Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Today I was teasing Abby about being "Missy No-Kissy." She was laughing--and this afternoon she let me kiss her!! She also helped me straighten out Caleb's and Steven's drawers--and wanted me with her.

This afternoon I had a meeting at the school--for an addendum to Billy's IEP. He is starting a program called STRIVE this year and is very excited about "going to college" :) :) So we had to work on goals specific to that program rather than the classroom. I am hopeful that STRIVE will be a great fit for Billy because it deals so much with real life--food planning and preparation, shopping, money skills, cleaning, transportation, acquaintance with our local junior college, etc.

Oops! I never finished this post! One of our issues is that our local school has changed to a 4-day week while STRIVE is a 5-day program. One option was that he just attend 4 days a week; the STRIVE people weren't too thrilled with that choice because it would cheat Billy out of 20% of his program. But apparently our school isn't required to provide transportation on the Fridays. Also apparently the public bus transportation available previously has lost funding and a taxi would cost about $5 each way. $10 per Friday would add up over the course of a school year. Thankfully, my parents have volunteered to transport Billy on Friday mornings on their way to the gym and possibly Billy's DT will pick him up. Sounds good anyway.

Addendum: The school ended up providing transportation on Friday mornings since they already are transporting another student to the same place. PTL!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Sorry, sometimes it is just so difficult to blog . . . for lots of reasons--like multiple children who believe they deserve a 'turn' at using the computer; like multiple other things I need to do to keep our house from being totally submerged in scattered toys, scattered papers, dirty clothes, dirty dishes, etc.; like right now when I am seated right here in front of the computer and just am not sure I have the emotional energy to type.

I need to write about bonding. Well, I honestly think attachment with Abby is going as well as can be expected right now. It certainly could not be described as a seamless transition; neither, however could it be described as horribly chaotic.

Abby's age and our language barrier have to be recognized as significant factors. Obviously with a mommy and her newborn, there's lots of healthy skin-to-skin contact, there's physical and emotional nourishment, there's cradling, there's looking into each other's eyes, copying each other's expressions. Mommy is right there to feed, burp, hold, change, bathe, tend to any ailments, etc. But Abby is not a newborn. She's heavy--I can't just pick her up and tote her around all day like an infant or toddler. She's not comfortable with a lot of physical closeness and she definitely does not like being like a "baby"--so I haven't tried having her sit in a rocking chair beside me, little alone sitting on my lap. So far, I'd say the best bonding thing we've done is having fun together--looking at books, working on puzzles, spinning around in the kitchen, just generally being silly. Also kissing (and applying medicine and band-aids to) her owies, applying lotion to her dry arms and legs, and tucking her in at night--seem to be positive "mommy" tasks.

Silliness also really helps deal with her whining--it makes her laugh and it helps my attitude (because I truly HATE whining.) So a couple days ago she was whining about something and I started copying what she was saying in a big, dramatic opera-type voice with huge arm movements. She thought it was funny so it helped us both. I even grabbed her in my arms and spun around in circles in the kitchen. She liked it. (Then I had to spin the other way to try to unwind myself. I was majorly dizzy.) Other times I just have to tell her to STOP. Like today I told her "no" about something and she started going down the whine-list of all the things she couldn't do--like she was the most picked-on and deprived child on the planet. I was grumpy to day and just had to tell her to knock it off.

I try to make comfortable contact with her throughout the day--put my hand on her shoulder, pat her head, kiss the top of her head-- when I'm around her. Today she decided to comb MY hair, apply deodorant to my armpits, lotion to my arms and powder to my legs. I think that counts--it's still safe skin-to-skin physical contact.

Abby truly seems to enjoy teasing and she is generally a good sport. She can also play rather rough--which is a good thing since she has 4 brothers now. However, a couple things she's done to me have actually caused mild pain. One things is when she grabs my cheeks and pulls my lips into a smile--that's fine except she squeezes too hard and it hurts my cheeks. Another thing she did several times was spin around in her chair and kick me in the shins. I was going to ignore these but since she knows these things hurt, I need to have enough respect for myself to not let them continue.

Since the night I posted about where Abby crawled clear across her bed to give me a night-night hug, she has not wanted a bedtime kiss at all :) :) :) Sometimes I comply by not kissing her at all; other times I just give her a light kiss on the forehead or cheek anyway. Sometimes she wipes my kisses off. It's funny because sometimes she grabs Caleb and kisses him until he is just squirming and wiping his face and saying "No kiss" very loudly. I'm thinking as I'm typing that if I'm going to insist that she listen to Caleb and stop kissing him when he says, 'no kiss' then maybe I need to give her the same dignity. Or perhaps at bedtime I could just let her choose which cheek I kiss. I'll have to think about this.

Monday, August 15, 2011

School Chat

Oh, I spent some time this morning talking to Mrs. Price, lead teacher at our elementary school. She said Abby can't join in on the English-learning program during summer school because it is funded by the Migrant Council (we have quite a population of children from Mexico whose parents travel working with agriculture) The ESL program during the school year is a whole different matter and she would, of course, be eligible for that. I told her that my issue is bonding/attaching with our family. That is even more vital than formal schooling right now. So we're looking into purchasing the Rosetta Stone program so she can work on English here. And Mrs. Price will check into some legal issues--thinking about possibly doing an hour or two in the classroom

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011--Zoo

This day was a bit rough.

I called her Abby and she said "ne Abby: Stefka." So I teasingly called her Abby-Steffie and Steffie-Abby. She ate breakfast OK as I recall--not much but a little of about 4 things. She didn't really want to drink but she did it anyway. However, when we got back up in the room she started the rocking and singing about Vili, etc.

We decided to go to the zoo. I think it was about 11:00 when we finally left. The driver of our taxi was very nice and spoke very kindly to Abby. He showed her a picture of his son taken with the President of Bulgaria when he'd received a bronze medal for some European volleyball championship as well as a picture of a young lady on his cell phone--whom I assumed was his daughter. The driver's name was Stefan and he pointed out the similarity of that name to Stefka.

The ZooPark cost 2 leva apiece. Apparently the lady at the gate hadn't realized Abby was with us. So she chased us down holding the 10 leva we'd paid and saying something we couldn't understand. Kevin showed her our tickets. I guess she pointed at Abby. Anyway, we finally figured out she needed 2 more leva.

At first I wasn't too impressed with the zoo. It was blooming hot. We saw deer in very barren-looking enclosures as well as pigs, goats, etc. I originally thought it was just a tiny place that would take 30-40 minutes. But it got better. Yes, several of the enclosures were pretty barren though probably several of those creatures live in equally barren places in the wild. But we did get to see the tigers, jaguars, hippos, elephant and rhino up close. The monkeys were really cute as usual--I was eating crackers and they were begging for handouts in spite of the sign that specifically asked people not to feed them. One really nice indoor building had fish, hamsters, gerbils, snakes, insects along with the inside of some of the big cat cages.

I was also impressed with the bathrooms--clearly marked with WC. They were clean, cool and free. They were practically underground with stone/tile steps down. They even had a wheelchair lift and a handicapped bathroom. The ladies' room offered a choice of potties with seats or the infamous squatty potties. The steps proved a wonderfully cool place to eat our chips and crackers and jerky.

Today we were Kevin and Anna, not Dadko and Momko/Mommy and Abby was totally wanting NOTHING to do with me. She didn't want me to touch her or walk too close to her or really even smile at her. Yes, it hurt my feelings. Part of me just wanted to give that snotty attitude right back to her. She kept grabbing Kevin's hand and dragging him off somewhere else. But I think he was enjoying her warming up to him for once.

Abby was engaging conversation with many, many of the people we met. She's very personable and chatty. [I was thinking Gabby Abby might be an appropriate nickname. Smile.] It's just a shame we can't communicate well. She definitely has a lot to say and people seem to be able to understand her so I assume her language skills are good. She's very curious. She also seems to really like babies--and likes to touch them. Of course, she is not really connected with us--she just wanted to wander to other groups of people, jump right into conversation with them. Maybe she doesn't know that family members stay together nor the rules about not interrupting nor a great deal of stranger awareness.

Kevin's interpretation was that she well knows this is her last day in Bulgaria so she was taking full advantage of talking to everyone!

Through her we met a couple from Beirut, Lebanon there at the zoo. They wondered why she was with us when we are English speakers and she definitely is not. So we explained a little about adoption, our lawyer, the process, passport, visa, etc. The lady especially seemed a bit wary of whether she was legally with us. That's OK, kids need to be protected. The young lady with this couple said she was from Ethiopia.

Like I told Kevin, it's nice to meet normal people from Beirut. We get the idea that everyone from there is a terrorist or something--because that's what we see on TV. But most are just regular people who want to go to work, fix dinner, tend their children--just live their normal lives. Here in Europe (and so near Asia) the world is so close together--there are so many nations and cultures and languages within a few miles of each other. (Yes, I do know this is an obvious fact just from looking at a map but there's a whole new reality when you experience it.) It just occurred to me that perhaps the couple from Lebanon was just as suspicious of "Americans" as we tend to be of people from their country.

We did stop at a little snack stand for ice cream and to let Abby ride on the mechanical horse or donkey or whatever that moves back and forth when you put the correct coins in the slot. She thought that was pretty fun.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, July 14, Embassy

Abby did not want to get up in spite of being in bed so much yesterday and last night. She got dressed and then wanted to lay back down. Is she depressed? Her hair was a MESS--very tangled from all the rocking and rocking and rocking yesterday.

The 3 of us went down to breakfast. Abby chose only one slice of cucumber and one apricot from all the breakfast buffet. Then she started whining and whimpering. Kevin got her 2 thin slices of ham (or whatever it is) and a biscuit. She acted like it was killing her to eat them. I was embarrassed cuz it felt like we were making a scene down there in the restaurant in the midst of other guests. The waiter helped convince her that if she ate her bread and meat she could have watermelon--I guess she was telling him that's what she really wanted. [So why didn't she take it in the first place?? Smile.]

Once we got back up to our room she wanted to lay down again (and probably re-start the endless rocking) so her smart Daddy had already folded up her couch. She was just whining and whining.

Didi came around 10:00 or 10:30 and we headed to the clinic for the medical exam necessary in order to get her visa. This clinic is not just for adoptions. There are lots of kinds of doctors there--ENT, pediatrics, internal medicine, ophthalmologist, neurologist all in one building. Their names are on this electronic screen that flows by first in Bulgarian and then English over their office door. It also had very narrow halls. First we went to ophthalmology. That doc was very nice and kid-friendly and seconded my assumption that Abby will need glasses. Whoa, she is very near-sighted. The ENT guy just checked her ears, nose and throat (go figure!) so that visit took less than 5 minutes. As Abby kept whining and whimpering [on and on and on and on and on and . . . you get the picture] The Dr. was telling her HE wants to go to America but couldn't find someone to take him. Smile. The next doc (pediatrician?) weighed, measured, listened to heart and lungs and pressed on her tummy. Then we were sent on over to the internal medicine lady. She copied off Abby's immunizations and put the final medical report in a sealed envelope for the embassy. DiDi also went into the neurologist and got an Rx for the Trileptal. We paid something like 75 or 78 leva for the exam.

Then we were off to find a pharmacy to fill the prescription. I stayed in the car with Abby while DiDi and Kevin checked out various pharmacies. Kevin said the 1st one was closed, while the 2nd one didn't have the needed medication. Finally the 3rd place had the correct drug but I guess the doctor there was asking why we were having it filled in Sofia if Abby lived in Pavlikeni. Didi was able to explain the situation satisfactorily and we got enough pills for 25 days.

Meanwhile back at the ranch . . . well, car . . . . Abby kept whining and chanting/singing something about Vili and Pavlikeni and then a long list of names--other kids who were at the Center perhaps? Then her tone changed, the wording changed and I heard "Anna" and "Kevin" and "Toni" I had a good idea that she was not speaking of us very positively. It felt pretty mean. I tried to get her to stop by teasing her--putting her Pocahontas Barbie doll in her face whenever she'd rock in my direction. That irritated her but it did temporarily stop the sing-song. Another time I interrupted her song by singing my own: "I love Abby" sung in a similar sing-song chant and swaying back and forth there in the car. When Didi got back in the car I asked her what Abby was singing and sure enough, she was listing the people she likes and the people she doesn't like--and just guess which side we were on??!! To be honest, it hurt my feelings. I felt rejected.

We got back to our motel room about 12:15 for a snack. Abby drank a bottle of orange Fanta--under some duress and amidst more and continued chanting and swaying. She only ate a few bits of trail mix (same stuff she'd guzzled with so much gusto a couple days earlier that we'd had to hide it from her! Smile.) Good grief, the whining and chanting make we want to scream. And she kept wanting to rock. I'd expected difficult--but not whining and chanting and rocking like a lost soul. I had not expected so much outright rejection nor so much unhappiness. I guess that's what makes it "difficult" -- it's not what you'd expected.

Didi picked us back up for our embassy interview. We drove clear across the city--definitely a part I hadn't seen before. We came to a street with woods (park?) on both sides and what I thought was the left lane totally filled with parked cars. Didi found an empty spot, parked the car and said, "We are here." I'm looking around for "here" and she pointed on down the street. The U.S. embassy was at the end of the street. I took a picture from a distance because I knew I couldn't take one close up. [Hmmph! Can't take a picture of the embassy. Can't get a picture of immigration when we land--and these are two very big mile stones in our adoption journey.] I'd forgotten about having to unload pockets in the first building. We had to leave cellphone/cameras and Kevin's belt there. They checked our passports and returned them to us. Then all 4 of us walked across the very pretty grounds to the 2nd building. I was pleasantly surprised that Didi got to go with us (in Ukraine our helpers could not accompany us into the embassy building. We came into a large room with several comfy cushioned seats and a row of windows. It was nice to see our flag though to be honest seeing Mr. Obama's picture there wasn't that comforting. I didn't even recognize the picture of Mr. Biden.

Abby wasn't whining at least. She was asking Didi about wearing glasses--what her pair will look like. She doesn't think she will like wearing them. We tried to tell her she will like being able to see.

We were called up to the window. We, of course, were separated from the officer (or whatever his title is) by some kind of a protective window. Passports and other paperwork had to be slid through a slot underneath. Didi had all our documents ready: court decree, medical report, new birth certificate and whatever else. It was nice to be taken care of so well ( and not have to dig through the whole stack of paperwork myself trying to find the correct one.) The man at the desk said he'd look over the documents and if everything was in order we'd have our interview in about 15 minutes. He did ask if we were aware of Abby's medical condition and asked the definition of a medical term related to Abby's foot.

So we sat back down. I saw another family at the other end of the room with THREE children! I was thinking, "Wow! That must be a challenge!" Then I heard the boy talking to the man in very good English and wondered how he had learned our language so quickly. As it turned out this couple had 2 bio kids with them along with their newly-adopted 6-year-old daughter. They also are flying out on Saturday--to Memphis. After their turn at the window our 2 little girls started chatting and so did we. It was just nice to visit with fellow-travelers/adopters in English.

Our "interview" was certainly nothing formal. I remember having to raise my right hand and swear about the truth of something at the embassy in Ukraine. We didn't do that here in Bulgaria. This guy just said our stuff was in order, strongly encouraged us to get a U.S. passport for ID, and basically said, "Good luck." Both Kevin and I thought he said the visa would be issued later today but then he said to pick it up tomorrow afternoon.

Abby asked Didi questions about America. She told Didi she thinks she will get used to it. Abby also told her it's normal to cry when you are sad. She was much calmer and more matter of fact.

But when we got back to our room Abby was back to wanting to lay down and rock. She didn't want to play with any toys. I finally got our her Barbie coloring book, traced a picture with her looking on and started coloring it--trying to match the colors of the Barbie on the front. She started getting drawn in. She began helping me choose colors and even joined in the coloring of a couple spots.

I think it was then we went downstairs to the lobby and hailed a taxi. We had the driver drop us off in the Sheraton area and from there we walked to McDonald's. Kevin said people were doing a double-take seeing us with a darker-skinned girl. I just feel like we're on constant exhibit anyway as English speakers so I don't look around at other people much. That being said, I didn't like the vibes I was getting from the little girls at the table next to us. I felt like they were kind of snooty toward Abby--and they definitely were not chatting. [And maybe I just made it up, I don't know.]

On our way home I glanced over and saw a big white building with a Star of David on top. I went over to investigate and sure enough! it was a Jewish synagogue--the largest Sephardic synagogue in Europe. Unlike the cathedrals, the gate was locked. I had read there was a synagogue in town but thought it was in another part of town.

Interestingly enough, there are Christian churches, an Islamic Mosque, and a Jewish synagogue within a block of each other. Interesting but sad: the sign on the front of the synagogue seemed mostly to deal with the size, shape, condition of building, dates, etc. rather than God or people.

We walked back to the Budapest (which is never where I think it will be--I am still SOOOOO turned around in this city.) It was dusk so we went ahead and bot teeth brushed, jammies on, bed folded out and Abby into bed. She doesn't like it when Kevin sits on the edge of her bed to kiss her. She covers up her head. I don't know if it's just uncomfortable or unfamiliar or scary or a combination thereof. And I'm sure that her desire to keep us at a distance falls in there somewhere as well.

It didn't take her long to fall asleep.

With us for a month

As of yesterday, Abby has been with us for a month. It was July 11 that we picked her up from the Center in Pavlikeni. In some ways I can hardly believe that is has been a month already. In other ways, it seems like much longer than that. I am encouraged by the progress that has been made in that time period.

Yesterday I was so touched by a couple things. Abby and Scheri were working together on an art project using the new art set that Abby received for her birthday. It was a heart with her nickname "Abby-Girl" printed on it and outlined with glitter glue. Abby was trying to tell me which part she did and which part Scheri did. The really cool part was that Abby gave it to me. So sweet. (She's drawn other pictures while here but most of them have been for Vili which is perfectly fine. It just was so cool that this one was for me.) And then she went and added a few more touches to it to make it even more special--she gave the heart eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and a decorative edging. Finally, she made sure we added it to the collection of her artwork that is displayed on the freezer door in our dining room.

The other special thing was that at bedtime, rather than hiding under her blanket when I came in, she crawled clear across her bed to give me a big hug. YES!!

Also yesterday I spoke at length to our principal about the ESL (English as a Second Language) program at our school. He was telling me about the benefits of total immersion in language acquisition vs other seemingly-gentler but slower methods. His recommendation was just to enroll Abby full-time in school. I don't know. As far as enjoying the other students and multiplying her learning--I think Abby would do fine with that. On the other hand, we have to take bonding and attachment into consideration. She has a whole lifetime to go to school. So I'm also considering just having her go a couple hours a day at first. There's a chance that Abby could participate in summer school next week. This might be really cool--would introduce her to the building, some of the students, some of the teachers, the lunchroom, etc. but would be with much smaller groups and shorter hours. I'm still thinking about all this.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Visiting the Dentist/Language

Today Abby and Billy were scheduled to see the Dentist. Billy had to get a cavity filled; Abby was going for an initial check-up. I had promised her "no ouch" so I told the dental assistant that I wanted to make the visit as low-stress as possible. You know, for some kids, all they can do on an initial visit is have them open their mouth and ride up and down on the chair. Abby, however, was so cooperative they were able to do x-rays, clean, floss, polish and apply fluoride! The dentist says her teeth look very good--just has a stain on one of her molars and a couple loose teeth. Sure enough, tonight she lost a tooth!! Anyway, we found a tooth on the living room carpet after she'd already gone to bed. So hmmm?? Whose pillow does the Tooth Fairy need to visit????

It's kind of fun that Abby and I are increasing our ability to communicate using the few words we know. For instance, at the dentist's office, kids can choose a prize after they are done. So I spoke Abby's name, gently took her arm, motioned her to come with me, showed her the prize drawers and said, "Abby. One." (and lifted one finger) while indicating all of the toys. She caught right on and boy, was she a shopper! She finally chose a bracelet (and said, "Mommy-no. Abby-yes." to show that it belongs to her.) While she was still making her selection I was able to get her attention and point to myself saying "Mommy. Toilet." and then point at her and say, "Abby. OK" to let her know she could continue looking over her choices while I used the restroom. A few times we have also been able to share humor.

Abby has started saying, "I love you" to me (which I love) but honestly I'm not sure she actually understands what it means. For instance, when I say it at bedtime, I wonder if she just thinks I am saying "good night." Another cute thing is I'm pretty sure Abby thinks our house is "America!" The first night she was here, Kevin asked her if she likes America and she gave a definite "yes!"--she had spent hours that day (obviously at our house) singing and dancing with the Wii, playing with our other kids, getting her hair fixed, generally being the center of attention. One night when we were approaching the turn to our house she said, "America, no. Grandma and Poppy, yes." So I stopped over at my parents' house briefly so she could see them. Again today when we were driving down Main Street toward our home, she said, "America?" I replied that we were going to Abby's house. When people say, "Hi" to her, she says, "Hi" in return but when they ask "How are you?" she tries very hard to say, "how are you?" in reply. So today I was play-acting a conversation with the little toy lizard that happened to be in the car with us, showing the correct response. I was doing it in a silly voice so I have no idea if she caught on to what I was doing.

Today Abby was asking if we could go swimming (by moving her arms in a swimming motion) She was jumping up and down and kissing me when I said "yes." I know she was a bit disappointed when the venue turned out to be just the pool in our back yard (because she was making steering wheel/driving motions with her hands) but she still had fun. The water is not even waist high but still deeper than the 15 inch water she was in at the motel. She, Caleb and Steven were all wearing their life jackets. She still is glued pretty much to holding on to the side but was doing that both on her back and putting her face into the water-even got down on her knee. She wants so much to just let herself go like Caleb does. Not yet. But I was very proud of how far she has progressed since her first time in the water. She made sure I kept watching her and cheering for her. At one point I must have fallen down on my job because she put her thumbs up and said "good?" I finally had to go inside to get ready for Ladies' Night Out (an annual Women's Ministries event of our church) leaving her in the care of James.

By the time I left, she was back in the house and I went up to her and said, "Mommy, bye-bye." She put her thumb and finger about two inches apart and said "malko?" which means something like "little." She was asking if I were going to be gone for just a little while.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Abby's Birthday

Abby's birthday party was scheduled for 4:00. I wasn't sure how that was going to work out because Steven had a follow-up appointment to check out his ear tubes at 2:30. Thankfully the tubes were great and we were on our way by 3:00. I had told Abby "Number one: Steven. Doctor." and "Number two: Abby. Cake. Ice cream."

Thankfully we had cleaned up the house and started decorating before we left. I was so pleased with the way my older kids completed the decorations . . . with pink crepe paper, Happy Birthday banner, and white balloons, and the way they set up the cake table with cups and tableware in a circular design and plates piled on each side and James had blown up a bunch of balloons. . . . because when Abby, Caleb, Steven and I drove into our driveway our first guests had already arrived!! Megan had brought her daughters over and before too long Brian and Stephanie arrived with their two girls. My parents came as well (they are such good sports.)

We had a Princess theme and lots of pink. All the girls--child and adult--got to wear a "Happy Birthday" tiara. After opening a couple presents--a very pretty Barbie with 3 extra sets of clothes and a lovely cross/Star of David necklace/earrings from Grandma Kathie-- we played "pin the crown." We then had Barbie Fiesta Pink birthday cake. It was really bright and pretty and very yummy--white cake with berry filling and whipped cream icing. Abby had chosen rainbow sherbet. We had a choice of milk or kiwi strawberry cocktail for beverages. We enjoyed a couple active rounds of a balloon game where one side was trying to get all 9 of their balloons over the table while the opposing team was trying just as hard to throw THEIR 9 balloons. Of course, each side was also striving to return the opposing team's balloons as quickly as possible. The last game was a rousing round of Musical Chairs with Scheri serving as the DJ. Boy, that Abby isn't afraid to climb right over the top of a chair if necessary to get to an empty seat!! She's a spunky one! Billy ended up winning that game. Before my mom and dad left, we had Abby open their gift. She was so excited about the computer game from them. The goodie bags for the guests had Princess notebook, Princess nail file, Princess stamper, Princess bracelet.

We decided to wait to open the gifts from Kevin and I until Daddy gets home from work.

Apologies to Vili

While still in Bulgaria, Abby's caregiver, Vili, let me know that Abby wanted a Piglet cake for her birthday. Well, yesterday I drove around to bakery after bakery and none do the kind of cake Abby had requested. Several did a cake with several of the Winnie the Poo characters, including Piglet--but on those the piggy was only about 1 1/2 inches long--certainly not the main thing. I tried to imagine in my head how I with my limited baking skills could somehow compose a cake that anyone could recognize as looking anything like a pig--and decided not to do it.

The theme I chose instead was Princess. The cake I ordered is beautiful with Barbie and many shades of pink. The napkins and cups are pink and have a tiara on them. The tablecloth, silverware and cups are pink. The party favors all have to do with the Princess idea. This is a popular birthday theme for little girls here.

I'm sorry, Vili. I truly hope Abby will not be disappointed.

Appointments and Stuff

Good grief! My husband is a local pickup and delivery driver for UPS Freight and there have been several days recently that I felt I was in the same profession: pick up one child and deliver him to his appointment, get home just in time to say "hi" to everyone and pickup the next kiddos for delivery to their appointment. Take for instance, July 26. James had a well-check at 10:15; James and Scheri had Junior Lifeguard lessons from 1:00- 3:00; Abby had an initial exam with the pediatrician at 3:15; Caleb and Steven had swim lessons from 5:00-6:00. You can tell right off that something will have to give with a schedule like that, especially when it takes 20-30 minutes to get to and from each one of these. As it turned out, Grandma and Grandpa saved the day by picking up James and Scheri for me . . . and I hate to admit it, but we just bagged Caleb and Steven's swim lesson that day--I wasn't home in time from Abby's appointment to take them. August 2 we had Teresa's well-check at 10:15; occupational therapy for Caleb and Steven at 11:00; Junior Lifeguard from 1:00-3:00 and swim lessons 5:00-6:00. I remember when I was a younger mother, I probably would have tied myself in contortions trying to make that happen but now I have a little (key word LITTLE) better grasp of reality and gave myself permission to re-schedule the occupational therapy for the next day . . . which made for appointments at 11:00-12:00 (occupational therapy); 1:15 - about 3:45 for Abby's EEG; and the nightly swim lessons for the little guys--tight but doable. And this does not count Billy's developmental therapy--but HIS worker comes directly to our home so no transport duties for me.

Thursday morning the 4th we started packing everybody up for our trip to Salt Lake City and loading our stuff into the van. It was easier to have each person get their own small bag and put in the necessary number of shirts, shorts, underwear and toiletries than to try to pack everyone into a big suitcase. Backpacks work great for the little boys. The only 2 that had stuff together were Scheri and Abby. As usual we also packed comforters and pillows because several of the kids just end up sleeping on the floor in the motel rooms. The plan was that Kevin would get home about 6:30 and I'd get home from swim lessons about the same time and we'd be ready to head down the trail.

Not exactly. Scheri and James' Junior Life guard lessons were cut short when everyone had to clear the pool due to lightning. At that point the storm was behind me and I hadn't even noticed it. But as the afternoon progressed, the storm only got worse so I didn't even bother wasting my time to drive Caleb and Steven to their lesson. That turned out for the best because I stayed very busy trying to get ready to go. I was determined to get the floor vacuumed before we left (my days as a pickup/delivery driver had definitely not helped the appearance of our house) because I LOVE coming home to a vacuumed, tidied-up house. Of course, it had to be around 7:30 or 8:00 by the time Kevin actually got home. We ended up driving through one of the most amazing lightning storms that I've been in for a long time. We are talking the kind of lightning that doesn't just zig-zag but lights up whole portions of the sky and landscape (and THEN you see the zig-zags)

It was a good day with Abby. I really felt like we had made some strides in bonding. That night as I saw our family spread out from wall to wall in our motel room I felt so rich and so blessed.

On Friday we drove on in to Salt Lake City, found out exactly where Shriner's was and then just drove around looking at the fancy-schmancy houses up there on the hill-sides, driving by various churches, etc. Kevin was trying to find the planetarium and discovery center so he could keep the rest of the crew busy during Abby's appointment.

We then turned around and headed back up the hill to Shriner's Orthopedic Hospital. This place does state-of-the-art work with no out-of-pocket expense to the families. They have only just recently started taking insurance. Abby's appointment was at 1:00 so we got there about 12:30 to register. Of course, I was again carrying with me the sack with all of her records from Bulgaria. It is so wonderful to have this information about her birth, her medical history, her developmental level, her previous x-rays and CT scans. With Caleb and Steven I have virtually nothing.

I feel sorry for Abby with having all these medical appointments and not really being able to explain to her what we are doing, other than "doctor." Anyway, the Dr. Hennessey put Abby through her paces, had her walk in the hall, moved her hips and knees and ankles this way and that, and ordered I think about 10 x-rays--basically from the neck down. There were views with Abby standing, views with her laying down, views with her actually standing ON the x-ray, views of hips with knees apart, views with the right foot turned this way and views with the right foot turned the other way. Views with a block of wood place under Abby's right foot.

The doctor's conclusion was that Abby did not have a club foot as I had thought. However, she does have right-sided weakness, the bones in her right lower extremity are smaller than those in the left, her right leg is about 1 inch shorter than the left. She ordered an MRI (sedated) of the brain and spinal cord which will be done in Boise in conjunction with our visit with the neurologist there. I was told this could take from 2 to 4 hours and will require that she have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before. {I also found out we will be doing a sedated EEG in Boise so will need to stay overnight since both procedures cannot be done the same day} Dr. Hennessey also ordered a brace for Abby's right lower leg--we will have the molding and fitting done in Twin Falls. She will let our pediatrician order the physical therapy. We are to follow-up with Shriners in 6-8 months.

Shriner's has a nice play area so Kevin had ended up just keeping all the kids there, since we had no idea how long Abby's appointment would take. They had also all gone down to the cafeteria for lunch. Abby and I, however, were starved so we went to the cafeteria and had pizza and soda before loading the now obnoxiously loud and stir-crazy troops into the HOT van. Kevin and I were laughing about the computer-generated directions I'd printed off detailing how to get from the hospital to our motel room . . . something like "go south on west North Temple" and "take Exit B-A." Unbeknown to us, Exit C-A was a reality. So was Exit B-A. And because all I'd done was print and laugh, I really hadn't paid attention to the directions themselves. So we suddenly came to where Exit B and Exit A split and we had no idea which one to take and no time to check at interstate speeds. 50-50 chance did not work in our favor. Thankfully Kevin has a great sense of direction and we ended up finding our spot for the night taking the back roads.

We all very much enjoyed this place. It was a Holiday Inn Express, had 2 queen beds plus a fold-out couch and had it's own water park called "Grins and Fins" There was quite a large section that was only 15 inches deep. Caleb and Steven and Abby could play there very safely (yes, still in their life jackets) without us having to physically hold on to them every minute.That area had slides, spraying water, a steering wheel you could turn to make water turn off and on, a rope you could pull to make water dump on your head. There was another area where you could play water basketball, a third area just for swimming and the 4th area was where the great big tube slide emptied out--about 3 1/2 feet deep. All of us-even Abby-ended up going down that slide more than once. It was a blast. Abby would always make sure I was going to be right at the end of the slide to catch her when she came down. She would be screaming all the way down "Mommy!" and I would be saying "I'm right here. You're OK." I liked that. She also eventually let Daddy and Scheri and Teresa catch her. I also caught Caleb and Steven. The only problem with catching is that I ended up getting cold because I was just standing in the water, not actively swimming. I warmed up with swimming a few short laps and went at it again for awhile. At the end though I was sitting in the hot tub and still not warm enough (smile) and Abby, at the end, was walking around in the kiddy-pool area, saying "1,2,3" and falling purposefully face first into the water. Then all 3 of them would take hands and count and all of them would fall in. I was very proud of Abby for her courage. The pool closed at 10:00 and several of our kiddos were not too tickled when they had to get out about 9:45 to start drying off.

We got back to the room, Abby got the bath she wanted, we ate Mexican food and eventually went to bed.

Saturday morning we had to get up at a reasonable hour because the complimentary breakfast closed at 10:00 and there was no sense in missing it and having to pay for food somewhere else. Whoa, Abby was in a BAD mood. Whining and whining about being sleepy, not wanting to get up or get dressed or in any way cooperate with the program. The drive home seemed longer than the drive down there. It did give me plenty of time to drink lots of Diet Pepsi, visit a variety of rest areas and finish the book I was reading.

Back in Idaho, we took a side trip and stopped in Albion to eat. Kevin had chosen a cute restaurant with outdoor seating, but wouldn't you know it, just as we arrived it was doing some pretty serious raining. The indoor food was tasty, too. Smile.

Home in time to unpack, get everyone through the tub or shower, TURN ON THE TV (for those who were feeling TV-deprived), get Billy back in the tub and off to bed.