Friday, July 13, 2012

Max's Drawings

I haven't done one of these for a bit.  One of the kids took the camera the other day and took pictures of Max's art work.  Albeit a bit blurry, you still get a good idea of what he's done. 

I asked Max what he drew.  He said our house that he wants us to build.  Umm, ok son.  I guess we just need to find a few hundred thousand dollars more, what do you think?  LOL.

A little closer view.  Lots of varying architecture in the roof line.

Love the turant he decided we should have.  Love it.

And, he knows I've always wanted a nice porch.  

I do wish this house actually existed.  I do believe it could be a very nice Chaos Manor for sure.  Hey, he can dream too.  

Pictures on the wall.  Picture of our bus on the bottom.  He's also created a bus that he wants us to have.  Again, need a few more bucks when it comes to Max's drawings.  Still, he comes up w/ very clever ideas that I do believe are marketable.  

Just wanted to share.  Lots going on here.  Irina, Max and Yana are staying at friends' houses this evening.  Tomorrow, we're going to a local family fun fest.  Reni, Logan and Alex will NOT be attending.  They are grounded.  To a tee.  Anyhow, more a bit later.  For now, going to go hang out w/ Bojan downstairs and kick some more ideas around of where we want to travel in the fall.  Can't wait.  Have an awesome weekend.  Much more to share but just a bit busy.  I'll catch up over the week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adopting older kids

Time to cut to the chase here.  I'm not going to sugar coat this post one bit.  This will be open, honest and very raw.  Some things I will not say as for the protection of my kids.  However, if other parents who are new to adoption read this, I know they will want to know what to expect.  How do I know this?  Because I was one of those parents that wanted to know the TRUTH about adopting an older child and not some sugar coated rosy happy ending.  Knowing what to expect helps to make the transition easier for these kids.   So, here goes nothing.

First, you must know what life is like over in an older kids' home.  And no, I'm not talking about the childrens' home.  Typically, in EE, there is a baby home, a childrens' home, and then an older childrens' home (internat).  Once the child turns around 4yo, they go to the childrens' home. Then, on either their 7th or 8th b-day, they go to the older childrens' home for good.  Many parents try as hard as they can to keep them in the younger kids' home till they get there to adopt them.  I was one of those parents that fought and lost the fight w/ one of my girls.  She was transferred.  Transferred at the ripe old age of 8.  What did she get to witness?  Things adults should be doing, NOT kids, not that age.  Even teens shouldn't be doing some of that stuff.  The younger kids in the home watch the older kids and admire everything they do.  They don't know any better.  No guidance.  They're left on their own to learn from others.  Not all are good role models either.  Think about it if you will.  The girls are typically kicked out on the streets at 16yo.  No home, no money, no family, no skills, no possessions.  Where are they to go?  What are they to do?  There is nowhere but the streets.  Turning tricks typically.  Statistics are staggering for orphans once they leave the orphanage and are on the streets.  Boys will end up on drugs or in the military if lucky.  Really, what options do they have?  There is little guidance in the older kids' homes.  Some have more than others from our experience but really, not much.  There is no one to look out for your well being.  No one to teach you right from wrong.  No one to teach you how to settle conflict.  No one to teach you how to be safe.  No one to teach you how to love.  No one to teach you basic self-care or basic life lessons.

Those are just some of the things I'd like to let you know about so you understand why they act the way they do when they get home. They haven't been taught anything else.  Not even how to use toilet paper.  It is the basics they lack.  They've had no parental figures and we take that for granted here.  Even some adoptive parents don't know the extent of what their older children don't know when they first get home.  They learn as they go.  Many older kids come w/ their teeth rotted out.  My Bulgarian kids did not have this issue.  All my Russian kids though had horrible teeth when first home.  They weren't told ever night to brush their teeth.  so, no matter how old, the first few months home, you remind them to brush their teeth every morning and night.  You will remind them to throw toilet paper in the toilet and not in the garbage can.  They can't regulate how much shampoo or toilet paper or toothpaste to use.  Trust me, a lot is wasted those first few months home.  URGHH!!!  Plan for that expense if you're adopting an older child.  Or one or two or three of them.

Eating habits are atrocious in some areas, awesome in others.  They all tend to eat fast.  Shovel it in.  This is b/c at the orphanage, food used to be taken away if not chomped down fast enough.  See, the other night we were at dinner w/ the kids.  One thing I noticed Reni doing was she got up and promptly straightened the rug on the floor.  Gross, I know. I said let me guess Reni, you had to take care of the rugs in Bulgaria.  "yeh, yeh, that's right."  Some what shocked I guessed it right.  I said well here, we are just out to eat and someone else will take care of the rug for us.  Many of these children have never been to a restaurant when you adopt them.  Remember that.  Reni and I continued our conversation.  See, we've been through this many times before w/ our Russian kiddos.  Reni and I talked about our favorite foods and things.  Then, she said "you no eat fast, they take it food."  I said well Reni, I'm not going to take your food away.  Feel free to slow down and enjoy it.  Many tastes are unfamiliar to older adopted kids.  Especially, American foods.  May take some time for them to want to try things.  Now, the more malnourished kids will want to gorge.  Don't let them.  Our Bulgarian kids did not have this issue.  However, most our Russian kids did.  Of course, most of them were indeed malnourished. All my 4yo's came home weighing barely 20 lbs.  All were in a size 18 month clothing.  Summer was my only "chunky monkey."  LOL.  Ironic as she spent the first few years of her life in the Pleven orphanage.  But, she spent the year and a half at Kardzhali and she was very healthy when we picked her up. 

Typically though, when older kids come home from EE, they will be much, much smaller than American counter parts.  Irina was 6.5 and wore size 2T.  She weighed around 24 lbs or so.  Yana was 8.5 and very skinny as well.  Bojan was not that big either but healthy.  He was just small.  Now, he's taller than me!  So, if your kids come home small, do know that will not last very long in older kids.  They do grow and fast!  Don't spend a lot of money on their first clothing as they won't wear it long at all.  That is another thing about older kids.  Clothing.  Geez.  See, they are not used to having their own things.  Believe it or not, this makes them more picky!  Drives me insane when we get home.  It's still going on w/ Reni.  Not so much Logan any more.  But, Reni is a girl so that explains part of it.  They want their own style and their own things as this is the first time in their life they have this.  We try to honor that but w/ 10 kids, you can't always get what you want.  But we do buy clothes 'just for them' when they get home.  And shoes.  Oh, their shoe size will shock you.  They grow out of them like water and my kids never tell me when their shoes are too small.  See, in orphanages, it doesn't really matter if you outgrow your shoes, you wear them anyhow.  When we got Yana for hosting, her toes were starting to curl under.  Took her straight to the store after picking her up.  Her and Alex and Zhenya.  Bought them all new shoes.  Yana's were literally 3 full sizes too small.  It was just sad.  Warren and I raised $500 that week to give to the orphanage director for new shoes for all the kids back in Russia.  To this day, my kids still do not tell me when their shoes are too small so you really must check them.  The things that are common place to us are not to older adopted children. 

 I have much more to say.  Please keep in mind, all this is based on MY experience w/ MY older kids.  All ten of them.  More tomorrow on this topic as there are just so, so many topics to cover.  Like the disappointments they face once in America.  They told Reni and Logan there are NO HOSPITALS in America!  URGHH!!!  How do you think that went over the first time we went to one?  More on the psychological stuff and their thinking once home.  We have a little more insight as to what they think as our older kids can relay that to us once they speak English.  We learned a ton from Yana.  Learning even more from Reni and Logan.  Getting interesting for sure.  More soon.  Need to stretch before bed. 

My kids are the people of Walmart

I hate even typing that title.  But it's so true, especially w/ the boys.  This week has been our ultimate lazy week for a change.  Today, we had the plumber come and fix all the leaky faucets.  Warren usually does all this but the outside ones and the shower/tub combo required some special tools and crawling under the house.  So, had to hire someone.  If I ever hear a plumber complain they don't make enough, I may have to take issues w/ them.  But, it's fixed now.  No leaks and everything works now too which is awesome.  One time, I'm going to buy something frivolous w/ tax money instead of fixing things each year.  One day.  For now though, we're fixing many broken things.  Warren's car is next on the list.  Figures, we're just a few short payments away from paying it off.  URGHH~!!!  This happens to us w/ every single car. 

After the plumber left, the speech therapist came for Nik.  He gets speech 3X a week and AV 2X a week now.  She might as well move in here.  Great thing we like her.  LOL.  She does awesome w/ Nik & doesn't let him get away w/ anything.  While she was here, the contractor came to see what we want so we can get another bid.  We'll know next week if we can even do this.  If not, there is a plan C.  Plan A was selling.  That obviously didn't work.  We're on Plan B now.  He was nice so see what his work comes in at. 

Later, we all watched a movie.  Warren came home early today as he had a doc appointment for his ankles.  He was in a horrible motorcycle accident years ago and ankles have been messed up every since.  He and I then took 4 of the kids w/ us to Lowes to return some parts the plumber didn't need.  We go in there and I realize my kids look like the People of Walmart.  Nik had on Curious George flip flops...yellow.  All kinds of colors plaid shorts.  And a brown & white shirt on...inside out of course.  Summer had a dress on and most likely boots.  Don't remember.  I let her dress herself.  Alyona is at the in between stages of a preteen.  So, she had a bra on.  How could you tell?  She had a tank top on that was cut differently in the back.  Reni always looks like Punky Brewster.  Don't believe me?  Take a look from the other night:

Those are toe socks in the 100 degree weather folks.  Only reason the shirt somewhat matches is b/c I told her to go change the other one.  It was orange and other colors mixed w/ it.  Typically, her hair is in a pony tail or something and bangs have barrettes all in them.  So, it's missing it's true effect.  I'll have to take her true punky one day.  

The boys are infamous for going out and we get to wherever we're going and I realize their shirts are all stained or filthy.  IT's not like they don't have clothes.  That's not the issue here.  I have decided I should check them again at the door like I used to.  I'm telling  you, one day we're going to be photographed and put on that page.  I've warned my kids!  Not that we don't stand out enough in a crowd.  

Anyhow, today was lazy.  Irina & Yana made their first homemade cake together.  Turned out fairly well.  Warren and I took 4 of the kids to Lowes and let them pick out paint samples.  The 3 younger boys agree to paint their room orange.  Max and Bojan want black.  Irina and Yana want this deep pink/ purple color.  And finally, finally Reni, Summer and Alyona have agreed.  Purple and lime green it is!  So happy about that.  See, they've been going back and forth on color.  They all agreed to red but mom nixed that idea.  LOL.  Glad they finally agreed.  I got a sample can and tested it on our bathroom and love it.  So, painting our bathroom the next few days.  I figured if I can't afford a new bathroom, I can at least try to make mine look like a "spa."  Okay, stop laughing.  This is the same bathroom you know that doubles as a laundry room b/c we really don't have a laundry room.  We improvise.  Our washer and dryer is in a hall closet.  Originally, this home was designed for the typical American family.  Not a family of 12.  Anyhow, we're all kind of excited to change things up around here w/ some paint and fixing things that are broken.  It' s awesome.  Now, to get to work on it all tomorrow.  

As much as I'd love to try out for the Biggest Loser (open casting calls are here this weekend!), I know after today, there is no way I can leave them here alone for months at a time.  So, I'll continue to lose on my own journey as I don't get to exercise  non-stop for 8 hours or more a day.  But, I'll get there slowly but surely.  Reminds me, kids broke the scale so I'll have to get another one soon.  More posts soon.  Have started a bunch but never finished them.  Kind of like our house, right?  This weekend we're going to a little local carnival.  And, going to the movies one night.  It was an unexpected gift from a great guy half way across the world in Australia!  Can't wait to enjoy our night out at the movies and ice cream after.  Will be a great break from painting for sure. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Growing, growing and more growing

What are we growing around here?  Apparently, a few kids.  Well, and some butterflies and things. 

Bojan showing us how much he's grown since his first leg.  Look at that thing!

Can you believe just how big he's gotten!?

To me she really has looked like she's growing.  I know she isn't really but looks like at least a little bit to me.

  Bojan explaining to Logan and Alex why the old one didn't work and what he didn't like about it. 

I bought this on clearance at Wally World for $7.  It's a butterfly garden.

These are the catepillars that will be turning into 5 butterflies in a few weeks.  It's great to watch the process and see the kids learning about it.  Today, they just made their cacoons.  awesome!  Can't wait to see the butterflies come out.  A little science over summer never hurts. We're also doing lapbooks on the Olympics so when we watch them, we'll know about them.

Reni showing Summer the growing animals for the first time.  You put them in water and watch them grow over 3 days.  They get pretty dog gone big too.

Summer, not quite so sure about touching those things.

 Ooh, getting her courage up to give it a try.

Now we're having a little fun.  This was day one.  They have grown quite a bit.  Still growing too!  Then they shrink back and you can do it all over again.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chaos Manor in full swing! URGHH!!!

Warning, this is not a rosy post about my kids.  LOL.  Every once in awhile, it kicks in that I have ten kids.  Today was unfortunately one of those days.  Was it horrible?  No.  And I ONLY say that b/c no one ended up in the hospital this time.  I'm not even sure really where to start.  I think Nik and Logan had to be the worst of them to be honest.  They took the fish down from the laundry room.  They have to be hung a certain way.  Pain in the butt.  Logan and Nik decided for whatever reason to take down all the built in shelving from the bookcase in the bathroom.  BTW, shelves can only go in a certain way.  Max worked on that one for some time.  Next, they took out all the girls' clothing and dumped it on the floor.  All of it!  Why?!  Why in the world.  Made them pick it all up and fold it and put it away. 

What is this you ask?  Why part of Nik's wardrobe.  He tried to climb up and broke it off the bottom part.  It is unrepairable.  URGHH!!!  Added to the delight of my day no doubt.

Alex.  Alex is just mean today.  I know, I know horrible to say about your own child.  Too bad.  Alex was being mean to everyone.  Literally.  He also disobeyed by taking Kota for a run versus Alaska.  You may think this is no big deal but only the older kids or Warren & I can handle Kota on a leash.  (he's not friendly to other dogs so have to watch and make sure he's tight by). 

Alex seemed like he painted the table w/ peanut butter and jelly.  Lovely son.  Why?  Don't know.

Boys' room today.  Need I say more about this one?  URGHH!!!

Bojan and Max were practically torturing each other.  I don't get it.  It started out they were trying to be funny but somehow took a wrong turn.  Bojan pulled out one of Max's leg hairs and he retaliated.  No ice pack needed but seriously, should I be having to break up a 17yo and 13yo?  Makes no sense.

Notice Kota not looking too happy.  Let me explain a tad more.  See, the dog hates it, absolutely hates it when people hit each other or slap something.  Well, the flyswatter is something the dog can't stand.  Kota attacks the flyswatter.  Not the person holding it, but the flyswatter itself.  Kids seem to take a twisted pleasure in working the dog up in a frenzy over a flyswatter.  I told Bojan to quit killing the flies and wait.  So, Max picks it up and continues the same thing.  URGHH!!  This type of thing

The amount of back talk I got from the boys today was insane!  And to top it off, as I'm yelling at Nik and Logan, Nik takes the stupid implants off and smiles.  Really, not in the mood son. BTW, Irina told me about this one b/c he was in the kitchen and Logan in the dining room. 

Moving onto the girls.  They were just being obnoxious inside so I kicked them outside.  It had stopped raining.  However, the picture above was from when it was raining and they decided to go on the trampoline in the rain and slap each other with wet t-shirts.  A bit demented I'd say.  But they were laughing the whole time.  And, I figured at this point, maybe it would bring some goodness out of them.  Umm, nope.  Summer wet herself b/c she was too much into watching Diego and Dora.  Not happy. 

Girls ended up writing lines for their behavior earlier.  Summer wrote her abc's.  Girls, all of them, are pretty much being caddy to each other all day.  Irina decided she wanted to tease the dog w/ the Darth Vader mask.  I swear, we have the most tolerant dogs on the planet.  Irina purposefully dropped a ruler behind the couch.  Well, normally this would be easy.  However, you have to undo the sectional to get behind  there and get what you need.  URGHH!!  

Power was on and off today.  I've had kids write lines, get grounded, etc.  Tonight, Reni, Alyona, Alex and Logan went outside at around 9pm to run laps around the island.  Said if you're not tired enough to go to bed, we must make you tired.  Time to run around the island.  10 times.  Surprisingly, Alyona finished first and headed upstairs and to bed.  Dash (aka Alex) was next.  He too starts to walk inside.  Logan decides he should talk some"smack" along w/ Reni.  I asked Reni if she was now tired.  She replied no.  I said fine, run 5 more laps.  She was devastated I'd so such a thing.  See, Alex and Alyona know how this thing works.  You'd think the newer kids would catch on. I do believe Reni did.  LOL. 

I could go on w/ spilled glasses of water and milk but I won't.  It's unreal.  But, in the grand scheme of things, this is not that bad of a day.  I should not complain.  No one was hurt.  No stitches needed.  And as we always say in Chaos Manor... with every new day, there's fresh hope.  Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day.  On a good note, Warren must have sensed something as he brought me home some candy.  Yes, tomorrow is going to be better.

Love this idea!

Someone posted something on facebook the other day.  I said I must, I must do it.  So, went to Wally World and got two bins.  El cheapo's but they'll do.  I'm sick and tired of my kids being lazy.  Not picking up their stuff at the end of the day.  So, that's what started this.

A blue bin for the boys, pink for the girls.  I went through the house and collected stuff that was left out.  Shoes, sunglasses, drawings, bathing suits, towels, etc.  Anything and everything.  I did NOT go to their rooms the first night.  This was just stuff in other areas of the house.

I have not had the time to do what I want w/ this sign.  I'm going to decorate it on the computer and fancy it up and laminate it.  But for now, it will do to get the point across.  I will be taping it to the front of the bins.  

I printed two different sheets out.  This is just a picture of the first sheet.  I cut them into strips.  Put them in an envelope that says 'pick a chore.'  Rule is if no one claims an item, they all have to do a chore.  Regardless.  

Shock and awe was the response.  It was fantastic!  VERY effective for all ages.  Why I did not think of this sooner, I'll never know.  Just thought I'd share in case any of you had some things left out.  I know I'm not the only one.  And best part, my house is clean!  I'm keeping this one up too.  Second night, spic and span. 

4th of July Pics (part 2)

Well, continuing on our noneventful 4th of July, I thought I'd share the rest of the pics.  Today has been raining this afternoon.  Gotten a ton done as far as calling places ands making arrangements for things.  Some days, you just need that.  Anyone care to guess how much it costs to replace a broken oven handle?  $185!  Warren and Max are going to try to "make" one.  Yeh, this should be good.  LOL.  Both are talented but crafting a stove handle to fit current stove may not end well.  Such is life.  Anyone care to gamble at what plumbers make per hour??  Put it this way, I think Warren chose the wrong profession.  Hard to believe.  $95 an hour.  They told me shower/combo fix will be at least 2.5 to 3 hours.   If you're wondering, this is what tax money is going for.   One day, I'm buying something totally frivolous w/ tax money.  For now though, house stuff that is broken must get fixed.  Normally, Warren and Max fix everything.  However, all the plumbing that needs to be done requires quite a few tools Warren does not have.  Hence, hiring someone to do the job.  It is what it is.  We move on.  On a better note, I finally fixed the medical billing issue we were having.  Guessing I'll get a little money back.  Hey, that can go to that lovely stove handle.  Now, for better things.

Not sure what's w/ the mad face.  Caught him off guard I guess.  Strawberry shortcake on a hot day is the way to go.  

I know it's blurry.  Courtney was allowing everyone to get used to some of the media equipment.  Me, I'm a little shakey at my kids handling $20K worth of equipment.  They were practicing.  Trust me, none are shy in front of a camera.

Logan, happy to help.  

I did take pictures of the local fireworks we went to but really was hard to get any shots.  After we came home, we did sparklers too.  Reni was a pro.

Umm, little pyro here decided he wanted dynamite.  Yes, you read that right.  So, our son takes a long piece of twine in the yard and lights it w/ the sparkler!  Yes, he sure did!  Luckily, someone saw him and we took the "lit" twine and put it out.  

At first, Summer was terrified and didn't even want to hold one.  Soon, she'd hold two.  Then she was ready.  

Is she tired or shell shocked?  

Think there's enough fire out in our yard??  All in all, we all had a great 4th of July.  We didn't go to any parades.  Frankly, at a hundred and something out, it's just too dog gone hot.  So glad though we had our 10 American kids here to celebrate.  Last year, I was only dreaming of what it would be like.  Yep, just like we dreamed.  Well, add a little more fire and some spats here and there and you've got it.  

Well, got to get a little more done around here.  Oh, I won gourmet bread today from a local store.  We'll go tomorrow to pick it out.  I'm afraid by going to the bakery that we may actually end up w/ more than we bargined for.  LOL.  We'll see.  Storms are rolling through in and out.  Off the computer I go.  Kids and I are going to veg out and watch a movie.  Great day for it.

Manic Monday

It really is not manic but I feel that way.  Crazy here and it's only morning.  But, some days are like that.  Dog is going insane b/c he hates the flyswatter.  We have had massive fly problem the last 3 days.  Umm, could it be people tend to not close the door fast enough?  No, never.  Anyhow, lots happening as usual but NO appointments whatsoever this week so rejoicing in not having to be anywhere.  Thought I'd give a glimpse of what is happening here and what's on the agenda for this week. 

  • Boys seem to be "stuck" in a fighting w/ each other mode lately
  • Kids are stilling loving the pool
  • First day out of the 100's in awhile
  • Getting the outside yard in shape
  • Much died w/ the heat in regards to flowers
  • Waiting for contractors to call us back
  • Collecting bids for remodel
  • Kids are deciding how they want their new rooms (colors)
  • Have decided Yana needs a new bed.  Hers is 50 or more years old and the dog has chewed it up as well.  And, it's wobbly.  Warren and Max are going to make one that hangs on the wall and folds up.  Sort of Murphy style but not.  Can't wait to see how it turns out.  
  • Got some new fish as our suicidal ones finally died.  They jump out of the tank every time we're gone.
  • Our of flour.  I never run out of flour
  • 95 today but rest of the week in the 80's
  • Need to find a plumber.  Separate issue.  URGHH!!!
  • Pool is finally balanced.  
  • Boys are in a "mood" today
  • For some reason, flies have taken over the house.  We honestly can't figure it out or where they're coming from.
  • Lots of emails again to catch up on
  • Doc appointments to make.  About 25 to make.  Yeh, I'll get there.
  • Still no word from JCPS regarding Alyona's IEP and attempt at a self-contained classroom at another school
  • Getting homeschool stuff ready for next year
  • Meeting w/ voc rehab for Irina this month
  • Nik is getting speech therapy and AV therapy now
  • Calling appliance repair place today
  • Soccer tryouts/ registration coming up
  • VBS coming up
  • Family Fun Fest carnival coming up this weekend
  • Thinking of going to open casting call for Biggest Loser
  • Kids ready for Courtney to come back and visit
  • Starting lapbook this week on Summer Olympics
  • I have a sucky summer cold
  • Went out to dinner last night
  • Lazy swim/ clean day today
  • Garden still growing
  • Growing a pumpkin of all things
  • Logan is talking about his b-day party for next month
  • Bought hair paint yesterday only to find out today it's regular paint
  • Trying to find home for little boy w/ HI and arthrogryposis
  • Planning vacation for next year
  • Planning some day trips for August
  • Planning some fall trips when it's cooler
  • Need to apply for grants for Nik
  • Nik really wants those Neptunes and so do we
Usual stuff going on here.  Irina, Yana and I are seriously getting organized.  Any junk drawer, closet, etc.  It's great.  Now, if I could just get Warren to work on his clutter.  LOL.  Can't wait to get started on the house stuff.   More space here will help.  We like having extra beds as we tend to have house guests here and there.  Kyle stayed w/ us last summer.  Warren's sister stayed w/ us for about a year or so.  And Courtney this summer here and there.  Her visits are not long at all though we wish they were longer.  Kids like her and so, so much to tell her about adoption.  Really is.  Also, kids friends sleep over often.  In addition, we tend to add kids here and there.  LOL.  More space will be awesome for many reasons.  A fence will be fantastic.  I think I'll like that best.  We're also getting the leaky faucets fixed in the girls' bathroom this week.  Unfortunately, it is a job that Warren can't do.  Not the right tools for it.  After getting the quotes, I can honestly say Warren should have been a plumber!  yikes!  Anyhow, has to be done.  Got to go.  More phone calls to make.  I'll finish up the fireworks post later.  And, have an older child adoption post I'm working on.  You know, since we have a few of those kiddos. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

4th of July Pics (part 1)

A few days ago was the 4th of July.  First 4th of July for Logan and Reni and Summer.  Always nice.  We had our house guest Courtney celebrate the 4th w/ us too which was awesome.  I'm sure she thought we were boring.  But, after a long vacation and then 2 b-day parties right afterwards, we decided a nice low key 4th was much needed.  Sleep in, swim all day, burgers on the grill and local fireworks.  Relaxing in other words. 

See anything wrong w/ this picture??  Can you tell she dressed herself?  As did Nik in the background working w/ his speech therapist.  Stripes and plaids, that's my boy.  

Ready for the big night.  On clearance last year for a quarter a pack.  

Summer.  Now a fish.

Summer and Reni playing ball w/ Courtney.  

Water still cloudy but we finally figured out there was a hole in one of the hoses.  This is Alyona enjoying a little time lounging around.

 Logan.  Rule here is you throw it out or last to touch it, you have to go out and get it.  I think it is time to get rid of that sad looking patio table.  LOL.  But, we have a plan for Max to try out making a pallet table.  Hey, pallets are free so worth a shot.  Saw it online and Max is game.  Hey, w/ new table sets being over a thousand, we thought we'd try free first. 

Mr. fit and trim getting in the pool.  Look at the muscles on his arm.  Crazy.

A hundred and some odd degrees out and my son is in sweat pants.  He loves to swing every single day.  

Think Reni has enough flotation w/ her?  

Nik, ready to come in and change into his bathing suit.

Max proving to us he can get in that little ring.  He'll kill me if he sees the picture.

 Max and Logan getting ready to launch Alyona.  The look on her face is simply priceless.  

Poor Courtney was such a great sport.  She is such a sweet lady and kids really liked her.  They all want her to come back. It will be a few more weeks.  Was wonderful talking to her and getting to know her more.  My older kids were shocked to her that college is not all "glam."  Different coming from someone else.  "Mom, did you know you have to share a room?!"  Yep, I know that.  

Logan watching w/ all his might to figure out how Max is floating.  Logan sinks every time he tries to float.  Max offered to show him.  He's being more of a nicer big brother lately.  In the beginning, it is hard to welcome another brother into the "pack."  Glad that he's seeing he can be a big brother to all of them.  They do look up to Max quite a bit.  max even took the time to teach Logan how to swim in WVA.  

More on the 4th of July at Chaos Manor. 

It's HOT!

Sorry I haven't written.  It was 105 here today.  We did not swim at all.  It's like swimming in a hot tub despite adding cold water.  We organized and cleaned.  We also went shopping.  Finally got the boys another hamper.  After we've all hurt ourselves on the old one, it was time. LOL.  See, I found a giant wicker hamper about 2 years ago at a yardsale for $2.  It served us well.  Been looking for the past few months for one.  Nothing.  And, let's face it.  You find one for $2, it's hard to want to justify spending $20 on one.  But, had to do it today.  Seriously, the old one became a weapon.  Wicker spikes on top.  Anyhow, TJMaxx it was.  Nothing exciting there. 

Then, tried to get Alyona and Alex to spend their b-day money.  What was left of it.  Why?  Because you just don't give these kids money. It's hard on them.  They don't understand.  At all.  Makes for a rough situation till it's gone.  Hence, why they don't even get an allowance yet.  FAS kids really do NOT understand money even once older.  Anyhow, it was semi- successful.  They still have a little bit left.  Been accusations of theft from each other and Alex tried to get Alyona to pay him $1 for an oreo cookie.  URGHHH!!!  Anyhow, after that we headed to Petsmart as the fish at Wally World tend to die.  I wanted new fish as our suicidal goldfish died while on vacation.  It was one from a pond.  I got it free.  So, can't complain.  This time, got an Oscar and a dempsy.  Cool looking too.  Nik got a new Beta.  Irina some things for the guinea pig.  And, since Wally world also did not have dog clippers, dog nail clippers for the pooches.  Also, saw this moss type looking ball.  Apparently it sucks up all the dirt in tanks.  Putting it in the boys' tank.  Promised the girls a new bigger tank.  See, we start them out w/ bettas.  If, they take care of them and keep them alive, we let them progress.  Now, Irina's aquarium at the yardsale was a steal.  $10 but a $225 aquarium not even used.  Doubt we'll find that deal again but I'm looking for the girls one.  They're very excited.  Logan was not happy we wouldn't buy him a mouse.  I said catch one in the garage.  Pet store guy said the same thing.  LOL.  Came home.  Realized fish still were not thawed. 

Time for dinner.  At 105, we did NOT want hot tomato soup for dinner.  So, since we haven't used our July out to dinner night, we did it.  Cleveland Draft House it was!  Local place w/ great food.  Yes, this area is called Cleveland, 40/42, Clayton-Garner, Garner, etc.  Yep, no one knows what to call it.  LOL.  I'm being serious too.  Has to do w/ wanting to be incorporated but last time no one could agree on a name.  Our family calls it 40/42.  We live in Garner, have Clayton phone #, kids go to school at Cleveland and we call it 4042.  No wonder the new kids are confused!  Dinner was fantastic.  We did enjoy it.  Two booths but they were next to each other.  No spills.  Always a good thing.  Came home, girls' friend is spending the night this evening.  All teens and Warren are watching Hitch right now.  So, light day but nice day. 

We are doing lots of organizing, planning etc. right now.  Lots.  This coming week I plan to get a lot done around here.  We'll see.  Kids and I are swimming all day tomorrow amongst the organizing.  Much more later.  Fourth of July pics next post.  BTW, I tried a great organizing thing someone put on fb.  LOVE it!  Kids hate it.  I'll share it tomorrow.  More to come.  Hope everyone had an awesome weekend.