Thursday, November 29, 2012

House Happenings

Many things have been happening around here lately.  We're taking things one step at a time though and that's what counts.  I do have a few photos though that can explain a little of what we've been doing around here.  Mostly, lots of reorganizing.  Also, lots of trying to get the kids where they need to be with school.  Making sure everyone is taken care of specialist wise as well.  This weekend, we're having relatives over on Saturday.  Sunday, we also have folks visiting.  I'll also tell you more of what we're doing with the rooms and bed situation.  And, making room for guests.   Over the years we've had folks stay with us here and there.  Will be nice to have a space other than the couch.  So, trying to make that happen w/ the girls' new room.  Anyhow, for now, some pics of what's happening around here.

Are they helping.  No.  Are they supposed to be?  Yes.

See, Irina & I had dropped dozens of sheets, comforters, blankets, etc.  We had NO idea how many we had accumulated.  Going to donate them.  Kids below were supposed to be folding them.  URGHHH!!!  Slackers.

We have a kitchen.  It's a rather large kitchen w/ plenty of counter space.  Yet, this is how my children decide to peel sweet potatoes.  Recently, we receive a whole box as a gift.  Very nice.  And yummy to boot.  Thankfully, we mop the floor but still.  Why do they do this?  May never know.

Max taking apart one of the beds for the big room re-shuffle and reorg.

Anyone see the movie 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid?'  Cheese touch?  Well, this is the banana touch.  Apparently, we'd all forgotten about that lone banana on the top basket.  Totally black.  Logan braved it this time.

This box is only partial of our trash haul.  This box is huge.  It was what the boys' futons came in.  Huge.  It was overflowing w/ trash when we were done w/ the weekend.  The van had all seats out, loaded to the brim and hauled to the dump.  Was not too happy with the boys.  This was out of their room.  Broken, lost, doesn't fit, etc.

4 gallons, ready to be painted in Max & Bojan's room.

Summer got in trouble.  Can you tell?

It's a start Logan.  LOL.  The downfall of living on a wooded lot.  We LOVE trees.  Any kind.  Used to have a row behind that fence.  Neighbor chopped ALL his trees down.  We miss the trees....a lot.  This will cost us a bit more in the summer as it shaded our whole side of the house.  This picture was taken and not all of them are down yet.  It's just different.  Did I mention we miss our trees?  And if you're wondering, that's not our fence.  Pretty, but not ours.  

Max getting ready to show Reni how to sand a desk.  It will then be painted black.

She's a tad sassy lately.  A beach chair find at the Goodwill the other day.  Perfect.  We'll use it for camping too.

If you think just b/c my kids are older I don't have to watch them 24/7, you'd be sorely mistaken.  Found this the other day.  Yes, that IS fire.  URGHH!!!  They told me but we put it on the rocks mom.

Summer and Nik goofing off.

She can smile her way into anything.  She really can.   You should see her w/ the hat on that goes w/ this.

Nik w/ his v-tech innotab.  Summer wants one SO badly.  See, Nik's a germ a phobe.  He is.  doesn't like people touching him either.  I'm one of the only ones in the house that can touch him.  Nik loves this thing & it is indestructible in this home.  We can't afford an ipad or tablet for him though it truly is needed.  He uses one in speech therapy and has come SO far.  Would love for him to keep moving forward.  This has really started him wanting to talk.  I was surprised too.  Would love to have one for both kids.  Right now, not possible but hope to.  Shoot, one day I hope to have an ipad for them to share.  Would work wonders for their speech and developmental delays.  Like I said, Nik uses one in speech a couple days a week.  For now though, we bought him this for his birthday and he uses it every single day.  For a just starting out 'tablet,' this is awesome.  He tries to say the names of animals on here and word searches and such.  It's great.  If any of you ever see one at a consignment shop or yardsale or on sale that I can get for Summer, please let me know.  I let her use it.  But one of her own would be best.  And if anyone has a tablet suggestion that is not hundreds that could download special needs apps, let me know that too.  We did buy a tablet off a refurbish site for $60.  Warren is going to try to get it to work to play some apps for special needs but at this point, not sure it can.  In other words, not holding our breath.  

Found this dog bed at a consignment shop new.  Digby LOVES it.  Always on it now.  If it ever wears out, I'm in trouble.  Trouble is now Alaska wants one.  They both go for the same one.  If anyone sees one like a couch type thing, do let me know.  

Are you really supposed to be sitting down son at the computer while painting the room?  

A work in progress over Thanksgiving break.  From pink to grey. 

More pics and posts but for now, need to get back to astronomy review and math. 


 I know I didn't really do much of a post on this.  It was because it was so low key.  Plus, our Thanksgiving week was a massive work week here.  Massive.  Rearranging everything, clearing clutter, etc.  The whole 9 yards.  But for Thanksgiving, we kept it just us and one of the girls' friends.  She btw, is nicked named our "11th child."  She's also been our "8th" child, "6th" child, and I think even "5th child" over the years.  We love her and will hate to see her go if she ever moves or if we ever move. 

See, very low key.  No fancy dishes out, no fancy feast, no getting dressed up, etc.  Just kept it very simple.  I even think some may be in their pajamas but not sure.  

Had a great meal of turkey and all the fixings.  They all ate it up and enjoyed it.  We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and really want to go one of these years.  Never know.  

Lauren's mom brought over the BEST cheesecake ever!  Was the first time I ever had sweet potato cheesecake.  It was heavenly.  See, she used to make these for a living.  They are requested many times by her friends now even though she does something else for a living now.  This was simply one of these desserts you would request if you were on death row.  No lie.  She is so sweet because she'll make cheesecakes here and there.  Never ever had a bad one.

After filling up on dessert, we went to work moving the older boys out of the room they've been sharing.  Overall, just a relaxing Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beginning to look like Christmas

During Thanksgiving, we really got in the Christmas spirit.  See, last year we did not get to really embrace it much as it was their first month home.  And let's just say the challenges were there.  Christmas was the last thing on our minds.  Making sure Logan, Reni & Summer adjusted well was first.  So this year it's a nice change of pace to really embrace Christmas and enjoy all of it.  Every part.  The kids are making lists, helping out, etc.  Since we are having family over this weekend, we needed to decorate early. 

Our fresh tree from our friends at L & G Farms!  They had a great selection.  It is the same place we purchase our produce from.  Since our church was not selling trees this year, we went here.  Perfect choice and awesome tree.  Tree's not crooked, picture is.

I think Bojan was trying to pose here.

One gets in, they all want in a picture.

Summer, ready for Christmas to start.  Love the dead mum there?

Warren, Max & Yana putting up the tree.  Making room for it.

And, it's up.  Nik is already wondering when we're decorating.

Alaska found her perfect spot under the tree this year.

Beautiful poinsettias.  Got them at Lowes on Black Friday weekend for .99.

Alyona perched up on the ladder.  Hey, look.  We even have one present ready to go.  

Nik was helping Daddy with the lights despite Warren wanting no help.  Yes, sometimes help is more work around here.

Our mantle getting ready.  

We're still decorating here and there.  We can't really do much w/ the outside.  We used to have lights in our yard like the Griswold's.  No kidding.  It was lit up like the fourth of July.  LOL.  lights everywhere.  Well, over the years, lights have broken and never been replaced.  In addition, when our hot water heater busted under the house a few years ago, we lost everything under there which was ALL holiday stuff.  Tried to replace it as I've gone along but still tough.  Next year though, Warren said we're buying the lights again for outside.  I want to get the boys to make a scene in the yard from a Christmas Story movie.  I think it'd be a riot.  We'll see.   Right now, we're all coming up w/ ideas.  For now, house is as ready as it will ever be.  We have guests coming on Saturday.  Well, 4 posts down tonight.  More to come tomorrow.  For now, bed time. 

What we CRAVE

It's that time of month again when we get our CRAVEBOX in the mail.  It is a subscription box for $10 that always has more value than that in it.  We've tried others but this one still remains our favorite.  So, when we got back from Great Wolf Lodge, one was waiting for us. 

Our pile of mail waiting to be opened.  Kids get excited when they see a CRAVEBOX.  Secretly, they all hope it contains Nutella or chocolate.  

Always wrapped so nicely until my kids get a hold of it.  This was our Thanksgiving Box one.  

Reni and Summer posing w/ the stash.  

A closer view of all our goodies.  Those Brookside dark chocolate pomegranate things are beyond delicious.  Oh my.  I'm hooked.  Now, need to know where to buy those things.  Great stuff.  the green beans are the same ones we buy sothat was nice.  Turkey gravy was easy and good.  Frosting I haven't used as I make homemade frosting but nice to have in the rv for quick icing need.  Those grands bisquits were the best.  We try not to buy a whole lot of frozen stuff so nice to get them once in awhile.  I have not tried the Knorr stock yet but do use that in soups so will be nice to try a new brand.  

All in all, great box.  We loved everythign we got and will use it.  We are getting a special edition coffee lovers box.  I got it for Warren and the kids.  I hate coffee.  I'm more a tea person. 

Medicals-- why are they so scary???

Oh this is going to be a heated topic.  I'm just going to tell you right now.  I'm going to point some things out that folks might not like nor agencies.  Hey, out of 13 years in the adoption community and 10 adoptions later, I think I at least get a right to discuss this topic.

So everyone pretty much freaks out over medicals.  Medicals that they have no control over and medicals that for the most part are not worth the paper they're written on.  Yes, I said that.  And I know there are great IA docs out there that mean well but frankly, you can't dx a kid or give an opinion on one that you've never touched before.  Sorry, but these are MY opinions based on MY experiences.  Now, let me tell you why I said that about IA docs.  I'll say it up front,  I have not used one.  I knew the kids were mine.  I just did.  In fact, one of my quotes to my agency for Nik when they sent me a picture was "I don't care what's wrong with him, he's my son."  They had sent me a pic saying they didn't know what was wrong w/ him yet.  Anyhow, people send their medicals off to IA docs.  What they don't know, is many times those docs(documents) are falsified.  Yes, falsified.  And yes, I'll give you an example.  Nik's medical was totally made up.  You could tell they never had his immunization records and I didn't catch it, the embassy didn't catch it, etc.  After his first checkup, the #'s were being recorded.  Computer spit them out and doc called us.  The immunizations he had in Russia were totally made up!  Yep.  How did we know?  Because the dates of his immunizations were BEFORE he was born!  Hard to do, huh?

So, when the IA docs get records to review how do they know what's true and what's not about a child.  No one knows.  No one knows b/c the people reporting it are not mom and dad.  Different people, different routines, different opinions.  One may think the child is aggressive, the other think the child is sweet.  See what I'm getting at?  In addition, sometimes the people at the orphanage don't even write those medicals.  Someone will come in from the social center, observe the kid and make conclusions.  Tell me that's not nuts.

Now, I am not saying all medicals are wrong as many families have had accurate medicals.  I'm just saying be cautious.  And IA docs.  There are families on the FAS boards now that had received low risk opinions.  I've also heard from many families over the years who don't know what to do.  They'll send off a medical to two different IA docs and get one high risk and one low risk opinion back.  Sorry but this confuses future adoptive parents even more.  Then they go over always second guessing everything.

People make assumptions w/ adoptive kids from EE.  I will give you a personal example of one of my kids.  I'll call the child X.  X came home & they were behaving like a wild animal at times.  They were banging their head against the wall and having night terrors.  I was at first told it was b/c I was a new parent.  Sought out a VERY reputable therapist/ psychologist in this area that has their own center.  Those from this area can probably guess by now.  Well known.  Head of the center met w/ us at Warren's work.  They have on site health care there.  Guy came in and sat down.  Told us, your child has been severely abused.  Your family will need years of therapy.  They may not heal, etc.  It will be expensive, etc.  We left feeling defeated.  However, something occurred to me while in the car on the way home.  That head guy everyone thinks is so awesome for behavioral issues and emotional issues never, ever even saw our child.  Never talked to them.  Never observed them.  Yet, jumped to the conclusion of abuse.  Wow.  And we almost believed and put our faith in this guy.  BTW, our child (well, this one) was NOT abused.  Does not head bang, etc.  Most of their issues were PI issues. 

Our medicals from Russia made our kids sound like they were on death's door.  And i know why no one committed to Logan or Reni.  Geez, we almost didn't ourselves!  It was said Logan was on antipsychotics, had ODD(oppositional defiance disorder), ran away (umm, yeh, this part is true but I'll explain that one later on as to why), had epilepsy, etc.  Tons of issues supposedly.  Nothing is wrong w/ Logan other than typical preteen crap that we all experience w/ kids.  We weaned him off things and he takes no medication.  Yes, he's defiant but it's not a disorder.  It's total preteen attitude all the way.  Point I'm trying to make is please don't believe everything you read.  Use the medicals as a guideline.  You will run into many surprises once home. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant.   Alyona's death bed heart defect, was a minor heart defect and she's fine.  Yeh, Summer is missing part of her brain but she too is fine.  Now, have have many w/ multiple mental health issues.  Those, you can't tell on paper.  Not a bit.

I think IA docs are great as guidelines but I do believe folks need to understand they are not there w/ the child at all times.  It's different.  Now, this is NOT a knock on IA docs as they do wonderful work at these clinics.  There is NO dispute there.  I highly recommend IA clinics once folks come home.  They are used to seeing all sorts of things and can point you in the right direction.  However, if you are depending slowly on an opinion to see if you want to accept a referral, I'm not so sure about that.  Unless it is obvious, it would be a very hard judgement call.  Did you know we almost did not go see Logan & Reni?  The week before we got a horrendous medical update.  However, since we have experience in adoption medicals, we knew to take them w/ a grain of salt and to physically see the child first and not jump to conclusions.  Glad we didn't believe that medical.  Look what we would have missed out on!

Now, this all being said, you can have a perfectly healthy medical and the child will end up having a ton of emotional baggage or attachment issues.  I have seen this happen.  It's happened to us.   Just b/c the child appears healthy on paper, does not mean the road is paved in gold and it's easy street.  No.  It's the things you don't see in hurt children that will take longer to heal and take everything you have and then some.  And even that & love sometimes are not enough & rehoming must take place.  I know this may sound extreme but you have no idea how many times this happens. 

There are medicals that come with international adoption.  Some are accurate.  Some are not.  Bojan's was dead on accurate.  The rest,not so much.  I just would like new adoptive parents to take all this in mind when considering a referral.  I know it is so hard w/ limited info and a few fuzzy pictures.  I always tell folks to go with their guts.  And again, I would use IA doc to get a baseline.  But what you also might want to do as a new parent is ask someone who's been there what things to look for.  What are some common terms in medicals.  Many times things are put on medicals to make the kids available for international adoption.  I have folks that I was in contact w/ for years and learned a lot about how Russian medicals worked.  The friend lived in Russia & helped the orphanage.  In Russia, they like healthy children to go to Russian citizens.  "sick children" are available for international adoption.  Now, no one write me or go up in arms as I KNOW there are healthy Russian adoptions that happen.  To make it look better on paper, the child has dx's that "appear" to be trouble but in reality are not.  Residual encelphalopy comes to mind and it's on almost all Russian medicals.  For them it means someone who has lived in an orphanage.  This used to be common place to put this on those medicals.  I don't believe they do it any more but it's been years since our last Russian adoption.  All I'm saying is many EE believe it is better for "unhealthy" children to be adopted by foreigners so their medicals will read as such.  I hope I explained it a bit w/ not sounding so harsh. 

Again, all this above is MY opinions based on MY adoption and MY information I have learned from various people who've lived in these countries and such.  Also, a lot based on the medicals I have seen over the years.  My own kids' medicals being part of that.  I don't write this stuff to scare adoptive parents.  I want parents to be very informed.  I was not when starting out.  I didn't know stuff could be made up on medicals.  Who would have thought!?  Not saying it happens all the time but I just want people to be ware.  Please.  Get an IA doc opinion.  Get opinions on how medicals are from others adopting from the same country.  I know the Russian medicals read a lot alike.  Some Bulgarian medicals as well.  All my kids were said to be delayed.  Truly, form your opinions once you meet the children.  Use the medicals as a guideline.  Hope I didn't step on too many toes.  I am aware this post will bring out reactions.  I understand that.  These are again just MY opinions.  Nothing more.  Please do not read this post the wrong way.  Not all medicals are made up.  Not all are wrong. Out of 10 though, I only had 1 truly accurate medical.  This is why I feel compelled to write on this topic.  I want future adoptive parents to really take everythign into consideration when reading a potential medical.  Okay, been reluctant to post this but hitting the post button. 

What a week!

Okay, so this too will be short as this week is pretty crazy already.  I know I've been absent a bit.  Honestly, I haven't had a second this week.  There is tons going on here at Chaos Manor and not all of it is able to post stuff.  In time, yes.  Here goes a few things.  Yesterday, someone hacked into our bank account and started charging.  Yep.  Warren just happen to look at it.  Notified bank, cancelled my card.  Have to file something to dispute the charges.  Happy holidays. 

Kids have been going nuts for whatever reason this week.  Part of it is coming off a holiday week.  Part of it is my parents coming to town this weekend.  Part of it is excitement of the upcoming weekend.  Part of it is the full moon.  And so much more going on.  It's an FAS thing.  I know it.  This too shall pass.  We go through cycles w/ FAS/ RAD.  No biggie. 

So, today kids did homeschool obviously.  We're studying astronomy so they got to look at the stars and the moon this evening.  Was nice.  Warren went to get a free mattress for our bed.  Awesome as ours was worn and torn.  Someone brought us dinner tonight as a relative of theirs does catering and had a ton of leftovers.  It was just what we needed.  Another friend brought the kids a bunch of board games.  They LOVE them and have really enjoyed playing battleship this afternoon and a Cat in the Hat game.  Nice.  Another friend brought some clothes for the older boys which is a huge help.  Especially, after what we discovered today.  See, we refi'd back in October.  Taxes get paid every August, no big deal.  Except this time, the company did NOT pay the August taxes.  You guessed it.  We now have a tax bill of over $1700 just in time for Christmas.  Again, Happy Holidays folks. 

I've been busy the past few days trying to straighten out messes.  Get things organized and reorganized.  Prep for a party on Saturday here.  Try to finish painting the boys' new room.  Contractors have been here to give bids for various rooms.  After the surprise tax bill, doubt those built-ins will happen which is okay.  Do want to do Yana's bed though.  We'll see.  Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.  Trying to do Christmas shopping and the thousand other things that need to get done.  Being swamped has left for a neglected blog.  However, we're on the upswing now.   I've also been getting back on the get in shape wagon and sticking to it.  It's baby steps but we're getting there.  3 lbs. lost thus far over the last few days so can't be doing too bad.  LOL.  Maybe it's all the work that we've been doing w/ these rooms.  Who knows.  Things are slowly getting back to normal around here.  We're getting things done one by one.  Kids and I worked on the yard today.  Just felt great to be outside working as the weather is gorgeous here.  I'll catch up on this blog soon.  Probably tomorrow is when things will settle around here.  We have a fantastic weekend ahead of us and looking very forward to it.  For now, getting through the week.  More pictures for sure soon as well as posts.  Just been a few days where one thing after another has happened.  Fortunately, we're all healthy.  Summer had a cold she's passed onto me but luckily, it's just a cold.  Hope everyone is doing great.  Now for some real posts soon.  LOL. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Great Wolf Lodge-- part 9 (heading home!)

After all that fun, it was time to go home.  Always great to go home but we sure do miss fun times away as well. 

Getting the last of our stuff out.

A side view of the carved wolves.  

 I wish this wasn't so blurry.  But, it is.  Don't you just love the wolf carvings?

Even the outside is clean!  Very welcoming.  They are all about the details here.

This is only a small part of the lodge.   I mean the thing is just huge.

We all told Logan he looked like a nerd.  LOL.  I know, mean but trust me, he can take it and the kid dishes it out just as much to his sibs.  He has long soccer socks, small shirt and just not the best dressed.  None of us were for that matter.  But, it was neat to see him take some of what he dishes out to the rest of his sibs.  All in fun.

Well, since the deal was so good at Denny's the night before, we went again for breakfast!  We did.  We go two meals for the price we normally pay for one meal.  Plus, those hot breakfast foods really filled us up.  Would have been nice to order hot cocoa or such but all of us always get water when we go out.  Summer learned from her sisters how to mess w/ the straws.  The things some of them teach her.  Geez.

No mom, I'm not tired.

Nik, enjoying his pancakes.  BTW, he ate Irina's after this batch too.

Camera hog has to pose for the camera.  Summer was thrilled they had Dora on one of the tvs.  

Full bellies, exhausted kids, equals a very peaceful ride home.

Almost all were asleep.  Truly a quiet ride home.

We had the best time.  Kids for the most part were well behaved.  Logan had his moments but straightened up.  Only one meltdown from Reni and that was only b/c she was just so incredibly exhausted.  We want to thank Santa for letting us go.  More than that though, the friends who made our trip much more enjoyable.  Jamie allowed us to experience Magiquest which otherwise, we would not have been able to.  Want to thank some Raleigh friends who gave us a gift cert which in turn allowed all our kids to have fun in the arcade, enjoy fudge, and a few other things that otherwise would not have happened.  Was an awesome time had by all.  All of them want to go again.  Me too!  Now, back to more reality posts.