life on the funny farm

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Week of Icky Sickies and More ...

I had big plans of surprising the kids on their day off school by taking them snowtubing in the Poconos, but the weather was quite nasty. Not cooperating at all. So I had to scrap those plans and take the kids to one of those indoor kid-habitrail places where they climbed, tunneled and slid to their hearts' content for a few hours.

Came home where Fred quickly pronounced his hatred for me. Seems I gave him my cold and he was apparently dying a slow, miserable death. I said, "You mean the same cold I've had for a week?" He looked a pathetic site sitting there with his tissues and arsenal of cold remedies.

Got all the kids to school, but got a call from the nurse an hour or so later that Patrick was sick. Picked him up and took him home where he vegged and recuperated on the couch the rest of the day.

Patrick still sick, so he stayed home.
At one point I asked him to help me get the Christmas tree tossed over the deck for the goats' afternoon snack. Of course he came out in barefeet and stepped on a rusty piece of metal. The thing was about 6" long and about the diameter of a fireplace match. It had gone in through the bottom of his toe and out through the top, on an angle, coming out just next to his toenail. There was about an inch sticking out the bottom and about 4 - 5" sticking out the top. He looked like a distant, mutated relation to Wolverine. Decided I was not gonna touch that thing, so I took him into the hospital where Fred took it out. Patrick was a big boy throughout the whole process and never cried once. Unless you count begging for a milkshake afterwards as crying.
Rosie came home at the end of the day and slept the entire afternoon. We finally woke her up around dinner, but she had a fever and couldn't eat.

Patrick back to school (with the metal splinter in an envelope as a souvenir to show off to his friends), but Rosie home sick.
Fred still managing to stumble off to work each day with his cold.
Patrick sick again at night with fever and dizziness.

Rosie and Patrick home sick.
Rosie has fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Off to docs to check for strep.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Day of Goobyes....

Today marked the day of departure for James' best friend Madiyar and his Mom Dee. They had come to visit for the w/e, arriving on Friday afternoon from Mass. James and Madiyar were friends together in their orphanage in Kazakhstan, and this reunion meant more to them than can easily be put into words. They had a wonderful time, and Dee and I got some much-needed free therapy in talking to each other about the ups and downs of surviving the adoption of older kids. It was validating and reassuring to feel that someone else was going through almost the same issues.

Shortly after they left for their drive back to the airport, I headed to the barn to secure the hay delivery that had come yesterday afternoon, but I stopped short when I got there and saw my beloved friend Jasper lying dead on the barn floor. Although there was no obvious cause of death, he was, after all, 25 years old. And after Flurry died, he lost something. The twinkle in his eye was no longer there.
But he had a quick and painless end to his long life. He was out in the field yesterday grazing in the sunshine and getting hugs and kisses from his family, and today he was gone. No long decline with multiple health problems, just living as a horse should up to the end.

I'd had him for 17 years and through that time he's gone from a fractious young thing that would take me on gallops with the wind blowing through our hair, to a more sedate older gentleman that had become quiet and trustworthy.

We've had a sad year surviving the loss of so many horses. One year ago, our sweet Midnight, 30 years old, had to be put down due to health issues. Then over the summer we found a new home for our sweet pony Sky, aged 19, who could no longer live on grassy fields because of foundering. Not more than a few months later, we had to put down old Flurry, aged 30+, who had a heart murmur, was blind, had horrible teeth making it difficult for her to get adequate nutrition, and was lame in two legs.
And now, finally, my friend Jasper, who went on his own terms.

Goodbye, Jasper. I'll remember you always .....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On further observation .....

I took some time to watch this "idyllic scene" that I mentioned earlier of the Amish kids skating on our pond. What a rakish bunch of houligans they are! One boy in particular was quite the trouble-maker. He kept sneaking up to the others and stealing their hats/scarves and racing off with them. They would chase after him, but the problem was, he was good. Very good. A quick, agile skater, he could outskate them all. But I had to laugh when one of the older girls caught up with him. She grabbed him by the arm, got the headscarf back for the younger girl, then marched the monkey over to the embankment where she parked his Amish a-- in a time-out, giving him a good finger-waggin' scolding before she left him there.
Course, when he got up later he was back to hs old tricks.
Still, they were quite entertaining to watch.

After awhile, a couple of the girls came to the door and sweetly asked if they could have some water. We sent them back out to their friends with a pitcher of water and some plastic cups. They were quite delighted to learn they could keep the cups.

While watching them I saw hitting, teasing and bullying, but also helping, sharing, and lots of laughing.

Guess kids are pretty much the same everywhere ....

Four Days of Fun

I awoke to a familiar noxious odor and came downstairs to find that apparently the stomach of one of my dogs had exploded in the night all over the wood floor.
Cleaned it up.

Cooked breakfast for all my chillens.

Got through a relatively easy morning with them until about 5 minutes before the bus came, and then all hell broke loose. Broke up two fights and calmed several people in tears, including myself.

Got showered and dressed. Ah, my good friend had arrived to visit for a few days, what nice timing.

Drove Daniel to school, but on the way he felt that his stomach, too, might explode. Pulled over to do an assessment and decided he seemed fit for school, so got him to school with the promise that I would call after my dr's appt to check on him.

Submitted to my retinal exam which included having several drops squeezed onto each eyeball, then having a stick poked in each eye, then bright lights shone to check my retinas. Stumbled out of there barely able to see.

Called Daniel's school, hoping against hope that he would be OK so I could treat myself to a quiet pampering morning at Borders to spend a gift card I had received for Christmas. That was not to be the case. Daniel was sick, so I drove back to his school to pick him up and take him home.

When checking e-mail, learned from one of James' teachers that he had lied about homework and was in danger of getting an after-school detention.

Took James to an appt with his therapist shortly after the kids got home from school. On the drive there he decided he would be mad at me for not taking him to a candy store, so he stopped talking to me. I had to wonder, fourteen or four?

Fred left for a conference for several days, so I knew I would be all on my own.
Took Rosie to a middle school dance at Boomer's.

Few hours later, picked up Rosie plus three friends. Drove them home with the car rocking back and forth to their singing and dancing along with the radio.

Nearly hit a deer, having to hit the brakes and swerve hard to the right to avoid it.
Instead of singing and dancing, the girls were now screaming and crying.
For the next hour or so, tried to keep the girls somewhat quiet and contained till I finally succumbed to exhaustion and dropped into bed.

Cooked breakfast for 10 kids.

Reminisced with James and Julie. This was the one year anniversary of their arrival home.

Said goodbye late morning to the last of Rosie's friends.

Baked two cakes: one an anniversary cake, one a birthday cake for Patrick and his friends. He was having a party a month early so he could take them out to see Sherlock Holmes.

Patrick's five friends arrived and headed out to the pond for a bit before it was time to leave for the movies. They got in a cattail fight and came in covered in the feathery dust from the disintegrated plants. One of the boys had his shoes (which I later found out were relatively new) nearly sucked off his feet by a patch of deep mud.

Found some pants and shoes for him to borrow.

Headed out to the movies with 7 big boys in my car, Rosie staying home with her friend Lauren to babysit Julie, Bella and Daniel.

Stopped by Wendy's on the way home to pick them up some burgers. One man looked incredulously at our group of nearly 6 feet tall 14 and 15 year olds and asked if we were from a bus. I just smiled.

Tolerated (best I could) the noise and rambunctiousness of the beasts running through my house playing hide-n-seek, video games, and whatever else they could think of.

Brought out the cakes and sang Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday.

Cleaned up and ran the dishwasher for the 2nd (3rd?) time of the day.

Hid out in my room. Tried to make it through the news but fell asleep.

Cooked breakfast for 11 kids.
Said goodbye to Patrick's friends late morning and then orchestrated a clean up before the house could be condemned.

Finally stole away to the computer to treat myself to some reading and writing time.

Enjoyed the idyllic scene out my window of about a dozen neighboring Amish kids playing ice hockey and having races across our frozen pond. Oooh, I just noticed a couple of them are still in their Sunday best. Are they gonna get in troubllllle!

I'll try again next week for Borders. Wish me luck!

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was a big day. January 9th marked the one year anniversary of when James and Julie arrived home. Unfortunately, Fred is away right now at a conference, so we didn't get to do much as a family, but we still honored this special day in small ways.

I cooked a requested breakfast of eggs, sausage and toast. We looked over photo albums of our days together in Kazakhstan. We talked about our respective memories of Jan 9th 2009. We made a cake and all sang Happy Anniversay to You! All meaning myself, our kids, and 5 of Patrick's friends who happened to be over.

Here are my blog posts from a year ago, starting with James and Julies' flight from Ust Kamenogorsk to Almaty, and ending with their first full day at our home.

Saturday, January 3, 2009
One Step Closer to Home!

Just received word from Lori that my kids survived the flight from Ust Kamenogorsk to Almaty and seem to be doing fine. Now they just need to spend a few days running about taking care of business with the coordinator before they can board the Lufthanza flight that will take them home. Can't come soon enough! Here's the word from Lori, as well as some pictures:

Anne, the kids arrived safe and sound in Almaty. I am not sure if I will see them again but I was very glad to see them both in person. Ylia is charming and seemed excited about her airplane adventures. Borya was much more serious. He stayed close to his sister. I felt like he was protecting her a bit. here are a few pics we snapped of them. I wish I could have gotten more but we were in the last row of the plane and they in the second row (you can see where the Printy's rate).
They are having a great adventure though. Ylia just kills me. She is so wide eyed and tickled with all of it. I can tell she is loving it. Borya reminds me of Kiefer. He is very sharp and always aware of what is happening. I actually had to tell him to smile in the picture by the baggage cart. I teased him by saying "I'm going to America" and that's when I got the smile. As wild a ride as this must be for them you can tell they are very excited to be heading home.

Monday, January 5, 2009
Borya and Ylia went to the clinic for their medicals yesterday, in Almaty. As usual, my friend Lori kept a maternal eye turned their direction and sent me a report and another photo.
Today they were very relaxed, many more smiles from Boris which was nice to see. Sweet little Ylia played peek a boo with Nina the whole ride to the clinic.

Got to speak to my kids on the phone last night. 10pm our time, 9am their time, I called Gratch and spoke to him a bit about how the process is going and what they've been up to. He tells me they went to the circus yesterday, and today they'll go see a movie after the business of the day is behind them. At one point, Ylia figured out it was me that Gratch was talking to, and I heard her get all excited and ask to speak to Mama. So he put her on the phone and she said "Hi Mama!" She still can't say much in English, but I think she can understand just a bit, so I talked to her about coming home soon, coming to America, seeing Mama and Papa in a few days, etc. Then she put Borya on, and we repeated the whole process. Gratch tells me they've been good, but I just know he's gotta be lying to me b/c I'm sure they must be busting out of their skin with excitement. So close for them, and yet still so far away. Hard to be in that predicament when you're 10.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Passports and visas are now in hand -- my kids are set to come home! Unfortunately, with the timing of the flight schedules, they still have to wait till Fri, but at least all the pieces of the puzzle have been put together now.
Court approval ..... check
Adoption decree .....check
Medical clearances ..check
Passports ...........check
Visas ...............check
Here's Lori's latest account of her most recent path-crossing with my little "immigrants":
Those pesky kids were with us again today at the American Embassy. seems they are approved to travel to the US. Your little immigrants are ready to roll! Both kids were once again awesome. They were genuinely excited to see Nina again and Ylia and Borya both played with her in the car. Then at the Embassy they were my little babysitters. I was really surprised to see how much fun they are having. Borya is smiling all the time now and Ylia is often in a full out giggle. Today Gratch bought Ylia a hat at the Green Bazaar. Ylia was so pleased with it and Borya was getting silly putting it on and having me take a picture of him. (Yes now he asks me to take pictures.) I asked Gratch if the kids were excited about going to America and he said yes. They told him that all the other children at the orphanage are jealous and they want to go to America too. They really have no idea what they are in for but man o man are they happy. They look like different kids from just a few days ago. I can't imagine a few months from now how they will blossom. Remember when I joked I would escort the kids home? Well I should have done it. I was sad when I realized I wasn't going to see them again. I got a big hug and kiss from each of them (seriously could they get any sweeter???) and we said our "bye byes" in english. So here are my last few pics of the dynamic duo. Can't wait to see posts of thier homecoming. It's been a long time coming for you and them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tues night phone call ....
"Hi Mama (giggle, giggle)"
"Hello, Ylia, how are you, kag delah?"
"Goot (giggle, giggle)"
"Mama will see you in three days in America"
"I love you, ya tibya looblue"
"I love you too, (giggle, giggle)"

"Hi Mama"
"Hello, Borya, how are you, kag delah?"
"Horrahshow. I am goot."
"I will see you soon in America."
"I love you."
"I love you, too. Bye, bye!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Last phone call
Spoke to the kids by phone again last night. For the last time. B/c tonight when I would normally call, they'll already be in the air heading for home. Still can't hardly believe it!

Friday, January 9, 2009
Home at last, home at last,
Thank God Almighty, they are home at last!

Touchdown, spike the ball, funky endzone dance, the kids are in the house!

When we got in the car in the airport parking lot, Fred briefly looked over the papers he had been given by the escort and said, "I don't know if we have the [such-n-such] we were supposed to get". I said, "Drive. Just drive. I just want to get these kids in our house and anything else can be straightened out later"!

So we've been home with them about three hours now and they're doing great. We got home late b/c their flight was delayed. But we had dinner waiting in the crockpot, then gave them an abbreviated tour of the house, and showed them their rooms. They are reacting completely as I had expected: Ylia is all excited and bubbly and looking from one thing to the next, where Borya is wearing more of a shell-shocked expression. As is typical for him, he is taking it all in quietly, scarcely saying a word. Ylia loves her room, and get this, had a poster hanging on her walls within two hours. Oy, preteens. Daniel has been busily introducing Borya to each of his stuffed animals. Borya sat down and quickly drew an amazing picture of Puss-n-Boots that he presented to Daniel, and Daniel just about fell to the ground in worship. He showed it to me and told me he would file it with his "special papers". Tomorrow I will post a picture. The first ever picture of our family of 8, taken at the airport. But tonight I'm exhausted (not much sleep last night, like a kid on Christmas Eve), so I'm afraid uploading and downloading will have to wait till daybreak.

Saturday, January 10, 2009
Introducing the new clan

Taken Friday night at the Philadelphia Airport. This is the very first picture taken of our new family. Incidentally, we are standing in front of an artistic display of the Declaration of Independence. There's a message there, don't you think?
From left to right, Rosie, Daniel, Anne, Bella, Ylia, Borya, Patrick and Fred.

Life as usual

Seems funny that this day, the first full day with all six kids under one roof, should seem so .... ordinary. I don't know what I'm expecting. Ticker tape parade? Sparklers and streamers? News reporters banging on my doors and windows? Instead of that scene I have this one: Patrick and Borya, my 13 yr olds, playing x-box. Duh. Daniel asleep on the couch while Bella's eyes are glued to Tom and Jerry on the TV. Another big duh. Rosie and Ylia still sleeping at 9 on a Sat morning (need I say it again?). Again, I'm not sure what I thought our first morning home together as a family of 8 would be like, but after all the angst of the last three months, the year-long paperchase to prepare the doc-oo-ments, the three years spent writing to Borya and hoping and dreaming and praying to find a way to bring him home, and the two years prior to that of trying to track him down after he left the Detsky Dom, I guess I just thought this moment would be more remarkable looking from the outside. You know, God light streaming in the windows, Mormmon Tabernacle Choir music filling the air and all of us floating through the house glowing from the inside. That kind of thing. Not ordinary people going about their morning doing ordinary things without a speck of introspection going on. But then again, maybe this scene unfolding about me on this Saturday morning is the holiest of all. When you come right down to it, all of the "holiness" in our lives is made up of the small, I'll say it again - ordinary - things that take place time and time again without notice, without any kind of fanfare. We look at the big things in our worlds while failing to notice the small, seemingly insignificant things happening all around us.

New Year's Resolution? Notice and live for the "small things".

Friday, January 8, 2010


Called the Goodyear a few nights ago to make an appointment to bring my car in for its past-due annual inspection. Asked when I could bring it in. The character on the other end of the line, in a husky yet booming voice, said, "For you? Anytime! Just bring it on in and we'll git 'er dun." Mind you, I hadn't told him who I was, so it was hard to feel flattered over this special treatment.

Nevertheless, I brought my car in the next morning since I had an opening in my calendar. After waiting awhile for the man to finish up his conversation with another customer on the merits of his 4-wheel drive, I handed him my keys and told him I was bringing my car in for inspection. He said, "Weeeeellll. You might be here awhile 'cuz we're pretty full up. Might take a few hours 'fore we can git to it."
"But last night you told me I could bring it in anytime."
"Uh, yeah. Apparently I told that to a lot of people"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Blogger Slacker

Who would have ever thought that I, the Blogging Queen, could go over a month without so much as a nod to my blog?
Who would have ever thought that I could let two holidays pass without so much as a blip?

Who would have ever thought that I could get through the Christmas break with my six darlings home for 12 days with only a handful more grey hairs?

Well, it's all true.

I last posted at Thanksgiving. From the next day forward I was busy what seemed like every second of every day decorating inside and out, baking, shopping on-line and off-line, thinking of gifts for no less than 16 teachers, wrapping scores of presents (well over a hundred at last count), assembling castles and doll houses, attending Christmas parties and presentations, helping children make homemade Christmas presents for classroom gift exchanges - such a charming idea (sorry, is my sarcasm showing?), cooking dozens of Russian bliny for "culture day" for two classrooms, taking the kids out to shop for their "Stockings for Kids" and "Hat and Mitten Tree" at school, sending in fruit trays, creating and sending out our Christmas card and newsletter, getting our tree, taking the kids out to see the holiday lights, visiting with out-of-state friends and family .... and .... pant, pant, gasp. Someone please check my blood pressure.

Anyway, it was all worth it. The kids had a magical Christmas season, and believe it or not, I did too. I love the beauty of Christmas and can't get enough of it. In fact, though it's past New Year's, we still haven't taken down our tree and decorations. James says he wants to leave it all up till his friend Madiyar visits later this month and I just may do that.

Of course my "old kids" loved it like always. But our "new kids" were just beside themselves for weeks. They loved every aspect of it, from opening cards and Advent calendars to hiking through the cold to find our tree and of course opening gifts Christmas morning. As the icing on the cake (literally), we even had a white Christmas this year, with plenty of snow play and ice skating on our pond in the days before the big event.

We kept to our usual Christmas Eve traditions of driving out to see a holiday lights drive-thru display at the Herr's Factory, then home to set up the manger, put out cookies and milk and a loving note from the kids for Santa, and each opening one homemade gift. James and Bella got custom-covered body pillows, Patrick and Julie got homemade "snuggies", Rosie got a beautiful lighted display cabinet made by Fred to display a movie sheet for New Moon, andDanielo got a hand-carved and decorated walking stick for his nature hikes. Mom and Dad each got some beautifully made cards and loving poems. Then off to bed for the kids. It's been their tradition every year that they all sleep in one room on Christmas Eve. Wasn't sure if we'd be able to manage it this year, but somehow all six kids snuggled down for the night in Julie's room, snug as bugs in a rug. Of course, Fred and I (and my visiting sister Mary) were up a bit longer bringing gifts down to set up under the tree, but we were done by about 11:30, so not too shabby.

Still, 5am (our Minimal Acceptable Time) came pretty early as they all ran in to our room and jumped on our bed screaming Merry Christmas. We always make them wait at the top of the steps while we go down and turn on the Christmas lights, start the coffee and ready the video camera. We go s-l-o-w-l-y just to torture them, which is more fun than should be legal.

For the next several hours they emptied their stockings of treasures, ate candy, and took turns opening gifts. Santa brought Julie and Bella i-Pod Nanos, Patrick an i-Pod Touch, Rosie a laptop, James a stereo, and Daniel a castle for his knights. Fred and I supplied them with plenty of clothes, books, video games, movies, Barbies, and whatever else sucked the credit cards out of our wallets to last 'em for a while. The pile under the tree was nothing short of obnoxious. I know I should be ashamed of myself. But you know what? It's once a year. And really, the years between 4 and maybe 14 are the ones you just giddy about, so 10 years out of 80 or 90 I say let 'er rip, do it up big with no holds barred.

Over break we also went to the book store and the mall to let the kids spend some gift cards they received, went ice skating at an indoor rink, had some family friends over (more ice skating on the pond), and went to the movies a couple times. We rang in the new year quietly, seeing Avatar in the evening (phenomenal movie) and then stayed home with one friend over to help us make some noise and drink some sparkling cider.

Now here I sit, on the brink of our lives returning to some sense of normalcy as the kids return to school. We had fun. Lots of fun.

But I'll be glad to see that school bus motoring down the road toward our house tomorrow morning .....


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