Saturday, April 27, 2013

An adoption myth debunked

Okay, I can't bite my tongue any longer and must say something b/c it recently came up again and really is bothering me. I know I shouldn't let it but it's getting to me a lot.  I guess we have now earned the status of adoptive big family.  I get that though I don't see us as a 'big family.'  Just a family.  Apparently, amongst people in America, many still believe that families who adopt get a stipend.  You know, a monthly check and make a lot of money from said check.  I'm here to clarify a few things.  We do...not...get...squat!  Not a check, not a stipend, not a single dime from anyone anywhere.  Nope.  We raise them on our own, with our own money, our own time.

I do know if you do foster care, there is a stipend.  However, I also know it isn't all that much.  I do know some parents of special needs children apply for SSI and can receive payments or help w/ medical care via medicaid.   We have chosen not to apply for any of these things.  I do not have anything against people that do.  Not starting that fire storm.  However, I feel if we can provide and do alright, I will not apply for financial aid.  Warren and I made that decision long ago.  Fortunately, Warren works for a company that has excellent insurance benefits.  Our medical is covered (for the most part), our dental is covered, speech is covered, surgeries are covered, etc.  We pay a monthly insurance premium but it covers it.  We also have a vision plan and prescription plan though that changed dramatically this year.  I know I can't get the extra therapies but that's okay.  In the past, I've gone to a few therapy sessions, and then continued on at home.   This is what I did for Bojan's PT.  You find ways to make things work.

Our goal is for our children to be as independent as possible.  To reach that goal, we feel we should practice what we preach.  Now, does this mean everything in the world is covered?  NOPE!  And that's when some times I wish I had the ability to just shell it all out.  But then I'm reminded by others that God will provide.  Things will indeed work out.  Recently, we were given a beyond generous gift.  Gift card to the Apple Store to buy our kids a few IPADS.  It was what we needed to help them become more successful.  It's the kindness of others that has allowed us to do what we do and help our kids reach their fullest potential.  When folks donate clothes to us or food (BIG HELP), it then allows us to focus on some other needs.  We have a new van.  This is not a low to the ground van and is very difficult for some of my kids to get in and out of.  Unfortunately, it did not come w/ running boards.  We have to purchase those separately at $300.  Fitting the house for some extra grab bars are things to think about as far as costs go.  Things not at all covered by insurance but really do become necessary.  Things such as an FM system is what we really need for Nik.  Ear gear to cover his implants.  Special drying box, etc.  Trampoline for sensory issues.  All needed but not covered by insurance obviously.  But as in any family, you find ways to get what  you need for your children.  Special needs or not.  Doesn't matter.

How do we do it?  How do we as a family now of 14 provide for this many children w/ out any assistance?  Well, you just do it.  You budget.  And re-budget.  You appreciate the kindness of others.  We shop at yardsales, consignment shops, craigslist, etc.  Does that mean my children never get new clothes?  No.  They do indeed get new clothes as well.  Granted, it's not a celeb type of wardrobe but it will do.  My kids are healthy, happy (when not grounded), and well adjusted.  We are proud of raising them.  I know we don't get a check every month for having them.  We never ever expected to.  No one expects to get money for having kids, they just expect to love them.  And that's what we do.  So, to debunk the myth that there are large adoptive families out there b/c they get paid to do so, is just that...a myth. Just wanted to clarify that just because we are a big family, with many special needs, does not mean we get paid to do so.  We are a big family b/c we WANT to be a big family.  Do I wish we received extra money each month?  Of course.  Who wouldn't?!  LOL.  I just do not like people thinking that is the only reason we have our kids.  We love each one.  And definitely not for all the grief they give us at times.  Remember folks, we have 5 teens in this home at the moment!  We love them for who they are.  I don't like people thinking otherwise b/c eventually, the kids will hear that and think the only reason we wanted them was for a check.  When in reality, we've fought and sacrificed like crazy to get them home.  Sometimes others outside looking in don't see things as clearly.  I would like to think that is the case with many who have adoption myths thrown their way. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Verbs of Nik

For speech, we're trying to get Nik to say some verbs.  Particularly, ing verbs.  So, I have been taking pictures.  Going to print them out and then we'll put them on cards for him to practice.  We had a little help from the littles.  I can't show their verbs but they helped me out too w/ driving, swinging and crying.  Crying was priceless.  All you have to do is say nap time.  Here's a few from Nik though.

This is more Summer swinging than Nik.  I think the trampoline is getting a little worn from all the bouncing daily.

Nik and Summer in action.

Nik jumping.

Laughing.  Summer was trying to tickle him.

Nik, returning the favor.

This one cracked me up.  Slow motion running.

Nik driving.  Now there's a scary thought!

Nik climbing.  

We have more verbs of Nik but that's it for now.  Our speech therapist is really great.  Gives us ideas and works with this crazy bunch.  She currently works w/ Nik and Summer.  Going to start working on getting the Littles set up with her as well.  Need to get headed to bed soon as we have Summer's soccer game bright and early.  Oy!  More posts tomorrow.

It's Friday

Yep, feels like a Friday.  Gave the kids a spelling test today, talked about insects (new topic we're studying), did reading, had speech, and watched a documentary on fire ants.  Makes me want to go out and buy a big bag of ant killer!  It was very interesting though and held all our interests.  Even the littles watched it.  Reni said she's never going barefoot again.  I'm organizing all their cubbies and seeing what all we have left to do by the end of the year in terms of workbooks and various things.  Next week I am determined to order testing materials.  Our homeschool will probably run longer this year as we've had a few more off days this semester than we should have.  Nice that we have the flexibility to run longer though.  Summer we take a break.  This year, trying to decide if we should send Logan, Alex and Alyona onto middle school or not.  Very undecided at the moment.  Pros and cons to both.

We have soccer practice tonight for Alex & Logan.  Only an hour so not bad.  Afterwards, probably go to Lowes.  Super double coupons so I sorted a few out that will be free or dirt cheap.  If there were only coupons for milk.  And no, not the $6 or $7 organic milk coupons either.  LOL.  $1 off a $7 gallon of milk is not a bargain.  Milk is one of our most consumed items in this house and something that is costly.  After Lowes, I want to get a lot of organizing done tonight and maybe watch a movie.  Simple. 

We wake up early for sure tomorrow.  Summer's game is first.  Coming home, Max & Warren haul off the trash.  Such a glamorous life we lead.  Eat lunch and back out to soccer games.  Hoping to get yard work done tomorrow and if decent, go to one of the local parks for a little fun.  Simple weekend.  Need it b/c there is going to be a lot packed into the month of May and June.  Kids are going to be busy.  We're going strawberry picking, carnival at Warren's work for everyone, Camp Cheerio, Memorial Day weekend cookout, 2 concerts for Bojan, Irina's graduation, tons of end of school stuff to attend, summer vacation, cleaning out the pool (all weekend job), Max's surgery and much, much more.  With all this going on, we welcome a semi-non-eventful weekend this weekend knowing it will be one of our lasts until the end of July!  But, we're ready.  So are the kids.  We enjoy this time of year and being together.  Okay, so by mid-August, I'd say we'd had enough of each other.   

More to come later in posts but must get to soccer practice soon.  One question before I go.  I have 2 little ones that will most likely be in diapers for some time.  Despite my gallant effort in wanting things to happen at record speed in potty training, I'm having serious doubts.  I do NOT want a 'green' debate on here or anything like that.  I want to know if at this point cloth diapers may be the way to go for these two?  One will most likely be trained before the other.  However, due to transitions and such, focusing on bonding would be best at the moment.  Knowing that, trying to think if it would be more cost effective to do cloth diapers.  I've seen a bunch of different varieties.  I know nothing about cloth diapers as we've always used disposables.  Just curious on thoughts.  Do you like them?  Do you not?  Worth it?  cost effective?  Do any of you do a mix?  Would love to get opinions from folks.  Okay, do need to go.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Soccer games

Every Saturday we have soccer games for 5 of the kids.  With different ages, it truly is an all day affair.  But, sunny spring days just make it pleasant to go.  Last Saturday they had games.  I typically don't get a whole lot of pictures of things simply b/c I'm watching the games and prefer to watch it w/ my eyes, not my camera.  One day though, I really need to get some action shots of all of them.  I'll work on that the next few games.

Nik, getting ready on the field.

The weird smile phase we have entered.

Very intense look watching Nik play.  Or, just mad b/c we made him get up early.

i promise he's not angry.  LOL.

Told you.  Smiles are back.  When he's not gaurding the goal, he's doing cartwheels and handstands.

Yana giving her friend a ride.

Got to have those shoes tied to play ball.  Alex, before playing a game.  He's not beat red so we know he hasn't played yet.

Friends just hanging out.  Soccer brings folks together for sure.  Just good times.

Goodies Galore

The other day, we came home to find a bunch of boxes at our door step.  The guessing began.  And the wishful thinking.  LOL.  We received a couple boxes from a dear friend who thinks of us often. 

Think Summer is ready to get started?

Everyone a bit excited in anticipation.  I think that's the best part.

No, this is definitely the best part!  Nik was loving it!  Nutella and peanut butter in one bag.

Alex and Logan signing boys.  Happy that there was stuff in the box for boys.  Oh, have to tell you this one.  Alex said about the Axe shampoo "it says it attracts girls."  He says I don't think that's true.  I said it's called marketing.  Bojan said it's called propaganda.

The three musketeers who are going to give me a run for my money these next few years.

Excited about the next box to open.

these were gone the same day! We all loved them.  

Umm, what's that say about us when our son is excited about laundry detergent?  LOL.  Actually, he knows it's Irina's favorite and if she has it, she'll do his laundry.

Look at some of the goodies we got!  The juice boxes and snacks came in super handy as I had to take them to soccer for team snack.  Cereal is always a HUGE hit here as I never buy cereal.  We like it, just not cost effective w/ as many as we have now.  

Even the littles know the routine.  Whoever grabs it, gets to pop them...outside.  So, off she went.  We thoroughly enjoyed our goodies.  Was a very welcomed sight that week after such a long, hard, emotional week.  Sometimes folks know just what you need.  May seem insignificant but the love attached meant a lot.  And by NO means was this insignificant.  Kids are still talking about how nice that was. 

Spring has arrived

Lately, we have definitely felt spring fever here.  Shoot, none of us want to do any work.  Slowly but surely, we're getting it done though.  I have more pictures but these are the only ones uploaded for now. 

Obviously taken when the azaleas were first starting to bloom.

I love the pink azaleas b/c they pop a lot.  I've never been a fan of white flowers.  They are gorgeous but when white flowers start to die off, they turn brown.  So, have been sticking to mostly pink azaleas.  

We re-mulched this side of the island.  Wanted and needed to mulch the other side but budget didn't quite allow it this year.  Partial view here.  Iris' are at the end.  I'll have to get a picture of those.  They come back every year.  Yellow and purples.  And one white one.

You can tell this is when they were first coming out of the ground.  I'll take more pics as the weeks progress.  Reason being, is I want to see how it goes.  See, I get all my stuff on end of season clearance.  So, last year, bought a bunch of hostas at $2 a piece.  Forgot to plant them and they sat in the pot looking sad all winter.  I said what the heck.  So, Warren planted them the other week and life came!  We were stunned really.  I will take a bunch more though to see how it goes.  I never understood why people paid a fortune to landscape.  I will also take pics of the $2 shrubs we bought last year.  On the side of the road.  LOL.  Now, the biggest issue I have w/ landscaping is to keep the stupid soccer ball out of it all.  More later.  Trying to get through a few little posts. 

They ask me why?!

Some of you may be able to relate to this with teenage boys. 

My teenage sons could not understand why I was mad.  Really?!  They couldn't get it.  If you see a tent in the front yard one day, you may soon realize what happened.  How hard can it possibly be to put this stuff away?  And this is only a small part of the room.  It's an L shape.  They can't even play pool as the table is covered w/ stuff.  Sad part is, this pic was taken after they had started to clean it.  URGHH!!!  Max has always been messy.  Yes, even when we got him years ago.  Normally, orphanage kids come home and are beyond neat and tidy and line up shoes and everything else.   Not Max.  My other boys were neat and then I think he rubbed off on them somehow.  LOL.  Or, they all just did this on their own.  Probably a combo.  All I know is this needs to end.  I don't even walk in there any more b/c I think I may explode.  Girls, not an issue.  Boys, horrible.  Boys are just a few piles away from being on hoarders.  Or make a new's dirtiest places.  And they have the audacity to ask me why I'm angry.  Boys.

Time to be fitted

The other day, we needed to go to our prosthetist for Bojan and one of the littles.  As you know, I am limited as to what pictures I can post but will do a flurry of pictures in a few months to be sure.  For now though, a little of our visit.

One of the littles getting her AFO fitted.  She did really well.

Alex was totally wiped out, can you tell?  Pollen count was high t hat day and allergies about did him in.

Bojan waiting for his socket to get done.  Bojan grew up and slimmer so the socket became to big.  Put some padding in it and good to go.  Doesn't fall off any more.  

Dad, trying to fix an ongoing problem.

As most of you know, Summer is missing the corpus callosum part of her brain.  It connects the two hemispheres.  Being able to distinguish left from right is VERY difficult for her.   We've tried everything.  Now, we resort to covering her in permanent marker.  And nope, still nothing.  And, since Summer had writing on her, the littles wanted marker on them.  Nice.

Doesn't Logan looked entrenched?  It was the day after the Boston Marathon and the manhunt was on.  Some things are hard to explain to kids.

Alyona and Bojan goofing around while we wait.

Mr. Frank and Bojan.  This is the gentleman who's treated Bojan since we got him home.  He's been beyond awesome to say the least.  He knows his stuff but also cares about the kids.  Couldn't ask for a better combo.  We owe him a lot.  He will also be seeing our newest little.  

In process now of reserving a few campgrounds for the summer vacation.  Waiting to hear back from doc for confirmation of Max's surgery on May 22nd.   Never dull.  More to come later this evening.  Need to take the girls out for our nightly stroll. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Washing C-MOW

For those new here, C-MOW (Chaos Manor on Wheels) is our rv.  It is a class A...big one that you drive.  We love it.  Well, the other day we needed to wash it.  This is no easy task mind you. 

Big job, but someone has to do it.  Max volunteered to go on the roof to scrub. 

Yana, getting ready to work.  Notice how far we got on our fence, right?  Unexpected happenings in life will do that.  I just really want a fence.  At least hide some of that mess.

No, she's not really floating on air.  Her and Max did an awesome job cleaning the bus.  They really did.  Notice the dirt on the top.  It was parked under a tree.  This is why most folks cover them when not in use.  We cut down one of the trees in the way but let's face it, we live on a wooded lot.  Things are going to fall.  Leaves, bugs, sap, etc.

Max scrubbing, Yana goofing around.

Max took this shot zoomed from our upstairs window.  Notice where he scrubbed?  huge difference for sure.  He wanted to show me a before and after.  

It is all cleaned up now inside and out.  Ready to be sold.  Listing it this weekend.  Have one person very interested so waiting to hear from him first before we list it on Craigslist.  Once sold, we go purchase our new travel trailer.  Have found quite a few on Craigslist and rvtrader.  Some fantastic deals on the size we need as well as most folks downsize on the bigger ones.  Perfect for us.  Looking for a bunkhouse style or one w/ a huge living room to camp out on the floor.  Should have it for our trip in June.  Camp Cheerio does not require anything to haul.  We stay in bunkhouses there and on site.  Our first travel trailer trip will be to the Bulgarian Reunion.  Can't wait.  We're all kind of sad to see C-MOW go.  Been a great vehicle for us and served us well.  We actually talked on our last trip about repainting it and putting new flooring down.  But, time to move on.  With 14 of us, it is just not as practical as a travel trailer would be.  Gee, who could miss the family of 14 travelling in Big Bird, towing a trailer?  No, my teens won't be horrified.  LOL.  Hey, they want to travel, they must pay the ticket of embarrassment, right?  

More to come.  Getting a few little posts out of the way first. 

Catching up

I know I have a pile of things to catch up on.  This one will be quick.  Yes, we're still alive.  Yes, we still have a lot going on.  Yes, the kids are fine.  In fact, Summer learned to ride her bike today!  So proud of her.  It has been a beyond hectic week trying to tie up everything for a homestudy.  Much going on here but we're getting things done.  Bojan has concerts coming up next week.  Soccer is still in full swing.  Planning for many trips, field trips, etc. is taking place.  Going to a Civil War battlefield next week.  Possibly going to the park this week.  Anyhow, just saying hello and do promise many, many posts forthcoming.  I'm ready to catch up, ready to tell a little of what's happening around here and ready for Camp Cheerio in May.  It's the end of the year and really need to get cracking on testing for the homeschoolers.  I haven't even ordered it yet!  On my top to do list soon to be sure.  Be interesting to see how Logan and Reni do.  First time for them testing.   I couldn't do it last year b/c they'd only been in the country a few months and didn't have enough language.  Still debating whether to put Logan, Alex and Alyona in middle school next year.  Lots and lots to think about with that decision.  If it happens, I'd only be homeschooling 3 of them w/ 2 littles home as well.  Tons of one on one which would be great for them.  We'll see.  Just touching base on here and working on many, many, many more posts.  Be ready.  I have a lot to say!  LOL.