First week home

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

I love this bit of scripture. It reminds me daily of the command to take care of widows and orphans. It reminds me not to be afraid of what God has asked me to do in raising this child, and that He will be with me every step of the way.

We have been home with Cara now for one week. I have avoided saying how tired I am because I am afraid most people would say it is due to my age. However, friends of ours returned home from Ethiopia just the week before we picked up Cara, with their son, and though half my age, she is just as exhausted as I am!  Jet lag, early mornings, children who are not yet napping or on a schedule, will make any parent tired.

It is hard to believe that this is possibly the “honeymoon” period and this precious child will fall apart after being home for a month. I’ve heard stories from adoptive parents that tell of how their children were fine for the first month and then crashed and burned in grief over the loss of their caregivers and the life they had before. I expect grief, but I pray with all my might that it is short lived and won’t last for months.

If this is the honeymoon period, I couldn’t ask for anything sweeter. She is so loving! I understand more of her language every day and she understands more English. I was very worried about communicating with her, but she makes sure we understand. “Show mama” is a common phrase and she understands that I need help knowing what she wants.

Bath time is a great pleasure now! She was so afraid of her first bath, sitting as if paralyzed in the warm water. This morning as I ran her bath, she quickly took off her pajamas and climbed right in the tub. I’m sure the bath toys helped the transition, but it is wonderful to see her enjoy her bath!

She is also getting better with the dogs. We had a couple of setbacks during the week when the dogs ended up in the same room she was in, but she is still curious and really wants to pet them. When the dogs are on the other side of the gate, she willingly goes alone to pet them through the rungs. Unbelievably, Molly has learned she needs to be calm around her, and allow her to pet her. She came into the bedroom while Molly was lying down and was willing to pet her. Progress is slow, but it’s progress and we are excited about that.

Cara is a sponge when it comes to love. She needs so much acceptance and seeks us out for hugs. She insists on me carrying her everywhere, which is fine in the house, but when out and about, not so much. Ron and I bought a stroller for her yesterday which will be a great help and allow me to get her out more. I see daily walks in our future as the weather improves.

She is a little hoarder! Each new toy or book she receives is something new to bring to bed. My friend, Julianne, brought her the gift of a book and bracelet inside a cloth Wal-Mart bag and that bag is now a treasure to sleep with, along with her baby doll, baby bottle, book and bracelet, and her treasured purple sunglasses! Soon there will be no room for Ron and me!

We have learned she is not quite ready for crowds. We took her to church with us Friday night, and she was fine as long as people kept their distance. Unfortunately, many of our friends wanted to meet her and it was too soon. We will have to forego church for a few more weeks, and possibly longer. I am grateful the audio portion of the weekly sermon is online for us to stay connected. We are also giving up small group attendance for a while to give her a chance to adjust further to home life.

The joy this little girl has brought to our family is immeasurable! I am so in awe of God’s work here in her life and ours. I always felt there were more children in my life, but I had no idea they were located in Eastern Europe. I do believe there is at least one more, a little girl, locked in her crib in another orphanage in the same country. Thankfully, Cara keeps me distracted from the constant reminder that Emma is still locked away, needing a family, and still being denied. I pray for this little girl every day, and hope you will join me in those prayers. I know she will bless our family as much as Cara has, and also know Cara will be an amazing big sister!


First days home…

Saturday, February 16

As predicted, Cara was up and ready to go well before I was Saturday morning. Ron and I both felt as if we’d been hit by a train. I don’t quite understand why the jetlag is so much worse coming home than it is going over there, but it is. Ron caught Cara’s cold, and somehow injured his ankle during the trip home. He had difficulty walking from the airport out to the car, and by the time we got home his ankle was twice the size it should have been and severely bruised. He said it was better when he woke up, so was up helping me get breakfast and took care of Cara while I cleaned the same house I’d cleaned before I left. Daniel is not the neatest person and my kitchen was a disaster when we got home!

After fixing a breakfast of fruit, toast and eggs for everyone, I scoured the kitchen, and got the vacuum out. I am not a fanatic about clean, but I don’t like clutter, animal hair coating the carpets, or a dirty kitchen. Ron made a quick trip to the store, and Alexandra and fiancé, Derrick tried to entertain Cara while I was making a quick run through the house with the vacuum.

Cara quickly lost interest in the puzzle they were trying to do with her, and started harassing the cats. She was fascinated with their tails and felt it was something to drag them around by. Trust me, the cats were NOT impressed! Noticing she was missing from the living room, I found her in the bathroom trying to pull Critter out by the tail. I said, “Cara, tooka,” (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) which means “come here,” or just “here.”  When she didn’t respond, I took her by the hand and led her back out to the living room. She was furious with me, started yelling at me, and stuck her tongue out at me. I put her up on the couch, telling her “Ne.” This infuriated her further, and she started screaming and crying for Alexandra. I reminded Alexandra she could not “save” her, so she and Derrick went into the kitchen, Alexandra in tears. Cara tried to get down from the couch, I put her back. Her anger escalated, and she continued to scream at me. I knew whatever she was saying was directed at me, as she would interject “mama” in the middle of her sentences. Once again she tried to get down and I calmly put her back on the couch. I was so unprepared for what happened next. She completely lost control, was in a wild rage and flew off the couch at me, fists clenched, eyes flashing, and swinging her tiny little fists at me. I again told her “ne” and put her back on the couch. She came at me again, and as I went to put her back on the couch she grabbed my forearm and pinched me as hard as she could, continuing  to scream at me. I grabbed her hand, said “NE” with more force and told her to “SIT DOWN.” She took her hair clip out of her hair and threw it at me, which I picked up and put in the bathroom. She continued to rage and when I returned she flew off the couch at me again, kicking and swinging her fists at me. As I went to return her to the couch, she managed to grab my thigh in her death clench, and she pinched me as hard as she could again. I took her by the arms and set her back on the couch, and her hands went for my face. I managed to grab them before she grabbed me, and now I was downright angry! I got right up to her nose, and yelled “NE! You will not hurt mama!!!”  She immediately stopped crying, immediately stopped fighting, and sat there looking at me. I have no idea what was going through her head, but something clicked, and she sat there quietly until I was done vacuuming and sat down next to her. I spoke to her quietly, explaining to her that she could get mad, but she could never, ever hurt anyone! I know she didn’t understand, but she managed to understand that I was no longer angry, but also that I was not going to accept that kind of behavior. I didn’t think she’d allow me to touch her, but she did, and I pulled her close to hug her. I also made her say “I’m sorry, Mama,” and she did. I told her she could get up, and I put the vacuum away. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I have taken care of children for many years, many with emotional special needs, and many from sketchy backgrounds of drugged out, alcoholic parents, but I have never seen such rage in a child! She was truly possessed, and I was truly shaken. I knew I was not the favored parent at this time, but I had never expected anything like that. Ron could tell her no, and redirect without any repercussions. Alexandra had told her no, and redirected several times while I was fixing breakfast earlier with no repercussions.  I didn’t even tell her “no” over the cat, just said, “come here” and redirected her back to the living room. It was a real wake-up call for me, and I was very concerned with what I would be dealing with once Ron returned to work.

Cara was wonderful the rest of the day. I figured she would avoid me as much as possible, interacting only with Ron. Alexandra had gone to Derrick’s house; Dan was at work, so it was just the 3 of us at home. Strangely enough, she didn’t want anyone but me. She followed me around the house as I picked things up and put them away, wanting to engage me in toys, and games, talking to me non-stop. I wasn’t sure what to think! After getting things put away, I sat with her and we played games and tickled, and chased each other through the house. After dinner we took her on a quick trip to the grocery store, which she absolutely loved, yelling in excitement at all the things on the shelf. After putting the groceries away, we all got ready for bed and she was asleep within minutes.

I wish I understood what happened this morning. I suspect she has been reacting to me, as she reacted to the orphanage staff, who were all women. Their only goal was to keep the children quiet and as happy as possible, so there was no discipline. They ran interference with each other with the children, giving in to them to keep them from crying. We witnessed that when we were there last October. The children ran the show. It is pure speculation, but I suspect if the children didn’t like the response they got from one caregiver they would just call another to come and “save” them. And they were always saved. Cara had a meltdown last October when we told her she could not take her sticker book outside. Everything she took outside to show the other children ended up destroyed, so we told her to leave it in the room while we went out to play with the other children. She had a foot stamping, screaming tantrum, and one of the caregivers came running in to save her! They would do anything and everything to keep the kids from crying, and you can bet they utilized that trick as much as possible.  When Cara tried it with me, and discovered it wouldn’t work, she lost control, and went into a complete rage. When she found out I wasn’t going to cave into that kind of behavior, she stopped. As I said, this is all pure speculation. I also suspect the changes, adjustment, stress of her whole life being turned upside down were all part of it.

Sunday, February 17

Cara slept in a little longer this morning; however the dogs got me up early to take them out. There is no rest for the wicked! I wish I were less wicked!

We truly had a wonderful day today. I had expected Cara to be standoffish, but she was more into doing things with me than she had ever been. After breakfast, she had a bath and got dressed for the day. She is very independent when it comes to getting dressed, and made sure to show me she could dress herself while we were still in country. It is hard to grasp that she can do these things when she is so little. We have to be careful we don’t treat her as a much younger child than she is.

After her bath, I brought the baskets of laundry into my room to fold. We had mountains of laundry, and it had taken all day Saturday with the washing machine going non-stop to get it done. Alexandra and I started folding, and I was setting Cara’s clothes off to the side, along with a separate pile of socks. Cara immediately started folding her own clothes, and quite well. You can well imagine my surprise! She matched socks, and quickly learned whose underwear went in which basket.  I wondered whether or not all the children had been taught to fold laundry, just the girls, or only those that expressed an interest. It was all the more curious because when we were there in October of last year, there was an older woman out in the yard hanging the clothes to dry, and she also brought in clothing that had been folded to put away in the children’s room. Curious as I was, she was very proud to show me her skills, and I was more than happy she could!

I really pushed myself to get things done yesterday, and was really dragging my fanny today. I am used to going 90 miles an hour all day, but trying to get it everything done while my body was still fighting deep fatigue wasn’t the best way to go about it. I still had a few things I wanted to accomplish while Ron was still the favored parent, which included filing the adoption papers, clearing off the dining room table, and making a trip to Costco for a few necessities. Ron was still out of commission with his foot, so I had planned to take Cara to Costco with me by myself. However, after clearing the dining room table and getting everything else done except going through the adoption papers, and organizing receipts, I realized I didn’t have it in me to take Cara alone with me to Costco. In fact I didn’t have it in me to take myself to Costco. About 45 minutes after I’d made the decision to wait another day, Ron rallied to the task, and said he’d go with me. I honestly did not want to go, but I wanted to get it done so we could all relax the following day. Cara, always ready for an adventure got her coat on willingly and settled into her car seat so I could buckle her in. When we got to Costco, and Ron took her out of her car seat , she actually reached for me to put her in the cart.

I must say it is a great deal of fun taking a child with next to zero life experiences out into the world! Cara was mesmerized by all the different things in Costco. Had I not been as weary as I was, I would have taken my time and showed her every inch of the store. She sat in the cart, daddy pushing, pointing out everything new and exciting, yelling at us in utter excitement. All in Bulgarian of course, and we couldn’t understand any of it! We passed a couple with a newborn, and she started screaming “Baby, baby!” The woman walked over to show her the new baby and she was so thrilled, pointing to the baby, and saying “Mama, baby!” This little girl just makes me laugh so much. As I walked ahead of the cart, she would call out to me, and then hold my hand as dad pushed. When I would let go, she’d call out for me again. I was overjoyed, as I was not the favored parent!  As is customary for us, we stopped to look at the books before checking out, and I realized I’d forgotten the canned fruit I wanted to have on hand for her. She eats a small serving of fruit every morning with her breakfast, and I had only bought a couple of cans at Fred Meyer the night before. I told Ron to wait for us by the books, and I would take Cara and the cart to get it. As I was pushing the cart towards the right aisle, Cara whispered “Mama,” and laid her head down on my hands. And I cried. Finally something to indicate she was connecting with me!

At the checkout register, Cara pulled the things she could reach out of the back of the cart and handed us each item to put on the belt. She smiled throughout, jabbering away in Bulgarian, very pleased with herself!

The big excitement of the evening was that Hallie was coming to spend the night. She had called me while we were driving to Costco to ask if she could have dinner with us. She said she couldn’t wait to come and play with Cara! I told her of course she could come for dinner, and I would call her to let her know when we got home so she could come over right away! She was so excited, and I was just as excited to see her! I had not seen her in almost 2 weeks, and I couldn’t wait to snuggle with my girl!

We were having Costco’s roasted chicken for dinner, and as soon as we got home, I started making mashed potatoes, one of Cara’s absolute favorites, to have with the chicken. Hallie arrived just as dinner was ready, and she strutted in the house, looking for Cara, not even bothering to hug me first!  She had gone through this past year of waiting for Cara to come home right along with us, and I suspect she wasn’t going to believe Cara was really here until she saw her! Cara recognized Hallie right away, and yelled, “Hallie!” as soon as she saw her. Hallie got a huge smile on her face, and said “Hi, Cara,” like she’d just seen her a few days ago. It is so interesting to see how children react to each other, especially when in a new situation. She had to be sure she sat right next to Cara to have dinner, and as Cara chattered away in Bulgarian, Hallie kept asking me, “What is she saying?!?” And I told her “I have no idea!” 🙂 I explained that Cara didn’t speak English right now, and it was our job to help her learn. I also explained that Cara didn’t understand what we were saying either!

The girls hit it off famously! Way better than I expected. They ran like wild children through the house, laughing at each other and just having a good time. Cara kept running back to me, telling me all kinds of things she and Hallie were doing, and of course, Hallie continued to ask, “What is she saying!?”  When it was finally bed time, they got into their pajamas, and the two of them and Alexandra crawled in our king size bed with me, and we watched “Brave” for the umpteenth time! I should clarify. They watched Brave with Alexandra, and I passed out trying to write a blog post!  I have no idea what time they fell asleep, I just vaguely remember Alexandra briefly waking me to tell me she was going to bed, and she carried Hallie to her bed for me. At least I think she carried Hallie to bed! Someone did! Maybe I did! Sleeping with Hallie is difficult enough. She is one of those kids who does 360’s all night and has to be as close to you as possible. The two of them in bed with me would have meant no sleep at all. I had explained to Hallie in advance that after she was asleep we’d put her in her own bed, so when she woke up she wouldn’t be upset or surprised.

Monday, February 18

Of course, the girls woke up at the crack of dawn, and drug me out of bed with them. Ron was not feeling well by this time, having come down with the cold Cara developed in Bulgaria, and with the bad ankle to go along with it, he was miserable! I let him sleep, taking the girls to the kitchen, and making them breakfast. Hallie wanted exactly what Cara was eating, even though it was not her usual breakfast of a blueberry waffle with syrup. So I gave her a bowl of fruit and an Activia yogurt to eat while I scrambled some eggs and made toast. Cara gobbled her fruit and yogurt, and Hallie picked at hers, not happy with the choice she’d made. She tends to be a bit grumpy in the morning anyway, and this didn’t help. As Cara was enjoying her eggs and toast, Hallie decided she didn’t want eggs, just toast, and then didn’t finish that.

I gave both girls a bath after breakfast, which they enjoyed. Cara isn’t very impressed with having her hair washed, so Hallie told me she would show her how it was done, tipping her head way back so I could rinse her hair without getting soap or water in her face. It didn’t help Cara much at all, but Hallie was very proud to be setting a good example!

The girls played all morning until lunch time, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. Hallie also asked for dill pickles, which she loves, but Cara wanted nothing to do with those! Watching the two girls interact with the language barrier was fun and interesting! They somehow managed to understand each other and chatted while they ate.

Cara and Hallie are only 14 months apart in age, but Cara definitely has “orphanage delays.” Statistically, for each 3 months a child is institutionalized, they lose a month in development. Cara is right on target with the statistics. Even though she is six, she is about 4 developmentally. She will eventually catch up, but it is going to take some time. Hallie is a good head taller, cognitively far more advanced. But that didn’t stop them from enjoying each other, and playing together.

Because they had gotten to bed late, and were up early, I insisted on a nap for them both. Hallie was very against the idea, but when I offered to lay down with them both in my bed, she was a bit more accepting. I could see there was some jealousy as she has had me all to herself for the past five years when she’s here. It was a little difficult for her to share me. Thankfully, Cara is not yet to the point of being jealous in return.

Both girls slept about 2 hours, and we had some playtime before dinner and Hallie going home. Hallie was showing Cara how to do headstands (Hallie does them perfectly… a future Olympian in the making) and it was hysterical watching Cara try to imitate. She thought it was hysterically funny as she’d flop over on her back.

Hallie was very sad at the idea of going home, begging to stay “just one more night!” It breaks my heart when I have to tell her no, but the good news is she will get to spend Wednesday and Thursday night with us this week, and I will take her to her gymnastics class on Thursday! She was thrilled with that, and with a little prodding, extra hugs and kisses, she went home with mama.

Cara and I were in bed by 8 PM!  I will be glad when my days and nights are back on my time instead of somewhere between here and Eastern Europe!

I will continue to update the blog, but it will be weekly instead of trying to find time to get it out daily. Cara is a magical little sprite who is busy, busy, busy! I am now the preferred parent, and she wants me to hold her all the time. I have no problem with that!

Day 9, the long journey home.

I could not believe it was already 4 AM when Ron woke me up this morning. My body was screaming “NO” while my brain understood that if I wanted to get home, I was going to have to drag myself up. I gave myself an additional 15 minutes to allow brain and body to come to an understanding.

Cara was even less enthusiastic than I was about getting up! She did everything she could to roll away from me while I tried to dress her, and somehow, some way, I managed to get her clothes and shoes on. The bellman knocked on the door to take our luggage down, and we managed to get Cara to understand this was the day we were going on the big airplane, and we had to go.

We took a cab to the airport. The drive was uneventful that early in the morning with little to no traffic. Cara sat quietly between Ron and I, never saying a word. When we arrived, the driver was nice enough to get us a push cart for the overabundance of luggage we had with us.After getting our luggage checked in and our boarding passes, we had to go through customs and security. Cara was fine through the whole process, never questioning why she had to remove her shoes, or put baby in a bin to go through the scanner.  But halfway to the gate, she started crying, and then screaming that she wanted to return to the hotel room. I was pulling the roller bag containing my computer, so I wasn’t able to pick her up. When she felt me pulling her along, she sat down in the middle of the floor and howled.  I got her up on one hip, managed to find a place to sit, and she continued to howl, asking to go back to the room. I walked her to the window to show her the planes, and she stopped, suddenly very excited about the airplanes. Miglena had explained to her that we would be flying on 3 airplanes (it was actually 4), and she finally understood where we were and that we were going to get on the plane. She started howling again when we went to board, but the gate attendant spoke to her and explained what was happening and that we were finally going to get on the airplane and fly up in the air. She also told her she could not cry on the plane! J I was incredibly nervous about the flight, praying she would settle in, and not scream all the way to Vienna! I needn’t have worried! She was absolutely fine all the way there. We had to go through security again in Vienna, and while in line, she had to go to the bathroom. When I tried to explain we had to wait, she melted down again! By the time it was our turn, I explained she had to use the bathroom, and of course, the buckles on my boots set off the alarm. The poor agent was trying her best to get me through quickly so I could get Cara to the bathroom, and I finally took my boots off, walked through the arch again, and the agent pointed out the bathroom. Poor Ron was stuck with all the carry on, both jackets, and my boots while he waited for us to come out. Thankfully, Cara had quit crying, and was happy to watch the planes taking off while we waited for our next flight to Dulles airport in Washington, DC. I wasn’t sure how this trip would go as it was 10 hours in the air. I located the nearest bathroom while looking for our seats, and got Cara buckled into her seat, all the while praying she would not need the bathroom until the “fasten your seat belt”  sign went off! I was truly amazed at how well things went. The flight attendants were very efficient, getting food and drinks to us right away, and gave all the kids on board a bag of things to play with. We had packed puzzles, her whiteboard and markers, My Little Ponies, and the barrel of Monkeys. She never needed any of it. She was so fascinated with the individual TV’s and the remote that came with it, that she played with that, slept, drew a little bit with her whiteboard, and generally enjoyed the whole thing. Our guardian angels were with us the entire trip!

Because Dulles was our port of entry, we had to go through customs. This is where we were to give the customs agent the sealed manila envelope with all of Cara’s immigration papers, allowing her into the country, and her immediate status of US Citizen. While waiting in line, Cara told me she had to go to the bathroom again. I told her we had to wait, she started to howl! The line ahead of us parted like the red sea allowing us free passage to the front of the line. The customs agent was very nice, told me to give him the paperwork and after comparing  Cara’s passport picture with her howling face, told me where the bathroom was, and pointed me in the right direction. He said he would give Ron everything we needed.

As we hurried to the bathroom we passed two customs security agents with dogs. I quickly pulled Cara up into my arms, but wasn’t quick enough. She saw the dogs and blood curdling screams ensued. She was tired, and deathly frightened by the dogs. None of them even came near her, but she screamed until we got to the bathroom, where the screams turned into huge air gulping sobs. I did my best to soothe her, but she was so frightened she was shaking. We have 3 dogs at home. Three.Barking.Psycho.dogs. You can imagine what was going through my head about then!

When we left the bathroom, I located the dogs, and made a wide berth. I finally found Ron, and took one of the carry on from him, and had Cara walking beside me. Unfortunately, we had to walk right between both dogs. Up on my hip she went, but the dogs were sniffing each piece of carry- on luggage, and there was nothing I could do. Of course she let loose with those blood curdling screams again, and I finally walked away from the luggage while the dog sniffed it. We were finally free of the dogs, and the screams died down.

If you have  never been through customs, once you get through the first check point where your passport is looked at, you then have to go pick up all of your luggage and go through security all over again, because you are transferring from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. They don’t seem to care that you have already been through three security checkpoints already.  Shoes off, coats off, belts off, computer out of the bag and in a separate bin. Thankfully, without the threat of dogs, Cara went through security with me without a hitch. We had to transfer to the domestic flight terminal, and then wait just a few minutes before boarding our flight to Denver and our last flight change.

Cara and I slept all the way to Denver. We were both exhausted, and just could not stay awake any longer. It was a four hour flight so we got a decent nap, if you can call sleeping while sitting up, decent. And we finally had a long enough layover in Denver that we were able to get something to eat. It had been several hours since we’d eaten, and I knew Cara was hungry. The closest place to get food was a Pizza Hut/Hagen-Daz place, and Cara indicated she wanted pizza. I bought her water and an individual cheese pizza, which she completely devoured, as well as part of mine. She seems to be digesting her food better with the enzymes I brought, and has not had to go to the bathroom quite as much. This has been a blessing on the airplane. This was the only airport Cara did not have a meltdown. She handled the tiredness, hunger, and waiting, with grace and when it was time to board our last flight home, she walked onto the airplane like a pro, settled into her seat and buckled her seat belt. She and I slept most of the 90 minute flight, waking when the pilot announced our approach. Because we were just four seats from the back of the plane, we were the last ones off. I wish I had video of Cara’s face when she saw Daniel and Alexandra waiting for us at the bottom of the ramp. She started yelling their names, and when we got down the ramp, she reached immediately for Alexandra, finding her newest best friend!

Alexandra sat with her in the back of the car, and Cara talked to her non-stop all the way home! She was so excited to finally see her! When we got home, we took her to her room, and once again she was over the top excited. She had her picture book full of photos of her room and the house during the four months we waited to bring her home, and seeing her room in person was huge for her. She sat down and immediately started serving tea to all of us. Sleep was the furthest thing from her mind, and the only thing Ron and I wanted! However, trying to convince her that it was time for “spish” (sleep) was fruitless at this point. I finally started unpacking, she finally wore out, and I was able to get her into her pajamas, and up on the bed. Before long, she was rocking herself and was sound asleep. Unfortunately, I was wide awake by this time, and unable to sleep. I finished unpacking, started the first of many, many loads of laundry we’d brought home with us, and finally fell asleep around 5 AM, knowing I was not going to be ready to wake up when Cara did!

Thursday, Day 8. Last day in country

We ate breakfast early this morning in order to make a 10 AM appointment with Miglena from our in country adoption agency. We had to have some paperwork notarized authorizing a second attorney to continue fighting our case for Emma, go to the bank to payment for our interpreter, and at 11 AM meet with the attorney who is going to court for us for Emma.

We had an early breakfast so we didn’t have to rush Cara, who likes a large variety of foods, and as I said before, eats like a truck driver. This morning was no different. Once again she was greeted by her staff who are now calling her Princess Cara! They wait on her hand and foot, making sure she has a booster seat, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, a glass of warm water (they think ice water is too cold for her to drink) and tuck her napkin inside her shirt  so she does not to mess up her beautiful clothes! Usually, I can go get her a plate of food and bring it back to her, but her highness insisted in choosing her own foods today. J I have to hold her in one arm, and lift all the lids off the serving dishes so she can look inside. If she wants something from that dish, she will point and say “Dah”. If she doesn’t want anything, she says “Ne”. There are two breakfast bars, one with the hot food, one with the cold. And it goes around both sides. That’s a lot of lifting of serving lids, and a lot of NE’s going with it. She finally picked scrambled eggs, a couple of potato patties, and a croissant. She had her usual fruit too, and she wanted another Activia yogurt. She ate most of her breakfast, giving me back the croissant. She loves the croissants so I was quite surprised.

After breakfast, we took a cab to the courthouse where we met Miglena and began our trek to the notary and bank. We had to get the authorization papers notarized giving the attorney fighting Emma’s case for us permission to represent us in court. We also had to convert some dollars into Euro so we could pay him, and then to the office to meet with him. Cara was good with everything until we got to the bank, and she had a melt down over something. I was waiting in line, when she started howling, and Ron took her outside. The man who was next in line, let us go ahead of him so we could get her moving quicker, which we were all very grateful for.

When we arrived at Miglena’s office, I was thrilled to see Sveti, and Yoana! I had Cara show them she could count to 14 in English with no help, and they were excited to see her doing so well. Yoana was particularly surprised as she was the one who went with us to pick her up and experienced first hand what a train wreck she was.

We were escorted into the private office where the attorney was waiting to meet with us. I could not tell you his name if you offered me a million dollars, but he was young and very nice. He explained each detail to us, what to expect with the next court date in March, and that he was glad we had a woman judge this time. He said if they were mothers, they tended to be far more sympathetic to cases involving children. Nadia, one of the foundation attorneys interjected here and there, but the bottom line was, none of them really think we are going to win. It’s a shame that there is no faith in this country. For more than 20 years there has been no belief in God. They don’t understand my faith, and my honest belief that God told me this was my child, and that I do not believe He would bring me this far to say “no.” They were all very grateful I was willing to fight this case because we are setting precedent and opening doors that were not open in this country in the past. I have no problem with that, but made sure they all knew that the child I was advocating for was Emma, and I wanted them to do their best to win this case. Setting precedent is fine, but without a win, it’s fairly pointless. The Ministry isn’t going to pay much attention to this if they win. I was grateful to meet with the attorney. He is now able to put faces to this case, we are not just a name on a piece of paper. He knows how passionate I am about getting this child home, and opening doors for other older parents that have many years of life left and want to give a child a family.

We walked back to the hotel, and Cara was very excited to be back out in the fresh air. She window shopped all the way down the boulevard, pointing out shoes, and clothes, sweets, and anything else she found interesting. She chattered at us pointing at this and that. The jack hammer didn’t throw her, and she walked calmly through the noise. When we got the long pedestrian bridge going over the street below to the hotel, she dropped daddy’s hand and marched ahead in confidence. She was so cute, holding her baby, walking ahead of us, then turning to look at us occasionally to see if we were still coming.

When we got back to the room, we all napped, as we knew we would be out late at dinner. Cara rocked herself to sleep, sucking her thumb. I look forward to the day she feels safe enough to know she can snuggle with me for comfort instead of rocking herself like that.

Tonight we are having dinner with Barry and JoAnn Wester, who are also in country this week picking up their daughter Anna. Anna is 5 years old and blind, but loves music, and anything that makes noise. They came to our hotel to meet us, and we walked to the restaurant.  Before we left, I bent down by Anna in her stroller to say hello and hold her hand for a moment. She smiled when she felt my hand, and heard my voice. She has an incredible smile, and is a beautiful little girl! We had dinner at a traditional folk restaurant with singing and dancing. We arrived early so we could eat before the show started. When we got to the restaurant, we were told that the table they had reserved for us had been in another location, but since there were two children, they thought it might be easier for us if they put us at the entrance, in a huge hollow barrel! We were almost completely enclosed, and I truly suspect they were afraid the two little girls were going to be disruptive. J We settled around the barrel, and Cara immediately started to cry. I pulled her up into my lap, and that is where she stayed.

I finally found a place with traditional meat balls! Last October, when we had been to visit Cara, I discovered meat balls! They are about the size of sliders, with a mixture of ground beef and pork, minced onion, thyme, parsley, salt and garlic. Each restaurant we ate at had a little different way of seasoning them, and they were wonderful no matter we had them. I think that was about the only thing I ate the week we were there. I hadn’t found any place that served them on this trip, so I was beyond happy when I saw them on the menu. I ordered two for me, two for Cara, and Ron ordered two also. What a surprise we got when our order arrived and we were served these HUGE meat balls!  Cara didn’t eat much of hers, I ate half of one, and Ron ate one. I wasn’t able to get much down Cara with her head resting on my shoulder, but I did manage to interest her in a few bites. It is no easy feeding a child when you can’t see their mouth!

We all enjoyed the singing and dancing, but I think Anna enjoyed it the most! After each song, she clapped her hands, and yelled “BRAVO!” And then she would let out this very deep belly laugh! She is such an enchanting little girl! Cara watched without moving, but she enjoyed it also. Unfortunately, Ron didn’t see much because of the angle of the barrel, but what he saw he enjoyed. It is definitely a place I would eat at again!

It was 11 PM before we got back to our room, and we had to be up by 4:30 AM in order to get to the airport in time for our 8:02 AM flight home. I had packed before we left for dinner, so we were all able to crawl into bed. Cara was asleep before her head hit the pillow, and I wasn’t far behind. All I could think of was home. We are finally going home!

Day 7

Day 7, Wednesday February 13

Cara woke up feeling much better this morning. I gave her children’s Advil through the night and she woke up without a fever. She was in a much better mood too. I was happy to see this as we had our final embassy appointment this afternoon, and we were going to have to take her out in the cold. She ate a good breakfast, was charming and pleasant to the ever indulgent staff, and happily carried her two bananas back upstairs with us as we finished.

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the room before leaving for our appointment, but she wanted to do some puzzles, and make every attempt she could to mess with the radio, phone, lights, and anything else she could get into.  The puzzles and games weren’t half as fascinating as opening drawers, turning lights off and on, getting a reaction for picking up the phone, or turning the radio up as loud as it would go. Suddenly, my calm little girl became a mini octopus with hands grabbing everything!

We left at 12:20 PM for the US Embassy. We were to meet Miglena outside the front entrance at 12:40, but we got there early. We were stopped by a guard in the front asking what we wanted. I explained we had an appointment for Cara’s final adoption interview and we were waiting for an employee of our foundation to meet us. I asked if we could get Cara out of the wind, and he took us to the front window where there was another layer of security to get through before going inside. This man took our passports and then asked for Cara’s, which I had to explain we wouldn’t get until after the embassy interview. It took at least 10 minutes of waiting and phone calls to get this poor kid out of the wind and inside where it was warm.

I waited for Miglena to arrive, and when she did, she got the two of us inside much quicker. We had to go through the same security as you do at the airport, taking off our shoes and belts and leaving all electronics behind. I noticed Cara’s baby doll sitting in a bin, having been confiscated because it was battery operated. My heart squeezed a bit, knowing how attached she is and the security it holds for her, and hoped she didn’t get upset over having to leave it.

We walked through another courtyard to a back building where the embassy staff offices were. Miglena has to talk with one of the people hidden behind what I assume was bullet proof glass, not being allowed to walk forward to the window until invited. She spent a long time talking with the woman there, and then told us we would be called by another woman who would ask us questions, and then tell us what the final procedure would be.

We were called in and met by a young American woman who was very friendly and nice. She asked us which foundation we were working with here, how we’d been treated, did we like them, what Cara’s orphanage was like, and what did we think of the medical facility Cara was taken to for her final medical appointment. She said she was asking because she’d heard they were not very good. We agreed, but told her we were very impressed with the foundation we were working with, loved everything they’d done for us, and were just anxious to go home. She then explained that we did not have to wait for any further documentation when we got home, nor did we have to readopt because Cara would be a US citizen as soon as she touched ground at Dulles Airport in Washington DC. We could apply for her SS card immediately, and would not need her American citizenship certificate. We’ve heard several different stories regarding this, so I guess we’ll find out when we get home. The final embassy papers will be ready on Thursday, including Cara’s visa, and her Bulgarian Passport, which Miglena will pick up at 4 PM tomorrow afternoon and bring to us at the hotel. We also have a stack of papers we are to carry with us at all times until we get her home in order to prove we are legally her parents, and are not walking off with some random Bulgarian child! We will be given a sealed manila envelope that is to remain sealed until we arrive in the US, and give those papers to customs. They are the legal papers immigration papers we need to get Cara into the US. I think they get sent to USCIS from there, and her citizenship certificate is issued. I’m not sure of this, just things I have gathered from the information others have spoken of. I’ll know more when it arrives, and where it came from.

Our evening was uneventful, although we celebrated with a dinner of ice cream and cheese cake! Enjoy, little one! This is not the typical dinner you will enjoy when we get home.

Day 6

Day 6, Tuesday February 11

Cara did not want to get out of bed this morning. I could tell she wasn’t feeling well, and she felt warm. Without a thermometer, it was difficult to determine if she had much of a fever, but I suspected she did. We went down to the restaurant for breakfast and I proceeded to fill her plate with the usual fare, as well as getting her yogurt and fruit. She pushed everything away, wanting only to hold the yogurt. Vergie, the hostess that helped to explain to Cara that we were eating in the restaurant, and then returning to the room, came to speak to her to see if she was feeling ok. Cara started to cry and told her she felt sick. She did not have pain, but just felt sick. Ron and I gulped down our breakfast and while he took her back upstairs to the room, I asked the front desk for a thermometer. They sent one to the room immediately. Of course it was in centigrade, and of course I had my computer to do the conversion!

When I got back to the room, Cara and Ron were lying in bed. She was half asleep, and miserable. I took her temperature, which was 101. I don’t know what possessed me to bring children’s Advil with us, but I was sure grateful I did. I gave her a dose, and she slept for 4 hours. She woke up very warm, so I put her in the tub to help bring the fever back down until I could give her another dose of Advil 2 hours later. The poor thing was so HOT and listless. Normally, a fever like this wouldn’t worry me, but when you are in a foreign country whose medical care is circa 1980’s, it is a little worrisome. She lied in bed with me, until it was time for the next dose, rocking herself side to side, and sucking her thumb. Again when I tried to comfort her she would push me away. I will patiently wait for the day when she will allow me to comfort her, instead of engaging in the self-soothing behaviors of a neglected child. L

She started feeling better about an hour after her second dose of Advil. She asked for a banana and a yogurt. She ate both and perked up a bit. We ordered room service for dinner, and she was not at all happy with the chicken soup I ordered for her. I also had chicken soup for dinner and it was very good! She let me dip her bread into the broth and ate that, but would allow no soup to enter her mouth by spoon. She is incredibly stubborn. Did I mention that already? J

After dinner we turned the lights off and told her it was bedtime. She lied down next to me and started rocking again. I let her rock, talking softly to her, telling her how much I loved her and would always keep her safe. I know she doesn’t understand now, but someday she will. She has no idea what an incredible blessing she is to me.

Day 6, Tuesday February 11

Cara did not want to get out of bed this morning. I could tell she wasn’t feeling well, and she felt warm. Without a thermometer, it was difficult to determine if she had much of a fever, but I suspected she did. We went down to the restaurant for breakfast and I proceeded to fill her plate with the usual fare, as well as getting her yogurt and fruit. She pushed everything away, wanting only to hold the yogurt. Vergie, the hostess that helped to explain to Cara that we were eating in the restaurant, and then returning to the room, came to speak to her to see if she was feeling ok. Cara started to cry and told her she felt sick. She did not have pain, but just felt sick. Ron and I gulped down our breakfast and while he took her back upstairs to the room, I asked the front desk for a thermometer. They sent one to the room immediately. Of course it was in centigrade, and of course I had my computer to do the conversion!

When I got back to the room, Cara and Ron were lying in bed. She was half asleep, and miserable. I took her temperature, which was 101. I don’t know what possessed me to bring children’s Advil with us, but I was sure grateful I did. I gave her a dose, and she slept for 4 hours. She woke up very warm, so I put her in the tub to help bring the fever back down until I could give her another dose of Advil 2 hours later. The poor thing was so HOT and listless. Normally, a fever like this wouldn’t worry me, but when you are in a foreign country whose medical care is circa 1980’s, it is a little worrisome. She lied in bed with me, until it was time for the next dose, rocking herself side to side, and sucking her thumb. Again when I tried to comfort her she would push me away. I will patiently wait for the day when she will allow me to comfort her, instead of engaging in the self-soothing behaviors of a neglected child. L

She started feeling better about an hour after her second dose of Advil. She asked for a banana and a yogurt. She ate both and perked up a bit. We ordered room service for dinner, and she was not at all happy with the chicken soup I ordered for her. I also had chicken soup for dinner and it was very good! She let me dip her bread into the broth and ate that, but would allow no soup to enter her mouth by spoon. She is incredibly stubborn. Did I mention that already? J

After dinner we turned the lights off and told her it was bedtime. She lied down next to me and started rocking again. I let her rock, talking softly to her, telling her how much I loved her and would always keep her safe. I know she doesn’t understand now, but someday she will. She has no idea what an incredible blessing she is to me.

Day 5! February 11th

Day 5, Monday, February 11

Cara woke this morning with a bit of a cough, and was a little hoarse. I suspect she is coming down with a cold. She’s suddenly been exposed to a million different germs she never came in contact with while in the orphanage. Hopefully, it is just a little one, and won’t last long.

Last night she exhibited the first of what we call “orphanage behaviors.” She started sucking her thumb and rocking herself side to side while she was going to sleep. She hadn’t done this until now, and I can only suspect it was because she was too emotionally drained. As she begins to feel safer and more comfortable with us, these behaviors will emerge. It is sad to see your child do these self-soothing behaviors as it means that when they needed comfort in the past, no one was there to offer it. I tried to comfort her last night, but she pushed me away and continued to rock. I just spoke to her soothingly as she rocked and she finally fell asleep. There were several times during the night that she woke me by rocking, and I just spoke softly to her again until she calmed. I know in time this will go away, it is just sad to watch.

She ate like a champ at breakfast again today and seemed to be in good spirits in spite of the oncoming cold. She was very social with the staff as they once again catered to “Princess Cara!” She ate her standard eggs, sausage, fruit, yogurt, potatoes and croissant. We had to take 2 bananas with us back to the room. Thankfully, the staff is quite indulgent and allows us to take whatever we want from the buffet to keep her happy.

After leaving the bananas in the room, we headed up over the big bridge to the huge shopping square close to the hotel. I forgot Cara’s hat, and it was a bit windy, so the first thing we did was find her a hat. She wasn’t real impressed with it, but we managed to keep it on her head most of the time. I found a pair of leather Italian ankle (maybe a little higher) boots on clearance for 48 Leva, which is about $33. Score one for Mom!

We continued to walk through the square, not venturing into too many stores as we discovered we had a baby octopus on our hands when we were in the shoe store buying my shoes. I swear I put a child to bed last night with only two hands, but she woke with at least 8 this morning. She has been pushing every button she can push, turning the lights off and on, pushing the buttons on the radio, and doing her best to talk on the hotel phone! We tell her NE (No) and she laughs delightedly at us both! The more playful she becomes, the more she gets into! Suddenly life is a game of engaging our attention every waking moment. It is a good thing Ron came with me so we can tag team this busy girl.

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant in the square. I wanted meat balls in the worst way! Unfortunately, this little place did not serve meat balls, so we all ordered a tuna sandwich. Cara ate a banana and an entire tuna sandwich on a whole grain roll, while I ate half of mine, and Ron ate his and the rest of mine. I would weigh 500 lbs. if I ate the amount of food this child can put away! I am always amazed when I watch her eat.

Daddy has still been the preferred parent, so he is the one who must hold her hand as we walk. I was in charge of taking pictures.  As we headed back towards the hotel, we walked through an area where there was a huge jackhammer digging in the middle of the street. I happened to look back to see if they were close behind me and could see that she was crying and frightened. I scooped her up in my arms and hurried through the area to get away from the noise. We take so much for granted, and don’t realize how little these children have been exposed to until they get frightened or amazed by something new. It breaks my heart for all the children that are still waiting for their forever family to come and find them.

We made it back to the park, which is close to the hotel. Ron walks with Cara and I go off to take some photos of a couple of monuments that are in the park. The huge opera house, and something else that is obviously a monument, but because I cannot read the language I have no idea what it says. J While snapping photos, I hear Cara scream in terror, “Mama! Mama! Mama!”  and see Ron carrying her under the arms, feel dangling, heading right for me. She is screaming “Mama” all the way to me. I took her from him and found a bench to sit on with her in my lap, looking to see if she was hurt. Ron then explained that a woman with a little white dog walked past them and the dog jumped up at her, scaring her half to death. The woman felt terrible and tried to explain that the dog wouldn’t hurt her, but she was having none of it. I was able to comfort her, but as we continued our walk back to the hotel I had to carry her when there was a dog close by. Not feeling really good right now about having 3 dogs waiting for us at home! Two little white ones and a big chocolate lab that will lick your face off if you let her! Fun times ahead… I did like it that she called for me for comfort though. That was a good indication that she is starting to connect and knows I’m here to comfort her.

Back in the room, Ron and I tried desperately to get her to take a nap. Both of us are still suffering from Jet lag, and a nap sounded delightful for us. Cara, however, was having none of it. Dad napped, mom played my little pony, baby, and chase through the hotel room for about an hour. I did finally get her to sit with me on the bed to look at pictures on the computer. She loves seeing herself in pictures and especially loves watching herself on video. She gets very excited when she sees pictures of Alexandra and Daniel, and since she has already skyped with Alexandra, she keeps asking about Daniel. Hopefully, we can catch him online at least once before we head home.

We went back to the Mall and the food court for dinner and made a quick stop at the grocery store again for bananas. Of course Cara found a few things she wanted, mainly Kinder Eggs. She loves the chocolate, but especially loves the little toys inside.  Dinner was more chicken nuggets and fries at McDonalds, and she wasn’t disappointed to be there. She definitely has a love affair with French fries.

She had a difficult time accepting that it was bedtime again tonight, but we turned off the lights and ignored her for the most part. When she figured out we were serious, she settled down and went to sleep.

I could lay here for hours just looking at her and watching her sleep. The reality that she is truly my daughter, and will be coming home with us still amazes me and seems surreal. I love hearing her laugh, love her spunk, and love every bit of who she is! And she will be flying home with us on Friday, to grow up outside of an orphanage, surrounded by a family that loves and cherishes her! What a blessing she is to all of us.

Day 4! February 10, 2013

Day 4, Sunday, February 10

Another cold morning here, but the snow is melting, and it looks as if we may get out for a walk today. Cara woke up smiling and happy again, ready for her day. It is so nice to see the smile on her face first thing in the morning. She is starting to trust us to at least feed her every morning. And she loves going to the restaurant for breakfast. She is quite the celebrity there, with everyone hovering around her, asking her what she wants, catering to her every need. They are thrilled to see the little girl who arrived crying the first day, now happy and social. They all come to attention when Princess Cara arrives!

After breakfast we came back to the room just in time for Barry and JoAnn Wester to call. We didn’t get to the phone in time, so I went to the lobby to invite them up. I didn’t want to take Cara back down as she is still wary of leaving the room for anything other than eating.  When they came up, Cara sat in my lap at the writing table, and within minutes of us beginning to talk, she started to cry. I turned her towards me, and she buried her head in my chest, sobbing. I’m not sure what she was thinking, but the last time strangers came to see her they took her away, so I suppose that’s what she was afraid of.  She finally stopped crying, but refused to look at either Barry or JoAnn. At one point she turned her face towards them, but covered her eyes with her hands. About the time the Wester’s were ready to leave, she would finally peek at them and then quickly cover her eyes again. When they did get up to leave she was willing to get down and say good-bye. They gave her Super Nina, which she took, and said good-bye.  They headed off on the long drive to Targovishte to pick up their precious daughter, Anna, tomorrow morning.

Barry and JoAnn, it was wonderful meeting you both! Ron and I are as excited for your pick up trip as we were for us. We both pray it goes better than ours did, and Anna has been better prepared for your arrival. After spending the last three days with our angel, we know how blessed your family will be by the precious child you have rescued! My God bless your family, and especially the newest member with joy and peace!

A bit of explanation regarding Super Nina. Joleigh Little, another adoptive mom of the precious Clara, purchased one of the Incredibles mom dolls, Helen, dubbed her Super Nina, and took her with her to pick up Clara in May 2012. Since that time, Super Nina has been to Bulgaria more times than I can count, being shipped from family to family, so she can continue the adventure and be there when they pick up their children. Most of the kids love Super Nina, but Cara felt we were trying our best to replace her baby, so after the first 10 minutes, she put her down on the bed and wants nothing more to do with her.

We took Cara out for a walk after our visit, heading down through the tunnels under the street and over to the park. I took Super Nina with us, because Cara had no interest. Cara had told the restaurant staff at breakfast that she wanted Pizza for breakfast, so we thought we’d see if we could find it for her for lunch. We had been through the tunnels last October on our first visit, and were both surprised at how many of the shops had gone out of business. Most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday, so we did a little window shopping until we came out the other side. There was a Pizza/Gyro fast food place right at the top of the stairs, so we made a mental note of that, and continued our walk. Super Nina, always on the job, found a telephone and made us wait while she made some calls! Does she ever rest! NO! NEVER!!!  Cara wasn’t all that interested in the walk, and before too long indicated she wanted to return to the hotel. We stopped at the pizza place to get her lunch, and sat down while we waited for the pizza to cook. I tried to engage her in some play with Super Nina, or at least let me get pictures of the two of them, but when I sat Super Nina on the table by her, she pushed her away. Super Nina was not concerned and moved to the other end of the table. Super Nina understands the trauma children experience during pick up week, and was more than willing to give Cara her space. She kept watch, but didn’t push.

Lunch came, and Cara refused to eat! She kept pointing to the big menu above the cash register to the French fries! She was not going to eat anything at all except the fries. I thought I could wait her out, but by the look on her face she was going to be incredibly stubborn about it. I caved and got her some fries, but didn’t give her too many. I tried to get her to eat some pizza along with the fries, but she had none of it. I threw most of the cold fries in the trash and we headed back to the room.

We played games, and lots of puzzles for the remainder of the day. She wants to count the monkeys, over and over again. I love hearing her say them as much as she likes doing it. She is definitely daddy’s girl right now, and though she is attaching to me, she definitely prefers him.

Cara was not happy when it came time for bed. She was very wound up, and bouncing off the walls. She has not been on any kind of schedule since we picked her up last Thursday, and I’m sure she is still very confused. I also suspect she is wondering when we are taking her home. I gave her a warm bath hoping that would help calm her, but that was just dreaming on my part.  I could not communicate with her that it was bed time, although, I think it was more of an “I don’t want to understand.” I went down to the desk to have one of the staff members write out the phrase, “It is time for sleep.” Vreme e da spish.” When I got back upstairs and put my pajamas on I climbed into bed, telling her “Vreme e da spish.” She was standing on the bed, looking at me like she had no clue what I was saying. I repeated it again, and got the same response. I finally had to lay her down, repeat it again, and turn out the lights. And that’s when the tears started. I pulled her close, but she pushed me away, getting as far away from me as she could. She was angry, and when she is angry, she has no problem letting you know! J I told her I loved her, and at some point we both fell asleep.

Today’s photos:


Super Nina arrives and is thrilled to see we have caffeine in the room!


Riding the elevator down to the lobby to go for a walk.



Does she ever stop working????? NO! She is constantly “On the job” saving orphans, one child at a time!


This is the one and only photo I could get of Super Nina and Cara. After this was taken, Cara pushed her away and grabbed her baby.  She will accept no replacements for the coveted “bebe!”


You can see she was happier once Super Nina moved to the end of the table!

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I mean REALLY? Super Nina??? In the ban yan?


Making sure Cara is safe in the tub!


Super Nina does not like this magnified mirror any more than I do!!!




Cara fresh and clean from her bath and ready for bed.




Super Nina on night watch. 🙂



Saturday, February 9th, Day 3

Cara woke up this morning with a big smile on her face. She was animated and full of giggles as we got her dressed for breakfast. I was a little nervous, especially after our experience yesterday. She willingly got dressed, and when I said “Let’s go eat,” she put her jacket on and seemed excited to go. Dad was still the preferred parent, and she would only hold his hand. I could see how pleased he was, and I was pleased for him.

Yesterday, I showed Cara how to push the buttons to get the elevator, and she went right to the button and pushed the right one! I’m sure that was pure luck, but she was quite proud of herself. Once inside we showed her which button we needed to push to get to the lobby, and she grinned as the light came on around the button and the elevator started to move. When we got to the lobby, she knew which way to go from the elevator to the restaurant, and marched in there with daddy, like she was a pro!

We got settled around a table and she and I went to the buffet. She is too short to see anything, so I had to lift her up to see the choices and fill her plate. I cannot believe the amount of food this child can eat. She can put a truck driver to shame!  I filled her plate with eggs, sausages, hash browns, and a croissant. She also had a bowl with pears and pineapple, an Activia yogurt, and had 2 bananas sitting next to her.  She ate everything but the two bananas, which we took with us back to the room.  I had a small spoon full of scrambled eggs, a couple of pieces of bacon, half a croissant, and 2 cups of coffee… and I didn’t eat everything on my plate! I did however, drink ALL the coffee!

We had decided to treat her to a trip to the giant toy store here after breakfast. We had heard that Jumbo is bigger than Toys R Us, and is on two levels. We were hoping we could find a replacement doll for the one we gave her last October. She is very, very attached to this doll, but is unhappy that both the dolls eyes are broken, and the inside her mouth is really gross. I can’t tell if it is crayon, or the liquid from the magic milk bottle that came with the doll, but there is also something black mixed in with the yellow, and I can’t tell if it’s mold. She took that doll everywhere with her from the minute she got it, and has carried it with her for the past 4 months. If we leave the room for any reason, baby comes with us. In its current state, the doll looks like something out of a horror movie!

Getting into the cab outside the hotel, Cara got a little upset and started saying something. The hotel staff member that had gotten the cab for us said she wanted to be sure daddy sat next to her in the cab! Now we know why she was so upset yesterday in the cab ride home from her medical appointments. Ron set her in the cab next to me, and climbed into the front seat!! She was very angry over that, and felt somehow I was to blame. It’s always good when you finally understand what is going on with a child you can’t understand!

As promised, Jumbo was a huge toy store. Bigger than Toys R Us, but there were not as many toys. Toys R Us is ALL toys, and Jumbo also carried household items, a full baby store, and clothing. After walking into the store and making a quick left turn we were in the doll department. Cara was beyond excited. There were many interactive baby dolls, and she went from doll to doll, squeezing  hands, feet, and tummies. We probably spent a good 45 minutes as she went over each doll in awe! She chattered excitedly, which unfortunately I could not understand, and just went from doll to doll to doll and then back again. There were 3 dolls she liked the most and we put their boxes together on the floor and indicated to her to choose one. She stood by Ron looking at me but not moving. The smile was gone from her face and she didn’t move.  Slowly I picked up each doll and went to put it in the cart. I asked, “Da?” and she said “NE” to each one. When I asked her yes or no to the last doll, she said “Ne!” very firmly and grabbed her baby. It was obvious that as excited as she was to see all the new babies, she didn’t want to bring any of them home. She has a baby, and she has no desire to replace her.Hopefully, I can find someone to repair the baby’s eyes when we get home.

We bought her some bathtub toys while we were there, hoping to make bath time less frightening. She had never had a bath where she sat in water before; she’d only been hosed down. Sitting in the bath the first night was a very frightening experience for her. I tried to show her how to splash and relax a bit, but her little body was rigid, and her eyes wide. I hurried to get her hair washed and a once over with a wash cloth so I could get her in her pj’s. Once she was dressed, had her hair combed, and teeth brushed, she flashed me the big smile. I was hoping with some toys in there with her, she might lose that “deer caught in the headlights” look and enjoy the warm water a bit. I must say, there were not a lot of options even at “Jumbo!” I ended up buying her sorting cups and a couple of floating fish. She spotted the puzzles and was very excited! We had purchased a jigsaw puzzle to do with her last October, and she’d never seen or done one before. It looked hard, and she backed away. Ron pulled her up on his lap and started to show her how to put the pieces together and by the end of our visit she was beginning to get the hang of it, and seemed to enjoy it. She put ever princess puzzle she saw into the cart. Some with up to 500 pieces! She put them in, I took them out and put them back. I directed her to a few I thought were easier and more on her level, and she finally chose 3 we were able to bring home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find bubbles, or a step stool for her to use in the bathroom. She is so tiny her eyes just come up above the counter. We had hoped to give her a little more independence with a step stool, but we never found one. She also picked out another “My Little Pony” with long hair and clips to put in the pony’s hair, and we were done shopping.

We found a cab right outside the door, and told him we wanted to go to the Hilton, the only Hilton in this area! He nodded, and took off. We drove right past the Hilton, and down towards the airport. Ron and I were looking at each other thinking he might now a different route to hotel, but Ron finally said to him, Hilton? Our driver nodded saying “Yes, very expensive!” and kept going. Somehow, Ron was able to communicate to him that we wanted to GO to the Hilton, not discuss expensiveness, and the poor man was so apologetic! He kept apologizing, and we kept telling him it was ok! He then told Ron he was 70 years old, and Ron said, “Me… 73!” The driver laughed and said, “big brother!”  When we finally got to the hotel, it took him quite a few minutes to give us the fare as he was trying to take off the amount for our unnecessary ride to the other side of town. Cab fare here is so inexpensive; I gave him a decent tip, thanked him and got out.

Cara marched right to the elevator, pushed the button and flashed me a huge grin of absolute pride! Once inside, we again showed her which button to push to get to the right floor. This time however, she pushed the button we showed her, as well as four more! She was very pleased with herself. We stopped at 3 additional floors before reaching ours, which confused her as that had never happened before. Getting off the elevator, I immediately challenged her to a race to the room. It took her a minute to figure out what I was doing but then she finally ran with me to the room. She’d given me too much of a head start though, so I threw my hands up in the air when I reached the door, yelling “I win!!!” I know she didn’t understand, but she laughed and laughed and said to Ron while pointing to me “mama!”

As soon as we got inside, she wanted to look at all her new things. She and Ron got the puzzles out and put a couple together. It is fun to watch her find pieces that match. When she gets two together she calls out “Mama!” and holds them up for me to see. She played with her new pony for a while too, and then discovered the Barrel of Monkeys I brought for her. Ron got them out and showed her how to link them together, and then counted them as she linked them up. Before long she started counting in English with him.  I got the biggest kick out of hearing her cute little voice counting, One, two, flea, fo, five… She loved this and it was something they did for hours! By the end of the day she had one, two, flea, fo, seven!

While daddy took a nap, something I had hoped we’d all do (didn’t happen), she and I played with her new stacking cups. She was fascinated with them. We stacked them into a tower, then in colors, and then put them all inside one another. We started repeating colors with me, but I wasn’t pushing it. It was just a relaxing time.

I got to experience her sense of humor for the first time today! We showed her how to turn the lights off and on in the hotel with the two main switches, and also how to turn the bathroom light off and on. Like all children, she loves doing things by herself.  We have learned we have to be careful that we don’t treat her like a much younger child because of her size. She is so tiny it is easy to forget she is 6 years old.  While I was in the bathroom, she came and turned the light off on me, leaving me in the dark. I could hear her running over to the bed, giggling!  Now every time I am in the bathroom, doing my hair, brushing my teeth, or washing my hands, she comes and turns the light off and runs into the main room. I pretend to chase her and then when I catch her, I have to tickle her! It is a great game, just for the two of us. She never does this to Ron.

We had to eat in the hotel restaurant tonight because she really does not like to leave the hotel when it is dark. I’m not sure what that is all about, but she will willingly go for a walk or get into a cab during the day, but she is uncomfortable doing so at night. I suspect she didn’t go anywhere in the dark when she was at the orphanage, and this is uncomfortable for her. I ordered her a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that she loved, but she was incredibly impressed with the French fries. To say she loved the French fries is a huge understatement. She ate 3/4ths of her sandwich, polished off her fries, and had 2 scoops of ice cream for dessert. I ordered the same sandwich for me, and ate half, and maybe 10 fries. I asked the waitress to box the remainder of mine up, and when she brought the clear box to the table, Cara pushed her ice cream away and wanted the box. I pushed the box out of reach, and pushed her ice cream back. She ate almost all of it and then pointed to the box. I opened it up for her, and she handed me the rest of my sandwich and dove into the fries! She didn’t leave one behind!

We returned to the room, gave her a bath and got ready for bed. She enjoyed her bath much more because she had some toys to play with. I filled the tub up with more water for her too, so she didn’t get as cold. This is only her second bath, and I was pleased that she wasn’t as frightened as the first time.

Cara has been sleeping in the big bed with me, and Ron has graciously taken the twin bed they brought in for us. When I told her it was bedtime, she rolled over on her right side, sliding back so her fanny was touching me, and fell asleep. I was trying to catch up with the blog posts, but had to stop for a while and just listen to her breathe as she slept.



Yes, this is a pretty good sandwich!



But the fries are definitely better!


Making sure no one else eats her fries!

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Ice cream isn’t bad…


I ate almost all of it.

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But if there are fries available, they win over ice cream any day of the week!


I ate every single on in the box!



Yes, I did just push the elevator button and make it move!




Mama won the race to the room!!!