traveling WAY SOONER than I ever imagined.  Beyond thrilled about that.  More on all that later tonight.  For now, I do believe there are 3 wonderful children you should meet that I am proud & delighted to call my children.

On the left is Logan  and on the right is his bio sister Reni.  Logan is 11yo.  and Reni is 9yo.  

Tell me that Logan does not belong here??  He is just so dog gone handsome.  I think I'm in trouble when the teen years hit.  LOL.  This was taken at an outdoor cafe we went to.

 This is our Summer Grace.  She is 4yo and just a doll.  Little shy but I think coming here that will soon be a thing of the past.  She is holding a photo album we brought her. 

I know you can't tell here but she has the most beautiful hair.  She's wearing a dress we brought her to gauge the sizes.  She's in a 2T w/ that dress.  

I will have much, much more this evening.  Right now, need to do many things.  In addition, Warren needs the computer to do work on.  SO MUCH more to say.  Just had to introduce you to these three beautiful children who are now officially part of the Boyd Bunch. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tolerant dogs

When our household decides to have dogs, it is for many reasons. One, our dogs act as therapy to some of our children that have had a traumatic past.  It does help.  Another reason is we have always had dogs and love the companionship.  Now, getting a dog is a huge responsibility.  We have to have many things go into our decision just by the sheer number of FASD kids here and also tots that come over to our home.  Dogs can not be vicious but can be protective.  They must be cuddly.  Our dogs put up with many, many things throughout a day. 

'King Kota' is very protective of "his" people.  Yet, a toddler can come over such as this 3yo little and lay all over Kota.  Kota does nothing to this kiddo.  In fact, Kota puts up with way more than I ever would from all the kids here. LOL  Kota is a very tolerant dog to the little ones in this home & those that visit.  However, if he does not know you & you walk in this home, you better watch out.  Kota is without a doubt our watch dog.  It has been proven often he will not let anyone in this home that he does not know.  Yet, the kids' friends can walk in and out of here w/out so much as a bark.  It's great.  

Another example of a tolerant dog.  Alaska, allowing Warren to rest his foot on her.  The shoe next to her was one she was chewing on earlier.  Yes, still working on breaking that stupid habit of hers.  

All of our dogs are fantastic with kids.  There was a time I was worried about Kota but it has since passed.  He has learned where he belongs and that if mom & dad say it's okay, then that person is okay.  I'm just really thankful we found such tolerant dogs that put up w/ a lot of what goes on here w/ the kids and their friends.  They love to play tug of war w/ the dogs, ball, and general stuff.  Kids and I walk the dogs every single day.  Even the "littles" walk.  They are allowed to walk Digby.  Kota and Alaska still have a ways to go on the leash.  Just glad we decided last year that we would add 3 dogs to the mix.  Many thought we were crazy at the time but somehow, crazy works for us.  Now that the puppies are older and found their ways, we have a fantastic relationship w/ the dogs.  We love them to pieces and love just how awesome they are with the children here.  Also, we realize now timing was perfect last year.  For had we waited, it would have been difficult to have 3 new kids AND 3 new dogs.  See, sometimes you just have to do crazy.

Something I always wanted

Okay, I'm going to show you something I've always wanted.  Yes, it is silly when you think about it.  Not even sure why in the world I always wanted one but this year was the year I would get one.  Honestly, not sure why I never did before.  Not like they're that expensive.   What silly thing have I wanted: 

A white pumpkin.  Yes, a white pumpkin.  I really have no idea why.  Maybe it was because I thought it could make my home look slightly more 'Martha Stewartish' and a little less Red Sanfordish.  Not sure.  I'm going to write boo or trick or treat on this one w/ black marker.  I've seen people do all kinds of things w/ these pumpkins.  I however, am not creative enough.  Never have been, never will be.  We still have 5 orange pumpkins leftover from the pumpkin patch that we have yet to carve.  Going to do that this week at some point.  If you carve them too soon, they rot.  We've really been slack on all our Halloween decorations this year.  So much has been happening that we just didn't get it all out to be quite honest.  And that's okay.  November is our catch up month anyhow.  Though, I'm personally hoping I'll be able to say I'm traveling that month.  Time will tell.  Also, you really don't have to decorate much for Thanksgiving.  No grass or yard work.  No more sports.  Kind of a nice break.  Plans are to go camping one weekend in November.  I'd also like to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial but we'll have to wait and see on that one.  Need to price it first.  Have a great week and I'll keep you posted as soon as I hear the news.  Praying for good news.  

Manic Monday

Boy, did this weekend fly by.  Still it's Monday already.  No, we haven't heard anything yet though still hopeful for today.  This past weekend was busy but a good busy. I do believe next weekend we need a break from something.  All the kids are asking for a break.   Even though it is them that we are having to do all this stuff & going every which way.  Frankly, I'll be honest.  I"m glad October will be over b/c November cross country and soccer both end.  That gives us a good chunk of our days back.  Not that we haven't enjoyed them doing these sports but having a break is also desired.

We will be taking a break from all activities for Nov., Dec. , & January.  Though, those months are filled w/ activities anyhow.  This allows as time to adjust as a new family and siblings.  I'm really looking forward to this time together.  Warren gets four weeks adoption leave I believe.  This helps immensely as it allows us to get all initial medical appointments out of the way.  It also allows for bonding time.  Not to mention, it allows us to deal w/ the chaos that is surely to come with three new additions.  This is true of any new family forming.  There are many adjustments to make.  All par for the course.  And, since we have done this a few times before, we have learned what works and what does not. Ready to get started.

Still hoping to get word today on how court went.  Would be awesome to hear something.  I spent the weekend doing some blog posts as you saw.  I think that was to get my mind off court and the weeks to follow.  There will be an immense amount to do.  We are entering a holiday season.  I'm still not sure I'm going to host a mystery dinner for the teens like I said I might do.  We might do just a teen dinner night and then a scary movie for them.  Keep it simple.  We need to do KISS at this point w/ everything.  All of you know what KISS stands for right?  "keep it simple stupid."  We'll be kissing everything this month to be sure.  LOL. 

Last week we had dental appointments for Alyona and Yana.  Yana was fitted for a spacer as her other teeth were starting to shift.  This week we do not have any appointments scheduled.  Just the usual speech therapy 3X a week.  In addition, we have an FAS support group meeting. We also have soccer and cross country.  And of course the science & cooking clubs on Wednesday.  The biggie though is we can not really do any of this stuff until we get tires for our van.  The metal is now showing through.  Can't hold out any longer.  Those w/ 15 passenger vans know exactly the holding out part. Around $600 we are guessing (based on last time) to fix it.  OUCH!  Not the best timing to say the least.  So, I'm staying put till we can get the tires for it. 

We just got back from taking the dogs for a walk.  I have one "little" with me today and that is the one who thinks the middle of the road is a magnet.  We live in quiet neighborhood and they all look out for kids coming down hills & bikes & things.  That helps for sure.  Still though, I try to teach them all to stay on the side on the grass.  Her and Nik just wanted to stay in the middle of the road.  URGHH!!!  Maybe tomorrow they'll get it.  I let them take turns walking Digby.  Really w/ him it is just holding the leash.  Awesome dog to walk.  He can be walked w/ out a leash as well.  he'll stay by your side.  In the mean time, I'm fighting w/ Alaska on a leash.  I swear she'd make an awesome sled dog.  If we ever get the extra cash, this dog is going to obedience school first and foremost.  Don't know why we can't get her trained.  Never ever had this problem before.  Shoot, even Kota is coming along.  Alaska..nope.  Put it this way, the dog is very fortunate she's cute & cuddly as can be. 

Not much going on this week but in the same token, tons going on as we hope to hear about court & a travel date.  Then, the real work begins.  Keep you all posted on things.  Also, the post before this about Alyona I really am asking for ideas to help her.  So please read and see if you have suggestions.  I really want to see how far she can go w/out frustrating her more.  Hope that made sense.  More to come today.  For now, got to go help Alex make the jello & get Alyona and Nik back to their workbooks.  They seem to have strayed since I came up here.  Normal.  Workbooks they do on their own & then I check on their work and we correct together if need be.  Social studies and science I teach to them as a group.  And, some work I do individually.  All depends on what it is.  Got to go.  Enjoy your week everyone and more to come on here.  Kind of a boring Monday post. 

How far will she go

This is a hard post to write.  It is about Alyona.  Alyona is mentally challenged.  Funny thing is, I never have really thought of her that way until recently.  It just didn't occur to me.  To me, she was just Alyona.  Just needed time to catch up.  She could do it.  Alyona came to us at 7 years old.  She weighed a little over 20 lbs.  Wore size 3T's I believe.  Shoot, took us forever to get out of the toddler size.  Alyona is from Russia.  She has FAS(fetal alcohol syndrome).  I knew this going into the adoption.  It was not a surprise nor were the list of other dx's.  Yet, I saw that she had a mind and she could grow.  Well, maybe not so much physically.  LOL.  She'll always be little.  We started her in kindergarten when she came home despite her age.  Knew that was the right placement.

Alyona is now in 5th grade. We pulled her from school this year to homeschool her.  We could see the frustration in her clearly last year.  In addition, she was not learning.  I do NOT blame the teacher.  She had an excellent teacher.  I liked her a lot.  However, her hands are tied by laws that make no sense to me any more.  Under the law, even in special ed, they must teach on grade level.  Just modify the curriculum.  Yeh, that's not going to work.  You can't teach a kid division and multiplication if they can't add single digits w/out making a mistake.  In school, everything is modified for Alyona.  There is no way for her to learn that way.  None.  That is why we pulled her from school.  Yes, she was making A's but on what?

I have Alyona now working out of kindergarten books and she is struggling greatly.  I mean really struggling.  I've even moved her back to preschool stuff for some of it.  Adding single digits is still a struggle for her.  She has trouble retaining anything.  Which is part of processing issues w/ FAS.  That I know.  However, it is hard to watch day after day.  She is 12 years old now and desires to read so badly.  She picks up books and pretends to read.  Gets mad if I work with her.  We are thinking of going back to phonics and teaching her and Nik on the same level at this point.  Not sure.  Need input from others.  If you've been down this road, please share some advice that may help her.

It is so hard to know your child may never be able to learn more than she already has.  She may never be able to read.  She can read simple sentences such as The cat is blue.  But other than that, nothing.  I want her to learn.  I think it is important for growth.  She's due to have her eyes checked again.  That is a huge problem for her.  They used large print at school but then ophthalmologist changed her script & that helped.  He said she doesn't need large script now.  With her disorder, optic nerve hypoplasia, it is not supposed to change much.  Hers changed a lot last year.  Yet, she never told us she was having trouble seeing.  Even after asking her.  We go to her eye doc like clock work every year.  So, we weren't concerned.  Even though fixing her glasses did not fix her academic problem.  You see her working and trying so hard.

She is concentrating so hard here to try to get the glue on the acorn tops.  We show her everything first.  You explain something, she will not understand it.  Ignore the pj's.  Sometimes we just start on homeschool right away & forget we are not dressed yet.  Oh well.  I gave them popcorn containers to go collect acorns in the yard.  They are decorating frames to put their pumpkin patch pics in.  But this picture above shows just how much Alyona has to concentrate to get things just right.  

I know you can't tell from the picture but Alyona is not nearly half way done and she had been working on it way longer than Nik.  Even the little tasks are hard for her.  Part of that though was due to her radial articulation & botched surgery job a few years ago.  Her arm hasn't worked the same since.  Part of it though is just how her brain learns.

This is Alex's finished frame.  He cheated & spaced them out so he wouldn't have to do it as long.  Actually, quite clever when you think about it. 

I guess the point of this whole post is to show you that she has to struggle so, so much harder than everyone else.  Over the years, it has not gotten easier for her but much more difficult.  As a parent, this is hard to watch your child struggle and know deep down no matter how much you tell them to try, you know in your heart they will never understand  what they are trying to learn.  It rips my heart out to watch.  I do know she's better here than in school.  But I also know she will never ever catch up.  I was hoping maybe she could at least make it to a 4th grade level in life.  The professional word is if you can make it to a 4th grade reading level, you can live on your own.  At this point, she is on basically a kindergarten level/ beginning 1st grade level.  We know for a fact, she will never live on her own.  Simple tasks are difficult for her.  I guess some times it is hard for me to admit or consider her as having a disability.  I've always just seen her as my little girl.  Alyona.  She desires to be like other kids.  She has not realized yet just how different she is.  That will hit her a few years out.  It hit Irina last year at age 17.  I don't know how old Alyona will be.  Alyona is quite further behind than Irina.  Now, I don't want you all to think Alyona can't do anything.  That is far from true.  

Alyona has learned to do a lot recently that she is proud of.  Very proud of.  She can make her own oatmeal and toast.  She can make tea for the whole family!  She even noticed when the tea was way too sweet, that Yana was using a whole cup instead of two-thirds.  She said to me that is way too much, that is wrong.  Amazing for her to be able to recognize that.  Those are the times I see those glimmer of hopes.  She loves to help clean up.  She is learning how to cook with me.  Laundry is hard b/c she can't reach all the controls.  She's getting there though for sure.  So, Alyona is indeed learning.  At her own pace.  I don't plan on rushing her & can only push so far.  I'm not sure how much more new info Alyona will be capable of retaining.  All I know, is I will continue to teach her to the best of her abilities.  I just need tips on things that may be able to help her.  With so many challenges, I want her to be able to reach her fullest potential. As a parent of children with disabilities, I never focus on the disability itself, but rather the child.  I've done this w/ all my kids thus far.  But, there reaches a point when you realized you've probably maximized that potential for learning.  When you reach this point, you then have to realize where are they headed in life & what can I do to best prepare them for that.  For Alyona, we may have to go more into life skills versus more into academics.  I don't know yet.  I just know I don't feel like giving up.  For Irina, I had the head of special ed tell me she'd never pass a second grade level before she even entered school to learn!  She has well surpassed that dire prediction.  For Alyona, it is the same type of thing.  I want her to go as far as she can go.  Right now though, I'm feeling we won't get much further than we are now & I guess that may be scaring me to a point.  If anyone has any ideas, please do share.  We love Alyona immensely.  We know she is different.  And that is perfectly fine with us.  We just want to do what is in her best interest as far as learning goes.  Do I even bother w/ the academics I know full well she will never be able to grasp?  Do I try it?  Will it frustrate her even further?  More unknowns.  For now, we are continuing to go the direction we were originally headed with her...academically.  I may switch that to more life skills soon, but not quite ready to do so.  How do you know?  Please share some of your secrets that have helped you to make that decision in regards to academics.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Explorers to be

The homeschoolers and I are learning about New World explorers.  Now, as you are aware by now, my children are very visual learners.   Though I do read to them the short chapters we cover, you have to show them what you are talking about or they will not retain it.  So, the other day we were talking about what life must have been like on the boats back then and what you needed to know how to do. 

We decided to learn to make knots. Just like explorers would have done.  Nik was reading (well, looking) at the instructions and following them. 

Umm, yeh.  Alex does not seem to be putting much effort into this, does he?  They learned how to make a basic 8 knot and square knot.  They thought it was cool when the "little's" dad came to pick her up.  He showed them a whole bunch of knots.  He used to be in the coast guard.  So that was pretty cool to see.  No, we did not attempt those.  

All in all though, they're learning the basics and that's what I want them to learn.  They are learning the oceans and where we are in the world.  Geography fascinates Nik along w/ weather.  We're not doing a weather chapter until the spring though so he'll have to wait a bit longer.  I'll have an update and most likely ask for suggestions w/ Alyona and Nik.  Separate post though as I need to explain.  Just showing you a bit of what they're doing here and there.