Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot and Hotter!

  This has been one HOT week.  It didn't help that our A.C. thermostat went out earlier in the week.  One day the girls told me that it didn't seem to be acting right, and we started to be concerned when it wasn't staying on in spite of the temperature rising.  By the time Dan and I went upstairs to go to bed, it was 84 degrees up there.  Obviously I was tired enough that it didn't even phase me, though, because we opened all the windows, turned on the attic fan, and I went promptly to sleep!!  The next day, I called the guy we knew who might could help us out with it.  He was near a supply store just when I called, and when I told him the "symptoms," he guessed what the problem was, bought us a new thermostat, and was here to install it within a few hours!!  Praise the Lord!!  The very next day, the high temperature was 101.5.... and that was before adding humidity/heat index! 

   So, all week long, I stood in the shade--  pouring sweat -- just watching  Teddy learning to ride the bike.  I don't know how he stood it, but he has almost gotten the hang of riding decently well.

Watermelon is great  on a hot day!!  Unfortunately, he must have eaten too much on this day, because he threw up not long after I took this picture--  :(

 Teddy continues to make pretty good progress learning English.  After church today, I decided that this week we would learn some new phrases like, "Don't yell in church!"  I realized that this would be needful since -- 1/3 of the way through the service, he saw my dad, and called out loudly, "GRANDDADDY!!!"  We were sitting on the back row just in case he got too noisy or was distracting others.  Other than that one thing, he was pretty good, though.  We'd had a battle at the beginning because he didn't want to sit in the back.  There wasn't room for our whole family there, so some of our other kids were sitting toward the front, and he wanted to sit with them.  He was quite angry with me, and pouted for awhile, and then ended up crying for a few minutes.  But, he got over it.  Next time, I plan to go into the sanctuary early and explain better about why  we are sitting where we are, and how he can "earn" the right to sit with the rest of the kids by using good behavior.
   We have at least one battle a day.  So far, there has always been something to use as good leverage in order to get him to give in to what I'm asking him to do.  It takes awhile though.  He puts up a good fight, but eventually, whatever it is that he is missing out on until he gives in pushes him over the edge and he yields.

    He got his glasses yesterday.  All day on Friday he asked if we were going in the car.  Driving meant that we would go pick up his glasses.  Before that, driving had meant that we might go swimming.  So, when I told him that we'd get his glasses the next day, but that we WOULD cool off on that hot day by going to the pool, he liked the trade quite well!!  (forgot to take along the camera that day again, though!)

So here he is --- very proud of his new glasses!!  Afterwards, we really needed to go by Wal*mart.  While there, I fully expected him to stop every single stranger and show them his glasses!!  I was pleasantly surprised to see that he didn't approach ONE single stranger.  What a change!!  I (mistakenly) thought that we might  be making progress in that area....  only to see that at church this morning, he stopped at least 15 people (most were strangers to him) and showed them his glasses.  So, apparently, the lack of "people approaching" yesterday was all on the account of being thoroughly overwhelmed/overstimulated by Wal*mart, and all of the "stuff" it contained (in spite of the fact that we DID avoid the toy area and stayed only with the aisles that we absolutely needed!)

Here are just a few more pictures of the week... (Week 2 as a Jacobsen!!)

Helping me make bread--  This seems to be a good activity to work on wrist and arm strength!!  :)

He worked on puzzles this afternoon -- with some help from Sarah.  He did a really good job, though.  This was obviously not the first time he had tried to put a puzzle together, though.  I really don't imagine that they had them at his orphanage.... so maybe he had done some at school.

So, I'm getting set for a new week.  The weekend usually throws him off a bit because we don't follow our normal (school) schedule.  I'll brace myself for a battle or 2 tomorrow!! :)  It definitely helps to keep in mind all of the things he is accomplishing ... and the stress of the battles stays in perspective.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where IS that camera, anyway???

   I am really about to fall asleep here at the computer, but since I have not posted once this whole week, I thought I'd write something quickly.  Pictures will not be coming with this post since right now, I have no idea where the camera even is, and I have not been very good at all about keeping it with me this week.  Anna and I REALLY wished that one  of us would have remembered to take it along on our trip to Montgomery this afternoon.  We first went to the eye doctor, and got Teddy's eye exam done and his glasses picked out.  We'll get them tomorrow when I have to go back to Montgomery for a meeting.  He looks very cute in them, and he is so very excited.  Unfortunately, I don't know how to say "the day after tomorrow," in Bulgarian, so Teddy thinks he's getting them tomorrow!  Ha!  I knew that he would be quite frustrated after all the fun in picking out the frames to have to leave them at the lab to have his lenses put in.  Anna and I tried our best to explain to him what they were going to do with his frames.  But, I have an idea that he still is pretty clueless.  So, I said tomorrow, and tried to explain -- not really tomorrow but later after that.  Didn't work -- he came home and proudly announced to everyone here that he's getting his glasses tomorrow!  Oh well--   Maybe we'll go swimming tomorrow and that will make up for it!!  :)   He still asks if we're going swimming every time we get in the van~!
   Back to the eye exam.  I had called last week and asked how to plan to go about all this with the language barrier.  The doctor is really nice and he suggested that we use the 'E' chart that rotates the E's around.  All Teddy would have to do would be point up or down or left or right.  I made flash cards of E's and we practiced at home....  complete with a sticker at the end because he did so well!  Ha!  And, he did wonderfully well at the doctor's office, too!  By the time we'd made it to this week, I knew that Teddy's knowledge of numbers in English was good enough that we could use the number chart, too, and he did great on that, as well.  He's been highly motivated to work on math this week.  -- The main reason is that we have an electronic "Math Whiz" that has lots of buttons to push (!) and I can set it to review easy math facts.  I have him do math last almost as a reward!
   After the eye exam, we went to a fast food place that has a great play area, and he and Leslie had a terrific time playing there after they finished their supper.  I had not originally wanted Leslie to go along because I knew we'd be getting home late.  But, there watching them play, I was so glad that Anna and I were not having to crawl up in the play area to help him find the way through the tunnel to the slides.  "Slide" was his second new word this evening.  "Glasses" was the first!
   I'll find my camera and just do a "pictures of the week" post soon, but for now, I'm headed to bed.  Sleep is precious these days!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One week home!! Pictures of the Week

  Last night when I got the chance to post, I had not downloaded all of the pictures from the week onto the computer.  Here are some cute shots of our first week!!

Leslie was playing "Fancy Nancy" and Teddy didn't want to miss out on the dress-up fun.  So......

He became a cowboy!!!  And, next is my favorite:

One Bulgarian-born, One American born -- both being cute little Mongolians!!  :)

Check out the goggle-smooshed ears!!  Ha!
Teddy was thrilled  with the swimming pool!!  Before we left to go swimming, I showed him a picture on the computer so he would know what we were going to do!!  He eagerly said, "Da! Da!" (yes!)  Now if we get into the van, he asks if we're going swimming!

This is the picture that is the most common sight at our house now!  Actually, it always WAS the most common.... it's just that now Teddy is with the group!!  Legos are a family favorite!

Picking apples from a tree near the house

And-- well, here is school work.... not  exactly the favorite thing of this  boy!!  But, who can blame him when he's got trees to climb and bikes to ride and all these fun things in the world that have opened up to him this week!!

Therefore, stickers have become Mom's best friend!  He loves to get stickers on his work!  Rewards are flowing fast and freely at our house right now!  (they DO have to be earned, though!  ha!)  --- It's so great to find a good incentive!  One of the days that he was completely balking at having to do home school with everyone, it took about 20 minutes of Leslie completing her math (with a sticker!) and handwriting (with a sticker!) to make him think that he was really missing out by being stubborn!!  :)  You can tell how proud he was when he got finished with part of HIS work~

The main missing photo here is of him learning to ride the bike.  Poor Leslie's bike is taking QUITE the beating.  And, Leslie is not appreciating it, either.  The cover over the chain broke in 3 places and fell off, the seat came off and had to be wired and fixed, and at that point we just went ahead and took off the basket and bell knowing that they were next!  He is slowly getting the hang of it now.  Good thing we don't have a social worker visit right now.... they'd accuse us of child abuse!!  His legs are completely black and blue, and in one afternoon, we had to take him inside to doctor on 3 bleeding cuts which were the results of bike crashes.  But, determination is the name of the game.  It never occurs to him that he can't do it.... and therefore, he has started to ride!  Somehow with being concerned about the MANY bike wrecks, I've never managed to get the camera outside and document the effort!  Maybe next time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

True Colors

   When I first pulled up my blog I honestly could not even remember which day over the past week it was that I had posted something.  I had to re-read what I'd written to try to gain a reference point!  I realized that it was the day before  Teddy's stubborn nature had started to appear!!  Ha!
    I had written that he had always given in without too much of a fuss.  Welllll...  while he still doesn't pitch a major fit, he has started to put forth his wishes strongly!  Before Wednesday, he would not always like what I was asking him to do, and he would hesitate long and hard, hoping I would relent and change my mind.  But, when I didn't, he'd allow himself to be led in the direction I was steering him.  Well, since then he and I have had some battles, and he's learned that I don't back down!!  :)  Ha!  And, the great thing is that he still likes me!!!  .... although he certainly isn't too thrilled with me at the moment!  On Wednesday the girls were watching one of our episodes take place, and I mentioned casually to them that Teddy was about to realize that he has a mom as stubborn as he can be!  Several days (and several episodes!) later, Rachel patted me on the back, and said, "I do think that he's starting to get the picture!"
   One of the biggest areas that I can see improvement over all is in his developing ability to show affection.  When we made our first visit, Teddy showed NO affection whatsoever, and really didn't like it if I tried to hug him or touch him.  I didn't push it.  Since we've had him with us, he has tolerated my kisses at bedtime and other times.  I'd periodically ask if he'd sit in my lap to look at a book or do some other activity.  He had always refused until last night.  Last night after the younger kids were ready for bed, I got Leslie on one leg and gently pulled him only my other leg.  He actually liked it!  And, even reached back around to try to tickle me when I tickled him!!  He leaned back against me like Leslie did and seemed really relaxed.  That was HUGE!  It almost seemed like a cuddle!  -- Making progress!

2 Biggest Helps of the Week

   Every day I "write" posts in my mind that I'd like to put on the blog.  Unfortunately, they've had to stay in my mind as I've not had the time to get them down on the computer.  Again -- unfortunately, I've just about forgotten what they are now that I have managed to get to the computer!!  :)
  I just took a couple of minutes to think back over the week.  By far 2 things stand out as making a difference to keeping me sane:

   This is Teddy's English teacher.  She is such a nice lady, and really did a good job with him over the summer.  She was at the orphanage when we picked him up, and stood to wave good-bye with the caretakers as we drove away.  Her help got him a really good start on communication with us.  More than anything, I think -- teaching him the words and phrases that she did simply helped him to grasp the idea that we really could not  understand him.  Of course, he still tries often with little monologues that we understand little or none of!!  But, he really has never gotten frustrated at the language barrier, and he is very eager to practice the words he knows, and use the English phrases with us. 
   One day early last week while we were still at the hotel in Sofia, Teddy had LOTS of watermelon for breakfast.  I took every opportunity for teaching English, so he practiced the word 'watermelon' a couple of times when I said it.  The next morning, he had watermelon again, and proudly pointed to it and said, "watermelon!"  OH WOW--  I thought -- what a fast learner!  He'll have no problem at all with learning language!!  I only said that word one time and he remembers it beautifully!  I was SO impressed!  Then, later that morning while back in the room, I came across the page of notebook paper that his teacher had given me at the orphanage the morning we got him.  It was all of the words and phrases that she had been working with him on.  I hadn't really taken the time to look through it completely.  I glanced down through the list of 'food' vocabulary, and there was the word, "watermelon!!"    Oh well, -- who knows how many times he had heard the word as his teacher was helping him to learn....  but, no problem...  I was just glad that he was using what she had taught him!!!  :)  That list that she had given me seems to have given him just the push he has needed to jump in really easily this week with our family.
   The second biggest help by far (and maybe these two are not exactly ranked in order!)  is:  Home Ec class!!!  Before I left for Bulgaria, I had written down as many quick and easy recipes as I could think of, along with all of the ingredients needed.  We had agreed that Anna and Sarah would choose the menu for our first week of school and our first week with Teddy as a member of the household.  They would go grocery shopping before Dan, Teddy and I got home, and would be responsible for cooking dinner at noon each day.  That would give me approximately an extra hour of 'school time' each day.  All of the girls -- Rachel included  -- have always enjoyed cooking and have helped me in the kitchen a lot.  They have cooked meals many times at various occasions, so here was a chance to get school "credit" for it!!  In past years, we would make random days special "home ec" days, and would do only baking and cooking together.  But, we decided that this year Anna and Sarah would actually let their skills get them a school credit as an elective.  They'll be doing other projects as well using sewing and craft skills, but this week, all of their work went into helping mom have an easier time of life!!  It was wonderful not to have to think about planning the meal, thawing the meat, or doing the cooking!  Dan always comes home at noon for his lunch break ...  it's wonderful to be close enough to his office that he can do that...  and he always wants more than just a sandwich to get him through the rest of the day.  So, he stayed happy with the schedule, and I had time freed up to keep a close eye on everything Teddy was eager in doing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Schooling Schedule

   Monday morning we jumped into home schooling.  The kids and I would actually have started earlier than Monday if it hadn't been for our trip.  And, I felt like Teddy would do better with a pretty strong schedule, so we dove in. 
   Actually, I had already done the "first day of school" with the other kids on the Wednesday before Dan and I left.  We had our fun activity to kick off the year... this year it was a treasure hunt.  We've done it before, but this year I put a new twist on it....  the clues were scripture references, and they had to decide where to find the next clue by reading the verse and deciphering from it where to go look!  The treasure was school supplies that we needed for the year.  All kids love new notebooks, pencils (everyone gets his own color or pattern so that when we lose them all over the house, we know whose it is by the color!  -- I started that when the girls were much younger and they wouldn't keep up with their own pencil and would always be taking mine!! :)   )  notecard boxes, and other necessities.
We'd gotten out the new books for the year, and gone through the entire schedule so that at least they  would know what to expect even if Teddy was totally clueless!  Ha!  Naturally we had to change up our schedule somewhat this year because much more of my time is needed for him... but so far the kids are doing well taking on more responsibility for themselves.  Each year they get a little more independent in their studies anyway.
   Teddy is doing very well considering that within the last week he has totally lost everything well known to him.... the place, people, food, smells, sounds, friends, bedroom, language (that alone will make you desperate!), and entire way of life!   The very positive things:  he likes all of our food (that really amazes me!), he has been motivated to be active (as opposed to only wanting to watch TV!), he has yielded to our authority (we're still a long way away from first time obedience - ha! - , but he's getting better and hasn't pitched any fits.... I thought I was going to see the first one this morning, but just when it started looking like it was coming on strong, he gave in.)  He is picking up English, and I can see a little improvement in communication every day (wow -- that's huge!)  He is sleeping well (that's another big one!)    The negative things:  we have to watch him constantly.  If you let him get out of sight, he'll get into something in a flash.  He plunders through people's closets and cabinets and easily breaks things as he "explores."  We've had to child proof the house almost as if he were a toddler, but since he's big and can climb, it's not quite as easy to get things out of reach.  He has a few phrases in English that he uses sometimes out of context and can be obnoxious with it.  He has a few orphanage behaviors and a few other attention-seeking behaviors that will need time and patience to eliminate. 
  Over all, it is going really well.  Whenever I feel tired or frustrated, I try to remind myself of where we could  be!!  He could  be pitching major fits of frustration all day every day....  and wouldn't I be doing about the same thing if MY whole life had just turned upside- down???  So, I'm praising God tonight for His mercy!  I know that He won't give me more than I can handle....  so, He must know that I just couldn't handle too awful much right now!  :)

Enjoying play-dough

Climbing trees is one of his newest favorite activities.... second only to pushing buttons!  It's almost like I can see him stronger today than yesterday!  He needs all this climbing to build up his leg and arm strength. 

He was VERY determined to make it up in this tree.  This afternoon, he kept at it until he finally made it!  Here is looking at me through binoculars!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

All the Way HOME!!!

  When I got into bed (my own bed!) last night, I quickly counted how many hours we'd been up and going.  Yikes - it was 28 hours.  I think I slept maybe 2 hours added together from short naps here and there on the long flight, and about an hour more on the last flight.  Dan and I quickly found that we could not risk falling asleep at the same time during traveling because Teddy was too quick to get into trouble.  Once while I was napping, Dan closed his eyes for just awhile, and when he opened them again, Teddy was out of his seatbelt and headed who-knows-where.  Honestly the first thing he probably would have done would have been to try to open the emergency exit door at the back of the plane.  Somehow he seems drawn to things like that!  Unfortunately, he did not sleep but 30 minutes of the entire trip.  So, we were completely exhausted from being on "high alert" for so long while thoroughly brain dead.  He did LOVE the push button pad on the arm of the seat.  I am not exaggerating one little bit when I say that he pushed those buttons more than 1000 times.  The music channels went from 1 to 30, and we practiced counting a lot!  Ha!  I thought when the food came that he might be interested enough in the food that he would temporarily forget the buttons, but NO -- then it was 2 bites and push the buttons several times.... then 2 more bites and push the buttons more.  At the first of the trip, we told him that he could NOT push the one to call the attendant, because he most certainly would have called her over and over and over.  The waiters at restaurants in Sofia of course all understood him and talked with him, so he was very sure that the airline attendants all should understand him, too.  He never gave up trying when one walked by!  But -- back to the buttons -- we'd let him push the others, but then he started blasting his eardrums out with the volume.  When I told him to leave those alone, he kept trying to do it when I wasn't looking, so we had to make the volume buttons off limits, too.  By the end of the trip, the whole thing was off limits because we just couldn't take it anymore!!  The biggest praise of the entire trip was that we were blessed to be seated at the front of a section so that we didn't have anyone in a row ahead of us on the long flight (which was around 9 hours, I think).  On the first leg of the journey (Sofia to Munich), it was all we could do to keep him from putting the tray (which is fastened to the seat in front of you) up and down a million times and pulling on the seat to the point that the lady sitting there wasn't ready to strangle us!!  We did give him freedom with the window shutter which slides up and down, and it's just a wonder that it still worked when we disembarked!!  :)   Another thing about those seats in airplanes that cross the ocean is that the TV is on an "arm" that folds up under the seat.  In all of the other rows, it is on the back of the seat in front of you.  So, ours were sort of "hidden," and we were able to bring it out when we had gotten to the desperation point!  Hurray for cartoons!!  The short domestic flights don't have those TVs, so Teddy was quite disappointed when we got on our last flight home.  The first thing he asked was, "Where's the TV???"  He wasn't going to let us pull one over on him this time!  Ha!  Everything is just SO new to him right now... there is absolutely no quenching his curiosity. 

Early Saturday morning looking at the plane that would take us from Sofia to Munich.

Last few steps on Bulgarian soil.  He loved pulling the carry-on..... mostly because the handle had a button you pressed to make it go up and down!!  :)  --Can't even begin to tell you how many times it went up and down during our journey! 

On the first flight!  He was VERY excited to be finally riding in an airplane.

Our last view of Sofia that I managed to catch in between times of Teddy raising and lowering the window shade!

During our long layover in Charlotte --- He wasn't too sure of a chair that rocked!!

We had a welcoming party at the airport, and I hope that my mom and sister were taking pictures because I could hardly focus my own eyes, much less try to get a camera to focus!!  Ha!  I'll try to get their pictures off their cameras and post some later.
   Teddy was so glad to see the kids (Dan and I were, too, of course!).  As we landed at each of the first 2 airports, Teddy had asked if the kids would be there.  When we finally got to the Montgomery airport, he was very excited that this was the ONE!
   We got our luggage and finally headed home.  Teddy had not been air sick at all, and since the drive home is only an hour and not terribly curvy, I had hoped that he wouldn't get car sick.  Oh well -- 15 minutes from home, he lost his supper.  I had just  asked him how he was feeling and tried to give him a bag, and he wouldn't take it.  Within 2 minutes.... yuck.  We got him home, stripped him down in the garage, and headed him straight for the shower.  I was washing out his clothes in the laundry room and wasn't anywhere around when Dan was putting the kids to bed, so I missed getting a picture of his first night in the bunk bed with Justin.  Sarah slept on the floor of their room on a mattress so that she could wake up if he got during in the night.  (Praise the Lord for older kids who help out mom and dad when we're too tired to think straight!!)  We didn't want him to get up and wander and end up falling down the stairs!  She said he sat up once during the night, but when she talked to him, he lay back down and went back to sleep.  Hopefully he will sleep as well tonight!! 
   Today Dan, Teddy and I stayed home from church.  We had all been up in time to go, but Dan and I were too brain dead, and Teddy would probably have been too over-stimulated!  He's played really well with the kids this afternoon, he loves the swing, likes Jessie (our dog) a lot, and has done pretty well with staying out of things that he shouldn't play with.

His first home-made ice cream!  Tomorrow is my dad's birthday, and we celebrated today!  Teddy liked it a lot!

This was a fun toy -- You guessed it....  it has a button  inside that you press to make it oink!!  :)

Our 3 youngest having fun on the back porch!

Jessie is very patient with him.  I wasn't outside when he first started playing with her, but Dan said that Teddy pinched her nose, played with her feet, and pulled her toe-nails!  Again-- everything is so new and interesting!

   We've decided that the best way to describe him right now is a 2 and 1/2  to 3 year old kid in a seven year old-sized body who happens to be 9!!!  I was surprised to see that he is only a little  bit taller than Leslie (who is 6).  Leslie and Justin both have grown during the summer, and Teddy must have pretty much stayed the same since our first trip, because in April, he was measuring right in the middle of them in height.  I'm sure that with time, he'll mature socially and mentally, and will get stronger and grow taller physically.  It will be so wonderful to see it all take place!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday afternoon

   When we got up this morning, Teddy was limping terribly.  He would not bend his right leg at the knee at all.  He always limps somewhat.  I can't remember what I posted here during/after our first trip, but he was born with a club foot, and the surgery to help correct it wasn't done until he was 6 or 7 years old.  So, he walked improperly for years, and still isn't very steady.  Anyway, I thought maybe he had just slept in a weird position, and that it would get better.  Actually after we had lunch and had been sitting still for quite awhile, when we got up to go back to our room, he limped even worse than before.  Finally, Dan happened to remember that his right thigh was where the doctor had given him the shot!!  Well, that was a relief!  He was just sore in that leg, and was favoring it a lot!  Apparently the least little bit of pain when he tried to move his thigh kept him from wanting to walk normally!  We went to the park again with Archie and Joey.  Today the weather is gorgeous, but Teddy wasn't into running or kicking the ball....  he did climb on all the concrete figures of animals, but then he just wanted us to throw Archie's tennis ball to him, and if he missed it, he wanted US to run after it! 
   We came back to the hotel to rest for awhile, and Teddy actually played by himself for awhile.  That was nice to see.  Pretty much up till now, he wanted us to be entertaining him non-stop!  The thing was, if we tried to get him to do something by himself and took our eyes off him for even a minute, he'd be getting into something we didn't want him to be playing with.  Today he actually played with his toys and left everything else alone!!  I think that he's getting used to our routine, and everything isn't quite so brand new and incredibly interesting.  Of course, the bad part of that is that when we get home, we'll have to start all over!  ha!  At least I've seen that it is possible for him to settle down and let us actually pay attention to something else for awhile!  Even when it gets really busy at home, I'll know that I can expect things to get better in a week or so!!  :)
   Around 4:00 pm, DiDi is going to come with Teddy's passport and visa.  I'm not sure what we'll do for the rest of the afternoon, but I'm not going to post again now until we get home.  We'll get up in the morning at 4:15 and head to the airport.  We don't land in Montgomery until 9 pm tomorrow night....  we have several long lay-overs that are making this trip home 5-6 hours longer than our first trip. 
   Here are a few snapshots of earlier in the day---


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Busy Day

   This morning we slept late (no big surprise since I keep staying up so late!) and we ate breakfast late.  Toni had called yesterday evening to tell us to be ready at 9:30.  Her cousin, DeeDee (probably spelled DiDi here) picked us up and we headed to the clinic where Teddy would see 3 doctors.  The first was the eye doctor.  We knew that his eye sight was poor, and knew that at least he needed glasses, if not eye surgery.  So, we had good news.  The doctor was VERY kind and did a great job.  She said that he was seeing only about 50% right now.  That wasn't really good news, but think what a new world will open up to him when he does  get glasses!  And, she said that with the correct prescription, his eyesight could be corrected to 100% in one eye and around 70% in the other eye.  And, she said that his 'wandering eye" could be corrected only with glasses... it didn't seem to need any surgery.  So, before long, we'll have 4 out of 6 kids in glasses!!  WOW -- We'll make one eye doctor a happy person when our  family makes appointments!!
  The next place was the ear, nose and throat.  That was very fast....  then, on to the pediatrician.  He was nice as well, and gave Teddy a complete physical, checked his immunization record, and filled out papers that the embassy wanted to have.  Teddy was lacking one immunization, and they went ahead and gave it to him there.  He knew what was going on, and started to cry before the needle even got within eyesight.  So, there was our first big show of negative emotions.  I was honestly almost glad to see it.  He recovered well after it was over.
   We went to a downtown cafe with DiDi after that and had a great lunch.  We really appreciate ALL of Toni's family, and had a fun time with DiDi while Joey and Archie were doing all of the exact same things with DiDi's twin sister, Dani.  We all met up at the US Embassy for the interview with the consular there.  That entire place blew Teddy's mind.  He wanted to talk to all the guards about their walkie-talkies and weapons, he wanted to ask the security people all about the security check, he wanted to ask the consular all about his speaker phone.... and on and on!  OH-- not just ask, of course-- he wanted to touch all of these things, too.  It just about drove him crazy that in the doctor's office we wouldn't let him touch all of the equipment, and that in the car, we won't let him use the buttons to roll the windows up and down 100s of times.  Have I mentioned here how MUCH this guy loves  buttons??  It's definitely an obsession.  I explained how the TV issue wasn't so much about the television shows as it was about the remote control's buttons, right??  Well, the second day here, he punched the buttons a few 100 times too many, and the TV shut down.  We haven't bothered to have anyone from the hotel come up and fix it.  And, somehow he understood that it's broken, and that is that!!  Whew -- sure saved us from saying "no" a hundred times a day!!  Ha!  There are plenty of other things to say "no" about.  In fact, I feel like that is ALL we do all day long!!  :)  No -- don't touch the buttons on the phone (who knows HOW many long distance phone calls we'd have been charged for!!)  No-- don't take the key card out of the slot by the door because it turns off the AC as well as all the lights.  No-- don't touch the computer or it will freak out like the TV did!  No-- don't eat the whole box of oreos!!  .... and on and on! 
  I'll just have to post pictures tomorrow, because I haven't downloaded today's pics onto the computer yet, and I'm hoping to get to bed earlier tonight.
  Just one more full day, and we'll be leaving on our jet plane headed HOME!!  Hurray!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Check it out---

  I was about to head to bed when I realized that I had forgotten again to link the Eicher's blog!!  It's almost midnight (again --  I've got to figure out how to do this earlier in the day!) so IF I can remember how to do this right now with my foggy brain, you'll be able to read more about Lisa and Joey and see some wonderful pictures right here.

Rainy Day in Sofia

   We didn't get to venture out too far today due to the weather.  I was thinking that lack of exercise and fresh air might make it harder for Teddy to get to sleep, but it actually seemed to be a little easier tonight.  Once he gets to sleep, he sleeps well, so I am very thankful for that!  Actually-- maybe I am just sleeping so hard that I don't hear him during the night!!  :)  No, I don't think so!
   After a big breakfast, we played in the room for awhile.  Teddy wanted to take apart the airplane, and before we got it back together, he started using the pieces to make his own creations.  I was really glad to see that imagination.  The things he did were basic, but I was still glad to see him using those thinking skills!  The day before, I had been teaching  him how to "play" with a stuffed animal.  There were a few stuffed animals in his room in the orphanage, but they were just for decoration, I think.  I don't think he was allowed to play with them....  or maybe he just didn't really know how to.  Anyway, the first night when I put him to bed, I put the stuffed doggy in bed with him, and he just ignored it.  So, Tuesday morning I played with the dog lying beside Teddy.... making the dog wave and say "hi," making the dog dance while I sang, making him "walk" up one side of my bent knees and sliding down the other.  Teddy kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye like I was a little strange!!  Well, then, --last night when we put Teddy to bed, I put the dog in bed with him.....  and all my teaching back-fired on me.  I was now thinking of the doggy as a cuddly stuffed animal that you hold while you fall asleep.... but, NO--- now it was a toy that you play with!!  Teddy proceeded to play in bed with the doggy like I had showed him!  Fast learner--- Ha!  I guess now I'll have to demonstrate how -- when it's bedtime -- the doggy is VERY tired and he just wants to be cuddled and fall asleep!  :)
   Anyway, after awhile we went down to Joey and Archie's room and played there.  When it was getting toward lunch time, the rain had stopped, and we were all a little stir crazy.  We decided to take a walk and look for a cafe.  After about 10 minutes, Toni called and said that she was sending Marti to get us all to bring us to a cafe beside her apartment building.  So, we walked back to the hotel to meet Marti!  Toni was looking better today -- better rested and feeling some better, I think.  We all stayed and talked there for an hour or 2, and by that time it was starting to rain again.  So, that was the end of our venturing out today.  We played in the room, skyped with family, ate supper with Joey and Archie in the downstairs restaurant, and started trying to settle down for bed time!
    Teddy has been VERY content to be with us...  I am SO extremely thankful.  While he is mostly always content, he doesn't show lots of outward emotion (positive or negative--  We've never seen him cry, never seen him even act angry... only mildly frustrated).  So, a couple of times today, I saw a really big, full-fledged smile and laugh, and managed to get one on camera.

Teddy, Archie and Joey at lunch

  These are Teddy's current prize possession.  We gave him a few coins, I think Joey gave him a few, he found one or 2 down in the lobby, and has therefore gotten a collection of 8.  They stay in his pocket, and when he's bored, he brings them out.  We've made up all kinds of games to play with these coins.  He is really proud of them, and shows them off to complete strangers just about everywhere we go!  All but one are Bulgarian coins, and there's one quarter in the group.  With the quarter, we've taught him how to guess heads or tails."  He still doesn't really "get" it, but it sure keeps him entertained!!  :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Two less orphans in the world today!!!!!!!

     This morning, 2 little boys woke up in our hotel to their first full day with families.  One is our Teddy, and the other is another cute little guy whose "gotcha day" was yesterday, too. 

Archie and Teddy lovin' life at McD's!!!!

I said last night in my post that we had new friends at the hotel.  Well, Joey Eicher came over as well this week to get his little boy, and we met him and Archie yesterday afternoon.  We spent a good part of today with them, and did our best to wear the boys out.  Joey was more successful!  We got the biggest laugh when, on our way back to the hotel after playing at a park, Archie sat down in the middle of the sidewalk and refused to go a step further!  It was hysterical!!  He won himself a trip back in his daddy's arms!!  :)  Joey's wife, Lisa, and their little girl are anxiously waiting back in Texas for the 2 of them to make it all the way HOME!

 It was a very good day, but - yet again- I've waited until after  Teddy went to sleep to have time to blog, and I'm fading fast.  I'll try to recap the day in pictures:

Starting work on the Lego airplane

Halfway done!!

Love those lips!!  They're making great airplane sounds!!

Mmmmm -- oreos....  He'd have eaten the whole box yesterday after he
finished off the box of crackers, but we made him wait!!

Happy meals for happy boys!!

Of course the best part was the toy that came with them!

They actually play music....  we've heard the song a few thousand times, now!

Soccer at the park--


The daddies pushing their boys on the swingset--

Teddy loved the slide
  We are definitely keeping busy!  I'm thankful for all the moms who have "been here and done this" that remind us that life DOES slow down again one day!  Ha!

Monday, August 8, 2011


… in our arms, in our lives to stay!!

For months, I have read blogs similar to mine today, and have teared up every single time I read the blog title “gotcha!”  I could hardly wait until I would be the one typing it!!  And, it felt just as incredible as I thought it would!!  Every last piece of paperwork, every tear of frustration, every single fingerprint, and everything else….  It was ALL worth it when our sweet little boy said “chiao” to the life of an orphan and rode off in the van between me and his daddy!
    He never hesitated a second, but of course he truly had no idea what all was about to change in his life forever, either!  It was all the orphanage director and one particular caretaker could do to hold it together.  I could tell both of them (and others) loved Teddy so very much, and were doing all they could to be brave and wish him the best with smiles on their faces even if their hearts were sad to see him go.

   We’d been warned about his car sickness from the beginning, and they’d already given him some medicine before we got there.  I guess they might as well have saved their medicine, because it surely didn’t seem to work!  However, maybe it WAS working, and it spared us even more than he could have had, but it really wasn’t long before there wasn’t anything left to come up.  Poor guy—but he was such a trooper, and managed to give us enough fair warning every time!  (We HAD packed extra outfits for everyone just in case!  Speaking of outfits, the orphanage director was SO nice, and had given him the outfit he had on -- shoes and all, as well as 3 toys that Teddy chose to take.)
 Teddy had never been out of a 45 mile radius from his current home, so you can imagine how LONG a six hour journey felt to a car sick nine year old!  He turned into a normal American kid right away with the favorite question of “Are we THERE yet?!”  In fact, telling us that he needed to throw up and asking Toni how much longer were about the only 2 different sentences that came out of his mouth for the entire trip!  We finally made it to Sofia, though, and were all glad when the city came into view. 

  After Teddy had his picture made for his visa and Marti exchanged money for us, we were let off at the hotel to start the journey of the week of just the 3 of us. Toni tried to prepare Teddy, and told him everything that he could expect.  She said that we were going to stay in a hotel for a few days, and his response was, “ Does it have a TV?”  You might have read my post about how Shelley told me that basically he watched TV all day and all evening until he fell asleep.  He rattled off a long sentence of which Dan and I understood nothing!  Ha!  To my dismay, Toni translated that he had just recited a list of all the soap operas that he watches!  UUGGHH!!  Well, little guy—brace yourself, because you’re in for a LOT of life changes!  Hmmmm, let’s start with that one!!  J
   We got to our room and he went straight for the TV.  We opted to go for a walk to get something to eat!!  It was almost 3 o’clock and we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast (and Teddy, of course, had lost his breakfast!)  We went to a little grocery shop a few blocks away.  Immediately in the door, TV was not the ONLY thing to which we were saying “no’!!  He wanted to buy it all….  He wanted one of everything!  And, while Dan and I aren’t usually indulgent parents, we DID walk out of that store with ice cream, oreos, Sprite and crackers (yum!  Aren’t we into balanced diets?!)  HA!  We sat right outside the store and let him eat his ice cream, and I started the crackers.  This was where I'd had one of my brain lapses and had left my camera in the hotel room!  I'd love to show you a picture of his first ice cream cone with us.  From the way he gobbled it down, though, it really looked like he'd had one before.  He didn't let one little drip get by him....   Now that I'm thinking of it, -- a video would have been better yet!!  :)
    When he was done, we walked back to the hotel.  Once there, he started into the crackers…. and didn’t stop for the next 2 hours…. And that was only because we were going downstairs for pizza!!  Let’s just say Teddy is going to make up for lost time!  He definitely is going to be one of the ones that the adoption books talk about when they say that some kids don’t know what it feels like to feel “full,” and they proceed to eat you out of house and home.  Better look out Justin, --the new guy in the family is out to give you a run for your money!!

    Here is he holding the TV remote in one hand, and his crackers in the other!  After putting him off for quite awhile, we decided we would  turn on the TV for a little while.  We were quite relieved to discover that it wasn't so much about watching the TV shows as it was changing channels with the remote.....  then, hitting the mute button and watching them go silent.... then turning it off and back on again!!  This little guy is REALLY into buttons!!  I was just so thankful that he didn't seem to care at all about the programs that I felt quite happy to let him push the buttons even if we did get dizzy watching the channels flip!!  Ha!
   The cutest thing by far, though, was getting to Skype with our kids at home.  He had walked into the hotel and promptly asked the receptionist where Anna, Sarah, Rachel, Justin, and Leslie were!!!  He had thought that after all THAT long journey, we were home, and that the other kids should be there!!  When they came up on the computer screen, he actually recognized them right away, and ran to get the pictures that he had of them, and show them all their own pictures so that they could see that he knew who they were!!  :)  Then, he realized that he could see himself on the little insert video of us, and the real fun began....  He could actually watch himself on "TV!!"
   After a MEGA pizza for supper with new friends we'd made in the hotel (more on that tomorrow!), we came back to the room and Teddy enjoyed a bath (I'm pretty sure he'd only had showers at the orphanage.... so this was like a pool!!) and then had to go to bed...  Daddy and I were exhausted!  Ha!  Teddy groaned and complained a little bit about that, but gave in.  I was just going to lie in bed for a little while and wait until he was asleep when I could post here on the blog in peace.....  but, -- you guessed it!!  I went straight to sleep, too!!  I woke up about an hour and 1/2 ago which is why it is now after midnight here and I'm just now getting to my post!!
   I have so much more to tell, but it will have to wait!  I can hear him tossing around on his bed, and I don't want to risk his waking up to join me (I'm sitting on the bathroom floor trying to be as quiet as possible!)  So, I'm off to get some more sleep to ensure that Dan and I both have enough energy to keep up with him tomorrow!