Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Year Since She Arrived in our Lives!

Started this in January.  Got sidetracked.  So, here goes.  It's truly hard it's been a year.  So many things to say about our youngest daughter.  This past year was life changing for her.  Best word I can use to describe it.  She went through a lot but in the end has come out just fine.   Sofie is 4yo.  She is generally a happy kid unless she thinks you have something she's supposed to have.  Then you might as well count on the Hulk to visit.  Or, if you decide to feed her eggs.  Same reaction.  Most the time though, a toddler growing day by day and learning fast. She has learned so much in this last year.  Sofie is learning how to talk.  With severe speech apraxia, this will be an ongoing lesson.  But she is working really hard and coming really far.  Sofie is working on fine motor control.  She still has her tremors as we call them.  Though MRI was relatively clean, she still has tremors.  I doubt it is FASD (she is dx'd with it) but neurologist is somewhat stumped as well.  For now, working on better control for her hands.  Still do not let her carry her own plates.  Never ends quite right though love the gusto she has to always want to try to be independent.  Mimics her older brothers and sisters quite often.  Love it. 

Sofie loves to be loved and loves to give love.  She is very affectionate and sweet with her baby dolls but in the same token, will slam them on the floor.  So, you never know.  Sofie likes Curious George and Elmo.  She is a huge dog fan.  She will eat pretty much anything you give her.  Well, except eggs.  We're still fighting that battle.  Sofie does self- stimming still and feel that will continue.  Yet, she doesn't do it at bed.  I find that strange b/c all my other self-stimmers would especially do it at bed.  We are working still on getting that finger out of her mouth and at this point, it HAS to come out or she will never have the ability to talk.  We may have to resort to no-no's which I really don't want to do.  We've tried just about everything though.

Sofie has come really far in a year's time.  Yes, I know she has a very long way to go but we couldn't be more pleased with how she is doing.  I wish I could express the love we feel for her.  I really do.  She is so very loved by everyone in the family and has most definitely found her place here.  And, not afraid to tell you either.  LOL.  She is very loud, outspoken, and full of life.  Only time she is quiet is when she doesn't feel well.  Just wanted you all to know how she was doing.   Now, time for pictures!  So many I wasn't able to show all last year and it drove me crazy b/c I was head over heals in love with her.  Wanted to share her with the world.  As you know, I'm not all that patient.  I'll do a separate post with some more pictures.

Sofie's very first picture at our house. It was her first night there.  She was nervous as you can see in her eyes.  We figured we'd see if she would eat.  She polished off the bowl of beef stroganoff.  She was taking it all in.  All of it, everyone, everything.  We knew we'd have to keep our distance at first as to not scare her or smother her.  There were so many unknowns at this point in time.  

Sofie with Alyona.  Getting to know you.

Sofie and Nik.  Nik was elated to have another sister to play with.  He really was. 

Sofie loved when Max would come home from school and carry her around in the box.  Now, he throws her in the air and carries her around on his shoulders. 

The bond was forming, no doubt.  And yes, I had to buy them matching outfits.  Went to Target and they were so happy to dress alike.  This was them trying it on.  

Oh, there were so many new things to learn about her and so much to get used to as well.  And more changes that came about as you know.  I can't wait to share more of them.  More posts to follow with a year in review catch up pictures of Sofie. 

Arbor Day-- time to get trees

So, even though we plan on moving, we still love trees.  And an excuse to get out of the house and get some.  On Arbor Day the other week, our local park was giving away trees. They do this every Arbor Day and every member of the household can get one.  now, don't get too excited.  By trees we mean seedlings that are just a couple of inches high with roots.  You have to start somewhere though, right?  Took Alyona and Sofie and went with a friend and met friends there.  Such a splendid day.  Could not have picked a more gorgeous day to go to the park.  We got our trees but then also played on the playground for a bit.  We could not stay long that day as we had to get home and do other errands.  The time away though was well spent.  Took some pictures of Sofie and Alyona while there.  Obviously, other kids were in school.

Sofie in all her spunk.  Love her to pieces even if she drives me crazy some days.

Alyona enjoying the slide.

Sofie loved climbing up and down these things.

Don't know why I love this shot but I do.  She looks SO grown up to me in this picture.

Alyona coming down the slide on her knees.  Shh, don't tell the neurosurgeon please.

We went with friends but try not to post of others.  Was a nice group of kids there and Alyona and Sofie got plenty of play time with friends.  And you can tell by the sunshine how beautiful a day it was.  This upcoming week we have a very busy week planned.  But, fun kind of busy and learning as well.  Alyona is starting Spanish and she is SO excited about it.  Well, got to go.  Trying to hang up pictures today and get little things done.  Bojan is at scuba class.  Max has a friend over, Yana is going on a date in a few hours, and the rest of us are just relaxing for one last weekend.  I think our next free weekend doesn't come till June!  Lazy, rainy day and we're loving it.  No plans are sometimes the best ones.  Even got the house cleaned up this morning.  Hope everyone has a pleasant weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2014

How Do You Know You're Done Adopting?

Okay, that dreadful question of how do you know?  How do you know when you're done adopting?  Does it just happen automatically or is it some feeling that comes over you?  What in the world is it and how can you possibly know when you have so many orphans in the world?  So many questions and truly lots of different answers depending upon who you ask.  Umm, if you ask Warren, he will tell you we were done after Irina and Max.  LOL.  Actually, going from two working adults to two kids overnight was an adjustment.  I'm not going to lie.  Think that is why we waited almost four years before we decided to host again.  Just had got this feeling that maybe we should have more kids but didn't know if we were ready yet.  So, why not host a few.  Yeh, that will teach us!  Hosted three of them and adopted Yana and Alex.  while that adoption was dragging on in Russia, I was actually looking on the computer at more kids.  Shh.  That's how I found Bojan.  So I knew even before going to Russia that we were not done.  In addition, when we stood in Yana's orphanage with a group of girls in tears, we knew we'd go back for another one.  Especially, when Warren turned to me and said "so what 6 are we bringing home?"  I'm sure he blocked that part out.  LOL.  8 months later we were back in Serbia getting Bojan.  After seeing all the kids there, we knew we were not done yet.

But, I started advocating and thought we should settle for a bit.  And we did.  We added onto the house, got all the kids settled.  And while advocating, came across Alyona's picture and I knew we weren't done yet.  Sure enough, Alyona and Nik came home in 2006. Now, with all their extensive issues medically, we truly focused on that for awhile and not even thinking about other kids.  Yet, I don't think we ever said truly and with certainty, we were done.  Just had other things to think about.  Well, 2009 (end of it), we were told of a situation and even wrote  a dear birthmother letter overnight for a baby.  Obviously, not selected however, at that moment in time, we truly realized we probably weren't done growing our family.  That's when we started looking at some other countries and other kids available.  Contacted our agency and decided on Bulgaria.  Found a set of twins for a referral and Summer.  Declined referral of the twins and found Logan and Reni.  They came home in Nov. of 2011.  And after the plane ride home from you know where, we knew or thought we knew we were done.  Said we were getting too old for all this stuff.

So, my focus turned more toward advocating and helping others once they returned home.  And of course, getting our three newest settled.  Felt content but still wasn't quite saying done altogether yet wasn't looking for any kids whatsoever.  Then, that's when someone asked us to keep their child for respite and possibly adoption.  And this didn't happen once, but twice in 2013.  And of course Sofie is now officially adopted into our family as of October 2013.  Houseguest had to leave.

And that brings me to this topic again.  When houseguest was here, for the first time in our lives, our family felt 110% complete.  We were all content with our places in the family, everyone had someone, we were all happy (for the most part, this is real life people), and it just felt SO very right.  12 kids and we were happy, we were complete, we were done.  Had NO desire to look at photolistings, NO desire to inquire on any situations, referred all new situations to others, etc.  We looked at our family and were without a doubt complete as a family and done.  Houseguest was content being the youngest and having the other 2 stooges as very close sisters sharing everything together.  The bond they had was just inseparable and it truly was tragic and devastating to all when she left.  It felt like someone in our family had died.  But nothing we could do.

So, this brings me back to those pesty how do you know you're done questions again.  Are we done?  Before I could say without a doubt YES!  Today, I can honestly say I am not sure.  Like I said, last year both of us felt done.  No desire for more kids and our family felt right.  Was hard to explain but we simply knew we were done.  Now, for the past few months we have been grieving and mourning our loss.  And yes, it is indeed a loss.  The kids still ask from time to time if she is ever coming back.  That is hard.  Does that mean we just wanted to 'fill a void.'  No, not a chance.  Nothing would ever replace her.  Nothing.  Anyone who's gone through this type of experience and loss can tell you nothing will ever fill that void or replace it.  But we are starting to really move forward, feel different.  Yet, I thought we'd feel done again.  I don't.  In my gut, I feel someone is missing.  And who knows, maybe I'll always have that feeling.  I just can't say.  I can say I have looked here and there again.  Listening to situations that come about.  Not acting on anything.  Just observing at this point.  I do not know where this will lead if anywhere.  Probably lead me to being banned from the computer if Warren reads this. LOL.  Seriously though, I think each family knows when they are done.  They have a sense of completeness.  Of looking at other things like who will go to college and things of that nature.  At this point in time, we are done.  As of now.  Can I say without a doubt we are 110% done like before?  No.  Put it this way, we actually do have a current homestudy.  Will anything be done with it?  I can't answer that.  All I can say is we go with the flow here.  Right now, we are concentrating on moving, kids graduating high school, kids' sports, getting Nik and Sofie talking and much, much more.  I will say IF, and big if here, the right situation would arise, we may be interested. I think each family knows when to say when.  I really do. I don't think there's any magic to it.  In your heart, you just know what feels right.  And in your wallet to be honest.  Remember, these kids still have to eat and go to school.  And many teens can eat more than you can ever imagine.  Be honest with yourself as to when to say when.  But in your heart, I think everyone knows when there family is it.  When you are done forming your forever family and it truly becomes your family with no add ons and it is truly forever. 

Thoughtful Thursday

Umm, this will have to be a condensed version of just a few kids.  Not because they all didn't do something thoughtful but because I truly have been in a fog and somewhat out of it with the vertigo, allergies, sinus stuff, and neck spasms.  Good news, neck spasms gone and vertigo is MUCH better.  So, here are a few I remember

Sofie-- I was really feeling rough and my kids new I was spinning.  Sofie grabs me by the hand and walks me to the bedroom saying "I help mommy.  I help mommy."  She would also come over, lean in and give me a kiss on the couch.  Very thoughtful of her

Summer-- she saw me working on hard boiled eggs the other day and asked if she could help.  Now, Summer has lots of issues but delightful nature.  This little egg peeling was VERY hard for her. But she did it till every single shell was off.  I did the entire pot but she stayed with that one egg and got it done. She was so proud.  Was thoughtful she wanted to help out.

Max-- yesterday was his birthday.  He comes home no matter how tired and entertains Sofie who waits for him to pick her up and take her all over the house.  On his shoulders usually.  Thoughtful he was thinking of someone else on his birthday besides himself.

there were other thoughtful things this week to be sure.  Just I really am on another level of exhaustion lately.  Great news is it's temporary and I know that.  All things considered, I got off easy this winter!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dentist and Doctor

Today is Wednesday.  Phew, busy.  And, I couldn't drive.  Let me explain.  Yesterday, I woke up dizzy.  Today, very dizzy and couldn't move my neck.  So, knew I'd have to go to the doctor.  A friend was my chauffeur.  We dropped Alyona & her daughter off at art class.  Then, I was taken to the doc and dropped off.  Long wait.  While all this was happening, kids were picked up from 3 different schools.  Glad my van had gas.  LOL.  Well, to a point.  See, they had a dentist appointment today.  6 of them.  Anyhow, on to my doc visit.  He looked inside my ear and told me some big long word that I had to do with my ears.  In addition to that, the rocks inside my ear/ head are off balance.  Vertigo.  And, neck spasms.  Sounds fun.  It's not.  He wanted to give me prednisone. I said no.  So, Flonase, antivert and time.  3 days to two weeks for healing!  Yikes!  Off to the dentist

Last week, we visited the dentist w/ 5 of the kids.  All clear.  No cavities, no issues whatsoever.  Could we really do 0 to 11?  Yep!  6 went today and no cavities, no issues.  With a report like that, lollipops in the car ride home.  I know, terrible.  Was great news to be sure and hope they keep it up.  We've had a great run with no issues and their teeth. 

Tomorrow, Thursday, Logan and Alex have a soccer game.  We sign for our taxes in the morning.  Oh, and it's Max's birthday!  Hard to believe he'll be 19yo.  Need to make a cake or at least some cupcakes.  We'll see.  Maybe he'll get a card or two in the mail.  That would be wonderful.  enjoy your night.  Have banana bread in the oven I need to check on. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The start of soccer

So, soccer season has now officially started.  In fact, Alex and Logan are actually about half way through theirs.  They somewhat out grew the other league so needed something different this year.  We were not able to get on the league we wanted so decided to try something totally out of our element....indoor soccer.  It's in Raleigh.  30 minutes away from us.  Consensus is, we don't really like it.  We all miss the fresh air.  We miss having the same coach.  We miss having players that actually know each others name and we miss sportsmanship where players help opposite team members if they fall.  I know it's competitive and I get that.  But both boys said they don't want to play again. They are learning skills and things but just not their cup of tea.  And that's okay.  You won't see pictures either because it is surrounded by Plexiglas.  I try to take pictures and it just doesn't work out so well.  They play tomorrow, Thursday. 

Now, this is Summer on her first day of soccer practice this past Monday.  We can honestly say we missed going here.  The people, the fun, the parents actually talking to each other.  It was all awesome.  In Alex & Logan's league, there isn't much cheering and parents don't even say hello to each other.  Here, we're all asking how each other is doing, I watched another friend's child while she went for a walk with her dog,  and got to catch up with old friends and how their kids were doing and what they were up to.  Time passes quickly.  Next time I'll be walking the field.  I did happen to play soccer with Summer and Sofie for awhile while Reni practiced.  Again, it's just nice.  So, the soccer season has begun.  We're ready.  Their first game is April 5th.  And, you better believe we'll be out there.  I'll help with the concession stand here and there.  I love the atmosphere of Upwards and love how the kids have fun.  They really do enjoy.  Though Reni has already asked if she can try other sports next year.  Of course we said yes.   But, we'll miss her playing for sure.  Sofie is really looking forward to playing next season.  Watch out soccer season, we're ready this year!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday madness

Yes, it is not just a manic Monday post now.  LOL.  Busy day.  Okay, so Logan stayed home because he had a fever. Thankfully, just a fever and exhaustion.  Nothing more.  Get a call to take Bojan the other crutch because he can barely walk.  Come home, talk to the prosthetist and Bojan is to call him after school.  Fine.  Call from the school a bit later to come pick up Alex because he just threw up and has a fever now.  Delightful.  Off to the school I just came from.  In between this, multiple calls with the accountant on some confusing tax issues we have.  Well, not confusing but she just needed me to make sure everything was exact and explanations.  Adoption related.  Remember, we had one successful and one failed.  My accountant is going to be well versed.  Between this and the international ones, she's a wealth of knowledge.  Anyhow, more calls to docs and other places.  More stuff to try to get done.  Alyona NOT cooperating with the reading comprehension passages we were doing today.  She is seriously driving me crazy this year.  We'll muddle through though.  Made chili and mad rush to get younger kids ready for soccer practice. My friend picked them up as Alex still had a fever and you must somewhat watch with him b/c he and Max go WAY high.  Like 105/ 106 high.  Need to make sure they're stable.  He was only at 100.7 so we were plenty good.  My two boys run high fevers when they get sick.  Warren got home and we headed out for soccer.  Nice to chat with some other parents we hadn't seen in forever.  Nik found a friend and had a blast with him.  So happy.  Sofie was a whiner. Let's just say she's hit the terrible two's and hit them hard!  Remember, kids with FASD are typically half their chronological age in behavioral and emotional and social growth.  So, terrible two's it is.  But, overall, they all did great.  We stopped by Dollar General to pick up Alex some apple juice and 7-up.  Home to baths and homework.  Now, getting ready to watch Castle.  Busy but not too bad.  Working on more posts for tomorrow.  Going to ENT in the morning for Irina. 

Manic monday

Where did our weekend go?!  Playing catch up once again but we'll start off with Monday. 

  • Logan is home sick today.  Just a fever but exhausted.
  • Sofie has hit the terrible two's. (remember, kids with FAS tend to be half their chronolocial age behaviorally and developmentally)
  • If I hear another temper tantrum, I may have one myself
  • Digby got groomed and feels great
  • House has been just still lately in regards to potential buyers
  • Lowering house price this week b/c we really need to sell
  • Fixing RV up
  • Max painted RV bathroom this past weekend, and did some maintenance on it
  • Max and Yana are still job hunting
  • Track meet this week
  • Soccer practice this week
  • Speech therapy this week
  • Irina goes to ENT this week
  • Sofie's social security card came in wrong so need to go fix it
  • Going to take a few of the kids to get some shots
  • Bojan starts Scuba classes this week (last week they couldn't do it)
  • Desperately want this winter to end
  • Making all our summer plans/ vacation plans
  • Max's birthday is this week
  • Started printing off photos and getting some in frames
More going on but keeping busy today.  Have soccer practice tonight for Reni, Nik and Summer.  They're excited.  Making chilli for dinner and hope tomorrow's appointment for Irina will be uneventful.  We know it won't but can hope.   We are really getting a lot of organizing done around here and proud to say there is much progress.  Can't believe it myself.  More posts but for now, need to get some things done with Alyona.  Enjoy your week everyone.