Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Family Fun

We have had an enjoyable few days as a "family of four!" On Tuesday we enjoyed our routine walk in Sofia. As we walked down the street we ran into three missionaries from our church outside of the immigration office. We enjoyed talking with them and I am sure that they enjoyed being able to speak English for awhile (especially Elder Jones, who just arrived in Bulgaria a week ago).

At times it was difficult to navigate Alayna's wheelchair in a city that is not very wheelchair accessible, but eventually we made it to our destination and the girls enjoyed playing at the playground for a while. While at the park we met two other American families (both couples with two young children). One family just arrived in Sofia two weeks ago and is here working for the Embassy. The other family is in the Peace Corps and has been here for two years (we were excited to learn that this family also lived in Uzbekistan for 5 years). It was neat talking to them about their experiences living abroad with their families.

This was the first time that Alayna was with us for our walk and she really enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city. I was also pleasantly surprised by how few people stared as we walked down the street, played at the playground and ate our lunch (don't get me wrong, people definitely stared, but no more than we are used to in the US). It is extremely rare to see people in wheelchairs out and about in Bulgaria (and the few we have seen are usually begging) so it was nice to be able to take Alayna out, without being the focus of everyone's attention, and hopefully change a few perceptions in the process.

This morning we took the girls to the Sofia Zoo and a great time was had by all. Unlike the zoo's in the US, this zoo was much smaller and very low key (there were very few people there and I have a feeling this is the way it is most of the time). So, for those of you following in our footsteps, if you need a low key and inexpensive activity to do while you are here, I highly recommend the zoo.

It's almost scary how close you are to some of the animals!

Hmmm. . .I could be wrong, but I doubt this tiger would be handing out big, slobbery kisses if you got close enough to touch!

People feeding the animals is a big problem at this zoo. We saw people throwing cheese puffs, pretzels, etc. to the animals at most of the exhibits. We thought this sign was particularly amusing :-)

Alayna enjoying some ice cream at the zoo (please excuse the dress. . .we are still working on modesty)!

Lily enjoying her ice cream. This is the first "sweet" thing I have seen her eat since I've known her.

Swinging!! There are little playgrounds throughout the zoo and we stopped to play at this one on the way out. Not a very flattering picture of me, but I love the look on Lily's face. Both the girls love to swing!

We generally keep our afternoons very low key and yesterday and today were no exception. We spent both afternoons in our hotel room napping, coloring, doing puzzles, painting nails and taking baths.

Alayna and Lily enjoying some splash time

The girls are both doing well. Both have "orphanage behaviors" that we are working on (and will likely be for some time), but nothing that we are unfamiliar with or unprepared for (I will go into more detail about these things once we are home and settled because I think they are important to discuss). The days are long and we are all ready to head home, but I am grateful that we have been able to spend this time in Sofia with the girls. Obviously because it is nice to be able to focus our attention completely on them for a few days before we get home and have to divide our attention seven different ways, but also because I feel that, in a way, having the girls with us in Sofia for a week puts us all on common ground. We are all in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, speaking an unfamiliar language and it certainly makes it easier to understand even a fraction of what the girls might be feeling.

Tomorrow morning we will take the girls to their medical appointments and, in the afternoon, we have our visa interviews at the US Embassy. It will be a long day for all of us. Please keep the girls in your prayers, especially Lily as, the last time we were on "official business," she had a major meltdown and I am worried (more for her than for me. . .at this point in motherhood, I am seasoned veteran when it comes to meltdowns) that tomorrow could bring more of the same for her.


Bethany and Terry Green said...

I have watched your family grow since well it started growing. I have enjoyed every post. I was friends with Richard when I lived in DC which feels like forever ago. You have such a beautiful story to tell and I thank you for sharing it. Your family is so blessed to have such a wonderful mother and friend. My husband and I are adopting as well but through the state. We are in the middle of fostering to adopt. It has its challenges but we anxiously await that grand reward of having them forever that we know will come. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I can't wait to hear about the journeys of when you get home and the grand reunion of all your sweet littles.

Chris and Celeste said...

I have been following your journey. Thanks for the update. I am looking forward to your post about 'orphanage behavior'. Will pray tomorrow will go better for Lilley.

Grandma DD said...

Hi Mother Seasoned in Meltdowns -- I really enjoyed your description of your day together. How very very nice -- the more "normal" kind of encounters you have together, the better it is for Lilly, I'm sure. They are both such cute girls. I look forward someday to a photo of Rich walking hand in hand with Maren on one hand and Alayna on the other

I hope that can be.

You will need to explain to Alayna that just as there could be two girls named Alayna, there can be two Grandma DD's. She'll get it.

Tamara's Mommy said...

What a wonderful day. I hope tomorrow goes smoothly for you all. The girls are beautiful... sending lots of prayers, warm fuzzy thoughts, lots of positive energy and oh why not... some pixie dust for luck. ;o)

adoptedthree said...

What size are the girls? Oksana is growing like a weed and leaving a trail of clothes behind.

soontobemomof9 said...

They both look absolutely wonderful! :) Alayna looks so healthy! Is she pretty typical size wise, or is it just comparing her to Lily that seems like it?

I lvoe their happy faces! Praying you home on time and with an uneventful travel experience!