Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"keka noscht"

Okay, so it's supposed to be "leka noscht" - good night. But when it's said with a very little boy high nasal voice, well it does things to you. IT is SUPER sweet! and at the same time, there is an element of sadness in it. He has never slept in a room alone. There were at least 15 other beds in his orphanage room. So, if it's too dark or he can't tell your still with him, well, it'd probably be better to be having the worst nightmare you've ever had. And, of course, we have these great floors, that creak at every little twitch. But back to the boy...

So, if either of us get up non-quietly-enough, there are two possibilities: 1) he follows us in about 90 seconds, looking soooooo pitiful, or 2) he makes this low but truly horrible moan that grows into a cry (see previous post). As Barry lay with him tonight, he rolled until his forehead was nestled into the curve of Barry's nose. And he fell asleep there.

Until us, he has likely never slept with another person in his bed - someone to keep him safe, someone to help him sleep more deeply and restfully, someone to just plain snuggle him, hold his little hand, cover his little foot that so often sticks out from under the covers, stroke his hair, coo to him, kiss him on the forehead after he has fallen asleep.

Little wonder he and his little friends are neurologically delayed - esp. compared to kids who get the above attention. Yipes!

More pictures...

Same place...

Monday, August 30, 2010

So... the pics!!!!

Not here!

And these are just some. We've leave the rest to your eyes except that Donna got an Obicham te tonight! Barry is quite jealous! The first heard I love you for the new boy!!!

Another awesome day!!

A few downs with the ups, but he is sooooooo good! A little testy with us when we are not being entirely firm - we've learned not to expect him to be completely okay with "suburban parent" tone - he is accustomed to tone of a rather more emphatic sort, okay stern and ready to spank tone! He remains a bit intimidated by older women on the street.

It's official: he's AMAZING!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We really aren't teasing

We are being consistently blocked from sharing pictures at nearly every turn. REALLY!
The list:
We had wifi when we were at the Danube- but no Nikolas pictures.
Once back in Sofia, we don't have wifi but have internet via hardwire and a computer in the apartment, but our laptop's port doesn't work??!!??
And the computer here has a CD drive, but it won't open??!!??
The computer also can't seem to handle transferring files from our SD card to its ample hard drives (too little ram)??!!??

So... we will find a hotspot and upload at least a few, at least from Barry's phone (wifi only). We may price a wireless router and leave it here... we'll see...

As a MAJOR bonus, we received two unimagined bonuses from the orphanage: 1) a small album of baby pictures, we think from the previous orphanage, many with a date or age and 2) a CD of pictures from the orphanage from his past 9 months, including pictures from his birthday party. He got to keep his gift from the orphanage (an automobile transport truck with 4 cars). And a couple of the pictures were of him looking and pointing at a picture we sent him with his birthday card. And yes, we cried at that one!

He gets SOOOO excited when he sees pictures of himself. A picture of the three of us from our last trip is easily his most touched "toy".

So this may feel like an extra teaser, but it's just the way things are :(

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 3 - the day the shell really cracked

The day begins at 4am, with a very thrashy scratchy boy - but he stays asleep, though Barry can't. Nikolas sleep crawls into the headboard and collapses between pillows and stays active enough that Barry lost about an hour before getting a melatonin. This stuff is divine!!! And everyone is up at 8am to find Nikolas asking for help cleaning up from his second aka. Did we mention he had his first yesterday? It's great when biological function makes your day.

The day got a bunch better - we went to a park nearby, for a lunch of hot dog, burger and ice cream. Better than most of that - there was major construction on the road, and below it right next to the park - excavators, bulldozer, bobcats, cranes, etc. For a someone who had never seen such things, he acted like a regular fascinated boy. And we say "most" because the icecream was AWESOME! Perhaps top 3 of all time - weighed by the gram, including waffle cone - very fair way to go. 5 lev for 2 waffle cones with two scoops and a single scoop dish. Nikolas did think he got ripped off until he tried it! Then there was little else but to eat! Until he dropped it on the ground, upside down of course! Mommy & Daddy didn't need all of theirs anyway...
There were some Roma looking children who fascinated Nikolas too. They had many signs of street children, from their poorly fitting and dirty clothing to bathing in a fountain, to drinking beer (maybe 12 years old) and smoking. Very sobering...
We found a part of the park with childrens' play equipment - most of it better to look at than to play on - in the shapes of giraffe, lion, elephants, etc. Great for a little climber we know - Maya, get your Mommy to bring you! They did have an oldish but nearly western version of playground equipment - two slides, two swings, two towers with a balance beam and monkey bars between them. Nikolas managed several minutes on the swings before wanting to point at something and nearly falling off. He has developed a very strong desire to jump off things, so we spent the rest of the time there climbing and jumping. By this time, it was past time for nap. It really is amazing how much slower he can walk when he's tired but still won't admit to it when we ask.

Donna was able to leave the room while he was awake and he didn't cry and fell asleep quickly. Incredibly quick progress!

Throughout the day, Nikolas has been very VERY talkative - almost entirely in Bulgarian, and most of it words we don't know. He still wants to call Donna "Gaga" - big sister, a confusion from pictures maybe? and Barry was called Tatko - Father several times. But just increased vocalization is a HUGE step for him. We left for some walking and exploring for dinner options and Nikolas would not walk any further on a path we have walked before. He wanted to turn and go past where some workers were working on the exterior of the apartment building. We eventually had to pick him up and carry him. Once past an elderly lady talking with an elderly couple on the 2nd floor balcony, he was fine. On the same walk, we were coming back from a deadend and he climbed up on some steps outside a store that was closed and refused to come down. Donna alertly thought of asking about bathroom needs, but he didn't respond so Barry went to get him and Nikolas pointed into the store and there beyond the plate glass front, halfway through the store was a shiny pretty white toilet on display! Needless to say, off we went!

Dinner went well - with Nikolas eating about half an order of fried cheese with yogurt dill dip. It was pretty fantastic! He didn't do badly with mushrooms stuffed with yummy ham (halfway to prosciutto) and covered in cheese. His least favorite was the main course of what could have passed for a fajita plate in the US, but with only chicken, more tomato, and no heat, but super yummy spices. So he and Tam will likely have their own meals with dark meat chicken and pork while Mommy & Daddy have something slightly less caloric.

After dinner, we returned to a closer and smaller supermarket, with a great, and we mean GREAT produce section. So well display that Nikolas was talking about it from a block away, and urgently too! We got a bunch of bananas and a couple nectarines. He chowed on a banana and some milk before bed. Another day ends with a tummy so tight, well, it might make you nervous...

During the afternoon, we talked with family without video and that was good. During part of it, Daddy & Nikolas played pass the soccer ball in the front hallway. When Nikolas tired of this, he took his ball and closed Daddy out of the living room, while Daddy gave him his saddest face. In a minute, he reopened the door and came looking and calling for Daddy. Daddy made it easy for him several times and each time it ended with Nikolas finding Daddy and running over for a hug and a lift up. And each time, he closed Daddy off again. Daddy finally hid too well and Nikolas gave up even with hints. But the stage was set for... wait for it ...

Mommy picked up Nikolas, eager to get in on the hug action, Daddy hugged both of them, and Mommy announced "Family Hug!" This was met with a look of bewilderment, of course. So Mommy & Daddy kissed. This prompted a LOT of interest! Nikolas then wanted to kiss, and has since, though only by following the same routine. We're still working on the "give me a kiss" request.

At Leka Noscht(night night) time, Nikolas enjoyed his teeth brushing and got a little worried looking when Daddy walked in the room and he still didn't have a pull-up on. Mommy arrived with it and he happily climbed into bed. YAY! After our singing routine, we tried leaving again, but Nikolas wasn't having it. So Mommy worked her magic again and again he saw her leave without complaint. And he gave both of us and his monkey stuffed animal kisses.

What a great day!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 2 - and it's been good too!

A lot of thrashing and some laying across the bed issues that mostly bothered Donna. So Barry got up with him at 5:45am! Bill of goods, friggin' lied to!!! And Donna got to sleep again until 9am. During which time the boys learned that(not in chronological order):
  • Nikolas loves to crash toy cars into each other, (bring it Tam!!)
  • Nikolas likes to look out windows until he realizes that we are 6 floors up and there's no screen,
  • cars and birds and trees and mountains and a beautiful moon make even open windows worth staring out
  • the morning in Bulgaria this time of year is quite cool - 60 or less,
  • water is really yummy early in the morning(many, many hmmmmms!) ,
  • tickles really are good for both the receiver and the giver,
  • Mommy should get a better night's sleep - boys miss her in the morning!
  • yogurt, even completely plain, is also really tasty as are Kashi, warm cinnamon flavor
  • when car crashing gets too exciting and graduates to car throwing and Daddy says "ne" and one of the boys moves on to book throwing accompanied by a defiant look, well, then we have: our first meltdown
As first meltdowns go, this wasn't all that bad - it came with stomping, smacking a coffee table with a couple hands, and some crying, but compared to some of Tam's, this was pretty tame - it came to an end when Daddy hugged Nikolas on his lap and wouldn't let go. He became relaxed enough that he almost fell asleep. And then we got to wake up Mommy!

Nikolas got to take his first bath - reluctantly at first. There were new toys and not so much water, but with some coaxing, he began to enjoy the water esp the splashing and the toys. Alex (brand name) makes a pretty cool little roadway set, including a floating placemat with a hole in it for a boat, and several cars and a plane. After one cleaning with Burt's Bees and a rubdown from Mommy in Burt's Bees lotion, his skin is remarkably better - a long way to go, but WOW!

After a snack, we headed off to the passport office (they do other things as well). Much mess, with multiple roads closed for construction, and a longish walk, we arrive to a mini-lobby that is only medium full with people in oddly organized lines, almost all of which snake off from their destination at an angle. There were a LOT of questions from newbies about which line someone was in, what that line was for, etc. After the first line, Nikolas charmed a security guard into using the bathroom - only for employees... Again, Mr. Trooper hung in there - tired and getting hungry again! - either standing and holding one of our hands or being hugged tightly to us. BTW, Tam knows how to be held - it's a natural thing for him. Not so for Nikolas, much practice for you buddy! - if only Mommy & Daddy's backs could handle it :( He just doesn't adjust his weight and wrap his legs around you to help... After two more lines, we arrive at the picture taking area - nope sitting on the stool is too short, standing is too tall, kneeling it is! and Daddy had to get out of the way. The smart people there had a teddybear to help with attention. It should be a pretty awesome picture, based on the image we saw! and off to home, a quick lunch accompanied by some moans (modified mmmms??) and some crying when we took him into the bedroom. But, we let him cry it out, and he got Mommy to join in. Definitely some grieving going on - but Mommy has the touch. Daddy got to escape to write most of this and put up an extra sheet on top of the curtains, to help make it easier for Mommy to sleep.

Somewhere in this day, Nikolas convinced Mommy that jumping off the armrest of the couch was a GREAT idea. REALLY??!!?? So, in comes Daddy to make things all better. Not so, it turns out. Mommy only brought the danger of leather sofa (flat, large armrest) and four hands firmly clenched together. Daddy takes the hands a couple times and then "tricks" Nikolas into reaching for his hands, just a bit too far away - and ... and... he "jumps"! Yes, in quotation marks! This is perhaps the most awkward jump in human history. Perhaps. It's more of a barely flex the knees, then don't use those muscles AT ALL, yielding something that looks more like a forward flop/fall with arms outstretched, with little to no shoulder strength, so when Daddy' hands come up under his armpits, his arms go straight up in the air and his feet hit the ground, though slightly less hard than if he'd pulled this maneuver solo. No promises that his feet would have been first in his solo version! Repeat about 20 times, with little to no change in grace, though a little more muscle activity. Nothing at all like Tam's infamous leaps from 6-7 steps up the stairs into Daddy's arms, looking like a flying squirrel or other gliding creature.

After nap time, we went shopping for essentials: TP, napkins, tissues, milk, yogurt, cheese, salami (have we mentioned the 12-16 feet of refrigerated dried or cured meats?), eggs, bananas (he took a bite out of one through the skin! - the boy REALLY likes the fruit!), 3lbs of apples, orange juice, beer, a Snickers (who wanted that, we wonder?). We went to dinner first and found an Italian restaurant that pretty well rocked (spicy olive pesto, sundried tomato and parmesan cheese pasta for Donna and grilled chicken over salad with thick chips (English) YUM!) and broke through a major barrier for Nikolas. We ordered a "baby" order of chicken risotto - yummy enough, a little hot when it came out, and he began munching away. Part way through Barry offered a piece of potato and a piece of my chicken. Shortly after that, the risotto lost its luster and he sat staring at it. He would eat it if Barry fed it to him, or if it was only his own chicken, but he actually decided not to eat! Well, perhaps it was a bit bland, but still, could the spoilage be working so soon? Or was it that we just kept him on schedule? And he would still eat the potato. And then the coup de grace: the surprise (included in the meal) - a chocolate egg with a surprise inside. Good Lord! Not sure there's a better treat - turned out to be a red kangaroo inside an inner plastic egg.

We walked the whole way to the mall/grocery and back - at least 20 minutes - a real trooper, again! though definitely slower on the way back. There was one of the many stray dogs, walking in and drinking from a stream we past over. This was close to his limit of "Do I have to follow you two, or can I safely stay here?" We think he'll be in heaven with two of his own beasts to play with. We found that the shorts we brought are all too big - so we found some 6-12 month ones at the mall - didn't we just get rid of some of these??!!?? But these actually have working pull string waists. What a concept! And so much for all the long pants too - perhaps the sweats will be useful in the a.m. or on the way home.

And for those who will follow us here, bring: anti-itch cream, moisturizer, bath toys, traveling TP and wipes, tissues, (we've been lucky about not needing a nightlight, but we haven't found one here yet and adapting ones from the states are next to impossible, so maybe online?) There's more, but we'll have to post more later.

Day 1 is over and it was good!

  • Day 1 starts with us waking up in a very nice hotel in Silistra, Bulgaria right across the Danube from Romania. None of that matters - all that really matters is that we get to drive a miniscule 35-40 minutes to Nikolas. We did start out with a bit of an issue getting lev in exchange for dollars - the 1st bank didn't offer that service and it seemed a bit odd for the 2nd, but we came away with enough for most of the rest of the trip - provided the shopping doesn't get out of hand!

We had a yummy and rather large breakfast - apparently unusual-ish here - coffee and pastry being the staple. At about 11am, off we went - we picked up the director of the orphanage on the way. We suspect that she came back from vacation for one day or ended it to be there for us and Nikolas. She was quite excited :)

When we got to the orphanage there was a large group of children ~20 in the front play area. As we walked up, and almost past them, one with really short hair, and skinny and tall(ish!) turned around to see who it was. (He looks like he's lost weight, though he's taller, so he may just have remained at the same weight and is proportionally skinnier) Lots of other kids were already making quite a lot of noise. Even with a couple calls of "Medko" from us, there was no moment of recognition or craziness, just a gradual walk down the bench he'd been sitting on until he reached us. He was smiling by the end of the bench, but not beaming. He was very happy to walk into the orphanage and the director's office with us, maybe most happy to walk away from all the other children. He immediately wanted the gift bag that we'd brought for the director, staff and some toothbrushes we'd forgotten to bring the 1st trip. He took the "ne" pretty well and settled onto Barry's lap while the paperwork began. He accepted all kinds of snuggles without protest and gradually warmed up to us. At one point, a special dessert - some variety of custard layer cake - in 4 pieces arrived. Nikolas hadn't yet had lunch and this was super yummy by our standards, so... Only one was left - we weren't sure if the director was supposed to have one or Nikolas, and since he hadn't had lunch, we erred on the side of the director. We got to ask questions - particularly about schedule and any known allergies, etc. Up at 8am (YAY!!!), breakfast at 9, lunch at noon, nap from 1p-3p, snack, and dinner at 7p, and asleep at 10p (NOT YAY!!!) and no allergies. Nikolas wanted to go down the hall to the room we had played in for most of the time we visited him in April, but instead we went upstairs, changed into clothes that we brought, peed one last time in the orphanage and started saying goodbye. Really hard, actually. The main entrance has a walkway bordered by partial fences and one of them was still holding back a seeming sea of little hands and bodies. There was a lot of chaos being restrained :( Nikolas was a point of stillness through all of it - he'd wanted to go straight out of the gate, but the director and a couple of the staff wanted a last picture or two with him, so we waited while the "chao"s and "Mete"(his even more diminutive name) got louder and louder. A couple of kids leaned over, grabbed his hand, grabbed his head and kissed him, and a bunch more just reached for him. One girl was very distraught - just heart wrenching, and a boy away from the main crowd began to breakdown so we tried to move on. We took a couple pictures of the last gate - not for this post, but soon - and several videos, more for the audio...

Nikolas was and remains a SERIOUS trooper! We got on the road at about 1p, and every car or truck was a "kuako" (not really a word, but his version of kola=car). So much so that Barry took the headrest off the unused front seat so he could have better view. Abut an hour later, and a really large number of kuakos, he dropped off to sleep on Barry's lap, while staring at Donna as she pretended to fall asleep. Unfortunately, we needed gas and stopped about 15 minutes later. After another 45 minutes of driving, we came across the same roadside restaurant we'd eaten at in April and stopped. Nikolas sat soooo patiently while other patrons were served, and the smells... Like we said, a trooper! And it turns out, he loves cucumbers and tomatoes are okay (eatable, though definitely 2nd to cucumber). Better yet is Tarator soup - cucumber, onion, dill and yogurt - and we agree. It actually overcame Donna's resistance to cucumbers and re-introduced her to dill. He also went to town on a couple of good sized open face sandwiches(cheese and salami), a very few french fries, and an entire pork meatball. We actually had to cut him off, as he was approaching haven eaten as much as Barry. Surely, you think, he'll fall back asleep with such a full belly. Not so! And so began the test of his resolve, his will to endure the back seat of the car. He really was goood. But at 4, and having not had any playtime since 11:30a, his discomfort level rose and rose, to the point that we were pretty well convinced he just wasn't willing to admit that he had to poopoo (a.k.a. aka, really, that's how you say it!) As it turned out he didn't have to go, and still hasn't as of 4p our time the next day - so we may soon induce with a glycerin injector - we wish we had with Tam! But he desperately needed to stretch his legs and walk and run. (we had even massaged his legs some - they were sensitive and ticklish - to no avail) Only 2 hours left - this is long and you're only reading!!!! - mostly highway and inside Sofia driving. He napped again, though briefly and this time Mommy got the honor of holding him, and we made it to the apartment without further incident. Off to dinner again - this time we knew the place, though all their outside seating was taken - it was a very nice night. The inside was smoke free when we returned from scouting for other options, so we sat and ordered a pizza, more soup, and Zagorka - all yummy. Nikolas and Daddy took turns with one soup spoon, Nikolas on Daddy's lap, and both with a hand on the spoon - super cute, and pretty remarkable for a boy so food focused. The pizza came out scorching hot, but delicious and about $5(converted) One of the waiters mentioned to one of the other patrons that we were American, and he came over - his name was Nick or Nik - and lives in New Jersey, though he was in Bulgaria for several months for business and invited us downstairs to meet some of his friends who were watching a European league soccer match. After we finished, we went but the SMOKE - no need to light up! and we took off for cleaner air, having said hi.
The first bed time was uneventful until we left the room - perhaps our singing had lulled him a bit, just enough to let us get out of the room. Then cry #1 - pretty low and short - enough so for us to believe that he might calm back down. Then a pause - perhaps enough time for us to get back into sight? - and then cry #2 that had us leaping out of our skin as we rounded the corner to his room. He was throwing back the covers with a look of horror on his face - all lit up by a regular light in the room. BTW electricity 220W-110 with a European plug adapters don't work well because of the outlet itself is recessed into the wall, so no nightlight. So! Mommy sang to him some more(3-5minutes) until he fell asleep at about 9:45. YAY!!! Read on if you dare!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy 4th!!

Happy Birthday Nikolas!!!

We miss you!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Official dates!!

We're really going and it's as official as paying for tickets can make it! We leave on August 24th and return on Sept 3rd. We had wanted a little extra time in Bulgaria for sight seeing, buying gifts, etc. So it works out well.
It can't come soon enough, and there is so much to do!
Tam gets to stay with Nana and the puppies while we're gone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Travel dates!

We have them...

If all goes well we should be leaving on Aug.26 and coming back on Sept. 4!!!
Nikolas's orphanage is about 7 hours from Sofia so it might take us a little longer to get everything done.
Not long now Nikolas!!