Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Well, the family has been all here for 2 weeks now, and we are settling into somewhat of a routine, which is comforting for everyone! Lots of medical appointments have been accomplished (including one trip to the ER when Deyan had a seizure on Christmas day...he is ok, and we are going to continue to watch for any additional seizure activity. If he has any more, we will visit a neurologist), and many more have been made for January into February (and March for Opthamology)
The weather has been mild off an on, allowing for some time to be outside for a while at least. Martin LOVES to be outside. Doesn't matter if it is cold or not, he likes outside. I know when Jacob first came home, he LOVED to be outside, even in the rain. I think it is just feeling these things after having never been experiencing anything like this. I don't do well in the cold, but the boys sure do love it!
We brought the porch swing frame into the basement and hung a toddler swing from it for indoor swinging time. We did this for 2 years with Jacob. It took him a month or more to finally feel comfortable sitting in the swing when it was hanging from the frame. He would sit in it on the floor, and even while I was holding it up (coul;dn't do that too long) but not on the frame. We figure he had been placed in it and left for a long period of time and didn't trust he could get down. So we put him in and took him out again, over and over, and eventually, he got to liking it.
Well, this time, Deyan LOVES the swing, and will swing as long as someone will push him. Martin will not even LOOK at the swing! He is such a scared, timid little boy. Right now, we are working on just having him look at the swing, and maybe push it empty.
I have an IKEA swing to hang in the basement from the ceiling, and the special bolts to hang it, but have not gotten anyone to do it yet. It is not in Jim's area of expertise, so we must contract this out. Jacob will love it when we get it hung.  ANd I know once Martin is over his fear, he will also love to swing.
We are getting a bedtime routine that seems to be working. Deyan falls asleep easily, in his crib, with no crying. Martin fights it tooth and nail. I cannot just leave him in the crib, as he will hit and scratch himself, so I am sitting with him (after both get some nighttimes rocking/snuggle time) until he falls asleep. He is not happy with the program at all, but will get used to it. Both sleep through the night, awakening anywhere from 5 to 7 am.
As the days inch by, Martin is showing his temper more and more. I'm glad he has one, as it is probably the only thing that has kept him going. He otherwise is so afraid of things. We have made their "world" pretty small by keeping in the family room mostly, and Martin wants to be out and about much more. We take them on short trips (went to get shoes for Martin, Deyan and Jacob the other day. Went to Stride Rite. I must say...the sales rep was SOOOO helpful. We got in and out, with 3 pairs of shoes, in less than 15 minutes, and a promise that during their spring buy one get one 1/2 off sale, if we call ahead, someone will come in before the store opens or stay after closing time, to accommodate us with no crowds. How nice is that??)  and practice walking up and down the steps for Martin, swing for Deyan, occasional outside for all, but other than that, we are in the family room, playing or chilling. 
Oops gotta cut this short. Martin is up from his nap. More hopefully soon, and I will ask Jim to help me with photos.
in the meantime, visit his blog for pictures and videos
www.apapasstory.blogspot.com

Mary

Friday, December 23, 2011

At Home Update...Merry Christmas

I've been totally neglectful of blogging, but with good reason....we are B.U.S.Y with the kiddos in our home now.
Homecoming was awesome! They were on the last flight in, and were the last ones through security, so we had a very quiet reunion. It was heavenly. I missed my family so much, and to hold my little boys once more, well, it was just perfect.

Each day shows us more and more what these guys are all about. Deyan has cornered the market on cute/cuddly and we are all smitten. He still scoots to propel himself, but can now climb up on the couch, chair and ottoman but cannot yet (safely) get down independently! He prefers to sit atop the furniture...probably feels safer there with all of the hubbub going on. He is a very small guy, weighing in at just under 23 lbs, wearing 12-18 month clothing, but being almost 6 years old! His belly is quite impressive....very large. We have already had our first check up at the international adoption clinic, cardiology, and GI for Deyan. GI noted that he has very lax muscles in his belly and they think much of the enlargement is from air...he swallows A LOT of air. They were concerned with his size, and want us to feed him 5 meals (full meals, no "snacks") PLUS 4 cans of pediasure a day! He does eat, and we have rarely seen him indicate that he is full, but his belly gets SO big, I just cannot imagine getting this much food into him in one setting. We shall see.
He is a great sleeper at night, and all around, a joy! He makes me smile.

Christoper Martin (STILL are arguing over his name. I like the name Martin, and Jim has taken to calling him "Marty Moose", but then Joey and Matt both correct us saying "Christoper". More like "Chrit-o-per". ) He is such a scared, timid little boy. New things are not cool according to him, and boy, his life has just sprouted a TON of new things. We are trying to keep it simple. I have noticed that although he is self abusive at times (when stressed or bored) he is easily redirected, AND those times are decreasing daily. Many times today he was poised to smack himself in the head, but found something else to do!  One great thing about his timidity is the fact that he looks to us to reassure him. He wants to be carried when out and about (we are not going out much, but a quick trip to the grocery store, and today, we went to IKEA to get him a crib) and really looks to us to provide that stability. He loves to "do laundry"...folding whatever clothing items he can find...mostly washcloths.

Overall, the transition with these two is going very well, and we could not be happier with them.

I must publicly thank Marie for going with Jim and James to pick these treasures up, and continues to lend invaluable support at home. And Emily, who is finding lots of time between school and work to help out.  And James, and Joey, who have been playing with, getting supplies for, and overall just being here with us during this transition time. Julie for coming over to visit and bringing Allie to see her new uncles, and helping out where she can. I can't wait for Catie to be able to make it over to meet her new brothers! We tried a couple of times but could not coordinate schedules...well, the boys' schedule keeps changing nap times!

Merry Christmas to all!

Mama!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last post from Bulgaria!!


Even though the kids went to bed early they slept in until just about 7!  Typical breakfast routine; Martin sat in the bath tub this morning, too!  YAY! He needed to be prompted in Bulgarian to sit down then needed physical help but did not resist at all.  I poured water in front of him, not too high and kept it in the same spot each time.  One time he got brave and put his hand under the water but other than that his hands stayed glued to the sides of the tub.  Deyan was, of course, jealous/upset/snotty about Martin being in the tub and me playing with him.  He was told he has to share the tub and his “rie rie” and he actually pouted a bit!  Little stinker.
After some packing done by papa we packed up the kids and walked to a traditional Bulgarian restaurant.  Martin was overwhelmed and scared so dad took him back to the hotel while James and I stayed with Deyan.  Luckily we had 2 Humana yogurt things in the diaper bag because it took close to 40 mins to get our food and the woman misunderstood that we wanted a baked potato with cheese and we got fried potatoes.  James and I enjoyed them but once our food came, the most delish fire roasted pork on a spit I’ve ever had!!!!, I was able to communicate that we wanted a baked potato with cheese, but instead of cheese we got butter.  That worked well for Deyan, though.  He ate the equivalent of 1 medium sized potato plus 2 rich in nutrient yogurts.  He was a bit squirmy throughout but  nothing that couldn’t be handled with some one on one time.   Our meal took longer than we planned and dad came in right as the woman was boxing up the left overs.  He had gotten a cab tour set up through the hotel.
This was the best tour I’ve ever done in a foreign country.  Our driver, Dmitri, is Russian by blood, grew up in Bulgaria and spoke FANTASTIC English!  He’s married and wants to have children and was sooooooooo good with both boys.  He would turn around and tickle them and talk to them, he drove us around for close to 3 hours showing us all the sights and telling us about the history behind all of it.  He also took us to a church that was built in the 10th century.  While on our drive up to the church we stopped at Starbucks, which was nice but very different from the ones in the States.  Luckily the barista spoke English and was able to tell me what they did and didn’t do.  It took close to 10 mins just for a drip coffee and an iced green tea.  Deyan fell asleep on my lap while playing with my hands.  He put my hands over his in a praying position and then fell asleep on my lap.  I LOVED it.  Plus Martin had his hand on mine and it was so sweet.  I asked James to take a picture so we’ll see how it turned out! 
After we got back to the hotel we did some more packing and played with the boys.  Deyan loves to stand on the bed and have your thumbs to stand up, comes in for a hug then puts both of his hands up and falls backwards.  I always have my hands on his back or sides as he’s going down, just in case, but he laughs and LOVES it.  So MAMA BE WARNED..HE WILL TRY THAT AT HOME!!!  When I ask for a kiss in Bulgarian he will sometimes give me his face, sometimes pucker up and sometimes pull away.  Sometimes he just sits there and I take a kiss from him. J  He’s spontaneously come up and put his mouth and lips on me 2 times tonight and I tell him in Bulgarian “thank you for the kiss!” 
I am so glad that I know what Bulgarian I do know.  I will keep studying the phrases because I know they will come in handy at home.  They respond well when some things are in Bulgarian. 
I went down to get the passports and visas with Martin while James had Deyan in the tub and papa was at the Billa. (grocery store) Martin, the man with the passports and such, went right over to baby Martin and picked him up, talked to him and joked with me that the passports were his.  I joked back and said they were mine and that baby Martin was mine; he laughed and we shared a moment with baby Martin.  Then the hotel did something so sweet.  The receptionist came from behind the counter and gave me a bag of goodies for the boys.  She told me that the Mickey Mouse stuffed animal was specially for Martin and that Winnie the Pooh was for Deyan.  There was also a bag for each boy of chocolates.  Then when I got back up to the room, another person brought up a plate of dessert pastries for us, as a congrats J  I don’t know if this is typical but it was very sweet and much much appreciated! 
After another quiet evening and bath the boys were ready for bed; I went down to the restaurant and here I sit, typing and eating my last dinner..Shopska sala and spick Hungarian goulash and beer.  We are up at 4:30am tomorrow for a LONG travel day.  I am very excited to be home and see my husband and dog as well as Jake, Joey, Matt, Emily, Julie and baby Allie. 
Prost to a safe, easy, calm and stress free near 18 hours of travel!
Deuces everyone J

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Full day of running around..with AMAZINGLY behaved children!


Woke up with everyone at around 7:50am, which was fantastic except we had to leave at 9:00am for the doctor!  Sent James down to  get his breakfast and he brought it up to the room so he could help watch the boys while I ran downstairs to make the boy’s pouppri/mish mash.  Deyan ate more this morning than he has every other morning, other than Saturday morning when he at like 5 pieces of coffee cake and about ½ cup of milk to make it mushy!  While he ate more than usual he did not eat a lot at all; maybe 8 bites.  MAYBE.  Martin, however, ate really really well!  Dad showered while I changed boys, got them dressed, finished feeding and packed up the boys.  I left my jacket and just took my scarf, an afgan from India; a gift from a friend.  I get so hot so easily and HATE being sweaty.  I’m glad that I didn’t wear my coat.  It was FLIPPING HOT in that stupid building! 
Okay, going to get political for just a sec, mom feel free to delete this part from the blog if you want to because it is my own personal view and rant…This morning was the perfect example of why Obamacare is stupid.  It was 1 building with all the doctors on different levels.  It was so impersonal. (I realize we are never going to see the doctors again, and that we are just here for an okay to enter the States but still)  The building had just about every type of doctor and was full of people at 9:20am.  Hot, over crowded building full of people with who knows what’s wrong with them or why they’re there..not being able to pick my doctor or an appointment time is NOT okay.  And apparently this was a PRIVATE clinic! Screw a “for real” public one.  And SCREW OBAMACARE. There, I’m done J And see, mama, I put it into a paragraph all its own so you can just highlight and delete if you want J 
One level down from the peds was the obgyn clinic.  I had Deyan down there while he practiced walking.  He got lots of loving looks and a woman even played ball with him for close to 5 mins.  She talked to him in Bulgarian, I could understand some of it.  She was telling him he’s handsome/beautiful, that he’s good and sweet.  She had tears in her eyes when I told her that he’s being adopted and going back to the States.  She spoke English very well and we talked for a bit.   Eye doctor, did not get their eyes dilated.  I asked if we had to and we didn’t..no sense in ruining their vision for a few hours and making things uncomfortable especially when they are going to have another car ride later.  Next was the what I’m assuming was the ENT, but she just looked in their ears and sent us on our way.  I know at least Deyan has an ear infection, probably Christopher, too, because I can see some drainage in his ear.  I am really mad that they didn’t say anything.  I wasn’t expecting a prescription or anything but just a “hey, he is probably in pain, try some Tylenol” is the least I expected.  The pediatrician was a very lovely gentleman.  After waiting for close to 1 hour to see him we went into his office.  He had propped a window open by using a toy block from the waiting area (which I am completely okay with) and I could see an immediate difference in both boys from even just 30 seconds in a cooler room.  Before we went in I was pacing, playing and walking with Deyan while dad walked stairs with Christopher/Martin/Marty. 
Deyan apparently had an ultrasound in August and only has 1 kidney.  From what I remember, neither of his testicles have descended either.  I’m not too worried about his kidney right now; I change his DRENCHED diapers more than Martin/Christopher/Marty.  Every morning he wakes up soaked through his diaper, onsie and footie jammies and on to his sheet.  I change him RIGHT before he goes to bed, too.  Martin/Christopher/Marty is fine, according to his “check up.”  Nobody even looked at his face from his SIB.  He’s been getting Neosporin with pain relief on it and we’ve been really good about his hands.  He gets in a few baps every once in a while but you can tell with the way he hits himself that he has to go at it for a while to create that kind of damage. 
Back to the hotel for the boy’s quick lunch, both ate well,  and caught a cab to the US Embassy.  Martin LOVES taxi rides!  He sits in the middle seat in the back so he can see out the front and will sit there with his hands on his lap and just watch; makes an occasional clicking and popping sound but very very well behaved!  Deyan saw that Martin was sitting in a seat so he wanted to sit alone, too.  After about 3 mins sitting in front of my legs that was not good enough and he wanted to sit alone next to Martin.  He sat there very nicely!!!  We met Dani at the Embassy.  After security with the boys, which was a breeze compared to any other security I’ve done (and I still felt very very safe…they just were fantastic and understood the needs of the kids and were so GREAT.) We were the first called to see the whoever we had to see to be able to come home. 
While waiting I was talking to a woman who was adopting a 5 year old boy.  The boy, she said, was classified as moderately mentally retarded.  The boy spoke clearly, though loudly, made eye contact, walked, ate well and communicated with everyone around him. The only difference between him and a typical kid that I could tell was his voice was very very very very loud.  He LOVED Deyan; wanted to give him some of his drink and share his cookies.  It was so sad to tell him that Deyan doesn’t chew and drink well at all.  He said that he would give him a drink and a banana tomorrow. J 
After 5 mins in the interview room, and the man telling us it was nice to talk to US citizen that aren’t criminals, we were on our way with the paper work in hand! Caught a cab back to the hotel and played with the boys while papa got a nice break and dinner.  I showed Martin how to pour coins from a cup to a bowl and other things like that, and he LOVED it.  HE did it with me for about 3 mins before Deyan scooted over and wanted all of my attention.  Martin was okay with James playing with him so I snuggled with Deyan. 
I am in the hotel restaurant right now having dinner, at close to 9pm, and apparently both boys went to sleep about 40 mins ago!!!!!  Deyan was POOPED, plus he got a melatonin and a Triaminic cough strip for his cold.  He was out in about 5 mins and Martin/Christopher/Marty followed suit.  James came down and helped me finish my dinner, pork medallions wrapped in bacon, broccoli (maybe the best tasting broccoli of my life) and tater tots made with for real mashed potatoes, not shredded taties.  Hopefully bed time is early tonight; I’m tired and I’m guessing that it will be an early morning because of such an easy going, early night!
Tomorrow is our last day here and dad and I were talking about doing a cab tour of the city; hopefully I can get out and take some pictures at some places.  Plus there is a Starbucks out there.  I’ve had really good coffee here at the hotel but a nice, comfort coffee (Christmas blend!!!) will be nice.  I also have gifts to get, and the Christmas-mart is still open.  Both boys like the car and both enjoy being out in the fresh air so hopefully we can get out!  There is also a traditional Buglarian restaurant down the street, as well as Happy Grill.  I vote traditional, we’re hoping the boys will be good out to eat..i guess we will find out!  Well, I am off to the room, dad says Deyan is sleep singing (I LOVE IT) so we have to be super quiet…I am going to make photo books and stuff tonight before my coupons expire ..then hopefully an early bed time!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where have all of the comments gone?

Mary here....
I don't know where the comments that folks are leaving are going. I have reports that people are leaving comments. I have my blog set to moderate comments, and they should come in an email to me. I've gotten 2, both of which I have published.  There are none in my "un-moderated" comment section, and none in my spam section.  Anyone have any suggestions? Email me, because apparently if you leave a comment, it won't get to me!

Mary

2 day update (the power is off..yay);


Yesterday was a full day of no appointments, just chilling in the hotel with the 2 boys.  Breakfast is a mix we are calling poupourri –just because that is how it looks like it would be pronounced in English.  It is a mix of (yay power is back on!!) bread, green tea, sugar, cheese and butter. I know, iew, right?  I took down the paper schedule that Deyan’s orphanage gave to us; my mom said that the schedule is a country wide outline that each orphanage is supposed to follow.  So, assuming each director did their job, each boy should be pretty close to the same as far as schedule expectations and such.  I think Deyan is just not a big breakfast eating type of guy.  He takes a good 20-30 mins to wake up completely.  During this time he babbles to himself and gently tickles and rubs his arms and belly, especially around his belly button.  I help him out a bit but he mostly just wants to sit on my lap and do it himself.  The kindly man who works what seems to be everywhere in the hotel made the mish mash and brought it up to the room with James.  Martin LOVED it.  The cheese is as close to Feta as I can describe; it’s very crumbly, solid white and thick.  Deyan didn’t eat any of it but ate a yogurt at around 9:30 or 10.  He’s been rubbing his ears a lot and after about 30 mins of a dose of Tylenol he stops so I’m guessing it’s an earache.  He’s got a cold; green snotty nose, congested and phelmy cough so earache fits the shoe quiet well.  Snacks are a yogurt, half a banana and sometimes 8 little vanilla wafer like crackers, or no cookies.  Martin loves walking up and down the stairs; he more likes being carried but he can walk and he will.  I give in and carry sometimes but tell him in Bulgarian to say “up”.  *FAMILY: ANOTHER THING TO LEARN TO SAY IS “say” IN BULGARIAN* that is helpful.  After only a few tries he successfully says “uhh” and puts his arms up to us when he wants up.  He can vocalize and has the ability to talk so we are requesting an “uhhh” sound (at minimum) for any up motion coming from us.  He can be stubborn, but what kid isn’t at times?  He definitely prefers James and my dad; dad more than James and James more than me.  I’m the last resort, pretty much, but that’s okay because he needs to get really attached and familiar with James and dad.  He picks me last usually because I am pretty demanding of vocalizations.  Call me “Mrs. Meanie”.  Martin raged again, but it wasn’t with as much force and intensity as the first night.  Deyan kept putting his arms and hands out to me to be picked up; how can I turn down a kid who spent 6 years being ignored and left alone to cry for who knows how long?!  I picked him up every time; first I kissed him and told him “I love you” in Bulgarian.  He would put his head on my shoulder, give me his mouth or cheek to kiss and put his arms up..how do you say no?!  Earlier in the day we went out for a walk..Martin was with my dad in his arms and I was pushing Deyan..Martin was overwhelmed with all the vehicles (he LOVES watching them from the window) so dad and James took him back to the room..within 3 mins of them being gone Deyan fell asleep in the stroller.  I walked back to the hotel and sat in the lobby with him sleeping in the stroller for about 40 mins..about an hour nap.  At about 20 to midnight my dad woke up and suggested a warm bath.  I went to run the water and when I came back out he said to let him be; to watch him but that he is looking like he’ll fall asleep.  Luckily, around midnight he did.  I tried putting him in the stroller again and walking the halls but apparently people can smoke in the hallways.  I am out of network with my insurance and I cannot go to the hospital here so we stayed in the hotel room. It was 1am before I got to bed; I showered, did dishes, washed clothes and hung them, folded dry clothes and collected my sanity. 
Last one asleep but I got to doze in and out for about 10 mins, which was nice.  I made mish mash this time and again Deyan didn’t want breakfast but ate a pudding for snack and chowed down on lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.  Dad made a few trips to the store, which was a nice break for him.  I walked 8 flights of stairs with Martin I’m sure what had to be close to 10 times today.  Up and down, up and down.  He loved riding the stroller…he wore gloves and didn’t throw them; just watched all the cars, trucks, busses and trollies go past.  Deyan slept for about an hour with dad in the room while James and I had Martin out for a walk.  (lucky dad!) At lunch we gave Martin a Dramamine, sometimes it can hype kids up.  He sat nicely for the stroller and a few hours after; but he’s getting Deyan’s cold and feels crummy.  He’s given himself a bruise where is old open wound was.  I think that area is still sensitive and doesn’t take a lot to bruise…just 1 hit in the right way.  James played with Deyan while I walked with Martin up and down the stairs some more.  Every step we took I exaggerated my steps and said, “dobre, bravo Martin!” Then with the next step translated it to English, “Good, good job Martin!” Gotta start working on that English little guys!  Deyan does not like to share!  Every toy that Martin gets, Deyan wants to take.  Luckily Martin doesn’t mind Deyan taking it (does he notice he’s younger? Fear of reprimand? Doesn’t give 2 monkies butts about the toy??) and Deyan will slowly move all the toys into “his section” of the room; which is pretty much wherever Martin is not.  Because Deyan does not walk he needs to move things in shifts..1 toy at a time to different “pit stops” while he brings the rest of the toys..then keeps going.  Pretty fun to watch but need to now study my cheat sheet for “share with your brother” sayings.  *FAMILY..STUDY!!!*  Martin was fading fast in the evening; we managed to sneak in some Tylenol; hi s scabs were hurting him and he was uncomfortable.  He ate 2 pudding cups, with Tylenol and melatonin, and got rubbed down with night time lotion.  I took Deyan in for a bath but when I brought him in to his crib, Martin woke up full force.  After the power went off and came back on I changed Martin.  Come to find out, I think he has worms.  Poor baby has been getting Mirlax, or something like it, the past few days and has only had 1 good sized BM.  Mom and Em agree it is probably worms; but there is nothing we can do until he gets here except feed him and love him.  He’s getting a lot of both!  It is now almost 1 am and Martin is still awake; the Dramamine had adverse side effects afterwards…we tried it now so we’d know these things.  Dad asked me to take a turn with him for a bit; I got him to sleep after a bit but then he woke back up when I tried to put him in his crib.  Dad got him laying down while I was just skyping with my husband, Sean, and we had all the lights out and I bumped into a bottle that clanked into another bottle.  Nothing fell and broke but 1 clank was all it took to wake him back up. I’M SORRY PAPA!!  So it looks like I’ll be waiting out the storm before I go to sleep…I’m with you, pop!!! Tomorrow we meet with the doc in the morning; hopefuilly he can look in ears and stuff and prescribe meds so the airplane ride doesn’t make their heads want to explode.  We also have the Embassy meeting at 1:30pm.  I’m still hoping to get to see some of the city before we leave..tomorrow may be the last day!! Here’s hoping!!! 
Catch you all on the flip side J  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Suggestion....

Jim and Marie had quite the day with the boys today.
Perhaps "Martin" would do better if we called him by his new first name "Christopher".

Just sayin'.....

Mama
(Can you guess who wants to call him Martin, and who wants to call him Christopher?)

HOLY COW.

 Martin, my darling, you are safe with us and we all love you.  You are a good boy.
That’s all I can say to this poor baby. L He had a 2 hour raging session this evening after I held him and got some Tylenol with melatonin in him.  During this he/I managed to break one of his scabs on his face.  He has displayed self injurious behavior recently; his cheek is scabbing over finally but it looks like he scratches and hits his cheek.  Tylenol was given in hopes to help the cheek; but I fear I did more harm than good.  He needed to be held in the nurse position for the syringe.  I melted the melatonin in a drop of water and added the Tylenol and sucked it into the syringe and gave it; more forced it.  He is good at resisting; I found the gap in his front bottom teeth and he got about ½ of the 5ml dose. 
HOWEVER, he spent over 2 hours raging.  And I mean RAGING.  Self abusive, screaming, crying and all.  It was a change of pace not having to bob and weave per Jacob method but broke my heart to see him so distraught.  And that’s exactly what he was.  Poor baby has NO clue what’s going on.  If I could change 1 thing in the adoption process so far it would be to have someone with us closely to be able to explain to the children what is going on.  The people here on the “team” are great;  I love them all for what they do and I can tell their heart is really in it!  But to just be able to have someone who’s sole job is to tell the children they are safe and with their new family; to be able to tell us if any of their communication is in Bulgarian or gestures that maybe we are not familiar with but are customary in their country. 
Dad did a FANTASTIC job with Martin!!!!!!!!  I am very impressed and Martin, while mad at the situation, clearly displayed comfort when in dad’s presence.  Papa asked me to be with Martin once while he went to the restroom.  At this point it was to the point of no return; Martin needed both hands held or prevented from going to his face to smack/punch/scratch/hit himself.  Plus he was banging his body and head on the crib and trying to climb out, all while screaming.  GOD BLESS Deyan; baby fell asleep during the commotion! 
Deyan and I kicked it for a couple hours while dad and James went to get Christopher.  I was VERRRYYY distraught that he was not eating.  I took him to breakfast in his stroller.  We were the only people there; it started at 7 and we were there at about 7:30.  I took him into the breakfast nook and faced him out so he could see me.  I got my coffee (the most important thing to start the day; ask anyone ;) ) and filled my plate so I wouldn’t have to go back for things for me.  (I had 2 small rolls and put ham, turkey, cheese, jam and butter on my plate along with slices of kiwi, oranges and grapefruit.)  I got Deyan breakfast; he’s been LOVING the coffee cake with milk and has eaten 3 pieces the past 2 mornings.  Well, this morning he flat out refused food; anything.  No matter what.  I tried a glass of milk just to get some protein in him and that was a no go as well.  I finished my breakfast and played with him while I did so.  We killed close to an hour and a half in the breakfast hall; complete with stares from just about everyone.  I was wearing my Reece’s Rainbow shirt  that says something like “It really is that black and white.  Every child with Down syndrome deserves a home”.  I’m sure the shirt helped with the stares.  I’m still in the middle of my tattoo design that is in memory of Jacob Henry, who passed before he could be saved from the despair of hunger, loneliness, fear and anxiety as well as to forever keep with me those who my family has been able to save and that we have been blessed with in birth. 
RIP JACOB HENRY. YOU WILL NEVER BEEN FORGOTTEN. WE ALL LOVE YOU AND THINK OF YOU EVERY DAY.
That brings me to my next topic.  Sadness.  I felt it all day today.  I cried this morning every time Deyan refused food.  He is so small and I know he needs what I am offering him and I don’t know why he won’t take it.  Every time he refuses I think of Jacob Henry and how he died.  I look at this precious kid sitting with me and know I can’t force him to eat even though I know he needs it and I know Jacob Henry died from lack of food at a child’s age.  Think of it; to die from starvation before you are 8?? Unfathomable and yet he did; and he was alone, scared and helpless.  Nobody to save him, nobody to feed him.  And here I am with a child who so desperately needs it.  On top of refusing food last night and nearly all day the poor kid has also been constipated.  I can watch his belly get even more distended, I swear it.  I have nothing to give him and even if I did, he would refuse it. Sadness again. 
We met papa, James and Christopher at the passport building and quickly got pics taken and out of there.  It is GREAT that Toni’s mom went ahead and filled everything out for us and waited in line. (she also shoved some people out of line who tried to take our spots..Go grandma, go!) Martin’s picture was first, which is great because he screamed so loudly it made peepaw,, grandma and even Mu roll in their graves in joy to the family addition!  Toni’s mom told dad to take Martin outside after his picture was done.  Deyan’s took a bit longer; 3 tries.  We got everyone back to the hotel and dad made a trip to the supermarket.  It took a while to get a cab back so James and I were with the little guys for a while alone. 
Deyan finally pooped..3 times..large each time!  He must have been changed standing up in the orphanage because that’s how he automatically prepares.  I go with it and he holds still enough that it only takes 1 person to change him.  When he’s wet I can just sit him in my lap while I’m in the boat position (yoga people know what’ I’m talking about) and he complies with every move I make.  After going to the bathroom he ate enough for an entire day’s worth of food in about 2 hours.  He LOVED getting banana yogurt fed to him through a syringe!  5 mls at a time.  I’m sure it’s because he doesn’t have to do anything but open his mouth.  He tries to push the syringe back so far in his mouth that the yogurt slides down his throat.  I make him work a bit more than that to get it; though I admit not much harder.  Any food in his belly is a bonus so I’m not fighting it.  Any way this kid wants food he gets it.  If I have to dance on the ledge of the Earth I will do it for him or Martin..or Jacob, Matt, Joey or James.  Hell, Emily, Julie, Dan or Catie, too.  Even if some of them refuse to speak to me.  Family is everything and one day everyone will come to that understanding and apologize for wrong doings.  Alright..off my soap box.
Deyan and Martin both took baths. Deyan LOVES the bath and would spend forever in there.  He knows a bath is when you wash your body and hair.  He must not have had time to play in the tub because every few mins he stands up, rubs his arms and tummy and hair and looks at me.  Martin, however, was terrified.  HE stood in the tub and watched Deyan but would not sit down.  In time little guy, in time. 
I held Deyan while dad held Christopher this evening.  Deyan looked at the photo album that was taken to him. I’ve only been showing him mom and dad’s pictures.  To each of their pictures, at different times, he has put his lips to their photos.  He also gently taps them.  I tell him who they are and that they love him, that I love him, and that we are his forever family; here for everything and anything.  And then I cry again. LOL.
Deyan and I walked and bounced as he fell asleep.  At one point he had his head on my shoulder and fell asleep.  However, he woke up because he dropped his ball.  I looked over at Martin and Deyan put his hand on my cheek and pulled my face back to look at him…anyone that knows Jake knows that is what he does when he doesn’t have all the attention.  Well, Mister Deyan, a bit selfish are we?! Bring it on, baby, bring it on.  There are so many people to spoil you and your new brother. J
Well, now that it is going on midnight I should get to bed.  Rumor has it Martin wakes up at 4-5am each morning.  And his crib is right by my bed. J
Leka Nosh everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Goings-On

What a fantastic day!
Need to figure out how to link the youtube video of Deyan and me playing behind the curtain , dancing and playing for close to an hour.  Papa took a long nap today and Deyan was NOT having the nap time; how can you turn down a precious little boy who holds his arms out to you begging to be picked up?  Especially after he spent 6 years in an orphanage?  He has the rest of his life to take a nap; now is the time for snuggles, playing and laughing.  And that is exactly what we did for 3 hours together.  I walked with him, bouncing him and talking in Bulgarian; well, what Bulgarian I know.  I am able to say with confidence “good night” ,“I love you” , “you’re a good boy”, “you’re so handsome”, “it’s okay, it’s alright”, “give me a kiss, please”, “good day”, “good night”, “pee”, “poop”, “sit down”, “good” and “good job”.  These words, along with a few more that may be helpful in the near future, are serving me well.  I can tell Deyan responds to my Bulgarian.  Today we took a cab to church; English Mass right by the British consulate.  Deyan was clearly confused and a bit concerned with the cab ride.  He makes a throaty noise when he is unhappy, sad, discontented.  I tell him in Bulgarian “it’s okay, it’s alright.  I love you, I love you.” And give him a kiss and he stops making the sound and snuggles into me a bit.  Not a lot at all, but just enough to let me know he hears me and understands he is safe with us.  He went into a giggle fit as soon as Mass started so papa took him outside while James and I stayed for Mass. 
Mass was interesting, to say the least.  Parents just let their children run amuck.  Seriously.  There were maybe 40 folding chairs in the entire church and practically all the children just ran up and down the aisle like it was nothing.  I noticed this the other night at dinner, too.  We went to the Christmas market, which was fantastic except it was sponsored by Germany..like the country.  No Bulgarian ornaments to be found, but we will keep looking!!!  Deyan did much better away from the crowd; enjoyed sitting on a lap or walking holding 2 fingers on a sidewalk behind the market.
For those who don’t know, Deyan can’t walk alone yet; he gets ahead of himself quickly when he’s walking with a finger..he prefers to just hold 1 or 2 fingers with 1 hand and have the other to balance himself but he gets so excited about walking that if he were just let go with just holding those fingers he’d fall on his face…so he needs help regulating his speed, which he doesn’t really care for..lol..fast is his speed.
After a jar of salmon and veggie baby food we got a cab home so he could eat more; we got beer and brats on a bun for lunch which were DELISH.  Cabbie tried to pull another fast one on us; I was riding in back with Deyan and James.  Deyan was making his throaty noises again so I told him I love him and that it’s okay in Bulgarian and he calmed down again and sat quietly on my lap with his head right on my chest. ( <3 ) Got to the hotel and I took him right inside because he was nearing time for another dose of tylonel, poor baby has a cold.  Apparently cabbie didn’t start the meter and told papa it was 10 leva for the2.50 ride it should have been.  Dad told him “No” and the guy insisted.  So dad took out his phone and told cabbie he was going to call the police after taking a pic of his cabbie license.  He took off without any payment at all.  :-P
Deyan and I spent about 3 hours together just the 2 of us this afternoon.  He wanted to look out the window but seemed to be in sensory overload when he did, along with the hotel room being full of stuff.  I pulled the curtain around us to make a cave and that’s where we spent most of our time.  We danced, talked, looked at each other, sang and just enjoyed each other.  I’m so sad that it could not be my mom here to do this with him; but at least I am the mean lady who took him from everything he knows and mom can be the familiar face (hopefully) that he sees when we finally get back home. 
He ate another 2 jars of baby food after getting another dose of tylonel and finally went down for a nap at 5.  We skyped with the family for a bit and he woke up around 6.  He was not hungry tonight, which I am assuming is the cold.  I tried everything and he was able to communicate that he did not want anything I was giving him.  Good for communication, bad for nutrition.  He got a Triminic cough strip, which he HATED but worked wonders, as well as a melatonin crushed up with some water in a syringe.  He takes meds nicely, which is always a bonus.
He played so well with papa tonight.  He had a baby toy that you pull down like 5 inches and it vibrates as it goes back up.  He gave it to dad and put dad’s hand in the air up high so he would have to reach for it to pull it.  Then he turned himself around, leaned back on my dad’s chest and stomach and played and played; laughed and laughed. 
He needs mineral oil or prune juice; poor kid has not had a BM in almost 2 days. L  Toni said she’d take my dad somewhere to get him something tomorrow.    
I sang him the song, “I love you, you love me.  We’re a happy family.  With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you.  Won’t you say you love me, too.” And he seemed to try to clap my hands to the beat at times.  I sang for close to 20 mins while dad and James were out getting KFC for dinner; which was surprisingly good. 
When he gets tired Deyan gets giggly or throws toys wanting you to give them back so he can keep throwing.  I tried to teach him to throw to me so he could get them back but that will take time.  Slowly but surely.  After about 50 mins of him tossing toys and drinking about 4 oz of water from a cup he finally went to bed, close to 9:40 I think.  He wanted to hold his cup, so I gave the lightest amount of pressure possible while keeping control of the cup.  He drank pretty well; better than from a sippy cup.  He knew to wipe his mouth with the wash cloth but threw it after he was done.  Gotta work on that, too. 
Down side; the Bengals blew their amazing game against the Texans.  We were able to get a live video stream of the game.  It got iffy towards the end so we switched to audio only.  We are a freshman team; brand new players.  I will give them the grace of this year to allow time to get to know each other.  We are going to KILL it next year!  Papa sent mom the link so Matt was able to watch the game online, too.  It didn’t sell out so it was blacked out.  That is the stupidest rule of the NFL.  EVER.
Joey learned how to Skype today!  I tried to call mom while dad and James were out getting dinner.  Joey figured out how to answer, without video but that’s okay.  He was able to tell me that Emily and Jake were sleeping and that mom was at the store.  Matt confirmed this information.  Then Joey was able to relay to mom that I called; without me asking him to!  I was typing this blog message when I got a call from “Mary Stolz” on my dad’s skpe.   Keep in mind, his skype is under Marty Thompson, I believe.  So I answer the call thinking it’s my mom.  Nope.  It’s Joey!  He figured out how to call, without video.  He asked for “his James.”  When I told him James was asleep he said, “Okay, good night!” and walked away!  I had texted my mom to let her know so she came in with Jake and we were able to say hi.  The poor baby, Jake is having such a hard time with this whole situation.  I can’t wait to get back home and spend some time with him; he’s going to need it!
Well, papa and James are off to get Christopher Martin tomorrow so it’s just Deyan and me for a few hours!  Passport office closes at 1pm tomorrow so we all have to be there before then!  Wish me luck with the cabbie; let’s hope I don’t have to threaten to call the police; though I will if I need to. 
=We are so much closer to getting our whole family together; I can’t wait!  What a wonderful Christmas gift!!!  I will send videos and pics to my mom for her to upload!  Be patient though, she’s practically all alone with all the kids which is very hard; I know! 
I miss you all and love you!
Rie 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mary's Turn

It is 9:30 PM EST, I just got Jacob to sleep (Very rare that he is up this late...he is missing papa!) and I came in to post Marie's post that you will read next. For some reason, she is having trouble getting it to post from the Budapest, so she sends it to me in an attachment, I post it from home.

Notice, her first line...how she cannot wait for him to wake up tomorrow...well, at 9:30 PM EST, it is 4:30 AM Sofia time, and guess who is awake????

That will teach her to say things like that. It is like he KNOWS!

I can't wait to get my hands on this little stinker!

Mary

First Full Day with Deyan--by Marie

A full day with Deyan and I can’t wait for him to wake up tomrrow for another day!
He is so precious, I could eat him with a spoon, or spork for that matter!  He is so loving, sweet and easy going!  We went to the Billa (or Barilla or Brillo, I can’t keep it straight) for more food for him.  We walked, he strolled in the umbrella stroller.  He was good for the walk there  but his poor hands got cold, I think.  He went in the cart nicely but showed me he wanted up and out about half way through.  I will honor just about any request right now, to show him communication gets you things you want and need.  He wanted to walk, do his robot dance and smile and giggle and how can you say no to that!?  On the way home it was a bit more of a struggle.  He was getting teary, which I am assuming is from the cold more than discomfort because he showed no other signs of discomfort.  I held him most of the way back, after papa had a turn in the beginning.  He snuggled in to my shoulder and arm in the beginning then wanted to face outward or on his stomach the rest of the way.  I kept telling him, in Bulgarian, that he’s a good boy, that I love him and that he’s handsome because that’s all I know, but he seemed to respond to it.  Not directly, verbally or gesturally but emotionally he seemed to understand he was safe with me and in a calm place even though his surroundings were a bit crazy.  That is FANTASTIC to observe; to know that he is forming a bond with us and trusts that we will keep him safe.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about him. 
He ate like a monster again; GREAT!  He loved the coffee cake with milk (3 squares), oatmeal (2 instant packages), yogurt with honey.  HE also loved his bath this morning; he knew to wash his hair in the tub with no prompts.  He took water in his tiny hands and put it on his head and rubbed his hair.  He LOVED the tub; played in the running water from the faucet and slid around in the basin.  I can’t get over his cuteness and how much I love him. J 
While he tried to nap papa and James got durners (sp?) that are as big as my face.  Seriously. 
Lotion is something that Deyan LOVES.  I showered and was putting on lotion and he came right over.  I put lotion on him after his bath this morning and he loved it, too.  In remembrance of grandma (RIP) I heated it up in the sink in hot water and he couldn’t get enough of me putting it in my hands and he would put his hands on mine and rub his hands up and down my arms then want me to rub the lotion on his arms , elbows and sometimes up his bicep and shoulders.  Not too much, and he’s so skinny that it makes me cry to put lotion on him, but he loves it. J
Deyan does the robot dance which I also am in love with.  He takes your fingers or thumbs and dances with them, moving them back and forth, squatting every once in a while and giggling.  Sometimes he’ll do a silly movement similar to swimming.  He just cracks up; which makes us laugh which makes him laugh more.  And that is awesome J
James and I went to the Opera while papa and Deyan tried to sleep.  Apparently he was robot dancing to keep himself awake.  He’s skipping his naps, which is fine but he needs that down, quiet time. 
I showed him how to brush his teeth; of course he wanted my tooth brush, which is fine J so I layed with him and brushed with his and he used mine.  He more chewed on the bristles after he learned I was going to say “no” when he tried to chew on the handle.  He did great and we mirrored each other for about 10 mins with the toothbrush.  Each time he mirrored me he got a “dobre!! Dobre bravo, Deyan!” Which seemed to encourage him as long as it was not too loud J
He also seems to have an aversion to bright lights, which I get, too. But just FYI mama J
I can’t say enough how much I love this kid.
James and I went to the opera tonight; 10USD for 7th row tickets; can’t beat that!  We caught a cab up there and stayed for the show, after I conveyed to cabbie we wanted the opera, which I did by saying “opera, laaaa laaa laaa!!!”.  We also got a cab to the Happy Grill, which was fun, because cabbie had NO idea what we wanted!  Cab ride home was interesting.  After discussing skanks with James the cabbie tried to say we owed him 10 leva for the ride home. I said, “no, last ride was 2 leva” he said, “Fine, 7 leva” and I told James to get out of the cab.  I asked for a receipt, which he didn’t have because he never started the meter.  He tried to tell me again that it was 7 leva, I told him again, “No, last ride was 2 leva, nice try, I’m from Las Vegas.  You get an A for effort, though!”  He finally said, “okay 2 leva” and we were on our way.  I was ticked he tried to take advantage but proud of myself that I didn’t let him get away with it! J 
Made it to the hotel with Deyan fast asleep, talking in his sleep (mama, how do I upload a video with audio of Deyan sleep talking?) and now I’m off to bed!  Mass and Christmas market tomorrow!:) I miss you all, my lovely family, but we are bringing home 2 new, perfect additions! J

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deyan Day 1....post by Marie

Wow, what a whirl wind!  Yesterday after I posted we headed out to Mass for the Immaculate Conception.  Found a Catholic church after I ran inside to ask the nice bell hop, who spoke some English, to tell the cabbie where we wanted to go.  Mass was less than 45 mins, probably partly because there were 9 people in the church; including the 3 of us!  The priest knew we spoke English; he gave us communion in English.  Afterwards a bitty old woman came over to us with a box of chocolates and offered us some.  What a way to celebrate the Immaculate Conception; with chocolates.  I loved her thought hahaa We walked to the Happy Grill for a few beers for the grownups and a pop for James.  We got some appetizers in preparation of the nearly inedible free hotel dinner. I asked for a Happy Grill ornament and I scored J My Christmas tree will be extra happy this year!  Walked through the beginnings of a Christmas market.  Unfortunately they only had food and beer tents set up so I am still on the hunt for ornaments that say Bulgaria; I haven’t forgotten!  I camped in the restaurant while James and papa went for a swim.  I forgot my suit at home but enjoyed computer time and beers while they swam.  After they came back we chatted at the table and had a few more drinks, then off to the room for bed!
Breakfast and packed up in the morning then off to liberate Deyan!  I must say, I’ve never been to an orphanage in eastern Europe but every worker that I encountered smiled, seemed friendly and the building was clean and decorated nicely.  The director and social worker were very sweet and did their best to communicate with us; the social worker spoke very little English but understood quite a bit and I’m not sure  about the director; she didn’t make any attempt at English.  It took what seemed like FOREVER for them to bring him to us.  Of course, he came in and I cried haha, and he went right to papa.  Dad was armed with Deyan’s favorite toy, a light up spikey ball.  He was fairly restless, I’m sure because there were so many people doting on him, he was in his new outfit which was warm, I’m sure, because I was warm and not as layered as he was.  His baba, grandma worker, was able to come in and say good bye to him and us, which was wonderful.  She gave me a STRONG hug and kiss and was teary, which made me teary again!  Don’t worry mom, I cried for the both of us!!!  It was so wonderful to see that people truly cared for him.  I could tell she was sad to see him go but so happy that he found his forever family. J  We can’t thank you enough, Baba, for keeping Deyan alive and loved until we could rescue him!  After signing papers, mom, just fyi, your name starts with an L on those papers. ;)  We went to the Black Sea for pictures there and Deyan was so good J I think he was overwhelmed with the action and confused about where he was going and what we were doing with him.  I held him down so he could touch the water, got a few pictures and headed to the car. 
The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful, which was nice.  We stopped at a JUMBO, which is sort of like a Walmart, from what I understood from dad and James.  Deyan needed diapers, wipes and food and of course they only have size 5 diapers and the poor kid’s butt and hips needs like a -2 size! Scratch the JUMBO trip; keep driving to find a store with more selection.  About an hour later we find a small town and Danni (the woman who’s translating for us) and her dad ask for a store.  Deyan did WONDERFULLY for his first grocery store trip.  Went into the cart nicely, held on, looked around, smiled every so often and was just a pleasure.  I love the way they do their produce..they have a computer with a digital scale; you go through the computer options for the fruit you have, put it on the scale and it prints out a sticker for the cashier.  Anyways, Mr. Dido needed to be changed so I went to the bathroom with him.  I’ve never seen people so blatantly stare at someone with a disability before.   Some of the women cooed at him while he was making his gurgling noises but most people stare and practically walked into things as they were looking. 
Changing in the car works better, the bathrooms were dirty and I wasn’t about to scar him like that for his first diaper change with me, the strange talking lady who took him from all he knows.  He fought sleeping the entire 7 HOUR car ride home.  No tantrums, no tears, just a few grunts every now and then to let us know he dind’t want to be in the car seat any more.  He tried to push his belly out against the straps and took our hands to the buckle a few times but after a “ni” he stopped.  He really is a sweet boy who just wants to be loved and be in contact with people.  He either touched or held dad or my hand the entire car ride; craving physical contact.  He LOVES my scarf that was a gift from a friend who went to India.  It is very soft with calm, warm colors and a nice pattern.  He was so great in the car; I’m hopeful that after a week together, learning each other’s personalities and such that the plane ride will be even smoother.  That and he can get up and waddle around when he needs to.  J 
Stopped at a roadside joint for a quick meal; sausage/beef/mystery meat (pretty good), boiled, cubed potatoes, a tomato soup sauce and cabbage.  Deyan loved the potatoes mashed up in the tomato sauce/soup..he ate almost all of them!
The stroller works best for feeding.  After a quick Skype with mama we went to eat at the hotel restaurant for dinner.  Mr. Dido ate a big jar of fish mashed with veggies of some sort and a big yogurt cup thingy.  Plus I was giving him some of the gravy and cheese from our food.  He drank out of the cup better than I thought.  He just chewed on the sippy cup in the car so I figured I’d try the cup at dinner.  We chatted with a lovely family who is leaving to go back home, to Atlanta I believe, tomorrow morning.  BEST OF LUCK TO YOU ALL! YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY!  Diaper changes are a challenge and I need to figure out how I am going to do this from now on so he’s not thrown for a loop on the plane; I need him to know what to expect from me.  Email me if you have suggestions, keeping in mind how small airplane bathrooms are. 
James and I took a nice 20 min stroll around the block and to the store while papa put Deyan down after we Skyped again, changed him and played a bit.  He was still awake when we got back so he got almost an entire LARGE banana with a melatonin crushed in it.  I kid you not, less than 15 mins later he crashed and is still asleep. 
Here’s the rundown of his daily schedule; mom this is mostly for you so you know J I will type it exactly as Danni translated and we can discuss if you want..
7-7:45am- wake up, washing
8-8:20- breakfast which is one of these options..1. popara (which is tea cheese, bread, butter and sugar mixed up), milk and biscuits 2. Sandwich 3. Tea, milk and airam (which is yogurt and water and is drank)
8:20-8:40- potty
8:40-9- play with toys
9-9:20- cognitive development/play
9:20-9:50- free play (hahahahahaa)
9:50-10- tea, milk, airam
10-10:20- potty
10:20-11:45- walk and play outside
11:45-12:15 lunch which is one of the following 1. Soup with veggies or meat and bread, then dessert which is a sweet of some sort or yogurt or fruit
12:15-1- get ready for nap, washing, and potty
1-3:30- nap
3:30-4- wake up, washing, potty
4-4:20- afternoon breakfast- milk, rice and yogurt, or airam, fruit and tea
4:20-6:15- afternoon play, walking outside ect
6:15-6:30- washing, potty, prep for dinner
6:30-7- dinner- meal with or without meat, milk and biscuits, bread
7-7:20- potty
7:20-8- washing, prep for bed
8pm-7am-sleep
We’ll see how it goes, I think we can keep it pretty consistent for him, which is great! 
Well, it’s 11:15pm here, everyone’s been asleep for about an hour and I should turn in soon, too.  Enjoy the pictures and I’ll blog more tomorrow! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Greetings from Burgas

Greetings from Burgas J
After 12 hours of sleep and breakfast with coffee I am feeling more like myself.  We met a family in the restaurant who just adopted their 3 year old son and was he cute! At one point his mom and dad were both getting something from the breakfast nook, which was literally 10 steps away, and the 3 year old was talking to their 6 year old, who clearly had no clue what the poor 3 year old was saying! Before we went back up to our room we went over to say good bye and papa was able to talk to their new son, who’s eyes lit up when he heard dad ask him how he is doing in Bulgarian.  The cd he bought has given him the skills to chat with a 3 year old!!! (which is about all we need.)  Back to the room to pack; James can’t remember where he packed anything or if things got packed at all.  He was reminded of his duties as “know where everything is at all times” and “poopy diaper helper”. 
The ride to Burgas was uneventful, which is the way I like car rides to be.  Made 1 stop at a gas station for a quick lunch of chicken ham in a wrap (don’t know if it was chicken, ham or both) and water while James and papa shared a salami sandwich and coke and fanta.  Random steering wheel jerks aside, it was a fairly smooth ride.  Driving about 10 miles under the speed limit got really old really fast so I took a few naps.  About 4 hours later we arrive in Burgas at Hotel Aqua and check into our room.  It has 3 single beds, which will be nice for me because I have the pull out couch for the remainder of the trip! 
Really bummed we all fell asleep last night before we could skpe with the boys but we did get to see mama and talk to her for a bit.  We have church at 5pm, which we will cab it to, then hopefully find Starbucks (I sure could use a pick me up!) and dinner.  We are holding off on going down to the Black Sea until tomorrow morning after we pick up Deyan, because we are going to take him to do some pictures.  NO sense in drudging into the cold, dreary nearing darkness to the cold water if we are doing it tomorrow!  Dinner will be at the hotel most likely, which is okay with me because they have wifi in the lobby, but not in the rooms. 
I am taking as much vitamin c as I can absorb, I have a scratchy feeling in my ears and the back of my throat.  Hopefully vitamins and rest will take care of it; I felt perfect when I woke up this morning, opposed to how I felt going to sleep, which is pretty close to how I feel now.  Suck it up and be a trooper, I hear Emily telling me that as she’s reading this, so I will do just that J

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A day of mishaps ending with a beer and Milka chocolate in Sofia--by Marie

Greetings from Sofia!
Today may have been the longest day. Ever. Seriously.
8 hour flight from Atlanta to Rome, in which we all had our own rows.  ^^ see above for my sweet set up :)

After a quick pass through customs and immigration (a glance at dad's passport and mine was pushed back at me without looking at the picture) we headed to a bathroom and a cafe-mart for h20.  I opened mine right away and drank about half before the man communicated to us that his credit card machine was not working. OHHHHH CRAP.  Luckily, James had 2 euros, almost the exact cost of water bottle, and we were on our way to get train tickets into the city.  The wonderful man selling the tickets said that James was not 12, as we tried to say because we thought 12 and under ride for free, but rather 11 which is the "free" age.  We were then scolded on the train for not validating our ticket, being told "This is Italy.  You get fined 50 euros without validation next time." Okay, okay, sorry, stupid Americans over here!  My wonderful papa got us tickets to the Colosseum.  I didn't get to go into the Colosseum on either of my Rome trips in the past so I was THRILLED to be able to tour this.  Along with the Colosseum the ticket also gained us access to the open air museum that I could have spent an entire week walking through.  Unfortunately we only had 2 hours. (Pictures to come..when I'm not so tired!!) We dined in an authentic Italian bistro.  I had .  a margarita pizza (YUMMY), papa got a ground meat stuff cannelloni and James had spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil.

Here come the mishaps...Because we were only in Italy for a few hours papa only got out a small amount of cash, to reduce loss of funds in conversion.  We checked 2 bags in the train station so we didn't have to lug around bags (and scream TOURIST).  Baggage place only took cash, as did the ticket kiosks.  We missed the first train back to the station; papa went to get us tickets while James and I waited with the bags.  Jumped on the train and hustled to the security line.  Of course, we were in the LONGEST line ever; what seemed to be the newest and untrained workers mixed with the oldest and slowest moving people.  Crunch time--20 mins before plane departs and we hustle to G gate.  Check the board and we have been switched to H gate.  Which is all good and well except for some odd reason we had to go through a second security check to get to the H gate.  Papa tried to get us to the front of the line; he was told to go back and wait.  In Stolz family English that means "push to the front, ignore nasty stares and comments in Italian."  James and I ran ahead to the gate; luckily we weren't the only ones thrown for a loop with the gate change and we made our flight.

Ushered through customs and immigration quickly and met our helper.  She was friendly enough and we got to the van quickly.  From there we spent about 20 mins in traffic before making it to the hotel.  The stupid WIFI won't work on my Ipod, which really makes me mad (I miss my husband!) but we got a cab to the Happy Grill and we were made happy. :)  A $2 USD cab ride got us there and the 2 large beers each and delish food (not to mention working WIFI) made for a tolerable, even pleasurable walk to the hotel.  It is about 1.5 miles to the hotel and we stopped at a quick mart for Milka (the best chocolate ever), beer and coke and fanta.

A much needed shower and chat with mama and we are ready to hit the sack to prepare for another long traveling day tomorrow!  Deyan, here we come, little guy! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rome or bust!!

We made it to Atlanta with no mishaps, other than my iPod Internet access is being stupid. Oh well. Sitting in the Delta Crown Room with an adult beverage and plate 'o crackers with hummus from a tube. Can't really complain :) James got stuck next to a woman with an infant and toddler on our way to ATL. Mother of said children thought the rules of staying seated while taxing applied to everyone but her. However, she quickly was scolded, over the intercom, and sat back down. Her infant was crying while we waited 10 mins for our gate to open, which made me think of the hopefully quiet and uneventful trip back home. Rumor has it, the flight to Rome is fairly empty so I am hoping for an open section of seats so I can stretch out. However, anyone who knows me knows I can sleep anywhere and in just about any conditions so bring it on! We'll see how I feel about that statement in about 5 hours, though. Still need to plan our 7 hour lay over in Rome; beach and ruins close to the airport seem the least stressful. As long as I can get coffee I am game for anything. We arrive in Rome at 7:30am local time (1:30am est) and depart at 2:20pm Rome time, arrive in Sofia at 5:05pm. Already missing everyone but I am so excited to be getting closer and closer to getting the boys!

More to come!

Monday, December 5, 2011

And They're Off....well, almost

Tomorrow Jim, James and Marie leave for Bulgaria to bring Christopher Martin and Deyan back home. I really wish I were going, but this time, I will be home with Matt, Joey, and Jacob, ably assisted by Emily, as we wait for our family to be whole.
I've asked Marie to blog here for me, for a woman's perspective on the activities surrounding the pick up trip, so be sure to check in often, and leave her feedback and thoughts.
I think they are all packed. I think we have everything covered. But even if not, it will all work out.
Bye, guys....hurry home....be safe.....I love you all!

Mary

Thursday, November 24, 2011

TRAVEL DATES

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! We awoke this morning to a wonderful email from Toni, our attorney/facilitator in Bulgaria. She has the coveted court document in hand (well, it is at the birth certificate office to allow processing of the new birth certificates, but she had to take it there, so she HAD it!) and we can book our travel to pick up our boys!

Jim, along with our daughter Marie and son James, are flying out on December 6. They will arrive in Bulgaria on Dec 7, overnight in Sofia one night, then head to Burgas (on the sea) on the Dec 8. It is a 6-8 hour car ride, so they will overnight in Burgas that night, pick up Deyan in the morning of Dec. 9, and head back to Sofia. They will have just Deyan over the weekend, but then bright and early Monday morning, Jim will go to Blagoevgrad to pick up Christopher Martin (we are still discussing what we will actually call him... I vote Christopher, but Jim likes "Martin".) and back to Sofia. They will all go to apply for passports on Monday by 1pm. No pressing business (we hope) to attend to on Tuesday. Wednesday, the passports should be ready and Thursday in the morning is  mandatory physicals for the boys, and in the afternoon, the visa interview.
Friday, the visa's should be issued and returned to them, and early Saturday morning, they will be on their way home!
In 23 days, I will be holding my boys again!

We have much to be Thankful for this year, including the addition of two new family members!

Mary

Friday, November 18, 2011

WE ARE PARENTS (again)

On Tuesday morning, November 15, we received the great news that our adoption petition was granted in the Bulgarian Courts! We are now the parents of two more boys.
Christopher Martin Stolz, age 7 years 2 months  and Deyan Emmanuel Stolz, age 5 years 10 months.
Welcome to our family, boys. We can't wait to get you home.

At this point, we wait 7 days for the court order to be in effect. It is usually released on the 8th day (Wednesday, Nov 23).  After she has that document, correctly signed and stamped, in her hands, we can make trip arrangements for the pick up trip. We are expecting 1-3 weeks after the pick up, for that to happen. Of course, we prefer it to be as soon as possible.

We are just so happy to have progressed to this point.

We are coming boys....one step at a time!

Mary

Friday, October 28, 2011

COURT DATE

We just found out we have an assigned court date!
November 15, 10 AM Bulgaria time, the judge will hear our case.
I'm so excited.
We are coming as soon as we can, boys.

Mary

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mid October update

We got wonderful news from our Attorney yesterday, that our 2nd stage dossier should have the needed signatures completed by the end of this week. That would be today. We are praying that is the case. After that, it will be forwarded to the courts for assignment to a judge, and that judge assigns a date and time for the hearing. There has been a backlog in that process from the summer holiday, but it seems to be clearing up now, so we are hoping that court will be scheduled within the next couple of weeks.

A very good "e-friend" was able to visit briefly with Christopher (Martin) a week ago, and both she and our attorney said he looks great. The sores on his face are gone, he is walking steadily, he has been moved to a "higher functioning" group and is now feeding himself. We are so excited to hear of the growth of our little boy, especially the part of him not causing harm to himself any more. We believed while we were there that this was caused by boredom, and caretakers also said he only did this when he was left alone. So, maybe now, he has more interaction and can develop.

Can't wait to get these guys home!

Mary

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Waiting

I got word today that the Article 5 letters, translated and authenticated, have made it to the MOJ, and now another waiting period begins. Current estimates are 30 days for the final signatures required on our stage 2 dossier documents before it can be transferred to the court system for a hearing. It looks like, right now, it is taking about 20 days from that point until the court hearing is conducted (assuming, of course, that all necessary paperwork has arrived, on time, to the judge, and the judge does not need any additional paperwork!) then 10 days after that, we should be able to be bringing our boys HOME. So, right now, OUR best guess is the beginning of December. That is OUR best guess. Nothing official.  We are praying that the required signatures can be expedited somehow, since Deyan's condition is fragile. We understand that the only adoptions being processed right now are for children with severe special needs, but we also know that some needs require more immediate attention, and we hope that the MOJ can see that as well.

One step at a time....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Working our Way Through the Process

Our Article 5 Letters were picked up last week, translated and delivered to the authenticator. This week on Thursday, they should be ready to be delivered to the MOJ to await the final signature(s)? that we need, then onto court for scheduling.
Here's hoping and praying for no delay in signatures or court scheduling.

The books we ordered have shipped, so they should go over soon with Linda, another adoptive mom going on her first trip to meet her daughters.

And yesterday and today, Jim and I had our physicals updated. Those forms will be notarized and authenticated this week, so they too can make their way across the pond before our court date.

One step at a time......

Mary

Monday, September 19, 2011

Visa Interview...check

I just got word from our Toni that the visa inteveiw went well, and we should have the Article 5 letter sometime tomorrow! YES!

The concerns the Embassy staff had were related to the additional diagnosis that were added to Christopher Martin's info. Toni said she had to give 2 "lectures" one in Bulgarian and one in English to explain the conditions, and that the letter from the MOJ indicated that he did NOT have these conditions, and was in "better shape" for it.
I'm so relieved.
Now, we wait to hear that the Article 5 letter has been released and is on its way to translation and authentication.
One step at a time.

Mary

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bulgaria 101

Papa wrote a wonderful cultural update on our Bulgarian experience. Be sure to pop over and take a peek...leave a note if you enjoyed it!

www.apapasstory.blogspot.com

Mary

Progress Report

I stalked the National Visa Center last week, and the beginning of this week, to find out when exactly the package would be forwarded to Bulgaria to the Embassy. On Monday, they said I could call back on Friday to check and see if they had processed it yet. Then, Tuesday morning I awoke to an email from Toni that the Embassy had called her and our paperwork is there. YIPEE!!!!
The visa appointment is for Monday, Sept 19 at 2PM Bulgarian time. Toni said they requested that SHE personally come, and that she not send an associate to complete the inteverview. She is not sure why this request was made, but told me that they do go over everything very carefully.
We know that there was an error in Martin's physical paperwork update. In it, they stated that in addition to him having Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), he also had Edward's syndrome and Patau's syndrome (Trisomy 18 and 13). This is impossible, as each of these syndromes, independently, have much shorter life expectancy, if the child even lives to birth. To have all three, well, it is just not possible. We caught this while we were in Bulgaria visiting, and I questioned it. We talked about the best way to handle the situation, and it was decided that a correction should be made to the official diagnostic letter.
The orphanage made arrangements for Martin to be seen and evaluated in Sofia, which was accomlished (which means he got to ride in a car! YIPPEEE Martin...while we were there, that was his biggest desire..to go in a car!) and a letter correcting the diagnosis was written, filed with the MOJ, and Toni says the Embassy has a copy of it by now.
We HOPE that was the concern that they want to talk to Toni about in person.

After the Visa interview, the Article 5 letter is released (usually the next day), then it gets sent for translation/authentication. We are hopeful that we will be in line for the final MOJ signatures by the last week of September. At that point, everything is submitted to the courts, and we wait for our judicial assignment and date!

Moving right along...maybe at a snail's pace, but still, moving along.

Mary

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Progress...yay

Today we got word that we have provisional approval for our I800. I finally feel like I am beginning to understand this convoluted process.  We got the approvals in the mail, but those are really just for our records. USCIS sends them on to the NVC (National Visa Center) which "processes" them--whatever that means---and notifies the Embassy in Bulgaria that the provisional approval has been issued.
Well, for at least ONE of the boys, the Embassy in Bulgaria will be notified. For the other one, with a decidedly
"Bulgarian" name, the Embassy in the People's Republic of China will be notified! Ooops!
A quick phone call, the correction was made, and emails sent out to notify the NVC that another document was just issued. Hopefully they get that one.

We are hoping that the NVC will get the clearances to the Embassy by the end of this week, and the Visa Interview can be done next week, with a prompt issuance of the Article 5 letter.  Once that is obtained, it is translated and authenticated, and must be signed off on one more time by the MOJ, then court can be scheduled.

We are fervently praying that this process with go smoothly, without glitches, and the courts will assign dates quickly. There are rumors that court dates are being delayed, but we know God can overcome any rumor!  We have full confidence in the good will of the MOJ and courts in Bulgaria to do what is in the best interest of the children depending upon them.  "Systems" may not care, but we know people do!

We are still hopeful that our boys will be home this year, enjoying Christmas with us!

Mary

Friday, July 29, 2011

Screech day 5, only visit :(

Our visiting with our boys is done. I'm very, very sad about that. But, I'm trying to concentrate on the fact that this means we can start moving forward with the next portion of our adoption as soon as we get home. I'm ready.
We got up, finished packing and showering, took the bags to the car, then had breakfast.  Then, off to the orphanage.
When they brought Screech down, for the first time, he really looked excited to see us, and ran RIGHT to Jim. We stopped long enough to get a couple of family pictures, our first with Screech...we realized last night that we had not taken a picture of all three of us.
Then we went off to the playground. There was a group of children already there, so we blew up the beach balls that we had brought and gave them to the kids to play with. However, once again, the big draw were the trucks. I was allowed to hold Screech for a short time while we watched the trucks, today.
After a short time, Screech seemed to want to be away from the other kids, who were understandably drawn to what we were doing with him. So, we walked up the steps, played in that general area for a while, then the thunder started.
The other kids returned to the orphanage before the rain started, but we had another 20 minutes of time with Screech, and did not want to take him in early! The rain started, and we took cover under the building overhang, keeping mostly dry. It was very nice. Then, the caretaker showed up, and ushered us in the building.
WE had to say goodbye, quickly, and without having told Screech that we have to leave, but we will be back for him. I KNOW he would have at least understood that we would not be back this afternoon, if we had been able to tell him this. I feel terrible!  Again, another first for today, when we handed him over to the caretaker, he tried to get free and come with us....he is JUST starting to show some preference for us and we have to leave him!
We got in the car, and drove away from our son's orphanage. SO HARD TO DO. Hang in there, Screech, we will be back for you ASAP!

On the way back to Sofia, we took a short detour to drop off Toni's aunt who is spending the weekend in her summer village. We were priveleged to be invited in for a snack of FRESH fruit (as is, they picked them from the tree, washed them off, and set them on the table....total time from picking to my mouth....5 minutes max!) We have never enjoyed cherries and apricots so much. They bagged more for us for our trip, and we were on the way again.

Toni dropped us off at the hotel in Sofia, and we said our tearful goodbyes. A taxi will pick us up EARLY tomorrow morning to take us to the airport. We walked to the downtown area, found a Starbucks, stopped at a "Happy Bar and Grill" for some GREAT chicken with spinach kabobs, and returned to the room. We may go to the restaurant in the hotel for some salad or dessert, then turn in early tonight.

Be sure to check out the photo's on Jim's blog.
Next update....from home.

Mary

Thursday, July 28, 2011

2nd to last visit

I can't put it off any longer. I must post. I'm very sad about having to leave Screech. But, it is a different sad than leaving Dido. I really feel that Screech will be ok while we are gone. I want him to KNOW we will return, but he  will not be able to KNOW that, so we will tell him and trust that God will fill in the blanks for him. Dido, I'm HOPING he will be ok, and praying that God will take care of him.

Today's visit, as each successive one, was the best ever. There was a lot of digging, boy "construction" (read...destruction) going on behind the orphanage playground. PERFECT for little (and big) boys. I, apparently,  am NOT proper contstruction viewing  parentage, as Screech CLEARLY, EMPHATICALLY preferred papa to help him oversee the work being done. I was relegated to photographer. I was wearing a skirt...what can I expect......

There was lots of dirt, machinery, noise, all manner of manly things going on, and I clearly was out of that picture. But I surely enjoyed the view of my two guys supervising.

I did get to talk to the doctor about some diagnosis that appear on Screech's official referral (for the record, he DOES NOT have trisomy 18 AND trisomy 13, in addition to trisomy 21!). And we got to feed him part of his lunch, which he was not particularly fond of. Make sure you view the photos and videos here.

Afternoon visit was more of the same, with some tree pod pulling thrown in. I can't believe that tomorrow morning, our visits will be done. I hope we can make it back here soon to get these guys.

After the morning visit, we will return to Sofia, without a break to blog, so the next update will be tomorrow evening, Bulgaria time.

Mary

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 3 Screech Visit 1

Yesterday afternoon's visit was better than yesterday morning's visit and this morning was better yet. The only things that we see that are no better are his self inflicted wounds, that seem to be worse with each visit. With us, he is not very self abusive, but when we come back, there is evidence of increasing difficulty. Yesterday, at the end of the afternoon visit, we waited about 10 minutes for the caretaker to come down to get him. During that wait, it was lightly raining, so we had to be inside. He did not want to be inside, and wanted to get back to his room, but we had to wait. Screech was not happy, and certainly did not like being told "no". But during this little "fit", he did not hit himself. I don't think this is in response to being told no, but perhaps boredom, or frustration with communication.

Toni told us last night that they said he was clearly looking forward to our visits and was excited about the new clothes we brought him and understood when they put it on him that we were coming back. WOW. What a leap! And I'm so excited that he really wants to see us.

Today, his face looked worse from self abuse. His lips are involved, and his hand has new open sores. :(
But he was happy to see us. We took him to the playground, and he was calm with us. He wanted more lotion rubbed onto his arms and legs, and the nubby ball rolled over his skin. Then a group of children came out. We had blown up a beach ball, but Screech didn't want to play with it. The other children were very happy to see it. We wanted to see what Screech did with all of these children. He wanted to stay with us, burying closely into Jim and holding Jim's arm closer around himself, all the while watching the children play. THe children came over from time to time, to be shooed away by the caretaker.
Then another group of children joined the group, and that caretaker was obviously one that Screech knows and likes. He wanted to go with her. We still had 30 minutes of visit left, and we are unwilling to give that up, but I am very happy that he has someone who likes him and who he likes to be here with him until we can get back to get him.
The groups soon returned to the orphanage, giving us a little more quiet time before returning Screech to the orphanage. I'm very sad, again, at the thought of leaving him.

Not sure if Jim will update photos now or wait until after our 2nd visit.

Mary

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Screech day2, visit 1

Our visit with Screech went very well this morning. We spoke briefly with the social worker, then he was brought out and we were allowed to be with him outside. We took him back to the dismal playground of yesterday, but then noticed that just beyond that was another, slightly less dismal playground. There is where we spent our time.
A slide provided some entertainment, mostly going up and down the steps. A small gazebo with very low benches gives more places to climb over and back, and then Jim decided to try some music on his phone.
That was a hit. We saw more of his personality coming out and he truly starts to "sing". I caught some adorable facial expressions on video!  Be sure to check them out here.
Too soon it was time to return him to the staff. This afternoon, we plan on taking the Ipad and hopefully music and video on there will be a hit with Screech.

Mary