Saturday, March 31, 2012

She tries so hard

Summer is 5yo.  Currently, on the level of a 2yo for most things.  This we know.  However, there is something very special about Summer.  So much motivation and drive to want to accomplish things.  It's awesome to watch.  At times though, it is very difficult for Summer to do the most basic things.  Feeding was difficult when she first came but now, she's a master.  Potty training was another thing.  Well, it's with great pride that I announce the last few days Summer has gone to the potty all day w/ no accidents!  In addition, the last two days, she has woken up dry in underwear.  Been a huge week for her for sure.  Yet, there are a few things that Summer still has trouble with and that we're working on. 

This is Summer working very hard on putting on her shoes.  This is very difficult for her.  They never seem to go on the right feet.  

She is so very proud when she thinks she has them on right.  Then, I have to see the look on her face when I tell her they belong on the other foot.  Summer tries so, so hard to get it right.  Trouble is, the left-right brain connection that she is lacking.  Some days she is left handed and some days she is right.  This can be difficult for such a little girl who is already behind in a few areas.  But her enthusiasm lives on and continues each day.  Smiling every single day.  

There's the smile when I told her now it's right.  Summer wants to be like her big brother and sisters.  she will get there. I have no doubt about that.  She is learning new things each and every day.  In addition, sign language is helping her immensely with communication.  Though many signs are still hard for her to form and with c-ACC, repetition is key.  I love her determination in life.  She will go so far.  You will not believe just how much she has overcome in the last few months.  The list is lengthy.  I know in a few more months, she'll have accomplished even more.  And have that same I'm proud smile on her face.  I've gotten to see that each and every time she goes to the potty this week.  Comes out screaming she's a big girl.  So cute.  I no pee underwear is what she'll say to us all.  Yes, Summer tries really hard.  And keeping at it, she gets it.  Can't wait to see her in a few months.  Summer really is an inspiration to behold.  Had to share. 

Local places we frequent

I thought it was high time I recognize some of the places we go to locally and tell why we go there and why we chose the people we chose.  As you know, our life is chaotic sometimes at best.  We have to always have people that we deal with that are understanding of our situations that come up, our crazy life, our kids, our finances and a myrid of other reasons.  So, thought I'd share a few people and places that have demonstrated that for us locally.  Figured maybe someone else out there is looking for someone understanding and who knows you may make a connection or go somewhere you haven't tried yet.

Our vet.  I'm sorry but you can NOT get any better than Dr. Marty!  She even comes to your house.  Talk about convenience.  And, she knows her stuff.  We called her on a Friday night a few weeks ago.  A Friday night people.  She answered, talked me down a bit, asked me a few questions, and said that Digby probably has the doggie flu that's going around.  We thought he had something stuck in his throat and we were going to have to take him to the vet ER.  She told us what to do and what to look for in case we did need to take him in.  Sure enough, he was fine a few days later.  Please, if you are local, you must check her out.  Prices are beyond reasonable.  Our awesome vet!

Our farmer.  Yes, we have one farmer we go to for produce.  A few months ago, I asked if I could put in a weekly standing order.  They talked it over and said let's try it.  Gary is awesome and completely understanding when I forget to call and will give me a call.  And the produce?  You can not find any better.  It is delicious!  I was skeptical about corn the other week.  He said just try it.  We got a case.  Best corn.  Ate the entire case.  Nothing like corn in February.  It was brought from out of state but was the same price.  Now in summer, everything comes directly from the farm. We get so much fruit.  Prices are extremely reasonable too.  So, do go check out the farm

We go to yardsales and consignment shops when we can.  There is one consignment shop for kids that we go to often.  Owner is super sweet and very helpful in finding stuff.  My little kids love the clothes there for sure.  There is such variety too.  Very cute clothes.  And prices are fantastic.  Conveniently located at 40/42 area.  I can't find the website but here is the facebook link:  Little Joey's

Car care.  Now, this is very important as it gets you to a job and back.  And, car repair shops can easily rip you off.  That's why we were super duper exciting about going to a place years ago that our neighbor recommended.  Village Auto Repair  in Garner.  40/42 area.  You can't get more honest than them.  They will tell it like it is, not steer you wrong and fix it right the first time.  Last week, Warren took his car in.  Just drops it off and calls him later.  Guy always tells us when it will be ready & will call if it is something other than he said might be wrong w/ it.  We have trusted Village Auto for years and will continue to do so. 

Windshields, glass repair.  Okay, you wouldn't think we'd frequent this but we have 5 boys in this house.  Need I say more??  We call on a local family owned company.  They are prompt, honest, and very nice.  They put up with the kids asking a thousand questions about the process.  And, the gentleman kindly answers them.  Takes his time and explains each step.  Always makes sure we're happy w/ the work done.  We always are.  I love the fact that it is a family company as well.  Try to support local businesses as you can see.  Check out this auto glass company.  They've fixed not only our windshields but also our windows!  Boys and throwing shoes. 

Those are a few of the places that we go to that come to mind off hand.  We go to a lot of medical places but didn't think you'd all want those.  LOL.  All the above places though we have always been treated with respect and so have the kids.  That's important to us.  Price and service is also high on our list.  All those above have shown this.  Many, have gone out of their way to help us.  Having a repairman come to your home late at night to make sure the window is sealed up and safe till we get back from vacation was important.  He didn't have to do that.  But, he did.  It's the little things that matter.  The above local businesses have shown that time and time again and I can't thank them enough for that.  Hope they don't mind me mentioning them.  Locals, check some of them out if you need their services. 

Q & A time (part II)

Gee, time's flying by lately.  I realized I never finished the last Q & A session.  Hmm, maybe that's why I don't do those too often.  So, time to get back to them.  Here's some more that came up:

1.  What is your family's favorite recipe that feeds your whole family?  They all love baked meatballs.  We do too.  Easy to make.  We use 5 lbs of hamburger meat though.  We serve it over rice.  
For the meatballs:

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. hamburger, 1 egg, 4 to 5 pieces of grated bread, salt & pepper, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder.  Mix altogether and form into balls.  Kids love helping w/ this part.  They do this while I get the sauce ready.   

For the sauce:

1 Cup ketchup, 3/4 cup water, 1tsp. mustard, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. vinegar, 1 Tbsp plus Worcheshire sauce.  Mix together.  Pour over meatballs.  Top with onion slices and green pepper slices.  Bake at 350 for an hour.  

I always cover mine and then take it off about mid-way through.  Don't have to though.  Mine take about an hour and a half to cook b/c we triple this recipe to feed us all.  Kids love helping w/ the meal and eating it.  It's really good on a cold winter day w/ lots of flavor. 

2.  For the kids you brought home from Bulgaria, how did you introduce American food to them and when should you worry if they're not eating? Well, since we can't cook Bulgarian food, they get introduced as soon as we come home.  We don't do anything special to introduce our kids to new food.  It does take some longer than others though as it is so new to them.  All my EE kiddos though loved fruit, veggies and yogurt so that is always there when they first come home.  I never get too worried if they're not eating right the first week or two home.  My Russian kids were SUPER thin.  Alyona was 20 some pounds and was 7yo.  Very thin.  Boys were very small as well.  4yo and in 18 month clothing to give you an idea.  They all adjusted fairly quickly.  Shoot, in Sofia, Logan and Reni refused to eat Ramen Noodles.  Now, they want it.  Same w/ Nutella over there.  They still love salad and fruit which we eat everyday.  The first few days home, we leave a platter on the table full of tomatoes, cucumbers and the like.  It's there all day and replenished as needed.  This is to let them know that food is always here.  They do not have to worry about being hungry.  It helps prevent gorging which some orphanage kids do.  My Bulgarian kids did NOT do this.  They were fed at their orphanage.  My Russian kids though needed this concept.  Bojan was also well fed where he was so did not do it w/ him.  Kids need to know their basic nutritional needs are going to be met.  We did this simplistically.  Other than that though, we go on cooking like we usually do.  They all have favorites of course as any kid would. 

3.  What is a good food to stock up on for when I bring our little boy home?  Yogurt.  Seems to go over well w/ kids fresh out of orphanages. That, and all mine loved fresh veggies.  Now, youngest we ever adopted was 3yo.  So, if it is a younger child, may go with baby food. Keep things simple in the beginning. 

4.  What are the CPS references?  We are actually in the process of adopting and I heard horror stories from adoptive families w/ special needs kids about issues w/ CPS and was just curious about your story & what you're willing to share.   We were investigated by CPS last year.  Obviously, unfounded.  However, it turned our lives inside out and upside down.  It was like walking on eggshells.  Every single one of my kids' grades dropped that semester.  Every single one.  PTSD came to the forefront. Everyone was living on edge.  Memories of their past were rekindled after finally being buried for years.  Stuff NO kid should have to endure.  It was horrifying and I'm sorry but workers who are NOT familiar w/ RAD or FASD have no right in this business.  (my opinion).  After we were accused, we found out just how many other people have been accused as well.  It was unreal to me.  Many of these families had kids w/ special needs.  I was just stunned.  I'm getting ready to put the CPS posts all back up.  I had to take things down last year during our adoption.  Next few days, they'll be back up. 

5.  Could  you tell us how Irina is doing w/ her new job & being out of school?  Irina is doing AWESOME!  It was by far one of the best decisions we ever made with her.  She is working for a company that cleans out homes after they've been foreclosed.  So, Irina cleans houses, does office work and computer data entry work.  A variety of things and definitely more than what they were going to have her do at the school.  Her demeanor has changed as well.  Just positive all around.  She is being homeschooled.  Need to get her busy finishing that Junior paper.  Keeping w/ what they were doing since it was mid-year anyhow. 

6.  have you ever blogged about Alyona's arm and the surgery that messed it up? If so, where? If not, will you share?  I have blogged about her arm before but not sure where.  Give  you the short of it a bit.  A few years ago, Alyona had surgery on her right arm.  Both her arms are affected by radial articulation.  Supposed to be an easy surgery.  We even asked if it was safe given her delayed bone growth, failure to thrive, FAS, microcephaly, suspected dwarfism and the other long list that affects bones and healing.  Doc said yes, easy surgery.  Alright, Bojan and her had surgery the same day, one right after the other.  I had a gut feeling something was wrong.  Told the nurses there to check on her.  She said she's fine, I'm sure.  I said it's not supposed to take this long.  Shortly after that, doc came out and said her arm was not pinking up so he went back in there.  There was a nerve that had got caught on a piece of bone so he fixed that up and sewed her back up.   He said she'd be in more pain but that would be normal.  She was screaming.  I was running back and forth between her and Bojan.  Horrible.

Went home.  After a week, I called back the doc.  Was told to keep her moving her fingers.  I said she shouldn't be in this much pain.  Something's wrong.  They said, no it's normal. I kept calling back.  They kept reassuring me.  normal. Went in after a couple weeks to get their casts off.  When they cut hers open, I screamed "OMG!  You broke her arm!  How could you break her arm?!"  Nurse turned to radiologist in the hallway and sternly said "go get Dr. M right NOW!"  He came in, looked and said "hmm, it's not supposed to look like that is it?"

They x-rayed.  Told us to go home.  I kept saying you KNOW our home and the behavioral issues there.  You can NOT send us home w/ no protection for her.  He sent us over to OT/PT for a brace.  The poor lady knew this was wrong of him.  She was almost crying saying "I'm so sorry.  I'm so sorry."  Nothing we could do.  Nothing.  Told it would heal.  Now, went home and called our prosthetist.  He told me "Stephanie, you are no longer dealing w/ bone on bone.  This is metal on bone.  It pops through, she'll bleed to death."  I called everywhere.  No one would take her case.  No one.  Too much liability even though I said I'd sign anything.  I just wanted her arm fixed and not to be in pain.  I'll give you a glimpse of what it looked like.  No good pictures so a bit blurry. 

This is her right arm after the removal of the cast.  They would not recast it.  

The bump is the broken bone & the metal plates coming through.  Horrible.

 It's covered w/ some gauze and such.  Underneath it, there is a brownish part.  On top of everything else, it was infected.

 Her normal arm for comparison.

This was on top of that bump. It's the infection.  Now you can see what we were calling everywhere to get it fixed. 

Her arm was like this for awhile while we tried to locate help.  Well, she fell on the bus one day and I took her straight to the ER.  Told them to be prepared for what they'd see on that x-ray.  I peeked out the room and there was a circle of docs standing around the x-ray.  What I didn't know at the time, was they pulled the original doc out of the OR.  I'm not sure what transpired but I'm sure there was umm, a huge discussion on the series of our events.  I think the hospital realized at that point, they were the liable ones.  Was told we'd be contacted at home.  Shortly, the original doc that preformed the surgery called.  Said he wanted to do right by us, by Alyona and that the ortho group would pay for any care.  Our insurance pays for it ALL so not sure why this mattered.  To the doc, it was still about the money.  To us, it was about our little girl.  Surgeon called us on a Friday night and Monday morning, she was in the OR again.  It was fixed.  There is still permanent damage years later.  That's the short story version.  There were MANY things happening in between. 

this surgery at Duke was to take out the old plates.  Also, he excised the big scar she had.  Alyona will love that part.  Dr. Fitch at Duke is great. Knows his stuff and has fixed many mistakes from other surgeons before.  They even had a room reserved for Alyona in case she needed it.  However, she got to go home.  Now, she's only complaining of itching this go around.  Finally, normal.  Though, that arm will never ever be normal. 

I know there were more questions but honestly, I have totally forgotten them or misplaced them.  Feel free to ask more questions or send again.  It's just been so hectic here lately.  Much more to come as usual as there has been a bunch happening here the last few days. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy 17th Birthday Max!!!

This week was Max's 17th birthday.  So very, very hard to believe.  He was our first boy.  Came home to us a little over 4 years old, weighing in at 20 lbs.  He wore size 18 month clothes and even those were baggy.  Max has had a passion for drawing since he was little.  Still holds true today.  Has a very mechanical mind.  Can remember just about any line in a movie...drives me insane w/this!  He has a very, very sweet soul.  Always has. Max can fix just about anything.  He used to drive us crazy with his tinkering and taking stuff apart when he was little.  Shoot, they used to let him fix things at his daycare!  Including, an elaborate water feature.  No lie.  They said it was broken anyhow, they thought they'd let Max try.  He fixed it.  Max has done so many amazing things over the years. 

Now, our artist is all grown up.  He's starting to think more of his future which is wonderful.  Max didn't want a party this year or any gifts from us.  So, cash it was. LOL.  With that, he bought his class ring.  Well, with money from a few different sources including some he saved from working and Nana.  But, we couldn't let the day go by without at least a cake and a Happy Birthday song.  We were able to catch a few pics but not many.  He is a teenager still you know. 

Max requested a fudge cake.  I bake.  However, this too was part of my bad, awful week.  So, on the way home from soccer practice, we stopped by the grocery store and bought one of those pre-made deals.  It happens sometimes. 

Are you seriously going to take a picture mom?

Too bad it was blurry.  Alyona is sticking out her tongue. Not sure why.

Max, thinking of his wish.  Cake was tasty.  Very simple day.  Max is a very simple kind of kid and I truly appreciate that.  He never asks for much, willing to help out, and very sweet.  ( I may get yelled at for writing that later you know).  I know many are nervous when their kids are this age.  We're not.  Max has proven over and over to be an outstanding young man in many areas.  Can't wait to see what awaits him the next few years in life.  Love you Max!  Won't call him by his nickname here or he'd really have my head.  LOL.  

More to come tomorrow.  Just realized I'm supposed to write a reference letter for someone.  Yikes!  On it.  Have a great evening. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bad awful day

Ever read the book 'Grover's Bad Awful Day?'  Well, that was my day today. Nothing went right.  Nothing.  The kids were horrible.  put it this way, even Bojan said to me "Mom, how do you do this every day?"  He also said now I know why you're tired at the end of the day.  Ah, maybe this break from school is good for him.  LOL.  But in all seirousness, it was terrible today.  No listening, punishment chores galore, no playing, etc.  Just a mess.  One thing after another.  No kidding, I just had to stop and go clean up dog vomit.  Kids were feeding the dog pizza.  Lovely.  After a bad day, and trying to make dinner, Nik decides to add to the fun.

He came down w/ Summer in tow and proud of his work. 

I'm not even sure if that is all make up!  Just know I threw her into a bubble bath after this.  And she was yelling a bunch of stuff.  Only thing I could make out was Logan and Nik.  So, those two both had a hand in this.  

I had other posts I was working on.  But, after this really bad day, horrible headache and such, I just can't do it.  There are two great boys I must tell about who need a host family.  Never knew my day would go south so fast.  We all have those days from time to time.  But this one took the cake.  Don't even ask what happened to the cake.  Good news is, the day is over.  Tomorrow it is a fresh day.  I"m hopeful.  Going to be sunny, soccer practice, some science outside, etc. So, more posts tomorrow.  Hope you all had a great day.

She dreams in chocolate

Summer is indeed her mother's daughter.  There is no doubt in my mind now.  The other day, we used the chocolate pancake mix my mom got us. 

 We had these this past weekend.  They are chocolate chip pancakes.  Kids were thrilled to be waking up to these on a Sunday morning.  Shoot, it could be chocolate covered bark and they'd have the same reaction. 

She has no issues whatsoever consuming chocolate.  It will be eaten.  Chocolate pancakes and all.

In our house, I take turns w/ kids liking the beaters or whisk or whatever.  This time, it was Summer's turn.  White ruffled socks, no pants and ready to lick every single drop of chocolate off that thing.  LOL.  

 Who could resist a face like that?

Pure bliss I do believe.  Chocolate was actually one of Summer's first words.  Sad, I know.  She definitely knows what it is.  And that's okay in my book.  No, she doesn't indulge every day.  However, it is definitely great when we do.  Just proving again, she is for sure a part of this chocolate loving family. 

More posts coming this evening.  Finishing some up.  However, must get back to home school.  Bojan is loving being the substitute teacher.  He does a fantastic job too.  Even checks their work.  Now, he says he may want to be a teacher when he grows up.  who knows.  He has told me now though "how do you put up with these kids everyday?  They don't listen!"  I laughed and agreed.  Enjoy your day.  We'll be outside later studying the parts of a flower.  Great day for it & many azaleas are out.  Soccer went well last night. Nik had a game and the boys had practice.  We had Max's birthday cake later.  More on that too.  For now, got to go get phone calls made and work checked.  We're studying spring.   You know, since our winter unit was a bust.  LOL.  We didn't have winter this year.  Crazy. 

Great Insurance Company?!

We have a wonderful insurance company.  Love it.  We also have a fantastic Vision Insurance company and those are the people I'd like to take the time to thank.  See, we have vision insurance through my husband's work.  It's a privately owned company.  Anyhow, the vision insurance pays for us all to get eye exams yearly and covers the cost of glasses or contacts every 2 years.  For us, this is a lifesaver.  Many w/ eye issues, me included.

Well, a few months back I submitted the claims for the new kids' eye exams at Wally World.  No biggie.  Well, they came back rejected.  Called benefits and asked what was going on.  They got straight on it as did the vision insurance people.  That company is called VSP.  Turns out, we have too many in our family to go on the same account.  So, each time, someone gets bumped off and has to be reloaded in the system.  Well, since they can't redesign the system just for us, they found another way.  And promptly I might add.  They assigned us a special liason to handle our vision claims so no one would ever get dropped off. Lady's name was Amber.  She contacted me right away, gave me her info and how to handle all the claims so there would be no problems whatsoever.  In addition, she never talked mean to me or asked me a dozen questions or anything like that.  She was patient, kind and extremely helpful.  And very prompt!  I was really amazed.  I used to work in the business world (Merill Lynch) and dealt w/ customers all day long.  Amber couldn't have been nicer to us in the way she handled it all.

The other day, we received a box in the mail.  Kids all gather around any time a package is delivered.  LOL.  It is exciting, especially, if you're not expecting one. This package came:

A bunch of goodies from VSP!  Couldn't believe it.  

Stacks of lens cleaning clothes which we use often.  And all those orange things, those are repair kits for glasses!  Those are priceless in this house full of kids who break glasses.

And 2 pair of sunglasses!  That was a super treat.  Nike polarized sunglasses.  Bojan got that pair.  And then Fendi sunglasses.  Yana liked those at first.  Not sure who's taking them now though.  LOL.  May be a fight to claim them.  Girls.  

Anyhow, I just thought it was really cool of an insurance company to take the time to do that for us and work with us w/out issue.  A rarity you find a nice company and I just had to say something about VSP.  Thank you!

Empathy, or lack there of

As some of you know already on here, we have quite a few mental health disorders in our home.  We have 2 with RAD.  (Reactive attachment disorder).  We've lived through the harsh reality of RAD for years now and can safely say we found our "groove" and can handle the RADishes.  No matter what they may throw our way.  Umm, that's not just a figure of speech.  Parents of kids w/ RAD know what I'm saying.  Now, at our home, we don't go around saying this kid has that or what have you.  They all are aware each & every one has their own set of issues.  I think they for the most part respect that fact.  Wasn't always that way but over the years, they become more accepting of different issues or disabilities.  We also rarely use the word disability.  We'll call it like we see it.  FAS, RAD, PTSD, Deaf or whatever.  However, since we don't really use the issues in this house, it doesn't come up much.  Plus, we NEVER allow our kids to use their issues as an excuse.  Bojan tried to pull that stunt this week b/c he was in a wheelchair.  Umm, he knows better than that.  LOL.  I think he wanted to see what he could get away with.   Told me I couldn't yell at him b/c he was in a wheelchair & that he couldn't really be ground.  Umm, think again buddy! 

Anyhow, some things do come up from time to time.  For those who have RAD, one issue many have is that of lack of empathy.  I will not say which RADish of mine used to laugh when people got hurt or will I say the other list of things that was done.  Just know, it wasn't good nor was it accepted behavior in this home.  We treat them like everyone else.  In fact, that's a saying here:  "you're no different than anyone else."  period.  You are in charge and responsible for your own actions and behavior.

The other day, I caught Alex mocking Nik.  Making "Nik sounds" b/c he's deaf.  I said fine.  You want to make fun of your brother, you BEST be able to live like Nik for a few hours. So, I made Alex put cotton in his ears.  Had no ear plugs.  Put sunglasses on him w/ a little press and seal in the middle.  Nik has horrible vision and of course, is deaf.  This is how I found Alex:

Alone on the dining room floor.  He was crying under the shades for a bit.  Believe it or not, that is a good thing for him.  He needs to understand the feelings of others.  During his young life his feelings and needs were not met, not cared about.  He never developed how to have feelings until he got to our home.  It is a work in progress.  It is NOT an easy, over night fix.  Anyone dealing with RAD knows that fact.  Time is what it takes.  And, some lessons.  This is one of those lessons.  When you are deprived of basics of human emotion when you are young, it is a very hard thing to comprehend and learn.  Really is.  When no one is there to show you the emotions, how can you be expected to learn what they mean? 

Alex was a bit overwhelmed.  When done, I asked him how he felt.  First, reluctant, he then told me.  He hated it.  I kept saying no, how did YOU feel.   I was trying to get to that isolated, lonely feeling.  Didn't quite get there though I did go over that fact.  He did tell me he was sad so I went with that for a bit.  Getting children with RAD to express feelings can feel like trying to pull teeth from a lion.  Always feeling like you're going to get bit and still not get the job done.  But we press on.  You can not give up on this.  Too important for life.  Alex needs to understand the feelings his siblings have.  I know Nik had no idea what Alex did.  That was not the point.  I heard it and that was enough for me.  One kid is not allowed to make fun of another in this house.  period.  Don't care who you are or what you "have."  Makes no difference.  This is basic stuff.  It is part of our humanity.  Alex needs to understand that feelings do matter.  Empathy matters.

I think he got part of that lesson.  I know it will take many more lessons.  Alex does have a very sweet soul inside.  I've seen the compassion for others come out.  He'll help certain people in the house.  Help someone up when hurt.  ( he never used to do that).  He does exhibit kindness.  Just some roughness that we have to "polish" up a bit.  I know there are other families living out there w/ RAD.  I do not put everything on here as you can imagine.  I limit what is said.  However, I also think it is important for others to understand how conflicts and issues can arise w/ a child w/ RAD but how they can also be addressed.   Maybe some will disagree w/ how I handled it.  That's okay.  What works for one family may not really work for another.  But getting various ideas of what might work, may help someone in these trenches and that is worth a lot.  Hope that made sense.  

As for Alex after this...he's fine.  No worse for wear for sticking cotton in his ears and wearing sunglasses that are distorted.  I feel it got the point across.  Why do I say that?  Because he hasn't mocked his brother since.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Little Help for a Friend

As most of you probably realize by now, I don't advocate everyday for any one particular fundraiser.  This is b/c I believe they are ALL important and ALL are trying to get their kids home.  Some do need more help than others and I understand that.  I usually will post only when I know the person or know the person referring them.  Some stories also just stick with you.  This is one of them. 

A friend of mine (for years) wrote me asking me to help another friend of hers.  This friend is single.  Being a single mom is not the easiest.  I have the utmost respect for these mothers who can balance life way better than myself.  I think I'd most likely crawl in a ball  w/ hands in the air if I were to be a single mother.  That's not to sound mean.  On the contrary.  It's b/c I just do not have the ability to do what they do.  They do it ALL!  Amazing really. 

Anyhow, sidetracked.  This mom went to Russia in 2010.  She adopted a little girl named Delaney.  She was medically fragile but has made a full recovery and is doing fantastic thanks to a mother's loving care.  Well, while at the orphanage, she met another little guy.  Him and her daughter were playing together.  She thought nothing of it as she was there for ONE child.  She asked the director if she could advocate for a few of the other children there.  She said absolutely!  They brought in a few that needed families and one was the little boy that was playing w/ her daughter.  As smile she just could not get out of her mind.  This mother wanted to advocate for this little fellow.  He has a heart defect and CP.  He's 6yo.  And of course, a boy.  No easy feat to advocate for.  Yet, something was still tugging at the heart strings.  This was her son.  We all know that feeling.  Or, at least I know I do.  When common sense tells you NO, but your heart says yes, this is your child.  Go for them.  That is just what she is doing.  Going to work on bringing him home. 

I thought I could try to help out by spreading the word of this wonderful woman with a heart full of love.  Please consider making a donation to her adoption of their little fellow.  Bring the family together.  I know this little fellow will more than thrive in this new family.  The donations are tax deductible.  The link is here.  I wish I could share a photo of him but it is against country regulations.  I have 6 kids from Russia and know just how strict they are on this policy.  Please feel free to pass this link on via blogs, facebook, email, what have you.  She just needs a little help from her friends.  Thanks so much.

Our little "fashionista"

If you've ever seen this blog w/ Summer pics, you know by now she 1) LOVES boots and 2) has her own sense of style.  Yes, I know my kids will never be in a fashion magazine.  I will not be known as one of those parents who dressed their kids so stylish every time they exit the house.  I'm lucky if my kids have clothes on half the time or even shoes on.  Not joking.  So, all that being said, Summer likes to dress herself (with help).  Thought I'd share some of the pictures the kids and I took of her the other day.  Let's just say we're lucky she's got a great smile.  LOL. 

Yana took this picture of her.  I think she looks so much older here for some reason.  Like, watch out mom, teen years are coming.  

Summer was so proud of this outfit.  Skirt's a little big.  She's in a 4T now.  She has the fancy socks on w/ all the lace on them.  

Don't know what this was about.  She made this face for me though.  Ignore the leftover food around her mouth.  LOL.  

 What a ham.  Love the smile.  It's the only thing that saves her from trouble. 

 Tell me she's not posing??  LOL.  She was absolutely so proud of herself.  Of course afterwards, she went and put on her snow boots.

 The sisters wanted a picture together.  All smiles.

A picture of her hair in the back.  Love how the kids picked up the loft area.  URGHH!!!  Summer does not mind hats at all and I think she looks so cute in them.  I'll take advantage of it before she becomes like the rest of her teen sisters.  Oh, never take Summer into a shoe store.  She was this way in Bulgaria too.  LOVED shoes.  LOVES them.  It was crazy.   We'd pass a window and that was it.  She'd scream w/ delight.  In December, we took all the kids for new shoes at Shoe Carnival.  I thought the child would lose her mind.  We're preparing as we must take all the kids for their summer shoe shopping this coming weekend.  

More posts are coming.  Need to get the kiddos ready for bed.  I'm still under the weather so need to get them to bed. 

Manic Monday

So much happening around here.  Today, Bojan stayed home.  Glad he did.  His foot turned purple.  Still needs to be elevated and that is just too hard to do at school.   Plus, his teachers gave him all the work for this week.  So, no big deal.  He's down to only taking Tylenol now so that's great.  They don't have school Friday anyhow so not bad.  He'll be fine.  Bojan already started doing some of his school work. 

I let him play substitute today for me and he took it to heart.  He gave the kids a pop quiz on multiplication.  LOL.  They did NOT like that.  Alex got an 85 which is awesome.  First try.  Logan failed first time which I was not happy about b/c I know for a fact he can do better.  And he did the second go around.  Reni shocked me and got a 100 the first try!  I told Bojan to make sure she doesn't try to sneak.  She said Reni did not do that.  It was all her!  Way to go.  When she first got here, cheating was an issue.  That's why I watch her now.  I think she's built enough confidence to know she can do it on her own.  And, that's great.  Alyona still needs a lot of work but what shocked me is how they pulled together to help her get it.  Was really awesome to witness.  These are the same children that could easily throw each other under the bus in a heart beat. 

Irina is making no bake cookies.  She did not have to work today.  So, I've used her help gladly.  She'll be working on her paper a little later today.  Once I'm done w/ younger ones. 

Vet came today for Digby's yearly check up.  We finally figured out what Digby is doing when people come to the door.  We at first thought he was trying to bite but no one was bit.  No, he's not doing that.  He's herding the people into the house.  He is Australian Shepard and at times, we forget that natural instinct he has.  He is nudging people w/ his nose into the house.  More relieved to hear that.  He is still our very mellow fellow.  Kota of course has to be heard.  Vet said to treat him kind of like a cat.  Ignore the barking and pay him no attention.  He sounds so mean when he's barking yet wagging his tail happily.  The dog just wants people to know he's got the last word.  Alaska is of course always looking for someone to pet her.  Only issue she has is she tends to want to jump up on people.  Trying to break that habit.  Doesn't help when the kids tell her to jump up on them.  URGHH!!!   She's such a sweetie though.  Once our tax money comes in, we'll be doing something we've never done before.  We'll be taking Kota to a personal training session and see what comes of it.  See if we can get the barking stopped better than with a water bottle.  Once you're in though, he wants to play and wants you to pet him. 

We did lots of school work today which was great.  It's spring time and we're studying spring.  Tomorrow, we'll be doing some outdoor items.  Too nice not to. 

Still waiting on the bus issue to be resolved so that Bojan can ride the bus to school.  I physically can not get him loaded into the van.  School is requesting a special sticker on his wheelchair that says approved for transportation.  Never had to have this before and never had a problem before.  This wheelchair is borrowed from the church since it's short term.  There is no sticker on it.  Not sure what they're going to do. 

Working on a bunch of house stuff this week.

No medical appointments this week.  Thank goodness.  None for next week either.  After that though, they start back up again.  Older kids have off school starting Friday.  We're going to continue homeschooling here though as we have things to finish up.  Not doing anything over spring break.  I am watching another child but nothing exciting.  Our trips are done in the summer as it takes too much time to get the kids regulated back to go somewhere over spring break. 

Home school academy is over.  Kids will miss it.  However, soccer is keeping them quite busy on Tues, Thurs., and Saturdays.  Starting in April, the kids will have clubs again on Wednesdays.  So, I think we're good w/ getting out places.  LOL.  Lots of plans in the works for various places we want to go.  Deaf Camp is coming in May.  Wahoo!!!  Bulgarian Reunion in June!!!  Family Reunion in July!!!  Alex's b-day & the 4th of July in July!!!  A few beach trips probably too.  We're only an hour and 20 minutes from the coast and so it's just a day trip for us.  Makes it easier on the wallet.  I had wanted to go camping in April but w/ Bojan and Alyona in casts, I think we'll pass till the fall this year. 

Yana is going strong with track still.  We're going to her home meets in April.  Can't wait to see her in action.  Going to be fun.

Tomorrow is Max's 17th birthday.  I can hardly believe it myself.  More on that tomorrow.  Tomorrow, we also have soccer practice and a game for Nik.  Busy day.  Yet, going to be great.  Cooler weather too so that will be nice. 

Lots going on and lots I'm trying to get done.  I must get Summer's photo album done.  A friend is going to adopt their daughter from there and is taking the photo album for me for the caretakers to see.  Want them to see her for years to come and see that she is happy.  Remember, last memory of her is screaming bloody murder.  In those first few days, she wanted absolutely nothing to do with us.  Now, she cried while I was at the hospital w/ Bojan Irina said and was asking for mom.  That's a good thing though.  But, I want her old orphanage to see how she is doing for sure. 

Got to get to work on a few things.  Brief Manic Monday.  There will be a post on two boys that need hosting coming up so please look for it.  They truly deserve a chance.  They want a family.  Also, have a few pics coming up of my "fashionista" Summer.  Enjoy your week.  Once  I start feeling better, I know we will. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One lucky kid

Today, Sunday, Max came home from walking the dog and told me he was so lucky!  This is why:

Yes, he found not just one, but 3 four-leaf clovers!

Here they are for proof!  He just looks at a patch of clovers and can spot them.  All my kids can that have visual processing disorders.  Actually, it's pretty freaky.  Drives me bonkers cause I can't even find one.  They can look at an entire field and spot them almost instantly.  I think it's a pretty unique gift myself.  Max however, was not happy his good luck didn't start immediately.  He's still waiting.  LOL.  Thought I should share.  Hey, 4 posts in one day.  Maybe I'll one day get caught up.  Hey, there are two great boys ready to be hosted that will be one Monday's post first thing.  They MUST find a place and want to come to America.  It IS their turn.  Great kids and can't wait to share about them.  I would host again in a heartbeat.  However, just being home a few months, we need to wait a little longer to get settled.  Much more to come tomorrow though. 

Why I Hate Baby Showers

Ooh, such a horrible title, isn't it?  I will explain, I promise.  It all started years ago.  Having to go to a few baby showers in my 20's.  Then you figure it's my turn.  Nope, not yet.  I realized shortly my turn may never come due to infertility.  Hard pill to swallow for those who haven't been there.  You dread every single baby shower you're invited to.  Some, I even found excuses not to go.  I'd send a gift but the thought of being there w/ all the happy pregnant people was just too much for me to bear.  I will forewarn you all, this is going to be one of those shoot from the hip honest posts.  Probably a little too honest at times.  Raw emotions. Anyhow, everyone would dote over a child no one had seen except in a blurry ultrasound image.

Each and every baby shower got harder and harder for me.  I played the happy friend, cousin or whatever.  I did.  And truly, I was happy for them but it was absolute torture for me.  I'd leave in the car in tears every time.  I guess it was my way of coping from holding it in for however long I could.  See, once you learn you will never ever have the opportunity to have a baby, you must mourn that loss some time.  Even if no one knows or no one understands.  The longing will never go away.  Yes, it will ease, but it will never truly leave your mind.

I wanted to defy doctors.  At one point, even started thinking if I could prepare for a baby, I"ll be ready.  I'll be a good parent, I promise.  Bought little clothes here and there.  Guess it was a way to keep a dream alive.  Knowing deep down, it could never be.  Yet, despite feeling this way, I'd always try to celebrate with those who were having babies.  Share in their joy and their excitement.

Time passes and you make other plans.  In the back of your mind though, always hoping and praying that one day, that baby shower would be your baby shower.  So, plans come along and it IS your turn.  However, it's a little different.  You have decided to adopt and share it with the world. You know, like every other "pregnant" person would do.  You though do not have people offering to give you a baby shower or anything of that nature.  No.  Not sure if it is because people are afraid or if they really don't think you need one.  To you though, it's NOT about the gifts.  Not a bit.  It's about friends and family coming together to let you know just how happy they are for your future additions.  This is typically when the first punch in the gut comes from for the adoptive parent.  Secretly, you are hoping for a shower despite not saying it out loud.

Now, some of you lucky ones out there may just indeed get a baby shower for your adoptive child.  With our first two kids, we did!  From our work places. And it was SO needed.  Needed for the compassion, love, and friendships that you had.  Was wonderful to know that people cared about you and your future children.  See, our first two were not glistening babies.  Irina and Max were 6 and 4 at the time.  Wore size 18 month clothes and 2T.  Shower gifts included all kinds of things from toys to gift certs to even a swing set!  People were genuinely happy our "babies" were coming home.  A sweet co-worker even gave me all her daughter's clothes.  Very helpful for those of us spending every cent on an adoption.  But it was more than that.  It was seeing those people smile for us, for our kids.  our kids were at the party!  Just a joyous time.  It meant they cared about the kids and us.

Now, over the years I've gone to quite a few baby showers.  Multiple showers to for children over the years.  Meaning one family had a shower, few years later, another shower.  Adoptive families will not get two showers.  They will be lucky to get one. ( I was lucky)  It hurts.  I"m going to be honest.  It hurts.  You want to celebrate your kids' homecoming.  You want the world to know.  For one set of kids, I sent out adoption announcements.  I just wanted to share with the world.  I think that is part of the baby shower to begin share with the world your love of your children.  It's hard for me over the years to look back at folders with kids things in it.  I don't show it to the kids. I know some would have broken hearts thinking that people did not show the same kind of love that they did with our first two kids.  I'm talking not even a congratulations card.  I guess a part of me hurts for them.  What do you say to your kids when they're older?  I am fortunate that this last set of adoptions, we received some cards from people across the nation.  Fellow adoptive families mostly to show support and love.  I know some I never ever got to say thank you to.  It really does mean more than you know.

I have saved every single thing I've gotten in support of our adoptions.  Even those written on notebook paper.   It has meaning.  It has heart.  It has love and faith.  And to me, those are important things to pass onto my kids.  I know my kids will have questions.  I do.  I do not know yet what I'm going to tell all of them.  I do know I will be honest with them.  A few weekends ago, I received this from one of my cousins:

To us, it meant so much.  Congratulating us on the newest 3 additions.  I know they are kids 8, 9 and 10 in number.  However, no matter what number child it is, they are NO LESS significant than your first child.  Those of you who have multiple children know the first one is just as big as the last one.  I wanted to thank Angie and family for doing this.  I know she doesn't think it's a big deal but I sure do.  It was given with love and heart and that means so much to us.   It helps to teach our kids something.  

I'm not sure how this post will come off to some.  I'm not saying people should go out and buy adoptive families a gift.  That's not it.  But maybe just a card or a note to say you care or welcome home and welcome to the family would be nice.  It's the little things that mean the most to people.  It's the gesture of love.   Those who are relatives of adoptive parents, please consider giving your new relative a welcome home party or a baby/ kid shower.  It means the world to the parents.  It makes them feel just as special as other relatives who have had a shower in their honor.  Take them out to lunch or offer to watch their new one/s for an afternoon out.  Send them gas cards for future medical trips.  Adoptive parents coming home w/ kids have many more medical appointments than most new parents would.  Lots of catching up to do and specialists to see.  Go with them on one of these appointments.  Offer support. It does not have to be monetary.  A good hug or phone call can do wonders for folks.  If their kids need surgery, call and check in on them.  Visit them in the hospital if you can.  Treat them as you would any other relative with a new child.  Baby shower and all.  I bet after this I never get invited to another shower again.  LOL.  I do love going though.  Especially now.  My babies are home.  PS.  I don't really hate showers. 

Our garden

Our goal is to one day have about a half acre of just garden.  Right now, we just have a few raised beds and containers and that's it.  But, we're making the most of it for sure.  We cleared out the beds and turn the soil and planted some seeds, bulbs and plants.  Some things, tried and true and some new.  We test something new each year.  Kids are helping with it too which is nice.  Nik planted all the onions. 

Yeh, ignore the compost bin as well as that stupid scrap wood pile.  URGHH!!!  This is a very small garden compared to what we want but we work w/ what we've got.  There are 6 separate beds here.  Top one far right will have 4 pepper plants that are huge.  Buy them at Sam's.  They produce ALL summer long!  Great peppers.  should be in the store soon.  Second one down is the leeks and onions.  Onion bulbs are just coming up.  Leeks are already up.  Just bought 2 leeks b/c this is the first year we're trying these.  Bottom of course is the tomato bed.  We eat lots of tomatoes here.

Took this photo before I'd finished weeding this bed.  That big puff is oregano from last year!  It comes back every year and takes over more and more.  Good though.  Locals, need some, come and get it.  

This bed is starting to come up.  It is a mix of spring mixes, lettuces and radishes.  Should be a productive bed.  

Last bed is not shown but will have beans in it for sure.  Not sure what else yet.  This small container is our chives.  They also produce all year, even through the winter.  We cut them every time we have baked potatoes, chili, or soup.  It's small but is all we need every time.  

These are the containers for one type of lettuce.  Another container for 2 strawberry plants. Seeing how they do this year.  It's a test.  

This is what I cut off for lunch today.  Yum!  Like I said, we'd love a super big garden.  Hopefully, we can sell and move and enjoy a nice big garden.  We'll see.  Otherwise, plenty of space for containers for sure.  And, if we stay, have ideas for planters all along the driveway.  All I know, is we love being able to grow our own food.  Well, part of it anyways.  More to come tomorrow.  Bill paying time is calling me. 

A 2 year old in a 5yo body

What's it like?  I'm going to tell you what it is like for us as a family.  Many wondering why people adopt kids that are so delayed.  They only see delays.  I'm going to tell you what we see.  The good, the bad and the ugly of it all.  Summer came home to us just 3 months ago.  She has agenesis of the corpus callosum and colpocephaly.  She also has low white matter in her brain.  We are slowly working through the laundry list of specialists we need to see due to this dx.  Since these children have to work through rewiring of some pathways in their brains, learning things such as walking, writing, speech etc. will most likely be delayed.  She did not walk till almost two and that was with help.  Her speech is delayed as is gross and fine motor skills.  She was evaluated recently and everything is on par w/ a just turned 2yo level.  Hey, the age I always, always wanted to adopt but never had the chance to.

So, naturally, we must make adjustments in the house for a 2yo running around in a 5yo body.  Some of these children are wobbly.  Summer was one of those kids.  Very wobbly.  Fell all the time when first home.  Fell out of the van every time we went somewhere.  Fell off the dining room chair.  Fell out of bed.  Fell going up the stairs.  You name it, she fell off of it.  Now, she can run.  Yes, run.  She'll fall occasionally, but not too often.  It's so much fun watching her run and kick the soccer ball at the same time.  Summer will still fall with running but still not bad.

Summer can not decide if she's right or left handed and that is simply b/c her brain can not talk to each other.  No connection between the hemispheres.  Summer's emotions are pretty on par w/ a two year old.  At best.  You can make silly faces at her like you would a baby and speak baby talk to her and she'll giggle the sweetest giggle.  If you say a word, Summer will repeat it.  However, she can not really speak on her own yet.  And I say yet w/ promise.  Her brain can't seem to process what the conversation should be coming out.  So words don't come out really.  Just gibberish.  Not sure if this will be life long or just a few years.

Summer, like a 2yo, must be reminded to eat.  Otherwise, it's just not of importance to her.  We used to use a sippy cup but really, she does fine w/out one now so letting her be a big girl in the areas she can.  Summer needs help getting dressed.  She tries so dog gone hard.  So hard.  I wish some of my 'on target' kids would put half as much effort forth as she does.  Summer can not button or zip or any of that stuff yet.  She'll get there.  I'll steal a line from a friend... 5 is the new 2 you know.  In their family they say 3 is the new 18 months.  Love it!  Anyhow, Summer is working on some basics.  Learning how to color.  Learning how to eat the way she's supposed to w/ utensils.  She has a whole world to explore and learn from.

Summer is at the 2yo age.  Everything is "what is this?  What is this?  What is this?  At least 50 times a day.  It gets old but yet it doesn't.  Love hearing her say it.  It means she is trying to learn.  Emotionally, Summer is 2yo if not younger.  She'll dramatically fall to the ground and attempt what looks like a tantrum.  Those who didn't know her, would pick her up thinking she was hurt.  Happened again today.  We just let her lay there.  She will learn.  I did eventually scoop her up like a baby, walk and rock her at the same time and talk to her.  She stopped.  We talked about what she did. Remember though, with all her brain disorders, this can happen tomorrow and she won't remember a thing.  Just the way it goes.  Thankfully, we have FASers too so we know repetition is key.  Forget today, what you won't remember tomorrow is what I say.  LOL.  Sometimes, you must have a sense of humor.  Otherwise, you'd go insane.

We were not expecting her not to be potty trained.  We were told she was.  Clearly, she is not.  Diapers on a 5yo are not the easiest to deal with.  Not fun.  But, we go at her pace and if that is where she's at, then that's where we are.  Doesn't mean we aren't trying to potty train her like crazy though.  Just know that now I know why people give diapers at baby showers.  They're expensive!

It's hard having a 5yo that's a 2yo in nature some times.  Others, I love it to pieces.  I love how she is fascinated by the simple things in life. I love how she could careless what a cell phone or ipod is.  Yet, go to a kindergarten class today & they'll tell you.  Some of them even have their own if you can believe it.  That drove me nuts last year.  Really, it did.  Kids that age are never out of supervision of an adult so really, there is no need for one. Just my opinion.  Summer has no concept of these things.  She likes picking flowers or swinging or playing on the trampoline.  She loves the simple things of life.  The hammock is her favorite spot to swing.  She is learning how to play with toys now.  Watching her with dolls is a real treat for sure.  As a 2yo, she's learning how to talk.  She's learning the word no.  Learning how to imitate.  Summer has a ways to go.  Yet, just look at all she has accomplished thus far!  Amazing would be an understatement.  When she came here, she could not do things without falling.  She used to look at her food instead of eat it.  Expecting someone to feed her.  She used to be terrified of the tub.  She used to cry all the time.  Now, summer is full of life. We have seen such a transformation in our 5yo/ 2yo little girl.  She is growing by leaps and bounds.  I know at times people don't understand why we must treat her as though she is 2yo. b/c she looks like a 4 or 5yo.  However, it is for the benefit of her development so that's where we are.  We have learned not to care where they are developmentally and at what age.  Nik & Max were at an 18 month old level when they came home and caught up very quickly.  I know Summer's case is much different and will most likely remain very delayed developmentally.  But to see each accomplishment, it just means a lot.  Many don't think it is a big deal that she can now put a ponytail holder in her hair.  But we do!  She can hold a fork.  She can drink w/out spilling.  The list goes on and on.  She doesn't wobble any more. It's fantastic!  We see so much growth and potential.  yes, I will admit that some times it is hard having a 2yo in a 5yo body.  However, I have always dreamed of having a 2yo and I think I sort of got my wish!  And you know what, I don't care how long I have my 2yo little girl.  She's my little baby girl.  Yes, I want her to grow up but we will take it at her pace and her time. 

BTW, I wrote this earlier.  Guess what Summer did today for the first time ever?!  Went to the potty all by herself.  Did you hear that?!  All by herself.  She came running to me SO excited and proud of herself.  this is huge btw.  Very huge.  For her, everything takes longer.  Signals take longer for the brain to figure things out since it is missing a key component of message carrying.  Summer continues to amaze me daily with what all she can do.  Hey, we may be able to get out of those diapers quicker than age 8 or 9.  Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful?  Just had to share.  I know most would be not as excited but I am.  I know that most kids figure this out years before she did but she did it.  All by herself.  Very proud today.  she stayed in underwear all day long & did not get them wet.  Amazing.  We may get this!  So, if you have a 2yo in a 5yo body, don't sweat it.  It comes in time.  And what doesn't, you find another way to handle it.