Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I cannot find the time to update this blog and our Facebook group.  So will those of you who want to continue to see updates (Arlene and Liz!!!) PLEASE sign up for Facebook and friend me.

Just think of all the connections you'll make with advertisers who now know what you like to buy!! 

Please!  I'm very verbal on Facebook. :)

Monday, April 28, 2014


Fun for today! Anelia is having a hard day but this morning let me hold her in my arms. Usually she pushes me away pretty quick and this time she just lay limp in my lap. JOY!! Second picture is Jericho without his two front teeth (he finally had the courage to yank!) Big brother Lucas walked with Anelia yesterday and it made me so prod to see a spark of connection. And the last picture is of me holding out my hands to Anelia and saying "come to Mama!" which I say A LOT - but this time she made some motion (just a twinge - but I'll take it) toward me!!

And then this afternoon was wonderful.  Marin (after crying for a while because I didn't have a set of keys for him) played imaginative play for a while outside.  Anyone who has adopted knows this is lacking in kids who grow up in orphanages.  I was so impressed!! I think because of our very rhythmic life our kids are feeling just a bit safe and maybe a twinge of secure.  We are VERY predictable with their lives.  AND we have very little stimulation and out of house time (at least right now).  After a sleepy morning with Anelia she spent the afternoon walking around and being helped up the ladder and down the slide - giggling on the down side.  She doesn't "want" to walk but I help her to go around and around.  That girl sat for too long!! Unfortunately she has textbook  pronation of her ankles (I thought she had funny feet) and we have to get her some Sure Step braces.  Then she will walk even better!  

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Marin is smart as a whip but he's totally illiterate. What would his future have been if we wouldn't have found each other? I shudder to think about it. He knows how to write to 100 and count them aloud but when I gave him the problem 29 + 1, he was stumped. He has no number sense poor kid, and a lace of confidence in his brain power. I've decided to take him back to the beginning and up his confidence in math, he will have enough struggles with English.
The first picture is of Jericho, Anelia, and Olive all sitting on one stair sucking their thumbs like Anelia. The next is Marin and Jericho with face paint- Marin a suave mustache and Jericho full face - face paint. You can see the budding nature of their friendship - Marin just isn't sure if Jericho is friend or foe. The next is Marin and his sweetie Olive, the are just sweet together, but you can almost see the "trauma" in Marin's eyes in this picture - I just don't know how else to describe it. As his mother I can see it.
The last is Anelia and Olive on the floor reading Braille - tactile books. I can finally give them to Anelia because for the first few days she chewed them. And she has big girl teeth!  My sweeties - oh how I LOVE them all! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day four

The days are all mixing together. Anelia didn't like the bath as much last night as the night before. Marin is having a hard time listening to Nate's limits. I believe Anelia understands and responds to "come to Mama!" 
These pictures are of Marin with the stethoscope (which he loves), Olive and Nellie lounging on our snuggle chair, Anelia and Olive sitting on the stools together.

Day three

again and again smiling and laughing. He loved it! For a child who NEVER learned to read or write Bulgarian (Yes - tis' true!) he worked on letter tracing sheets all morning and loved it. He traces perfectly and enjoys learning the letter sounds. He only had a few moments this morning where he struggled but I swept him into the "snuggle chair" and he whimpered for a bit (no tears) and then just relaxed. He loves to be held. After he is held he is so calm and plays for quite a bit (building with some cardboard things he got on the plane.) He can't wait to visit the park again and go in the car. He loves riding in the car! Even redirection (at this stage) is easy for him. He likes to take out a grapefruit, start eating it, and then have another fruit but I just tell him "you have to eat that first" and he at first looks at me as if to ascertain if I am really serious. "Neh Mama" he says but I just repeat what I said and he eats the rest of the grapefruit. He LOVES bananas and almost all fruit. He is really just a little love bug.
Nellie is still quite a mystery. She hasn't really giggled today but last night she actually played in the bath! She didn't want to get out - this after behavior in the hotel that made Nate believe the girl would never get washed! I can't wait to give her a nice long soak tonight. I tried something different with her today when she got upset. Usually when she has a "fit" (where she chews her hand, pulls her hair, moans, flaps around) I would just put her in a safe place and let her release but today I held her. I held her hand with the bad callous (from chewing) and held her on my lap while she released. At first she even hit me! But I kept holding and talking soothing love words to her and she just melted and relaxed and stayed on my lap after she was done. She hasn't chewed her hand again and seems much calmer. I'm not sure if I did the "right thing" but it felt right at the time. I'll just have to watch how the rest of the day goes.
What worries me about Nellie is when she sucks her thumb or rocks and goes very, very far away. It's scary to see how far she can "check out". After all that time being the "model" orphanage child (read:easy to ignore) I want my daughter here. I hope, with time, and lots of love, she will join us.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day one and two

I wish I could show you pictures of what I'm about to say but I haven't had the time to take any (gasp!!).  Yesterday was wonderful but hard.  Marin was on overload, dismantling the house and crying MAMA! every 3 minutes (which was nice for the first hour or so.....).  He couldn't let me out of his site which made it impossible for me to have a moment to process all these emotions running in my head and heart.  Anelia was exploring our toy area, playing the piano, and eating.  Yesterday was calm for her while today started with one of her "fits" (I don't like that word but it describes it) where she crews her hand and howls.  I noticed no tears flow and I'm starting to wonder about ear infections or pressure in her eyes and I can't wait for our doctors appointments in about a week.  She squirms her body when she howls like she is in pain and not just in frustration and as quickly as the fits start, they end just as quick.  A mystery for sure.
It saddens me as her mom that NO ONE helped her to speak or spend time walking.  She doesn't have a gait...a swish of one leg and than the other, she clop...clops along with her toes pointed out.  I had her walk with me around the yard and did some "trampoline therapy" with her.  I lightly bounced with her (to help stretch her legs) and then alternated my feet pushing on the elastic to help her do the same for hers.  Her legs are cold most of the time from being unused!  I've never felt cold thighs but hers are.  We gave her a bath last night and she sat rigid in the tub.  She seems to enjoy the warm water (and Olive's company) but couldn't relax her muscles.  She did giggle yesterday when she pulled herself up on the kid's table and "airplaned" her body.  She had fun at the piano and piling into the bed with her siblings.  Today she is rocking a lot which could also be the result of jet lag or that last night she was up for a while making her "sonic raspberries" as I call them.  I am enjoying getting to know her.
After Marin's very "hyper" type behavior yesterday today is much better but he does look spent.  He snuggled in bed with us last night and it cured his "pee" problem because he wasn't scared.  He spent time on Mama and Papa's lap this morning getting some holding time and just relaxed into it and it made ALL the difference.  He was calm after.  He helped me make a salad and hummus (he LOVES to cook!).  He is a huge helper and Nate took him to the dump and recycling center alone (he's been begging to go in the car) and he was so helpful!  He came home all smiles!  He likes to ask (in Bulgarian) "am I helpful Mama?" and when I say "yes" he bursts out with "Bravo Marin!!"  He loves to jump on the trampoline and needs lots of help with basic behavior.  How not to throw the dog ball at his sisters head, or the house for instance.  He is so very young in so many ways and that is fine with long as we remember it.   Later we are taking them to a local park, which is usually deserted (hopefully) and our small local library.  We still plan on sticking close to home but some small trips we might attempt (only when hubby is with me though!)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

For everyone NOT on Facebook. The pictures from the week.

Nellie is doing much better.  Doesn't scream when out of the room.  She was playing with Nate last night and giggling with Marin.

Marin is having a hard day today but it's to be expected.  They have been through so much.

Nate is BORED and can't wait to come home and clean something, let out a dog, cook something.  I don't blame him and we MISS HIM!!

As we say in this house - 5  MORE SLEEPS!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day one continued....

So we arrive at Nellie's place and the director comes outside, we shake hands, she meets Marin.

WE go in side and i forget the camera and go bakc and get it and I am nervous.  We go in and walk up to the top floor and Nellie is sitting on the floor in her Ernie jump suit and I snuggle her and Marin comes over and sits next to her.  Dani takes a photo or two and then gets a phone call.  Meelen (the boy with downs syndrome) comes over to me and wants to interact, I give him a hug and then one of the staff members redirects him.  Marin and I give the director the candies.  THen Marin and I go back to snuggling Nellie and then Dani says we have to go NOW because we are the last appointment of the day for the immigration people and have to do it now.  So we say "Ciao" and rush out with Dani asking questions of the director as we take the elevator down.  We jump in Dimo's car and Nellie is upset at first.  She is sitting on my lap and calms down.  We get to the immigration office and go in.  IT's 8 million degrees in there and there are 9 million people in it, many look like Syrians.  We go to a booth thing for a photo.  Marin goes first.  He is helped by another FNA woman (I forget who).  I and Dani and Nellie go outside so we don't bake. in 5 minutes Marin comes out for us.  We go in, Nellie sits on me to get the photo done.  It's not happening and the FNA woman has her sit on her since the photographer can give her info in Bulgarian rather than translating it too late to me.  Within 5 minutes the photos are done.  WE go outside, Dani tells me more photos are needed for the medical report, and those will happen Thursday.  We get in the car, Nellie is imploding, we get to the hotel (it is only a few blocks away) and Dani helps bring in the luggage and we collapse in the hotel room.  It has been a long day.
I am exhausted, we are hungry, we have water and olives and a cucumber.

 I feel frazzled.  The rest of that day is kind of a blur.  We had to go downstairs to go to the ProMarket for juice and Nellie imploded.  We had to go to the Restaurant for a menu and Nellie made it half way there without imploding.  We had to go back to order and Nellie made it to the basement (where I met another AAC mom).  In the end I got to learn about the foods the kids liked (goulash was good, so was white cheese and tomatoes - more complex dishes not so much).  Nellie went to bed after a wash up and teeth brushing about 8.  Marin was tired and went out about 8:30.  Now the second night it is 10 and NEllie is still awake.  Making raspberry noises.

Day one narrative.....excuse the typos... :)

So it was a boring ride out to Veliko Tarnovo the Sunday day before gotcha day.  Dimo was the driver (like last time) and Danislava was the attendant.  She had worked in Ptown 2 different summers and was from a town not far from Veliko so she knew the area.  Dimo remembered how to get to the Arena HOtel.  There was a soccer match that night and they were blaring horrible metal music (Queen, AC/DC, soemthing else like that).  It ended before we went to bed.  Before bed, at 7:30, Danislava and I discussed questions I had for the orphanage directors because we had so little time to get in, get Marin and get out and along to Sofia.  Questions were:  who were his friends, did either ever have visiitors (no), were they allergic to anything or on meds (no), what helped to calm him down if he was aggitated, what were their waking up and going to sleep schedules (6:30am and 9:30pm for Marin, for Nellie 6:30 and a nap from 12:30-3:30 and then sleep 8ish (she put herself to sleep).  NOne of that works for us so i am bring back their sleep times and also cutting out Nellie's nap.

So the next morning i got up at 6pm, we left at 7:15.  THe hotel packed up bag lunches.  I could eat the apple and 2 slices of meat and cheese.  Then when we were in the car, Marin was nauseous and I didn't want to eat around him so I didn't eat again until supper that night.  Adrenaline can do that for me.  So we had to drive about an hour to get there, and I remember the route from the bus trips and Dimo has been to the orphanage twice before so he knows where it is (I have to think once for Benjamin/Svetozar at least).  So we get there, I drag presents in, we go in the same door, the same director is running it and the same social worker. THere is another new woman I never saw.  THey start looking thru the donations because they want to generate a receipt and log it all in officially.  So the woman i havent' met heads that up and i sit in the director's office as before when I first met marin and the couch is still not at all supportive and we discuss the questions that i had and get the answers I listed above.  Then i am given records that FNA will take and have translated.

FInally, after waiting at least half an hour, they bring in Marin with little warning and I see him walking towards the office and I think, "WOw, he has grown like a foot" and his hair is thicker.  He comes up to me and we hug and I kiss his head and we embrace a little and I also notice he seems to be limpoing or favoring his left leg (I think) and we get ready to leave (like "snap, that' it") and we leave and I think he is favoring his left leg but it's that he's running (he runs to the gate where the car is) and he has his pack full of stuff on his back and it's making him shift hiw weight sideways.  So we get to the car and we get in and take off.

Marin does get car sick, after about an hour he starts turning green.  I have trash bags with me that I put inflated balls that got donated in so i have one open and ready for him.  We stop once at a gas station. Then we stop again at the side of the road just for him.  Eventually though he throws up in a bag and gets some on the front of his sweatshirt (Minutemen sweatshirt).  We're still an hour from Sofia at this point so we stop two more times once at a gas station and once at thje side of the road.  Dimo never complains about stopping because he smokes (and he has a little boy so he gets it).

We continue on to Sofia and Dani has told Marin we are going to Sofia first before taking a plane (samonet) to America.  So when we get into the outskirts of Soifia, Dani tells him it's SOfia.  HE says, "Where?"  and she says, "All of it".  So he is feelign better in the car and we have to head straight over to Nelliie's house.  Dimo has directions from the house director and we do find it, but it takes a bit (it is hard to find).  We are in a rush so we meet the director outside and Marin gets to meet her and she thinks he is handsome and will make a great brother.  We head on into Nellie's house........

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our gift registry

Many have asked about a gift registry or a meal drop off list. Nate and I threw together a gift registry on Amazon. Here is the link and thank you!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Coming HOME!!

I (Nate) will be traveling to Sofia,  Bulgaria April 5th and returning April 17th with the kiddos!!!!

Thanks to everyone for their support with this - it's been a long time coming and we couldn't be more excited to have them coming home!

Easter is going to be fun this year!! :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Puffy paint fun

*Moments* of time with puffy paint and free coloring sheets off the internet gives Nellie something to do in the hotel room.  Now if we could just get those dates to travel!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

We passed court!!

Two more faces to kiss, four more hands to hold.....

introducing Anelia Ann Prayer Schildbach and Marin Praise Schildbach!

We passed court!

Ours forever!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Listening to God and COURT DATE!!

God has had his hands all over this adoption right from the beginning.

Nate and I knew we were always called to adopt.  Everyone seems to have a similar story.  Then we watched Bulgaria's Abandoned Children and knew that we were wasting time.  Time that children spent in orphanages or aged out without ever having a family.

But we didn't have the money.

The day we were sure God was calling us was on a Saturday.  We were in Mass and it was a few weeks before Christmas. The priest laid out all the Giving Tree donations that had been made by members of the congregation.  In my head I did the math.  Those donations totaled over $15,000 and were gathered in a week.  God was telling me that people care.  We were all ears.

I started sending Nate pictures of children listed on Reece's Rainbow.  He was non-plussed.  They were cute but none were ours.

As I lay down that night to nurse Olive God spoke (yes he SPEAKS to me even if I'm a bit daft) "you will adopt a little girl older than Olive but younger than Jericho".  Ummmm.....Okay dokay God whatever you say......

The next day the first child listed on Reeces' Rainbow's new listed children site was our Nellie.  Nate had no reservations - "that's our girl!" was all he said.

Then again, when we had raised about $20,000 and I really wanted to fret about the last $10,000 we had to raise God wouldn't let me.  He would soothe my anxiety every time telling me that our grants that we had applied for would provide it.  "But God, if only you would listen to ME you would SEE that we need more money!!"  HA!  Two of the grants came in and we were almost fully funded.  (Except for those pesky post placement fees - we didn't gather donations for those!! Bad move.  Whoops!)

And then the court date.  Last Friday every last waiting family on our agency's Facebook group got their court dates.  But not us.  I fretted, I fumed, and he soothed me with a message - our court date would be March 4th.  Ummmm....okay..dokay.....

And today - TODAY we have our court date!!

March 4th.

The day Nellie and Marin will become our legal children.

When will I learn!

Listen up people - he is speaking!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Fundage

When Kim and I decided to go forward with this adoption, I really had no clue where $30,000 for it would come from.  We had fundraising ideas, and figured some people would help with what they could, but $30,000 is some serious cabbage.  A Mr. McGregor's garden-full of cabbage.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

 There were many adventures along the fundraising way.  There were online auctions, in person auctions, yard sales. Small donations, big donations, mind boggling donations. A few grant applications, fewer grants.  And many items sold on eBay and Amazon.

A street scene in Veliko Tarnovo

There were improv troupes , churches, and church cafes involved.  Friends, relatives, complete strangers, and acquaintances have all been a part of it.

This is on the end wall of Marin's orphanage.

That's not to say that the fundraising is done.  Not completely done that is.

Yellow Bricks of Sofia

However, I am pleased to announce that of the original $30,000 we set out to raise, $29,350.72 is already in (and most of it already spent).

I got to wear these slippers at Nellie's house - very butch.

I thought, and many people agreed, that adopting these two children and having faith that the money would somehow appear to make it all happen was crazy.

$30,000?  A bargain at twice the price!
But one look at these two kids and you know, you just know, that sometimes crazy is the only sane choice that you have.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Generosity on Top of Generosity

On the first trip to Bulgaria, I took many pairs of socks that people donated to give to the orphanage that Marin is in.  I was given this official document as a receipt and to show that I'd given them to the orphanage - or maybe to show that they'd received them - well, it says something anyway.

Official Bulgarian Document

The point is, many people were generous and the socks were well received and I'm sure the kids can use them.  Especially now in the winter.

Pretty sure this is from the Ministry of Very Important Grains

Already for the next trip a friend has bought SmartWool socks for the kids in the orphanage AND she has knitted and felted a hat for each child who is left in Marin's orphanage.  Each one.  She even searched online for an idea of what typical hats in Bulgaria look like and made her  hats to match.  That is a serious amount of work and a healthy dose of generosity - it's really above and beyond the call.

Yes, it has been snowing.........

There have been many cases of this crazy level of generosity during this whole effort to raise funds to adopt Nellie and Marin and work our way through the process of adoption.  The community around us (virtual and the "real for sure" one as Raggedy Ann would call it) has been very supportive and the generosity still amazes me.

While playing in the snow (Jericho, Olive & I were tracking Gaelan),
 Gaelan found where a squirrel had dug up its nut cache.
Close up of the nut cache - only one acorn was left  behind as evidence.
 When I began writing this post I was going to whine at this point about how the process in Bulgaria was stuck due to a technicality and some judges who keep putting on their grumpy pants day after day, but then another technicality just happened to happen in the Ministry of Justice and it all cleared up.

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions,  but I am happy to
note that the road to Amherst, Massachusetts is just paved with snow.
It has been like that this whole process - we wanted to do this, we thought we were nuts - other people thought we were nuts but supported  us - someone knits 30 some-odd hats - you can see a pattern forming.  So I just keep being grateful for friends and family who support us and strangers who support us and Bulgarian bureaucrats who make things happen to bring these kids home and even 12 degree weather and more snow.  After all it is all part of the there and back again of getting Nellie and Marin home.

I met this dwarf on his way to the Misty Mountains........

Monday, February 10, 2014

Things are MOVING!

Dossiers are going to the courts.... if ours is in the pile (why wouldn't it be?) we are now WAITING ON A COURT DATE!!

This is how we all feel here:

So the waiting continues but this is good waiting.  Waiting for the children to become legally ours.  Waiting to bring them home forever.  God is so good!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Olive Ann

She's pint sized and cute.  She loves to kiss, make art, and bake.  She can crack an egg and not get any shells in the mix.

She's our Olive Ann!

And yes, by the end, my brand new (made) gluten free playdough was in her mix.  As well as the puffy paint I made and the colored (GF) pasta.  Olive is a gambler with her art.  It's all or nothing.  :)

A very visual post to make up for the fact I HAVE NO NEWS!!!  There is a bit of a snafoo in Bulgaria - the Vice Minister of Justice signed all the dossiers (the paperwork) and the judges (who give us a court date and make the kids legally ours) don't like the change in protocol.  I've been told "they are working it out".  Let's hope that is a short process.  Please pray and pray and pray for us.  We are praying HARD here because we were hoping the kids would be home by March.  I want to hug and kiss them!!

Pray please and keep praying.  They have been waiting too long.