Friday, November 25, 2011

Last walk around Sofia

Well, we had hoped to go to the zoo before we left but that did not work out.  So, we did a little more of the tourist thing. 

This leads to the underground souvenier mall.  Some pretty neat stuff. Across the street were a group of protesters protesting the drilling for natural gas in NE Bulgaria.  At first though, we didn't know what they were protesting so a little nervous.  Why nervous?  Well, b/c my son decides he should yell something at them.  Fortunately, we were underground when he did this.  

Nope, it didn't have a closing door.  LOL.  These were part of old buildings discovered underground.  Bricks were in amazing condition.  Very interesting all the archeology.  

Love the alligator on top of the van.  Tried to get the kids to see it but they were more interested in the protesters.  

I just thought the color of this building was really neat.  Not sure why.

This was where the changing of the guards took place.

Summer certainly enjoying herself.  Reni and Logan were waiting w/ Warren for the changing of the guards.  They saw it, we missed it.

Sibs weren't quite as enthusiastic about seeing the ruins.  Can you tell?

So many neat little things to see.  More to come.  One last post in Sofia and then we have that trip from he** wonderful trip home.  Stay tuned for more.  Nothing like a kid bolting through the Munich airport.  Going to bed now.  Tomorrow, we're getting our Christmas Tree.  Can't wait.  All ten are excited about Christmas. 

Smiles returning and a walk in the dark

Time to return to recapping our Bulgarian trip in pictures.  So, that's what I'm doing tonight.  As time progressed, Summer started to open up. 

Eyes are starting to sparkle again.    She loves these gloves.  So do the dogs.  They squeak.  I did NOT know that at first when she picked them out from a street vendor.  Oh, w/ 10 kids you'd think I'd test those things first.

Summer, letting everyone get close to her.  Was so nice to see.   A little more each day.  First day, stiff as a board and no one could touch her.  

 Kids enjoy taking pictures of us.  So, every once in awhile we hand them the camera.  You can tell Reni's shots as they are always sideways.  Glasses will help that for sure. 

 Went walking w/ friends at night and found a little playground.  Needed to get some of that pent up apartment energy out.

 Wish this weren't so blurry.  She was so very happy coming down that slide.

All the kids really were having a bunch of fun on here.

Reni, getting ready to come down the slide.  Daddy, helping them all down.

Summer and that hat.  She was so content playing on the playground.

This is where the playground was located.  Wished I could have captured the beauty of it at night.  

More pictures to come.  We always felt safe walking in the streets of Sofia.  Never came across any issues.  They were just starting to put up Christmas lights so I'm sure it's beautiful now. 

Brief medical update on new kids

As you know, we went to the ped the other day.  Logan and Reni's labs came back.  Summer's is still not back.  Good & bad news.  So, Reni does not have a UTI.  This is actually what the doc & I were hoping for.  In other words, there is a more complex urological issue going on that we'll have to address w/ a specialist.  So, I will hunt for one on Monday.  One we went to years ago I didn't like.  We will also find her a plastic surgeon for the rocks that may be stuck in her nose from where one of the orphanage boys beat her in the face.  Otherwise, her lab work checked out okay.  Logan's lab work was all okay as well.  Except they determined he is allergic to the sulfur spectrum antibiotics.  It's now noted on his chart.  Septra and bactrim or something like that. 

Now, the TB testing.  Did not go exactly as planned.  Summer's was completely negative.  Reni and Logan was a positive and measured.  They are consulting doc but most likely from here it will be a chest x-ray.  Hopefully, x-ray will be clear and from my understanding, it would end there.  Keep in mind, they are showing absolutely no signs of anything whatsoever so hoping this is some sort of false positive.  See, all my Russian kiddos test positive due to the BCG vaccine.  But, from my understanding, they don't receive the vaccine in Bulgaria.  Not sure but verifying.  Anyone else who has run into a similar situation, please contact me.  Thanks.  Obviously, doc is not too worried as they told me they'd get back to me on Monday w/ what to do.  Hoping they can do the chest x-ray there and not have to go to Wakemed to get it done.  We'll see.  I have heard of quite a few adoptees testing positive but x-rays are clear.  Most likely, that will also be the case here as well.

Nothing else medically has come back.  We'll do the MRI's next week.  Doctors said they all look really healthy which is wonderful to hear.  Keep you posted as the medical stuff progresses.  Also, anyone local w/ a great pediatric plastic surgeon, let me know.  Due to her background, she will need someone w/ a gentle demeanor as well.  More posts to come.  I guess w/ ten kids there is always something to say. 

Flabulous to fabulous

Okay, been awhile since I did one of these posts.  I wonder why.  Sigh.  Lost a few pounds while in Bulgaria but not much.  Shoot, if I were on the Biggest Loser, I would have been voted off that first week w/ pounds lost.  LOL.  Doesn't mean I'm giving up though.  And, I'm not gaining so there's a plus.  I intend to start getting back into the swing of things now that jet lag is gone.   Warren lost 20 lbs while in Bulgaria.  Lucky guy.  He's working on keeping it off which is great.  So, I will get back to these posts and holding myself accountable.  Guess that turkey didn't help yesterday.  Or was it the slice of apple pie?  Hey, I walked after Thanksgiving, does that count?  Seriously though, going to get back to doing what I loved to do before & that is exercise.  So, try not to laugh at me when you see me outside playing soccer w/ the kids, jumping on the trampoline or walking the dogs.  I may not be graceful at first but I am just as determined about losing weight as I was about this adoption.  Never give up.  Never.  Next week will be whether or not I followed my own exercise plan. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!! (part III)

Last post of the night most likely.  Hey, trying to stick to 4 a night to catch up.  I think I'll finally be able to catch up from my trip this week.  Wahoo. 

Yes, definitely the after turkey nap.  

My girlie girl in her pink pajamas.  She was dancing and singing.  

Irina, Reni, Logan and Alyona were singing to Justin Bieber.  Okay, so Irina was more making fun of it than singing along w/ the younger kids.  LOL.  Logan and Reni recognize some American music.  It's fun listening to all my kids sing.  To a point.  Once it sounds like howling, it has to go.

Sisters through and through.  Amazing that you know just which kids belong in your family.  Haven't been wrong yet.  This is my oldest and my youngest.  

 While we were in Bulgaria, Miss Rebecca and the kids made this turkey for us.  Sign says we are thankful for....

 It has the hand prints of my 7 kids that were home last week.  Need to add Reni, Logan and Summer's prints as well.  On each hand, they wrote what they were thankful for.  Alyona wrote mom, dad & food.  Max wrote his life, family, house, food, etc.  Yana wrote she's thankful for her family and school.  Nik is thankful for mom, dad and corn. 

Bojan is thankful for school and family.  Alex is thankful for his health and mashed potatoes.  Irina is thankful for mom, dad, Reni, Logan and Summer.  Thought this was very sweet of them all.  Will be a keeper for sure.  

All in all, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It was simple.  It was just the 12 of us.  Family through and through.  For those waiting, these are the moments that are worth the wait.   We you no longer stress about paperwork, travel dates, court dates, expenses (okay, so VERY stressed now!), etc.  You only focus on the kids and adjustment for all.  You focus on the good times to come, the good times right in front of your face every single day.  Yes, there is a ton we have to be thankful for in this home.  A bunch.  It was almost surreal sitting at my own table w/ my entire family before me.  It was a dream only it's reality now.  Dreams really do come true. Some just take a little longer to achieve.  Take it from this very thankful home today...Never give up.  Never.  You can't b/c there is just too much of a good thing ahead of you.  No matter what in the world is happening during your adoption process, never, ever give up.  You can't.  The kids are counting on you. We are beyond thankful for all that has happened over this entire adoption journey.  It has grown us in many, many ways.  

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Blessings to all.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! (part II)

Left off w/ Nik helping to "cook."  Opening cans is considered cooking to a 9yo boy you know.  Kids did help though and I appreciated it very much. 

Another group shot of the kids.  Our goal is to be at one table but Warren has to find the time to do it.  Hoping maybe over the weekend.  

Alex's nickname at the dinner table has always been neandrathal.  I think you can guess way.  He loves to eat the legs of any bird.  And, he calls every meat we eat chicken.  Yes, even pork chops are chicken to Alex.  I think he enjoyed this turkey drumstick very much.  

Alyona showing me that she did indeed clean her plate.  

 One of the very hopeful dogs.  Love the wall, huh?  No, Digby did not do that.  The kids did.  URGHH!!!  Another thing to fix.  And, those are bunkbed pieces that we didn't use still standing in our dining room.  Hey, we did laundry so that can count for something, right?

 Some of the kids.  Reni is not up to smiling here for whatever reason.  Maybe it's b/c she was working on her 2nd plate of food and did not want to be disturbed.

There's a sparkle in those eyes of hers.  And little Summer eats everything put in front of her for the most part.  You can't help but to smile too when you see her.  I do believe this one has a very special purpose in this world.  Can't wait to find out what it is exactly.  

Ahh, mommy's little Nik Nak.  Though, not so little any more.  He & Summer are really bonding and very comfortable w/ each other.  He's another camera hog.  

I know it looks like Alaska is licking Yana's mouth but she's really not.  Yana and Alyona goofing off a bit for the camera.  This was after turkey lunch. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thought I'd do a little recap of our day.  It is amazing that we are even able to be sitting at a table together.  Nothing short of a miracle considering all that transpired to get these 3 precious children home.  It was a relaxing day, just as it should be.  Sometimes I think people stress a little too much on this holiday.  We keep everything simple.  We did not have guests this year.  Maybe next year.  The kids slept in...a little.  Just means they weren't up at the crack of dawn.  Warren made omlets for breakfast.  I prepped the turkey, stuffing, etc. 

Summer and Logan vegging out before breakfast.  Yes, that's a cookie for breakfast.  Not sure why she's wearing a mitten on one hand.  Logan still wasn't feeling so hot.  Ran a bit of a fever today but that was due to the 7 shots he'd received yesterday.  Tylenol knocked it right out and he even felt better to go bike riding later.  

 Some of the kids watching the Macy's parade. 

More of them watching Macy's parade.  They watched it for a good long while too.  I know, the living room is trashed.  I didn't care today.  It was to be our relaxing, chill out kind of day.  

Summer with big brother Max.  She loves him and I think the feeling is mutual though a 16yo young man would never admit that he loves his sister.  He takes wonderful care of her.  Max will make such a wonderful father one day.  

And this was even before Logan had any turkey.  

 Reni, cracking a tired smile.  I can not wait till she can finally see again. 

Nik wanted to help.  So, let him open the canned cranberry sauce.  I made homemade cranberry sauce one year only.  Never again.  They like it just as well (okay, they like it better) as the homemade one.  

More to come.

Mastercard commercial (my stab at it)

I added these numbers up as best I could remember these last 12 years.  Let's see how it went:

$1000 worth of change fees for airline tickets (that's on the low side)

$10 worth of Dramamine to go w/ 319 hours of travel

$122,000 worth of adoption expenses

10 kids seated around the dining room table for Thanksgiving:  PRICELESS!!!

We had a quiet Thanksgiving today with just us. A family of 12.  A family united.  A family complete.  Though we never got around to fixing the dining room table, we all managed to be in the same room.  We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, and sparkling grape juice.  Made chocolate chip cookies and apple pie for dessert.  I'd give you some but there's none left.  LOL.  I'm surprised a 20 lb. turkey does not go that far any more.  Turkeys must be exercising & losing weight.  We really enjoyed our meal today. 

Not the best shot but exemplifies the post above.  Nothing fancy this year.  We're all still tired, all still transitioning, all still going to medical appointments, etc.  So, we kept it simple but delicious.  And, most importantly, we were all together for a wonderful meal.  I will have 2 more posts on how our Thanksgiving was w/ lots of pictures of course.  We have so, so much to be thankful for.  So much.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Snow boots & a tutu

The other day, I mentioned baby girl in her tutu and snow boots.  People said they had to see a picture.  Mentioned it on facebook I think.  So, decided to interrupt our recap for a picture of pure innocence.  Took a few pictures.  She loves her boots.  Both these and her white cowboy boots. 

 My friend Rebecca bought this outfit for her awhile back.  For those curious, she's a 3T.  Biggest of all my 4yo that I've brought home. 

Taking a break from all her outdoor activities.  

I know this one is gross but I couldn't help it.  No, my kids are not eating dirt.  They are eating Oreos.  And love them.  Summer's face says it all.  She does this w/ every new taste.  Tonight, it was popcorn.  This picture, it was Oreos.  I wish I could record every single new taste, smell, sight,noise, etc. in time.  It is priceless to watch their expressions when they try something new. 

I know it's blurry but she just looked to dog gone happy not to take a picture.  

So, you have to tell me what you think of my baby girl and her tutu & snow boots.  She loves them both.  She is such a girlie girl and SO into shoes.  She literally screamed when we passed shoe stores in Bulgaria.  At home, she tries on every pair, every day.  Too cute for words.  She's in a size 9 shoe.  Tiny little feet.  To me, she is coming alive in these pictures.  This is just a few days home folks.  We haven't even been home a week yet.  You will see sadness & hopelessness fade before your very eyes.  You will see love conquer all fear, anxiety and sadness.  I can't wait to share it all with you.  This story is just beginning.  Okay, time to make the cookies.  I'm blogging between baking. 

Waterfalls in the kitchen.....

are not a welcome site!  Not in the least.  The other day, the kids told us, well, that toilet hasn't been working right for over a week.  Really?  Really kids?  And you are just now telling us!  Makes no sense to me.  So, this is what results:

You can see the ring around the light fixture up there.  If you look closely, you can see the water just pouring off the fixture at the bottom.  

This is the upstairs bathroom being soaked up w/ old dog towels.  Next, we'll need some new towels.  Sorry, but I don't even wash towels that have been used to clean up overflowing messes.  Yuck.  So, our "good" towels will have to transition to dog towels and need to get some new towels.  I'll wait for a white sale.  Just honest to goodness can't believe the kids waited to tell anyone.  How?

Initial medical updates

Well, I've already said about Reni's eyes in a previous post.  We also went to our regular eye doctor for Logan and Summer.  Logan is, as we suspected, color blind.  No biggie.  Just don't ask him to hand you the red or green decorations this Christmas.  Otherwise, his eyes are great. Summer is a tad farsighted but completely normal for a 4yo he said.  Her eyes are clear and look great.  So, all in all, eye doc is great news. 

Okay, neuro today.  For those who do not know, Logan is dx'd with epilepsy and is on meds for it.  Bulgaria gave me enough to last for a little while here.  Went to our neuro today.  His MRI & EEG video is scheduled for next week.  We will first be determining if he truly has epilepsy.  If he does, we'll continue w/ same meds most likley as he hasn't had a seizure for a long time.  If he doesn't, he will slowly be weaned off the meds.  After this is done, he will go see our regular devel. ped for ADHD.  Umm, w/ 3 other kids w/ it, I can pretty much dx.  In addition, neuro agrees.  Neuro reviewed the brain wave sheets I had from Bulgaria for the last few years.  Glad we're on the same page.  Great guy. 

Next was Summer at the neuro today.  He noticed all her cafe latte birth marks and the big birth mark above her belly.  He also took note of her thick neck.  Now, Summer was born missing her corpus callosum.  This connects the two hemispheres of the brain.  Doc said that when you have this, the defects can run right down the middle of the body, including the thalmus, thyroid, and heart.  So, he said first he wants to determine if this is truly her dx.  She was also dx'd w/ internal hydrocephalus.  That one, not really believing.  But, neuro wants to see what might be up w/ the brain so we are on board.  He knows his stuff.  Once we determine if she is missing her corpus callosum, then we will move forward he said testing to see if there are any other defects associated w/ that.  He said there are a few syndromes out there w/ some of the things she has but first thing is first....determine is she is missing anything or partial.  If not, life is good.  If so, life is still good but we'll just make sure her other systems are a-okay.  Hope that all made sense.  She had quite a bit of scarring on her legs he said.  She's a little puzzle.  But, we'll figure her out soon enough.  Both their MRI stuff is sedated & scheduled.  Let you all know how it goes.

As soon as we were done there(literally), we headed to the peds office next.  I'll cut to the chase.  Logan, pretty good to go.  Did basic labs on him.  He needed 7 shots, 1 TB test, and 3 blood draws.  What a trooper.  Reni, has huge tonsils that for now, we're just keeping an eye on.  She will give us a recommendation to a plastic surgeon for her.  See, at her old orphanage, a boy had beat her in the face (on the nose) w/ a stone.  Looks like she may still have pieces of stone still lodged in there.  Doc is confident we can help her which is great.  She also got same shots and bloodwork as Logan.  Yes, they were short that many shots.  In addition, we did a urinalysis on her.  On the way out, looked like something was up w/ it & doc was culturing it and calling us.  Believe it or not, we are both hoping for an infection as it would mean her issues may not be as serious.  However, if it has been an infection that has been untreated for a very long time, permanent damage may have been done.  Too early to know at the moment.  Waiting on results & course of action from there.  She too will see a devel. ped. that we have.  Reni is a bit challenged but not in the same category as Alyona.  I've looked through some of her old work.  She will go far though, that I have no doubt about whatsoever. 

Finally, Summer.  She too got 6 shots, a TB test, and blood draws.  Poor kid.  We couldnt' get any blood out of the first one.  Doc also did a thyroid b/c of what neuro said so glad about that.  She also commented on her legs as well.  We'll figure it all out piece by piece and go from there. 

Afterwards, I walked them over to Wendy's as I had free Frosty coupons and goodness did they earn it after that.  Warren stayed and got seen.  He has bronchitis.  Not surprised w/ all the travel we've done.  And, tons of running around and no slowing down.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Though, hoping to get some yard work done.  Feels like we've been home forever though I know it's only been a few short days.  Got to go take a break and make apple pie for tomorrow.  Apple pie & chocolate chip cookies will be made for dessert.  I'll get up when I get up and put the turkey in.  No time frame as it is just us.  No stress, no fuss.  Told the kids I don't care if you wear your jammies all day long.  Or sleep in.  Oh, please oh please sleep in.  LOL.  Much more to come.  Got to go make the pie & then intend to do at least 2 more posts.  Trying to do four a day to catch up. 

Walking around Sofia (II)

More walking around Sofia pictures.  We really did do quite a bit of walking.  We had the most beautiful weather to boot.  Love it.

 Just look at the detail in this building.  It's gorgeous and even more so inside.  I believe this is the crypt side of the cathedral. 

Honestly, I can't remember which building this was.  

 This I took a picture of b/c well, frankly I thought it was a bit pathetic.  I mean, if you're going to call something a botanical garden, it might want to have a little more greenery in it.  Or maybe not have so many things dying.

 More of a closer view of the luxurious botanical gardens.  Yes, I'm being sarcastic.  You can picture it gorgeous though. 

Beautiful brick building.  Not sure if a church, cathedral, or what.  They were working on it when we went.  The signs that told what it was was in latin, greek, & something else.  Someone made the comment "looks like Greek tome."  Sure enough, it was.  Amazing how sturdy this buildings are.  Just how long they hold up is incredible to be sure.

Reni, taking a second to pose in front of the camera.  This was after a cracker battle. All were claiming they were hungry.  Hint here, if you're hungry, eat your breakfast kids.  Once again, holding out for pizza.  Just to let you know, here at home they indeed eat breakfast.  LOL.  Wonder what  would happen if I made a breakfast pizza here.

Shot of a local city bus.  

Many more pictures of our trip to come.  So much to say, so much to show you and so much to share.  Bare with me as we are still so very jet lagged.  In addition, Warren has bronchitis.  Max's cold is getting much better.  So, on the mends.  STay tuned for more.  Trying to do 4 posts per night to catch up.