Sunday, July 31, 2011

Updates To Our Blogs

I've been working away on this blog as you can probably tell. On the sidebar (along with family pictures) I posted a picture from our first visit with Caleb, Steven and Abby. If you click on the picture it will take you to the blog entry concerning that monumental day. I also opened up our other blog, The Adoption Option, to the public. That blog is the one that describes our adoption journeys to Ukraine in 2008 and 2009 and our initial paperwork for Abby in 2010. The address for the first blog is


This morning our whole family was in church. Abby rode the church van with Caleb and Steven, went to Sunday School with the kids her age and the teacher told me she did very well. (I checked in so Abby would know I was at Sunday School, too) And one of the other little girls in there told me, "She's nice." I know Abby will have a blast with these girls when she is able to communicate with them. She's such a cheery, sociable little soul. The kids in grades 1-5 put on a musical for the whole congregation called "Down By the River Bank"--that's why there's such a cute background on the platform.

Here and There

Caleb and Steven have had swimming lessons at the YMCA last week and will again this next week. They are guppies. I chose the 5:15 time slot for a couple reasons--1) I knew none of us wanted to get up early and 2) I thought it would be a little cooler by that time of day. My goodness, the first day was insanely hot. We were all lined up in the tiny strip of shade beside the shed trying to keep from boiling. The day pictured here was better, thankfully.

Friday, July 29, Walmart parking lot. Scheri decided to push Abby in one cart and Teresa was pushing Caleb and Steven in the other cart. The kids have been saving up chore money since before school ended so were pretty excited to finally get to spend it.
Munching down at Cost-Co (CHEAP hot dogs and pizza.) We bought a big bottle of gummy bear vitamins there (ya know, the ones that cost about $16-$17) and they melted into a gooey glob of gel when left out in the car. Thankfully the multiple boxes of crayons that I bought for 25 cents and 40 cents at WalMart did NOT melt.

Abby, Scheri and James chose cheese pizza. The rest of us had hot dogs.

This and that

Yet another hair-style for Abby-girl. Teresa arranged it with silly-bands which unfortunately did not survive Abby's jerking them all out the next morning.

Me taking a picture of Abby being examined by the nurse at her initial visit with our pediatrician on July 26. Abby seemed to understand "doctor" and was very cooperative though I felt bad because I couldn't explain to her what was going to happen. She was pointing at her eyes so I wonder if she thought this was when she was going to get glasses as had been discussed before we left Bulgaria. She really seemed to feel comfortable with our doctor and stood right beside him. Then she started to say "No, America." "Yes, Pavlikeni." She hasn't been talking like this at all recently so I wondered if she was remembering her medical visit there in Sofia immediately prior to getting her visa. There the medical visit meant she was leaving Bulgaria, so maybe she thought this medical visit meant she was leaving America????

Every two years Kevin's family holds a reunion and the weekend of July 22-24 was the appointed time. We did NOT go for the huge potluck dinner. That would have been way too much for Abby (besides Kevin was working) By the time we got out to Nat-Soo-Pah there were only about 4 family-members' campers still out there. This made for a very low-key family time.

Here's Kevin in the motor home getting ready to pull away from our house, June 23.
Here are the kids relaxing inside. Abby was quite intrigued with the idea of a house on wheels complete with fridge, beds and potty.
Getting the little kids buckled in for the ride.
Chow time at the park.
Our motor home in line with the others.
Eating again??!! Actually we were done with the food and Kevin was leading our family devotions on Sunday morning, July 24.

Behind the row of bushes in the background is a big mineral pool, naturally heated. We had so much fun in there but I didn't take my phone/camera in that area since I didn't want to lose it or get it wet. Caleb and Steven are little fishies in their life jackets. Abby was very, very nervous at first. She had a life jacket on which was good and bad--the good is obvious, the bad was that it kept trying to make her float and she just couldn't get her feet steady on the bottom of the pool. So she stayed in the arms of either Kevin, myself or Scheri the whole time. She was pretty proud of herself when she got up the courage to hold her face in the water. She also enjoyed Ring Around the Rosie. I was totally shocked when Scheri somehow convinced her to go down the water slide!! The first time down she wasn't on a mat and went really slowly so I was able to catch her right at the slide's edge. The rest of the times she was sailing down on a mat so I had to stand back from the slide a bit to keep from getting bowled over. She wasn't real happy with me letting her splash into the water but she kept going again. The last time, however, the mat kind of went over her face and that scared her. She wouldn't go down anymore--not even for Scheri. We were out there for hours. In the spa she even sat on my lap. That was wonderful. She got a taste of hot dogs cooked over a campfire--she ate it!! And peach cobbler cooked in a dutch oven. Believe me everyone slept very well. (The girls actually slept outside in their sleeping bags by our camper.)
This picture is taken in our own back yard fire pit on July 25. Caleb was pretending to roast hot dogs. He cracked me up because,not only was his imagination great, but he had his feet in a pillowcase!! (No, I do not grasp the connection between the pretend cooking and the pillowcase. Smile.)
Steven joins in on the fun.

Scheri teaching Abby the English alphabet. For my friends who have no experience with the Cyrillic alphabet used by Bulgaria, there are SEVERAL letters that look the same as our letters but make totally different sounds. There are also several letters that look totally different in cursive. For instance, Abby's name in Bulgaria is Stefka. The letter that makes our "S" sound looks like a "C" In cursive, the letter that makes the "t" sound, looks like our lower-case "m." The letter that makes the "f" sound is not in our alphabet at all. I truly LOVED trying to sound out the signs in Bulgaria. Of course, I didn't usually know what the word meant once I got it figured out but sometimes I did--like in McDonalds where many of the words on the menu are transliterated straight from English.
We re-arranged the shelves in the dining room so Abby has shelves for her own toys and special things. We moved all the books (and the bookcase) from the girls' room plus Caleb and Steven's books to the living room. Slowly but surely we're figuring out where to put everything.Abby's clothes drawers all child-decorated with numerous stickers.

Mementos from Bulgaria

James with his new binoculars and the watch I promised to give him once I got home.
Billy in his new Bulgaria shirt
Teresa showing her bracelet and earrings set.
Scheri with her container for the rose perfume and her bracelet.
Kevin's new Bulgaria shirt.
How did I not get Caleb and Steven in their new shirts?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 13--Horrible Day

Today has been TERRIBLE. This morning Abby was crying from the bottom of her guts. Then wailing and wailing and wailing. Then kicking. And stomping. Then screaming. She hid her face under her blankets. She shut herself in the bathroom. My attempts to calm her and hug her helped very little at best and made her mad at worst. When the cleaning lady knocked to see if she could clean our room, I asked if she could please come back later--this was while I was talking to Toni. I had let Abby talk to her favorite worker from the Center on the phone, hoping that would comfort her. She had calmed but only for about 10 minutes.

Abby was crying so loudly and hollering for Pavlikeni that the cleaning lady and someone else on the Hotel staff came to the door to see what was going on. Kevin figures they were probably getting calls of concern at the front desk. These two ladies talked very kindly, softly to Abby and told her if she didn't cry she could help the cleaning lady after lunch--and made other promises that we didn't think were wise to keep (but didn't have to because Abby didn't keep her end of the bargain anyway.)

Abby settled for, I don't know, 5 minutes. Then came the screaming, kicking and stomping again. She would not stop or settle down. We are talking a big tizzy fit. Loud, long and lots of it. She kept begging for Pavlikeni over and over and over again. She ran out the door and frantically down the hall screaming and crying. She ran all the way to the other end of the hall and was trying to enter those rooms. She would not stop crying and she would not come with me so I had to pick her up off the floor and carry her like a baby back to our room. We got inside the room and shut the door. Abby sat on the floor and I sat on the floor across from her--I was panting from the emotional and physical effort. She just looked at me very quietly and solemnly. She turned off the wailing and screaming. She did reach for the door again. I said "no." After awhile she actually came very quietly and said she was sorry. I forgave her and hugged her. Daddy hugged her. Abby signed that she was hungry. We walked to the elevator and headed through the lobby where she told the gals behind the desk she very much wanted ice cream :) But at least she was calm.

We walked a short way down the street to an eating place and ordered 3 "burgers." I, of course, was expecting hamburgers but when the chef started by grabbing 3 eggs, we knew it would be something else. :) She grilled the eggs (broke the yolks) and chicken meat; got out 3 big buns, split them and hollowed one half out, filled the hole with thick, home-made-type potato chips, put cucumbers, tomato and thinly-sliced cabbage on the other half with our choice of ketchup, mayo or mustard (we all chose ketchup), added the chicken and eggs and handed them to us. These were S.A.N.D.W.I.C.H.E.S. and only cost 3 leva apiece. I handed Abby hers--she took about 3-5 tiny nibbles and tried to hand it back to me, saying "no." I wouldn't take it from her. She kept it up. I just turned my back to her and started getting drinks out of the fridge/cooler. I held her drink, Kevin held her sandwich and we headed back to the hotel lobby where we sat and ate. She did manage about 1/2 of her sandwich under duress, but thankfully no further huge fit.

Back up in our room, Abby was wanting to go with the cleaning lady but obviously Abby hadn't kept her end of the deal. She started winding up for another fit. We said, "no." She was sitting on the floor banging her head against the wall. I was trying to pat her head, trying to get her to play the game with the paddles/ball, the Magnadoodle, the dolly, the cards. Everything was "no." I tried drawing a picture of myself. OK, it obviously wasn't too good since Abby went crying into the bathroom after that :) I tried to even interest her in TV to no avail.

I went and sat on my bed. Kevin was already sitting there. We tried to get her to sit with us. No. She finally laid down in her bed and was crying for 'Antonia' and 'telefono' Kevin said, "No, not now." She finally just laid quietly on her bed with occasional fairly quiet and fairly short-lived wailing and finally fell asleep. Me, too. Kevin, too. (and still is at the time of this journal entry)

Abby woke up and was calling "Momma" so I went to her. She asked for Antonia and phone. She was asking quietly and calmly so I looked over toward Kevin to see if the phone was laying near him. Then the wailing kicked in again. I firmly said, "No cry." and motioned what I meant. She wiped her eyes and quit.

She laid back down. Watching her rock herself is kind of sad. Not in a sitting position like Steven but laying down and rolling her upper body side to side over and over and over and over and over and over and over--not very gently either. I tried to go back to my spot sitting against the headboard of my bed but Abby said "No." She seemed to want me here closer (She had flipped her head to the bottom of her bed) so I'm sitting on the foot of my bed just a couple feet from her. I was trying to hum "night-night" songs and keep my eyes smiling on her. Part time she was looking at me and part of the time she was not. Does this mean part of the time she wanted to see me and part of the time it was too much? I don't know. She has dozed back off.

I don't know how any of us will sleep tonight after sleeping so much this afternoon. However, I am SOOO tired.

Later note:
This was kind of a break-through I think: In the evening Abby woke up and was rocking herself back and forth and singing something--after awhile I thought I was hearing "Villi" and "Veni" among other names I didn't know. Kevin was wondering if we should have her come over and lay down between us. I thought she would think that was too over-powering.

I went into the bathroom and when I came out I was surprised to see Kevin laying on the edge of her bed. He said she had called him and indicated she wanted him there--AND KISSED HIS CHEEK!!!!! She patted the other side of her and said "Mommy" so I laid there. Kevin showed her a bunch of pictures of our kids on my phone. She was repeating names. She said something similar to 'torta' when he showed a pictures of Kandous' wedding cake.

After awhile we got up and left her with the phone. She was a bit frustrated because she couldn't find what she was looking for--so I sat back on the edge of her bed and showed her more pictures but I could tell that wasn't exactly what she wanted. I figured she might want videos. I went to the one of her swinging and squealing--she'd enjoyed this video before--but she said, 'no.' We watched some videos she must have taken here in the motel room. She went to the vidoe of everyone saying good-bye to her at the Center. I'd been trying to avoid that one. Sure enough, after she saw it, she pointed at my bed and indicated she wanted me over there. Then she stated rocking again and singing/chanting. I was trying to enter her world/mirror her (these are bonding techniques) by swaying back and forth where I was sitting and humming along. I don't know whether she noticed or felt comforted by it.

That's where we were when Kevin got back from the store with chips and soda.

I had offered her the rest of her sandwich more than once but she had said 'no' each time. Kevin asked if she wanted some of her sausage--left over from the "Victoria." "No." Banana? Apple? She didn't say no or yes to those choices. She said something that sounded like "bosca" I wondered if that meant later. I offered her Fanta--she drank only a little more than 1/2 glass. I don't want her to get dehydrated: it is SO hot.

Funny enough, when Kevin got out the chips she said, "yes"!! But Kevin let her know it would be chips AND hot dog or chips AND sandwich. The response immediately changed to "no" Just like a kid!!! We decided not to go downstairs and buy meals at the restaurant when we had so much leftover food in our fridge.

Kevin was flipping through channels and got to one called "BTV" and Abby really wanted it there. Because it's in Bulgarian, I assume? Even when it was just the news, she still wanted it on that channel.

I have noticed that not all the non-English shows are Bulgarian.

Abby spent the evening in bed. I was pleasantly surprised that she was still able to sleep the night.

Tuesday, July 12, Sofia

We wanted to head back downtown today but didn't want to go in the heat of the day so we got up at 7:15. I could tell Abby wasn't too thrilled about the way I did her hair.

This motel has a very nice breakfast buffet included in the price of the room. I think Abby enjoyed being able to select her own food. She likes the 'hot dog' things--calls them 'salam' but she also had apricots, honey dew, watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes. She liked the fruit juice. She wanted to put sugar in her milk and was disappointed we said 'no.'

This time we took a taxi downtown. We walked into one beautiful Orthodox church where they were actually holding a service. People continued walking in throughout the meeting. A man in robes was standing in front kind of singing something; then a group of singers standing at the front right seats would do their chant--kind of back and forth. This robed man was walking in and out of the big background setup through a door that isn't usually open. At one point he came out holding a box; at another time he was carrying a cross. Once another man in dark robes came out briefly through a doorway to the left.

Abby and Kevin went up and sat on the very front row between two ladies with scarves on their heads that seemed to be earnestly participating. I sat on the back row with two other people who seemed more like me--quiet observers. I was wearing pants and had no head-covering though I saw other ladies dressed similarly. All during the service, people would wander in, go light candles, walk up to various "stands." I don't really know how to describe them. I wonder if they were set up in honor of various saints? I really have no clue. One man up front was very, very vigorously going across the platform kissing something--a case--on each side. He had jeans on so I don't think he was a priest or monk or whatever and when he left, he was just carrying a shopping bag.

When the service was over we left and were a little turned around. Then we spied the Sofia monument and the mosque--those landmarks helped us get our bearings. We found the very old rotunda church and just happened to walk in on their service, too. Again a man in robes was chanting something and a group of singers--this time about 3 people--chanting back. This place did not have the big, fancy iconostasis. Finally, I was able to purchase the English description of this building and its fascinating history.

When we left, we passed the ruins out back and there were about 10 or more of the guards in uniform similar to the ones that stand by the front of the President's Building--just sitting around, smoking, chatting. I wanted to take a picture of them but wasn't sure it was OK--and was a bit respectful of all their rifles.

We bought some souvenirs inside the Sheraton--jewelry, rose soap, rose perfume, a little Bulgarian lady with rose perfume inside. Bulgaria has a Valley of Roses. The petals are harvested and then they make this wonderful, wonderful fragrance.

We finally found a playground area. Abby climbed right up the ladder to the slide and landed on her bum on the ground. At that moment the swings were busy but she got a turn a little later. She was squealing and laughing when Kevin was pushing her. I wonder if she's gone that high before.

There were several vendors set up and we made the rounds--got some T-shirts, binoculars, jewelry made from yarn, etc.
We stopped at an outdoor restaurant called "Victoria." There are LOTS of these outside shaded seating but some seem to serve only drinks and snacks rather than actual meals. I thought Abby needed to use the toiletna so took her over toward the stalls. I thought the man tending them said they cost 1 leva apiece so I ran back to Kevin for 2 leva. It turned out I had actually paid for 4 (1 leva for the both of us) and Abby didn't even use the toilet--just washed her hands!! (She did need the potty later when we were again patronizing the vendors. Smile.) It was so hot, Hot, HOT out. Thankfully, there was a slight breeze at times. Also there was a mist of water that sprayed every now and then from the edges of the tent-like covering we were sitting under. I ordered pizza--the "small waist" size and got 8 pieces!!!!

We got another taxi back to the Budapest. Today Abby has asked and asked and asked and asked and asked for ice cream. When we order actual food (well, in fact, we let HER order) she just eats the tiniest bit. It's frustrating. At dinner we specified only 1/2 portion. She ordered a salad and the half was BIG but still. All she wanted was ice cream. True, sweets are good for bonding, I've heard. It's hard to find a happy medium because neither Kevin nor I put up with our kids wasting food. After dinner, we did walk down to the little store and got cups of ice cream. This time she ate ALL of hers (through an interpreter she had told us much earlier in the day that she would very much like to finish the ice cream she had last night--we'd had to tell her we had thrown it away because we have no way to keep it cold.)

Tonight at bedtime there was lots of crying. We were able to make out that Abby wants Pavlikeni; she does not want America. Finally I called Toni and she was able to talk to Abby and calm her down. Toni let Abby know that the judge has determined adoption is better for her--it is truly in her best interest. And in time she will grow to love us. In time she will know that Toni's words are true.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gotcha Day, Monday, July 11, 2011

Veranda at Bora Park Hotel where we ate our breakfast

The outside part of the pool area at Bora Park.
The entry way at the Center. I loved all the children's springy artwork.
The grounds at the Center

Here's our Abby-girl at long last. We last saw her on February 18. Director in the background.Discussing details

Abby with some of the workers. I'm pretty sure the white-haired lady is the one who threw the water across the road. Villi is the one taking the picture.
More of Abby's well-wishers. Veni is the one in the striped shirt.
Mariann, Director Aleksiev, Toni and Abby.

Villi, me, Kevin, Mariann, Director Aleksiev in back; Toni and Abby in front.
Abby laying on Kevin's lap on the way from Pavlikeni back to Sofia.In our motel room in Sofia. The first time we are really alone with her.

Abby and Daddy
I was trying to get a family shot in the motel mirrored-elevator!!

Many pictures of me are courtesy of a certain camera-loving little girl through Kevin likes to get up-close goofy shots, too. I will not entertain you with all of them.

Our lunch: Abby had chicken soup (she didn't like it); Kevin had spicy Hungarian goulash, I had tomato. Abby also had bites of a salad with white creamy stuff and cooked peppers. I think the waiter called it something like Snow White.
I have a feeling Kevin is responsible for this photo
And Abby for this one. Smile.
Abby chose this outfit to wear. Behind is her fold-out bed.
Here's me unpacking . . .

. . . and Kevin napping
Lovely shot of our feet. I had to include this one because it cracks me up.

Harried but happy.

This was quite a day. We started with the usual breakfast at Bora Park Hotel except this time there were 2 slices of boiled egg in place of one slice of cheese. Chuckle. And it was out on the veranda--very pleasant and beautiful.

We were supposed to be at the Center by 8:30 (and I think we were awfully close) but when we arrived Toni was told they were having "discussion"--maybe about Abby's departure, I don't know. Anyway, I think it was at least 9 am when the director came out to shake our hands. I truly like and admire this man. We all headed into the same room where we had played before. Before long Abby came in. She looked so little. She was dressed in a blue summer top, blue shorts and pink Velcro sandals. I just couldn't stop kissing the top of her head.

The director checked our passports, went over official documents with Toni, read through a long list of documents they are sending with us. We got x-rays, EEG reports, CT scans and her medication for epilepsy!! This will be a huge help to her doctors in the U.S. We also discussed the use of our donation and specified that we would really like it to be used for something that will last a long time, in honor of Abby. Before we stepped outside the director spoke personally to Kevin and I, saying that "Steffy" is a special little girl and asking us to take good care of her. We earnestly promised we would. We are the first to adopt from this place, by the way. I do sincerely hope we will not be the last.

The psychologist suggested that we let Abby wear her own clothes for several days to avoid further shock of new textures, new feel, etc. Good grief! They sent her away with several bags and a box of stuff (unlike some establishments which would send their little ones off in nothing but their birthday suit) which I later discovered to be not only clothes, but nearly all of the toys we'd left with Abby plus many, many gifts still in gift bags which had been given to our daughter at a going-away party--several mementos of Bulgaria in general and others of her city in particular, religious pictures, books and plaques, games and toys, special pictures of Villi and Veni who helped care for her, a cup, pictures she had drawn, etc. So nice to know she is so loved. To be honest, I did wonder how in the world we were going to get all of that stuff home in our suitcases.

I want to share this next part of the story very delicately because I am well aware of the adoption triad--child, birth family, adoptive family--and know that adoption, which brings me such joy can at the same time bring pain and sorrow to another family, even though parental rights have been voluntarily and legally severed. When we got outside there were several adults waiting out near the car to see Abby off. There were lots of hugs and good wishes. Abby was given a long-stemmed artificial red rose, a small Bulgarian flag, a postcard of Bulgaria and a religious emblem. I was videoing it as a keepsake for Abby when all of a sudden Toni said, "Joy, we need to leave immediately." I could tell from her tone of voice she was dead serious. I suspected it had something to do with a member of her biological family who was expected to come sometime that day. I had no idea that person was actually there and had asked Abby where she was going ("to America") and why. At Toni's direction, Kevin and I got into the car with Abby between us, rolled up the window, locked the door and left. In spite of our sudden departure, one of the ladies met us out at the street to throw a glass of water in front of the car and shout a special phrase. This is a Bulgarian custom for good luck that I'd read about.

Abby was crying. She is especially attached to Villi. Toni was reminding me how normal this is. I was telling Toni about foster kids who walked in/walked out of our house with no emotion at all. Abby's way is much healthier. It shows she can attach. Bless her heart. I handed her some tissues and was patting her, saying, "It's OK. It's OK." I know she can't understand my words. I wonder if my touch is even comforting but maybe at least my voice tone is soothing. Abby was telling Toni she is afraid we won't understand her tears. After awhile she laid her head against Kevin's shoulder.

At our usual rest stop on the way back to Sofia, Marty bought her a pastry--light, delicate flaky bread that has cream cheese and butter. To me it tastes kind of salty. I don't remember what they called it. Abby did share some with me a little later.

In Sofia we stopped at DiDi's. She is a relative of Toni's and a nurse so she is particularly able to translate the medical reports and will go with us to the medical appointment on Thursday at 10:30. For those not familiar with international adoption, this appointment is necessary before the adopted child can get a visa to enter the U.S. She will also try to get a doctor to write a prescription for the Trileptal so we will have plenty to hold us until we can see the neurologist in the States. They reminded me that Trileptal needs to be given as ordered and not stopped suddenly. Smile.

Marty then drove us to the passport office. He went to exchange dollars into leva (we'd been using left-over leva until then) while Toni's mother walked us into the office. (Way too many stairs for Toni's wheelchair.) It was a long rather narrow room with about 20 little rooms (many seemed booth-size) along the sides and lots of people waiting in between. Toni's Mom was only keeping an eye on two of the rooms and in my kindergarten Bulgarian phonics I could make out that the door on those 2 rooms specified biometrics as well as passport. Finally it was Abby's turn. When she sat down for the picture apparently she wasn't even visible in the camera so she had to stand and try to keep her head in the circle. The photo didn't really do her justice.

We got dropped off at the Hotel Budapest , unpacked at least part of my stuff and Abby's clothes from my suitcase. We went down to lunch in the hotel restaurant for soups, salads. Back to the room for more unpacking.

I thought it was kind of funny that Abby picked one of our outfits to wear: sparkly black leggings and a pink long-sleeve shirt with butterflies. She tried on the pink/white tennies we'd brought but they are decidedly too big. The pink clogs are the same size but more adjustable since they have Velcro straps across the heel. I was kind of surprised she chose to wear them anyway, rather than her sandals which fit so much better. One good thing about our clogs is they have closed toes. I think this feature helped protect Abby from scarring herself up on the long walk down town. She has a very pronounced limp and besides that, the sidewalks are . . . . well, "uneven" is putting it very diplomatically. So it's slow-going and a LOT of work for her.

We ate at McDonalds. I felt so bad because she needed to use the "toiletna" The men's room was on the same level as our table but I went to spy out the ladies' room. I found it and motioned for Abby to follow and she fell flat on the floor down the little steps between levels (like 3 shallow stairs) She kept rubbing her stomach but I didn't see a visible injury. I don't actually know which part she smacked. (Later note: over the course of the days we spent in Sofia, Abby fell several times. Her right foot drags slightly, her balance isn't the greatest, she is very near-sighted and also has strabismus which probably really messes up her depth perception.) Kevin had been holding her hand as we walked on the sidewalks. I felt horrible that I let her fall.

Anyway . . . Abby had a hamburger Happy Meal. Her prize was a figure of Kung Fu Panda's dad (the noodle-making goose) that was actually a game--his plastic 'plate of noodles' was attached by a string. The goal was to swing the noodles in such a way that you could catch them on his head. Kevin, of course, played with it as we walked along the street on the way back to the Hotel. It was quite dark by then. We stopped on the way and purchased some ice cream which we ate in the Hotel lobby. I was surprised that Abby only ate 2/3 of hers.

She fell asleep without any problems at all--I sure from sheer emotional and physical exhaustion.

I didn't sleep too well. It was too hot in the room so I opened the windows. Then it was too loud with all the traffic. Finally I just turned up the fan speed on the A/C. Why didn't I think of that earlier?

Yes, indeed, it was quite a day.