Thursday, May 29, 2014

Christy's First Mother's Day weekend with a Mommy!

Saturday was a relaxing day at the hotel.  We had begun to get in the habit of eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then having snacks for lunch (instant oatmeal, fruit leather  and maybe some chocolate), and then eating dinner either in the hotel restaurant or going out somewhere (or doing room service if we were really lazy/tired!).  We were also falling into a routine of Daryl taking a late morning nap while I watched Christy, and I took an afternoon nap and it was really working well.  This day, however, Christy had gone into hyper exploration mode and was testing the sounds that different things made when she would kicks them - walls, doors, furniture...the louder the noise the better - but it made it difficult for our naps!

We had made plans to go to Jeff Shepherd's home to have a home made meal with his family, and we would be joined by two other adoptive families!  We left the hotel with Corinna W, her sister and her newly adopted son, Silas and walked to the meet up point.  Jeff was to meet us at the subway station to introduce us to traveling in the amazing underground system that is in Sofia. There was a little mix up (my fault completely) but it made for a unexpected blessing!  While Jeff was waiting for us outside the subway entrance and we were waiting for him down in the subway walkway, he spied some familiar faces!  There was a third adoptive family, the Hrbecks from Texas) who had just arrived that day for their first trip, and had been taking a walk!  So we all joined up and walked together for a few blocks and got to know them.  This also had the benefit of giving us new people to eat meals with and go shopping with for a couple of days!

Jeff is in this second photo talking with Corinna and her family, with the subway wizzing by just a few feet from them.  We then met up with the other family, Heather B, her mom and her newly adopted son, and took a few minutes to tour the Cathedral in the center of Sofia (no photos allowed), and then headed down to take the subway.  It was about a 15 minute ride, and Christy loved it after a few minutes.

Daryl had taken to carrying her whenever we went out, using the Ergo.  This was the best way and it kept her feeling secure.  Daryl got lots of looks from both women and men as I never did see another man using a carrier to carry a child or infant there!  I told him it made him a "chick magnet"!  We also found it funny as in the subway there were movie posters for some movie that showed a man using a similar carrier to carry a child!

We got off the subway and walked a few blocks to his apartment.  There we met his amazing wife, Lisa, and his son and daughter (who they adopted from Bulgaria 3 years before).  They both work at the American English Academy in Sofia teaching.  They are "working missionaries."  There we were welcomed into a most enjoyable home setting, and served an amazing dinner of Bulgarian style foods.  It was so fun to let our children mingle, to talk Star Trek stuff with Jeff's daughter, and watch Christy explore their home.  Christy's favorite room was the kitchen, especially the near mirror finish on the oven door!  I also found out that week that Jeff and Lisa are Settlers of Catan players, a game that our family discovered recently.  They invited us back for a game night Monday night - that was definitely something for me to look forward too!

All too soon it was time to head back to the hotel.  Jeff accompanied us to ensure that we got where we needed to go (until we were on familiar territory).  He was a great host and it was fun to get lots of trivia about the city from him.  He also invited us all to attend church with him, but I was feeling a little off, so we declined.  The other two families accepted his offer though.  He also introduced us to the amazing Ice Cream in one of the small shops in The Market!  YUM!!

Once back at the hotel, we settled in and prepared for bed.  Christy was worn out and went to sleep quickly, and so did Daryl.  But the heat had gotten to me, and I was quite miserable.  After a couple of hours, I was able to sleep though, and I felt fine again in the morning

Sunday was Mother's Day in the US (but not in Bulgaria - they celebrate something similar in March).  We had a quiet morning in the hotel room, and in the afternoon I went shopping with the two other moms in our hotel room.  We had a great time (both children were napping at the hotel with -Christy with her daddy, Silas with his Auntie).  We walked to The Market and did some souvenier shopping and had some Ice Cream again!  We were acting like kids and had a blast!  Were were all getting along so well and brought out the fun in each other in spite of jetlag!  Three new friends from three polar opposite parts of North America tearing up the town on the other side of the planet - only God could orchestrate such a blessing for us three that day!

I enjoyed finding some very unexpected things in the little artisan shops there - hand made soaps, inexpensive organic Rose Water - something Bulgaria is known for!  We are going to finally get to make Turkish Delight this year while we watch Narnia at Christmas time!  I also found matching dresses for Christy and Carese and some fund things to bring home for the other children.  Only some of the shop keepers spoke English, so it was a challenge at times to make transactions, but we did make it through eventually!

I did have some great times with Christy on Mother's Day too - I dressed us up to match even!  She had several of her amazing "I am SO happy" moods and I even got one video taped!  By this day we were beginning to notice that she was able to have more control and flexibility with her right hand/arm, but we weren't quite sure...time would show us that we were right!

Our day ended with the amazing night of giggles from Christy's crib.  I know I posted it in my last blog post, but I was a little mixed up - that was actually Mother's Day evening...such an amazing gift to be given on Mother's Day!  Starting with fun with Christy, then fun with friends, skyping with the children and ending with a hour long giggle fest in the dark.  Even though Mother's Day was spent away from the majority of my family, I was blessed.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Christy's first full days with a Mommy and a Daddy!

Christy in the sweater I made for her!
Daddy's Girls for Sure!
The day we brought Christy to Sofia (also known as "Gotcha Day") was Wednesday, May 7.  Thursday was the day to have Christy's passport application submitted and her photo taken.  We slept well, and Christy slept through the night - what a wonderful surprise!  In the morning we got dressed and fed Christy in our hotel room, and then went down for the hotel continental breakfast - good as always!  We were staying at The Budapest and they have an excellent restaurant and lots of selection for breakfast and it even varies from day to day which makes it especially nice when you are staying there for 10 days straight!
Poor baby!

After breakfast we prepared to meet with our team to go to the passport office.  It wasn't far, but it was faster to go by car.  We basically walked right in, as our attorney's mother was already there doing the paperwork.  We were only there for the photo.  Christy does not like to sit in an open chair, so "set her on the stool" was not an option.  Eventually after much stress and much crying by Christy we got a somewhat decent photo of her with her looking over my shoulder....crying and looking very mad/sad.  Then we were whisked back out to the street and driven to our hotel. 
They are making a new round about
So there were walls up for construction
Making photo-ops minimal
We had made arrangements to meet another family who was in Sofia for their "gotcha trip".  We made the arrangements to meet about halfway between our hotels, in the center of the city, to eat at Happy Bar and Grill.  We ended up walking about a mile to the restaurant, but did not find them there.  Christy was beginning to melt down at this point.  It was really hot, and she was unhappy.  We figured out later that the noise of traffic was something she does not tolerate.  So while trying to talk our friends to our location (tough when neither of you know the city, and the area you are in is a HUGE circle around a cathedral).  Eventually they found us and we went in to eat.  We were so stressed out by this time,, and Christy was just barely settled down, that I totally forgot to take any photos of our trip out, except for this shot of Daryl and Christy at the Lion's Gate Bridge.

We then headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap.  Then we were able to meet another mom who was on their "gotcha trip" too.  We had it easy and met them for dinner at the hotel.  Christy and Silas didn't pay much attention to each other at dinner, but later when they were playing on the floor in our hotel room, she laughed whenever he made noise or touched her.  It was so cute!  We did find out at dinner that she does NOT like an umbrella stroller.  She basically doesn't like any seat that is open.  She loves her car seat and a highchair, but open seats cause her to go into full panic in seconds. 

When she becomes insecure, the leg goes up behind the head (or her arm) and out pops that bottom lip.
It's a cross between fear and anger.  We now read her very well, this particular episode, we were still learning.
Thursday night was another good night's sleep.  I can not express how thankful we were that she slept so well at night - we were both still suffering from jet lag in a big way.  We did not have anything planned for Friday, so we pretty much just hung out in our hotel room.  We had plans to meet with Yavor, our interpreter from our first trip.  He drove us to Leo's Pizza - a true Italian restaurant.  I ordered the wood fired pizza, and Daryl ordered a pasta dish.  The food was excellent, and so was the company.  All too soon it was time to go back to the hotel.  We said "goodbye" to Yavor and thanked him for making our first trip so memorable.  Then it was time to tuck Christy in bed and go to sleep ourselves.

As we were lying there in the dark Friday night (she just would not go to sleep when I rocked her, so I placed her in the crib, hoping she'd settle down and sleep), she started giggling!  Let me tell you that sleep is impossible when someone in the room is giggling!  Especially Christy's giggles - they are adorable cute!  So, like a good mom, I got up and videotaped her giggles in the dark - it was just too cute to ignore.  She eventually quieted down and went to sleep, but she giggled on and off for over an hour!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Road Trip to Christy

We left home early Sunday morning to head to SeaTac.  Just to be safe, we left very early.  It worked great - we were 3 hours early.  But I'm OK with that.  We settled in for the long wait, got some lunch and all went just great.  We even got our third check in luggage checked for free when we explained that we were flying for an international adoption of a child with special needs!

Our first leg was flying into Chicago.  The flight was fine, our layover in Chicago was just enough time to get where we needed to go and get a small break between flights.  We also grabbed dinner as the first flight only served beverages.

Cool light and music show in Chicago!
The second flight, the LONG one (8+ hours) was a rough one.  We were sitting up against the wall for first class and it did not give me enough room for my feet.  We were basically looking at a wall the whole time.  The last 2 hours or so were hard - turbulence and motion sickness.  By the time we got off the flight we were both in really bad shape.  Thankfully we had a 4+ hours layover so I had great hopes of being able to recover before the next flight.  Yes, and no.  It was a lot of time, but although Daryl was doing so much better, when it came time to board, I was still in bad shape.  We had tried ginger pills, dramamine and drank lots of water, but nothing could calm down our stomachs.  Then I remembered that we had Di-Gize (the Young Living Oil blend for intestinal issues).  This was the ONLY thing that gave us any relief.  So when the boarding began, I was mostly better stomach wise, but I just could not face another flight yet.  At this point we had been on the road for 19 hours with little sleep and that did not help in the least.  As we approached the door of the plane, I just could not go in.  So I waited outside the door praying like mad and applying Peace and Calming and Stress Away and Di-Gize oil blends.  I was on the verge of tears, had tingles going up and down my spine and was having trouble breathing properly - yep, a full on panic attack.  With God's help I was finally able to board the plane (yes, I was the last person to board).  I asked the stewardess if she could make a bag of ice for me to put on my neck and explained about how and why I felt so miserable.  She was very compassionate and got me set up with the ice bag to place on my neck (a recommendation from a friend on Facebook).

The last flight was beautiful.  I was still feeling miserable, but the flight did not add to my discomfort.  Gradually I was able to calm down and even get a little sleep with the use of my noise cancelling head phone, eye covers and neck roll.  By the time we landed in Sofia, I was feeling almost normal.  God is so good!

We picked up our luggage after going to immigration, and then met our driver (a hotel staff person) who then brought us to our hotel.  We checked in, went straight down for dinner as the restaurant was going close very soon, ate out dinner and then headed to our room to settle in and prepare for bed (it was around 10 pm there).

We both slept relatively well, and were able to be ready on time for our trip to her city.  The Budapest Hotel held our large pieces of luggage and we took only what we'd need for the one night there and what we'd need for Christy on the drive back for Sofia.

We met our new driver, Marty (our attorney's brother), and his cousin, Dani (she was our interpreter), and got everything in the van and headed out.  The drive there was typical for Bulgaria - insane drivers passing when it was too close, too many slow moving vehicles, horse or mule drawn carts, rough roads and all.  We just sat back and took everything as it came.  We did eat a late lunch on the way, and before dinner time we made it to the hotel.

We all settled in for about a hour, and then met to walk around and go for dinner.  We ate at the Happy Bar and Grill and it was as good as I remembered it!  Then we settled in for the night and got some sleep.  Not much, but some.

Christy's first mama - the one who
taught her to love and prepared
her for her real mommy!
We met our team for breakfast and then headed out for Christy's group home.  In no time, after passing through the now familiar streets, we were pulling up to 'The Pink House'!  We walked into the home and were escorted into a back office where we saw Christy in her high chair!  She immediately got excited and was doing her happy thing!  It seemed as thought she recognized us!  There was a young girl, whom we later found out is called Katerina, next to her that I recognized from our first trip.  There was papers to sign, and lots of talk between Dani and the director, some of which was passed on to us.  I found that Katerina girl spoke English and was able to talk with her about Christy.
The Director - an amazing woman
with a big heart for special
children in her care!

 Watching her interact with Christy I could tell that she loved Christy and that Christy loved her.  While there we were given a backpack of things for Christy - clothes, diapers, wipes, a cup, a spoon, a water bottle, a comb and other items so lovingly packed for her.  This was such a surprise!  We were also given the toy and books that we had left for her, as well as a new photo album with photos of Christy while she was living there.  Best of all there was a little file that I will call"The Story of Christy" - it was photos along with her story told as though Christy was telling it herself!  I'll try to include this in another post later!

Christy's Therapist
Then we were taken upstairs (we had never gone upstairs!), and taken into a large room where we found two tables set with food and drinks and all the workers from the group home - even those who work other shifts!  It was a going away party for Christy!  I was given a small bouquet of flowers.They each wanted to say goodbye to Christy and she got passed around.  She did not like this and was complaining a lot.  There were many familiar faces there.

Eventually it was time to go, but before we left, I was able to leave my email address with the Katerina.   As we walked out all the workers followed us, and Katerina was never far from my side, and from photos I saw later I now know that she was holding Christy's hand - it was so very, very sweet!  I almost felt guilty for taking Christy away from these special people who had taken such good care of our daughter....almost.  But I knew this was God's plan for Christy and they would go on to love another child in her place that so desperately needed it!

As we left the home, one woman spread water on the steps and we were asked to walk through it.  Then on to the car, and settling her into her car seat.  She finally calmed down once in her car seat.  All the workers and the director gathered around the car and waved goodbye.  As we drove away, they also spread water on the road for our car to drive over.

Our drive to Sofia was smooth sailing.  Christy ate the baby food I had brought with no complaints, she traveled amazingly well. We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner and she did well then too.  She even took a nap in the car too.  With Christy to car for, the trip went so much faster than any other one!  We arrived at the hotel around dinner time, so we ate dinner at the hotel restaurant.  Christy did great again and then we headed up to our room to settle in for the night.  We now had a suite that had lots of room, and her bed was already there, as well as a fan.  They also provided us with an electric kettle (great for making instant oatmeal for her breakfasts and our lunches), and a drying wrack for when I washed clothes by hand!
Christy and her lovingly packed Hello Kitty backpack!

Christy ate well, then I gave her a bath and cut her bangs - they hung down below her eyes!  She love the bath though, and for that I was thankful.  Some orphans have never had a bath and are terrified of it when they are adopted.

I prepared her for bed, wrapped her up in a blanket and gave her  bottle of formula which she took quite well (her suck/swallow is messed up, but I thickened the formula and it went better than expected).  Then I rocked her for a while and she fell asleep in my arms.

We were so blessed.  Everything about our day went amazingly well. Christy was ours forever and she was such a good little girl!  We all went to sleep and slept as good as can be expected.  Christy slept through the night like an angel!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Christy is Home!

I have been waiting to start blogging about our trip to bring Christy home until she was home as I was trying to protect my family - it's not a good idea to let the world know that your children (even adult children) are home without their parents.

She is totally a Daddy's Girl!
She is such a beauty!!!
To sum it all up, our gotcha trip was amazing.  Everything went quite smoothly.  We had some excitement (like lightening hitting very close to the hotel, and small explosion from a fuse box in the restaurant and 20 rugby players in their underwear in the hotel lobby as we left) and a few minor difficulties, but God carried us through and over all I feel so very, very spoiled by my Father.  Christy has been a little miracle.  She has adjusted to everything very quickly and we are watching her adjust to being loved on by her family and relaxing and gaining more use of her right side even!
Christy sure has a great personality!  This is her "I don't like this" look.
She never liked the stroller - we'll be working on that!

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to go back and blog about each day and what happened and the difficulties we overcame and the blessings we had showered upon us.  I have TONS of photos and videos to share with you.

For now, I've put a few of my favorite from our trip here to whet your appetite for more!

I will be posting the details of the trip both here and on my adoption blog, A Seventh Sister.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Because He Can...

(cross post from our adoption blog, A Seventh Sister)

That is a phrase that has stuck with me from the movie "Facing The Giants."  The man was overwhelmed by God's goodness in his life after going through some really despairing times.  And He not only met this man's needs, but He threw in some things that go above and beyond this man's expectations....and the man says "Just Because He Can"...that God has done something not because it was needed, but the overflowing cup kind of blessing because He can!

Well today God did something "just because He can."  We were "fully funded" through some amazing events way back in April. An amazing matching grant from strangers (now friends and our sister and brother in Christ!), and outpouring of generosity from people locally and around the world to help us reach the goal for that matching grant.

But then there were legal changes, and a missed flight that pushed our expected budget so that we were looking at a shortfall of possibly as much as $3,000, especially if we had to get our flights quickly.  Well, we did not have to get our flights quickly and we were able to book flights out 7 weeks from purchase time so we got really good deals on the flights.  Plus I found I could book our hotel stay through and saved money there even thought we booked a bigger room - plus we will get 15% off all our meals there!  So were were just a little short on paying for the flights and the rooms, but someone had promised to be back up funds for our remaining expenses, so that got covered.

As our trip loomed near, Daryl has been squirreling away a little money every week from his overtime - this is usually his "project money" but usually ends up going to car repairs.  But just this week he decided that we'd use that to cover our expenses for the trip.  There was "probably" would be tight and would not cover anything unforeseen, but it was definitely a good start.

I knew we had some bills that were unmet, and not sure if we had enough money.  We didn't really want to even ask for the funds even though we knew we could get what we needed just for the asking.  So I asked God.  I wrote in my prayer journal earlier this week. "God please provide what we need to cover these expenses, and I realize I'm asking for something miraculous"....

Then today God moved on our behalf and we were given more than enough money to cover our expenses - enough to cover the prescriptions we had to get for Christy that will not be covered  by our insurance (they were written in my name and we don't have time to change it now), and the cost of our extra bag on the way there and so much more!  We had many expenses preparing for this trip, like a new suitcase, clothes/shoes/accessories for Christy plus some unexpected medical bills at home that have built up but we were going to deal with it when we got home - not we don't have to.

God tells us in the Bible not to worry about anything, not what we will eat or what we will drink or what we will wear.  He is our provider.  He doesn't necessarily provide ahead of time or more than we need, but He does provide.  And sometimes He provides so generously.  He has erased all my fears and worries in one fell swoop - He Is Faithful.

When God Calls, God Equips.  His Calling Is His Equipping.  Period.  We just have to follow His call and step out in faith.  He takes care of the details and stretches us in the process drawing us closer to Him and teaching us so much about His love and care for us as our LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER.

And no, I'm telling where this came from.  I would not have expected this.  There is no other explanation other than God working in mysterious ways.  Just stand next to me, amazed at what God can do.  And yeah, I'm barefoot again, socked blasted clean away....again.