Well after another long night of not sleeping well, we rolled out of bed at 0700 and got ready for the day. During the sleepless hours I had come up with some good ideas for activities to do at the home since we have it all to ourselves during school hours. Maren and I ate a breakfast of “pastry” which was some sort of fried dough (Maria told me the name but I forgot it.) After breakfast we walked down to the market and bought a few bars of chocolate for the girls to put in gift bags their grandmother and grandfather had sent with bracelets in them. We also loaded up a bag with drawing supplies, Uno and the picture books which Valerie had made. We met Maria and walked up to the home in the chilly, smoky morning air.
Once we got there we were invited in and talked for a few minutes before I presented the gift bags. The girls loved the bracelets (I’ll post pictures) and I transcribed the inscription from English to Bulgarian in some notebooks we brought them. There was also further discussion of names and the final word is that names will be:
Elizabeth Pamela Rieben
Donika Katelyn Rieben
I wrote their names in English in the notebook and they practiced copying them a few times as I helped pronounce them. They were both very happy and very excited with their names. After that we busted out the Uno cards and played a full game of legit Uno, keeping score and everything – this served several purposes… see how they interact with others, see how well they can do basic math and see how well they can understand the rules of the game. The good news is that it worked great to get them to open up quite a bit and enjoy themselves while interacting with Maren and I. We also practiced math and I made some observation about their level of ability. They already knew the rules and knew how to play to win, so that was well in hand too. (Nice pun, huh?)
After Uno we colored for a while using some adult coloring books we brought – the girls loved it and I even got in on the coloring action a bit. During the coloring I did some Q&A with the girls about their likes, dislikes, etc. After coloring we walked down to the restaurant and ate lunch – Tarator for me and the girls while Donka also had chicken and rice. Maria ate fish because it is St. Nicholas Day (patron saint of Fishermen apparently).
Following lunch we stopped by a bank to cash in some USD for Leva and then stopped by a salon to schedule appointments for the girls tomorrow. Pamela wanted to get her hair done and Donka only wanted her nails done – so that’s what we’re doing tomorrow around lunchtime. After that we climbed up the Aprilitsi Memorial Complex, a series of monuments built on the hill above the central town square. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apriltsi_Memorial_Complex
Well, it’s a big climb, and we had a blast. We climbed all over the memorials (see pictures) and enjoyed more “opening up”. We had a chance to talk a bit and spent an hour or two just sitting around with each other followed by a short game of hide and seek (of which Donka would have no part of) – but Maren Pamela and I had fun. During the fun, Maren had fallen in the mud and gotten her pants dirty and Maria accompanied her back to the hotel while I walked up to the home with Pamela and Donka. Once there we hung around for a bit and then did a facetime call with Valerie, who introduced the girls to the rest of the family and did a tour of the house back home. The girls loved it and enjoyed talking to mom – they both spent some time today texting with mom in Bulgarian, which is something they obviously appreciate about their mother.
After that, we dropped Donka off at Sambo and took Pamela shopping for some new clothes. Pamela picked out a new winter coat, pants and a few sweaters and shirts. I’m sure the experience was a new one for her and being waited on was foreign to her. However, the experience was equally foreign to me so we were both in the same boat. She enjoyed it and I enjoyed it as well. She was happy so I was happy. Once we finished shopping, we drove back to Sambo where I took some additional videos and photos and then we waited outside for Sambo to end.
After Sambo, we drove back to the home and hung out for a bit before the girls invited us to stay for a dinner of pizza and a water/yogurt drink.