It snowed last night and also on and off throughout the day. Here are views from the hotel lobby.
The flocked grounds at the Center
Showing off her finished product
This was a little peel and stick foam kit from WalMart
Abby loved to get hold of the phone (camera) and try to take pictures. I left out MANY but had to include some just cuz they make me giggle.
Yours truly showing "Mary" on your left--the doll that plays "Barbie Girl" when the button on her tummy is pressed. There were two "Mary" dolls in their boxes in the play room. It just cracks me up that a dolly so unlike Barbie plays that song--and in English, no less.
Abby's probably begging to get the phone back :)
Mommy and daughter
Daddy doing the "Barbie World" Dance
Well, I typed out the whole entry for this date several days ago and didn't save it--as you can see it was all blanked out. So here I am trying again, copying out of my travel journal:
I slept well last night.
Our alarm was set for 7:30 AM. It showed during the night. This hotel is up on top of a hill at the end of a narrow winding road amongst the evergreen trees. The scene is beautiful with its flocking but I could tell Toni was worried a bit. I wonder if her car accident that left her in a wheelchair has made her extra anxious about roads and driving. I know she said driving to the various towns/cities is the 'hardest part" of her job. She warned us early in our drive from the capital to Abbyville of crazy drivers and bad roads. I must admit I have seen examples of each. I appreciate Marty's careful driving.
Anyway complimentary breakfast at 8:30 in the hotel restaurant. It was the same menu as yesterday: 3 slices of toasted bread apiece, 2 butters, 1 jam, 1 honey, 1 slice yellow cheese, 1 AbbyLand white cheese, 1 small slice ham, coffee or tea. Today Kevin and I each asked for extra cup of hot water and we dumped our oatmeal in it. By the time I finished my hot tea and hot cereal I felt hot all over, my nose was running and I wanted to go to sleep.
At 9:30 we hopped in the car to head to the orphanage (or whatever they call it.) I had fun with Abby. We started with the coloring book and crayons. She is a lefty and has very good fine motor skills. I still think her eyes need to be checked. She holds her face so close to the book. She started right off with yellow for the "Barbie's" hair. I was surprised when she chose orange for the skin on the doll's face and arms. She colored the beads on the necklace in an alternating brown/yellow-green pattern and the dress pink.
Next we worked on the puzzle. This time we put the cubes directly on the little desk and kept the picture on the bottom of the frame upright for easy-viewing.
There were some dolls around the room. Two were named "Mary" but if you pushed the button on their belly, they sang "I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world." She thought it was funny that we knew some of the words. She thought Kevin's dancing was pretty funny.
We got out the foam peel-off stickers--flowers and butterflies. That was fun. I showed her "Abigail" on the foam picture I made for her. She practiced saying it. I don't know whether she likes it or not.
She got hold of the camera and took some pictures. I could see that could get a bit out of hand. Kevin took over and was showing her pictures of the family.
I could feel that the visit was done. I felt wiped out emotionally. Out of ideas. Felt like she was getting a bit out of hand. Not bad but I could just feel that she was done, too. So thankfully she headed for lunch and we headed for the hotel.
The staff is checking out English tutoring for her. I think Toni said a whole year for an hour 3 times weekly is only 300 lv (it turned out to be more than this, by the way) so 4 months shouldn't be much at all. Of course, we would cover it. We've also got the possibility of Skype with her. We would just need a web cam. Otherwise Skype is free. It would be a way to keep in touch and let her meet the other kids and let them meet her. It sounds great to me. Truly I am glad the people are so concerned about her transition.
2/15 7:30 pm
The afternoon visit went better, I think. We introduced the game of Uno. We were told she has never played a card game so the entire concept was new to her, let alone the specific game.
Out of the first six games, she won at least 4 if not 5. She was very happy to win but also clapping if someone else won. I'm pretty sure we played at least 10 times before she was ready to quit.
One of the ladies from the Center had another game--a chalkboard with colored chalk. Abby didn't seem real happy with her work on the chalkboard. She drew a sun--erased it; drew a person--erased the picture; finally drew a butterfly, colored it not-so-neatly and was pretty much done with the chalkboard. She draws and colors with a pretty heavy hand but didn't break the crayons or chalk. She didn't seem too interested in the vehicle Kevin drew with rainbow stripes. She did want Kevin to dance again to "I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World" song. We got out the ABC capital letters foam puzzle and she put it together once only. She repeated the names of the letters quite accurately. Kevin sang the ABC song. I thought of the Starfall Camp website that Caleb and Steven love so much. That would teach ABC's and sounds.
I let her choose between the farm cubes puzzle and the peel-off foam flowers/butterflies --she chose the latter. She'd done maybe half when it was time to go. She was reluctant but compliant. Oh! just before that the other adults had given her the choice between her dance and music classes tomorrow morning (which she apparently LOVES) or visiting with us and she immediately held her arms out and touched each of our arms. Also seemed very glad to hear that we are coming back tomorrow. I didn't get out the camera this time. Really didn't want to get her trying to take pictures again. She is very sweet. Does have an opinion if given a choice; doesn't always take suggestions (like which color to make a certain part on a coloring page) but not whining or tantrumming.
Sorry I'm so sleepy. The emotional toll of the visits plus the time difference (maybe still how behind I was on sleep in the first place) all play a part, I think.
I'd like to just fly home tomorrow and get started on the 2nd round of documents. Of course, I know we need to do more visits to start building a bond between us. i know there are 5 days of visits. It's just that I already know we want to proceed with the adoption. I don't need more days to decide. Let's get on with it!!
I miss our kids at home. The days seem to be going grindingly slowly. In a way each day is 33 hours long--our 24 plus the 9 hour time difference. I mean, at home it's not even noon on Tuesday yet.
[Oh, I'd somehow been thinking it was still Monday!! and Saturday seemed forever away. Now I'm realizing we only have probably 5 more visits with our little girl before leaving her for 4 months or so. 5 seems so few.]
Please God, let us get it done before the courts recess in July and August.
Toni said the speed of the 2nd part is so dependent on the USCIS I-800--on how fast they process it. Of course, every part is linked to the other parts. Can't do "z" without "y" and can't do "y" without "x". She mentioned Article 5--I still don't know where it comes in the process.
Kevin and I found out today that Toni won't have to return here to Abbyville to file any papers. The rest of the papers are filed in the capital itself with the Ministry of Justice. Toni was telling us yesterday that there was a time when the MOJ itself had a lot of corruption but they were able to deal with it. Before the centralization due to Hague I think each place (city? district? I don't know) did their own paperwork.
Before we came I was very nervous about having our visits observed by other people but it hasn't been so bad. It's not like they are there just staring at us and casting approving/disapproving check marks. They are mostly discussing stuff with Toni. Also it's very nice to have someone Abby is familiar with in the room and great to have Toni when we need something translated. I'm guessing the other lady might be a psychologist or something. [yes, Marianne was the psychologist]
Though I must say at the end of the visit this morning I felt some negative vibes. Maybe I was making them up. But it felt like maybe we weren't quite making the grade somehow as prospective parents. I didn't feel that this afternoon.
Tonight at dinner Toni told me that Paula--also listed with Reece's Rainbow--got a family today and that she is only about 5 miles from here. That facility has the same director as Abby's Center (they don't refer to this place as an orphanage because of the family-type setting.)
Well, it's 8:50 pm now and my tummy seems a bit upset--who knows why? My food was certainly well-cooked tonight. Maybe just the overall change in diet? Maybe just my weird stomach. Maybe nerves. I don't feel ill so I don't think it's anything major.
So what can I say about our new daughter? She's gorgeous. She seems very smart. She's sweet but not overly-passive. Has a sense of fun and humor. I truly feel kind of spoiled/almost guilty for getting such a lovely child. She is warm to us but not sitting in our laps, climbing all over us. She seems a bit reserved which I see as an overall positive sign.
And what can I say about our kids at home? I love you. I miss you. Just 5 more sleeps--we are half-way. I am praying for your day at school. I know it is unsettling to not have mommy and daddy there. But Jesus IS there. I am trusting Him to keep you safe and secure with HIS mighty power.
Thanks again to Steve and Patty, Tina and my parents for all you are doing for our children and our household in our absence.