Saturday, May 5, 2012

Homeschool Happenings

Well, school will be coming to a close soon.  Thought I'd catch you all up a bit on what we're doing and what we're planning on doing this summer.  This summer we'll still keep up learning though it won't officially be in the books so to speak.  We'll be studying the Revolutionary War, Egypt, and Summer Olympics this summer.  All ages can study w/ us if they wish and I think we'll have fun with these topics.  Lots of extras I'm already gathering. 

For now though, we're reviewing a few things.  We're currently starting dinosaurs.  The other night I found a kit at Cracker Barrel of all places.  They really got into it.  Actually, we all did. 

They were paleontologists and excavating a dinosaur!  Carefully tapping.  

Here they are brushing the excess dust off their discoveries.  

Really getting down and dirty and getting to work.  All were working and all were taking turns on it.  Got to watch Summer w/ that hammer though.  

You'd thought they discovered real bones.  LOL.  After the bones are taken out, you can put it together.  That's what we're doing tonight.  It's a T-Rex model.  They are definitely hands on learners for sure.  

Do you think Nik cutting the fabric is a good idea w/ Kota laying there??  Luckily, no tails were cut in the making of this blanket.  

We had eye exams on Friday at Walmart.  Saw a blanket set on sale (no sewing so just my style) for $5.  So, they got two.  One for the boys and one for the girls.  Haven't made the girls yet.  Their turn is today.  Boys made theirs yesterday and were thrilled w/ it.  Logan, Alex and Nik really got into it.  They had to measure the corners out w/ a ruler.  I like that they want to try new things.  

Homeschool I have learned a lot this year and will be very prepared for how I'm teaching them next year.  We are finishing up the year right now and also reviewing.  Into dinosaurs for science.  I looked through the science folder the other day and was shocked at how much we did actually cover.  Thought we weren't doing so well but apparently we covered way more than I thought.  Math multiplication facts are coming along well.  Much better.  That is all Alex wished to learn this year.  I'm working w/  Nik on fractions.  He's getting there.  All have strengths and weaknesses.  So this year was all about finding those and getting some learning in.  Next year we'll kick it up a notch.  They also had new sibs to get used to this year and change in family dynamics.  Need to test them and soon.  Very soon.  Not testing Logan and Reni yet.  No sense in it really. Plus, have up to a year to test them.  And, since they only really started in January, I'm holding off till more English is learned.  We survived homeschool this year.  Next year I think is going to be really, really awesome.  this year wasn't bad but lots of trial and error seeing what works w/ them and what doesn't.  Nice though when you see them actually retain some things they've learned.  Much more to come.  Warren and Max hauled off trash.  Rain has stopped so going to work outside I believe.  Hope your weekend is good.  Three posts down.  Maybe I can get three more done???  Who knows.  Getting to be productive this weekend.

Max's Drawings

Well, I actually only have one shot of something Max started.  But, wanted to share it anyhow b/c I thought it was good. 

Max started to draw the Last Supper.  I thought he started out doing a great job.  I really hope he finishes some more of the detail.  Not bad for his first attempt.  I think Max has talent.  And, he has a passion for art.  Loves to draw.  Got very much an engineering mind in his perspectives.  Had to share. 

Alphabet Soup Dx's

FAS, RAD, ADHD, PTSD, ODD, OCD, SI, MMR, HOH, PI, ONH, c-ACC,  , FTT, CAPD, ASD, AN, aka, and the list goes on and on and on.  What are these alphabet soup of dx's?  Well, it is just a smidgen of the dx's my kids have.  Some aren't abbreviated like deafness, anxiety, microcephaly, colpocephaly, developmental delays, institutional autism, club foot, syndactylty, missing digits, scoliosis, idiopathic short stature, processing issues, radial articulation, asthma, eczema etc.  I really could go on.  Many folks focus solely on what the "issues" are and not what the child is.  Yes, sometimes I'll mention their dx's.  For the most part though, I tell what they're up to or their personalities.  In our house we have a saying "you are no different than anybody else."  Period.  I don't care who you are or what you have.  I will NOT let my kids use their disabilities as an excuse.  One tried to do that the other day. I was on them like flies on honey.  Just wasn't going to happen in my book.  Nope.  You are who you are. 

Let's talk a little about these dx's.  First, I know some may not know those abbreviations.  So, we'll start there.

RAD-- Reactive attachment disorder
FAS-- Fetal alcohol syndrome.  Now they say FASD to encompass more.
ADHD-- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
PTSD-- Post traumatic stress disorder
ODD-- opposition defiant disorder
OCD-- obsessive compulsive disorder
SI-- sensory integration
MMR-- mildly mentally retarded (yes, that's how they worded it)
HOH-- Hard of hearing
PI-- Post institutionalized
ONH-- Optic nerve hypoplasia
c-ACC-- complete agenesis of corpus callosum
FTT-- failure to thrive
CAPD-- central auditory processing disorder
ASD-- atrial septum defect
AN-- auditory neuropathy
AKA-- above knee amputee

Now, I am not going to name what kid has what.  See no need in that.  What are the two things I probably know the most about?  FAS and RAD.  Hands down.  I can spot a RADish a mile away as well as an FASer.  It was like one co-worker explained to me years ago.  I was working in Blockbuster w/a 20 something yo co-worker.  Yeh, I felt old.  LOL.  Anyhow, I had 4 kids at the time and getting ready to get Bojan.  One of mine walked in the store.  Literally, just walked in.  John said to me your son has ADHD.  I stared at him and said how on earth did you know that?!  He said we just "know."  He had ADHD too.  He said it was how he walked in.  I never noticed that before.  Yet, this guy did.  Why?  Because he lives it.  Just like last trip back from Russia.  Met another little RADish on the plane.  And sure enough, her parents knew something was up and asked me for advice of what to do next.  I think we can spot a RAD kid now or an FAS kid now as we live it day to day.  24/7.  We know the mannerisms, the quirks, the cycles they go through.  For us, it's second nature.  When you live FAS all day everyday you get to know it.  Yes, I refer to FAS as an it.  It is a separate entity as it is NOT who the child is.  The child has this disorder.  But it definitely does not define who the child is.  personality does that. 

I have many dx's that I didn't list.  Half the time, I forget what they are unless I look on the paper.  Yes, I could easily get more dx's I'm sure.  However, we choose not to go that route.  Just like we don't pursue every therapy under the sun when the kids first get home.  Summer qualified for OT, PT, and I'm sure speech.  She was evaluated at a 2yo level.  She's 5yo.  Would it have benefited her?  Not sure.  It would not have hurt, that' s for sure.  But look at just how much she's learned from watching siblings, taking time to soak up what's happening around her, etc.  She would have surpassed most those goals by now.  No doubt.  I will get an update done on her soon.  You'd be shocked at how far she's come.  Bottom line is kids are resilient.  They bounce back.  Take them out of the situation/ orphanage they were in, and put them in a family.  Does a family fix everything?  No.  Sure helps though.

I think many new families to adoption focus on all the dx's and what's going on w/ that, it's hard sometimes to see the child and what they are like.  Alyona came home malnourished, failure to thrive, FAS, ASD and a pile (And I mean a pile) of other dx's.  Didn't matter.  Yes, we got the heart checked out first.  She was 7yo and weighed 22 or 23 pounds I believe.  Can't remember exactly.  I read blogs about weights of kids and how shocked folks are.  Many children come home this way.  Yes, some are in severe shape and those need to be addressed immediately.  The others though, time, love, good food, and family go an awful long way in the grand scheme of things.  Once the kids are checked out medically, we focus solely on attachment/ adjustments to the family.  No therapies, no outings, etc.  Just family for a bit.  Then, after 6 months, we determine what therapies they may or may not need.  See, the kids lived without us all these years and survived.  All orphanage kids imo are delayed.  My opinion.  It's the environment.  Once home though, they catch up super fast.  After a few months, we then see what their needs are and what changed.

Why am I writing all this?  Because we are approaching that mark on the Bulgarian kiddos.  Older kids need nothing.  Summer does not need PT or OT.  She's doing awesome w/ soccer helping her in the PT department as well as a trampoline, swing set, etc.  OT, she is doing school w/ her sibs and feeding herself.  We will be having her evaluated for speech.  She's behind but even our therapist said she won't need much of it. I concur.  Having this time though, gave us time to get to know her.  Not her disorder.  I believe that's what new adoptive parents need to do.  Yes, some of these dx's can be scary.  Trust me, first time I heard a few letters, I didn't know what to think.  I don't ignore what my kids have.  I just love who the kid is. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am not against therapies, not against dx's or finding out what's wrong.  I am against rushing into everything.  See, I've seen the before and after.  I have teens now that were adopted years upon years ago.  Orphanage rocking so bad that you would have thought their head was going to explode.  No joke.  Did we do anything for that?  No.  Let nature take it's course and provided love.  Rocking subsides.  Some do it from time to time but hardly ever and never as violently as when they first arrived.  And have you ever had to hold your kid down while a night terror was going on?  Wow!  That's an experience I care not to relive.  But they survived. And they are thriving and living life.

Some of my kids came home from horrors I have yet to share on here and probably never will.  Some things remain private.  A movie would be more believable than the reality some of them had to endure and live day after day. Yet, you've seen the pictures.  Resilience.  They have overcome much in their young lives.  Just thought it was time to share my thoughts on some things as I follow other blogs too and see what goes on.  Many things are on medicals over in EE that once home, the kids don't have.  That was true w/ many of our kids.  Many.  Does that mean the facilities over there didn't care about them?  No.  It's just a different culture, a different mindset.  It's not the same here.  However, go back about 50 or 60 years and see what the feelings were towards the disabled back then.  Not the same.  Shoot, adoption was kept secret for years in America.  Other countries need some time to catch up too.  Years ago in America people were told to institutionalize those w/ Down Syndrome and other disabilities.  People don't do that here much.  Things have changed but it's taken lots and lots of time. Yes, some orphanages are bad.  Many are not though.  Okay, it is NOT the same as a family and I get that. Please don't misinterpret.  Many places try their hardest with the little resources they are given to care for the kids.  And then there are the horrible places. A few of my kids , not many, came from such facilities.  They should not exist.  But the majority I've been to truly try very hard to care for the kids.  I guess I just don't want new people to to read adoption blogs and getting a bit hesitant b/c it sounds as though all the kids coming home have major, major issues or the orphanages are horrible.  That's not the case at all. 

Over the last 12 years in the adoption community I've seen lots of changes.  Lots.  Some good, some not so good.  I don't like how some fellow adoptive parents treat others on blogs.  Some things said are downright mean and hurtful.  I do like how many have rallied together for other families.  I do like how awareness has been brought to the forefront for the orphanages. I would love to see more orphanages that try w/ all their heart to do what they can for the kids be brought to light and spoken of.  Some of these caregivers really love the kids they are made to care for.   Some of mine took the time to make baby books for my kids.  Take pictures of them.  I'm in touch w/ many of the previous caregivers still and wouldn't trade that.  See, many of these orphanages do NOT get the PPR's.  They go to the governments and ministries and caretakers never get to see how the kids flourished at home.  I think that's ashame.  So, I send pictures or care boxes when we can.  Let them know we're still here, still thinking about them and our kids are doing great. 

So much more I could say.  I don't really have a point to this post.  Just seen some things lately and want to make sure others know that not all is bad out there. Yes, it could definitely use a change.  I agree with that.  But over my 12 years, I have seen great sacrifice amongst birth mothers and caregivers alike.  I've seen true love for the kids.  I"ve seen deep, raw emotions of love.  I want that side to be told too.  I think it's important as much as bringing light to some of the not so great things.  I've seen humanitarian aid over the years do SO much, nutrition programs, grandmother programs, programs for job skills for older kids, etc.  Lots of good trying to be done.  Playgrounds replaced.  Yes, the playgrounds over there are horrible.  I've been to enough that I didn't even want to sit down at the last one.  However, that is not their fault.  They are doing the best they can with what they have. 

I know all about corruption too though.  We were caught up in it and witnessed it firsthand during 2 of our adoptions.  Will never forget it.  Seeing someone in power who is supposed to be caring for the kids taking from the kids makes your heart want to hurt.  But you can't let it.  You have to see the good that totally outweighs the bad the majority of the time. The many, many orphans that are adopted each year.  The programs set up for those left behind.  Organizations set up for nutrition.  Agencies set up for adoptions.  Orphan conferences set up.  I could go on and on.  Things are changing I think for the better.  But things are changing and I want people to see the good too. 

I truly hope this post didn't come off wrong or offend.   This is not in any way  shape or form directed at anyone.  Not one bit.  It's just a general post saying I want to bring to light some of the good that is happening around in the adoption world.  After 12 years of being in the adoption world, I can tell you I have seen both good and bad all these years.  I've been part of the good and I've experienced some of the bad.  I've seen people lose tens of thousands of dollars by agencies.  I've seen agencies bend over backwards to help a family.  We were one of those families.  There is just so much good I've seen over the years I just had to say something.  I also wanted to say in the long run, it's not the dx's of a child.  It's the child that matters.  Bottom line.  It's the child that you longed for, wanted for so, so long.  The child that you wanted to parent that you crossed an ocean for them.  Despite the bad that you saw and heard, the nerves, the unknown, all you cared about was  your child getting home safe and sound in your arms.  Isn't that what adoption is all about anyhow?  The child. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Landscaping on a budget

I know I did a post last year on this.  Thought I'd share just a few more.  Really, only a small bit but figured someone else might want to do the same.  So, here goes nothing.

Normally, I put a hibiscus plant in here.  But, at $30 to $40, I just couldn't justify it this year.  So, I wanted height.  I went w/ gladiolus bulbs.  They are doing well.  I'll get the height I wanted and also tons of color.  

Our hostas are huge.  Roughly they get about 4' across once they grow out.  They look droopy here b/c I just watered them.  You can take hostas and easily divide them and plant them elsewhere in the yard.  We do this each year.  This one not b/c of trying to sell the house.  

Right behind the hosta is a hydrangea shrub. I always buy these on clearance when they look like crap.  They come back to life.  This one should double in size this year.  These are easy to care for, grow big and beautiful and are low maintence.  Just keep them watered and they are happy.  Gorgeous flowers on them too that we use for centerpieces.  Now, the two pink ones above cost me $1.50 a piece on the Lowes clearance rack for plants.  I buy stuff there all the time.  Now, I know these are impatients and considered annuals.  However, let them go to seed and they come back every year.  I had just dug the holes in this picture above.  But, you can lightly see springs of green along the wall and elsewhere.  Those are the impatients coming up.  they are gorgeous.  In the above picture, it is covered w/ color in the next month until October.  Filled. You won't see that red hardly at all.  All from going to seed.  Cheap, easy.  My kind of gardening.  The plants hanging are Portulacas which I like but I don't like where these are located.  Going to move them.  

A very inexpensive gardening trick is honeysuckles.  They smell simply divine.  This was taken before we had clipped them so not even or as pretty.  I'll have to take a shot when it's trimmed up.  Bonus is kids love them.  Nothing like a wall of green in your yard w/ white and yellow flowers that smell delicious.  They grow very quickly.  We just train them to go on the fence.  They have spread like crazy the last few years.  

So many easy ways to landscape w/ minimal expense.  Even a non-expert like me can do something.  Love to hear any ideas you all have b/c always looking for new ideas.  Happy gardening. 

Flabulous to Fabulous

It is high time I start holding myself accountable again. I used to do this every Friday.  Starting back up again.  Last week, I lost 4 lbs.  This week, nothing.  It was to be expected though as I was truly sedentary w/ a bum knee.  I can walk now but still hard to bend it and such.  So, taking it easy but hoping to be able to do cardio or at least part of it tomorrow. 

Now, I mentioned something last week but never elaborated.  At times, we watch documentaries regarding where our food comes from, how it's processed and things of that nature.  Really taking everything in, reading more literature, getting more sources, talking to more people, etc.  I have decided to slowly go back to my vegetarian days.  Slowly.  Some of the kids want to do this with me and I'll let them if they wish.  All but 2 of mine love fruits and veggies and eat about anything.   Right now, I'm just beginning this whole process.  This past week, that meant that I ate no meat for breakfast or lunch.  No processed turkey sandwiches any more.  I had 4 meals last week w/ meat and 3 meals it will end up being this week.  I'll leave it at 3 meals this coming week as well and then make it two meals the week after.  While doing this, need to make sure nutrients are being met for sure so reading up quite a bit on that one. 

I honestly don't think I could ever go vegan.  I LOVE dairy just too much.  Eggs, milk, cheese, etc.  Too hard for me personally to do vegan.  However, vegetarian and moving toward a plant based diet is what I could do b/c I do love veggies and fruit.  I've gone two weeks w/ no tea.  Now, those from the south can understand what no sweet tea means.  LOL.  I've drank milk and water.  Well, today I broke.  Rarity we buy soda here but we did.  On a whim and I had a cup of Mountain Dew.  Oh well.  But you know what, it was just enough.  2 weeks, one cup of Mt. Dew I don't think is too shabby considering it's been nothing but milk and water;  oh and some orange juice. 

We like making things from scratch here.  Always have.  The rest of the family does want to make changes as well.  Yana wants to stay healthy for track.  Max for weight lifting.  Irina to lose weight.  Warren and I to lose weight and get healthy.  Alex has been watching his brother so he wants to stay healthy.  Other younger kids could care less and Bojan would eat an entire cow if you let him.  What we all do love though is what Poly Face Farms does.  We are actually contemplating a trip up there for various reasons.  We truly want to purchase organic meat however the price is just outrageous still.  Still thinking.  Like I said, we're at the beginning stages of things right now to start making permanent changes in our eating habits. 

Personally, I've been drinking a lot of water.  That's an easy change b/c I don't mind water one bit.  I've always eaten a good amount of fruit.  Today is our farmer day where we get almost all our fruits and veggies from.  Starting to look at various recipes.  The other day, we needed something super quick.  So, I made spaghetti and cooked up some tofurkey sausage.  Shocking that almost all the kids ate it and asked for more.  Irina didn't like it but that' not surprising.  She literally complains about any meal.  We leave her out of votes and Bojan out of votes when it comes to food.  Irina hates everything and Bojan loves everything he eats.  Their votes don't count.  Rest though loved it.  Sometimes you do need convenience and this was one of those times. 

Trying to get recipes, variety involved.  My goal is by the end of the Summer to live a little differently and feel a lot better.  Trick is finding balance.  Know I can do it though.  Was so happy last week when I lost weight but this week nothing.  Of course, not moving and being in a brace probably had a little to do w/ the #'s on  the scale.  Next week I know I'll be losing .  Can't wait.  Yana wants me to run w/ her.  I said I first have to be able to walk at a decent pace.  LOL.  She said we could run a marathon.  I told her I want to start out w/ a 5K.  Something I wanted to do last month but life got in the way.  Finding a way to balance, like I said.  Suggestions are of course welcomed.  I do know what to do.  My major in school btw was Health and Fitness Specialist.  I know, ironic, isn't it??  My dream is to get back into that feel good healthy shape I used to be in.  And I think changing my diet too will help along w/ the working out. 

Next week, my goal is to eat just 3 meals out of the entire week w/ meat.  No soft drinks, tea, etc.  Also, to cook up one new vegetarian dish for the family.  And no, pizza is not counting kids.  Other goals I've set for myself...going to bed by 11:30 pm.  Drinking more water.  Working out 3X a week w/ cardio, stretching everyday, weightlifting (light) everyday.  Going for walks once a day everyday.  Gardening at least 20 minutes a day (easy one for me as I love it!).  May sound like a lot but those are my goals.  I figured if I can spell it out on here, maybe I'll stick to it.  If I don't post next Friday, you all best ask me why!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Must be getting warmer out

It's in the low 90's here.  Not yet the sweat dripping humid temps it gets to here but first real heat of the year.  Bulgarian kids are dying.  LOL.  They aren't used to the higher temps yet.  Wait till were in the hundreds and heat indexes of 110.  That should be fun.  All my EE kiddos go through this the first summer they experience in A/C.  Don't worry, they'll be fine.  They just don't know it yet. 

Told Max he was going to pass out.  I only blew up the turtle's head and thought I'd pass out.  Our pump is broken.  Max was not happy to find that pump broken.

Reni, feeling Summer's wet hair.

She is just so stinkin' cute!  Remember, a few months ago it was screaming bloody murder trying to give her a bath.  She was terrified of water.  Yep, she'll be in the big pool at our house in no time.  

Our youngest Bulgarian Beauty.  Just love her to pieces.  

Big brother Nik wanted to join in.  These two have so much fun together.  Nik even said for the first time, I love you to Summer!  On his own!  Signed it to her.  She was thrilled.  

I give up ever having grass growing as my kids are always playing in the yard.  Small little water but it sure brought a lot of fun yesterday and today.

Well, haven't left for soccer yet.  Logan and Alex are being bad again so I am not taking all the kids alone.  Can't trust these two right now.  Alex is the ring leader and trying to break it.  He is in what is called a RAD cycle and I'll explain that one day.  My kids will go through cycles.  They are rough.  Really rough.  So, not taking them w/out back up.  Warren is stuck at work w/ a problem.  Girls might not make practice today.  Good news is they practice here.  

Since Warren was supposed to cook, I need to go to the store, and we haven't taken the kids out to eat for quite  some time, suggested we take the kids out to eat.  At a real restaurant.  No fast food garbage.  None of us right now can decide where to go but everyone is excited.  Got to remember, it is a rarity we go out to eat.  We're all starving right now though so I'm making some chocolate chip cookies.  LOL.  More later.  I think this is post 4 today.  And, I even organized the homeschoolers stuff.  Didn't realize just how much we studied in science this year.  History, science and math we made lots of progress in.  Reading has much to be desired.  It is the area they struggle in a lot.  Okay, time to make the cookies.

And.... another one's gone

That's right.  Another one is gone in our house.  What is gone you say? 

Why a tooth of course!  Nik lost another tooth and was thrilled.  It was funny b/c he signed tooth fairy by flapping little wings by his shoulder.  He insisted we leave the window open.  See, in our house the tooth mouse comes.  This started w/ Yana and Alex.  Yana told us all about how the tooth mouse came in Russia.  Now, I have yet to hear about this tooth mouse from any other Russian adoptee but it sort of stuck in this house so we go with it.  We have to leave a window open for the mouse to climb in and out and get the tooth.  Ease the fears of the dogs eating said mouse.  Yeh, lots of trouble this tale is for sure.  Yet, all these years we do it over and over again.  Nik found his dollar this 4 am.  Bojan was highly irate to hear of said tooth loss.  At 4 am.  Nik is now trying to loosen more teeth.  He looks so grown up here to me in this picture.  

Okay, three posts so far today.  Not too bad.  I'm getting there.  Kids ate/ eating lunch and getting ready for our dinosaur lapbook.  Nik and Summer already ran around outside in the water.  Speech therapist here.

Bojan's concert

As some of you know, Bojan is in 6th grade and started playing trumpet this year.  He loves it.  Honestly, I never thought he'd stick with it but he did and has acquired a passion for music.  BTW, he is the only one of our 10 kids that are musically inclined so it is nice to see.  I played the flute & piccolo in high school and college.  Warren played trumpet and honestly a ton of other instruments too.  He was one that had talent unlike myself.   So, on Tuesday, Bojan had his concert.  Same day boys had soccer.  Plans were for Warren to come home and take the boys to soccer.  All they had to do was get dressed.  I think the neighbors may have heard my voice from across the street.  The ONLY thing I ever ask is for them to have their stuff together. I hate, hate last minute hunting for items.  Knwowing full well you had all day to find it.  URGHH!!!  Girls assisted and let them use some of the girls' shin guards.  The whole thing really was just a mess.  Anyhow, Warren got home in time to take Logan, Alex and Nik to soccer.  I took Bojan and the 5 girls w/ me.  Max stayed home to much disappointment of Bojan.  I actually was really surprised.  Think he just had a rough day. 

Anyhow, get to the school and unload Bojan which is no easy task.  Keep in mind, I'm in that stupid black knee immoblizer brace.  We must have looked like a car accident victims in the making.  The rest of us parked and hobbled to the gym.  Sat down and realized I did not take Summer to the bathroom before we left.  So, Irina took her.  During the concert, Alyona bent down and I noticed the tick on her head.  Yana was decked out in her track gear as she had just gotten home.  Glad the audience was casual dress.  Had her take the pictures.  Well, camera wasn't working.  I know we need a new one it's just an expense I'm trying to avoid at the moment.  So, she did manage to grab  a few though.  Here they are:

Here is the one thing I honestly wished they wouldn't have done.  They wheeled him out first all by himself.  I wished he would have just gone w/ the class in order since he's on the end. You know, to be a part of the band.  I'm sure there were reasons but kind of sad when I saw that.  

They first started w/ a bunch of warm up exercises and scales.  Here, they were just using their mouth pieces.  

Bojan in action!  Playing the trumpet.  It's great to hear when they actually play songs and not just scales.  Listening to him practice at home, you really hear just how far he's come this year.

A picture of the band.  These are 6th graders just starting out.  you never know which ones will make music a long term career.  Either way, I love that he's playing and enjoying it.  He did great and we're proud of Bojan.  The girls enjoyed seeing him play.  It obviously sounds much different to them than just their brother practicing alone at home.  We'll do what we can to encourage Bojan's love of music.  The middle school did a great job of performing for sure.  I was clawing the seats at the end but that is only b/c every little sound was killing me.  Went in w/ a huge migraine and came out w/ a bigger one.  LOL.  Even so, they sounded awesome and have truly come a long way.  Can't wait to see where this will take him. 

Casts are off!!

Much rejoicing in this house to finally have casts off two of the kids.  Shoot, even I'm off crutches.  Right now, only issue we're having is Alyona doesn't want to move her arm.  Mind you, it's perfectly fine.  May have to go to bribery soon.  We'll see how she progresses today.  Pictures to follow below but if squeamish, you might want to look away.

Alyona's arm.  Finally, casts off.  No more surgeries for her.  She is so relieved.  After such a bad surgery job the first time, it was difficult even to do this little surgery of taking out her hardware and redoing her scarring.  

Notice how thin the arm is?  It will fill out some but not much.  Many contributing factors for that.  However, she is left-handed so this is a good thing.  Alyona was thrilled to learn the surgeon at Duke actually made her scar smaller.  Much, much smaller and not so ugly.  Hey, to a pre-teen, that's important.  She still has her permanent damage but she has learned to live with it.  

Bojan, getting ready to gross out his siblings who are anxiously awaiting to see some stitches and scarring.  

For the first time in his life, his leg is lined up with his knee.  Can't believe how straight it is.  

Some scarring on the sides.  Overall though, amazing that he could fix it.  Bojan is allowed to weight bear now in the walking boot.  Goes back in 4 weeks for a re-check.  After that, hoping to be cleared for a few years.  Bojan's clubfoot was not quite corrected right in Serbia when he was younger.  Got to remember Western medicine is a bit different here.  What was great was they did fix his fingers at the orphanage.  So, he's needed no hand surgeries here whatsoever.  Bojan is ready to get up and walk.  He doesn't have his prosthetic yet though.  Hopefully, he'll be able to put that on at the end of the week.  We're all ready to see him walk again.  And Bojan is more than ready.  It will be the first time for him ever to walk w/ his foot facing forward versus sideways.  May take some time to get used to.  He's a quick learner though.

More going on.  Kids are taking a break eating popcorn and watching How It's Made.  Neat show.  I re-organized their science folders today.  No wonder they couldn't find anything. URGHH!!  We're starting dinosaurs this afternoon.  More later.  Lunch time and then speech, dinosaurs.  Did math and reading already.  Workbooks later today.  Or maybe we should call it quits and eat some ice cream.  Yeh, I like that last option better. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Handcuffs and a hanging

Catchy title, huh?  Don't worry, kids are all still alive.  Pictures should say it all.

Why my kids have handcuffs, I'm not quite sure.  I'm guessing from a magic kit?  Of course w/ my kids, you honestly can't know where half this stuff comes from.  My kids and neighborhood kids tend to trade.  Hate it w/ a passion.  Debunked a trade deal yesterday.  And, it seems to almost always be the boys.  Now, if only those handcuffs could stay on some times.  That would be real magic.  LOL.  After this, Max pretended to arrest his brothers.  

And this is Bob.  Apparently, someone was tired of Bob talking again.  This is Bojan's dummy.  He uses it all the time and practices all the time.  I came into the living room the other day, looked up and was a bit freaked out.  Bob is hanging by handcuffs.  I have some twisted kids at times.  Don't worry, Bob made it safely down.  Though, he does need some new duds.  

Cool link

I've been way too busy today.  So, catch up time tomorrow.  For now though, ran across the coolest link.   Wish I had talent to take photos like this guy.  I can just imagine my kids in some of these.  Take a look:  cool photos .

I will do quite a few posts the next few days.  Much to say.  Bojan's concert, Yana's conference meet, soccer practice, two boys I'm highly disappointed in...again, and much, much more.  Irina works tomorrow.  Lots of school work needs to be done though and errands.  I need a clone this week but can't seem to find one.  On the up side, no more crutches for me.  Just a limp.  church clubs were this evening.  Kids always have an awesome time there.  More tomorrow.  Got to get more paperwork done.  Sorry, no Thoughtful Thursday post.  I'm lucky this week to remember where I live.  I do promise next week to have one of those posts b/c it has been too long lately.  Stay tuned.  Happenings left and right at Chaos Manor.  Also, think it's time for quite a few updates on the kids home for a few months.  And, the ones home a few years.  Can't wait to share.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

After track

Last Thursday after Yana's track meet, we went straight to the girls' soccer practices.  nothing like going from one thing to another. 

Summer, waiting on the sidelines watching her sibs.

Her sweet, sweet smile.

Nik, getting ready to do something creative.

Alyona and Reni are on the field practicing.  

Nik decided to make a kite out of the blanket we use to sit on.  

Oh Bummer, I missed the shot.  Either that or she's soaking up some sun.  

More to come. Bojan's concert is tonight so need to write after that.  Casts are off!!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Yana's track meet

This season, we have not been able to go to the track meets like we wanted to.  Sorry but I can not spend over $50 each time to go.  It's $6 a person to get in.  I've seen many stand outside the fences though but I figured if we tried that we'd make too much of a scene.  So, told her we would definitely go to one.  Last Thursday they had a home meet.  Now, Irina told me she'd be able to come b/c she'd be home early from work.  Didn't happen.  Had to make other plans as it is too hard to go alone w/ them.  Trust me on that one.  Put it this way, they say one FASer is the equivalent of three children.  Plus, I have three who still would not know what to do or where to go if they got lost at such a venue.  Hence, bring an older one w/ me to help.  Since Irina couldn't go, made Max go.  He's stronger than I am to lift Bojan in and out of the van anyhow. 

Got to the meet just in time to see her run.  What a relief we didn't miss it!  Neat to see your kids in action.  She loves to run so nice to see her in her element.  I did not get pics of her running as we had just arrived & frankly were too busy watching her run around the track.  But, do have some pics of them hanging around the stadium.

Not the best shot of Yana.  She'll kill me for it later.  She forgot her running shorts.  Things disappear in this house.  I'm telling you.

Bojan, resting in the sun.  

 Two of my girls.  Summer and Yana.  Aren't they cute together.

Nik was all over the place so caught him when I could.  It was funny b/c some high schoolers were gathered below attempting to do handstands.  It was killing Nik and Logan b/c they walk on their hands all the time.  Even down stairs.  So, I gave them the nod it was okay to go down to the high schoolers.  Logan and Nik did their thing and I heard "oooh", "wow!"  "look at that!"  It made the younger boys day to show off what they could do by some high schoolers.

Yana, helping to clear the track.  Now, if only she'd clear her room.  LOL.

 Brothers, just hanging out and watching the race.

Summer, watching her sister Yana clear the track.  Love the outfit.  See, Warren was going to come pick the girls up to go to soccer practice while I stayed & finished watching the meet.  However, Yana was not running the mile so I went home earlier and we left together for practice.  Yana had to stay till evening b/c there was a cultural fair afterwards that she was doing.

Sisters all the way.  Yes, well worth the wait to see this!  

 Alyona, resting comfortably.

Only my son would come to watch a track meet and collect rocks.  Go figure.

Was really cool seeing Yana run.  BTW, she is going to conference this Thursday!  Can't wait to hear more.  See, slowly catching up on last week's events.  I'll get there.  I know I share very limited info about my teens.  However, I think they are entitled to their privacy a bit.  Yet, I got yelled at the other day of "how come you don't have many pictures of the high schoolers on there mom?"  I really thought they would not like that.  I have been given permission to post if I'd like.  So I am.  You still won't see as much as the younger kids but I will share some of their life.  Yana is our runner and loves it.  Thought I should share her passion with you all.  I love that each of our kids has their own niche.  More later.

Crutches, cleaning and creativity

Well, I'm on crutches.  Not sure how I did it.  Just know all I was doing was working on the yard w/ everyone else.  We did manage to get a lot done before this happened.  So, now we just have some bags of mulch sitting out there.  Nothing is broken.  If not better in a few days, then it will be off to a specialist.  So, for now. suppose to take it easy.  Didn't want to be outdone by the kids you know.  LOL.  In an immobilizer that keeps falling off and on crutches.  Good news is Bojan and Alyona get casts off tomorrow.  Hoping we'll all be mobile when we go to Camp Cheerio.  Time will tell. 

The other day, we had to clean.  big time clean b/c someone was supposed to come look at the house.  Caught Nik and Summer cleaning the fridges.  She looks stunned.  

Of course he'll stop for a picture.  Nik and Summer are starting to get really close.  AND, he's starting to actually try to talk to her.  Talk.  Yes, talk!  

Some of the kids trying to get things put away in the living room.  I was so proud on Friday b/c they truly did an awesome job.  The house looked awesome!  Looked like humans lived here and not neandrathals.  Today is Monday.  We've tried to keep some of the neat look.  

Ahh, Mr. Creativity.  Sliding down the stairs in the vacuum cleaner box.  Had to unfortunately get a new vacuum.  Kind of cool though as this one doesn't sound like it's going to explode while in use.  In addition, it was full of dirt.  In other words, old vacuum wasn't picking up a thing.  Since it was new, all the kids wanted to use it.  They even vacuumed the baseboards!  BTW, the novelty has worn off already as I asked someone to vacuum yesterday and I heard the all too common "ahh, mom do I have to?"  The other day they were fighting over vacuuming.  Crazy, huh.  

More to tell, more to say.  I must though do a few things today.  We've only done math and reading today.  Getting ready to conquer some science.  We'll actually be finishing two lapbooks today and ready to start our dinosaur unit tomorrow.  I think we are actually going to do dinosaurs the entire month of May as there is just so much to cover. Plus, kids like it.  Bought 2 kits too.  Can't wait.  Taking it easy somewhat today since I can't do much.  I must also get out stuff for the Bulgarian Reunion.  Has to be done today.  As do a few other things pending.  My plans to catch up were definitely halted yesterday by a doc visit.  Hey, we have more days in this week.  Oh, btw, lost 4 lbs. last week.  Will share later how I'm slowly going to be changing my lifestyle and mainly my diet.  My kids ate vegan sausage today at lunch and LOVED it.  Couldn't believe it wasn't meat when I told them.  Frankly, neither could I.  I've tried stuff in the past that should not have even been classified as food.  Anyhow, I have much more to say about what I'll be doing in another post.  Just had to share some pictures before science.  More later. 

Manic Monday

I know I didn't write all weekend.  Rather busy and not to mention in pain.  So, do a few bullet points of what's happening and then later tonight, post a bit more. 

  • Sprained my knee and in one of those immobilizers and crutches.
  • Yana made conference for track.
  • House downstairs is finally cleaned.  Like spring cleaned.
  • Need to develop a homeschool curriculum for next year.
  • Bojan and Alyona get casts off tomorrow.
  • Bojan's concert is tomorrow night.
  • Soccer practice is tomorrow night.
  • Can't pick Yana up from track this week. Trying to figure it out.
  • So far behind, can't catch up it seems.
  • Need a break w/ Camp Cheerio.
  • Need to order meds for a few of the kids.
  • Getting the pool ready for swimming.  Still green.  It's a process.
  • We all worked hard this weekend on the yard.
  • Neighbor is building a fence.  Never had neighbors w/ fences before.
  • Kids want to move.  Not sure we'll be able to.  Found out this weekend about quite a few foreclosures in our own neighborhood.  
  • Warren has cardiology appt. this week.  Routine.  
  • 4 of us have eye appointments this week.  3 of us will most likely need new glasses...ouch on the wallet.  
  • I have a bunch of thank yous I have yet to get to and feeling guilty about that.
  • Camera is not working....again.  
  • Going to get to 90 this week here.  
  • Still have yet to hear from IRS on the audit.  Did get a partial refund back.  Need it all to do some necessary repairs though.  
  • Thanks to all who voted for Summer.  No luck but hey, we get a free subscription to Family Fun magazine.  They always have tons of ideas in there so actually looking forward to that.
  • Didn't sleep much w/ knee the way it is.  
  • Switching to a new way of living.  More on that later.
  • Lost 4 lbs. last week.  Probably won't lose any this week due to forced sedentary lifestyle.  LOL.  
  • Need to test the homeschoolers. 
  • Called.  NO classes for Alyona for middle school so she'll have to be homeschooled unless I want her in life skills (she exceeds this category) or inclusion (won't work for her).  So, she and many others are "stuck."  She has plateaued in learning at this point anyhow so not sure how I want to approach things next year.
  • Have decided not to do guardianship of our oldest.  Hard, hard, hard decision to make.  
  • 3 of my kids need to get their licenses.  
  • Told by other parents that for a kid to be in high school band here, it is around $3,000 out of parents' pockets.  We're thinking that is nuts!  BTW, this is PUBLIC school and not private folks.  Asking around for new school stats as this was from the previous high school none of ours attend now.  Want to be prepared for Bojan.
  • Much more going on.  
Well that sums up a portion.  More later today on what all went on this weekend.  Actually got a few pictures.  I wish Irina were here today and not at work but it is what it is.  We'll survive.  I just won't have as fast a response time.  Like this morning when Summer and Nik painted all the Barbies' hair w/ nail polish.  And the floor.  Never dull though, right?