Saturday, July 20, 2013

Curse you Pinterest!!!

Okay, for those that have either read here long enough or know me, know for a fact, I am NO Martha Stewart.  I'd rather buy it on clearance than attempt to make it.  That being said, occasionally things come up on Pinterest that I think I should attempt.  I should know better.  I feel like Edison though at times.  Didn't he fail over 3000 times before inventing the light bulb?  I'm catching up with him at this point.  So, here is what Nik, Summer and Little One attempted. 

A mess is the first thing I notice about this activity.  And yes, we are in desperate need of a new kids' table.  They use this everyday.  Been looking on Craigslist to no avail.  So, backless chair and sugar bucket it is.  Hey, do what works here is our motto.

Yes, I know it's supposed to be all clear beads but truly, we just wanted something to hang up.  

Takes only 20 minutes to bake in the oven and make the entire home smell like burning plastic.

End product...a blob.  Didn't come out of the pan.  Yep.  Wasted one of my good cake pans on said project.  Again, could have easily bought a sun catcher on clearance and kids would have been just as happy.  Maybe I'll go buy those dollar store sun catcher kits.  Mad about the cake pan b/c it was actually one of my good ones.  So, another epic fail of Pinterest for me.  Thank goodness I don't sew.  I could just imagine the Pinterest projects all tied up.  

Today, had two extra house guests over.  Friends of the girls.  Never quiet here, is it?  Girls(older ones) & their friends went to the movies.  I made homemade pizza.  Going to Jordan Lake tomorrow for a cook out and some great swimming.  Can't wait!  Sunday, we plan on going nowhere and wish we could do nothing but tons to catch up on.  Next week, we're even getting a family portrait done!  About time. News on Little One too.  Potty training, dare I say it, is happening.  More on that later.  Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Max's drawing

Some of you may not know, we are holding an art class at our home every Tuesday taught by a local artist.  She is teaching kids of all ages (& not just our kids) how to draw and paint.  Reni, Logan, Nik, Max and Yana are attending.  The rest of my kids said no.  Well, the artist would like to enter something Max drew into a contest which of course we said yes.  She wants to use this drawing that he did for her last week:

This is a picture of a ship Max drew.  I like it.  Not sure how long this took him.  This is actually a really big picture.  Really big.  It's not notebook sized or anything like that.  Takes like half Max's body up if he holds it up to himself to give you an idea of the size of it. 

Another shot of the whole ship.  I could never draw like that.  Ever.

A little closer up view of the ship.  I think he's got talent.  Now, to be able to use that talent! 

Our letter to KOA

Obviously left out some identifying info at the end but we gave them different ways to contact us and our VKR # which would also have all our info in their systems.  I sent this out to the Nashville KOA and to the head office.  I will also share with you how they handle this letter and what their response may be.  Time will tell.  Truly, we just want them to make it right.  Big vacations only happen once a year and b/c of this, kids missed out on touring the Parthenon, going out to the Hard Rock Cafe and more than that, going to a water park they had been looking forward to.  As a parent, you just want things made right so that you can tell your children see, people do care and will make a wrong right.  Hope that made sense.  

Kampgrounds of America, Inc.
PO Box 30558
Billings, MT 59114

To Whom It May Concern:

Our family has stayed at KOA campgrounds many times in the past and have never had an issue with any of them. It truly is the best option for a large family on a limited budget. In fact, we've enjoyed it so much, we have told everyone about our experiences via a blog and other social media outlets.

Recently, we went on our summer vacation. Now, this is not easy for a family of 13, let alone a family of 13 w/ multiple special needs children. This is why I have always, always called in advance to let the campgrounds know we need a site that will house an RV AND a tent. I always tell them it has to be able to accommodate both as we have to watch our children. When I had spoken to the Nashville KOA in advance back in the beginning of May, they told me the regular sites won't accommodate both but the deluxe sites have plenty of room. I said fine. They said but they'll cost more. I said fine, as long as we're together.

Arrived at the campgrounds and checked in. Awesome place to stay, I will give it that. Great hospitality and drove us to our site. Started to set up, even said hello to a few of the other campers we were around. Several campground staff had said hello and even collected trash. Slept there for the evening and hung around the campground all day the next day. Touring was going to be saved for the day after.

Second day, after being in the pool all day and other activities, our son comes to us at 7pm at night and says the campground people said we have to leave tonight. What? Surely there must be some mistake, we'll go check it out. Went into the office and waited in line. Our turn. They said yes, you must move due to safety concerns. What in the world?! Someone could run over the tent. I guess they could if they were drunk and swerving but truly, the odds of that were kind of nill. We said okay, what is your solution. Nashville KOA said they'd put our kids in the tent on the other side of the campground. Umm, NO. Can't separate, sorry. They called a manager. He had a solution. Put them in a site near the RV. Umm, again that won't work. You do not understand kids that have certain issues need to be watched. But, you can see it from the RV. Still, not an option. Plus, the tent site had no electrical hookup so they couldn't run the fan. Kind of hard for kids w/ temp regulating issues, you know? Also, site was by the dumpster and construction stuff laying around. And how is this safer people? You turn the corner there and much more likely to get hit than where the tent was. Any other solutions? No. So, to make sure that we weren't over reacting, we went to that tent site near the RV. With no hookup, just couldn't do it. Decided we had to leave.

Before leaving, we did call Jellystone which could have housed us but we just didn't have the extra money budgeted as we had already paid for these. So, no choice but to pack up everything and everyone as we were told we could not stay there another night w/out moving the tent. No room in the RV for all 11 kids. At 8 o'clock, I'm having to deal w/ telling our kids we're leaving. Now, I know most of you don't understand special needs of such intense variety, but deal w/ crying from an autistic deaf child w/ FAS and well, you have seen it all. Meltdown that I'm trying to deal with while holding the flashlight for my sons to unhook everything. Not going to lie, it was rough. On the way out, we wrote a note and stuck it to the door b/c they had already left for the evening. 12 hours in the middle of the night driving. Not fun.

This should have never happened. Never. On the way out, we saw empty sites. Why not put us on two regular sites side by side across from the construction zone? Made no sense. What was worse, not being given the money back for the nights we did not stay there. We were never refunded that money. No one from Nashville wrote us back. No one contacted us. No one apologized for any sort of inconvenience we had experienced.

We're preparing to go to Cape Hatteras KOA on Labor Day Weekend. In addition, preparing for next year's trips. In addition, preparing for a 3 to 4 week trip going cross country and back in 2015. I would hate for one bad apple to spoil the bunch so to speak. Truly, I just want things made right. That is all I'm asking. After writing about my experience on the blog, I've even had an attorney contact me! Several people telling me what KOA should do for us. What is sad is the KOA in WVA was excellent. Went out of their way and we love it so much, plan on going there next year twice. Yet, the Nashville KOA didn't seem to care about the inconvenience of having to leave or even providing alternative solutions to a problem that should really not have been a problem to begin with.

I just want the Nashville KOA to make things right. However they see fit. I'm not sure what that would look like but do know, refunding money for nights you do not get to stay there seemed like a pretty reasonable start. Just thought corporate KOA should be made aware of this as well. Please help us to avoid any misunderstanding in the future by outlining how we could have better presented our needs in such a way that this doesn't happen again. We enjoy KOA, and it is one of our preferred stop overs when we travel. We just do not want a repeat of this type of experience in our future travels. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us  


Edward and Stephanie Boyd

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Birds, barbies, and road burn

Second post of the day.  May be on a roll.  LOL.  No, just in between letters I'm writing and projects w/ the kids.  Kids are downstairs doing what will I'm sure turn into a Pinterest Epic fail event but it's keeping them VERY occupied.  Putting beads into a pan and will cook it into a sun catcher.  Very skeptical on this one.  Tomorrow Max and Bojan have their ortho appointments.  We're also getting our house spic and span...pressure washed.  Yana and Irina are going with the art teacher to paint for the day.  See how well that sibling rivalry works there.  They've been at each other too much lately to be honest.  Go figure.  The two oldest are the ones at each other.  Friday, our yard is getting fixed.  Drainage problem.  Have no choice but to do it.  Can't sell the house the way it is eroding away.  This is an issue that has to be fixed whether we go or we stay.  Saturday, we're going to Jordan Lake to just swim and have a good time w/ friends.  Can't wait.  So, today is chore day and making arrangements that I need to make.  Onto the post. 

Lately, these things are the talk of the house for one certain kiddo.

Nik has become obsessed with Angry Birds.  LOVES them!  I found this on clearance at Target and splurged for him.  Anything angry birds, he's into it.  He and Reni spend time drawing these things.

Barbies are another big hit around here.  Thanks a lot to generous people lately that have given the kids the gift of Barbies.  Helped immensely b/c we had only 3 before.  BTW, they're still all naked.  First thing they do is take their clothes off so they can take a bath w/ the Barbies and wash their hair.  Barbies are way cleaner than my kids are around here.  Summer and Little One LOVE Barbies!

We live in a place called Southills.  Emphasize on the hills part.  Nik and Logan decide to go down w/ skateboards and ripstick.  Nik was on the Ripstick.  Helmets were on which I was pleasantly surprised about.  This was the result.  Took off skin and all.  Bruising, swelling, the whole nine yards.  Boys.  A few days later, he was out riding that thing again!  Nik is my fearless one.  

More posts forthcoming.  Lots to catch up on.  Slowly but surely, I'll get there. 

S'more please

A little while back, I promised the kids s'mores.  Trouble was, for about 2 weeks straight, NC was having a horrible time with rain.  Torrential down pours in fact.  Was rough.  Couldn't let it go on, especially w/ Hershey bars sitting out in the open.  LOL.  So, did the next best thing and had s'mores in the microwave.  I know it's not the same as a fire pit but they liked it just the same. 

I think this was eaten in record time!

Reni is making sure she gets every last bit of chocolatey goodness.  Alyona is testing out that marshmallow taste.

 Mmm, makes me want to go makes some more of these things!  The kids love watching them blow up in the microwave. 

They all had marshmallows everywhere by the end of this.

Yes, I'd say it's a pit or no fire pit.  Summer sure didn't care. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mini Family Reunion

This past weekend, we had a mini family reunion at our house.  In the pouring down rain.  But, we all had fun anyhow despite the rain.  Before the reunion, we were getting ready.

Found paper lanterns on clearance at Target.  Nik wanted to do them after Bojan gave up.

Summer wnated to help but Nik kind of hogged it.  Plus, she'd rip it.

After awhile, my parents arrived bringing Christmas in July!  Yep, piles of goodies for everyone.

Another Barbie and this time not naked.  Though Nik was really upset there was no Ken for him.  Kept signing boy Barbie.   He still carries Naked Ken around.  URGHH!!   The night before, all the kids got their haircuts.  That was an experience in and of itself.

Nik with his airplane.  Crutches are there b/c Bojan's foot is so bad he literally can't walk on it.  Amputation can't come soon enough.

 Everyone chilling out before guests arrive.

 It was my Uncle's birthday and my mom got him this fish.  There is a story and joke behind it, hence why they are laughing about it.

Brother and sister still years later.  See, there is hope for siblings if they argue or pull jokes on one another.  LOL.  My uncle actually lives in the next town over so we see him a bit more often than my parents.  

Blurry but me w/ my cousins and my mom.  No pics from outside just due to the torrential downpours.

Yeh, that one on the left is a big kid himself.  LOL.  Hanging out and teaching the kids some pool.  All in all, we had a good time visiting and hope next visit is sooner rather than later.  My kids and my cousins kids all get along which makes it wonderful to hang out.  One day, they'll be a much bigger family reunion.  Just wasn't this year.  So, we hosted a little mini one which was actually really nice.  Thanks for coming everyone! 

Blessings abound!

The other day seemed like such a wonderful day.  We were being blessed one thing after another.  Really, it was amazing.  Started with my friend Amanda bringing a bag of clothes over for Summer and Little One.  Of course my little fashionistas dug right in. 

Not long into the day, another friend brought us 50 ears of corn!  We shucked and froze some.  Quite a blessing as we do enjoy corn on the cob in the summer.  Anytime frankly.

That afternoon, two boxes arrived from MO.  

Notice Nik doesn't want to look at the camera, he wants to see what's in the box instead.

Goodies arrive!  All sorts of goodies.

Cereal, Cracker Jacks, drink mixes and a case of chocolate.

The note came with the goodies.  Said for all to enjoy but that the chocolate belonged to mom and dad.  LOL.  I've kept it in my bathroom and shared half bars with the kids secretly.  Each one thinking no one else is getting one and that they are super duper special.  I know, petty but they all love feeling special.

Summer's determination to get the box open was uncanny.  Wish she'd give that much gusto in speech.  
More goodies in box 2! Cool b/c we had never tried the M & M cookies before nor the honeymaid s'mores crackers. 

And she spotted them!  Her and Little One were screaming at this point.  

Barbies.  And they have clothes on them.  That didn't last long however.  Clothes were off that evening so Barbies could take a bath.  Thanks so much Pat and family.  Really meant a lot to us and lifted some spirits.  More posts to come later.  Need to go pick up Warren's car.  Unfortunately, expenses this month have been something else.  Makes these blessings that much more meaningful.  3 brand new tires needed.  Many more repairs as well for the house.  More on that later though. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lovin' the bug racket

To continue with products we love, thought I'd share a most recent purchase that our family loves. 

Here is Max with the bug racket we got.  Now, we bought this at Walmart for $6.  Thought we must try it.  Those dog gone end caps are so enticing.  We have had so much dog gone fun w/ this stupid thing.  And, it really works!  We're actually  wanting to get more of them.  Can you imagine us at the campgrounds at Cape Hatteras next month?!  Anyhow, this was also one of our recent favorite things.  Just something to have fun with and something that works.  They also have different colors.  Now, the hard part is trying to get them NOT to zap each other. 

Soap from a goat??

Yes, I thought the same thing too originally.  I thought I'd do a few posts on some of the things I enjoy or we enjoy around here.  And no, I don't get compensated for any of the posts I'm doing or anything whatsoever I'm saying.  Trust me on that one.  These are my opinions & if you've read here long enough, you know I have plenty of opinions.  So, here goes.  A few years ago I heard of a company called Goat Milk Stuff.  Weird name is the first thing that came to mind but figured eh, this person seemed pleased and really trying something just once really won't kill anyone.  So, gave it a shot.  A few years later, I'm hooked!  And let me tell you why I'm so dog gone hooked.

One thing that truly stands out about this company is just how fast they turn around an order.  If ALL businesses would do this, there would be many, many happy customers out there.  Order arrives all neatly packed too.  Definitely can tell my kids didn't do it.  LOL.  Love that each soap comes in its individual case so you can identify it.  

This is one of my favorite products of all and let me tell you why.  I'm one of those people cursed w/ very dry skin, especially on my feet.  Flip flops in summer time are not my friend.  Alligators would have softer skin.  This is a foot scrub.  I should have taken what it looks like after it is all worn down after use.  This is a new bar.   A peppermint foot scrubby.   Now, being the tightwad frugal person I am, I decided, just lotion would work and I don't really need this.  Totally wrong thinking and my feet were awful.  Definitely one of those before pictures you'd see w/ cracked heel ads.  I never knew the difference this really made till I stopped using it.  And btw, it lasts a long time.

Obviously, their soaps are their specialty.   When you use them, you'll be able to clearly tell why.  Skin problems are NO problems with their soaps. 

 They look and smell so yummy.  Truly wished I had gotten better pictures. 

The top part has wonderful infused scents.  LOVE the different scents they have.  Though lavender, rosemary spearmint, and black raspberry are my favorites.  Just makes your shower so much more enjoyable to smell so good.  

Now, GMS makes other products.  Lots of other products.  Wish I could try a few more.  And, eventually, I will.  Look at the quality of this handmade washcloth!  Now, I know you all are saying but I can get it cheaper at Wally World or Target.  Well, you could.  True.  BUT, I guarantee you it will fall apart.  How do I know?  Because I did this too.  The ONLY wash rag I have left out of ALL 20 some that are not in ragged shreds, discolored or trashed are the two I bought from Goat Milk Stuff!  I was so impressed with that quality, I just bought another wash rag this go around.  Soft, durable, beautiful, etc.  Love them!  

Before making my own laundry soap, I bought the GMS powered detergent.  It was awesome.  Pricey until I realized it only took a tablespoon of the detergent per load.  It went really far.  Further than I originally thought it would.  But, for those that make their own soap, they also have a Fels naphtha type bar to use.  I haven't tried this yet but will eventually.  Thanks to a very kind hearted soul, I haven't had to make laundry detergent in a long, long time.  But for those that do and have allergies, great product.  

Ooh, something else I've used that we now can't live without is something called a stain stick.  I too was skeptical at first but this little thing really works!  It's the stick thing at the bottom of the box in the first picture.  We even rubbed our roman shades that had stained spaghetti sauce and Lord only knows what else on them.  Came out.  Stain stick and some water.  

I love these products because of what they do.   Also, the fact that there are no harsh chemicals really is a plus for me.  Yes, they will cost you more than getting something cheap and chemical at Wally World.  These make wonderful gifts.  In addition, this company does fundraising!  I know you adoptive parents would love that idea.  Seriously though, just wanted to share products I enjoy and use since someone shared w/ me years ago.  Also, love supporting American family owned small businesses.  Anyhow, their website is here:  Goat Milk Stuff.  Be sure to sign up for the email newsletter.  It only comes once a month but always has a great coupon with it.  This month the code was "summer."  With that, you got FREE shipping!!!  Always a great thing.  And, that does it.  I'll have to share some other things we love around here so be ready.  Not that anyone cares but sometimes I find it interesting what other people like and use and if it would benefit or fit for our family.  Hence, why I'm sharing some of the things I like.  Hope you don't mind some of these posts. 

Manic Monday

Thank goodness it's Monday!  I have never wanted a weekend to end so badly before in my life!  Time to get caught up on a bit of news here.  Some, not good at all.  Here goes a bit:

  • House guest will not be returning
  • We're all grieving yet again
  • Had a family reunion at our house this past weekend.  Rained the whole time.
  • Bojan broke his finger
  • Alyona has scoliosis
  • Irina busted her knee and has stitches
  • Need to sell things around the house again
  • Treated myself to a soap order (post on this soon)
  • My parents brought lots of goodies for the kids to play with
  • I got some beach towels that aren't shredded.  Wahoo!!!  
  • Searching for a solution for Digby and Alaska eating themselves alive.  Not fleas.  They are raw.  Asking vet tomorrow.
  • Warren has a flat tire.  I have no car today.
  • RV is not sold.  We have decided to make C-MOW more of our own and paint interior.
  • Warren's car needs lots of work.
  • Fixing up house 
  • Max has ortho appt. this week
  • Nik has speech all week
  • Calling for many followup appts. for those seen this past weekend
  • Waiting to hear from Shriners on housing for Warren and Bojan
  • Going to Jordan Lake this weekend
  • Having art classes here on Tuesday
  • Need to go to grocery store but am totally drained
  • Got a generous gift in the mail from MO the other day-- lots of goodies and a gift card
  • Need to initiate several IEP meetings
  • Need to decide on soccer
  • Need to get Little One evaluated
  • Need to send off testing
  • Need to fill out eval for Nik
  • Tired for obvious reasons lately
  • Need to make Alyona an opthalmology appt.
  • Need to make Bojan a FB account
  • Way behind on emails and the like
  • Getting more organized day by day
  • We're all tired of rain
  • Sun is supposed to shine all week long
  • Going to get some pictures printed off

And way more going on.  But, one by one, we'll get some of it done.  Actually relieved we are not going anywhere this week for a change.  We're going to the Lake this weekend but for the most part, staying here this week and think we need to.  More posts later today but first need to get some of this to do list to done!  Hope everyone's week is going smoothly.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Medically, we're not doing the best this weekend

I'll tell more of our weekend soon.  Well, start w/ the simple stuff.  Friday, we were supposed to go to a carnival.  Didn't make it.  Rain out of course. So, instead we go to get haircuts.  Lots, and lots of hair cut off on Friday.   Summer looks so cute!  As if she wasn't cute enough already.  Mine is all chopped off as well.  Now, then we had a family reunion here on Saturday and I'll do a separate post on that one.  That brings us to Saturday evening.  Ready to go to bed.  Late.  12:30 at night.  Irina comes out with blood profusely coming out of her knee.  Most definitely an ER visit.  Warren got dressed and took her.  They didn't get home till 5:30 am!!  When she left, she took a stack of paper towels.  Bled through it.  Then, a diaper in the van.  Got to ER and they gave her stacks of gauze to bleed through and wait.  They met a man who had walked from Alaska.  Yeh, interesting night at the ER.  She got x-rayed.  Nothing broken so lots of cleaning and stitches.  

They get home.  Now, let me back up at what happened earlier on Saturday evening w/ Bojan.  See, he wants an ipod touch.  We owe him $65.  Yes, we had to borrow from our son.  Anyhow, Yana has an old ipod touch w/ a broken screen.  Screens cost around $65 to $80 to repair depending upon where you send it off.  So, told him he could work the $15 off and we'd get it fixed for him to have.  He went to work scrubbing the walls, the shower ,etc. of the upstairs bathroom.  Went ot check on him.  He had scrubbed alright that he said he was getting the mold off.  Umm, he ripped up ALL the caulking!!!  Bojan came downstairs a little while later and said he hurt his hand cleaning.  That he popped it back into place.  I put ice on it and said we'll watch it.  I mean how bad could he hurt it cleaning.  Well, never got the entire story.  Today, Warren took him to Urgent Care b/c it was still swollen.  Turns out, broken joint.  On the hand that's already missing a finger and the one he needs for playing trumpet.  So, ortho to see this week it is.  For now, splinted up.  

While I was at home and Warren was at the doc, Alyona came to me and said look at this.  I was scared at first, I admit.  Curve in her spine that was beyond obvious.  Headed back to doc w/ her.  Warren took us as he had to get an air compressor (as if we hadn't spent enough $$ at doc's) to get his tire fixed.  Flat tire.  Took x-rays.  See, this was sudden onset scoliosis.  appeared almost overnight.  No exaggeration.  We have pics from July 4th, just 10 days ago and no curve or anything.  We are being referred to a spine specialist right away.  See, I was told most cases that curve to the left have a pathology behind them.  I was also told MRI is needed but she wants doc to order from specialist clinic.  Most likely, surgery is in her future.  What is scary is the sudden onset.  That part is the not so good part.  Bojan has mild scoliosis.  No big deal.  I won't go into details as my older kids read this.  The doc that saw her today even suggested we call Duke first thing tomorrow since she is an established patient there for ortho already.  They could get her in faster in other words.  They don't want to wait on this one. 

Not the weekend we expected.  In addition to all this news, we received word house guest will not be returning.  We're heartbroken once again.  More on all of it later.  Trying to catch my breath this weekend but feel like I'm swimming and sucking in water.  I know the week will move forward and we'll have some answers soon.  With Bojan's amputation surgery coming up soon, would love simple answers for sure.  More to come.