Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Picture post from Bulgaria (part II)

Okay, time for some more pictures from Bulgaria.

 This is the street the sibs' orphanage is on.  If you look up on that mountain top, that is where the monument is.  It is a ways up there.  You can walk to it from where we are but decided not to that day.  We drove to that monument and parked the car.  Then walked and walked to get there. 

One of the paintings inside the sibs' orphanage.  Always amazes me the beautiful artwork in these places.
They're home...for now.  Looks like just another building.  Look though at that gorgeous blue sky.  We had that the entire time we were in Bulgaria.

A shot from our table.  It was so relaxing to sit with the kids at this table. Isn't it beautiful?

A view from our table as well.  Just felt like you were in a dream.

 R took this shot. 

R also took this shot.  It shows you just how off balance her eyes are.  To her, this is very straight.  She takes her time to even it up in her mind.  We absolutely loved all the outdoor cafes they have there.  No wonder they all take forever to eat.  It's just so dog gone relaxing.  

Another outdoor cafe.  Our kids were taking turns taking pictures of us.  This cafe was in the local park.  The BEST sausages I've ever tasted.  That's saying a lot considering I used to live in Germany.  Our kids are awesome eaters which is nice.  this was taken on our last day with the kids.  

I'll have more Bulgarian pictures once I come home.  For now, closing up the blog for 4 days and headed to Chocolate Town, USA!  Ready to enjoy a long awaited family vacation and some fun.  Hopefully, it goes better than this evening has.  Geez.  My kids have been a nightmare. You'd think they'd never packed a day in their lives.  And Alex had a complete meltdown b/c I made him "pack a nice shirt."  Oh, I'm so mean.  Heaven forbid I ask them to wear something minus the holes and the dirt that seems to be the norm around here.  Oh well.  They'll get over it.  

The tie dye shirts we made were a fail.  Epic fail.  Yana got out the wrong sizes for Alex & Bojan and it looks like an eighties flashback.  It's actually quite funny.  But, no shirts for Saturday.  So, found all red shirts we can wear.  No biggie.  Friday, I said they had to wear navy blue or white shirts.  Now, you'd think the older kids would be able to tell where we are staying or know what to do if lost but they do not.  We've tested this many times over in the past.  Younger kids we actually "tag."  Put name tags on their backs.  With the FAS, memory is a hard thing for them.  None can remember the name of the hotel.  I believe only Irina has Warren's cell phone memorized.  So, finding them is a big deal.  Hence, why we like them in somewhat of the same colors.  The tie dye shirts are more "cool" for the older kids.  And for us for that matter. LOL.  We'll let you all know how the trip went once we come home.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  I know we will.  Meds are finally back in order for them so we should be set.  Alex is still giving me a fit about the cooling vest b/c apparently, it's not fashionable enough for him.  Okay then son, pass out instead.  What's it going to be kiddo?  I gave him the choice of wear it when it's super hot where we are (in the 100'sF this week) or stay inside.  His brillant idea was take a WINTER headband and dip it in water.  No kid.  We got this special vest just for you.  I can tell this one is going to be a battle of wills.  I'm willing and Alex is willing to go to battle over it.  LOL.  should get interesting this summer.  Because of Alex's overheating issues though, I can not let this one slide one bit.  anyhow, need to pack up and make sure everything is ready.  Plan is to leave at 7am but I know us.  We'll be lucky to be out the door at 8:30.  We try.  Thankfully, there is no deadline for us tomorrow and already asked for late arrival.  I'll be back in 4 days and will write then.  We needed a little electronic break from it all.  Disconnecting for a few days will do everyone good.  Much more to come and next post will be about Chocolate Town USA!

Getting ready to go!

I know we just got back but you can never plan when you do your adoption trips.  Before we even got word, we had planned on a trip to PA for a family reunion this coming weekend.   Though we just got back, we are getting ready to leave again.  Kids are starting to pack their back packs.  Food has been bought (cheaper than eating at restauarants), tie dye shirts made, and kids very ready to go.  Where are we going you ask???  Well, we are going to Bloomsburg, PA to stay at this hotel .  Originally, we were going to stay at some cool campgrounds.  Well, apparently, this is a busy weekend.  There were NO campgrounds available and we couldn't afford the regular hotels right now.  So, found this inn which I am told from others is actually really nice and clean and convenient.  And, prices were the same as we were going to spend at the campgrounds.  Of course, we're only sleeping there so no biggie.  Arrive tomorrow late afternoon sometime.  Plan on eating lunch at a rest area and dinner in the rooms.  We've made the food already. 

On Friday, we wake up and drive to Hershey, PA.  Aka...Chocolate Town!!!  We will eat our way through the town. We will be doing the  Chocolate World Tour.  We will also take in the 3-D show.  After that, we were originally going to do the trolley tour around town.  However, we do believe the Chocolate Museum and Chocolate Lab would be a better fit for our family and so much more fun.  I personally can not wait to make my own candy bar.  Yum.  The info is here:  Chocolate Museum.  This is  a very full day for the kids and for us.  But, after climbing that mountain, we sure can travel around chocolate town w/ out a problem.  This is one place I can be sure we will NOT miss the souvenir shops.  LOL.  We will also be going out to lunch somewhere in Chocolate Town.  Not sure where yet.  We can only afford to go out to eat once while on vacation so need to pick some place cool.  And chocolatey of course.  We will then drive back to Bloomsburg to stay the night.

Wake up early Saturday, breakfast in our rooms.  Then, head to Knoebels.  It is an amusement park.  My parents are treating us for the family reunion.  They are graciously buying all our tickets for the park and rides.  In addition, they are having the lunch and dinner catered at the park for us all.  So, Saturday will be filled with many rides and playing, enjoying food and visiting with family since it is a family reunion.  We haven't seen some of these relatives for years and many have not met all my children yet.  Should be fun.  Come back from a day of fun and exhaustion.  Go to bed.  Wake up Sunday and head home.  Kids are beyond thrilled to be going.  It is not that often we get to go somewhere like this.  It is the first time for 5 of my kids to ever experience an amusement park.  Makes it that much more special I feel.  I'm sure they'll be plenty of time to share about the new kids coming home as well.  I know my kids will because they can hardly stand keeping quiet about their new sibs. 

We're ready to go.  I'll have another picture post later tonight from Bulgaria.  However, starting tomorrow, we're taking a little blog break.  We really want to spend quality time with the kids and with each other.  Just family, just fun.  No computers, no phones, no video games, no electronics.  Okay, so the camera is coming.  But, we really need this electronic break.  I will be back on here on Sunday telling you about the trip.  I'm sure I'll have pictures to share as well.  Have a wonderful weekend and talk to you all on Sunday.  Can't wait to share the Boyd Bunch adventures in Hershey & at Knoebels. 

Quick adoption update

Just being home a few days there is not a whole lot to report.  Our agency fedex'd our I-800 out for us.  We already had filled out the I-864W.  Agency is checking w/ coordinating team over in Bulgaria making sure there is nothing else we need to update in order for court to happen.  I took some updated docs over there last week that I knew would expire such as the medicals.  So,I think we are on track.  Next step is waiting for that I-800 approval.  I believe once that happens, we are allowed a court date.  Waiting is always so hard for me as I'm terribly impatient.  Especially, when it comes to my kids.  I want to see their faces every morning.  Not just pictures.  Kids are asking when they are coming home.  The I don't know answer doesn't fly well around here.  They told us approximately 3 months before we left Bulgaria.  however, they also said it depends up the judge's vacation in August.  Most judges take off the entire month of August.  Umm, must be nice to have a month long vacation.  Not heard of too often in America.  Praying things go quickly so that we can go ahead and have court.  It's not up to me though.  All I can do is do whatever documents they ask for the day they ask for them.  We are doing all we can do to get to them right away.  At least one of our 3 truly needs to come home quickly and start the healing process.  I know government officials don't understand how every day is critical.  How just one day leads to more healing time.  I have children at home with PTSD and emotional trauma and other issues.  Time is critical for them.  The sooner the better.  I know we have the rest of our lives together.  But, the faster we can do this, the better in the long run for our little girl.  I know much of that didn't make sense as I'm not allowed to share certain info.  It will make sense to you all later on.  Just as the whole CPS thing I had to wait to share till all was over. 

So, we stand in a holding pattern waiting on government officials. I think sometimes it is sad how much our government is involved in the adoption process.  I know it has to happen for the safety of the kids.  But, I don't think our government officials understand how important their job is for our kids.  I do wish folks working in these government adoption positions could hear our stories and see the kids before and after.  Maybe it wouldn't make a difference but maybe it would.  Waiting months for approvals as has been proven in the past, can be deadly for some of the more critical orphans waiting overseas.  Okay, soapbox over.   I do know that many are most likely overworked.  It is not their fault.  Everyone is stretched thin in government nowadays.  We all our.  But, they are still a key role in getting our children home and we must respect the time it takes to do that.  No matter how hard for us waiting parents.  These are children 8,9 and 10 for us.  The wait is absolutely no easier the more times you've done it. I think sometimes it may be harder b/c you know just how much the kids mean to us.  Hopefully, I will have another adoption update in a few weeks. 

Picture post from Bulgaria (part I)

Now that we're home and w/ a working computer, I can take the time to post some pics of where we visited.  Very cool places.  We did not do much in Sofia but sleep there.  Maybe next time we'll be able to see some sights of Sofia.  But, we did get to go to some other really cool places.  Tourist places.  Places that most folks here would never think to go visit.  I have many pics of the kids in these places but for obvious reasons, can not share those pictures.  So, you'll have to put up w/ me in some pictures and Warren.

 Driving down to Kurdzhali, we saw many, many beautiful mountains and rolling hills.   You could not capture the beauty of it all. 

And then the beauty would come to a screeching halt.  Why?  Cows or goats crossing the roads.  

 Some of the houses and mountains of Bulgaria.  Just so peaceful looking.

Ahh, another cow.  Sorry, caught the backside of this one as we were rolling by.  

 A view from the streets near the orphanage.  That monument up there is one we visited.  It's huge.  This is not the mountain we climbed. 

A view of the orphanage soccer field in the background.  I'm sure Logan gets lots of practice in there.  

 We got to take the kids to a local park everyday.  It was a gorgeous park.  Outdoor cafe's, pony rides, playgrounds, musicians, etc.  Just so pleasant. 

Warren at the park w/ the famous dragon glider that everyone wants.  Seriously, they all want one and asked me to bring more back next time.  Umm, I got this on super clearance end of the season sale at Target for $1.25.  Won't find them again if I tried.  I'm giving it a shot though.  The other Bulgarian kids at the park would come over to play too.  Everyone wanted a turn.  It was really nice playing with so many w/ something so simple.  Well, as long as you didn't hit the neighboring babies.  

I'll have more pictures tomorrow.  going to bed.  Sister in-law stopped by for a late night visit.  It's almost 12:30 in the morning right now.  Tired.  Tons to do tomorrow and juts now realized we only have tomorrow to find Bojan a trumpet.  Lovely.  Good night and many more pics to come.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What I learned while in Bulgaria

I thought I could share some of the things I learned while in Bulgaria.

1.  If you are not used to cigarette smoke, get used to it.

2.  There is not a smooth sidewalk anywhere to be found in the entire country. And this one is not even one of the bad ones. You must watch where you step.

3.  If you are driving with a native Bulgarian, rest assured they will indeed pass the car in front of them.  It does not matter one bit if another car is coming straight for them.  Hold on tight when you pass or you may pass out!

4.  There are grapevines growing everywhere you can think of.  Quite beautiful throughout the country.  

5.  Plovdiv is the wedding dress capital of the country.  No kidding.  People come from all over the country to buy their wedding dresses there we are told.  So neat to drive by all the shops filled w/ wedding dresses.  Our translator got hers there too.

6. Roses are beautiful this time of year.  Logan took this picture for us. 

7.  Bulgarians have the BEST salads ever!  The fresh veggies there were out of this world.  Loved it.  Wish I could cook like they do.  

8.  Parking spaces can be made anywhere.  Especially, on sidewalks.  

9.  You will be thought of as odd if you ask for ice in Bulgaria for your drink.

10.Bulgarian is a mix of many languages.  you are bound to recognize quite a few words.  There is Russian, slavic, Italian, & many more.  

11. Red tile roofs are everywhere.  Really is pretty.  Sorry but this shot was taken in a moving car.  Quickly moving.  

12. No matter how hard you try, you will never, ever get used to the opposite head nodding when it comes to yes and no.  Drove us bonkers the whole trip.  Guess it drove our kids bonkers too as they started saying yes and no versus da and ne.  

13.  No matter where you go, there will be soda, water, candy and such sold on every corner in a little stand.  

So many other things we learned while there.  We were able to take in so much of the culture and in turn learn so much about their culture.  Truly was a great experience.  We can barely wait to go back.  Our I-800 was sent off this week.  Pray it gets done quickly for us.  They are double checking making sure we need nothing else for court to happen.  I hand delivered our updated docs.  So, other than the I-800, we should be good to go.  Please, please let us get a nice Mr. Immigration officer this time around.  Some of you may remember the man that decided since Irina was 17 at the time, we should go get her fingerprinted.  It is NOT required.  It is solely left up to the immigration officer.  Had we been approved back in November when we were supposed to be, the kids would have been home by now.  However, you can't think of it that way.  We had such a great time this past week, it turned out to be perfect timing.  Still, please pray we get a nice guy or lady that will approve our I-800 quickly so that we can get the kids home in a timely manner and onto the healing that one of them really needs.  

I'm sure we will learn tons more next trip.  Can not wait.  It is wonderful to learn about other cultures.  The Swedish gentlemen and us were learning so much from how each of our cultures think.  Hope we continue to grow and learn. I think it is vital to learn the little things when you go to other countries.  That way, you can teach your children about their culture when they get older.  Always learn something new.  Always.  Much to do today so another post will come later this evening.  Getting back and preparing to leave again right away has left us super duper busy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

DAY 7 & DAY 8-- flying home

Goodness, I'm more tired coming back than I thought I'd be.  Time to finish up this trip blog.  DAY 7 was Saturday.  We woke up and had breakfast in the room.  A croissant & banana.  Packed up & went downstairs to wait for our ride.  Thought it was to be 9:45.  Well, in the midst of all our tiredness the previous day, either we misunderstood the time or got the wrong time.  Either way, called & it was supposed to be 10:45.  Lugged the luggage back up & went for a walk around the market.  Got picked up & on our way.  One pit stop to pick up another gentleman.  Turns out this gentleman was the representative of Bulgarian adoption program from Sweden.  He's been doing it for years.  I think he said since '93?  We seemed to hit it off.  So, off to the airport. 

Arrived at airport, driver walked us in.  We knew this was his "free" day & the gentleman and us were having such great conversation, we all assured him it would be perfectly fine to leave.  The line to the ticket counter was forever & no sense in making him stay when he really doesn't need to.  Said our goodbyes.  Waited for quite some time & then off to security so we could all go to our gates.  Both our flights were leaving about the same time and just a gate down from each other.  We shopped around and then sat & had a drink.  We ended up discussing in depth all aspects of adoption.  It was a very open,forthright conversation.  Rare opportunity between two countries.  Everything was up for discussion.  We had an awesome, awesome time and our time was much too short.  Each of us walked away learning more.  The people put in our path this entire trip have really amazed and inspired me. 

Our flight was delayed.  Sat down & got to over hear (okay, the man was making sure plenty heard) some business man kick his girlfriend out ....over the phone.  Yeh, really classy buddy.  Took a dramamine and onto the flight it was.  I was hoping to sleep some.  Not much.  Was informed on the plane that Frankfurt got a brand new control tower and was still learning how to use it.  Yeh, that sounds comforting to passengers.  LOL.  Had plenty of time.  I was picked for the random check.  Guess it was my tourist t-shirt.  Since I never knew I'd be hiking a mountain or walking all over bulgaria, I ran out of shirts & ended up buying an over priced tourist t-shirt.  They're nice about it all but serious.  We got a pretzel while in Germany & went over to the restrooms.  Saw this person looked perplexed.  Looked like a gentleman to me.  Now, I wonder b/c he/she went into the woman's bathroom!  I just couldn't understand how much thought the person put into what bathroom they had to use.  And no, they were not written in Deutsch or English.  It was a picture of a woman and man.  Can't miss the distinction there.  Just was odd.  Warren's computer beeped for some reason so was also inspected.  Off to the plane.  Seats seemed smaller and can't figure that one out really.  Uneventful flight.  Couldn't sleep much.  Landed in Chicago.  I filled out the declarations page wrong.  You'd think after doing this so many times I'd have it down pat.  Apparently you list every country you've been to even if you only were at the airport terminal.  So I guess I can say I visited Germany this go around.  All of terminal one.  We reclaimed our bags and sent them on their way yet again for one last leg of the journey. 

Stopped off at Mickey D's.  Since we usually don't eat this, I knew it was a chance.  However, I was rather hungry.  Mistake.  Later in the flight I felt sick as a dog.  Didn't help that the flight had tons of turbulence.  Got to love it.  All luggage retrieved and off to get home.  Kids were all asleep in the living room floor.  Only the dogs and IRina woke up.  Alaska was VERY happy to see me.  Digby couldn't stop howling.  Nice welcome home for sure. 

 Hard to see or read but they wrote I miss you upstairs.  The papers all hung up are each of their handprints w/a message on it.  Cute, very cute. 

 Another view of all the handprints. 

this was the message on the front door when we walked in.  Nice.  All in all, a great welcome home and then it was off to bed for a few short hours.  Too short.  We lounged around most of Sunday & did laundry.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Picture post-- Hotel rooms (part II)

Now that I gave you the three hotel days in Sofia, I need to give you the other 3 days.  2 night we stayed in a hotel in Kurdzhali.  Beautiful mountainous region. 

 This was the view to the left of the room.  Not bad.  Bed was pretty comfortable too & for once, we were happy that it was more than 2 inches off the floor.

 This is the view to the right.  You have a couch to sit on and a desk to work at.  Not bad at all.  Plenty of space to move around in.

 This is our entry way into the room.  Great b/c there is a closet there and a little bench. Bench was great to sit & put shoes on.  And, they had slippers to use out of the shower. Nice.  (one time use slippers)

It's a bathroom.  Wahoo!!!  Not too many issues w/ this bathroom.  Shower was okay.  If you are in Bulgaria, I guarantee you will have hot water.  Too hot of water for sure.  Doesn't take much to turn to scolding hot water.

Next, we went back to Scotty's in Sofia.  Then, we drove to Shumen.  Shumen we spent two nights.  I was thrilled to spend two nights in that hotel.  Why?

 This is the bathroom of the hotel we stayed in.  Fantastic!  Nothing wrong w/ this bathroom at all. 

This is part of the room.  

This is the other part of the room.  Nice place.  You can open all the curtains up.  There is a desk & a tv that works.  Nothing on much.  Very comfortable place to be though.  Thoroughly enjoyed dinners at the outdoor bistro downstairs.  The BEST salads ever!  We tried a couple of menu items and enjoyed each one.  Was beautiful sitting outside & sorry I never took a picture of the outside.  Here's a link to the hotel though it's in cryllic.  You can click & see some of the outdoors.  Quaint and romantic feel.  Here's the link:  minaliatvek hotel .  Check it out.  

This place was so relaxing that you thought you were on vacation.  Enjoy every dinner there.  Breakfast we ate outside too.  Just pleasant.  More posts to come.  Now, need to rest.  Bojan & Alex are spending the night at a friend's.  Rest of the kids are here.  Stay tuned for more. 

Picture post-- Hotel rooms (part I)

We had the opportunity to stay in 3 very different hotels in 3 different regions.  First hotel we stayed at was Scotty's Botique in Sofia.  It was small.  Just 16 rooms.  Yet, always full.  Staff was really super nice & always there to help you.  Even carry your bags up.  Sweet staff.  Rooms varied.  We stayed in 3 different rooms.  One each night we were there. I showed you all the Prague room.  I'll show you again in case you don't remember.

 Okay, this was the first night we stayed in Sofia.  Stayed in the Prague room.  This is the entire bathroom.  It's a wet room as you can see.  You learn super fast to remove the toilet paper & anything else you do NOT want getting wet.  Notice the shower hooked to the sink?  Hey, I guess the good news is you can just look in the mirror & see if you got the shampoo out. 

 This is the "chair" in the Prague room.  The back is two pieces of wood nailed to the wall.  This may be the most uncomfortable chair in the world.  Oh, the tv's do not work. 

This is the space in the room.  Yep, about a foot around the beds.  The beds are almost on the floor.  I'd say they're about 2 inches above the floor.  Can't see the wallpaper in this post but it glows in the dark.  Annoying.  & kind of creepy when you wake up. 

Next time we were at Scotty's we stayed in the Paris room.  We liked the Paris room.  And, the bed was comfortable to boot.

 This is part of the Paris room.  Warren is sitting in front of the coffee table working on the computer.  There's even a chaise lounge to hang out on.  

 This is the shower.  Looks decent.  Lighting was horrible but we could live w/ that.  And, there was a separate shower this time.  

I just thought this was cool.  LOL.  Had to take a picture.  No, we did not take advantage of this offer.  

The last night we stayed in Scotty's was the night before we came home.  Warren & I have a new phrase due to the room we stayed in.  If something is uncomfortable, we call it a Havana.  That's the name of the room we stayed in.  Would you like to see the Havana?  Thought something couldn't be smaller than the Prague room?  Think again...

This is the size of the room.  I think it is about 8' X 16'.  The bed is the most uncomfortable thing I've ever been on.  It was agony.  Neither of us slept.  The shower was a whole other story.  It was disgusting b/c the water didn't drain.  Felt like I took a bath in a mud puddle. 

It did come w/ a balcony.  We assume it's b/c there is literally no room to eat in the bed.  When brick buildings become old & fall apart, they seem to stucco over them.  

 If you don't have a basketball board, no big deal.  Draw one w/ chalk. 

 The view from the "balcony."  A burned out building next door. 

Another view of the other buildings next door.  

I'll make a second post on the other two hotels we stayed in in region.  The Scotty's Botique Hotel was in the middle of Sofia.  Reasonable prices.  Stay there again in a heartbeat if I could have the Paris room each time.  But no way to Prague and Havana.  Ouch.  But, we did survive and it's all part of the experience.  Did meet some great folks there passing through.  An older retired couple who had the unfortunate event of getting a room just the size of ours, was taking a tour of the Balkans.  They were loving life!  Fun to talk to as well.  From Arizona.   Next post is on the other hotels we stayed in in region.  For now, need to take the pooches on a walk. Yet, I'm still in my pajamas.  Hmm.  Yes, today was relax & chill out day.  Catch up day.