Thursday, October 4, 2012

Discoveries and Adjustments

So parenting is tough - I don't think anyone with a brain in their head would dispute that.  Parenting preschoolers is tough and exhausting - another well documented fact.  Parenting preschoolers who speak not a word of English and have been spoiled for a majority of their lives is darn near impossible - especially in a foreign country.  The girls are AWESOME - don't get me wrong, but anytime they have to go to sleep is difficult and we had honestly forgotten just how much trouble this age can manage to find.   NOTHING is sacred - Eric has "lost" his bookmarks out of his books several times, hairbows have gone missing, Michael's backpack was commandeered from day 1, toys get thrown, one sister hits another one, someone falls off the furniture that they had been told repeatedly not to jump on, one steals the other one's toy, tell mom "ne" aka "no" and run in the other direction, open the door to the apartment and try to escape while mom is dealing with one of the other sisters, they pull all of the clothes out of the cabinets and take all of the bedding off of the beds all in about 7.2 seconds.   "M" has much shorter hair than her 2 sisters.  I had kind of wondered about that and Eric and I talked a little about it in passing but this week we figured out why her hair is probably so short - little miss has an affinity for scissors.  I didn't realize that there was a pair in a drawer next to our bed where she was "taking a nap".  When I went in to check on her she had a nice little snippet of hair that she was trying to hide before she was busted.  A hair-cutter, just what I need!  "N" has decided that Michael is her least favorite person on the planet (which is RIDICULOUS since he is an absolute sweetheart to her) and will NOT sit by him or hold his hand when we are walking somewhere.  Unfortunately for her, she has 2 little sisters who need mom and dad's supervision a little more often so she is stuck with him often.  We had quite the little meltdown as we left the American Embassy today when she had to sit in the back seat with him and later we had our facilitator warn her that she WOULD be sitting next to him on the airplanes because Mom and Dad would be needed with her little sisters.  Her basic response was - I think I'll just stay in Bulgaria. ;) (Not really, but that's what her look said).  Of course then we get back to the apartment and she has as much fun chasing him and playing with him as the other 2 do.    I'm so tired and I am having to relearn some of my "coping techniques" from when Michael and Charity were this age :)
I'm also thrilled beyond belief that we got the 3 coolest and most adorable kids in this whole country - sorry to disappoint all of you guys still waiting for your referrals ;)  They are full of energy, no doubt, but they are also incredibly loving to us and each other, they are hilarious and they appear to really enjoy being a part of a family.  They jump right into anything we are doing with both feet - even laundry and after dinner clean-up.  
We are ready to come home and figure this stuff out in the comfort of our own home.  We had our Embassy appointment this afternoon - painless, and the girls' visas will be picked up tomorrow afternoon. We get to have lunch with our Bulgarian friends tomorrow so that will be fun.  We stayed with them for most of our first trip over here and I know they are excited to meet our girls.  We are scheduled to leave on Saturday morning and arrive home at 6:55 pm that same day - not that we are eagerly awaiting that or anything.   One more day....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Whirlwind of a week...

I always admire God's sense of humor.  No sooner had a posted on our blog about traveling to get our girls at the end of October and I get a phone call asking if we can be there at the end of SEPTEMBER!  Yes - do the math.  I got a phone call on Monday asking if we could be there on Sunday which means leaving on Saturday.  That's about 5 1/2 days to get packed for 6 people and get everything lined up to leave 3 children at home.  So we said, "Sure, no problem!"  Called our travel agent and grandma and I writing this post with one of my newest girls sitting on my lap.  It still seems surreal.  We hopped a flight on Saturday afternoon...

and killed time in Chicago playing a little Phase 10 (a favorite at our house).

We had a 45 minute layover in Munich which bummed Michael out since his favorite soccer team is there and he was really hoping to blow some money in the gift shop.  We at least got a picture in front of the window so we have his silhouette in Munich :)

We were picked up from the airport and taken to our apartment.  It is a 2 bedroom right near city center and is PERFECT for this trip.  2 bedrooms and lots of toys - what else could we need.    

We drove over and got the girls at about 10:30 this morning and have been on the go ever since.  Leaving was pretty emotional.  The girls were honestly loved there so it was hard for the babas (volunteer grandmothers) and workers to see them go.  It was tough on "N" as well.  She is old enough to understand what is going on a little so she was crying as we left.  She was her normal self about 1/2 an hour later and has been fine since but I'm sure there will be bouts of homesickness over the next few months


This afternoon we had medical appointments and passport photos and applications.  We are playing it low key and staying in this evening.  It's been a heck of a week and we need to rest :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's not ALL about the adoption (it just feels like it)....

While it may seem that our whole life revolves around the adoption - since that is what I talk about the most on this blog - that is thankfully far from the truth.  The waiting is hard enough when we are this busy.  So, because I have been negligent in updating my blog on a regular basis we will do a quick catch up.  

Jonathan got to attend camp this summer.  He has wanted to go for a couple of years but circumstances (many of his own choosing) kept him from going.  This year though he was determined and old enough to attend the camp put on by the local children's hospital specifically for special needs kids.  The whole place is wheelchair accessible and the staff:camper ratio is at most 2:1.  It is really an incredible place and Jonathan had a great week - so much so that he cried from the minute we showed up to bring him home until an hour after we had arrived home - that is over 2 hours of tears!  Needless to say, he is planning on returning next year and would really like to stay for 2 weeks.  I'm not sure this momma could handle that!


Joseph made a big decision at his session of church camp this year - he accepted Jesus as his savior!  Thankfully he was smart enough to save his baptism for a time when Mom and Dad could witness it since we were out of town at the end of camp.  It's has been really fun to see his excitement and to see him growing in his faith (and apparently in stature as well - look how tall he is getting!!)

It wouldn't be summer at our house without a healthy dose of 4-H.  While Eric still dreads it, the rest of us enjoy every moment of fair week (except the oppressive heat) and they have so much fun seeing their placings that it is worth all the fights, sleepless nights, and tears that go in to finishing the projects.  Charity and her cousin are in the same grade and so they model their sewing projects together.  It was sweet to see that even though they were each others' competition, they were still willing to pitch in and help with all the little adjustments that need to be made as you wait for the judging.  And lets face it - they are both stinkin' adorable!  (In case you were wondering, the girls made their shorts/skirt.)

Michael and Charity also showed pigs this year.  We are taking a breather from that project next year so this year was extra important to them.

Joseph had a great 4-H year - receiving champion for his woodworking and foods projects.  Of course that meant we had to re-bake his muffins for the State Fair but we were super proud of him.  Both of those projects are very competitive so it is quite a testament to his (and my brother - the woodworking coach) hard work.  He thinks animals are too much work (smart boy) so he spent way too much of the week like this:

The three older kids enjoyed the watermelon eating contest.  Notice Charity on the end cheating by using her hands and not caring who sees her.

In the end, Joseph came the closest to winning but still fell short of a perfectly clean rind. 

 I couldn't resist the yummy watermelon so I conned my cousin's wife and her sister into going out to compete in a lady-like fashion.  I have to say - it was delicious!

Jonathan ran into one of his buddies from camp one day.  They spent several minutes catching up and playing ball. 

The bottom line for fair week:  It's a lot of hard work,


and downright fun!  (These are from the battle of the 4-Hers - basically an excuse to get wet and dirty!)

All too soon, summer was over and it was time for the first day of school.
Jonathan is in 3rd grade.

Joseph and Charity are in 5th grade and at the middle school with Michael who is in 6th grade.

We have had a busy fall with two football players and a "futbol" player.  Luckily Joseph and Michael are on the same team and Eric is assistant coach for Charity's soccer team so it keeps our running to a minimum. 

Michael plays center and nose guard.

Joseph plays running back and defensive end.
Soccer pics will be coming soon - I just haven't made it to a game with my camera yet.  (You can bet little miss has given me grief about that one!)

Just in case you think we haven't had any adoption work going on - so not true!
First things first - get the American Girl dolls that I received from my cousin shipped off to the Doll hospital for a makeover.
Before (this picture cracks me up.  I call it "Babies in a Box"! )

After - they are SO cute!

 Next, take black bunk beds and make them white....

Then turn this room:

into this:

And the final step on this side of the pond is - packing! I managed to fit all of the girls' stuff into one suitcase so then Michael, Eric and I will have two checked bags to put ours in.  I had to guess on sizes, not knowing how much they have grown in the past 4 months.  Thank goodness dresses and leggings are forgiving! 

 Now we just wait to hear when we will be traveling.  We hope to know by the end of the week since we had court on the 14th of this month.  We are anticipating late October or so but honestly it could be earlier or later - we just don't know.  
So, there we are.  All caught up.  I'll try to be better about updating once I am home with 3 little girls.  I'm kind of living it up in my last few weeks of relative freedom and trying to get all the things done that are made more difficult with preschoolers in tow - such as going to the hairdresser, dentist, trips to Cost.co, volunteering in the kids' classrooms, going to the gym, afternoon naps, catching up on Net.flix - you know, all the important stuff.


Friday, August 10, 2012

We received a court date!

We got an email this week that we have been scheduled for court on September 14th.  Hopefully 6-8 weeks later we will be allowed to go and grab the girls and bring them home (our agency goes to court on our behalf so we won't be making a trip until it's time to bring them home.)  I like having a date.  I was bummed that we weren't able to sneak in before the courts close for their summer holiday but I didn't realize how much NOT knowing was bugging me.  I like having a timeline - even a hazy one so knowing when "we" are going to court gives me that.  I now know I need to have the bedroom switched from "8 year old boy" to "spunky little girls" by the beginning of October - wishful thinking that it would be needed that early but still...better to be prepared :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Last visit

Yesterday during the girls' nap time we went to visit Rila Monastery.  This is the largest monastery in Bulgaria and they are rightfully proud of it.  It is beautiful, well maintained and in as wonderful a setting as you can imagine - high up in the mountains with a flowing river nearby.  Our driver visits here often and could tell us all about the area and the history.  It was a great way to spend the "waiting" time and our girls got a nice long nap since we got back to the orphanage a little bit later than normal.  It made for a very fun afternoon with them.  Have I told you how great they are? :)  
We had our last visit today. It was so hard to leave them, not knowing when we will be allowed to return to bring them home - my babies (although they will ADAMANTLY tell you that they are not babies!  We were only there in the morning today but we stayed a little longer than normal.  The kids were tired and hungry by the time we left but it made them more willing to snuggle so it wasn't all bad :)  "N" asked if we would be back tomorrow and our facilitator explained to her that we had to return to America to get their bedroom ready and do work before they could come home.  She took it well and told us as we were leaving that they would wait for us - break my heart.  We are really praying that we will be able to have court in July.  Our documents are all here, updated and ready to go so we'll pray that God intercedes and we get an early court date. 
After we returned to the city, our facilitator dropped us off in the city centre (aka downtown) and we walked around for awhile, ate a leisurely lunch and then took a cab back to our hotel.  The hotel is very nice (Hotel Geneva). It is slightly outside of the city centre and therefore about 1/2 the price but with all the amenities that we spoiled Americans expect in a hotel - even in Eastern Europe.  ;)  We took naps this afternoon and will be packing tonight for an early start in the morning.  Our flight leaves at 7:15.  I'm torn between my desire to stay and spend some more time hangin' out with my girls and the fact that I miss the other 4 yahoos who are waiting patiently for their parents to come home and show them pics and videos of their new sisters.  It won't be long and we'll be back in Bulgaria- ready to bring some more fun and laughter into our house in the form of 3 spunky sisters!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visits 2 & 3

Every day looks the same for us on this trip.  We leave the apartment around 9:00.  Arrive at the girls' orphanage at 10:00.  Play until lunch.  Kill time until 3:00 (when they get up from their naps) and then play for another couple of hours before heading back to Sofia.  The kids have been very open to us and would be perfectly happy if we took them with home with us on Saturday.  Unfortunately for all of us, that is not allowed.  They will be traveling to the coast for a few weeks this summer so they are happy not to miss that.  They are such funny girls.  "N" is the oldest and very much in charge.  She is only 18 months older than "M" but she lords that difference over the other two.  "M" and "K" are 11 months apart and chatter at each other all the time.  "M" is very sweet and generous, "K" is the spoiled baby.  They all prefer to spend their days outside so today we sat outside and colored, climbed on the playground equipment, painted nails and played with play-doh.  That playdoh has caused so many arguments!  They each have 3 containers of it but they can't seem to keep from trying to steal their sisters' - especially "N" and "K".  "M" is very picky about hers and doesn't want her colors mixed together (a girl after my own heart) but the other two have smooshed pink, purple, green, and orange in all sorts of nasty fun ways.  "N" was quieter today and was obviously torn between spending time with us and playing with her friends.  We told her it was fine to play with her friends but she still stayed with us and looked longingly at them.  Eventually one of the girls came up to where we were and she and "N" played for awhile across the playground from us - still within yelling distance for "N" and Mama and Taty.  Tomorrow will be more of the same.  We only have about 6 more hours to spend with them - boooo.  We are praying that we are able to have court in July so that we can return hopefully in September.  It will go fast, yet feel like an eternity!!! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The adventure begins

We are here and THEY ARE AWESOME!  I can't be too specific but today we met our new children.  We arrived in Bulgaria yesterday and spent the day with our dear friends Latcho and Lucy, in whose home we are staying. They took us to a church with a cloister of nuns about 30 minutes outside of Sofia and they fed us lots of yummy food and then sent us to bed early :)  This morning we stopped by the notary's office to sign paperwork before traveling to the kids' orphanage for our first meeting.  It went as well as we had hoped and leaving these sweeties in a few days is going to be very difficult.  Tomorrow we will visit in the morning and the afternoon.  It is supposed to rain so keeping busy hands and feet occupied when we can't go outside should be a trick.  Keep praying!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good News!

I don't know if anyone still checks this (besides my sister - she is very loyal) but thought I would share just in case.  We received and accepted a referral for 3 little girls this week!  I can't give any more details than that right now but they are absolute darlings!  (I have never met them and they aren't officially my children yet so I'm not biased - right?)  Eric and I will make our first trip over there in about a month and then hopefully bring them home sometime in the fall.  The other kids are BEYOND excited and obviously it is all we can think about right now.  I completed and mailed off a huge stack of paperwork today and hopefully will have another stack to mail out tomorrow.  We are furiously trying to scrape together the funds for our next couple of payments so if you are reading this and have some extra cash lying around that you want to throw our way - contact me and I can set you up with a 501-c3 that you could donate to "for us".  Just kidding - kind of.  I hate fundraising!!! The kids also still have puzzle pieces that they are still trying to get sponsored.