Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trip Journal: Day Six

I guess I should point out that we are spending roughly 10 hours a day with the girls, from about 0930 to 1930… this is pretty unusual and we are grateful for the leeway we have been granted to come and go as we please with the girls.

I slept well, but not great once again. Maren on the other hand was sleeping like a dead log at 0700 so I showered and went on a walk for a while. I’ve started walking up and down monument hill for exercise and to clear my head. I’ve told the girls that when I come back to pick them up we’re going to stop by town and run up the hill and take some pictures before we leave Panagyurishte… I can’t wait for that day.

In other news, the perpetual stress of the past days has taken its toll on my waistline and I’ve dropped quite a bit of weight and two notches on my belt. I guess there are worse problems I could have.

This morning we started with an awesome activity that has become another tradition in our family during adoptions… photo books! Valerie puts together photo books that include pictures from various aspects of our lives and puts them in sleeves in a small binder or photo book. This week I built on the tradition by bringing along the materials to add MORE pages to the book, so photos from the current trip can be added. The girls were excited to add their own flair and their pictures with Maren and I to the books. When they were done, I asked them to pick their favorite picture and share it with their mom. Once that was over we switched gears and made ornaments with some activity kits Valerie had packed for us. They were a hit and kept us busy for two hours – it was a great opportunity to observe them and share some information about our Christmas traditions. Around mid-day we headed downtown and took passport photos – along with a quick family portrait with the girls and I, which turned out great – was so glad we did that. I had a few copies of it printed out for them and let them pick out a frame to put it in so they’ll have a nice big portrait with their daddy to keep an eye on while they wait.

Following the photos, we went to a late lunch and hung out for a while in the restaurant (the same one we’ve eaten at all week). After the meal we sat around for an hour – I let the girls play with tablets and phones and the enjoyed games and music. After a while, the girls met a worker in the square and walked to a dental appointment, which left us to go upstairs and rest up a bit before doing some shopping and then heading up to the home in time to go pick up Donika from Judo. Making it in plenty of time I hung out with Elizabeth and Maren who were paying with dolls. I was amazed to find out that Elizabeth knows how to make an entire baby clothing outfit out of an old t-shirt – very impressive. Eventually we went to pick up Donika and talked to her coach about a competition she’s going to be in on the 17th back in Sofia, so I am going to work the logistics to make sure I can at least see Donika there for that – will probably have to get some help from Toni.

Let’s shift gears again…

Back to the girls… since they are older and active internet users I will not be posting any details about my observations of them or their background. All things being said, I am enjoying my time with them and I find them to be wonderful young women who through hard times have stayed by each other’s side and long awaited a family of their own. There is nothing quite like interacting with three girls at once (when you include Maren) to help a father identify flaws in his own approaches to his children and this week has been a hugely beneficial experience as it has taught me that my tough exterior needs to have a few more holes poked in it so I can work with the more gentle among us to really effect change. As many of you read my very emotional posting last night, that was the summation of the struggle I have been facing all week… how to really let them know how I feel.  So tonight I let Maria know that if possible, I wanted to pull the girls quietly aside and talk to them privately – fortunately an opportunity presented itself and I was able to essentially rehash my previous night’s journal entry in a pretty raw format. I’m not one to be emotional, but I got choked up just as they did, and I feel the message was well-received.

I am grateful for my family, and I am grateful for this experience.

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