Saturday, January 4, 2014

Surprise visit to Santa

So the other week, we went to Meadow Lights.  Rode the train, got candy at the candy shop, etc.  Came home and we were pretty tired.  But, a friend called from her church and said you must bring the kids down here NOW to see Santa. I mean we had literally just taken off our shoes.  Reluctantly, I loaded them up and went.  Not that I didn't want to go to the church or see people or what have you, but simply, I was dead tired at that point.  Glad I did not stay home!  They had a lot of fun and smiles were worth it.  And, they even had gifts for all the kids.  How awesome is that?!  Even Yana's friend that came with us.  Only deal was, if you got a present, you HAD to sit on Santa's lap for a picture.  All the teens had fun w/ that though.  Thinking something is stupid truly brings out some good smiles. 

Yeh, this is as far as Sofie got this season w/ Santa.  Every time before this it was just a high 5 so this is a success.  

Nik knows the routine by now and is happy to oblige.

Summer's smiles seriously can't get any bigger.

And we even managed to get the teens to sit on Santa's lap.

Alex was willing and able.  You know, for a present.  LOL.

Is she at all red?

And this goes to show that  you are never too old for Santa.

Alyona, pre-surgery and a happy time.

Oh yeh, Santa sitting was worth it mom!  Her hair was a wreck that day after so much activity.  Love that look of pure excitement though.

Not sure, is Santa or Bojan bigger here?  BTW, Max was at home working on the charcoal b/c at this time, we still hadn't eaten yet.  Crazy, crazy day we had.

Summer trying to hold her gift while looking at others.

What?!  More make up?  Seriously though, the kids, old and young alike, had a great time.  Was very sweet of the church to invite us and us to be able to go last minute.  Loved it.  This was after our afternoon/evening at Meadow Lights.  Needless to say, the young ones slept great that night.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Let's Go To the Movies

Well, close to it.  I'm catching up on all my posts. I think this is #4 for today.  Hey, not bad doing 4 to 6 posts each day.  This will be short simply b/c I need to go to bed soon and prepare for tomorrow.  Visitors come early at Chaos Manor for whatever reason known to man.  So, this post is back at Christmas time.   We got a package in the mail.

Typical Chaos Manor scene when a box comes.  Who gets to open it?

Logan holding up part of the surprise.  A giant movie box.  Had all sorts of movie candies in it along w/ a gift cert to Redbox and popcorn.  Kids were thrilled.  Thank you Uncle Chris and Aunt Mindy!

Not sure what Bojan is doing to Summer's head but she doesn't seem to care one bit.  We enjoyed this gift as it is something we can use ongoing.   Redbox is awesome b/c it goes far in terms of movie rentals.  Now, if only the candy would have lasted till all the movies were watched.  Oh well.  I will say this, the kids are truly appreciative of the gifts they receive.  

Time to sign off.  More posts tomorrow.  hoping to knock out at least 4 more.  Hey, lots happening around here and wait till next week.  Oy!  Yes, that whole sell the house thing is indeed true.  These guys will have plenty of space as will extra guests when we have company or host or whatever may be thrown our way.  Hope everyone's weekend is great.  A bit chilly here but don't tell my kids that. 

Irina's Birthday

So very hard to believe I have a 21 year old daughter now.  Really, it is.  She came home to us at 6.5 yo wearing size 2T.  Tiny little thing.  Though she's had her challenges, and given us a few as well, she has matured into a compassionate young lady who graduated high school.  She is entering adulthood with gusto and learning a lot about life.  It was with a heavy heart we could not be with her on her birthday.  Irina turned 21 December 27th.  The day we went to Duke for Alyona's surgery.  But, she took in stride as any mature adult would do.  My wonderful friend Rebecca though was not going to allow her not to have a cake on her birthday.  So, she made her a cake! 

Her brother Logan helping her light the candles.

So many candles for that little cake.  Hmm, sign you're getting older!

Just a few more to go and then we have it!

Look at that smile.  Irina really has come so very far in life.  We don't know what the future holds for her but just like the candles, it's bright!


Irina blowing out the candles.  This was sweet of Rebecca to remember and do for her while we were at the hospital.  Happy Birthday Irina!  May all your dreams come true and may you enjoy this next chapter of your life.

I won! I won!

Okay, so some of you know I have won a prize before.  The prize I won in the past was a neti pot from Dr. Oz.  As exciting as that was, I got a notice today that I won some from Elizabeth Arden.  Now, I know that lady doesn't hand out neti pots.  LOL.  It said my prize would be delivered in 4 to 6 weeks.  How exciting!  Hey, this is as exciting as it gets for a stay at home mom.  In addition, the three prizes they were giving away really do rock.  Take a look!  You can't beat those three prizes and well, at least I'll smell good.  Seriously though, I was happy when I found that out today.  People do win those contests on Facebook.

Today.  Today was busy.  Alyona is having issues post op.  We called the surgeon.  He knows we wouldn't call for nothing and together, he and Warren were trouble shooting so to speak.  We both knew it was NOT infection.  See, she's having headaches bad at the back of her head.  Especially, when she gets up.  Vomiting intermittently.  VERY low grade fever here and there.  Nothing of concern w/ fever.  Dizzy.  Also, ringing of the ears.  Now, she came home very anemic due to blood loss but the body should replenish that in 3 weeks & doc said no need for a transfusion.  But, he did believe the anemia in her is causing some of these symptoms post op.  She needs to stay super hydrated.  In addition we filled the Valium this evening.  Apparently, there are a lot of folks in this county hyped up on Valium this evening b/c that stuff was hard to get.  Won't even get into that story.  Geez.  Alyona goes back next Friday.  If things don't improve by then, we'll see next step.  Ironically, her back rarely hurts her now.  And she was so very happy to be able to shower today.  Can't say I blame her. 

Irina and I went to the first Walgreens (again, don't ask), and found some Christmas stuff for 75% off.  Got a few items but not much at all.  Kids hung out here today.  Tomorrow, we have a visitor coming that we see every year at Camp Cheerio.  He is a soccer player (does it professionally), and is coming to teach Alex and Logan some tips.  Should be fun.  I'm making a big turkey dinner for all of us after a hard day playing soccer and running errands.  Then on Sunday, Warren's parents are coming to celebrate Christmas with us.  That also happens to be Warren's birthday and Bojan's birthday.  Monday is school again.  So my during break to do list is now scrapped.  Hey, we gave it a shot...or not.  Well, got to go.  Just had to share I actually won something.  More picture posts to come. 

Nik's New Implants

The other day, as soon as I got home from the hospital with Alyona, I had to fight with Advanced Bionics in order to beat the end of the year deadline to get Nik's implants.  I'll tell that story elsewhere.  For now, here are some pics of when he got the new Naida implants. 

Nik getting ready to dig into that box.

Where to start first.

Lots and lots and lots of parts.  And we have to know what each and every single piece does and how to trouble shoot it.  Generally we know.  But this is a brand new product and it even works a bit differently so like we're learning from scratch.  There are not three program choices any more and there are three different types of batteries even.  Again, lots to learn and read.

Nik is happy as he is about ready to turn them on.  Or so we thought.  

The look of anticipation on his face says it all.

And on it goes.  This device is much lighter than the other ones he has.  Still great we have back ups though now.  That is awesome.

 And they did NOT work.  AB did not program them like they are supposed to.  Wonder if they're still bitter about this past week and all that transpired.  Yeh, still haven't gotten to that story yet.  So, long story short, now we have to go to UNC and get them programmed.  Waiting for the call back from UNC.  Called them yesterday.  Getting ready to call again.  It's quick to program them.  So hoping to be able to get in some time today.  Willing to wait.  

He tried again, hopeful even though we knew they wouldn't work.  Reni wondering why they're not working.  

Nik loves the implants.  Once Warren feels better, he'll post the videos of him getting to open the box.  I put them on facebook.  Anyhow, Nik can't wait to try these out and neither can we.  Can't wait to see what this new technology will do for him.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Butterflies and balloons

Okay, so not really butterflies but sounded better than moths and balloons, right?  This is my 6th post today.  Phew.  See what happens when you must stay home for a few get caught up here and there.  Well, not really but I'm giving it a good run.

Nik with the moth.  Caught in the house.  Not sure I want to know why.

A close up shot.  Sofie is waiting with her hand out as you can see.

Big brother Max practicing his balloon art.  Kind of cool to be honest.  And yes, Summer was still in her pajamas.  Been kind of lax around here this week due to all the medical stuff happening.

Sofie with her dog she asked Max to make.  She was so happy and was trying to get Alaska to play with it.  

Nik with his giraffe.  Later he drew on it to make it look like a giraffe.

Summer also with her giraffe.  So proud.  They all love Max and was sweet of him to do that for his brother and sisters.  

We have been at home but think we'll venture out tomorrow.  Alyona will of course stay here.  Need to return a colander I ordered off Amazon.  Arrived broken.  We also need to return some things to Target and get different sizes for Reni and new size for Nik in shoes.  A friend gave us some coupons to McDonalds and we may just have to use those as well as a surprise.  As soon as Warren and Alyona are able, we're going to Kanki for our Adoption Celebration of Sofie.  A tradition at this house.  Kids love it.  As do we.  Anyhow, lots going on here but trying to stay sane from it all.  A friend of the teens is coming over Saturday most likely.  A professional soccer player and he's going to give Alex and Logan some pointers before their season starts in the spring.  Nice.  Figured I'd make a turkey with all the fixings for him to eat with us.  Sunday, my inlaws are coming for Christmas.  I have not done all the shopping yet so need to add that to the list of things to do tomorrow.  I am ready to get back to a normal week.  Hoping that will be next week but time will tell. Much more to come but after 6 posts today, time for a break.  Max and I are going to watch some futurama and chill out.  Little kids are in bed.  Warren is on and off sleeping with pain meds.  Good night all.  Be back tomorrow and hopefully knock out a few more posts.

Get Well Wishes

It has been wonderful to receive support in many forms for Alyona.  As our surgeon said, this is one of the worst surgeries you can have in regards to pain.  This is tough.  Alyona has been a trooper.  Friends and family have gotten us through it all this past week.  The surgeries, scheduling, etc. was more like planning for battle.  But, we did it.  We made it through.  Still muddling the waters though after. 

A friend of ours named Cathy made this delicious homemade chicken noodle soup.  It could not have come at a better time that day as I was really having a rough day and just trying to make it through.  Had not even thought of dinner.  Lifesaver she was!  She even brought desserts as in plural.  This soup was devoured by my kids.  Really was the best I've ever tasted!  Cant' wait to get the recipe.  Was perfect for after surgery patients as well.  She was even thoughtful at bringing paper plates and bowls so we wouldn't have to do the dishes.  How awesome is that?!

Alyona getting ready to open a package she had gotten just after being in the hospital.

Everyone curious.  

Alyona received a get well bear from Nana and Poppop (my mom & dad).  She said it even says Get Well Soon on it mom.  

While at the hospital, our good friend Kathy came by to visit her and have lunch with me.  Was so sweet of her and nice to have a conversation without beeping machines in my ears.  She brought Alyona a matroshka doll and some chocolates and a mug.  Made Alyona's day though she didn't enjoy it at the time (she was in quite a bit of pain when she visited).  Later in the evening when she felt better she said Mom, that was so nice of Kathy to think of me.  I'm going to drink out of this mug at home.  Can I have candy after I take the pain medicine?  

Thanks to all who have made the surgical patients in this house feel more special and to smile during a time they are really hurting.  Makes a heart feel good. 

School surprise and looming in the room

Wow, 4th post today.  Watch out!  On a roll and determined to play catch up.  Some of the kids are downstairs peeling and slicing all the apples for homemade applesauce.  We even have ice cream to go on top of it. Yum.  These are some pics before Christmas. 

Nik with a gift he got from school.

A new football!  He was excited.

She's a nut.

Summer signing candy for whatever reason I don't know.

Summer showing me she can do the rainbow loom bracelets like her sibs.  And for someone like Summer, this is pretty incredible.

Kids working hard on some new bracelets.

Summer, quite proud of herself.  Background is Reni trying to fit too small of shoes on Bojan.  His feet grew and he has no feet!  LOL.  We need to get him some new shoes for sure. 

Camera hog Nik wanted a picture.

I know you can't tell exactly what this is.  This is Sofie with her new towel.  See, ALL my kids get a monogrammed towel after being adopted.  I get them from the Company Store.  Yes, pricey but the ONLY towels that have ever lasted in this house.  Ever!  Max & Irina still have theirs from years upon years ago.  Still look as good.  Great quality.  And, if there IS a problem, company has always been great about fixing it.  So, now that Sofie is officially ours, it was time for her to have her own towel with her name on it.  She was supposed to lift it up and show you the name but well, that didn't happen.  LOL.  Ordered some new ones for the other kids as well w/ some gift money we were given.  Makes it easier on the bathrooms as well as on trips.  Lessens confusion ten fold. 

Alyona Update

How is Alyona doing post op?  Get this question quite a bit.  She had surgery on December 27th.  Not quite been a week yet. 

This was Alyona before the surgery.  We have a long way to go to get back to that smile again.  This is a very rough surgery to recovery from.  Not going to lie.  The whole thing has been hard on Alyona and on us all.  Surgery is never easy.  This is something else.  On top of that, Warren--other primary caregiver-- had surgery and is unable to help with anything.  Reni had surgery too.  It has been a very challenging week.  We are beyond grateful for the best friends anyone could ask for.  When things looked bleaked, friends would step up and step in to help.  Thought I could do it all by myself and I was dead wrong.  We needed the help.  The meals, trips to stores, trips to pharmacies, trips to multiple hospitals b/c surgeries were at three different hospitals to complicate matters.  My father inlaw came down to take Warren to his surgery and stay the night with him.  Many people came together.  Friends took some of the kids to various places to keep minds occupied.  

Through all this, Alyona has remained peaceful.  She knows the outcome.  She knows this had to be done.  She knows she can not bend like before and will have to find a new way to do things.  Today, she has thrown up twice.  Weaning her off the pain meds will have to become priority.  This happens to her.  Her little body can't take all the meds in her.  From the tethered cord surgery, she did better once weaned off the meds.  It's a double edged sword.  She's in more pain from vomiting but if given pain meds, doesn't work that well.  Even at the hospital, day 2 or 3, they had ONLY given her regular Tylenol the entire day and she did just fine.  It's decisions like these that make it tough on patient & caregiver.  We weigh all the options.  She is walking around more which is both good and bad as she needs to stay still more.  She is bored and I know that.  My kids are used to moving around a lot.  Especially, the ones with FAS.  Overall though, Alyona is doing great with all this.  She really is.  Proud of her.  Onto healing. 

Max's Drawings

Well, haven't done these in awhile.  And, have more but just haven't done them for awhile.  And, no pics of Max lately.  So, need to fix that problem I do believe.

No, this is not his jacket.  He was trying to be funny and try on one of the girls' jackets.  So, snapped a picture of course.  He was not amused.

One of his more recent drawings.

He takes long sheets of old printer paper.  This is the back end of the truck and he started on teh fork lift then too.  

A little closer view of the front end of the truck.  He does everything with a pencil.  Or, the fine tip markers.  Have to get more of his art work pictures posted soon.