A Dozen Good Eggs

Thursday, October 31, 2013

FAQ or the things big families hear all the time

Wow! you have HOW many?     We have 10. Yes we know its unusual, but not THAT unusual.

Do you homeschool them all?   No, they all go to public school locally. We aren't against homeschool it just doesn't work for us.

Are they all yours?   Yes they are all mine. Some were born to me, some were born to another mother but they are all mine.

Where are their real parents? we ARE their real parents, we are the ones wiping the snot cleaning up the vomit driving to a million appointments. yes We are their real parents.

Are they brothers and sisters?  See above.

I don't know how you do it!   Do what? get them out the door in the morning? cook them dinner? love them? You raise ten kids the same way you raise 2. You get out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other. You love them, you help them, you take interest in them and what they are doing.

How much did they cost?  They were free. We did however have to pay for various documents and preparations as well as travel to bring them home. but they are worth a million bucks.

Why do you have so many?  Look at them. seeing their faces, knowing their names, knowing what their future would have been without us, we really could not walk away and ignore their existence. Boy are we glad we didn't!

I couldn't do what you do!  sure you could. the learning curve isn't that steep.

Are you going to have more?  I don't know. Some days I think maybe. Some days I think NO WAY! but mostly it isn't anyone's business but ours if we choose to add to our family.

What's wrong with your little girl in the wheelchair? Nothing is WRONG but she has arthrogryposis, That means she was born with joint contractures. Similar to cp except it happens long before birth instead of AT birth.

Will she ever walk? She will do whatever she wants to do. She has the drive and determination to climb any mountain she wants.

Some people get upset when others ask questions. I don't. its natural to be curious. People don't usually stop us on the street to ask but when we interact with them they will find a way to ask. I like to tell people we have multiple multiples(we have many kids the same ages) and they assume we had twins or triplets along the way. It's even more fun when they ask when they were born and you tell them different months.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's no crying in baseball!!!

I always loved the movie A League of Their Own, with Tom Hanks. I can hear him saying There's no crying in baseball! As I go about my daily business dealing with kids who throw things at me, scream at me, lose their temper and start shrieking because someone looked at them wrong I usually stand strong. There's no crying in baseball! Sometimes though, it gets too much. one nasty attitude too many in a day and the tears come unbidden.

I watch tv sometimes when the kids are at school. I see people cry over all manner of things. A room makeover so lovely it moves them to tears, again and again. A gift so great they cry tears of happiness. They lose a treasured item and they cry. They have debt, they cry. Their children get a poor grade, they cry. They cry over everything on tv. They cry when their neighbors don't like them, when their dog eats chases the cat, when they are caught at a red light AGAIN.

I find myself thinking they have NO idea what life is really like in many families. I yell at the people on tv to stop crying. They know nothing! They don't fight their kids school for services enough to ensure their kid will merely PASS THEIR GRADE! They don't fight for accessibility every where they go. They don't have to plan their life around wheelchair accessible facilities. They don't have kids who scream at them, who throw things, who talk about taking an ax and cutting down all the trees because they are mad at you. They don't deal with kids who come from trauma. They don't have dozens of appointments each week for therapies. They have friends and babysitters.

There's no crying in baseball. there is crying in parenting kids with issues. So many people just can not and do not understand what that life is like. How could they? They do not deal with the scream of a child who is in meltdown because the phone is ringing and it isn't ever for them. They do not have to duck when something comes flying in anger. They sit down to happy meals where no one leaves the table in a huff. They do what they want when they want, their lives do not revolve around making and attending necessary therapies. THEY are not US. I am happy that so many people live happy charming lives. I wish my life could be that way. But it isn't. I only wish the people living a charmed life, even an ordinary life, would try to understand how lucky they are and realize so many of us live the other side of the coin. Most of us wouldn't choose this chaotic lifestyle, but its what we have. We deal, sometimes we cry, and then we get up and face it all again. and those tv families? Imagine how boring our lives would be if we lived that perfect charming life!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hockey Mom/ Dance mom

I recently saw some stickers on the back of a vehicle. They said Dance Mom and Hockey Mom. Many of my kids have special needs. They have physical disabilities, they have developmental disabilities, they have health problems. They won't ever play hockey or go to dance class.

 But they work hard to progress and we are proud of all they do. We are proud of the spelling tests where a single word is correct, that's an improvement from none. We are proud of taking your first steps at age 7, perhaps more so than if they were 1-2 years old.  We are proud when we attend an event that ends having no meltdowns as these are rare. We are proud when a meal is finished and no one spilled their milk. We are proud when a night becomes morning without a wet bed. We are proud when school is attended with a smile. We are proud when we arrive on time to any given appointment as it means everyone was able to be independent in getting ready. We are proud when our ten year olds are able to self soothe when waking at night rather than waking the whole house. We are proud when a short tempered child walks way from an instigating sibling without socking them. We are proud of our kids too. Even though they don't have car stickers for people like us, we are proud parents nonetheless.

Friday, October 25, 2013



I missed out on a lot of my kids lives. They didn't come to me until preschool to school aged. I don't know all that happened in that time. Some memories come out now and then. A meal. A person. A place. Sometimes they are nice memories. More often they are not. The first time one of our newly arrived kids spilled their milk the terror on their face was evidence of their past. The way they quickly tried to smooth it over with I love you Papa! and I sowwy Papa! again and again shows the fear they must have felt. The relief was almost palpable when the only thing that happened was a towel was provided and we cleaned it up and more milk was poured and the meal went on. Last night after several years home, someone spilled the marbles from a game. We (oldest bio child and I) laughed and joked about losing your marbles. We suggested he just pick them up.  but he was frozen. The tears were coming. They wouldn't stop. The past was coming spilling out. The fear was visible on his face. His hands clenched and wringing. I told him I wasn't mad, I told him if they had gone under appliances we could move them and find the missing marbles. He was having none of it. He was stuck in his past. He was waiting for something that wasn't going to come.  I hugged him and got very close asking why he was crying, assuring I was not at all mad that he dropped the marbles. He said in his orphanage they beat him with a stick when he dropped things. I hugged him, he sobbed, I sobbed. I told him how horrible that was and how wrong they were. I told him how I would never ever do that. I told him I was so sorry that he had endured that. He told me that if they didn't have a stick they would get one from a tree. He also remembered a time when he wasn't in line properly, they wanted a straight line, and he was the wanderer. He got whacked then too. I love this boy so much. I love his squishy belly. I love his big ole head. I love how he tries to help. my heart hurts that he was hurting.   I cant fix it. I cant undo it. I can only carry through on my promise to love him and raise him without hurting him. He can count on that. I would give him anything. I would jump in front of a bus for him. That's the kind of love I have for him. He is mine. I think you could say we are pretty well attached. I hope he will learn that the world is not all bad. that there is good in the world. That not everyone will hurt you.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mr. Darcy

As if we don't have enough chaos at our house I felt like we needed something more. I brought home a cute little kitty we called Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy is a character in Jane Eyre. That's a favorite story of mine. He is the cutest little guy. He was a hairsbreadth away from the shelter. The young couple who I got him from rescued him from a neighbor who was going to kill him. They took him in and loved him but the landlord said he couldn't stay. They were under the gun to get rid of him. If they didn't find him a home in the next 24 hours he was going to go to the shelter. Our dogs and our other cat are not exactly thrilled with the interloper. The kids are all over that kitty. Our other cat is older and doesn't play. she is a good mouser but not great at personal relationships. She came from abuse so she probably has reactive attachment disorder, HA! but she is faithful about using her littler box so I settle for a relationship that includes my opening doors for her and buying cat food for her.. This new kitty likes snuggles and playing and we have all had a good laugh at Mr. Darcy since he came.  Don't tell my husband but Mr. Darcy is snoozing on our bed upstairs right now. Eric isn't real keen on sharing his bed with animals. But there are plenty of warm bodies for Mr Darcy to snuggle at night, he can lay up there in the day if he wants. Withuot further ado, allow me to introduce you to
 Mr. Darcy.

Monday, October 21, 2013


My Jaggy waggy. Try and find a nickname from Jaeger! Jaeger's name is always pronounced wrong but he never corrects anyone. He just goes along with it. His name sounds like Jay-ger. Not Jagger. Not Yaeger.  His name in Ukraine was something very different and when we told him his name was going to be Jaeger he would swing on the swings at the orphanage and yell out his name with the biggest smile on his face. each time he would come forward he'd yell.... Jaeger!......Vasiliy!....Enbeeeeeeerg! he was very cute and sweet in Ukraine. But was a bit of a stinker on his way home to the states. Now though he loves his mommy and often profresses how much he loves me and papa. He can out eat any teenage boy I ever met! He loves to cook. He loves movies and tv and video games. He is very competitive and always excels at whatever he does. He would love to play on a sports team. He is a great student and a funny kid. he always makes me laugh. He sometimes gets bored out here in the country when he can't find a sibling who wants to play with him. He likes to read. He knocked out Harry Potter the first year he was home, he had NO IDEA what he read but he read the whole book.  He read three muskateers last year for a book report and really enjoyed it. He is very interested in weapons of war and history of war and history in general. He loves to chat history with his Papa. He is the only one of our European kids who is squishy. I love to squeeze him. He isn't chubby, but not bony either. Just squishy. He loves to play with friends. He is always the first one out the door in the morning, the first one home after school, first one in the car if we are going out, first one to the dinner table. He is a love. He is almost 12. 12! he was merely 8 when he came home. He is growing up so fast but he is such a sweetheart and I love his hugs and kisses. He talks about wanting to join the military someday. He is only young and will probably change his mind but if he does I know he will take his vows there very seriously as he does most things.  THis is not to say we have never had any issues adopting a child as old as 8. But for the most part he has become your average American kid. and the sweetest son a mom could ask for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Sophie is the baby of the family at 7. She was only 3 when she came home. she was very stubborn and naughty when she came home. We used to call her the Ukrainian Mafia because with her disabilities she couldn't hit so she would LEAN HARD on anyone who offended her.  Fast forward to age 7, 4 years in a family of her own. She is sweet, loving, beautiful, caring, affectionate, thoughtful, kind. She still has a bit of a bossy personality but mostly she is a love. She and I spend many long days together as we travel to Philly often. She has gone from bossy little brat to happy grateful easy to get along with travel companion. She has had a lot of surgeries and has had to overcome a lot in her short life. but the smile on her face when she so proudly accomplishes something she was looking forward to, makes my life worth living. That smile alone is reason enough to get up in the morning. I love them all and would do anything for any of them but that smile of "I DID IT!" is why I adopted.  Sophie adores her Papa and has him wrapped around her little finger. Her best friend at school is a boy named Cai. She doesn't play much with dolls. SHe would rather play with the boys. SHe does like little people though. She got her own American girl doll last year for her birthday and was thrilled but really doesn't play with it. She LOVES to read. She can often be found reading. She loves to go outside but she is so fair she burns in the shade in the summer, and shes so thin and tiny and hard to maneuver she gets cold in the snow and its hard for her to get around in the snow. In the summer she can often be found on the porch in the shade with a hat and sunscreen playing cars with her brothers.  She is in second grade and doing great! she is so smart! She loves her big brother Cody lots. He takes good care of her. She shares a room with Chrysta but she likes Cody better. She is the royal princess.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Andre also known as AJ

AJ has the cutest smile. When we went to Ukraine to get Ben, a little boy with no front teeth, carrying a purse, and had drool running down his chin tugged the back of my shirt. I turned around and he smiled up at me. He was adorable. Little did I know, less than a year later he would not be a cute little boy in Ukraine but MY OWN cute little boy, right here at home. He was like a feral cat when he came home. He has come a LONG LONG WAY since then. When he walked in the door at home, finally, after a long travel, he saw Ben and went right to him and hugged him. He remembered him and called him by his Ukrainian name. They were long lost brothers at heart. To this day they share a room, wear same clothes, and love to match like twins. Their birthdays are exactly one month apart so except for that one month of the year they are twins. He is 10. He was 5 the first time I met him. He is a snuggling little boy. He LOVES nothing more than working with dad outside. He loves to garden. He loves shelling beans. He does not love spaghetti. or squash. but he has gone from throwing up at the sight of squash to eating it with a wrinkled up nose. That's progress. He is in third grade this year. He struggles with academics but he works hard and LOVES going to school. He rarely has behavior trouble at school. He thrives on routine, and vacations and late arrival days are very confusing to him. He loves his doll and hugs her when he is sad. He likes to help me care for the chickens. Even after the rooster attacked him and scared the daylights out of him, he lobbied for us to keep the rooster and not butcher him for the freezer. He knows the chickens are for food, and he was ok with the others going, but not with killing this one because he had been mean. He tries hard to be a good boy. sometimes he forgets his manners but he does try to be sweet and loving little guy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Oh my goodness what can I say about Diana? she is a sassy feisty little spit fire with the quickest wit you ever saw in a ten year old! She is snuggly and funny and silly and sassy. She ALWAYS helps me do dishes. even when I insist she do something else she will stay and help. I never have to ASK Diana to help with dishes. if I turn on the water she is right there with a towel.  She is the silliest girl, she gets this wild giggle when she is feeling crazy.  She likes tickles. She says goodbye my darling to me every morning. She is tiny compared to the others who are already small for their ages. She is a little embarrassed that she is younger than her classmates but she does very well at school and gets along fine and has many friends. She doesn't get too involved in emotional warfare. if someone isn't her friend anymore she announces that they aren't very nice  and then moves ahead.  This kid wakes with a smile and ready to sass. I do not wake with a smile. I do not wake well. This kid though could JUMP out of bed the second she opens her eyes and say OPAH!!!  She can be moody sometimes but mostly when she is grumpy it is around the same things. One thing that makes her grumpy is spaghetti. although if she puts ketchup on it she will eat it. (go figure) Another thing is squash/pumpkin. She and Chrysta butt heads regularly. or if I am grumpy she will be grumpy. but if you project happiness on her she will shine it right back at you times ten. Diana loves the color purple and will love anything that's purple. (maybe I should make purple spaghetti!) She loves her American Girl Doll Makenna. Unlike some of the other kids she understands sarcasm and jokes. She once called me Makenna's grandma and I told her she was out of the will. she laughed and laughed about that and tried laughingly to make it up to me while slipping and calling me grandma.  Her name sounds like dee-onna and people always say die-anna. it drives her crazy. Eric thought she would evolve to accept Die-anna pronunciation but she is a stubborn thing and she remains Dee-onna. I wanted to change the spelling when we adopted but we didn't. I always tell her she can go by Claire(middle name) instead. she gags when I say that. she hates that name. She used to tell us all the ways Ukraine was better than here. The giraffs are bigger in Ukraine. The food is better in Ukraine. at the orphanage we had chicken and mashed potatos and gravy for breakfast.  She doesn't say that anymore. She rarely talks about Ukraine, except sometimes to share a memory from long long ago. She is a sweet girl. She loves to be a dramatic actor. I once asked her to do a chore and she fell immediately to the floor saying I am sick! of course the smile on her face gave it away. Watch for her to be famous someday, either on the silver screen or having done something amazing. With her there is no doubt. She is a gogetter. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


 Maia is my peanut. When She was born she was so tiny, and yet the biggest of the three kids I birthed.  After a difficult pregnancy loss and loss of two adoption referrals she was my miracle. She is 9, but is only now learning to sleep alone. She loves to snuggle. She loves to read. She loves to pop in and snuggle when I am reading and have me read aloud to her no matter the book. She falls asleep every time. She also loves an afternoon nap, which is ironic since when she was a toddler she refused to sleep, ever. She was so tiny when she was born. and now she is all arms and legs. When she was a toddler she was a chunk and we would ask whats for dinner? and grab her thighs and say HAMLETS!!!! she would scream and laugh. she still loves it but she doesn't have hamlets anymore. The day she lost her squishy baby fat somewhere along the way. I miss it. when we would part I would always tell her to stay squishy. Guess it didn't work because she is gangly now. She is dreamy and lives in sillyland often. She is wild and crazy. She loves her brothers and sisters but certain sibs drive her crazy. Every now and then she and the ones who make her crazy will be found having a laughing hysterically good time together. She likes to be a little girl, some of her sisters are in more of a hurry to grow up.  She doesn't care much about clothes. whatever fits or falls out of the dresser is fine. No need to fret about fashion. She always hated having her hair brushed and keeps it short now.  She loves piggies and collects them. She carries her baby blankie around with her in a pillow case because its in shreds and she isn't ready to give it up. She loves her American Girl doll.  She loves polly pockets too. She loves sleeping on the top bunk. She loves vegetables and cookies too. She is a happy go lucky girl who loves most everything. unless she doesn't.....then she's crying. She is a sensitive girl. She gets her feelings hurt. She cries to mommy. She loves Greek Mythology and begs daddy to read Black Ships Before Troy to her every night, even though she can read it herself easily enough. She has her daddy wrapped around her little finger.  She is in third grade where she does well.  She is the light of my life, one of them anyways.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Ethan struggles the most emotionally. Yet he writes me love notes. He leaves them on my pillow or tapes them to my headboard.  sometimes he lets just hold him and rock him and help him calm down. I love that. When he was a babe we rocked him every night before we put him to bed. He is in fourth grade. He struggles academically also, but he doesn't have any behavior reports from school. Ethan was always cute and people often tell me how he looks like Macauley Culkin. When I say he was cute, I meant we thought he was cute. he was ours and we were smitten. but when we look at photos from his coming home we do not see the same boy we saw then. To us he was THE most beautiful child on the planet. Looking back he was scrawny, bony and pock marked with dull hair and dull eyes.  We still see him as beautiful. He struggles with so much he is not very happy a lot of the time. He likes to cook and does not like taking out the compost. He likes to help but not when he could be playing. He likes to play games but waiting his turn is hard and losing is even harder. He used to sing CHEESE GLORIOUS CHEESE!!! at the dinner table(thanks to Daddy) Ethan is a tiny guy. He was only 15 pounds when he came home and wearing a size 1 diaper. He was 2 years old then. He has grown considerably but is still on the small size for his age. A lot of our kids are smaller so he fits in just fine. This is the first year he has gone to school most days(so far) with a smile and returned home with a smile. That is a big improvement and makes it a lot easier on everyone. Ethan had a hard time adjusting to Ben's arrival but now he and Ben are best friends and he rarely plays without him. He likes chickens. Once he stormed outside to take care of the chickens, it was reported to me that he was "messing with the chickens" and I went out there ready for a fight. What I found was a little boy sitting in the chicken coop, on the ground, holding a chicken in his lap and petting it gently. The bird didn't fight to move. He just held it gently and pet it. Was a very sweet moment.  Ethan also has processing disorder. This makes for many understandings in our house.  Every now and then he likes to get in on something funny. He likes practical jokes. especially jokes played on his sibs and his dad. He adores his Papa. He likes making up stories and sharing them. He talks about inventing things one day. Of course he also talks about building uniquely useful things. He is our first adoption.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Chrysta was my first baby girl and spoiled ROTTEN! Her dad worked nights when she was infant so she was Mama's girl ALL the time. I let her sleep in my bed nights since night feeding would be easier that way. I dressed her in dresses and ruffles every day. As she grew she  became such a funny little pip. And STUBBORN! She is a Junior in high school now. She is so beautiful. She went to Ukraine with us and has a heart for orphans. She also understands that some people struggle and she stands up for them, even when it means friends turn away. I am proud to be her mother. She enjoys going to church group every week. She likes horses. She shares a room with Sophie. She struggles sometimes with growing up. She is planning ahead  to college and what to do with her life. I know that whatever she does, it will be the thing she really wants. She would fight tooth and nail to the very end if she had to do something she didn't like. She is a girl that knows her own mind. I love her. I wish she hadn't grown up so quickly. I wish she was my tiny baby. She still wants Mama. When she leaves home for HER life it will break my heart. I will miss her terribly. she is firmly lodged in Mama's heart.