Saturday, February 23, 2013

And 'Big Bird' arrives!

The past few weeks we've been looking all over for a new van.  Nothing wrong w/ the old van whatsoever but we finally outgrew it.  Who'd of thought you could outgrow a 12 passenger van.  Yet, we did.  So, we were on the hunt for a 15 passenger.  And, we found one that would suit our needs.  Yet, seemed out of reach budget wise.  Well, one day we stumbled across an eBay ad that was at a car dealership here in NC.  Noticed it wasn't selling on eBay.  Really, you have to be in the market for this kind of car.  So, thought maybe they'd be willing to deal but decided to watch how long it may sit on the lot.  You all know how that goes.  Today we decided to venture out an hour and a half one way to check it out.  There were actually two on the lot.  We knew we could get the one easily but truly wanted this one in particular for various reasons.  So, loaded up 6 of the kids, left 5 at home.  Ones that stayed at home were the smart ones b/c they knew it would be boring at best.  LOL. 

Got there and test drove two.  Actually, Warren test drove the gas one w/ me and I told him take Max w/ him to test drive the diesel.  You realize Max is a bit of a mechanical buff.  Those two could come to a good conclusion w/ how it drives.  The white one w/ the gas had NO pick up to me.  Our Ford was a bit better.  Couldn't wait to hear what Max and Warren had to say about the diesel as that is the one we came to really look at.  Many reasons which I'll get to at the end.

 And here's Big Bird.  It is longer than the white van we have.  And obviously, the color stands out.  We used to have an X-terra this color. 

Car seats in place for Summer and Little One.  They were together but Summer wants to play too dog gone much and not stay in place.  What's cool about this one is you can sweep it out.  No carpet!  Trust me, with kids it should be a standard feature.  You won't care about the spills.

Another nice thing about this one is the sliding door instead of the dual open doors.  Helps that the kids won't knock the car next to us.  Warren's car was parked next to it so really couldn't get any pics but you get the idea.  

We hated giving up our other car as there was literally nothing wrong with it.  Just outgrew it.  We were able to get a very awesome deal on this one.  It is a diesel which will help w/ our fuel costs.  Also, it has great towing capacity.   So, next step is selling the RV and getting a travel trailer which will again save quite a bit.  This van is a 2012 model w/ 10K miles on it.  Even has the brand new smell.  See, we really never get to get new vehicles.  Though this is considered used, it is definitely a brand new van for us.  Tomorrow I'll be sitting in the driveway for quite some time learning the entire console.  So many bells and whistles, it will take a little while to get used to.  Plus, for like the last 3 vans we ever owned were Fords.  Totally different set up and feel.  In no time though, Big Bird will be on the road.  Hey, at least we'll find it in the parking lot and at the campgrounds.  Now, to make sure the kids stay away from that stupid On Star button.  URGHH!!!  My biggest fear. Well that and you can start the car from inside the house even!  Told you, bells and whistles.  LOL.  We're loving our new van for sure.  

We came home and then had to unfortunately go to Wally World to get chicken b/c I forgot to thaw any meat out for dinner.   Chicken fajitas it was w/ rice.  Bojan actually spent some of his b-day money today.  He bought a movie set for Warren.  You must know first the boys ruined the original set we had.  Matrix set.  I hate those types of movies but Warren and the boys enjoy them.  Bojan said it was for Warren but we know better.  LOL.  However, sweet gesture nonetheless.  Irina babysat for someone tonight.  She really is enjoying babysitting and getting her name out a bit more.  Proud of her.  One step at a time.  Irina is actively pursuing jobs.  Sure she'll get one soon.  Then, our focus will go towards Max finding a job.  One kid at a time.  Next turn is Yana's.  Doing it by age as you can see.  Well, need to get some sleep sooner or later.  Tomorrow, we must clean out the rest of the garage so the contractors can start soon and do the girls' room.  Can't wait.  More to come tomorrow.  Just had to share Big Bird's arrival with you all.  Next new car will be Warren's.  We're not getting rid of his as his is paid for now.  The teens will use that for work.  Warren is looking for another car.  He wants an older car and we want one decent on gas for the commute.  Price is going to have to be incredibly low.  We don't want to be bogged down w/ car payments.  Hard to go from not having one to having one again.  But, the teens are going to have to have something as driving them everywhere will get old fast.  We'll figure it all out soon enough.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flabulous to Fabulous Friday

Well, I blew it.  Yep, sure did.  Was going strong the first few weeks losing weight and the whole 9 yards.  Curve ball came our way and we had to adjust to a new normal.  And yes, I know I'm having to be cryptic here but you'll know in due time.  Anyhow, I'm getting back on track.  Minus the stupid donut I had this morning.  Normally, we have oatmeal almost every single morning.  Seriously, we do.  Then, we have pancakes on Saturdays and omelets on Sundays.  Otherwise, it's oatmeal every day.  Much cheaper than cereal and much healthier as well.  Plus, when we do get cereal, it then becomes a special treat. 

Anyhow, been slack the last 2 weeks and I'll admit that.  Though slowly, getting back on the band wagon again.  Back to lifting weights and stretching everyday.  Take a multivitamin everyday as well.   And, this week got back into walking w/ t he kids.  That felt good to do for sure.  Nik pushes the stroller and takes turns w/ Summer though let's just say she needs more help than we'd like.  This weekend and next week are changing weeks for me for sure.  My friend is going to come over and we're walking again together.  That helps immensely b/c we keep each other in check.  Very happy about that for sure. 

I'm sad that I've stayed the same after going strong.  However, I know we all fall off.  It's getting back up and that's what counts.  We have found our new normal now and are really enjoying things.  So, you see me, ask how the exercise is going.  I need the nagging, need the encouragement.  There are lots of big happenings here and I want to be in shape for them all.  I want to run a 5K by the end of the year at some point.  And, I know I can.  So, off the computer I go and outside to take the kids.  They play and I either clean up the yard or garden or things like that.  Why should I sit down when they have recess?  I can be doing stuff as well.  Enjoy your weekend.  I will be outside and moving around for sure.  I'm ready to finish what I started earlier this year.  I was headed in the right direction.  Time to get back on track.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow dust

That's what I've decided to call snow in NC.   All the southerners pretty much dream from year to year to get a "big snow."  Now, big to you all is not the same as here in NC in regards to snow.  Since this state is equipped to handle hurricanes and not snow storm, when a flake falls, the store shelves are literally emptied, the entire state practically shuts down.  New northerners to the area always crack up when they experience this phenomenon for the first time. 

This all leads me to this past weekend & the 'snow' we received here.

Excitement was in the air as you can see by Summer's face.

Meanwhile, I think Reni was just praying it would keep falling.

Is it really snow mom?

Even if covered in ice, these guys have to get on the trampoline.  Thank God they haven't figured the pool turns to ice and tried to skate on it.  Seriously, they would if they could.

Nik is determined to catch a flake.

And honest to goodness, my kids do have winter jackets.  Not sure why I ever buy them though is all they ever where are sweatshirts.  They were actually mad I made them put shoes on.  

I'm not sure if Yana is trying to trick them into doing something here or not.

Everyone checking out the 'snowfall.'  You can tell how massive it is.

If their necks go back any further, they may need a chiropractor.

Yes, I do realize the implants aren't supposed to get wet.  Neptunes could though.  URGHH!!!  The ground did end up covered in white.  But just barely and then the freezing rain turned it all into a muddy mess.  We love the snow for sure.  I think it is b/c of the rarity that we get to see it.  There's always next year.  Close to March, temps will be going up, up up from here on out.  By April in NC, we're all usually in shorts full time again. 


Been a more hectic week than I thought it would.  We're all doing well here.  Just trying to get lots done.  We'll start w/ some great news.  Warren does not need surgery.  Always a good thing.  He has partial ACL & MCL tears.  Some capsule in the bone burst.  Cracked tibia ended up w/ the bone bleeding inside and bruising.  Sprained MCL and ACL.  2nd degree something or another.  In other words, one pretty messed up knee.  He required 6 weeks of PT at 2X per week.  He'll do that at the on site health care center he has at work.  Still in the brace for two more months.  Long healing.  But, no surgery.

We go for Bojan's Shriner's appointment inquiring about amputation on Tuesday.  We'll leave here Monday evening after the kids' dentist appts.  5 of them have appts. that day.  We'll take Bojan and 'little one' with us.  Rest will be here w/ Warren's Dad.  So, visiting w/ Papa will be fun for all.  And, we're only going to be gone one overnight so not too concerned. 

Requested an IEP meeting for Max.  I'm not happy w/ it all but will not elaborate at the moment.  Just frustrated. 

Homeschool Academy is cancelled for tomorrow.  Storm moving this way.  Lots of hype.  Hope the roof doesn't leak.  But really, lots of hype for rain.  We get hurricanes here folks and this is seeming to have more hype than hurricane season w/ a CAT 3.  Ridiculous.  So, many counties have either cancelled or delayed school. 

Warren and I will be going to look at a van on Saturday.  If they can deal, we'll most likely get it.  If not, there are plenty of other places to find one we need.  Just we both really like this one as it has everything we need including the towing capacity. 

Contractor came out again today.  They had a better idea.  Though we'll lose height on the room (it was an extremely tall space to begin with), we'll gain storage underneath the entire room and it will cost us MUCH less.  Yeh, we're going w/ that plan instead.  In addition, they'll be able to build the girls a walk in closet which they'll love as they get older.  LOL.

Making lots of appointments lately to get things done.  Quite a bit brewing here at Chaos Manor but it will have to wait in due time to be told.  Trust me, a very good thing.  March is bringing soccer our way and Max's birthday as well.  Still can't believe he'll be 18yo. 

Much more to share, much, much more.  And I'll get to it all in due time.  This weekend it is supposed to be stormy.  Except for Sunday.  So, garage will be finished them.  Contractors said it will only take 2 to 3 days to do their room.  The girls are thrilled.  We're very ready.  Ready for all the changes coming to Chaos Manor.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Yana and Summer's drawings

I can't do some w/out the other you know.  Summer saw everyone drawing and wanted to join in. 

Summer saw me taking pictures of their artwork and she wanted in on it.  So, here is Summer w/ her picture she drew.  When she came here, she could barely hold a crayon in her hand.  Progress.

Some of the kids drew t-shirt designs for the upcoming reunion.   We didn't get to submit Yana's b/c she never had the chance to finish it.  It was two hands together and then things relating to Bulgaria or the reunion.  Car is about the roadtrips folks take to get there, the Bulgarian flag and soccer, etc.   

Yana drew this hawk.  Unfortunately, it got put on the counter and stained.  Those marks on the moon weren't there originally.  But, thought it was still great so wanted to share.  

Okay, five blog posts in a day.  I'm done.  Have tons of paperwork to do.  Determined to get it done.  Have a great evening. 

Nik's drawings

Had some of Max's, now time for Nik's drawings.  Hope you enjoy.  Remember, he is our little 'Stephen King.'

This is Nik's way of telling me he wants another camera.  He had an orange one and played w/ it ALL the time.  He and Reni love them and they are pretty much indestructible.  Pretty much.  His finally doesn't work any more and he misses it.  So, hence the drawing.

Another one of Nik's hints.  LOL.  He loves his innotab.  He and Summer play w/ theirs everyday.   Now, even our houseguest is playing w/ it.  Nik drew a cartridge that he wants for it.  We downloaded a game.  I'm trying to be on the look out for used cartridges.  Hoping during yardsale season I'll be able to score a few.  

Another one of Nik's drawings.  I have an art lesson on a dvd for homeschool.  One day he and Logan took it upstairs and drew while watching it.  Not bad.

Nik's snowman.

I like this one.  A train Nik drew.  He's getting a bit better at detail for sure.  Following in his brother's footsteps.

Nik's newest obsession, the phone.

I like this one.  Nik drew a riverboat.  Thought it was pretty cool.

Ahh, my little Stephen King.  Notice Logan at the top of the roof.  He is getting ready to throw something.  On the ladder is Summer throwing a rock.  Logan and Summer are throwing rocks and breaking all the windows.  Nik is smiling and happy he told me b/c he's not in trouble.  This of course is happening at night.  The policeman is shining a flashlight up at Logan to see what is happening.  Mom and Dad are standing there angry. 

A little closer up view of what is happening.  Love that the moon is asleep.

And those are a few of Nik's.  He's drawn a lot more of amusement rides and helicopters.  Just thought I'd share. 

Our Bulgarian Visitor

Last weekend we had a Bulgarian visitor.  It was someone we'd met earlier last summer at the reunion.  She is an adult adoptee.  Her name is Anna and when she came to NC, she came to see us as well!  We had a great time w/her.  Kids had lots of fun and I really don't think anyone slept much that night as they were too busy chitter chattering.  She took the girls to the mall and even went to a bonfire party w/ us.  Though, I have no pictures from that.  We were all too busy talking.  I do have pics of her trying to get one good shot in of the kids lined up.  LOL.  Tons of takes but I'll only put a few on here. 

My Bulgarian kiddos and Anna.

Let's try another take here.  This is when I wished I didn't let Summer dress herself.  She's wearing her sisters' clothes.

Anna explaining to Alex that he's Russian and that's why he's not in the pic.

One more pic for the road please.  Summer not wanting to let go of her candy.

Warren, trying to get everyone lined up.

Still working on a line up of oldest to youngest. 

Some not too happy about this photo shoot and some too happy.

Anna realizing this may be harder than it looks.  LOL.  I knew I shouldn't have let Summer dress herself on this day.

People actually all looking at the camera.  BTW, sidewalk slopes up.  To try to get the younger ones a bit more even.  Of course, you can tell which ones have growth issues.  LOL.

  Goofy face time.

Geez, another shot.  Can you tell they are getting a bit impatient?

And, Alyona has had all she can take.  Max truly is being a good sport but totally fed up.  Look at the expression on his face.  Yana wants to pose in every picture, Bojan wants to go back to sleep, Alyona is done, Alex & Logan just want to go back to playing ball in the yard, Reni goes along w/ it all as she doesn't care, Nik is a natural camera hog and Summer just wants to finish the candy that is in her hand.  Yep, that about sums it up.  LOL.  

We had a good time and I'm sure we'll see her in the future.  Always great to get visitors around here and reconnect.  As we've said before, door is always open and all are invited.  If it's summer time, all we ask is you bring a watermelon to share.  Winter, we're pretty good w/ a huge canister of hot cocoa.  LOL.  We'll feed you and lodge you and most definitely keep you entertained w/ this bunch.  Feel free to stop on by Chaos Manor any time. 

How's YOUR day?? (FAS)

Yes, I get asked that from time to time.  And today, did not start off the best.  I'll be honest.  Irina went with the lady from vocational rehab today to go job hunting.  She does this every so often.  They assist her in finding a job in the community.  They currently have 80 clients.  Big need.  Not enough jobs.  But, Irina has skills and will hopefully find the right job soon enough.

So, I was without my assistant this morning and could feel the difference.  2 meltdowns before 11 o'clock!  I haven't dealt w/ meltdowns in a long, long time.  And I know these kids go through cycles.  I've lived w/ FAS long enough to know.  But really kids?  2 on the same day?  Geez.  One was because I asked the child to redraw the hawk onto a different sheet of paper.  You'd thought I'd ask him to move a boulder uphill.  The drama, the scene.  You get the picture.  Shortly after that one, I asked another child to get dressed.  Oh yes, get dressed.  That was the end of the world for them.  Sure enough.  This ended up in hold therapy.  Way to kick off the morning kids.  Now, I will say this.... had this happened a few years ago, this would have lasted much longer.  The whole redrawing thing, hardly any time to recover.  The getting dressed theatrics, well, that one took time but in total maybe 30 minutes when all was said and done.  Not bad b/c this one was over the top in drama.  I heard it all and it was even acted that they were unable to breath.  Yes, they were breathing just fine but trying to make themselves not breathe.  I made the child go outside w/ me on the steps.  Those w/ FASers remove them from where they are.  They need to reprocess their environment when they're "over the top."  Whisper to them.  Helps.  Say a sentence and then stop.  As parents, this was the hardest thing for me to try to do.  What saying one thing at a time does is allow them to process what is said as FASers tend to have  much, much slower processing times.  I'm writing all this b/c I know others go through the same things.  I know I rarely identify which child and yes, that is on purpose.

Anyhow, we got through all that and managed to do school work.  Irina came home and the rest of the day wasn't too bad either. 

Alright, I wrote this awhile back but figured I'd print it out anyway.  Others need to know not everyday in our FAS world is rosy.  What counts though is how it is handled and how we move on from there.  I do believe others can learn how to move on.  I would like to know if others may want a post about FAS.  If there is enough interest, what do you want to know?  Keep in mind, not a professional, just a parent to 7 of them w/ the disorder.  All affected a different way.   So, what would you like to know?  How we discipline?  How we raise them?  How we handle meltdowns?  How we travel w/ them?  Tell me.  I think a post on this may be a good idea but want to know if there may be interest first.  Thanks.

Manic Monday

Well, it's the beginning of a new week. I can't say we're slowing down but can say I hope to.  We're at a good place right now.  Finding our new normal and enjoying it quite a bit.  Many things have to remain quiet for now but when I can, I will share what is happening around here in more detail.   With it being Monday, tell you all a little of what's happening here at Chaos Manor.

  • kids have early release today
  • one of Max's friends is over
  • Bojan is still trying to build a mousetrap car after a few attempts this past weekend
  • it snowed dusted this past weekend
  • boys played football
  • signed up for soccer
  • may get to help out w/ soccer this season
  • don't feel like doing school today but we actually got a lot done
  • need to call Shriners & have them verify w/ hotel we actually have an appt.
  • need to call CPA
  • need to call ophthalmologist for Alyona (she has ONH)
  • need to call speech therapy regarding a bill
  • tons of other calls to make so I should get on the phone!
  • Digby and Alaska need a bath
  • garage is half way cleaned out
  • girls are getting excited about their new room
  • need to take pics of some things for sale that we found in garage
  • hopefully going to look at a van this coming weekend
  • needing to find help w/ the garage 
  • contractor is working w/ us but still need to find a few to help us out
  • putting RV up for sale this weekend
  • double checking plans for this coming year regarding our trips
  • working on going to Camp Cheerio (Cue/ deaf camp) in May
  • getting caught up on posts
  • soccer starts in March
  • Yana is going to write a book on a Russian adoptee's perspective
  • Max is going to open up an Etsy shop over the next few months and sell his prints
  • trying to find ways to tighten a budget as inflation seems to be coming
  • I'm beyond behind on thank yous
  • going to try to at least send March b-day cards out on time
  • need to get mileage paid for last PPR that took place
  • have legal paperwork to fill out this evening
  • still working on Nik's massive eval paperwork
  • Want to have an eval team to done for Alyona as well 
  • need to make some neuro appointments
  • need to write a few folks for Bojan
  • would like to do a few birth parent searches but they really are too expensive
  • I'm behind on getting back to a few folks
  • Warren's ortho is this week to see if he'll need surgery
  • need to think of some science experiments
  • everyone seems to be feeling okay (knock on wood)
  • I am determined to get a family portrait at some point
  • making plans for the Bulgarian reunion.  2 campgrounds reserved already.  2 more to go!  Holding off though as if we sell the RV, we're getting a travel trailer instead and need to reserve a bit differently at campgrounds.  Kids actually want to keep C-MOW though and totally modify the inside.  And if we can't sell, that's exactly what we'll do in April.  New flooring, painting, etc.  We all agreed this is OUR bus, we can do what we want w/ it and most of all, make it memorable.
  • had venison for the first time last evening
  • venison was a hit
  • want to use our gift cert for Warren and I to go out to dinner
  • need to make vet appointment
  • going to the park this week
  • Irina is babysitting more
  • IRina is still job hunting w/ voc rehab
Much, much more happening but that's all that comes to mind.  Overall, doing well.  Waiting to see about Warren and if surgery is what is to be.  If it is, we are going to need help.  Not kidding myself here.  Max and I can make up for some of the slack but we'll still need help here and there especially, w/ renovating this room.  To cut costs dramatically, a lot of the work will be done by us.  And, we're on a time crunch before we lose our minds.  LOL.   We'll know this week if Warren needs surgery and next week about Bojan.  Take it from there.  Yana also has a dance in April so we'll need to find a dress.  Max has a birthday in March.  Well, need to go.  We still have a bit more studying to do today.  Plus, may get ready to take a few of the kids for a walk I think.