Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sisters & healing

I have 5 girls.  I didn't know how that would turn out when we brought the new ones home.  See, for years, Yana and Irina were close.  Not as much any more but still can relate.  Alyona is eons behind them and not just in years.  She can not relate to teen things if she's playing w/ baby dolls.  Her class really didn't have many friends she could hang out w/.  EC classes are extremely limiting in that category.  In other words, Alyona was super duper lonely in every meaning of the word.  She longed for a sister that she could relate to.  Share things with.  Play with.  And I mean longed for a sister w/ every fiber of her being.  And I know many may disagree and say you shouldn't set out to adopt to bring a sister home for someone.  I can see both sides for sure.  To say Alyona was elated she was getting not one but two sisters, is an understatement.  Every roadblock, every delay, every negative thing said was hard for her little heart to take.  Was it worth it?  Did the end truly justify the means?  What do you think?

I took this shot yesterday at dinner time.  I know they don't have matching outfits and it is definitely not the best shot ever.  However, I feel it conveys such a very, very important message.  They are LOVING their childhood and their new togetherness as sisters.  All the doubts are gone.  Was it worth all the negativity we experienced along the way?  Without a doubt yes!  With every fiber of my being yes.  These three share a very, very special bond.  I really had no idea it would turn out this way.  With so much before them, they did it.  This is just a shot of happy sisters.  Together.  Enjoying a simple childhood.  Makes me smile more than you know. 

Just sisters playing around for an afternoon to you.  To us, it is true healing.  Lots of it.  You have absolutely NO IDEA the past of these three.  They were indeed meant to be together.  If for nothing else than healing the hurt from their past.  They are there to comfort each other.  Love each other.  Take care of each other.  Reassure each other.  Today at the soccer game, Alyona grabbed Reni's hand and they held hands together all the way to the building.  Sisters for life.  There is no more shaking.  No more tears of fear.  No more uncertainty.  No more peeing in the bed.  No more fear of yelling.  Many, many more to list.  Fears gone.  And I know for a fact it is partially due to the close bond of some sisters.  Two of the new sisters had many fears to over come.  Alyona had the fear of no one wanting her to over come.  All these gone.  All because three girls came together to form one sisterhood.  

I can not express in words how all this feels.  I really don't have the words.  3 lives seem to be redeemed.  All in different ways.  Our skeleton of a child, frightened to the core, is a happy go lucky fashion diva.  Our crying, fearful one is now the spunky outspoken 5yo that everyone loves.  (aka...spoiled rotten! LOL).  Our terrified, shaken to the core, hurt child is now a soccer star on the field running the ball down.  Not afraid of anything or anyone hitting her.  Not one bit.  All three have overcome in various ways.  They are happy, well- adjusted girls that have all found their place here and with each other.  I just had to share. 

Holy Cow!  9 posts.  I think I'm done for the night.  LOL.  Have a great weekend everyone and Happy Mother's Day to all.

Last year's story cont.

So, now time to explain it all (part IV-- conclusion)

I left off w/ the risk assessments that I thought were not the most fairest of things in the world.  So, we went through assessments, interviews, more interviews, interviewing of the kids, our professionals, our neighbors, our friends, the parents of the kids I watch, etc.  Went through the detective questioning and all this other stuff.  The hardest part is our not having control of the situation.  We couldn't rush it along.  We couldn't make her finish on time.  We were stuck in this holding pattern.  Our travel dates were postponed back in April.  That was just hurtful.  I know everything happens for a reason but seriously, that one was hard to swallow.  Waiting was hard.

All we could do was wait.  Once they are done w/ you, then the 2 separate counties have to meet and go over their findings.  That is what happened yesterday.  They had to go over the evidence, the facts, and all we could do is wait, hope and pray that they would come to the truth.  And, they did.  For that, I am forever grateful.  However, I can't say I appreciate what this process did to our kids or our family.

All I did was tell my kids to tell the truth when they were interviewed.  However, telling an FAS/RAD kid to tell the truth is really just useless as their reality is distorted.  In addition, I have children who were indeed abused BEFORE they came to live with us.  You see where this could all easily get mixed up.  We were walking on eggshells.  Trying to explain what happens in THIS family.  Not stuff they've heard about other families or stuff that happened in Russia. Just what happens in our family.  period.  I'll give you an example.  They asked Max:  " Do you ever get tied up?"  Max said "Oh, yes, we get tied up all the time!"  Interviewer:  Really?!  Max:  " Yes, my brothers & I tie each other up & see who can bust out like Superman."  Interviewer:  "NO, do your parents ever tie you up."  Max:  "no, that would be stupid."  Though I must say Max is usually the one tying his brothers up.  They do this when they played pirates too.  Innocent play but can be misconstrued for sure.  An interviewer has to be aware of a child's mindset, issues, etc. in order for truth to be found.

Now, we had two sets of interviewers from two different counties.  My kids & I liked the demeanor of the second lady better.  She wasn't as harsh, seemed to listen to what we had to say, let us explain things, etc.  She thoroughly checked us out & did not jump to conclusions ahead of time.  I honestly believe the first caseworker had her mind made up that day when she walked in the door.  And that's hard b/c you really don't feel like you can trust that person.  Our world was turned upside down, inside out.  As some of you I'm sure are already aware, when you have PI children who have multiple issues from their past life, it can be beyond hard to get them over a traumatic event.  One of the interviewers even said to me "well, they must hear that from parents."  She was referring the kids being taken away.  I said absolutely not.  Some of them experienced it before!  One of my daughters has a friend at school that was recently taken away.  So they know it can and does happen.  But to infer I said that...URGHH.  It was extremely hard during the investigations to remain calm.  It really was. When you are being accused of something terrible that is totally untrue, it is really hard to not want to lose control or patience with the ones accusing you.  You want to shout & scream from the rooftops...but I did nothing wrong.  My kids are happy, well-adusted, and well loved.  But, you can't.

During this whole time, while the investigation is going on, you feel ,like you are walking on eggshells.  Feel every little thing you do is going to be judged. We tended to watch what the kids wore to school more.  Usually, I'm just proud that they dress themselves.  I could care less if they match or if they have holes in the jeans from climbing the trees or falling off their bike.  If that's what they want to wear & that's who they are, let them be.  however, we were afraid that they'd show up at the school and judge the kids for what they wore or something of that nature.  We were having the kids pick up around the house more often.  And I'm sorry, that's just not the way to live.  But, when you feel like you're under the microscope,  you do what you need to do.  We took Nik's drawings down.  You know, the "Stephen King" type drawings that he loves to do.  I'm sure they would have read something into those.  We felt like this weight had been dragging us down.  The kids grades all dropped.  ALL my kids grades dropped during this period.  None of us slept for the first two weeks this was happening.  Our kids were a mess, we were a mess, etc. That first weekend, we didn't have our heads glued on straight.  It was like you were living someone else's life.  It was tough.  Really tough.  We had to write to immigration and tell them we were being investigated.  You must disclose that.  All of us were working feverishly to get things cleared up.

When we got news that it was found to be unsubstantiated, it was so freeing.  It felt wonderful.  My kids could finally have a sense of relief.  And boy did they ever.  Since talking about this, I have been confronted by many, many families who were also falsely accused.  Most of them had adoptive children.  Some did not.  I was shocked when a highway patrolman told me how is was accused years ago.  I was stunned when friends and neighbors told me their stories.  It hurt to know it was that widespread.  I found out from CPS though, anyone can say anything and under law they must investigate.  It's true.  Even if a kid from school makes up a story.  So, I can make up some outlandish claim about anyone on here & they'd have to investigate it.  Doesn't matter if the source is disturbed or has issues, they must investigate.  Doesn't matter the age of the source, they must investigate the claim.  Now, I understand to a point.  They look really hard for bruises when they do these investigations.  When first interviewed alone at school, my kids told me they were looking for bruises all over them.  Bojan told me she didn't really seem to believe him when he told her that he was born that way...missing one leg.  What?!  I was also told "gee, your kids sure do have a lot of bug bites."  Umm, we live by the woods, surrounded by a creek & it's mosquito season.  In addition, they play outside all the time.  2 have eczema and react horribly to bites.  Point is, sometimes kids are just kids.  They play, they fall, they get hurt, they recover, & they do it all over again.  There is a big difference between that and abuse.  I never ever thought we would ever be accused of anything.  Yet, we were blindsided.  Could we find out who did this to us?  Yes.  There are ways to find out.  Will we?  No.  We want this behind us.  Want to live our lives, want to get our kids fully recovered from this traumatizing event and want to get our other children home.  We have a wonderful summer coming up & we want to enjoy it.  Plus, we feel the truth speaks for itself.  

Reason I wanted to share all this is because I know for a fact we are not the only ones this has happened to.  I wanted you all to know what has been going on here.  Want you to know how we handled our investigation.  Want  you to know how the kids handled it.  Wanted you to know how we recovered from it all.  Want you to know that we decided we couldn't afford a lawyer.  We decided that early on.  We were hoping & praying with all our might that the truth would prevail and would be enough.  So, throughout the process, we told all our kids to please tell the truth.  That is all we wanted from them.  It is obvious they are loved here.  At least to me anyways.  though last night you would not have thought that from Alex.  Apparently I am the most awful mom ever b/c ALL his friends have cell phones and he doesn't!  In 3rd grade, mind you.  He argued the entire way home.  Sometimes, we may not be the best parents in the world.  But I can tell you w/out a doubt we love our kids unconditionally & would never do anything to hurt them.  I think that was proven here lately though I don't think it needed to be.  I just have one more thing to say. I honestly can not say thank you enough for the people that have supported us during this dark time.  It was wonderful to see the outpouring of support and emotion.   Prayers were coming our way and it was reassuring.  Just wanted to say thank you.  Now, this topic is completely finished.  CPS did their job.   There are indeed true cases of abuse out there.  And though we all hate that this happened, it just means there are folks out there looking at the well-being of the kids.  More to come but not on this.  This concludes what happened to us that I've been silent about all these months.  Truth prevailed and that's all that counts. 

Last year's story cont.

So, now time to explain it all (part III)

Boy, this is hard to condense a few months of an investigation into a few short words.  Trust me, this is all short compared to all the details of what happened. I left off w/ the second caseworker now wanting to re-interview the kids.  First time for her.  Max's school called me.  Great, they followed the legal docs I'd put in place for them per advice of some folks who've done this before.  Yana's school did NOT call me.  They did not interview Irina b/c she was 18.  I find that interesting as the first lady interviewed her.  I know it's b/c of her age.  Fine by me b/c she really let the first caseworker have it from what I hear.  Irina told them they shouldn't be here b/c my mom  & dad don't hit us.  She tells it like it is.  I don't think the first lady realized how old she was.  Anyhow, that was the way it went w/ the teens.

Younger kids was a different story.  Remember, we agreed they go together.  Lessen the trauma.  Now, Bojan knew from that morning to call us if they were not together.  When he was called to the office, he asked where the others were.  Told they couldn't get out of class due to their schedule.  What?!  Bojan asked several times to be allowed to call us.  He said I have to call mom & dad if we aren't together.  They told him not to worry about it.  URGHH~!!!!  So, they allowed Nik & Bojan together.  Nik had his interpreter there.  Those two did fine.  Of course, the two that should NOT have been alone or together alone, that is just what they did.  You guessed it-- Alex & Alyona.  Alyona is mentally challenged.  It is no secret she doesn't understand a whole lot of things especially, when asked in this manner.  Alex has FAS and multiple dx's that I mentioned before.  The best way to explain his brain is swiss cheese.  It takes A LOT to understand what Alex means.  A LOT.  We've perfected it over the years.  Someone new interviewing him would have no idea.  Alex has many gaps in his language and his comprehension.  He would not be able to understand even a basic question the way they ask them.  It's like his signals are not all firing right & that truly is what is going on.  His reality is distorted.  Plus, he is partially reliving the past he had BEFORE he came here!(documented past btw)  URGHH!!!  Later that afternoon, I get a call from Alex.  He doesn't want to stay for running club.  BAM!  Right then & there I knew, just knew he'd been re-traumatized.  Sure enough, found out he went crying to the teacher after the interview.  Came home & didn't go to running club.  Saddened the rest of the evening.  Now, I had to get my kids back to normal again after this nightmare...again.  I know CPS is supposed to be there to protect the kids but they do not have the knowledge I feel that they need to to talk to or handle PI(post institutionalized) children.  Our kids are not the same as foster care kids.  They have never been in a family setting & if they were, that is why they were removed. 

I told them from there on out, the kids were not to be interviewed alone again.  It was too upsetting for them.  They could do it while one of us was there w/ them or a familiar person but that was it.  Time seemed to be dragging on.  More people were contacted.  However, now things were shifting focus.  Now they were concentrating on Alyona and how skinny she was.  What I don't think CPS realized is that the child was literally DYING in Russia.  We were called just 6 days after returning home from Russia to go back in Russia a week or so later.  It was a whirlwind.  It was b/c the pictures we had of Alyona were concerning to the agency & foundation.  Alyona did not look good.  I could take my middle finger & thumb & form an O.  I took that from her ankle, all the way up her thigh.  Alyona also has a list of dx's a mile long.  But, the ones that contribute to her petite stature are most likely failure to thrive, FAS, microcephaly, and possible form of dwarfism(this one is unofficial but was said to us by one of her docs).  Given all this, she is going to be Ms. Skinny Minnie.  Yes, we do make her eat her food.  You have to.  Why?   B/c if she misses two meals in a row, she gets dehydrated fast, vomits profusely(about a hundred witnesses to this one one year at camp), etc.  She goes down hill quickly but no one could ever explain why to us.  We were told do what you can to make her eat or she will have to get a g-tube.  It was that imperative she ate.  And, as most of you know when orphans get home, it is one of those power struggles with food.  It was no different for her.  The investigator # 1 made it sound like we made her sit for hours on end to eat.  Umm, NO. After she cried and screamed & realized we weren't letting her leave the table, she ate.  This was usually about 20 to 30 minutes later.  Now, I'm sorry but I'd rather she sit there & eat than be allowed to leave the table and a few hours later take her to the hospital for vomiting profusely.  Shoot, when I told many of my neighbors this most of them replied "when I grew up, do you know how many times I fell asleep in my food?!" 

They were really concentrating on if we fed the kids & why Alyona was so skinny.  Now, we spend roughly a thousand a month on food.  If I am not feeding them, where is all that food going to?!  Why do we have a pantry full, 2 fridges full and a freezer full of food.  It's nuts really when you think about this.  See, Alyona has steadily gained weight since home.  Doctors are very pleased that she's followed her own growth curb.  Shoot, we were ecstatic last year that she was finally out of the toddler size at age 11.  If the doctors are happy, if she's happy, if she's eating, if she's growing, than what in the world is the issue?  you know how many skinny people there are in the world?  More than just her, I assure you.  However, I do understand someone wanting to investigate if a child appears really thin.  I just don't feel she's that thin.  She looks very healthy for sure.  But, if it must be looked at to clear us, then I'm all for it.  So, got the dx's out and the list of docs to contact & who had told us what.  Remember, this is from 5 years ago!  I can't remember it all as we switched docs closer to home.

All our people were checked out along w/ their docs.  They came out several more times to the house.  One was the weekend before we were painting Alyona's room.  Lovely.  Everything was shoved in the hallway & the boys' room.  Tools everywhere.  What are you going to do though when remodeling?  This was when the church came to help us out.  We then had to have a risk assessment done.  There were two of them.  Wait till you hear how unfair these things are.   Based on facts that you can't change such as how many kids you have.  the more kids you have, the higher risk you are to commit abuse apparently.  In addition, if you have a child w/ special needs.  Each child w/ special needs is a certain amount of points.  Each certain need such as FAS or Failure to thrive are more points.  Think about this a moment.  I have several kids, each with multiple dx's, many w/ developmental disabilities.  All this meant more points and meant we were more at risk according to their assessment on paper.  That did NOT sit well w/ me as these are facts that no one can control.  What dx's your kids have count against you?!  Who makes up these things?!  So, obviously, that test we scored big time on just given my kids' circumstances.  However, the other risk assessment we did super on.  She did tell me they take into consideration the circumstances and we did have multiple special needs w/ multiple dx's.  Oh, and the age of the child matters as well.  Just never knew they based risk assessments on facts you have no control over.  There is more to share.  The conclusion is next.  Stay tuned for more.  Again, NEVER EVER did I ever think this could happen to us as we live such a public life.  I was stunned.  I'll explain our feelings, how our kids reacted and such in the next post...our conclusion. 

Last year's story of what happened cont.

So, now time to explain it all (part II)

We were to have a meeting w/ the police detective at some point.  It happened around 4 days later.  Great guy btw.  He drove up to the house and at the time, the "littles" were outside, along w/ 2 dogs that had escaped, my neighbor trying to catch her son in our yard, one person trying to get out the window and well, you get the picture.  Luckily, he had a sense of humor & could see us all trying to wrangle everything.  He was laughing a bit.  Made us feel at ease.  We went inside.  He said this was just a formality and not to worry.  He was going over everything w/ me & guess what?!  He seemed to understand what happens to FASD and RAD kids in the future.  He knows the statistics and understood that a good few of them end up in jail.  Explained to him how we parent & what exactly happened.  He then told me something interesting.  He told me that there were two complaints.  I said wow, two complaints about our family?  He said oh no, two complaints on two separate families on the SAME day and almost identical incidences of what happened.  He said that was a big red flag that this was all false.

The detective was here & witnessed firsthand Alex when he lied to me and I called him on it.  He witnessed a meltdown Alex had & how he came to me for comfort.  Alex was begging not to be taken away.  The officer then stood up and said " I do not want to traumatize him any more.  It is clear he loves it here."  It was wonderful he recognized that alex was hurting and offered to leave.  He'd already been there a few hours any how. Officer witnessed my kids eating dog food.  (a dare) and a few other things.  I warned him when they came home it would be chaos till they had some meds.  He was a believer for sure.  I walked him out & talked a bit more outside.  Thanked him for his time & asked what I needed to do from here. He said nothing.  There was nothing found here.  I said we must have FBI & criminal checks come back clean.  He said they will as there was nothing here.  He said CPS still has to do their separate investigation but shouldn't take long.  He said I will tell her all about today.  I felt great about it all after talking to him.  He saw the truth here.  He saw how PI kids are and the lack of cause & effect of FAS. 

Now, this case was opened up in our county that we live in.  A few days later I get a call from a new caseworker from a completely different county!  She said it had been transferred to them due to a conflict of interest but no one could tell me exactly what that conflict was.  Our guess was that since we completed a homestudy in December to readopt Irina in this state, & it was a glowing report, that may have been the conflict.  Don't know.  Still don't know.  So, new county.  She now wants to come out & interview the kids.  This btw, was three weeks later.  From my understanding, when CPS starts an investigation, they have 30 to 45 days to complete it.  It was started February 25th and ended today, May 9th.  Do the math.  Keep in mind, we originally had travel dates in April. 

Anyhow, I had to prep the kids for what might be to come.  We were living another life.  Fearful of anything that might be misconstrued.  We used to let the kids go to school as is.  Happy if that actually had clothes on or socks.  Now, made them take coats, made them have water bottles, etc.  Felt like someone was always judging us.  Kids felt it too.  Warren wouldn't let the kids climb the trees.  What if they fall?  I said then they fall b/c they were being kids.  This was the same time that Bojan & Max had the shovel incident and Bojan ended up w/ stitches.  Sad b/c we had about 11 kids here at the time and one of the other mom's said "I was a witness!  Total accident."  horrible we all felt we had to live this way.

New caseworker came out.  You could already tell she had a different demeanor.  There to check out the facts, not assume you are guilty as we feel the first lady did.  Kids felt more at ease w/ this worker than the other.  That was important to me.  However, still couldn't let our guard down as now they are going full force w/ an investigation despite police clearing us.  We gave them the lists of dx's of our kids.  So many things we had purposefully kept secret all these years.  Kept secret from the schools as we wanted them to see just our kids and not all their labels.  We limit what the school knows.  Now, we had to tell all and the school in turn would know more.  A birthmother that was a schizophrenic came out & a good possibilty that one of our children is.  It is being monitored by our docs and us.  Not getting into that explanation now.  I hated all this.  I hated them wanting and knowing every single dx.  I feel it lessened the kids.  They are who they are despite the dx's.  I had to dig through dx's from years upon years ago.  Never throw anything out folks.  I gave this new caseworker info on FAS and such.  Now, they have to start calling your collaterals.  That's what they call people who know you.  Not friends, neighbors, professionals, etc. but collaterals.  It bothered me for some reason.

Let's just talk about how open our lives are and about how in the world it would be near impossible to do the stuff CPS was investigating.  First, we have a very open blog here.  I've always been honest on here.  Second, my sister in-law lived w/ us a few days a week up until this January.  She did this for a year and a half I believe.  I'm sure she would have seen something.  She did in fact.  She said something to me one day.  She said people really won't get what you say about FAS unless they live it like I have.  She "got it."  She saw the lying, the poor impulse control, the lack of cause & effect thinking.  She was staying in what was our homework room.  Kids went in one day & open up a box of push pins.  Spilled them all over the floor.  My sister in-law found them...with her feet!  She had a different perspective in how we parented the kids.  Our kids are extremely visual.  Back to the story.  Next, we have been followed by social workers for the last 12 years.  We had recently completed 2 homestudy updates.  All checks were current.  We had a letter from the doc stating no evidence of child abuse & such.  Needed that for our dossier, that's why we had the letter.  We have a speech therapist here a few times a week.  I watch 4 toddlers.  My kids go to specialists all the time.  Their bodies are seen.  We have neighborhood kids here all the time, every day.  We speak to other families about their struggles of FAS & RAD.  We do this when various agencies have them call us.  So, we are out there.  Not hiding in our home for sure.  I take my kids places.  They are seen.  Any abuse would have at some point had to be seen just based on how we live our life and how our kids are.  Nope, nothing.  Why?  B/c nothing happened.  Yet, we had to prove all this.

Interviews w/ our agencies, our social workers, our neighbors, our friends, etc. began.  One common thing I found interesting when they called these people was they said CPS seemed disappointed they found nothing negative about us.  I was stunned. I thought they'd be happy.  that's when I started questioning their intentions.  Were they trying to prove guilt or innocence.  And that, you'll really never know.  All you can do in this situation is have faith that the truth comes out.  Anyone and everyone of our professionals said they would write any affadavits we needed, call who we needed, etc.  We have quite a few specialists.  Many have seen us on a personal level interact w/ our children.  Some of them, we've been to their homes even.

So, the interviewing continued of folks.  Remember that document I had in place immediately following the first session at school?  Well, this interviewer said she had to interview the kids again.  Now, at this point, our social workers w/ extensive knowledge in PI kids, PTSD, RAD, FAS, etc. recommended to this caseworker not to interview them alone again. It was just too traumatizing.  So, we came to an agreement that they could be interviewed again...together.  I was okay with that.  I was actually grateful that the caseworker was willing to work with us on this.  Bojan said that morning, don't worry mom, I'll make sure they tell the truth.  I'll help them out.  I was relieved actually.  Bojan is our son w/ normal intelligence and processing and such.  He does not have the mental health issues that the others do.  So, it was off to school they went, me w/ knots in my stomach, and then just waiting to hear what happened.  I had finally gotten my kids back to a point of stability.  They were not terrified of being taken away any more, they were not jittery, they were feeling okay and pretty much back to normal.  I knew this interview would have another huge effect on them.  Just didn't know how huge. See,the kids had already been interviewed by one county.  But, since it was switched, they said they had to interview them again.  We were torn w/ wanting to cooperate to get this resolved as quickly as possible and protecting our children from further traumatizing events that dredge up past issues.  This is why these past few months I've been on edge, in a fog, though trying to focus on healing the kids from all this.

It was off to school for the interview.  The ONLY school that followed our documents that we had put in place was Max's school.  They called me and said someone wants to interview Max alone.  I said that's fine.  I knew Max could handle it and we have nothing to hide.  They asked Max that day "do your parents ever feed you?"  Max told me he leans back in the chair, pats his stomach & says "what do you think?"  That's my son.  My 16yo teen who has eaten me out of house & home.  More to come on all this.  I have much to do.  No "littles" today so getting tons of paperwork done.  I should be able to conclude the rest of this story in one more post.  Stay tuned for more of the saga.  Gets a bit more interesting for sure. 

Last year's story of what happened

Please pray for truth

Shortly, our "situation" will be decided.  A LOT weighs on this decision.  On how they decide to word things.  On how it will effect our adoptions depending upon the outcome.  How it will effect our current children.  I will update later w/ what all transpired these past few months that I haven't posted publically.  You'll understand why once it is all said & done.  For now, we just really need prayers for the truth to be told and a resolution to come forth.  This is a HUGE deal.  My stomach is in knots right now as I just found out today is the day.  I will be called after the decision is made.  From there, it will all either be okay or we will have to fight and fight big time.  I mean lawyer type of fighting.  So it is something very serious.  Something I never, ever thought in a million years could happen to us.  The how and why of it all is still a mystery to this day.  We just want this behind us.  In every single one of our adoptions, before travel, we've always had some type of "glitch."  This is our biggest glitch ever!  It could halt any adoption in its tracks.  So when I say we really need some extra prayers, please know it is not to be taken lightly.  This will indeed affect our entire lives for the rest of our lives.  My kids have suffered greatly these past few months b/c of this situation.  It hurts that someone could do that to them.  It really does.  Pray today is the day truth will prevail.  Thanks to all who've supported us these past few months.  It has not gone unnoticed.  I will indeed let you all know what is happening later today.  And what the verdict is & how it will proceed from here.  Pray that all is cleared up and that I can go ahead & purchase those airline tickets.  Stay tuned to the next part of our drama here at Chaos Manor. 


You can not even imagine how good that sounds to my ears.  Even better...unsubstantiated!!!  I know I've had to be cryptic all these past months.  I mean who in the world can ever possibly think of having to contend w/ a CPS investigation during international adoptions.  I will have plenty, plenty more on this tonight.  It is a very long story filled w/ misunderstandings, twists & turns, & lots of testing of faith.  I promise to explain.  Right now, I am on cloud 9.  I can buy airline tickets w/out fear of dates changing.  I am super busy right now.  We are having to notify everyone of the outcome and in addition, more paperwork to come.  Thanks for all the support.  Much, much more to come.  I am just thrilled that the truth finally came out.  We feel like this weight has been lifted.  More details for sure.  Just had to share as we've been waiting so long to share what happened to us.  Thanks again for all the prayers, words of encouragement and support.  Got to go.  Much, much to do. 

So, now time to explain it all (part I)

Bare with me as this will take some doing.  All I can muster.  I will start from the beginning.  It was a Friday.  Friday, February 25th to be exact.  It was around 2:30 or so.  I had a knock on the door.  Figured it was someone we don't know as most people just walk on in & don't knock.  Go to answer it & she said she was a social worker.  I of course invite her in.  That my friends was mistake #1.  I will explain more of what you are supposed to do when faced w/this situation.  Anyhow, I'm used to social workers being here and doesn't phase me a bit.  I don't care what's on the floor or if there are dishes in the sink.  Really, we live here folks.  I have 7 kids, 4 toddlers I watch, 3 dogs, and countless neighborhood kids come here.  We clean on Saturdays and Wednesdays in this house.  Any other day you come here, you're taking a chance.  You can clean & I swear 10 minutes later it will look like you didn't.  Back to the story.  She did not smile.  Not one bit.  I asked what this was about of course.  We were being accused of 'bizarre behavior modification.'  What is that you may ask?  We were being accused of ducting taping and tying up our children.  Yes siree.  I kind of chuckled a bit (mistake #2).  I chuckled b/c honestly, I couldn't imagine how anyone could even think that about us.  She was SO not amused by me.  I'll have to back up a bit.

Earlier that day, apparently, they had gone & interviewed my younger kids at school...alone.  Yes, alone.  Now, in courts they have protection for children who are mentally challenged.  With CPS, there is no protection for the kids.  They can interview them alone.  Without a parent's permission.  Whether mentally challenged or not.  Our friends were outraged b/c they said "but Alyona answers yes to anything & everything you ask her."  Yes, yes she does.  She can't help it.  You see how this can present a problem during an interview, right?  And you can see where a deaf child w/ very little language (whether in ASL or voice) can be a problem too, right?  See where I'm going w/ all this?  Yes, they interviewed my younger kids alone at school.  Now, I'm going to share a bit about Alex.  Alex came from an abusive past.  A horrendous situation in Russia & I won't go into details on here.  Put it this way, I was not given his medical records until after court.  Yes, they were that bad.  In addition, when I read them at home,  I couldn't continue.  It was too painful to read.  Put them away for two years before I got them out again.  So, Alex had abuse in his past.  By interviewing him, they were dredging it up again.  Back to the story.  They interviewed the kids at school alone.  Caseworker came to our home.  Now, I have 4 toddlers w/ me at the time so my focus really is on them, not her.  Sorry, but that's my job. I said should I call their parents to come get them.  She said " Yes.  and call your husband to come home too."  When the parents came to pick them up I asked the caseworker "do you want to speak w/ any of them?  Feel free, they're here."  I knew they wouldn't mind and I had no way to even prep them for anything so it would have been honest conversation.  However, caseworker refused.  I had also asked this caseworker if she'd like to see any of my post placement reports, homestudy(current), doctor's letter of recommendation clearly stating no child abuse, child abuse checks, or anything of the like.  She refused to take any.  And trust me, I had it on the table.  Her demeanor was not pleasant and  even the kids picked up on that.

She starts interviewing my older kids in their rooms.  Now, I'll admit that the house truly looked like a demilitarized zone.  She was interviewing Yana downstairs.  My younger kids came home.  Bojan bolts in the door and says in his loudest voice "Mom, you won't believe what this stupid lady came and asked us today!  She asked us if you & dad take drugs or if you hit us.  Can you believe that?!  You don't do that crap."  I know she had to have heard all that from her room.  Secretly, I was cheering Bojan on inside as he was speaking the truth & from his heart.  Didn't care for the language but he got his point across.  Alex looked distraught.  Never forget the look on his face.  I knew what had happened.

Warren came home.  She spoke w/ him outside.  She finally left after 7 or 8.  Can't remember.  All I remember is as she drove away, 6 of my kids were having a pow wow on the trampoline out back.  They all screamed & cheered as she left the driveway.  Alex was w/ me on the front porch.  She left & he literally collapsed in my arms and went limp.  He was sobbing.  I knew from then on, we were in for a long haul w/ Alex's healing.  Remember, he's PTSD, FAS, RAD, ADHD, and the list goes on.  That evening was a blur.  I don't even think any of us ate dinner.  We could not think straight that entire weekend.  I mean we couldn't even think to get meat out the whole weekend.  Ate whatever we passed on the road.  I mean the whole weekend was a total blur.

Let me back up.  Before she left, she wanted us to sign a paper saying we wouldn't duct tape or tie up or kids.  They also accused us of starving Alyona but we'll get to that one a bit later.  We  refused to sign the papers as we did nothing wrong.  I was on the phone w/ my agency director as I'm talking to this caseworker about the paper.  AGain, could never ask for a better agency.  Never signed the papers and wrote on there clearly deny any and all charges due to innocence.  We ended up going to church on Sunday.  Trying for some normalcy.  My kids were solemn.  Many came up to us and asked what was wrong w/ our kids.  They said they are not their usual cheerful, outgoing selves.  I said I know.  Some folks I explained what happened, some I didn't.  I knew then we'd need a break from church and a few other things just till the kids could recouperate. 

Now, all this happened over a weekend.  I do have a few people I know & started asking anyone & everyone for advice.  First thing we did was try to calm the kids who had just been re-traumatized.  Remember, all mine suffer from a variety of mental health disorders.  2 with RAD, a few w/ PTSD.  I knew we were in for a long road to try to get them emotionally stable again.  Remember, some had been taken away from parents before.  Several were traumatized.  This was serious.   The emotional toll this took on my kids was unreal.  It was our priority & # 1 job to try to calm them and try to reassure them this would all be okay.  We had to hide our true feelings of worry & heartbreak.  That first weekend that this all transpired in February, I had to contend with children withdrawn, children lashing out, aggressiveness, clinginess, some peeing in their pants & regressing, etc.  It was a living nightmare.  These people had no idea what they had just unleashed in our children and honestly, didn't seem to care.  I tried to tell them all about FAS and RAD and PTSD.  I asked if they knew what those disorders were.  The response I got was "well, I've heard of those."  What?!  A person in this position has heard of it.  Unbelieveable.

Again, focus was on the kids.  We collected ourselves that Sunday evening and formed a game plan.  We had our children write down everything that happened & was said during those interviews.  The older kids wrote letters begging to stay here.  See, all were terrified of being taken away from the family.  Warren and I wrote & got notarized documents for all 7 of our kids.  It was stating they were never to be allowed to be interviewed alone.  If someone asks to do so, they must contact the parents for permission.  Re-iterated these were minors with mental challenges.  Took that to the schools first thing Monday.  More on the schools later as this is where this all had to originate from.

All we could do is wait & write documents.  We had to notify immigration, our agencies, etc. in writing that we were being investigated for child abuse but we vehamently denied all charges.  We started contacting people we knew.  Next step we were told was we were going to be investigated by a detective at an unannounced time.  I think this is enough to digest.  The police meeting is next & where are case was ending up.  It gets more & more interesting w/ what happens next. 

A difference a year makes!!!

Okay, started this draft in February.  Better late than never.

Last time this year, we were feeling hopeless, distraught.  We couldn't eat.  We were in tears.  Kids were a wreck.  Everyone was walking on egg shells.  It was a punch in the gut, horrible, horrible feeling.  We couldn't think straight.  Didn't know which direction to turn.  And it all started with a knock on the door.  I have since learned my lesson that you don't let just anyone in your home.  Ever.  Badge or no badge.  By the way, you do NOT have to let CPS in your home.  A website I wished I'd known about beforehand is this one.  Worth the read for sure!  NEVER in a million years would I have thought they'd be knocking on my door.  Never.  I mean, my life is very public.  Kids went to public school last year.  Well, until this happened.  As in most cases, complaint had to have come from the school.  I had entrusted people at the school to protect my children, not hurt them.  The amount of hurt this all caused was unreal.  You do not, do NOT send someone into a home who does not know what RAD or FAS is if their kids have it!  I found it unbelievable that social workers who work for the state were not aware of these disorders.  Blew me away.  When I offered to educate, they declined.  When I offered all our paperwork to help clear our name, they declined.  When I offered to have them speak w/ the kids' parents (kids that I babysat for at the time), they declined.  Any info from doctors I had on the ready, they declined.  It seemed their mind was made up, they were more from the stand point of guilty until proven innocent.  Put it this way, in no way, shape or form would this all hold up in a court of law.  I found out from speaking personally w/ several law officials, that CPS tends to work above the law.  Again, blown away.

I found out just how many were falsely accused after I had mentioned what had happened to us.  Heartbreaking.  Blew me away that someone could think that we'd actually duck tape our kids and tie them up for punishment.  Shoot, just drive by our home any time and I'm sure you'll catch at least one in the yard doing punishment chores.  Oh, and we starve the kids.  BTW, our pediatrician's office actually laughed when I told them that.  She said we'll set them straight!.  Anyhow, I won't reiterate everything that happened as I'm going to post it instead.  The kids are finally, finally at a place where they are healing from this whole ordeal.  All their grades dropped last year when this happened.  Their demeanor changed.  Nothing was fun anymore w/ the looming thought of separation.  That's what they all thought....that they'd be taken away.  My oldest was afraid they'd throw her out on the street since she was of legal age.  They did not understand it all.  anyhow, I'll let  you all read what all transpired those few months.  This is what all cost us the extra $5K.  We were supposed to travel last April.  Instead, ended up being June.  I'll post it all from last year.  I had taken it down during our process but thought it is worth putting it up again.  Others need to know this can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time.  BTW, since this time, I know of 2 other adoptive families this has happened to.  I'm sure there are more but these are two I know of.  In addition, since our case, 2 other neighbors in the neighborhood.  Makes you think.  And now, for the story from last year to follow. 


Quick post.  ended up only going to one yardsale today b/c stupid TWC people said they'd be here between 7 and 9 am.  Not here till well after 10am.  Got to love it.  Oh well, always a few weeks from now to go.  Reni has requested to go.  Alyona gave her the spiel on how this works.  Mom doesn't like any slow pokes.  You get in, get out of the car.  LOL.  Was hilarious listening.  Alyona learned fast after one time Irina and I literally took her home as she was slowing us down.  This was years ago.  So now, she's passing info onto Reni.  Cracked me up. 

Warren took Summer to her last soccer game.  Then came home and he & Max hauled off trash.  Tons of it.  Doing a clear the clutter weekend and tossing everything broken.  Apparently, we break a lot of stuff.  Next, we had some lunch and went to more soccer games.  After, headed to a bread outlet we found out about.  Score!  Bagels, breads and buns.  Handy in this house.  And a fraction of the cost at the store.  Stocked up.  Headed home and realized we needed something from Wally World.  Both girls got hit in the face w/ the soccer ball so glasses were bent.  Went to get them fixed.  While there, some necessities including stuff for Dad to make homemade mint oreo shakes.  Yum.  Kids had been working on painting the dining room while we were gone.  Fantastic! 

Now, settling in.  Some are on the trampoline, some painting, some watching a movie.  Just a pleasant day outside and pleasant over all.  Lot got done.  I'm getting ready to go cook and weed a garden some more. Warren is making pork chops on the grill, corn on the cob and sweet potatoes for dinner.  Not bad.  Just a typical relaxing day at Chaos Manor.  Enjoying while we can.  Meaning, no one is fighting at the moment. 

Tomorrow is church.  After that, no plans.  Love it.  I'd like to say we can relax but seriously trying to fix up the house some more to sell it.  Heavy advertisting starts tomorrow.  Post on here as well.  We're ready and kids are ready to move.  Enjoy your Saturday evening everyone. 

The ring is the thing

Max is a sophomore this year in school.  Well, it was time to order rings.  School's rings are outrageously priced so I asked around.  Found out most don't order from the school anyhow.  There is a company that is in TX that makes them for much, much less.  Same thing.  Same quality.  So, after getting recommendations of this company from others, we went ahead w/ the order.  I was proud of Max b/c he used his own money from work and birthday money.  It was something he wanted. 

Max, opening the box and seeing what it looks like.  

Yeh, doing mom a favor and actually looking at the camera.  LOL.  My son is growing up.  Way too fast for my tastes.  That's okay though.  I know he'll do fine. Just another step forward in life and a reality check for me.  He'll be  junior soon.  Only 2 more years of high school to go.  Yikes!  Better not blink on the rest of the kids.  My miss something. 

My garden helper

Though we have a small garden, we have a lot of big help.  Been teaching the kids about how plants grow and what they need to grow.  Yesterday, Nik asked if he could help.  I said fine. 

Nik wanted to help me in the garden.  He's cutting green onions.  Used them in eggs this morning and with the chicken last night.  Wonderful.  

Nik having such a great time cutting the onions for me.  Barefoot and all.

 Look at all that concentration on his face.  Nik is serious about this.

Our oregano that grows forever.  Given some away and giving more away Monday.  Warren is taking some to work for someone.  

Lettuce mixes starting to pop up.  Looks delicious!

So content and in his element.  Love it.  Tomatoes are starting to grow.  Need to stake them and do it this weekend.  Should produce a lot of nice tomatoes for us.  Kids all love the garden.  They help water it.  Reni and I weeded it yesterday.  Nik and I cut some onions and chives.  Nik decided this morning he would plant his watermelon seeds in it.  URGHH!!!  Same box section I am going to be planting the peppers.  Got to love it.  

This morning I went to one yardsale.  Did manage to get a jacket for the girls for next year and one church dress for them.  Also got a soccer goal for the boys to play with.  Not bad for one sale.  Had to come home b/c stupid cable people were to be here between 7 & 9am.  You guessed it...10am!  URGHHH!!!  Could have gone to more yardsales.  Oh well.  Can't go next weekend b/c we'll be in the mountains.  Weekend after though, told the girls we're going.  

Summer had her last soccer game this morning.  Rest of the kids and I cleaned and scrubbed the house.  It was awesome.  Windows are open and fresh air coming into a clean house.  Warren & Max hauled off a ton of trash.  Now, eating lunch and going to the rest of the soccer games this afternoon.  After that, a bread outlet we found out about.  A rather productive and fun day all at once.  More later. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

And the countdown has begun...

The countdown to Camp Cheerio that is!  The kids have been counting down for awhile now.  Nik even drew his own calender and chain links. 

Nik made these chain links to count down the days till we leave.  To say he's excited would be an understatement.

The calender countdown.  He even drew pictures!  First house picture is a picture of the cabin we stay in.  No, there is no fireplace there.  LOL.  2nd picture is of the cafeteria.  It is tables w/ people sitting.  Above on the wall is the hand tapestry that is hanging up.  If you've been, you know it.  3rd pic is of the waterslide we do on the hill.  4 picture is of the bunks we sleep in.  

He took a lot of thought into all this.  He actually started to pack yesterday.  The camp means that much to him and all of us.  I seriously don't even know how to thank the sponsor that allowed us to go this year.  An incredible gift that can not be put into simple words.  It is life changing for many of our kids.  And the three newest Boyd additions get to enjoy this experience for the first time this year.  Can't wait!  So yes, the count down has indeed begun. 

Bargains, bargains everywhere!

As some of you may have summized by now, I am a bargain hunter.  Have to be with this crowd really.  We seriously try not to pay retail for anything unless absolutely necessary.  Vacuums and furniture come to mind.  Even then, it must be on sale.  So, thought I'd share a few of our recent bargains. 

Awhile back, Lowes Home Improvement had some pots on sale.  they were starting to die off. It's the 50% off rack.  So, for $3.00, I got this pot full of lettuce.  I've already cut it three times and it continues to grow back.  It's delicious and we use it for salads.  Only regret...not buying a few more.  They've paid for themselves already.  And yes, that Shrek green pool is slowly turning to an Adriatic blue color.  

 We went to the store the other day and hit the clearance bin.  I typically do not buy hot dogs but for .89 a pack, Max can grill them for the kids.  All sorts of deli meats on sale.  Mostly, Hillshire farms and Oscar Mayer.  Kids use those for lunches at school.  Turkey cups to put on top of salads.  Tofu not on sale. It's mine.  

More of the meat we scored.  Corn is fresh and frozen.  We get that from our local farmer.  Delicious!  Nothing like fresh corn.  

Sausage for breakfasts was on sale.  Kids know I don't get this stuff unless on sale so they were pretty dog gone psyched about it.  We find bread on sale, we also freeze it.  Though we still like making our own.  Nice to have some pre-made that you just take out.  You know, for those insane kind of days.

We also scored 2 veggie trays.  After school snacks.  perfect!

Impatients are so, so cheap and I think look great.  These will grow much taller and fuller through the season.  Not bad for $1.68 for 6 plants.  I have about $2 in this one.  

Nik, showing off the beads he made w/ the yardsale finds last weekend.   He and Summer were having a great tiem w/ them. 

Bubbles everywhere!

I found this at a yardsale.  Can't remember the cost but know it was well under a dollar.  It is the coolest bubble maker I have ever found.  Makes small ones and gigantic large ones.  Neighbor kids and ours had a blast w/ this this afternoon.  I had a pretty good time myself.  Nothing like bubbles to take you back to a simple time.  

Those are just a few of the bargains we found.  In addition, another mother at soccer told me of a bread outlet that is NOT closed.  All the local ones here and the next town over are closed.  This is a Flowers store so Nature's Own products.  Being that we go through 40 to 50 loaves of bread a month, this is awesome, awesome news.  Checking it out tomorrow for sure!  Some call it cheap, some call it frugal, but we call it smart budgeting.  Why pay full price if you don't have to?  Just thought I'd share some of our finds.  Have a great evening.

Flabulous to Fabulous

Well, wish I had better news to report.  Good things I followed through with are stretching and light weight lifting everyday and drinking nothing but water or milk.  Just milk for breakfast though.   I am spending a minimum of 20 minutes gardening outside everyday. I am eating better.  Where I needed improvement, I did not do any cardio this week and am really bummed I let the time get away from me.  I can't make excuses though frankly, every night this week I was doing paperwork till 11 or 12.  URGHH!!!  I have been getting very organized around the house and checking off items on the neverending checklist.  It feels really good to not feel so far behind.  Feels like a weight lifting.  Trying a few new things this week as far as food goes.  Eggplant was a hit last night w/ everyone.  Well, except Irina but she literally complains about every single meal.  I am going to do the cardio part next week.  I'm off to a start and at least that is a start versus going backwards.  I did not check the scale this week but will next week.  1st week, lost 4 lbs.  2nd week, lost nothing (hurt knee).  This week, no idea.  Hoping for some # drops next week for sure! 

Alright, off to cook dinner.  Warren is making grilled chicken.  We're also having grilled asparagus and red bliss potatoes.  Watermelon is dessert this evening.  We've done a lot of working outside this afternoon.  Tomorrow is soccer, yardsales, phone company coming to fix the phone, bread outlet, trash dump, fixing up of the house.  Someone at soccer told me of a bread outlet I didn't know about.  Ours locally shut down.  And let's face it, bread at Wally World is terrible.  Plus, we all eat wheat bread here.  Can't wait to check out the bread outlet for sure though.  Nature's Own is what they sell there.  Let you know how it goes.  More later this evening.  Feel like writing tonight.  Have one post ready but trying to decide whether to post it or not.  Feel I may get a huge backlash but we'll see.  It's an affording adoption post.  Hope everyone has a wonderful and productive weekend.  Nik is already counting down to Camp Cheerio.  Me too!!!  We really need it this year. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sunday and strawberries

So many things happened today that I had to share a few.  Enjoyed buttermilk pancakes for breakfast and got ready.  Okay, first a miracle occurred and we made it to church on time.  Now pastor wasn't there and youth director did the service.  Youth had a weekend and shared what they learned.  Now, there was a symbolic performance done.  Normally, this wouldn't be an issue.  However, put 3 kids that have been in America not too long, and other ones who can't process what they see and well, things can be misinterpretted.  So, had to spend quite a bit of time explaining what they were doing and why.  Oy.  Now, to add to all this, we had Summer yelling I no pee!  Lovely.  The best part was the water.  Oh boy.  They were re-baptizing.  Sort of.  I really am not going into detail as it all would take too long.  I had just gotten back from the bathroom w/ Summer.  Warren said I told them to stay but they went up anyhow.  Okay, at the front they had a little water fountain w/ shells laying around.  Again, lots of symbolism and things today.  My kids don't get symbolism.  And, I'm having to explain to 3 of them that have no clue what going on and explain to one in sign language.  All the while in line praying my kids don't spray the water w/ their hands or play with the fire of the candles all lined up.  Hey, w/ FASers and RADishes this is the first place your mind goes to.  Get up there and they did better than I thought they would.  They prayed afterwards, etc.  Helped Summer and then went to my seat.  We all sat there wondering where Reni was.  Shoot, forgot about her.  She was still up there praying!  Forever.  Told Yana to go and get her.  she did.  All in all, not bad.  Just when there is symbolism or people play fighting my kids can't transfer that knowledge.  We spent quite a bit of time trying to explain that to them.  And, they still didn't get it.  Remember, FAS kids are extremely, extremely literal.  So are new kids coming home from another country.  Just the way it is. 

Came home and had a quick lunch.  It was over cast and decided it was high time we go get strawberries. 

Logan couldn't believe the size of the fields.  Not crowded at all as it looked like rain.  Not hot either.  Perfect day to go.

Nik, enjoying that first pick of the season.  

 Everyone working hard to find the biggest and juiciest berries.

Summer, not so sure about the itchy feeling of the leaves to get to the berries.

Reni, quite pleased with her picking.  BTW, she started off HATING strawberries.  Now, she doesn't mind the taste at all.  We're guessing she had to have gotten a not so ripe strawberry in Bulgaria and it "tainted" her view.  

Irina, showing off her pickings.  Glad she decided to go with us.  

Nik had a bucket full in no time.  Might have to hire him as a farm hand.  

Logan, the smile says it all.  He had a great time.  Even older kids when adopted have so, so many new experiences once home with a family. Many things are new to him including strawberry picking.  

On our way to check out.  You can see just how big the fields are.

How many strawberries does your family pick?  We ended up with 8 boxes.  All being told, we truly needed about 8 more.  This doesn't yield as much as it looks but at $1.85 a pound, this was all we could do.  It was $85 total.  Ended up freezing to bags of "sauce," 4 bags of whole berries, at a entire box, and have a whole box left that we are making jam with.  Maybe next year we can get some more.  

A closer look at the delicious berries.  Makes you want to reach through the screen and grab one.  Yum. Yes, they are as good as they look.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor.  

More to catch up on for sure.  Many drafts and hoping a few of those I can get out today.  Kids had church clubs last night.  I did manage to get a few long over due thank yous written yesterday.  Warren fixed the printer.  No roofers have called me back.  Got to love it.  Trying again today.  Got to run.  School needs to get started.  Enjoy your day and eat some strawberries.  They really are good.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sometimes you just have to say let's go

Last Thursday, it was a day.  Rough day.  At home and at work for Warren. We did not make it to soccer at all that night.  Had nothing out for dinner and finally said let's go.  Just let's go.  So, we went.  Hadn't been out to eat for a very long time.  So, after much debate, decided to go to a local place called Cleveland Draft House.  Great restaurant.  Went there and the parking lot was beyond packed.  Even the overflow lot.  Made a decision then to go up to Cracker Barrel and none of us could remember when the last time was we went there.  Again, rarity for this family to go out as it is truly an expense just given the number of people.  However, we don't mind as I think we enjoy the rare moments we do go out that much more.  The wait there was 25 minutes.  Doable as you could wait outside. 

 Testing out the rockers.  Summer is sitting on the Marine Corps rocker (her grandfather would be proud) and Max & Bojan chilling out on the NC State Rockers.  

 Alex and Irina enjoying the seating.  Alex, still mad.  That's for a different post.

 Love this of her even though she's not smiling.  And yeh, can you imagine paying $179 for a rocker?!  Beautiful chairs and all the kids wanted one but gee, just can't phathom paying that much.  Great quality though, I'll give them that.  And so peaceful to rock on. We all just melted in the chairs.

 Lots to think about.  More later.  We're going through a cycle right now and working through it.  Don't worry, Alex is fine. 

 Brothers, teaching each other checkers.

At first, Yana was actually kicking Warren's butt in checkers.  But, Warren came back and won!  She's demanding a rematch.  LOL.  

 Yana, thinking of her next move.  This was a great day as all the kids could come with us.  Many have activities so finding time during the week is a nice treat for us all to be together. 

 Reni and Alyona.  Neither knew exactly how to play.  They had tons of fun anyhow though.

Waiting for the meal to come.  

Boys, devouring some rolls.  

Summer ended up with a pancake.  So did Alyona.  The rest of us got mostly salads and burgers.  Hit the spot for sure.

Weather was gorgeous, and kids were decent.  Just was a nice meal out with no issues.  So good so that I bought them that giant checkers game.  Do you know they've played it several times everyday since last Thursday.  

Got to get to bed.  Trying to figure out how to get the printer to work again.  Kids have worksheets to do.  Tomorrow is soccer games.  More tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Roll of duct tape and tape later...

and we have true love.  The other day Nik wrote this:

It says Summar for Nik.  I Love Mom.  Nik love Summar.  BTW, he drew and SPELLED this all by himself!  He wrapped up a box and gave it to Summer.  He told me she would be happy.  He wanted to give her a gift.  

Today, I got distracted.  Had no idea what Nik was doing upstairs.  I should have learned long ago if quiet, go check...immediately.  URGHH!!!  Nik wrapped a full bin full of presents for her.  He was so proud.  An entire roll of duct tape and regular tape.  This must have taken him forever to do.  Very colorful though.  Hey, maybe I can get him to help w/ Christmas next year.

Summer starting to open her gifts.  Do you love the shucked corn on the floor?  A job that got started & didn't finish till I said something of course.

 Everyone curious as to just want Nik had wrapped up. 

I know it is blurry but he is SO happy waiting for her reaction.  It was just so cute to witness.  Very special bond these two.

Okay, notice Irina's expression back there.  She is realizing right then that Nik has taken things from everyone's room to give to Summer.  See, the first night he wrapped up lotion and a box.  Today, we had no idea what he' wrapped up.

Ahh, a bank that Yana made years ago and was in Yana's room.

Summer was thrilled w/ this stuffed toy.  Umm, guess she didn't realize it was in her toy box already.  Nik continues to be ecstatic about how happy she is.

Nik, showing off what he wrote.  I corrected him yesterday and he remembered.  Says Nik, Summer love.  Notice, nothing morbid people.  

 Summer, with her "loot." 

A closer look.  Some stuffed animals, a wand(stick), pencil box, playing cards, scissors, a brush, cd, etc.  Very much a hodge podge.  What I love best about it...Nik did it for his sister just to make her happy.  No other reason than pure joy.  I love it.  Absolutely love it.  We had some doubters during our adoption process that this would not be a good idea to bring in more children w/ Nik here.  I beg to differ.  It has done nothing but improved his quality of life for the better.  Summer is the only one Nik tries to talk to.  Neat to watch.  She has been so good for him.  If any of you newbies to adoption are worried about some "doubters" you may have in your path, rest assured, the ends justifies the means and all you have to do is show them the results once home.  The above is just pure love between a brother and sister.  Neither can communicate with each other yet you can see the love between them. It's wonderful.