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gate, crate, bait and umm...update!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Pop," Shad says.
"Bed," Maddie replies.
"No, Maddie," Shad patiently replies. "Not bed...Pop. Try again."
It's a daily game. Shad sits in the recliner with a bag of M&Ms working with Maddie to help her overcome the one linguistic challenge she just can't seem to master. Rhyming.
We haven't really been able to put our finger on why she can't rhyme. At first we thought it was that she simply couldn't grasp the concept...so we gave her examples. Nope.
Then we thought it might be that she couldn't hear the sounds, but she can copy what we're saying nearly verbatim.
Then I had an epiphany.


reckless abandon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Sunday is 'Orphan Sunday' - a time when many churches around the country may talk about orphans and their needs. But will we be doing anything about it? I stumbled across this blog this morning and realized I couldn't say it any better. Instead of rewriting what Adeye has already so eloquently said, I ask you to read her post...and consider your response. Alek, Anya, Nick and Maddie are amazing kids - and there are thousands more just like them languishing in orphanages around the world. What can you do to help the ones we had to leave behind? - Tami
It’s Orphan Awareness Month. Again.

Another month set aside for the church to show orphan related videos, hear testimonies relevant to adoption and orphan care, and an opportunity to listen to sermons where orphans are [possibly] mentioned.
I must confess. Many times I ask myself, “What’s the point of it?” “Is having another time set aside to create an awareness of the orphan crisis even worth the effort?” Is it? Will it make a profound difference?


there is such a thing as a free lunch

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I have two things going on in my life right now. One of them is writing. I'm writing...a lot. More than I thought I would, which I suppose is a good thing, but quite frankly makes me feel like I really haven't left the paper at all.
The second thing is my compulsion, nay, lets call it an 'obsession' with saving money - lots and lots of money. You have to remember that since I've officially left the workplace we are a) down by one-third the income and b) without health insurance yet again...although we're working on fixing that one. So...the budget is tight. It's been tight before and I'm sure it will be tight again, but its tight non-the-less. So I see my real job as saving as much green as I possibly can...and I'm not talking the environment.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm pretty sure those were the first words out of Alek's mouth this afternoon when he caught a glimpse of me pushing a shopping cart out of CVS.
Yes...you heard me right. Shopping. Cart.
I've turned into one of 'those people.' A couponer...a die-hard couponer.
It all started out so innocently. I figured since I was going to be staying at home, I needed to find a way to save some serious cash. And one of the biggest money-pits in our monthly budget is food. So I signed us up for a newspaper subscription...and immediately started clipping coupons.
I've been hooked ever since.
I'm printing coupons off the internet and snagging a second and third copy of the paper from the vending bin (after paying for them of course...I'm not THAT cheap!) I even have a blue Tr@pper Keeper with baseball card sleeves to hold all of my loot coupons.
Of course Alek really wasn't surprised at the sheer volume of stuff that I was buying. When you have a family of six shopping trips are more like expeditions...but what truly got him was my receipt.
Are you ready for this?!!!!!
I walked out of that store with $86 dollars worth of merchandise...and I only spent $9!
Pretty good, huh? Yep. I thought so too. Of course it was all shampoo, toilet paper, makeup and toothpaste, but hey! It's a start...and it frees up more money for the grocery store. Now I just have to figure out how to buy $400 worth of groceries for $50! :)


we're not missing...just busy

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wow! A MONTH?! That's a seriously long time, peeps!!! I'm sorry. I have no amazing excuses like a last minute Mediterranean cruise or being kidnapped by a horde of friends who took me on an amazing two-week shopping spree in NYC.  
Nope. All I have is that same lame excuse I give you every September. The expo. This year she snuck up on me like a bad hair day and sucked all the joy out of my life for three straight weeks.
Last week was spent recovering. This week I have a ton of writing to do but it is all from the comforts of my home office, so I am imagining life will be VERY good this week! At least that is what I'm telling myself. :)
You know what else is good?
My son's football team.*
How was that for a segway?! :)
As you all know, Alek entered Jr. High this year...and promptly signed up for football. It scared me half-to-death, but I have a new mantra now..."He's growing up, he's growing up....I have to let him grow up."
So...I didn't say a word. Instead I dutifully have planted my tukas on every football field bleacher within a 60 mile radius and watched as boys twice my size try their best to smush my son.
And I've done it with a smile on my face.
I have endured 90 degree heat, 40 degree chills and a rainstorm of Biblical proportions. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the six of us pretending to be drowned rats. Because six games into the season I still hadn't bought a battery to go in the camera. Not that they're hard to buy...its just that my newly-turned 40-year-old brain has turned to Swiss cheese and can't hold more than two thoughts at a time. Evidently breathing and keeping the heart beating are the most important thing for it to remember...and picking up a battery at Wally World was too much for it to take.
So my oldest son's first football season nearly went by without any pictures. 
Thankfully I have a daughter who has a head full of brain cells and she reminded me on a recent trip to pick some up. Soooo... I have something better than drowned rat pictures....I have VIDEO!
For my Facebook friends, this will be a repeat of a post from a week or so ago...for the rest of you, I'm sorry its taken me so long to share. But, as they say, better late than never.
I present to you...Alek's first touchdown.
Enjoy! :)

* I meant it when I said their team is good. They went undefeated and are waiting to find out who they will play in the district championship game next week.


my book worm

Monday, September 6, 2010

I can't think of anything more priceless than a little girl
'reading' a book with her dog at her feet...

Unless of course its a little girl 'reading' her book
to her teddy bear. Man, I love being home for moments like these! :)

P.S. Can you believe how grown up Maddie is looking lately? Where has my baby gone?


bring on the veggies!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We are BIG VeggieTales fans here in the Sunflower Seeds house.
I think we have just about every video they've ever produced. Seriously. From the moment we first brought Alek home from Russia in July '99, we've been watching these things on a regular basis. And while the kids are definitely growing older, for some reason they're not growing tired of watching these amazing videos full of hope, humor and morals.
But I think VeggieTales may have outdone themselves this time.
The Doves just posted this link on their blog and after watching it I HAD to share.
VeggieTales is sharing the joy of adoption in their newest video - 'The Meaningful Life.' If the movie is even half as good as the others have all been, I'm going to need a kleenex every time I watch it!
I can't wait until October!!!!


well THAT stunk!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where were those search and rescue dogs?!!
I was counting on you guys!
Right after I made all of those grandious promises of blogging on a regular basis and the thrill of working from home, and how wonderful this whole thing was...it. hit. hard. 
Seriously! As I pushed the 'publish post' button a pain seared through my upper stomach area. And stayed.
I worried for a minute that it might be something seriously serious...but I haven't had one iota of heart problems. Not one...and my doctor's are always going on and on about my great cholesterol levels. Surely it wasn't that. 
But the pain didn't go away. It just kept on going and going and going. And then as it started to ease up, it turned into nausea and well...you know...the stuff that comes with that.
I started thinking it might be something I ate, so I settled on the couch for a long night of Fox News, Pepto and frequent trips to the loo. (Stop me if I'm sharing too much.)
By the morning, I still wasn't feeling super-duper, but it had let up enough that I went ahead and made a quick trip to town to do that shopping I was talking about. But by the time we were in the middle of Wally's World I'd had enough. I made an appointment with my physician for later that afternoon.
A VERY long story short...I ended up in the ER, saw a doctor who should have his license revoked for a) not only getting the diagnosis horribly wrong (random, weird infection) but b) prescribing an antibiotic (Flagyl) to treat the mis-diagnosis that is known to cause vomiting.
Hmmm....and to think I already HAD that lovely symptom.
I spent the weekend living on the couch, exhibiting every last one of my symptoms, minus the excruciating pain (it was down to a uncomfortable ache thanks for the beauty of hydrocodone)...but still making regular trips to the lavatory.
By Monday morning I was obviously dehydrated and had uncontrolled vomiting. 
I. could. not. stop.
I returned to my doctor and he sent me to the hospital where I stayed for two long days. Honestly, by the end of day one I felt so much better (I think it was just finally being hydrated) I seriously considered checking myself out.
By the end of day two I was ready to take my IV cart and hunt someone down to release me. I saw my doctor at 7 a.m....didn't see the specialist until 7 p.m. 
Thankfully he agreed to let me go home.
Final diagnosis?
Pancreatitis. Weird, huh? Completely random. They can't figure out what caused it...but thankfully I had a MILD case.
Mild? Hmm... Not exactly how I would describe it, but I'm thankful to be done. All I have left is to get one more test done on Wednesday, just to make sure there is nothing else going on, and then I should be in the clear.
Thank goodness.
And here I thought working from home was going to be so relaxing. 


one week (almost) down...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Part of the arrangement in leaving my old job, included the promise that I would continue to write at least a few of the articles that I would be normally scheduled to write, for three weeks after I left.
They would pay me my regular rate...and I would get to work from home. It seemed like a good idea at the time...now, I'm just wishing I would have cut and run.
Thankfully, I'm done with my regular duties for awhile. I finished an article today and don't have another interview until Sunday - and no more deadlines until Tuesday morning...so the last half of this weekend will be shot, but then again...I will be home. ;)
At least I've got one week down.
In other news...
CrossRiver is off and running. I am working with a couple of new authors to get their speaking packets together and am reviewing two, count them TWO, manuscripts for possible publication. 
Oh! I didn't mention that?! :) Yes...CrossRiver is also going to be in the publishing business. This could be VERY interesting. ;)
And I'm getting ready to start my own book...THAT, people, will be interesting indeed. I'm considering putting together a devotional compilation...which means other people will write most of the devotionals and I will edit them and get credit for putting the thing together.
Not too bad, this publishing gig. ;)
In family news...
Tomorrow is the start of Missouri's tax-free weekend, which means I get to head across the river at oh-dark-thirty to try to beat the rush on school supplies. Why there is a rush I really don't know. For heaven's sake its not like there's a shortage of crayons and glue sticks...but I definitely don't want to be duking it out with the lovely people of Joe Town, so an early riser I will be.
As I told a friend earlier today...if you don't hear back from me, you'll know to send in the cadaver dogs.


coming up for air

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Okay...so this working from home thing is a bit more than I bargained for.
Did you know that it is nearly impossible to do a phone interview without a child interrupting? I had NO idea. (Did you catch that sarcasm?! :)
And you can just forget about typing more than a few words without someone spilling milk all over the kitchen floor or conning their brother into climbing on the counter to grab that precarious box of cereal off of the top shelf.
But all in all, its going pretty well. I took a writing break today - a much needed writing break - to get started on the SMOB part of my new career.
For those of you not in the know, SMOB stands for 'Start My Own Business.' I recently started a marketing/public relations firm for Christian authors and speakers. I'll be helping them with writing press releases, getting interviews, book signings and lots of other marketing efforts. Its already a ton of fun...and I'm only Day 3 into the venture! :)
If anyone is interested in checking it out, you can find us (me) at www.crossrivermedia.com. We also have a Facebook page, which I would like to BEG all of your FB users to 'like'. Its www.facebook.com/crossrivermedia.
I used today to crawl out from under the mountain of paperwork I had sitting on my home office desk. It was A LOT of paperwork. I had to empty the trash can twice. Actually, I had Nick empty the trash can. That's the beauty of having a home-based business...built in, absolutely free employees. ;)
Tomorrow, its back to writing. I have a magazine article to turn in and some calls to make on another one due in a couple of weeks. Whew. It makes me tired just thinking of it...but its a good kind of tired.
Really, it is.


rahbotah, finito, finished, done

Friday, July 30, 2010

That's it. I'm done. You are now officially reading the blog of a full-time, self-employed, stay-at-home-mom.
Can I get an AMEN?!
Wow! It feels good. I should have done this a long time ago. I have to admit, I was a little worried I would get cold feet - that at the last minute I would say I couldn't do it and beg for my old job back. But not only have my feet stayed unbelievably warm, I am feeling an incredible sense of peace about this whole thing...which is AMAZING!
I didn't even get teary today. Not once. And that's saying something - I get teary over tire commercials.
I did, however, stop for just a second and take a deep breath before pushing the door open as I left. But really? That was more for your benefit than anything. I needed something dramatic to write about.
The day went smoothly, relatively quietly...and thankfully quickly. Now I am free to write as I wish, when I wish and for whom I wish...and I am so thankful for the blessing.
I did have one incredibly neat moment this afternoon...that I'm taking as a God-thing.
Every year our mortgage company sends us a little escrow account statement. Its the thing that tells us how much is left in our escrow account to pay for things like taxes and homeowners insurance. Every year since we've bought this place its gone up.
Every. Year.
When we bought this place six years ago we were paying almost $300 less per month than we do now...and we have a fixed rate mortgage!
So needless to say we were a bit nervous about getting that statement this year. What with the cost of everything going up...taxes, insurance, the cost of band-aids, we were sure we would have another jump in our monthly house payment.
Guess what?
It not only didn't go UP...it went DOWN! Big time! Around $60 a month.
Wait for it......
They sent US a check for almost another $100 because we had overpaid last year.
So, to recap...Not only is our house payment not going UP by the amount we had already budgeted...it is going DOWN by nearly the same amount.
And we got the news on the day we took a step of faith and I left my job to come and stay home.
How cool is that?!
I thought so too. ;)


anniversaries and THREEEEEEE

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Look at me! I'm posting on a semi-regular basis!!! Aren't you so proud of me! This whole leaving the working world to come home to be with the kids and start my own freelance writing/marketing company may be starting to wear off on me a bit already! Look out people, if we don't watch it, I may become quite prolific!!! :)
I have a bit of a hodge-podge for you tonight. A little of this...a little of that...let's start off with the really happy stuff shall we?
We celebrated Family Day yesterday. It was 11 years ago yesterday that we got custody of Alek and took him out the babyhouse. We were finally parents. It seems like just yesterday. And while I know its terribly cliche, can I just say, 'My baby is growing up!' I swear I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and he's going to be towering over me. I just know it. He already has me in his sights. He's making little comments here and there...calling me 'shorty' and saying, 'Hey Mom! Have you shrunk?!'
I just wish he were referring to my weight, instead of my height.
We'll let him enjoy his little bit of fun. Just wait until HIS kids grow up! :)
Yesterday also marked the eighth anniversary of bringing Anya and Nick out of the babyhouse as well. Yep...all three kids have the same Family Day anniversary. Cool, huh? I think so. I've posted before about all of the amazing things that have happened during the adoption of our three oldest kids. Here it is if anyone needs a refresher.
Anyway...we celebrated with a night at the movies and a trip to B@skin Robbins afterwards. The kids were in Heaven. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take pictures until we were home and everyone was in bed. Sigh.
Now for some cool stuff...
The magic number is three! Three days until I am officially gainfully employed as a full-time stay-at-home-mom and part-time business owner. I can't wait!
It's amazing how incredibly at peace I finally am about this whole thing. I've always wanted to do this...we finally have the insurance thing figured out...and I'll still be writing on the side. I don't think it gets much better than that.
I found out today that I may TECHNICALLY not be unemployed after all. Its weird how this all turned out, but the company I work for has decided to go ahead and keep me on the rolls as an incredibly part-time employee. I would still be doing a lot of freelance work for them...and since I'll be doing stuff for a bunch of different departments on a regular basis they figured it would just be easier to have me be really, Really, REALLY part-time.
That way I can go ahead and have taxes taken out of my check...and they don't have to worry about some extra accounting stuff...and I get a decent hourly wage. Well, decent is all in the eye of the beholder, but still...its a regular wage...and that's fine by me.
PLUS...There's a chance I could be eligible for the company's part-time employee's health insurance program which would be AWESOME! :) And I would still be able to do all the work from home.
Seeeeeee....good stuff! :)
It's coming together. Just three more days.


better late than...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Its been two and a half years now since we brought Maddie home from the orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine. She has grown and changed so much in the last 54 months...in many ways she doesn't resemble the same child we first brought home. 
For just about the same amount of time I have been trying to upload the video I have made of Maddie's adoption trip. I have tried everything I could think of to get it to work. I tried uploading it to YouTube more times than I can count. 
'Surely this time will be different," I would say.
And then I would fail...again.
Finally, tonight I started redoing the video. I was desperate to finally share Maddie's story in video. As I was looking through some of the photos I loaded onto Photobucket from Ukraine I noticed they have a new video uploader. (Well, at least new to me.)
"Hmmm...," I thought. "Maybe."
Sure enough! It worked! Woohoooooo!!!! 
So while it may be 54 months late...I FINALLY present to you, 'Finding Maddie.'
Grab a Kleenex...you may need it. ;)


my future eyeglass models

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The kids' glasses are in and I have to say...the kids are absolutely adorable! 
I can say that! I didn't have anything to do with their genetics! :)

Both Nick and Anya seem to be enjoying them...no complaints of headaches so far...and both are taking good care of them.
The only fly in the ointment was when we went to get the kids fitted, Maddie started crying. She was upset because SHE wanted a pair. ;)


three out of five ain't bad

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We were so blessed. The kids didn't have eyesight issues, I didn't have eyesight issues. Shad was the only one in the family who needed glasses.
Weren't we so lucky? 
Not anymore.
On Tuesday we took the kids to the optometrist. Oh, not because they needed glasses, oh no! We just took them out of an abundance of caution! Since I'm leaving my job, we will also be losing health insurance, why not take advantage of the insurance and get everyone checked one last time.
Oh. My. Word!!
Of the five appointments, three of us walked out of there with glasses.
And we may need a fourth! Good grief!!!!! We had absolutely NO idea that the kids needed glasses. None whatsoever. Thankfully the insurance will cover a good portion of it...and the kids were all able to find some specs that they liked. 
Anya, Nick and I will all be sporting new rims by this time next week. Anya and I, thankfully, don't have to wear them full-time. She just needs hers for school...and I only need mine for driving. Nick, however, will be sporting them for every waking hour. 
Good thing he looks absolutely ADORABLE in his glasses. I can't wait to show you pictures, seriously...he looks like one of those redhead little boy eyeglass models! Who knows? He may have a new career in front of him. ;) 
The fourth victim may be Maddie. They're not sure yet if she really needs them...it was hard to tell with the testing. I was impressed at how well she did with the tests. They insisted on doing the letter versions of the test since she had been through kindergarten...but she had a hard time understanding what they wanted of her. Above, below, smaller, bigger, wiggly, flashing...all of those concepts are still hard for her. Even so, she stuck with it, didn't get frustrated (which really isn't in her nature anyway), didn't get too distracted and loved playing their 'game.'
The doctor wants to retest her next week when we pick up everyone else's specs. I SERIOUSLY hope she doesn't need glasses. Think about it...if she has to get glasses, they'll have to have a band to hold them on her head...the sports kind. She already has to deal with the hearing aid having to be held on her head with a band...now a pair of glasses! There HAS to be a better way! 
I need to start doing some research just in case.


so far, so good

Monday, July 12, 2010

The babysitter reported an excellent day today. 
There was no sneaking off to friends' homes...
No WWF matches in the hallways...
And the kids all listened...
That's good, because I really didn't have a Plan B. Don't tell the kids, but half the time I just do this creative discipline thing on the fly. ;)
Speaking of last minute plans...I decided this weekend, that one of the things the kids needed was a change of scenery. I'm sure they're sick of hanging around the house all summer...and since a vacation is NOT in the plans this summer, I figure we need to take as many mini-breaks as possible.
So...Sunflower Seed Break #1 was a trip to our local fruit farm where the kids and I spent the better part of a morning picking blueberries and playing on a pretty neat little playground. I thought I would share pics of the cuteness that is my kiddos...but while I have pictures of them picking berries, for some reason I don't have any of the equally cute playground. 
It may be because I forgot my camera so I had to use my trusty little phone to take my pictures...and then there was the laborious process of emailing them all to myself because I haven't figured out any other way to get them off my phone. I really need get that figured out. I have music programs, baseball games and other cute pictures stuck on there. Heaven forbid anything happens to it.
Anyway...we had fun. It was all I could do to keep the kids from eating the berries before I had a chance to pay for them. They even found a schedule of the picking season for the rest of the year and are already begging me to take them back in two weeks when the blackberries will be ready.
I guess they had a good time.
Enjoy the pictures. 


a day (or two) or relative calm

Saturday, July 10, 2010

To say we've had a challenging summer would be a bit of an understatement. 
All four kids have been pushing boundaries the last few months, and quite frankly, we just about need a dry erase board to keep up with all of the groundings, punishments and extra chores.
There's not one child who is standing out in the defiance. Each one of them have pushed equally as hard...and in fact, probably feed off of each other to a certain extent. 
But Maddie has been especially concerning. She's back to hoarding food...she stole all of Nick's candy from the July 4th parade - eating every last piece (I'm surprised she didn't get sick). She's taking juice packets up to her room and hiding the evidence in places that we don't find for weeks...and she's crawling up on the countertops to reach the top shelf of the cabinets to look for cookies...sometimes successfully.
That is most definitely not all of her behaviors. She has become  defiant with the sitter and her father...not with me yet, but I tend to be the 'heavy' in the house. She is back to using her 'fake smile' to try to charm people into getting what she wants...and the other day the kids said she walked up to some strangers in the alley (all four were out of the yard - without permission from the sitter)...and started talking to them. The other three kids kept telling her to stop, but she just ignored them.
I can't say its all the babysitter's fault. She has actually probably been the best one we've had in quite awhile. She lays down the law...but all four kids keep trying to find a way around it. I'm sure all four of them provide quite a challenge for a teenager...and while there are some things I would like to her to do differently, I know she really is trying to do her best. Its just when she turns her back for a second, the kids take full advantage.
Last Wednesday was the last straw. When I walked in the door the sitter informed me of a whole host of infractions...from every. last. one. of them.
The kids have been experiencing 'solitary confinement' the last couple of days.
They get up in the morning...eat breakfast, get dressed, clean their rooms, then grab a book and sit on their bed...all. day. long. No entertainment of any sort - except that book. No talking. No radio. No phone. Nothing. From the time I left at 8 a.m. until I came home at 6 p.m....their life was their room. We figure, if we can't trust them to obey the babysitter while we're gone, then they most certainly can't be allowed to get up off their bed, now can they? 
Bathroom breaks and lunch times were their only reprieve.
It was a good old-fashioned grounding.
The first day the kids weren't too upset about it...well, all except for Alek who had been through this type of thing before. Poor little things...they had no clue what was coming. The sitter said shortly after noon, they tried started getting up and running around upstairs thinking they were being quiet enough that she couldn't hear them.
Thank goodness for 150 year old houses and their creaky floors! :)
They did better on day two. 
And I think the babysitter really enjoyed the break. And why wouldn't she? She got paid the same amount just to sit and read a book while the kids laid on their beds. I wish I had it that easy.
This is just one of the plethora of reasons I am coming home.
All of the kids behaviors need improvement, but Maddie's is especially concerned. We are seeing a huge amount of regression. Orphanage behaviors we thought were behind us...and legitimately were while we were in Grab-Your-Lasso, are rearing their ugly heads again. 
I know its a process...that there are steps forward and steps back in her attachment. Right now we're heading backwards. I'm just thrilled that in three weeks, I'll be able to be here to stand behind her as she takes those steps back...and help propel her forward again.


a new beginning

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I did something the other day I've been dreaming of for a very long time. 
I resigned.
As of July 31, 2010, I will officially no longer be a newspaper reporter, instead I will be a stay-at-home mom/freelance writer.
I KNOW! Crazy, huh?! It kinda surprised me too. The whole thing came together pretty quickly. I'll fill you in on the details later. What I'm concentrating on right now is that in less than 30 days I will be home with my kids. 
I'll be here when they're sick...
I'll drop them off at school...(except on Tuesdays when Shad's home. ;)
I'll go on their field trips...
I'll pack their lunches every morning (because you KNOW without me working full-time the belt HAS to tighten! ;)
I'll pick them up from school every single day...(except on Tuesdays when Shad's home.)
I'll help them with their homework...(except on Tuesday's when Shad's home.)
I'll fix their after-school snacks...(except on Tuesdays when...well, you know. ;)
And so much more...
I can't tell you how excited I am. It's been a long, complicated road to make this happen. Its been a long time coming...we needed a lot of miracles to make it work...but God is GOOD!  


deep in conversation

Saturday, June 19, 2010

With all the craziness of life lately...and the hard work I'm putting into SMOB...I haven't had a chance to really just lean back and enjoy my life much. 
Until last night.
We were at Nick's baseball game...only one more next week and then a tournament, thank you very much...when I spotted this scene. Alek and Anya sitting next to each other on the bleacher, talking about something - who knows what.
I just love that my kids are growing up enjoying spending time together. They all have their own friends, and love playing with other kids in the neighborhood, but given the opportunity, these two decided to sit and watch their brother's game, together.
That does a mom's heart good! :)


off and running

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I know its not really fair to the rest of you, but I have another password protected post here.
I promise these will be stopping soon...just trying to get some stuff out of my system that I need to keep to myself for now.
Remember...if you don't have the password, just ask. ;)


luk out fur yukky spelen testz

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have yet ANOTHER nomination for WMEC Club, although this time Shad's name should be on the application form too. I wasn't the only bad parent here this week! :)
In the interest of full disclosure let's just say spelling tests are not Nick's strong suit...and for some reason Shad and I have a really hard time helping him. Finally this year we seem to have hit upon a technique that works and in the last few months the tests have gotten better...and better still, once he started the medication.
Until a few weeks ago.
THAT was baaaaaaad. In fact, it may have been the perfect storm. Nick had a horrible, no-good, very bad spelling test...and it wasn't even his fault. His dad and I somehow miscommunicated and no one helped him study for his test at all that week, even though he kept reminding us. So the poor boy missed 14 points on his spelling test!
When I picked him up on Friday from school he asked if he could talk to me. When we got home I walked with him into the living room, away from everyone else, pulled him onto my lap and asked him what was wrong.
Big, silent tears started rolling down his cheeks as he admitted his test score. He was so disappointed because he had been doing so well. I looked at his test and saw the neatest handwriting I have ever seen my little guy pen and quickly started complimenting on how hard he had tried.
"I can tell you tried your best, Nick," I tried to comfort. "Look at how nice and neat you wrote."
"Yeah, Mom, but I still missed the words."
As I sat and rocked my little man, I couldn't help remember how it had been just a few months before. Nick couldn't have cared less about how he did on those tests. He
That horrible spelling test solidified our plan. We let Nick finish the school year out on the medication. He likes the way the medicine helps him concentrate at school. He's proud of the good grades he's bringing home. His relationship with his teacher is better and he's even starting to show some interest in reading. His standardized test scores are improving...what's not to like about that.
So we decided to stay the course until the end of the school year. Last Friday was the last day of medication for Nick until Fall, and we're already seeing the return of the old Nick. The one who can't seem to remember to do something we told him two minutes ago...is constantly arguing with his youngest sister...and can't keep his room neat for anything
But the light is also back - the ornery streak. The tenacity. The curiosity. The boundless energy. The sly smile.
Welcome back, Nick!


operation smob

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I have a password protected blog HERE. Hopefully this will be one of the last ones. As always, if you don't have the password, please ask.



so here's the thing...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Password protected post is here.
As always, if you don't have the password, please be sure to ask.


password protected 5

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I have a password protected post here.
If you don't have the password please be sure to ask.


alphabet soup

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A few weeks ago I mentioned things had become a little difficult here in the Emerald City...but at the time I wasn't quite ready to share. It really isn't that catastrophic...at least not for those immediately involved. It was just difficult for me. And, you KNOW, its all about me. ;)
Anyway...I think I've finally worked through all of the emotions involved to the point where I'm ready to share. I would suggest grabbing a cup of java for this one. It is one, long, involved story.

We've been having some trouble with Nick lately. Actually, the truth is he's been struggling for some time...mostly in school.
In preschool he was constantly in trouble. But then he had Mrs. Whack-job for a teacher. She sent him to the Principal's office - every. single. day. Many days it for nothing more serious than not sitting still during reading circle time.
He never got in trouble for hitting anyone.
He never bit anyone.
He never really talked back to her.
He just didn't want to do things her way...and she couldn't handle it and refused to discipline within the classroom. So every day Nick would end up in the Principal's office...most times unbeknownst to us because it really wasn't that big of a deal. We finally determined it really was just a case of a really bad teacher and decided to move him into a part-time Pre-K program. He settled right down and responded well to the program. We had not one iota of a problem after that.
The next year in Kindergarten, things went pretty well. Actually they went really well until the end of the year when he started to get bored. He became more restless and disruptive. We worked out a program of daily updates and rewards for good behavior with the teacher. It worked with limited success, but it got us through the rest of the school year.
Last year, in first grade, we had one issue on the playground, which we quickly remedied with six notes of apology to everyone involved - from the kids, to their parents, the teacher and the superintendent. There wasn't so much as a hint of a problem afterwards. (He really hated writing those notes.)
This year has been a different story. It feels as if Nick has returned to preschool where nothing he does is ever good enough. The teacher is constantly on his back and he just doesn't see the benefit of doing what she wants him to do.
We tried working with the teacher. We asked her to send us daily updates as we did in kindergarten and implemented a reward system that he seemed more interested in. And it worked, for awhile. But the teacher horribly inconsistent about sending home notes...and without the regular rewards for good behavior, Nick lost interest.
She finally convinced us to have a re-eval of his IEP...complete with psychological testing and a battery of other tests.
Quite frankly, I was ticked.
This was the same teacher that was convinced there was something wrong with Alek when she had him. She insisted that we have a battery of testing done, which eventually identified him as having Auditory Processing Disorder. Three years later that 'diagnosis' was lifted. Grab Your Lasso determined he didn't have any of the signatures of the disorder and felt he was fine. (This is not a disorder you 'get over', although you can acquire coping mechanisms.)
This year, Alek, who she had so many issues with, is getting straight A's. And really, not so much straight A's, as HIGH straight A's. The boy either never had an issue to begin with, or developed some seriously amazing, miraculous coping skills.
When Nick's tests came back, they proved what we've known all along. He's bright...there are no cognitive delays or learning disabilities...there was nothing identified except for a language delay which is being addressed in his IEP along with his speech.
Not satisfied, she asked that we have Nick evaluated for ADHD. She was SURE that was what was wrong.

We balked.
Honestly, we didn't see the issues she sees at school. At home, he obeys us. He listens to us. He really isn't that much to handle. Yes, he is active...but he's a boy. Yes, he squirms in his chair...but he's a BOY! Yes, he has a hard time following directions, hates doing homework and finds it almost impossible to finish a task without being reminded 3-trillion times, but HE. IS. A. BOY!
We agreed to fill out the questionnaires, but hesitated to take them to our doctor. Instead, we struggled for awhile, trying to get along with the teacher, trying to make sure Nick held up his end of the relationship and just trying to limp our way through the end of the school year so he could move on to third grade and to a new, much better teacher.
And then she dropped a bombshell.
At our bi-annual parent/teacher conference last month, she said, flat out, she didn't know if she could pass Nick. It wasn't his ability - it was his 'attitude.' His attitude was inhibiting his ability to learn what he needed to learn...and if she sent him on to third grade, she was afraid he would get even further behind.
I think Nick got wind of it because within a few days he was talking about how he hated school and started talking negatively about himself.
That was it. I wasn't going to put up with it anymore. We decided to take him and forms in to his pediatrician. I was convinced there wouldn't be an issue...that it was all in the teacher's approach to Nick. Nick didn't respect her because of her attitude toward him...and her teaching style (very similar to his preschool teacher).
I was wrong.
Dr. B took one look at the forms from the teacher, some other teachers and ourselves, and said he was ADD...possibly ADHD. Did we want to put him on medication?
Seriously? Really?
It was if she had slapped me across the face.
I took the prescription and drove over to the pharmacy in a bit of a daze. After I plunked the $60 for a 30-day supply of Concerta, it hit me.

My kid has ADD.
Honestly? I've been struggling the last few weeks. I'm feeling a bit of the same old funk I felt when we first brought Maddie home. When we went to Ukraine to bring home a child, we were fully expecting to adopt a healthy child with no physical issues. Sure, there would be developmental problems, but those would all magically go away with just some love, time and extra help.
Then, after the initial joy of bringing Maddie home wore off, and the reality of her disability sunk in, I entered a bit of a funk. It actually may have been a bit of PAD (Post-Adoption Depression). I was overwhelmed with her needs...and really had no idea how to help her, where to turn for that help. This take-charge girl who has never struggled to make a decision a day in her life, was suddenly paralyzed with indecision. I couldn't even decide to pick up the phone and call Children's Hospital to get her an appointment, people. That's how serious it was.
And here I was again, feeling paralyzed. Uncertain of what to do...and where to turn. My son has a life-altering disability...and I was barely able to decide to pick up his prescription. I found myself longing for the days when Nick was a little guy and I could make his pain go away just by kissing his boo-boos, putting on a band-aid and sending him back outside to play.
ADD is a life-time thing. He may be struggling with this for the rest of his life. And all I can do is buy him a prescription. No amount of hugging, kissing or reassuring will make it go away.
The blessing is, the medicine seems to be working. He's on the lowest dose available and the first day he took the meds, the teacher called absolutely thrilled. He was behaving like a model second-grader. A week later she reported if he keeps this up she won't have any problem passing him.
This week she reported absolutely no problem.
Of course she says that (I think snidely), she's finally gotten what she's wanted. The perfect little boy who sits still, hangs on her every word and whom she doesn't have to discipline in any way shape or form or really even pay any attention to.
I, on the other hand, am left with a shadow of my former son. I keep worrying Nick's personality is changing...that the meds are robbing me of the little boy I came to know and love. I don't necessarily think he's over medicated - he's not in a daze. But he's quiet...unnaturally so. He's not nearly as active - I'm having a hard time to get him to go outside and play ball. And he certainly isn't the life-loving, joke-telling, vivacious little boy I had three weeks ago.
I don't want Nick to change. Sure I would like to have him be easier to parent...but I would much rather have him be the little boy God created him to be.
And then I start worrying about Maddie.
She's even more active, inattentive and distractable than Nick.
Is she next? Will they urge us to have her tested? Will we find that the only way to get our kids through the Emerald City school system is to medicate them to the point that we don't recognize them anymore?


awards night

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Please indulge me while I brag just a bit.
Tonight was the last night of AWANA for the year and so it was awards night.
Anya was awarded the first year book award for T&T, Nick finished up his last Sparks book and received the Sparkie plaque...and Alek wrapped up his AWANA career with the highest award our church offers - the Timothy Award. He finished every book on every level in AWANA...which means over the course of his nine year AWANA career he has memorized more than 400 verses. You ROCK Alek!
* Where was Maddie you ask? Well, let's just say Maddie was thrilled to be there and to watch her big brothers and sister. She's worked hard this year and will be right back at it next year. ;)


my little princesses

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I love spending time with the girls...just the girls...which we don't get to do very often. So when we have the opportunity, we take advantage of it.
Today we headed over to Kansas City to Crown Center with a friend and her two girls, to check out the Fairytale Village.
There were carriages to climb through, castles to explore, golden eggs to weigh and the three bears chairs to check out. We could have also had our picture taken with Cinderella...if we wanted to wait two hours in line.
Ummm....no thank you.
We simply said, 'Hey girls! Look over there! There's Cinderella."
Thankfully, they thought that was good enough.
After we were done exploring (and shopping) we headed out to the courtyard for a quick picnic lunch by the fountains. Tons of fun. And you're in luck. Since its been an eternity since I've given you (or taken) any kind of real pictures, I've decided to step up today and take way more pictures than necessary.
And I decided to share.
You can thank me later...after you take a look at the cuteness that is Anya, Maddie and their two friends.
Enjoy! :)


a bit of chocolate, please

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I have a confession to make. I've done something I've never done before...and swore I never would.
I signed up for one of those 'blog tour challenges' last week.
I know, I know...but I HAD to! It was a *CHOCOLATE* blog tour.
"Aaaaah...," I can hear you say. "Now I understand. You have an addiction."
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!!! Why, YES. I. DO!
There is a definite dependence here. You'll remember...chocolate was one of the luxury items I took en-bulk to Ukraine two years ago. Do you not remember the M&Ms and popcorn?! (I looked for a link, but promptly got sucked into reading two months worth of my adoption blog...still couldn't find it but had a nice trip down memory lane.)
It's been a rough few weeks here in the Emerald City, hence, the radio silence. So when I saw the email in the inbox announcing the "Dove Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter blog tour" - well, let's just say I didn't have a very lady-like response. I may have actually squealed...just a bit. And maybe snorted. ;)
Anyway...I jumped...actually, I chucked the article I was supposed to be writing and whipped up an email and sent it off to Alison at Mom Central, begging her to let me take part in the tour.
And low and behold a few hours later I had a lovely little note in my inbox saying I would be receiving a box in the mail within a few days.
*Cue the hallelujah chorus here*
True to her word, the lovely box showed up in my box a few days later. And it couldn't have come at a better time. Have I mentioned its been a bit tough here in the Emerald City lately?
Anyway...we need to get a few things straight, right here, right now. I am not impartial when it comes to chocolate, or to Dove chocolate. There's no pretense of journalistic integrity...impartiality or any other-ty. I LOVE the stuff.
And this stuff is no different. It is smooth and yummy and perfect...and, and, and...
I haven't willingly shared a single bite of it.
With anyone.
I actually hid it from the kids. Am I a bad mommy because I hid the bag from the kids...and Shad...and from my mother when she came to visit this weekend, because I know she would have cleaned me out? (Who did you think would have taught me to love chocolate. I come by it honestly, let me tell you! :)
So...the conclusion.
It's good.
Really, really good.
Go get some.
Cuz I'm not sharing. :)
*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of DOVE and received samples DOVE Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter products and a gift certificate to facilitate my review.


mirthful maddie

Monday, March 22, 2010

In the last few weeks its been as if my little Madster has gone through a transformation of sorts.
I've told you how incredibly laid back Maddie is. She takes everything in stride, rarely getting upset...and she always has a smile on her face.
And it's still true...in fact it seems to have multiplied.
I think Maddie is finding her sense of humor...and it is HILARIOUS! :)
Case in point - on Saturday, Shad took the kids to Kansas city to an alpaca show - because, you know, we now own two (count them, two) alpaca (not quite sure if that should be alpaca or alpacas...but since I'm not on the clock, I'm not going to do the research to figure it out. :)
Anyway...He took them to the show.
When they got back, I had this conversation with Maddie...

Me: Maddie, did you like the show?
Maddie: Uh-huuuuuuuh.
Me: Well, what did you see there?
Maddie: Sheep. (Believe me, she knows the difference.)
Me: Maddie, you didn't see sheep, did you? It was an alpaca show.
Maddie: Uh-huuuuuuh. We saw sheep. Pink sheep (with a big grin on her face.) Lots of pink sheep.
Me: Really? Wow. Pink sheep. I don't think I've ever heard of a pink sheep at an alpaca show. ;)
Maddie: (Giggle, giggle, snort.) Ha. Ha. Mommy. I gaaaaawt you! :)
Me: Yes, Maddie. You certainly did.

I can't quite remember what developmental milestone that is for un-institutionalized kids - how early they truly discover their funny bone...but Maddie seems to have certainly found hers! :)


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