Friday, May 18, 2012

Blue Ridge Mountains here we come!!!

This morning we leave.  You can just feel the excitement everywhere!  Lucky kids get to sleep in the car.  Yesterday was hectic as usual.  Though mellow during the day, we started losing it later in the evening.  Irina's meds were not available at the pharmacy at work.  So, Warren had to go to another one as these are the type of meds you are not allowed to miss.  He came home and we made the decision to take Nik in.  See, for 3 days he's been complaining his throat/ chest hurt.  Now, I listened, he wasn't asthmatic sounding, airways sounded clear, wasn't struggling to breath, no red throat, no fever, etc.  However, he kept telling me he had popcorn stuck in his throat.  Since it was going on so long, decided he should go in.  Long story short, he's fine.  Doc found nothing as well.  Most likely, ate something hard, scratched his throat all up and there you have it.  Still, sometimes you just want to be sure.  Warren made burgers for dinner and then the kids headed to bed.  Not easy.  Before that, we had to take care of a few things.

What would an evening be w/out a hole in shorts.  Reni's.  So, Yana volunteered to fix them.  Umm, I do not sew. So far, that is Warren and Yana that sew in this house.  

Summer, trying to sneak a magic want in the bag.  Nice one kiddo.

My two youngest ready for their adventure.

 This is a shot of half of what we have to take.  Seriously, it's only half.  When you need 12 sleeping bags and 12 bags of clothing for a family, it takes up mega space.  Hence, the hunt for the shuttle bus at an auction or something.  Looked at renting one for our big trip next month but it would be $1200.  Can't do it.  Looking for solutions for our next trip.  We don't have a trailer or a hitch on this van.  Did w/ the last one.  Suggestions welcomed on that one.  This is only for 3 days.  Next month, over a week!  Kids will have to be come hood ornaments to make room.  LOL. 

Max, fixing our vacuum the night before the trip.  Never dull is it?

Well, next post will be Sunday evening to tell you all how it went.  Just ready to enjoy it all again this year and learn lots!  Meeting old friends and making new ones.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  I know we will!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Soccer surprise

Yesterday, we had a visitor come over.  His name was Coach Chris and he is Alyona & Reni's soccer coach.  He knew we were going to be out of town and asked if he could come over since we would not be able to attend the soccer party on Friday.  We said sure.  Kids were actually elated he was coming over.  See, coach Chris is the kind of guy that would give his right arm for you.  Just an awesome guy that is such a good role model for the kids.  He's been doing Upwards Soccer for years and is a natural coach.  He is a friend, teacher, cheerleader, supporter and so much more for these kids.  Parents all feel the same way about him.  So, when he said can he come over, the answer was an overwhelming yes! 

He came over w/ his daughter whom Summer just adores.  Hope he doesn't mind that I put a picture up.  But not only that, he came bearing gifts for the girls.  See, he knew they wouldn't be here Friday, so he wanted to give out what they would be receiving then.  The girls were very happy to receive a cd w/ music and a book mark.  And a bag of tootsie rolls to share for the trip!  The cd is homemade w/ songs and each of the team member's name on the cover.  Very cute! 

He and his daughter stayed for a bit.  Rachel and Summer were hanging out playing the whole time.  We were talking and enjoying seeing all the kids hang out and have fun.  We then showed Coach Chris the bench that Max made that he wants to donate to the soccer field.  Max was beaming when I told him what Coach Chris said.  "puts the bench I made to shame."  LOL.  Not true Coach Chris!  Max just loves to make things and it will be nice to see his work out on the field for kids to enjoy years to come.  Just was an overall very pleasant visit.  Thanks Coach Chris for all that you do!  It does NOT go unnoticed.  thanks for taking the time to come and see us all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Camp Cheerio Countdown

Kids have been insane about counting down the days till we leave.  Shoot, Max even printed off directions at school.  Nik made his special poster for the countdown.  Today, all have been bugging me to pack their back packs & what to bring.  Excitement doesn't even begin to describe the feeling.  Must admit, I'm just as excited too.  Ready to go, relax and learn.  Love meeting new folks and seeing everyone have such a great time.  Atmosphere is incredible.  Weather for the weekend could not be better.  73 and sunny.  Incredible!  I can not wait to have the new kids experience this as well.  They can definitely sense it is something fun.  We've been going over rules at dinner this week.  Tomorrow we pack up.  Friday morning, we leave.  I'll probably make french toast or something for breakfast that morning.  Or maybe just go simple & have oatmeal.  Either way, full bellies and in the car we'll go.  Thought you all might enjoy a few group shots from previous years.  For some reason, I have no pics from 2007.  Can't find them at all.  But, you'll be able to see how much the kids have grown over the years.

Camp Cheerio 2008.  They looked so little back then.  

Camp Cheerio 2009.  Growing like weeds!

Camp Cheerio 2010.  Almost doesn't look like the same group.  

Camp Cheerio 2011.  I almost hate to see what this year's picture will look like!  They're way too grown up here!  We tried to bring our travel gnome to Bulgaria too but he broke in the suitcase.  We have since glued him back together.  He may have to travel again.  Well, this was a bit of a blast from the past.  Tomorrow, lots to do.  School, bank, haircuts, snack/ drink donations to get for camp, appointments to make, glasses to buy, etc.  Thankfully, Irina is off work and home to help out.  I'll post tomorrow & most likely Friday.  Nothing Saturday and then post Sunday evening.  I get a break from the computer, phone, tv, etc.  LOVE IT!!!!   We are ready to go!!! 

6 months home ! (Reni)

Talked about Summer being home but I have 2 other kids to discuss as well.  We're going to get straight to it and talk about Reni.  She is 10 yo now.  9 when she came home.  Same age as Nik.  Now, remember these are older child adoptions.  It is NOT the same as toddler adoptions.  Done those too.  Older kids have a whole childhood lived and cared for in a different way than what you would do.  You must take that into consideration.  Raised a whole other way.  When we met Reni last June, she seemed a little shy but nothing overly red flag about anything. 

See, trip one, opening up a bit at the park.  Reni, 9yo.  She didn't have her glasses though clearly needed them.  Now, when we were getting ready to leave her, that's when the tears came.  She knew it would be a few months before we'd be back.  Reni did NOT want to let go.  Was it a clue?  Did she need something more?  Time would tell.  

Second trip.  Not for the faint of heart and frankly, "newbie" parents could not have handled these three.  That is not to be mean or saying we're better.  No.  It is these 3 needed extensive experience in mental health and PI issues.    People who've dealt with RAD and FAS and issues of that nature.  People who've adopted older kids before.  It's not all roses folks and I'm here to break that fairy tale that is out there.  

When Warren left me that day to go to Shumen, I was left w/ screamin' demon in the apartment.  Blood curdling screams for hours on end w/ Summer.  Yet Warren and them were going to have to first say goodbye.  Traumatic for kids that are 9 and 11yo. 

This was saying goodbye.  They were sobbing.  I show you all this picture so you can see just how difficult it is for kids to say goodbye to the only home they've ever known.  Whether it is an orphanage or not, it was home.  This is the beginning of a long road ahead.  

We got to the apartment and had to mesh as a family of 5 at that time.  

Reni, with lots on her mind.  She kept wanting to try to squeeze into Summer's 3T clothes for some reason.  Was driving me nuts.  But, you don't fight it at this point in time.  You just get by minute by minute.  While in Sofia, Logan was truly testing limits and taking much of it out on his sister.  It became quite apparent she was his target for a long time.  We sat her down, told her when we get home, if Logan ever hurts you, Yana & Irina will take care of him.  The sense of relief you could see all over her face and body language.  She clung to us a little more then knowing we'd protect her.

I will also never forget the day I reached over Reni to get something in the kitchen cabinet.  She crouched to the floor, covered her head and shook her finger no, no.  I knew we were dealing w/ some hurt for sure.  

Once home, much was revealed.  See, Reni wet the bed.  We were told this.  However, like some of our previous kids that have come home, we suspected it was nothing medical.  Once she could speak more English, she revealed to us that in the middle of the night, other kids from the orphanage would randomly come in & punch them.  Not every night mind you.  But apparently enough to trigger that fear in her.  Once she was home and slept through the night for two weeks straight, that was it.  She no longer had accidents at night.  She was safe and sound and I think her body could sense that.  

Once home, she started to open up more and more.  found safety nets in a few of the kids.  She'd cringe at the sound of someone yelling.  At first, hard to witness.  Then, you'd start to notice something.  She became one of the kids. Yep, had to get to the voice raising to get her to do something.  She would not even flinch any more if someone raises their voice.  With a deaf kid in the house, this happens often.  You also started to notice something.  Reni found her voice!  Yep, that soft spoken kid was gone.  No one timid here.  She would stand up for herself in a heart beat & is not afraid to speak her mind.  Not one bit!  We put Reni in soccer.  Mainly, b/c apparently in Bulgaria they do not like women doing a whole lot of sports.  She was NOT allowed to be on a team over there.  Reni and Logan both told me that girls aren't allowed to play on teams.  And you know what?!  Reni can hold her own on the soccer field.  

Reni, taking a break a bit from all that running around.  She is an aggressive player (the right amount though) and does well.  Reni is realizing life it different here.  The other day she said "I no like it Bulgaria."  "I like it here."  That is a sign she's ready to leave her old life behind.  Not forget it, but leave it in the past and start fresh.  That is a dream come true for a parent of an older PI child.  

Reni has come a long, long way from her shy, timid, fearful days.  She is outgoing, full of life, full of promise.  Health wise, she's fine.  We were told she was very mentally challenged.  Umm, nope.  She's a smart little cookie!  She is very bright.  Her complete and utter fear of the dogs is gone.  She adores them. Walks them on her own.  She has power now, confidence.  Reni has a quest for knowledge.  Loves to help Alyona figure things out.  Big issue I had for awhile was her being a tattletale but that seems to be better nowadays.  

Reni is not afraid to try new things now.  Even a face mask that she says stings.  No, it doesn't sting.  she just didn't like it. 

Reni has more of a carefree life I feel.  She fits right in here.  She's comfortable and I do believe she is enjoying a lot of her childhood that she may have missed out on.  Taking much joy in simple things such as bubbles.  It's great to see.  Granted, she still has some things to work on, but for the most part has adjusted fantastic to family life and ready to take on the world.  Not bad for just 6 months home, is it??  Logan's post will be soon. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

6 months home! (Summer)

Gee, has it really been that long?  In some ways, it seems like just yesterday.  In others, it seems like they've been here forever.  I figured I'd update on the before and after since these are older children we adopted and everyone always wonders.  How difficult, etc.  I will lay it all out so to speak as a lot happened in the past 25 weeks since they've been home.  A lot.  But that's a good thing.  This is going to be all words as truly, I've posted enough pics lately.  Okay, so a few may sneak in here.

Let's start with the youngest.  Ms. Summer.  Not sure if some of you recall or not but Summer wanted absolutely positively NOTHING to do with us when we met her.  We could not even touch her.  Try that one on for meeting your child.  So, we knew the second pick up trip was going to be torture.  We could hope for better but deep down inside, we knew.  We had to literally peel her out of there.  It continued for a few days.  she wanted nothing to do with us.  The screaming, the crying, it dragged on and on.  I really thought one day Reni would knock her to the moon.  But then, a break through.

This was taken by a friend of ours that was also on their pick up trip.  This shows the exact moment she actually let me hold her...

for the first time ever!  It was a breaking point for Summer.  Walls would have to come down further but this was the moment that did it.  This was the start.  The next few days we went to the park w/ Viviane and her family.  I will never forget the day Summer reached for me.  See, she had taken a liking to Viviane.  Great b/c at least we had some way to calm her.  But hard for mom(me) still.  The above though was it.  It did the trick for us.  

Once I knew Summer would be okay w/ that.  We tackled that all feared all dreaded bath.  They say shampooing a porcupine is impossible.  Well, it would have been easier than bathing Summer that week.  I made the agency call the orphanage to make sure they told me the truth about getting a bath.  It was clear she'd never had one.  They said "oh, she gets showers."  Umm, nope.  No go there either folks.  Makes you wonder a bit, doesn't it.  We decided for the sanity of us all that week, she could stink.  LOL.  No, we did bathe her, just not as often.  

But, I'm here to talk about her progress. Well, health wise, she's doing fantastic.  She is indeed missing her corpus callosum completely.  However, she does not come w/ many of the "side" issues that may arise w/ that.  She was cleared by ophthalmology, endocrinology, neurology(well, 9 month follow ups), and pediatrician.  She went from a size 3T in Bulgaria when we got her to a size 5/6 right now.  She's gained weight too b/c she's heavy!  She used to fall out of the van.  Off the dining room chair, no balance.  Couldn't run, let alone walk to well.  Now, she plays soccer.  

Summer, RUNNING after the ball w/out falling.  It's almost like watching a little miracle.  She was evaluated at a 2yo level in everything.  And I'm not talking the end of a 2yo level either.  It was recommended PT, OT, Speech, etc.  The works as I call it.  However, I never ever get them therapy until at least 6 months home.  I do a reeval then and see what they truly need.  

Summer could not dress herself, feed herself too well, drink w/out a lid or w/out spilling, etc.  She was NOT at all potty trained one bit.  Not...a...bit.  Nope.  She could not button, zip, etc.  Not tie her shoes, nothing.  Could barely hold a pencil.  Did I worry.  No.  She would be fine.  

I will not be getting Summer any therapies.  She is doing fantastic.  I'd say she's on par w/ her age group in many areas now.  Speech is coming along.  Part of that though is also learning another language.  And, having a deaf brother.  She dresses herself.  It's obvious but I let it go.  She can't button yet but she'll get there.  She feeds herself.  No lid needed.  She is potty trained w/ a few accidents here and there.  She wets the bed at night more often than she should but it's a learning thing.  She keeps up w/her brothers.  She has no fear.  She "owns" the dogs.  LOL.  She has spunk!  She's a live wire.  No one knows now that there is anything "wrong" with her.  She is appearing more and more like a typical 5yo.  She will be highly delayed academically.  that is very evident already w/ many developmental delays.  However, she has come exceedingly far for such a short time, we are on a wait and see approach. 

Emotionally, Summer came with quite a bit of baggage. The sad face.  The crying.  Would it ever end?  Well, what do you think?

Sun in her hair....smiling.  Smiling.  The first few weeks, it was all we could do to get a smile out of her.  So emotionally withdrawn.  Wanted nothing to do with us so much.  Was afraid to get too close.  She was terrified to go to bed.  And I mean terrified.  Not just normal orphanage scared either.  This was different.  Once she was reassured for a few days, it improved.  It is hard as a parent when you can't comfort it all away.  Somethings, they just have to work through.  I think the time I was most heartbroken was at soccer the one day.  I could not make it all better.  It started to rain.  She was frozen.  Blank stare.  The whole 9 yards. I'd realized, she'd probably never been caught in the rain before.  Nothing I could do that day made anything better.  Nothing.  She was lost in her own world.  She has now learned not to be afraid of rain or thunder or lightening.  She's willing to conquer her fears head on.  She's willing to walk away emotionally from whatever happened in the past.  We'll never know Summer's whole story.  Ever.  You have to remind her to eat.  This is common though w/ c-ACC kids.  When I'm angry w/ her, I must show it in my face so she can process that emotion.  When I'm happy w/ her, I must do the same.  Exaggerate somewhat more though so that she can differentiate between emotions.  Crazy, I know.  She has to learn emotions which can be tough.

Summer LOVES to sign.  She adores Nik and plays with him the most.  The feeling is mutual.  They have a wonderful bond and did need each other for sure.  Summer has come an incredibly long way in bonding, healing, learning and loving.  Just 6 short months.  Amazing.  

I know there's a ton I left out.  Can't write it all.  Just know, she's spoiled rotten.  My only regret with her is not getting her sooner!  LOL.  We love her to pieces.  More to come on the other two soon.  Lots going on here at Chaos Manor so other things to do this evening. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Blast from the past (different)

I usually do one of these each month but getting close to having done quite a few already.  So, decided to look through the picture files.  Found one I totally forgot about.  A friend from Serbia sent us these pictures of Bojan that she found.  They are from 2004.  Christmas time so Bojan would just be turning 5 then.   We adopted him in Jan/Feb. of 2005.  Thought it would be nice to enjoy them and share them w/ everyone.

Bojan is the little boy on the left. It's Lubica's birthday.  She was adopted right after Bojan.  She was Bojan's best friend.  She now lives in NY.  Small world.  

Bojan with one of his caretakers.  Tanya.  They truly did love and care about him there and it showed.  Now that Bojan is older, he can tell us all sorts of things.  He has some great memories which I'm very thankful for.  Isn't he so cute looking!  I believe this is the same restaurant on the river that we ate with him but can't remember exactly.  It was pretty even in the middle of winter.

 Bojan looks ready to go visit with Santa.  Nice that they celebrated holidays and such with them. 

Blowing out the candles on her cake.  She was SO sweet.  Feel in love with her and was so happy she found her family.  

 Looks like a party atmosphere and so glad they got to enjoy it. 

Can't believe Bojan was ever that little.  

And that's a little bit of a blast from the past.  More to come later tonight.  Trying to get a few things done. 

Manic Monday

Back to reality.  It' s Monday.  with the end of school, we have much, much to do.  We'll get there little by little.  Here we go.  Some highlights for the week:

  • order testing material or possible take them to a local testing center.
  • Review school
  • Decide if I can even send Alyona to middle school w/ NO special ed classes.  Sorry inclusion does NOT work.  
  • Getting organized this week.
  • Ready for camp Cheerio!
  • Need more sleeping bags but think we've decided just to take comforters this go around.
  • Quickly realizing the van is not going to cut it as a travel vehicle.
  • Heart sank as estimate for new roof came in.  Only 1st estimate so hoping it goes down from here or we'll be living w/ buckets for awhile.  LOL.
  • Started pre-authorization for Nik's batteries despite insurance not covering it all.  We'll figure that one out later.  
  • Pool is still Shrek green.  Getting there though.  It's a process.
  • Irina is getting a 24 hour ph probe done tomorrow.  Yuck!
  • We decided not to do soccer practice this week.  We just need some time to figure a few things out.
  • A friend is on my mind today.
  • Did I mention we're all ready for Camp Cheerio?
  • House got really clean this past weekend.
  • Yana wants to learn how to play the piano.
  • Seeing if we can find some way to get Nik the Neptunes.  It would be ideal for him.  However, with a new roof needed, I guess just a pipe dream.  
  • Called Advance Bionics.  They'll give you a $1500 trade in value.  Umm, new ones are $8K.  Think there's some magic grant somewhere?
  • Nik can land a back flip on the trampoline now as well as Alex.
  • Alyona is being less than stellar.  Okay, that's the nice way of saying the word I'm thinking of to describe her.
  • Irina is nervous about tomorrow and rightfully so.
  • Bojan is singing in the shower.  I'm cracking up.  He has no idea I can hear him from here.  
  • Still in a waiting pattern w/ IRS man.
  • Haven't heard from agency yet on Reni & Logan's sib.  Takes a long time.
  • Our hopes of building the facility we want for adults w/ disabilities is starting to get crushed.  Can't even entertain the idea if estimates come back from the other roofers.  House would have to be taken off the market.  Really, it would be a big blow not to move.  Never make plans they say.  Trouble is, this would have helped so, so many.
  • We leave Friday for Camp Cheerio!  
  • Grandparents (Warren's parents) came to visit the kids yesterday.  Very sweet of them to do. 
  • Two dogs are now clean & treated w/ Frontline.  Digby is getting a bath tomorrow.
Well, that's a little of what's happening here.  More going on.  Tired to write.  Need to workout this evening for sure.   A friend of mine is going to start walking w/ me at the park!  VERY excited.  We're going to keep each other on track.  Can't wait.  Warren is making his homemade marinara sauce.  Got to go.  More later.  Few more drafts written.  This weekend though I got a lot out there.  Finally, catching up on a few blog posts.  More to come later this evening.