Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pick Up Trip: Last Days as a Family of Two

I started this post 3 weeks ago! And now, we have been home just over 6 weeks with our kids. If you count the 10 days we were with them in country, we have now been a family of 4 for seven weeks! I am doing a little catch up blogging as I have a chance. It is Saturday morning. Martin is still sleeping but Emi is awake!

Andrew and I flew out Saturday, May 16 from the USA to Bulgaria! 

Excited and ready to go!

Thanks to Andrew's parents for dropping us off at the airport!
 We flew to Toronto, had a short layover, then had our long, overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Our emotions were lots of excitement to see the kids after 7 months of being apart, along with some nervousness about parenting. Thank you to Andrew's brother Dan for the cards he wrote to both of us about becoming parents! We enjoyed reading them on the plan!

We had a 5 hour 5 minute layover in Frankfurt. I had researched ahead of time and was armed with a plan to leave the airport and see a little of Germany. We didn't know if we would ever have a chance to be in Getrmany again. This was our last chance for a great adventure before children were added to our family. We took the subway three stops from the airport to the central station in Frankfurt.

Outside Central Station in Frankfurt, Germany.
 We walked along the Main River in a beautiful park to the old town square in Frankfurt. The weather was perfect.

Main River and St. Bartholomew's Cathedral

Walking along the Main
 We walked through the old town square which had typical old German architecture and a statue & fountain of the goddess Justitia, representing justice. Many of them were destroyed in WWII and have been rebuild according to original plans/blueprints.

Old Town Square

Huge clock we walked under on our way to the church.
 Our goal in all this walking was to go to St. Bartholomaus Cathedral. When we arrived, a service had recently ended and the church was open. We entered and sat on the back pew and spent a few minutes praying for our growing family.

This beautiful cathedral survived WWII bombings.
Our view from inside on the back pew.
We then walked back to the subway station and rode three stops back to the airport. We made it through security in plenty of time, found our gate, and had time for a nap. Our next flight was from Germany to Bulgaria. When we arrived, our translator, Ivan was waiting for us with a smile and a hug and Dimo our driver was waiting at the car. We rode to our apartment, got settled in a little bit to our apartment, and went to bed.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Puzzles, Pictures, and Pajamas

Here are a few snapshots of the evenings in our home!

Martin - Pajamas and a Puzzle before Bed

Emilia in her Pajamas working a Puzzle just before Bed

Pajamas and Pictures:
Discovered the Chalkboard in the Basement just before
We all Went to Bed in the Basement

Bedtime - Oh all the things I could say.  This post is really more about documenting for myself what life is like now. So one day when I get around to scrapbooking our photos, I will be able to remember. But you, my blog reader are welcome to read my personal notes on our life now.

In Bulgaria during pickup trip it went pretty well. Martin and Emilia were sleeping on twin beds in the same room. We gave them bathes, read them a story or 2 or 3, and sat with them until they went to sleep, then crashed in our own bed in the other room. It was one of the best parts of the day. Both seemed to be sleeping through the night fine. Emilia would get up and go to the restroom in the night and go back to sleep on her own.

Then we came home to America. The kids had 2 separate rooms, across the hall from each other. We kept the same routine, taking turns, with who put whom to bed. And our son got up every night, multiple times a night. He was scared. One of us would get up, go upstairs, and put him back to bed and stay with him until he fell asleep again. Then try to quietly go back down stairs. Sometimes he would wake up when we tried to leave or shortly there after and we would have to get him to sleep again. We could tell that he was afraid and trying to stay awake. I would call it hyper-vigilance.

All these trips up and down the stairs (combined with our jet lag) lead to Andrew and I being exhausted. So Andrew and I moved the futon mattress of the futon and into his room. Then when he woke in the night we didn't even have to get out of bed. We could just tell Martin to lay back down, momma and daddy were here. Most nights that worked. There were a few times were he seemed greatly afraid and would still fight sleep and it would take us longer to get him back to sleep. (Later, we had a translator come to our home and he told the translator that the older kids in the orphanage beat him up at night. No wonder Martin is sometimes terrified at night!)

But Emilia was jealous. She wanted us to either go back down stairs or to sleep in her room. I did sleep occasionally on the floor in her room on the seat cushions off our couch. We began having some behavior problems with her in the day.  She was not attaching to us. We decided that Emilia's need to feel loved and to attach to us was just as important as Martin's need to feel safe at night. (Emphasis on feeling safe and loved. As parents, we cognitively know that we love them both and that they are safe. But their being loved and safe has to be felt by them!)

On July 4th, we stopped in at Walmart (well I went in, Andrew sat with the kids in the car) and bought 2 twin air mattresses and an eggshell topper for the futon. We moved the futon mattress back down to the futon in the basement. Our entire family now sleeps in the basement. Andrew and I sleep on the futon (which is now much more comfortable thanks to the eggshell topper.). Emilia and Martin sleep on either side of us on an air mattress.

I am not crazy about this sleeping arrangement. Sometimes the kids goof off and make each other laugh when we are trying to get them to sleep. When they were in separate rooms they did not do this. I miss my comfortable bed. I almost never have alone time with Andrew since even at night we are with our kids. But for now, this is what is best for the kids and our family. It will not be forever. It could be 6 months or a year, but not forever. Eventually our kids will be attached to us and feel safe in our home. I doubt they will want to sleep in the same room with us when they are 14 or 15. (What teenager wants to sleep with their parents?)

We have done this for 6 nights now. Emilia is already showing huge improvements in behavior and has started returning my affection. (For several weeks she had been ignoring my affection.) On Wednesday, when I kissed her good night she kissed me in return! (For several weeks now my affection has been ignored!) Last night, I was stroking her hair as she went to sleep and she reached out and stroked my hair in return!

Bedtime isn't easy. Due to attending an adoption reunion 2 weekends ago and being up late every night, and to staying up late for fireworks on July 4, the kids are going to sleep a little later. Also, it is hard to get them to bed on time because they haven't seen Andrew all day. When Andrew comes home from work, we eat supper, then the kids want to play with him. Emilia wants the whole family to play hide and seek. Martin wants to go to the park and bat soft balls and also play cars with Andrew. We set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes of hide and seek and we must leave the park by 7pm. Then they both take a turn in the bath and have a bedtime snack and story and we go to bed. We are getting better at getting them to bed on time! In Bulgaria, it didn't matter if they got to bed late because Andrew didn't have to get up and go to work early in the morning. But here, if they go to bed late, that means we all go to bed late and Andrew doesn't get enough sleep!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy 1st July 4th to 2 New American Citizens!

Hi blog readers. We have been home from Bulgaria with Martin and Emilia for about 5 weeks now. It has been a big transition for our family and I have not had time to blog! I did want to share a few pictures from our kids first July 4th (or "Happy Birthday to America" as we explained it to them!)

I invited our family over to our friend Craig's and Vivaine's house for 4th of July. (Because I am learning that I have to ask for help during this transition! I can't do it without Jesus and the support of family and friends!) We went to brunch and had blueberry pancakes at Craig's and Viviane's, who have been giving us wonderful support through this post adoption adjustment for our family. Craig watched all 5 kids (our 2 and there 3) while Vivane listen to me cry about some of the hard parts of adoption and gave me wise advice from her own years of parenting 3 children through adoption. Thank you so much Craig and Viviane! We left your house feeling refreshed and encouraged!

Last night, our little family of 4 went to a local park for a fireworks show! The kids LOVED it! I enjoyed having a happy family time together and getting to snuggle with Andrew and watch the fireworks with him and Martin and Emilia. (Couple time has gone down since adding kids and we try to catch a few minutes to be together whenever we can!)

LOVE our family!
Martin and Emilia enjoyed some sparklers while waiting for the fireworks to begin!

The fireworks were beautiful and lasted for about 30 minutes. I loved that patriotic music played while we watched the show. Every time there was short few second pause between fireworks going of, "Martin would ask me "All done?" Emilia said "Boom-cho-co-la-ta!" Then came the grand finally! Oh how they loved it! On the way back to the car Martin was saying "Happy Birthday to you, America!" and "I love you, America" and explaining to me "boom, boom, boom, 20, 21" (the grand finally, and counting to show that there was a lot of fireworks all at once!