Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas to Remember

Last Christmas, we were longing for our children to be home.  To be one family.  To be complete.(at least we hope so this time!  LOL)  It's always very difficult knowing you have children waiting for you across the ocean and they are not with you during such a special time.  I remember feeling the same when we were going through Yana and Alex's adoption.  It's hard.  Very, very hard.  Yet, what keeps you going is envisioning them here the following year.  Celebrating everything you do and making it special for them.  I did not know if my children would even be ready to go out in public for this Christmas season.  They were plenty ready.  They have been shopping with us a little, enjoyed Meadow Lights with everyone, went out to eat, went to a Christmas parade, and tonight, went to Christmas Eve service at church.  Last year with that longing in my heart seems so far away now.  They are here.  They are real and they are our Christmas Miracles this year for sure.  Trust me, if you knew half of what went on during our lengthy adoption process, you'd say the same thing.  I still have yet to write about it all.  In time.  For now, enjoying the little things.  Right now, all are downstairs, drinking hot cocoa and watching the Polar Express.  Warren is making his homemade marinara sauce for spaghetti tonight.  Just seems like a very normal Christmas Eve, yet we've only been home a few weeks and have ten kids now.  Amazing.  Just simply amazing.  It means we've all meshed as family.  I took some pictures today of the kids at church.  Well, outside of church. I did not take them in the church though I should have.  Max and Bojan got to be ushers today and I think that made their day.  Though Logan was upset at first b/c he thought they got to keep the money.  LOL.  Yeh, he's still learning.  Got to remember, none have been to church before.  At least that's what they've told us.  So, more new experiences for them.  Just wanted to share a few photos b/c I thought they looked wonderful tonight.

 The three younger girls messing around. 

 The 5 boys with Dad.  Okay, so the sneakers were a huge compromise.  We're working on things with them.  None enjoy dress shoes.  Plus, at the moment, I only believe one had dress shoes.  Now that puppies are out of that chewing stage, hope to pick some up soon.  Meantime, sneakers it is.

Just the boys, take one.  No good.  Max's mouth is open.  And Bojan has a weird look.  

Take two.  I'll take it!  They're actually smiling!  And, no one is hitting anyone.  See, it is a Christmas Miracle.  

 Oh my goodness, I think they may actually all be smiling.  Okay, so close enough.  And Summer is not even looking forward but for the most part, not bad.

Take two...a little better.  

Some beautiful girls I do believe.  Sisters united...finally.  

Summer, with her sparkling shoes.  And new coat to boot from Nana.  

 Alyona, watching Polar Express.  I think she's in a trance. 

Yana and Kota.  Bojan, trying to say he's not drinking in the living room...technically.  He had hot cocoa.  

All the kids are waiting for spaghetti.  All are about as excited as they can be about tomorrow.  Reni and Logan have an idea but in the same token, they don't.  Last year, in their orphanage, they got pieces of chocolate under their pillows.  I think they will loose their minds tomorrow.  I actually think the teens may loose their minds if they find out what they got.  There were awesome cyber deals I found.  Our budget was really super tight but I think all will be very happy.  Okay, so Nik is not getting his zip line, unicycle, giant parachute wheel or guinea pigs he asked for.  Santa went the safer route this year.  I do believe, it will be a Christmas to remember for all.  And I am not just talking about having gifts to open.  I am talking about simply being together as one family.  Today, Max was helping Logan put his suit on despite Logan driving Max nuts earlier.  Why?  Because that is what brothers do.  With all that we have been through this past year, with all that came our way, with adoptions that were hanging in the balance, it is with great pleasure I can say we will have our first Christmas morning together tomorrow.  As a family.  We are settled.  We are happy.  We are family.  Plain and simple.  Merry Christmas to all!

Summer's birthday cake

I forgot about these pictures.  After Daddy brought home balloons, we had her birthday cake. 

Summer and Max.  Of course.  She was just so excited about her balloons.

 Getting ready to have some birthday cake. 

I think she's excited.  Love that face.  

Everyone was singing to her.  I wanted Max to catch her blowing out the candles. He didn't.  Why I give my kids the camera at memorable moments, I'll never know.  

 I think she's a bit happy, don't you?  She turned 5 years old.  Amazing. 

Reni with a slice of cake.  

Close up shot of the  birthday girl.

Ahh, the sweet taste of chocolate.  

It was just us for her birthday cake celebration.  And she couldn't have been happier.  I think her face says it all.  Thanks for all the birthday wishes for our baby girl.  Can't wait to watch her learn and grow from year to year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

5 weeks home!

Can you believe the new kids have been home 5 weeks now?!  I can't.  It feels as though they've been here forever.  Really does.  How are they doing?  I think fantastic.  I truly thought it would be at least 6 to 8 months before things could be normal here.  Nope, was I ever wrong.  And glad about that too.  See, in Bulgaria, they were a handful.  Okay, so that is a drastic understatement.  Go back to November posts to get filled in if you don't believe me.  It was insanity at best.  Horrible, horrible. Came home and they just really fit right into the family.  They play like sibs who've known each other forever, they fight like sibs who've known each other for awhile.  It's not all cakes and roses.  Don't get me wrong.  But for the most part, it's really good.

Today, Logan proved he has much to learn.  He spray painted our reindeer outside.  I'll translate later.  If it's something bad, he'll be punished further.  For now, his punishment is going to be to scrub the front porch off (very small front porch) and then paint it since he wants to paint so badly.  We don't put up w/ that kind of garbage around here.  Funny who ratted him out.  Any guesses?  His sister!  Reni.  Yep.  I knew it had to be either him or Nik.  Neither can spell.  Limits our choices.  But, being that the can had been there the whole time before Logan came home, it was obvious who did it.  However, Reni pulled me aside.  I give all my kids a chance to fess up.  With FASers, there tends to be lots & lots of lying.  Something I HATE and disdain w/ all my being.  Logan is not FASD.  however, he is an older child from an orphanage.  A boy at that.  And, their habits in the orphanage when they reach that age are strictly survival in nature.  If it means you need to lie to protect yourself, they do.  Has to be unlearned first.  Another hurdle yes, but we'll get there.  Hey, if we can get RADishes not to steal, we can teach an older PI child not to lie.  Takes patience, determination, and consistency.  Did I say patience already?  LOL.

Back to how they're doing.  Pretty dog gone good for 5 weeks home.  Really am pleased with it all.  Logan is not a bully any more.  He's still working on the melodrama of crying when he gets hurt.  That took my other kids a few weeks to learn so still early.  Eats fine.  Sleeps fine. Plays with his siblings fine.  Fights with his siblings fine too.  Gives us hugs.  Politely introduces himself to people and shakes their hand.  Does not laugh and make obnoxious comments about people w/ disabilities any more.  Curious about them yes but not mean.  Not scared of dogs.  Walks the dogs like he's in charge of them.  Walks down the street by himself and back.

Reni.  She can finally see!  Her eyes are straightening out for sure.  She is a tattle tale.  Working on that one.  It really is a Cindy Brady type thing.  Maybe I should add that to my annoying list.  Anyhow, she's come a long way too.  Not afraid of the dogs any more.  Loves her sisters dearly.  Very independent.  Gives us hugs and kisses.  Talks to Dad on the phone.  Changes Summer's diaper.  Gets mad at Alyona.  Plays with her sisters all day.  Loves to do school work and likes someone to read to her.  Goes to bed okay.  Eats okay.  Though, she keeps telling me she's allergic to chocolate and she'll break out.  I keep assuring her that is NOT true.  It's not.  They did this to Irina years ago as well.  Told me she had asthma b/c she was allergic to chocolate. Nope.  And, Reni has indeed had chocolate.  Reni is learning how to cope with her past.  She is learning to conquer fear head on.  Big time.  She still cowers but not nearly as bad when she first came home.  Reni realizes she will NOT get beat here.  Just today, she grabbed a long stick from outside and explained to me how she used to get smacked with the stick.  I asked if she was losho (bad)?  She laughed a bit.  She continue to explain how they let the window drop down & it broke.  That's when she got in big trouble she told me.  I'm sure I will continue to hear more stories.  She remembers the rock incident too. I know once she speaks more English, I will be able to understand her fears more thoroughly. Otherwise though, she is doing very well with everything.  She has no trouble speaking her mind any more.  Reni has learned she does have a voice and it does matter around here.  Can't wait to see where the next few weeks take her. 

Summer.  My oh my what a little spitfire!   This little one has every single person wrapped around her finger.  Max dances with her almost every single night now.  She loves him dearly.  Summer was a child w/ many layers.  They've been peeled away.  She is not scared of us any more.  She is not scared of things around her.  She talks up a storm.  Summer is lively and active.  She does not just sit there.  She has conquered her fear of water.  In fact, she has unfortunately mastered it.  She is my little princess and loves the color pink.  She hates to go to bed.  She is still not potty trained.  She is still clumsy at times when walking.  Has trouble figuring a few things out but is higher functioning in others.  This is a very, very loving little girl.  We can not imagine our lives without her in it.  She lights up a room still when in it.  Her smile makes you just want to squeeze her and not let her go.  Still can't believe she's here at times.  

All kids have learned to go out in public.  They don't touch everything in site.  They don't whine.  They don't run away.  It's pleasant.  It's okay to go out to restaurants and have manners.  They've gone to church.  It's normal.  Now, mind you, I didn't say quiet.  But, it feels like a real family that has been together for quite some time.  We are home.  All of us.  Safe and sound.  Warm and ready for Christmas.  I have heard stories of how they celebrated Christmas in Bulgaria.  Santa did come.  They got some chocolate.  I think this year they'll be absolutely stunned I do believe.  Just wanted folks to know how they are doing 5 weeks home today.  We really can't imagine them not being here.  yes, there are days where they drive us nuts.  But, that is any one of them (including the other 7!).  All have fit right into this family w/ not too many bumps.   Hope the road keeps staying smooth for the most part.  I have no rages to contend with, no screaming, no punching the walls, etc.  No signs of RAD and that's a huge relief.  When Yana and Alex came home we dealt with these things for years.  We were prepared to do the same.  Thinking we'd have to focus all our time on the 3 new kids, especially the older two & adjust them.  We prepared our other kids for that.  Now, not doing that.  Instead older teens were helping me wrap presents and make cookies.  We're all talking about how the spring will be and what activities we'll do as a family.  I have time to spend reading to Summer, Reni, and Nik.  I have time still to do Nik's phonics.  Have time to kick the ball around w/ Alex from time to time.  Not too often though b/c he knows I'm not good.  Told Irina I could take her any time to re do the driving test.  So, there is time for everyone despite us only being home 5 weeks.  In the past, we've had to focus all energy on new arrivals.  This time, I actually think it helps to have the older ones home and helping along as well.  Process has been okay.  Now that I said all this, watch something come to a head tomorrow.  LOL.  I'll have more posts this weekend on adjustment and things for sure.  Got to go.  Not all roses.  Too much stupid candy & cookies today.  NONE are going to sleep.

'dem bones & a tree

Okay, so a little while ago we were studying bones and the human body.  I thought I'd pull out the Halloween crafts and let them make a skeleton and identify the bones as they put it together.  So, they got to work.

The homeschoolers and one little working on skeletons.  This kit was a magic school bus kit.  LOVE these things.  

Nik proud of how his skeleton is coming along.

Reni, showing off her skills.  As someone mentioned earlier, he eyes don't cross much any more.  Amazing what a pair of good glasses can do for a kid.

Nik, comparing his skeleton to the one on the wall.  Well, human body on the wall.  They put various organs and bones on it.  Great kit.

 Can you tell Nik had fun doing this?

Alyona had no problem teaching her baby doll about bones.  Hey, at home school, dolls can participate too.

Logan decided to give his bones some 'style' w/ glitter glue.  Made hair and I think a bow tie.

A partially decorated tree.

Look closer.  Yes, they did.  they put their skeletons on the tree.  They thought it would be so cool.  I let them.  Yes, they're still on there...unfortunately.  Hey, can't stomp out creativity.  

More posts to come.  We are hanging around the house today.  Kids have their friends over.  Made more cookies and still have more to make.  After that, we are making dog treats.  Yes, making our own dog treats and raw hides.  If they turn out, I'll share the site and such.  Hey, maybe they'll be better than the gingerbread houses.  Who knows.  We're going to attempt to make our own dog treats, raw hides, and our own bread this weekend.  If we can even do just those things, it will save us immensely on costs.  We'll move onto our own soap and laundry detergent later.  One at a time.  I used to make my own soap so at least I know how.  LOL.  Looking for ways to cut costs here and there as in Jan. insurance costs are going up.  Trying to make of the difference.  Any suggestions, let me know.  More to come.  Right now, potty training gone wrong.  Got to go.

Annoying things PI kids do

Okay, so that may sound like a heartless, horrible title.  I told you I'd be honest.  After 10 adoptions, I think others have the right to let people know what so many keep quiet about.  Now, things that I say don't apply to ALL kids.  I know that.  But, most my kids have done the things I'm about to list.  We've been home a little over a month now & there are things that these kids do that are just annoying.  They can't help it.  We all know that.  And years later, you can and will laugh about it.  But while it's happening, it drives you absolutely bonkers.  PI btw stands for post institutionalized.  So, my list.  Yours may vary depending upon  your kiddo.  Here's some things we noticed not just this go around but others as well.

1.  Every single thing is new and must be touched.

2.  Ice will go in everything once it is discovered. 

3.  Toilet paper is always thrown in the trash can versus the toilet.

4.  None know the meaning of conserve.

5.  It takes an entire roll of toilet paper to wipe.

6.  They repeat more than a parrot would.

7.  Melodramatic to a tee.  Especially, when hurt.  

8.  Fashion police would arrest them the first month home.  (right now, cleats are in at our house)

9.  Getting through the terror of the dogs.  (9 out of 10 of our kids were petrified)

10. They talk loud enough to wake the dead.

11. If it's on the ground, consider it edible.  Even gum in the middle of an airport.

12. They smell everything as if you're going to poison them w/ your food.

13. Gum will never leave the mouth.

14.  Seat belts are a challenge at first.

I'm sure there are plenty that I left off.  Now, these are not meant to be mean.  Trust me, my older kids and I have laughed at the things they've done over the years.  Now, they are annoyed by some of these SAME habits their new sibs are doing.  It takes a few months to get into routine and adjust to a new life for sure.  These will all pass.  Though, the toilet paper issue is still a problem in this home years later.  Eventually though, kids learn they will get fed.  They don't have to eat off the ground.  They don't have to get things out of the garbage.  we're not making them eat anything weird & they'll stop smelling it while I'm cooking.  The voice will eventually go down.  Reni is the worst one of the new 3 that do this.  Irina used to be the worse out of all of them when home.  They eventually love the dogs.  We're there now w/ that.  Once the English is established, the parroting goes down.  Once they feel more secure and loved, the melodrama will disappear.  See, in the orphanage, the louder you cry, the more attention you would get b/c they actually think something is wrong.  Currently, I look at Logan and say, you're fine.  Go play.  Did it today when he was playing soccer & Nik kicked the ball at his leg.  You would have thought he broke it.  I said no one run to him.  I did NOT go over to him.  That makes it worse b/c they'll play on that.  I said from a distance, Logan, you're fine.  You can play soccer or go in the house.  I turned back around.  He opted to keep playing soccer, kicking the ball just fine.  We do not run to them when they cry the first few months b/c we KNOW it is just the drama.  They need to learn they're fine and attention will come in other ways.  Not only when they're hurt.  Hope that made sense.

Hey, I know not all things are annoying when the kids come home.   But this is like a list when people first have a baby.  They hate it when they cry all night, etc.  Same concept.  Kids are new coming home, totally new life, they will react the best they know how.  Some of the habits though just get to you.  Years though, we'll be laughing like we always have.  Right now I hear "mom, I NEVER did that.  It's SO annoying!"  Umm, yes  you did.  You just blocked it out.  LOL.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Going through old drafts

I will be going through old drafts I've had in the box over the next few days.  The last one was written for Summer's Gotcha Day.  Reading it, I see just how far she has come.  Oh my!  Just a different kid.  So, the next few days may be posts from way back when.  Who knows.  LOL.  Just cleaning files everywhere.  My clutter spaces at home are being reduced at a great rate.  It's wonderful.  Very freeing for sure.  We have enough paperwork on our kids to weigh as much as our kids.  Right now, finding more ways to organize.  That includes answering emails and such.  I can't tell you how many thank you's I owe people.  I'll get one started and be interrupted.  Happens often in this house.  So, if I haven't answered you back, I promise I'm getting there.  But, our kids come first.  And now, Alyona is sick.  Check her in the morning.  If not better by then, she needs to go in.  Alyona is one of ours that will go downhill very quickly and better to be proactive w/ her for sure.  Stay tuned the next few days for out of order posts possibly.  And some upfront honesty. 

Day 3-- it's hard to say goodbye

We woke up and left for Summer's orphanage.  It's a 4 hour drive but we made it in 3 hours.  130 to 140km the whole way.  Nascar should train here.  Got there and went up that long stair way.  Opened the door, they say we're here and I could hear the screams down the hall.  I knew it was her.  She was clinging to a caretaker for dear life.  Now, I'm told they were preparing her all week for us coming.  You must remember, a huge life transition is hard on anyone let alone a little four year old who has no idea what is  about to happen to her.  To say she was nervous would be a terrible understatement.   This was hard to watch.  Hard for me as a mom knowing I could not be allowed to comfort my own daughter as of yet or it would just scare her more.  For those new to adoption, this can happen.  They informed us she wears diapers at night but b/c of the big transition now, she wears diapers all the time.  Glad I brought the pull-ups. 

She was dressed and knew it was time to go.  They gave her a sedative anti- nausea medicine to help w/ the drive back.  Summer was clearly in distress with all that went on.  Her life would changing forever from that moment forward.  Though it will be great in the long run, she has no idea & is just frightened.  The caretakers were wonderful about it all.  They understood.  As hard as it was for us all, we all knew it was in her best interest to go.  We did not stay long.  We did not even get hardly any pictures as our focus was totally on Summer.  It had to be.  She is one very scared little girl right now and understandably so.  Summer had never been in a car.  They told us that right before we left.  That is why they gave her medicine to help her in the car.  The caretakers gave us a little life book of her.  I love it when they do that!  The kids treasure these when they are older.  The staff at the orphanage is really going to miss her.  You can tell.  I told them I'd send a picture of her smiling.  I will be able to get pictures back to them which is wonderful. 

We made it back here with no issues in the car.  She was fantastic in the car.  Once she knew no one else was around, she also started to cling to me more.  This is normal for a child going through this experience.  We settled in the apartment a bit & then went for a quick stroll to get pizza & salad for dinner.  We've sprayed the kitchen so hopefully we can cook in it again tomorrow.  Summer was just in awe.  Everything is new to her.  That's why we didn't go far & didn't go somewhere crowded.  I wished I'd taken her picture of her drinking sprite.  Priceless.  You could tell it was her first time taking a sip.  She was people watching too.  We had pizza and shopska salad.  Delicious.  We are not sure if she is right or left handed.  And, she needs help w/ learning how to hold a fork.  She drank out of the glass just fine though.  Sweet as sweet can be.  just scared at the moment. 

Came home & decided to give her a bath.  That is also a new concept and will have to wait.  I'm going to see if she'll take one tomorrow w/ her new sister.  Maybe seeing her sister not being afraid of the water will help her.  Keep in mind, some children are terrified of water when they come home from an orphanage.  Alex was the same way.  My kids were petrified of our pool.  Now, I can't get the fish out of the water.  LOL.   I'm sure by next summer, she'll be swimming like the rest of the kids.  Got her dressed for bed.  She hasn't spoken a word yet except for nay when I said Leka Noscht (good night).  Slowly but surely, she's coming around.  Please continue to lift Summer up in prayer.  She has a big transition coming up.

Let's see a parade (part II)

I left off w/ the parade so figured I'd finish it tonight. 

Summer and one of her many 'spoilers.'  

Alyona, enjoying the parade. 

 The group of us for a photo op.  I don't think we did too badly.  Most smiling.  It was a wonderful day for a parade.  Kids enjoyed this day very much.  See, we'd gone to Kanki for our adoption celebration for lunch, went to the parade and then to Shoe Carnival to buy all shoes from their grandparents.  Was just a pleasant day all around.  Added bonus was getting to see my cousin at the parade. 

Summer and Daddy making the long walk back.  This is still her favorite hat.

Bojan and Alyona goofing around.  

Two more of my almost teens.  Still can't believe that one.  

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  With 6 posts done this evening, I think I'm going to work on baking the rest of the cookies.  Yana and Irina went to watch a movie at a friend's house.  Alyona went to bed super early b/c she doesn't feel good.  May have to take her in tomorrow.  We'll see.  Summer went to bed early just b/c all of us had had enough of her.  Let's just say the food groups candy, cookies, cake and chocolate do not mix for her.  Geez.  Live and learn.  Tomorrow we'll be here taking care of some loose ends and cleaning some more.  Church will be Saturday 4pm service and Sunday is of course Christmas.  A day to put batteries in and figure out how everything works.  LOL. 

Let's see a parade (part I)

2 weekends ago we went to a local parade.  Now, some in the past have gone to the parade b/c well, it's just funny at times and we'll leave it at that.  They have stopped the boy scouts from hurling candy to the crowds.  I kid you not when I say people used to go to this parade w/ baseball mitts to catch the candy.  It was hilarious!  And people came for that among other reasons.  Well, they're no longer allowed to throw candy which my kids were pretty bummed about.  They pass out the candy now.  However, it was still a fun day though unseasonably warm.  It was supposed to be much cooler out.  Shouldn't complain, cold weather will be here soon enough.

 Walking to the parade.  With our van, you have to park a ways away.  Not to mention we were late...typical.  Notice Reni and Yana?  I'd say they bonded. 

Okay, the reason this parade has a front loader in it is b/c the Caterpillar plant is located in Clayton.  A big facility.  Lots of new equipment all the time.

 Max and Bojan.  Told you they're two peas in a pod.  They no longer come to see the parade for floats.  They come to check out girls but won't admit it.  LOL.

NC is a farming state of course.  So agriculture is big here.  So are the carts.

My kids love these little cars.  They would be so much fun to drive around.

 We spotted my cousin and they spotted us across the street.

 Okay, this was just funny.  These kids were dressed in prison jumpsuits and handcuffed together.

It was to go w/ the bail bonds truck.  Don't you love the kids in jail?!  LOL.  I'm sure that is at least one parent's Christmas wish come true.

Summer, enjoying her candy cane.

Some of my kids hanging out w/ my cousin Allison.  Yeh, I'd say they're fitting in w/ the family just fine.  

Broke this up into two sections.  got to go put Summer to bed.  She's driving us all crazy this evening for some reason.  Was it the cookies, the cake, the chocolate or the candy?  Hmmm, not sure. 

What do you CRAVE???

Recently, I joined something for $10 a month.  I wanted to try it.  There is no obligation to keep doing it.  So, thought I'd share what I got and how we liked it.

It came in the mail.  It's called Cravebox.  Wrapped very nice and neat.  Makes you wonder what is inside.  

Opened it up and some some things that I knew we'd use!  

Who can't use chocolate??  Hey, it's healthy  w/ almonds and dark chocolate, right?  That counts, I'm sure of it.

Two packs of Bic pens.  Love these!  Work great.  

 Now, it came w/ this lotion that retails for $54.  You know frugal me would never pay $54 for anything but great that I got to try something that expensive. 

OMG!  The girls and I are definitely, definitely buying these from now on!  Made by OPI.  Something called Nic's sticks.  Now, my package came w/ the clear one.  Girls want the colored ones.  Come in different colors.  It is SO easy and I'm all for easy.  So, I tried it.  In the car on the way to church!  Bumps and all.  Yes, that easy.  This was Sunday.  It's Thursday, still shiny and still no chips or signs of wear.  I'm loving it!!

Two more sweet treats.

Two of my girls testing out the Nic's sticks.  Even Alyona can do it w/ her radial articulation and limited use of her arms.  

So, was it worth the $10??  I sure think so.  I'm not canceling it yet, that's for sure.  You can sign up any time.  I didn't have to write about all this but when I find a deal, I like to share about it.  The box was worth well more than the $10 I paid.  Can't wait to see what comes in next month's box.  These are all full sized products.  It was a hit w/ this house.

If you want to sign up, go to their site.  Now we're waiting to see what comes in January.