Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pictures from Bulgaria-- (monument)

We went to a monument on top of the city.  Thankfully, we drove there first this go around.  Walked a ways to get there but not a bad walk at all.  This was our last day together.  Bitter sweet when you know it will soon be over.  Just felt like we should have taken them home right then and there.  Oh, how I wish.  I wish the government officials who do adoptions understood how hard it is to wait so, so long between trips.  Older kids have the added burden of wondering if you are indeed coming back.  Trust me, they express it.  Yana expressed it clearly in Russia when we went to get her..."what took you so long!"  Those were her words.  Hard on a parent.  Hard on the kids.  I know paperwork is vital to insure the safety of the kids but boy, a short time between trips would be a welcomed change in all the countries.  But, it is what it is for now. So, we go, knowing we'll soon have to part ways for months more.  For now, enjoyment though with our kids. 

 Did I not tell you clear blue skies?  The weather was simply delightful the entire trip.  Not a drop of rain.  Loved it.  Warren w/ Logan and Reni. 

Mom with Reni and Logan.  The massiveness of the monument was unreal.  

 Reni.  Wonder what she was thinking here. 

Soon, they would be orphans no more.  They were already part of our family in our hearts.  We got to see a wonderful side of our two kids.  

No, they aren't that tall.  We were a step below them.  

This is called more lighting.  LOL.  Warren looks like he's missing some of his skull.  Such a beautiful view and great company to boot.

 Reni, overlooking her city of birth...Shumen.  I want her to look back one day and be proud of who she is and where she came from.  Knowing your child's birth culture, I feel is important. 

 Logan and Reni.

 Logan, overlooking the city.  Reni, telling us we can go down the stairs.  Indeed, the stairs do lead all the way down and not far from the orphanage.  Umm, no kids, we did the hike yesterday.  Today, we're taking the car. 

Just having a good time being tourists with our kids.

After the monument, time for lunch at an outdoor cafe.  This was in the same park we had gone to previously.

 It was hard not to want to cry.  These were going to be our last moments together for quite a few months.  Hard not to be emotional when you know what's coming...a goodbye.  First though, we all ate lunch and chatted a bit more. 

Our son to be.  I still can not compliment the orphanage and their staff enough for allowing us to bond in this type of environment.   Makes a big difference I feel.  Even got to introduce our kids to ice in drinks.  They really like ice.  LOL.  Such a pleasant trip and time together.  I was dying to share these pictures after the first trip.  I knew I couldn't but still wanted to.  I love them dearly.  I have a few more pics I think.  For now, bed time.  Tomorrow, time for relaxation and fun.  Been a very hard and long week.  Warren was sick and many other things transpired w/ the kids in high school.  Let's just say IEP next week and leave it at that.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  Now you know why we fell in love with Bulgaria, the people and most importantly...the kids!

Pictures from Bulgaria-- (poprocks and park)

So much happening around here but thought I'd finish up the picture posts first before talking a bit more.  It will be wondrous to be at the farm tomorrow and enjoy a great time with friends.  Bonfire, food, and friends.  What more could we want?  So, tomorrow, a post with what all we've been having to think about lately to how everyone is to what we'll be doing tomorrow.  For now, time to finish up showing off why we fell in love w/ our kids on the first trip.  Summer's orphanage did not really allow photos so we don't have hardly any of her.  Reni & Logan's orphanage, well we got to take a ton of pictures and so relaxed we REALLY got to know the kids under no pressure.  I loved that fact.  Anyhow, enough talk. 

Every since Max's first experience w/ Pop Rocks, we always give our new kids these popping candy.  Reni, wondering just what this is.

 Logan, getting ready to be daring.  We were at a park in the city.  It was beautiful there and very well maintained. 

 Reni not quite so sure about the noise in her mouth.

 Hmm, this stuff isn't so bad.  Good enough to lick it off my hands.

 Childhood delight, just discovered.

Logan, listening to the sound of the candy.  BTW, we had a pile of kid onlookers.  Wish I had more candy.

I seriously fell in love with this sweet little girl.  She is a friend of Logan and Reni.  For those curious, we asked if she could be adopted.  The answer is no.  For those new to adoption, if family visits the child in the orphanage, they can not be adopted.  That is her case.  Reni has already asked since we've been home if Maggie is coming here too.  I explained her parents come to visit her and she said yes, yes.  Then Reni proceeded to give me her unfavorable approval of that situation.  Yes, my daughter is opinionated.  This child has a heart of gold.  Just a very sweet soul. 

What can be going through Warren's head right now??  No, not more!  LOL.  When had originally gone to the park w/ our kids.  These other children came and we all hung out together.  All were friends of my kids.  

These were such sweet, sweet girls.  I really had a heart for these two.  Just could have scooped them up w/ Reni and Logan.  They were such great girls and so much fun to interact with.  I do miss them as I know my kids do as well. didn't I tell you we had wonderful weather the entire trip?

 Goofing around.  Aren't Bulgarian kids just beautiful?

Always remember when you adopt children from an older kids' home, you are also tearing apart a "family."  These children were VERY close and you could tell.  I loved that and enjoyed seeing it.  Watching them together.  Though you are giving a wonderful family to your kids, please remember the ones left behind.  Send them care packages. Oh, more on that too in another post. 

 Had we been allowed....

Just awesome, awesome personalities.  I can not express gratitude enough for the orphanage staff for allowing us all to play and have fun together at the park.  It was a great experience for all of us.  When you see your children to be interact with their friends, it gives you a little more insight to who they are.  We had an opportunity that most do not.  We were not stuck in a tiny little playroom trying to bond.  This was real life, this was great to see the love, the teasing, the closeness, and much more in all of them.  It made me realize these children came from a wonderful place and really were taught well.  All had awesome manners.  All were polite.  All were kind.  All were fun-loving.  All would do well in a family.  Just had to share who their friends were.  Like I said, they just happen to come to the park.  They didn't know we would be there b/c we just finished that monstrous mountain hike.  LOL. 

More to come.  Love seeing all this.  Brings back great memories. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pictures from Bulgaria -- 1st trip

As some are aware, we legally couldn't post pictures of our kids until the adoption was final.  But, we took a bunch on our first trip and I must share I feel.  It was first meeting Logan and Reni.  See, Summer's orphanage was extremely hesitant on pictures.  Meaning, we couldn't take any.  But Logan & Reni's orphanage does many foreign adoptions (though mostly Italy I'm told) and they didn't mind picture taking at all.  Even put an album together of our time there for Logan and Reni to keep between trips!  It was awesome.  So, anyhow, thought I'd share a few of what it was like w/ the kids.  I know first trip pics from here I share but only ones w/ no kids in it.  And let's face it, that's no fun!  LOL.  So, here we go.

 Reni asking Warren over and over again to throw her up in the air. 

Yes, my two little "Bulgarian souvenirs."  LOL. 

 I know it's blurry but I just thought it was cute of Reni.  She had SO much trouble climbing up the stairs.  Poor kid couldn't see whatsoever.  Now, she could run up those steps!

Reni and Daddy in front of the caves.  This was before the hike we knew was to come.  Geez.

 Mom, Reni and Daddy. 

Yes, my native Bulgarian kids can indeed become stupid American tourists in a heartbeat.  LOL.  Funny face lollipops...a classic.  Hey, they were lucky.  At least they had something wet.  We'd have bought water had we known we were actually climbing an entire mountain!

Logan and Reni walking ahead.  

Ahh, if only we knew what was to come on trip two with this young man.  Wait, glad we didn't know.  Here's to quick turn arounds once home.

 Reni always wanted to be holding either my hand or Warren's.  Just a sweetheart for sure.

 Logan, chilling out on the remainder of an old fort.  Who builds a fort at a top of a mountain anyhow?  LOL.  Beautiful day to go for a hike though. 

 Logan, overlooking the city of Shumen. 

You have no idea what an accomplishment this was.  For those that don't know, petrified doesn't even begin to describe my feelings on heights.  That would be an understatement.  So to climb to the top of the mountain overlooking the entire city was huge.  Especially, w/ a daughter that couldn't see the steps in front of her.  We all sat here knowing we'd have to trek back down. 

After the long hike, we went to an outdoor cafe.  It was beautiful w/ a cool breeze.  This was taken shortly after I asked what happened to Reni.  Just thought it captured her beauty.  Messy hair and all.  She's just so sweet and has such an innocence about her.

Many more pics to catch up on.  Also, other happenings.  But, tomorrow is homeschool academy classes and well, let's just say Warren has a trip to the DMV tomorrow morning.  License renewal.  I think my two oldest girls have decided they will permanently be at war.  Been a long day.  Oh, did I tell you we now have a guinea pig.  Kota has resided himself to be the permanent guinea pig guard dog.  With barking.  Well, need to go. 

Vocational Rehab

This is new terminology for me.  We're learning.  As  you know, we have a teenage daughter that will be entering the work force.  She is on the occupational track at her school.  And though I must admit skeptical at first, I'm now coming around to the idea.  We had our first meeting today.  The gentleman was very nice, very honest on what to expect. At one point, I had Irina go get me a drink of water so that he and I could discuss further items.  He was very informative and I appreciated that.  Irina will be starting to work as early as next week through this program.  It would be a paid position.  Once that semester is over, she may continue through the summer.  Next year though, she would serve in the community which I have mixed feelings about.  My feeling is, if you're going to work, developmentally disabled or not, they should PAY you.  They don't in the community part b/c they claim it is more of an "apprenticeship."  I personally think that is wrong.  I have been on the other end of this.  When I was a manager, I worked directly w/ the social services and I hired disabled adults.  And you know what??  We PAID them like every other employee!!!  Apparently, this is all legal.  I don't know if I'll be able to keep my mouth shut when she does the so called "community" part.  I just think it is taking advantage of free labor.  Okay, now that I'm positive I ruffled feathers, I'll move on. 

I like this part next week where she will indeed be paid.  I think it shows her hard work will pay off.  They will guide her, teach her, observe her in a work environment, etc.  I think it is a great fit.  She is looking forward to it but also a little hesitant which I think is normal.  I really can't wait to hear about Irina's first day of work.  This will be during school hours so we have to switch the schedule around.  Cleveland was awesome and did it for us right after the meeting!  They were willing to do what they could to help Irina.  She does have some awesome teachers and they seem to want to go above and beyond for the kids.  I appreciate that.  It's like night and day from her previous high school.  Just pleasant to go to a meeting and not have to be angry before you even enter the building.  It's more relaxed here and much more cooperative to do what is in the best interest of the child. 

I will keep you posted how it all progresses.  Would love to hear from others who've done the community work w/ their kids for no pay.  What are  your thoughts?  Am I reading too much into it?  This is new territory for us and maybe this is how it's done.  However, I know when I was a teen and did work, it was for pay.  Unless it was a volunteer....something I wanted to do.  Not something I had to do.  Big difference I feel.  Again, my opinions.  I would love feedback on this topic though as this is our first older child going through this experience.  Thanks in advance.  I just can't wait to see how Irina likes her job the first week.  Much more to come.  Have another picture post but still contemplating posting it.  We'll see.  Well, need to go.  Summer and Nik have decided gymnastics is in order for the living room. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The house

It is no secret we've been contemplating moving on and off for quite some time.  Well, it has come with great revelation that we must move.  There is no maybe any more.  We must.  Multiple, multiple reasons. IF moving, we want to do this one time and build a home that we will live the rest of our lives in.  One that will help us with some children that may never leave home yet want that independence.  A home with land that we can do a bit more vegetable gardening and such.  A place where the kids can run wild so to speak.  Currently, we only have an acre.  Clearly, not enough land.  Enough for many folks but we really do need more land.  We also have issues with living arrangements right now.  Don't get me wrong , there is plenty space for everyone.  However, all five boys are in one room is a recipe for disaster.  Mind you, it's a bonus room so space is fine.  But, it has reached critical mass w/ the 5 that are in there now.  Max and Bojan are older and need their own space.  Clearly evident the last few weeks. And, those were originally hte intentions...put Max and Bojan in the garage. Convert it first but in the garage area.  But, we have decided to officially move.  This decision does NOT come lightly for we LOVE our neighborhood and neighbors.  LOVE the convenience of everything. Great church community as well.  LOVE the house.  This is something though that we must do.  This will NOT be an easy task.  Not only is it extremely hard to sell in this market, we must take a loss in order to sell.  But more than that, this will be beyond difficult on the majority of our children that have issues w/ change.  Last move we made, one child did not adjust to this home for over six months.  I know what will happen.  I do and we're prepared for the fall out of the move with our kids who need help w/ transitions.  This is a case though where the end justifies the means. 

Meantime, we are trying to forge forward by fixing up the house.  Most are cosmetic issues.  12 people, 3 dogs, lots of dirt, a few dozen fish, guinea pig(as of today...DO NOT ASK....URGHHH!), & just wear and tear make for a little fixin' up to take place.  We have started a punch list this past weekend.

Us, we really could careless what our mailbox looks like.  But, out with the dented one the kids have hit w/ bikes and such and on w/ a new one.  Warren and Max are leveling up the post while they're at it & putting new pavers down since old wood ones rotted.  It's the little things you don't pay attention to when you have kids.  

Okay, so embarrassed really at the size dust bunny we found behind the fridge.  Just one of those things you don't think to vacuum behind.  Bojan did a great job.  

Summer wanted to help put the bikes away.  I told her to put her bike away.  This is what she grabbed.  We also filled in all the holes the dogs made w/ dirt.  Puppies can reek havoc on a yard.  

Even putting some "brightening" touches around the house.  Life.  I told Bojan I need so have some life in every room.  And try not to kill either the plants or the fish boys.  Bojan's response "but it's SO fun to kill things."  Nice one kid.  URGHH!!!  And this would be why I shutter at the thought of selling this house.  My boys can reek havoc on a situation with in minutes.  No, seconds.  Seriously.  A hole in the wall fixed today will be there tomorrow.  Geez.  

Trying to brighten things up around the house, make it super clean, change out towels that look like the dogs shredded them, get a few new items that make it look a bit more "staged."  And so on.  Takes time to do it here in this house.  But, it is getting done is the thing.  We are fixing things up.  Best news I heard is we may receive help on fixing up the house from possibly two local churches.  See, if we can't sell for whatever reason, we MUST convert the garage to Max and Bojan's bedroom.  Otherwise, afraid they may use those chains for their younger brothers.  LOL.  Lots and lots of work going on here at Chaos Manor.  It is bittersweet.  We love our house.  Max is helping to design the new house.  We have a general idea.  We have a general idea of land and where we want it.  We must stay w/in an hour's commuting distance of Warren's work.  Not too hard to do.  Closer you are here to the capital, more expensive it is to live.  That's a no brainer.  It's that way in every state.  Okay, more to come later.  Stupid dogs have discovered the guinea pig.  Got to go!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crocheting and chains

As some of you may remember, my homeschoolers are taking classes on Fridays at a local homeschool academy.  It's awesome!  Anyhow, Alyona is taking crocheting.  However, Nik has been observing her intently.  Then, he decided to teach himself!

 Look at Nik just concentrating on that. 

 He was very proud to show me what he'd been working on. 

Such focus on the task at hand.  Crocheting is repetitive so wonderful for kids w/ things like ADHD or FAS or both.  Nik told me I need to get more yarn.  

He truly has been crocheting away and just enjoying himself.  He wants to take the class now but he's in bugs and loves bugs.  I told him next time.  I asked who taught him and he told me in sign he used his brain to think.

Why?  Not sure.  Bojan said he wanted to be like Jacob Marley on A Christmas Carol.  I think he played the part just fine.

Why on earth he'd chain himself up, no idea.  They were to clean up the garage area outside.  This is what they did.

Monkey see, monkey do.  I keep reminding them the new kids are watching and learning by their examples.  This is not helping my case any.  LOL.