Thursday, August 30, 2012

C-MOW is ready to roll

Well, it's time for another adventure.  Our last big one was this summer at the Bulgarian Reunion.  This one is just a mini trip of sorts.  But, lots packed into a short time.  We're not going far.  Just to Asheboro.  About an hour and a half away from here.  But, we're camping this time and up for all the adventure that may come with us.  We have C-MOW (Chaos Manor on Wheels) packed up a bit and ready to roll.  Kids are really excited.  I'm actually surprised all of them are.  So, here's a few shots of all of us before we hit the road.  I will be offline till Sunday.  Then I'll have a ton of photos to share.  For now, a few to share.  Well, actually quite a few so we may do this in two parts today.


You think she's buckled up enough?  This is not her backpack.  Hers is a smaller Tinkerbell one.  We use backpacks on short trips when we go and the duffel bags on the longer trips.  Love that we have a set for each.  Some of our Eddie Bauer bags we've had for 15 years!  We buy to last.


Alyona wanting to model her backpack for me.


Reni getting in on the action too.  


Resident handyman Max opening up the cargo holds on the rv.  You know, I don't even know how to open those things up.  I figured the less I know on that thing, the better.  LOL.  Like too many cooks in the kitchen type of thing.


Everyone helps.  Some of the kids getting things loaded up.  Amazing how much you need to take for 12 people even when it's just a short trip. 


Yana, taking a break from packing.  


We try to pack the cargo holds first before putting anything inside the bus.  There is a lot of storage even for 12 people.  We have to take the tent this time.  That green bag is the tent.  And, some sleeping bags too this go around.  Trying something new and seeing if it works out.  Wish us luck.  LOL.  


Digby, hoping to become a stow away.  One day we really should take him with us.  Limited on room though.  


Summer is so excited for another trip.  Told her to stow away her backpack.  She put her coloring books where they go inside and then put the backpack under the bus for us.  Teach them young to help!  She dressed herself again.  That's not a dress but one of her sister's shirts.  Hey, she has clothes on so we're making progress.  LOL.  


Yana and Max mowed the yard.  The rule is before we go anywhere on a trip, the yard has to be done and the downstairs picked up so we don't come home to a messy home.  Now, this go around there is  a fence we're building so the backyard is  a wreck.  oh well.


Kids taking a break and watching Power Rangers.  I swear we have furniture to sit on.  Yet, this is what they choose to do.  Whatever works.  

We really are ready to go on this mini getaway.  Next post will be on Sunday as I don't do anything on the computer while we're gone.  I believe being w/ family is important on a trip to connect & well, blog posts can wait for sure.  Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend everyone and we will be back on Sunday to share all our adventures.  Good and bad (though hoping there's not much of that).  

Just wanted to give a big thank you to whoever the mysterious person was that sent us this poison ivy cleansing foam.  I've never used it before but know we'll be trying it soon.  Like this weekend.  See, we're going to be staying at campgrounds and then coming home to work in our woods on the fence.  Lots of poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak.  A big thank you whoever you are as that was really sweet to think of us and all that itchy stuff.  The jar on the left is homemade Vaseline.  A post on that when we get back.  Good night and safe travels to all those going somewhere this weekend. 

FAS-- what's it really like?

Alright, I'm going to dive in and be honest.  I'll start by saying I am not an expert of any kind nor do I claim to be.  I am just a parent of 6 kids living with FASD.  I am giving my experience based on my opinions and my kids.  Every person will have a different experience.  Disclaimer done.

FASD.  Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Used to be FAS, FAE, etc.  Now, all one.  Frankly, it's b/c they all are affected no matter whether you have the facial features or not.  Just the way it goes.  I hate it when people used to think if you had an FAE dx that it was sometimes "less harsh."  HA!  Not true.  So, I just call it FAS.  Use the D if you want to. It's all the same to me.  Chaos.  Yes, it's chaotic having a kid w/ FAS.  It truly is.  Would you like not knowing what's going to happen from one minute to the next?  No. Would you like having to be an external brain 24/7?  No.  Would you like having to say the same thing over and over and over again.  Would you like having to say the same thing over and over and over again?  No.  See how annoying that is?   Would you like having to say your child's name 50 times a day?  No.  Would you like something broken everyday in your home?  No.  Yet, this is what it is like day after day after day of living w/ a child that has FAS.  Try having 6 of them w/ the disorder.  It's maddening at times.

I'm not going to sugar coat this post.  I think it needs to be honest.  Honest despite having to live amongst pathological liars day in and day out.  Now granted, over the years we've been better equipped to deal with all this stuff that comes with FAS.  However, it does not mean it's any easier.  Not one bit.  I will discuss two main things that I think most FAS parents will tell you drives them the craziest....the lying and the stealing.  It's sad but true.  Now, first you must remember that FAS is the ONLY 100% preventable birth defect.  The only one.  Just don't drink while pregnant.  So simple yet look how many kids are affected by this disorder.  I digress.

Lying and stealing are hard to cope with.  Whether you understand they have frontal lobe brain damage or not, it is still hard to deal with.  I understand they have brain damage.  However, I understand if they want to become productive and honorable citizens in society, they must, must get this concept that lying and stealing are wrong.  Brain damage or not, it's wrong.  I don't care who you are, you are indeed capable of learning right from wrong and I will not believe otherwise.  And, if you all think I'm just talking and have only kids w/ FAS, you are sorely wrong.  Very wrong.  All my kids w/ FAS have multiple mental health disorders.  I will not share which child has which and if you'll notice, this post will contain no names.  It's not important who has what. It's not. It's more important you deal with what you've been given.  We have FAS, RAD, ADHD, ODD, OCD, PTSD, Sensory integration, possible schizophrenia, autism, and way too many others to name.  Some of ours are on meds, some are not.

Back to the topic...lying and stealing.  You can indeed teach even the most difficult cases right from wrong.  It may take years, but it can be done.  We use lots of analogies in this house.  You also must lead by example.  We had a child beg to go to his brother's friend's house w/ him.  I let him go.  He ended up stealing little toys.  Now, in this house full of FASers, we can tell right off the bat who's lying and who's not.  It's easy and truly I should become a profiler in my next life.  Anyhow, kid came home w/out his brother so I knew something was up.  right then and there I patted him down.  Sure enough, evidence.  I don't accept excuses when they are caught red-handed.  He was grounded and became an 'inmate' of prison camp.  I make it abundantly clear from a very, very young age if this behavior continues you will end up in jail.  I leave nothing about it vague.  If they want to act like common criminals, they will be treated as such.  They will get fed but there are NO other goodies and nothing but water to drink.  During prison camp time is when we find ourselves purchasing extra goodies just to prove a point.  Prison camp is highly regimented.  It is saved for when you do something really, really bad.  And sorry, but stealing in our minds is really, really bad.  And don't give me the bologna of well they have no cause and effect thinking.  Umm, you're right....sort of.  If they have the ability to conceal what they stole, they know dog gone well it was wrong.  Plain and simple.  Hate it when other FAS parents make excuses for the kids...they didn't know any better.  Umm, hence why you are their external brain.  You must think for them.  Prison camp entails working all day.  Chores that you wouldn't normally do.  You make it the most unpleasant experience so that they want to avoid it as much as they can.  Since FAS kids are so visual, they must see what they did wrong.  Something tangible.  A physical chore.  If  you just say you're grounded, they really won't get it that often.

If you take an FASer with you that is prone to steal, you have a person assigned to them.  Yes, we do this.  It's our safety net.  It may sound horrible not to trust a child but when you are dealing w/ serious FAS and RAD,  you must take precautions yet let them think they have some freedom too.  They are allowed to look.  Yes.  Touching is too tempting though they do it.  With stealing, you just have to take it and deal with it as it comes.  Punish them if they steal.  We always say "you chose to do the wrong thing.  You will be punished for that."  Never back down and reinforce what you say.

Now, lying.  This one is SO hard.  It really is.  It's just that it is so dog gone frustrating b/c it is more of a compulsion.  I wish I had a better answer for this one.  First, you have to talk it out and it will drive you insane b/c they are convinced w/ all their being that they did NOT LIE.  At first,  you'll want to believe it.  Do not.  It will not do the child any good to cave into their lies.  They lie like it's second nature. Point out every single lie even if it is a little one.  Why?  Because they need to learn what is a lie and what is not.  They learn from the bottom up.  Usually, a lie here is to cover up something they've done that was wrong.  Some of our kids have finally learned that you will get less of a punishment or even possibly none (depending upon the degree of the lie) if you just fess up say you did it, why and why it was wrong.  Apologize to the person that you lied to.  We do not tolerate lying in this house.  My kids know I hate it with a passion.  hate it.  And once again, you have to know how to tell the truth to fit into society in young adulthood.  Drill it into them.  From day one.  No excuses.  Don't blame it on the FAS.  It is what it is.  A lie.

Did you know we get compliments on our kids' behavior almost every time we go out?  I'm not bragging.  I'm not.  I'm just saying it CAN be done with FAS kids.  My kids know if they don't behave we're going right back home.  Starts in the driveway.  On more than one occasion, we did not even make it out of the drive way.  They know we say what we mean.  Period.  In our house there is a saying.  " You're no different than anybody else."  I don't care if you have one leg, deaf or FAS or whatever else.  I don't care if you're missing a big piece of your brain.  I really don't care.  I care how you behave, how you act in life, what you can learn, etc.  Not what you have.  It's not about that.  I guess that's why I tell on this blog more of our life and not about all the dx's we have in this house.  Do my kids misbehave?  Absolutely!  Don't all kids misbehave at some point?  We have dealt w/ violence in this house, eating issues, deep rooted psychological issues, stealing, lying, manipulation, triangulation and just about anything else you can name.  Running away.  One made it to the driveway b/c it was too hot.(105 that day).  One made it to our woods by the house and hid in a log.  Point I'm trying to make is we've dealt w/ more emotions, trauma, mental heatlh issues, etc. then most folks will in a life time.  You have to teach your kids they are stronger than the disorder.  I had one kid find a piece of paper that was printed out on the table.  It had columns of mental health disorders and the characteristics of each one.  The child said which ones do I have?  I told them.  They checked them off, looked at me and said I can change some of these but not all.  They were being honest and ready to give it a shot.  Hung it on their bulletin board and looked at it for months and worked on it too!  It can be done. 

My kids know they have FAS.  Do we harp on it?  No.  Do we harp on them if they don't clean their rooms or don't do well in school?  You betch ya!  FAS is hard.  It is.  Most folks w/ even one FAS child has respite or at least can 'get away.'  I've been told by many in the special needs adoption community that it is vital to get away from it all every once in awhile.  As much as I long for a 2 or 3 day vacation, it's not possible here.  So, I make the best of the situation.  You know the song... "If you're going through Hell, keep on going, don't slow down.  If you're scared don't show it.  You might get out before the Devil even knows you're there."  That's how I feel in our FAS world some days.  I just know I have to muddle through with out a break.  And that's okay.  Hard, but okay.

I know no one would understand parenting an FAS child until it happens to them.  I have talked to countless folks over the years & most have called me up.  Not sure how my name got around that I know squat about FAS but apparently, it did.  I'm honest when I talk to people.  Tell them what to expect, it's not a cake walk, it can be lived with and you can make it the best possible life you can.  Many go to adopt a certain special need.  I've seen it time and time again.  They can handle that need however they were not expecting FAS to be a part of that.  It's a wake up call for sure.  Last year I was in Bulgaria.  I will never forget b/c there was a new adoptive mom there.  She said oh, so there only special need is that they're older?  Umm, no!  This is another reason why people can't understand FAS.  It is the invisible disability.  They treat my child w/ a missing leg like there is something "wrong" with him.  He is mentally JUST FINE!  He's only missing a leg folks!  My others have life long disabilities that will never ever go away.  They have permanent brain damage but b/c they can't "see" it, they assume nothing is wrong and then question why one of the kids will act half their age.  URGHHH!!!  I think that is another very frustrating point for FAS parents.  No one sees it, so no one understands it so you are always under fire for your parenting skills.  We have family that does this to us as well.  It's hard.  Why'd you blame that child versus this one?  Well, let's see, that one has lied every single day of his life, attacked his brother earlier so truly, that's where the blame goes. Don't judge unless you live w/ FAS for 24/7.  It is indeed different. 

FAS kids are very, very visual.   You have to show them everything or they seriously won't get it.  Money is a huge issue for them.  Huge.  We are ending the gift of money/ gift cards in January.  I know it will be difficult on the people that give them but they truly don't understand the turmoil we go through w/ these kids and money.  If they insist on gift cards, I think we'll go purchase a gift and put a tag on it from them.  We honestly can not take much more.  Money gets  lost, it gets stolen from sibs, they don't understand how much things are, etc.  This is not as simple as go to the store and pick something out.  No.  It's a big production.  And with multiple FASers, it's enough to send  you over the edge. 

Now, some kids despite your best parenting skills, they will not make it.  As you know, many FASers end up in jail.  At this point in time, we feel that one of our kids is at what we would deem high risk for that kind of trouble. I know many are saying how can you say that about your own kids?  How can you know?  Sometimes things happen despite your best attempts at parenting multiple children with mental health issues.  Trust me, I know a few parents who have gone through the wringer. It was NOT because they didn't try.  Trust me, they tried more than they should have.  Sometimes the child's brain is just too damage that decisions to make will be difficult at best.  Most kids w/ FAS have processing issues too so take that into account.  Raising a child with FAS to become a productive member of society is like planning a battle.  EVery move has to be strategic and executed just right.  Not to mention luck may come into play here.  I've heard of some parents go to the extreme and even thinking their child is possessed.  Umm, no.  They have a mental health issue.  It's a serious one.  Saying they have the devil inside them will not help matters.   The child needs help.  Needs an external brain and that is the parent.  The parent must must think for a child w/ FAS.  We feel we have one shot to get their life right.  We are doing everything in our power to do so.  The one child we feel that may be 'high risk' in our eyes we also see has hope to do the right thing. It is our job to mold him toward that direction.  That's what we're working on for sure. 

Our rules in this house are strict.  No dating till high school.  Though one daughter tried early. LOL.  No cell phones unless you pay for it yourself.  None of mine have a cell phone.  No computers till you're in your mid-teens.  And only if mom & dad think you can handle it.  MP-3 players are fine.  No ipods till mid-teens.  And with those, they pay for them themselves.  Everything is monitored.  There are too many stories w/ FAS teens that I have heard first hand.  It's frightening.  We only have the Wii in our home.  Not 3 different sorts of video games.  TV viewing is limited based on age.  Teens here have free range for the most part at what they can watch.  One though a teen, has not displayed the maturity yet to handle such movies or shows so she can not watch it.  Much depends also on the child.  One of ours wants a pocket knife.  His brothers have them.  However, we know that he will not be able to handle the responsibility of a knife.  So, he does not get one yet.  It's not going to seem fair to the FAS child.  however, their safety is your main concern.  You can't give up on them.  Ever.  This is their future.  Fight the good fight day after day. 

Now, over the years it has been hard.  Scary too sometimes.  Monitoring meds, IEP's, etc.  Much goes into parenting a child with FAS.  And all of it will be behind the scenes.  No one will know just how happy you are when your child tells you the truth for the first time.  no one will understand when they show empathy to someone else on the soccer field.  No one will know the joy when the day went well w/ no destruction.  No one but you.  And for that reason, it can be a very lonely place.  Support groups for FAS are very important.  Sharing with others your struggles helps.  It was just in the last year or so when we decided to be more adventurous and travel with them.  They've done fantastic!  See, before we could never go anywhere for longer than 3 days at a time or they'd fall apart.  Meltdowns are tough.  But we knew once again we had to press on if we ever wanted normal family vacations or for them to experience things in young adult hood.  See, most FAS kids can't self-regulate.  It's tough.  Many say structure, routine, yada, yada yada.  Yes, it's great.  However, in REAL life people, you can't always get structure.  Things happen and they have to learn to deal with that.  From now into adulthood.  It must be learned.  Throw them a curve ball once in awhile.  It can be as simple as stop by a store on the way home and get soda.  If you do something out of routine, make it pleasant the first few times.  On vacations, they want to know every single thing we're doing and where we're going.  I'll tell them some but not all.  They've learn to appreciate the surprises. 

So many other things to say about FAS but I'm sure you're bored.  If you made it this far, I am shocked.  I know it's not interesting stuff to read.  However, it's true.  Not all FAS kids are medicated.  Most will have a normal to above normal IQ.  We have a variety of degrees of FAS in this house.  Yet, I don't want you to think it is all bad.  Having an FAS child is not a death sentence.  You enjoy their accomplishments just like any other child.  You accept the differences.  You help them the best way you know how.  You set them up for success but let them experience failure along the way.  Life lessons are vital for these kids.  So is family.  Most these FAS kids will not have many friends.  What we've found is they don't fit in w/ the general ed crowd and they don't fit in w/ the special ed crowd.  They are in the middle and that is a very tough spot to be.  So, remember that as you are their life line.  For now and forever. 

I know this post is all over the map and doesn't nearly touch on everything.  I also know many won't agree with this and that's okay.  I can only speak from my experiences.  I know folks who've spent thousands on their FAS/ RAD kids or sent them to all sorts of therapies.  We haven't done therapy (only a bit for our first FASers home), haven't done any special diets, haven't done a regimented routine, no special supplements, etc.  Why?  Because there is no magic answer for FAS.  It is a life long disorder that you must learn to deal with and live with.  Don't focus on the FAS, focus on the child.  What do they like to do?  Have something called Proud Moments one day of the week.  When you have kids with severe behavioral dx's, you must find the good in them each and every day.  You must.  There IS good in there.  Tap into their interests.  All of ours have different interests.  There is so much more to the child than the disorder.  Find it.  For their sake and yours.  Trust me, you'll need it for sanity reasons.  The first few years with this disorder I thought I was losing my mind.  No clear direction in how I was suppose to deal with all that comes with FAS.  I was lost.  Now, I've been down this road long enough and know that Im' not letting this disorder rule our lives.  I'm in charge, not the disorder.  I want my kids to enjoy their childhood.  Tomorrow, we leave for the zoo.  Amongst many, many other things we're doing at the campgrounds.  Will I be worried?  To an extent yes.  But, I also know we took a big trip this summer and succeeded and had fun.  We've chosen to look at the good in FAS.  Not all parents can handle kids with FAS.  I do believe we can.  We're honest about it yet have this optimism that it will be okay.  Worried about the future but things will be okay.  Years ago I never thought we'd make it this far.  Would we adopt another child with FAS?  I would not hesitate.  I didn't hesitate before, why would I now.  And no, we're not adopting again at this point in time.  I just would like new adoptive parents with FAS kids to say I need help.  I can do this.  I will survive.  It's a hard life having kids with this disorder.  But it also has some beautiful moments in it.  We do laugh here.  We do go places.  We do have fun.  We have joy.  We have trials and tribulations but there are also many smiles and laughter.  Isn't that what a normal life is like anyhow?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Logan's neverending birthday

Well, last week was Logan's birthday.  He seemed to get things though everyday so it seemed to never end.  Thought I'd share a few photos from Logan's never ending birthday.  It was his first birthday in America.  More on that later.


Logan getting ready to open his card.   Notice Alex's face.  He is like this w/ every single person in this house.  He hates it when others have a birthday adn he doesn't.  We used to have to send Alex upstairs while others opened presents b/c he seriously couldn't handle it.  He has gotten better over the years but as you tell from Alex's facial expressions, he has a little further to go on being happy for someone else other than himself.  


Ooh, a Target gift card from Nana and Poppop!  (my parents).  


Everyone looking on to see what it says.  


Logan reading the card.  


He's thinking here what he's going to buy at Target.  He ended up getting a remote controlled car, clothes and candy.  He shared the candy w/ everyone.  All my kids do that when they get birthday money.. they buy candy and share it w/ everyone. 
 
Alaska is really hoping she gets a goodie box.  Poor pooches.  


Everyone waiting to see what was inside and what mom and dad had bought for Logan for his birthday.


A new mp-3 player w/ a touch screen!  You can play movies on it too.  


Logan looking at all the things it can do.  parts that come with it.


Big sister checking out the new electronics.


Irina helping him out.  He was very happy with his gift from us.  We are able to find some refurbished electronics for the kids which helps.  Blows my mind on how much some families spend on birthdays or Christmas.  He has the same type of joy w/out the added cost.  His player works great and he's enjoyed it for sure.  He only wishes it had a camera.  Christmas kiddo.  LOL.  More pictures to come of more of what people sent him. 

BIG THANK YOU!!!

There are so many folks I'd like to recognized that have blessed us recently.  It really has been amazing.  A first is a dear friend of ours who has offered her babysitting services any time we need them.  In addition, she told us she may just show up one day and force Warren and I to leave.  Yep, she's determined to get us to go out on more dates.  Seriously though, it is just such generosity I can't put our appreciation into words.  So, thank you will have to suffice.  We will in the next month take her up on her offer.  Can't wait. 


This is only a very, very small portion of what we received from a lovely lady named Courtney.  For those that don't know, Courtney came to film our family for a documentary she is doing for college.  Well, she sent down a bunch of clothes that Yana truly appreciated.  Box after box came.  Honestly, she needs to work for the airlines b/c this lady can pack a box!  Huge thank you!  Now, hurry up and come visit again.


The other day we received a box from New Jersey.  It was from a fellow blog reader.  You can not imagine the excitement in the living room as we were seeing what was inside.  It was packed full to the gills.  


 Logan and Nik checking out their goodies.


Whoever was taking a picture took one of me.  I threw it in so my kids can't say I never have any pictures of me on here.   With cleansing wipes that are so easy to use, there is never an excuse to not wash your face before bed. 


Logan is absolutely giddy about all the goodies in here.  


What you don't all know is that this is Irina's favorite razor of all time.  She & I go back and forth about it b/c I hate these things. LOL.  Irina loves them and won't shave w/ anything else.  


Once Summer saw Dora, it was all over.  This is all she held onto.


Even Kota wants in on the action b/c the excitement is just so high.


Not only did the boys get an individual packet, they also got this big case w/ AXE products to share.  Tons!  Hey, my boys finally smell good!  I'm thrilled.


Look at all these things.  And this was NOT all of them either!  The girls were great about splitting things up.  Umm, they offered me the anti-aging serum.  Got to love kids and their honesty.  Yeh, right.  I got some lotion and we all received lip balm.  

I don't know how she knew but we LOVE Burts Bees products here.  They're local too though I've never been to their shop in Durham.  Need to make that a field trip one day.  LOL.  We haven't had dry or chapped skin for years b/c of Burts Bees.  So to see this bag of Burts Bees products in here was really exciting.

Irina reading some directions while Alyona checks out the boys' stuff.


And Summer would not let go of her Dora body wash.  Summer is a Dora fanatic.  Seriously, she's of stalker material when it comes to Dora and Diego.  LOL.  And the lip smackers were right up her ally. 

Heather from NJ went above and beyond in the make people happy category.  It was so amazing.  Very kind and generous heart to do that for our family.  She thought of everyone and everyone was very appreciative of the gesture.  First thing my kids said was we really have to write her a thank you!  They wrote one and it's sitting here till I get stamps.  I know, I'm terrible.  I really couldn't believe all that was in that box for our family.  Everything will be put to great use.  It really was a wonderful blessing.  Thank you really isn't enough.  Heather, you are sweeter than chocolate!  Thanks for making our day year!  

More posts later tonight I do believe.  I'm working on a few.  For now, time to go make chicken fajitas for dinner.  Yum.  Tomorrow we pack up for our short trip on the road.  Can't wait. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Landscaping on a budget

When you have a bigger family, having a gardener is just not an option.  Shoot, it wasn't an option when both of us worked w/ no kids.  Our yard is only an acre.  Trust me, we need much, much more land.  For now though, we are where we are and making the best with what we've got.  There is quite a bit to landscape and budgets are always tight.  Just the way it goes.  So, sales are our friends.  Also, ideas here and there. 


These are impatients.  no, I did not plant any new ones.  These are annuals.  HOwever, if you plant them, they'll go to seed and spread year after year.  This was taken a few weeks ago.  Those gaps are now covered w/ flowers.  No buying any, no caring for them, nothing.  No money spent.


A closer shot of how they fill in.  Those plain green leaves on the hostas are new growth on the verigated plant.  Need to cut them out & plant them elsewhere to grow as well.

Ignore the containers that Nik hung up on that plant hanger.  URGHH!!  You can see how tall these get and no maintenance.  The flowers in the front here are impatients I did buy. Verigated ones.  They were just $1.47 on the clearance rack b/c they were "dying."  I planted them knowing they'd go to seed.  They're doing fantastic.  

Our first post up!  We're building a fence.  All by ourselves.  Well, Warren and Max are doing it really.  Though Yana did help dig some of the holes on this part.  

Well, I have a hosta garden w/ various hostas.  Plus, I cut mine and replant in various parts of the yard.  they grow back just fine.  Well, this batch was on sale at Lowes for just $2 a piece.  Great for planting.  


Got ot love the before shots, huh?  We're putting up a fence.  Anyone want to help?  This is going to take some time just given the amount of time we have free to work on it.  Doing projects yourself saves thousands.  Literally.  We couldn't afford to put up a couple thousand dollar fence.  We must do it ourselves.  This will make life a ton easier on all of us.  However, needs to go up first.  Think we could have a "fence raising??"  Poor Warren and Max are working hard.  Hoping we can get a good chunk of posts up during Labor Day Weekend after we get back from our zoo trip.  Time will tell.  


Yep, we have a long ways to go for sure.  wish we had help but this is all us.  So, this will take quite some time to complete.  You have to stop several times an hour just to tend to the kids.  In addition, with FASers, there is no cause and effect thinking.  It costs us much, much more than most folks b/c we have to buy whatever they destroy.  Like the nails in stuff b/c they're trying to "help."  The white line in this photo is the string.


The kids are always lounging around the deck by the pool.  Well, not really a deck.  So, thought they'd enjoy this cushion.  It was on clearance at Lowes.  Never pay full price....ever. 

Another place to get flowers/ shrubs is the Habitat for Humanity store.  Here, they sell them for just $3 to $5!  Shop around.  Craigslist has them all the time for free if you come dig them up as people post.  Landscaping does not have to be expensive at all.  We recently got a ton of azaleas, good sized ones for $6.  Now, if the kids could stay out of the yard, that would be wonderful. 

Butterflies, bubbles, and brotherly love

We had soccer practice this evening and then headed to Target for a few more school supplies.  Not that they're expensive or anything.  Geez.  It is what it is though.  Logan spent the last of his b-day money thank goodness and then argued the whole way home about where his money went.  Got to love it.  My kids looked like they belonged in a people of Walmart photo for sure.  Oh well, they had clothes on.  Came home and Warren cooked a delicious stir fry meal.  Kids are in bed for the most part and after a few blog posts, I've got catching up on paperwork to do.  Got quite a bit to share.  Getting there slowly.  Meantime, a few photos to pass the time.


A butterfly came to land on Irina the other day.  It had a hurt wing so could not fly.  

Irina was more than happy to let it crawl all over her.


this thing really tickles when it's crawling all over you.


Summer, not too keen on having a butterfly crawl all over her.  She looks a tad bit scared here.  Don't worry, her fear fled quickly.  


Summer thinking of getting a little more brave.  


Nik really enjoying his butterfly time.  He put it on the flowers then when he was done with it.

Look at the size of the bubble Max blew.


And the popping of said bubble.


The other day, these 3 decided to plop down on the kitchen floor and paint their nails.  Funny thing was, Logan volunteered to do it!


Forgive the shirtless child, she just got out of the shower.  Alex requested this picture.  Nik came up behind them...camera hog as usual.   Don't you just love the clutter counter decor?  The 2 watermelons & cantelope on the floor add just the touch.  

Logan was being a great brother to his sisters.  The towel is not for them and the nail polish.  The dishwasher leaks now.  Have to keep life interesting you know.

I actually have the cutest picture of Summer w/ Logan painting her nails.   But, not enough clothes on.  So, this one is just as cute.  He's really taking his time w/ all his sisters.  Now, how many brothers do you know that would paint their sisters' nails like this?  Guess what?  About 9 months ago, he would not have done it either!  He's fit in well w/ the good brother role.  Now, don't think he's always this nice to them.  He is their brother after all.