A video about our family

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Observations of Bulgaria

There are some things that I have noticed about Bulgaria since we have arrived. I want to jot down some observations here. 

1. Bulgarians shake their head "yes" and nod their head "no." This has caused for me to frequently think the opposite of what other people are saying. I, myself, have tried to stop nodding and shaking my head during conversations, as I realize that I am likely confusing everyone else around us. 

2. Head bobbing. I am a fan of Bollywood movies. In India, the people frequently bob their head from side-to-side when communicating with each other. Bulgarians also bob their head from side-to-side. I have asked Maggie about it and she doesn't seem to be aware of it, really. It must just be an unconscious reaction. Tyler and I are practicing our head bobbing everyday. Ha ha. 

3. The language. Bulgarian seems to have integrated several words from foreign languages into its own. Some examples are: Bravo (Italian), Merci (French), Luna (Spanish), biblioteca (Spanish), Bon appetit (French), Ciao (Italian or Spanish "Chao"), Opa (Greek?), bon-bons (French), etc. 

4. The people. I know that there must be unfriendly people in Bulgaria, but I haven't met any here. Everyone seems to be so kind to each other. I love that.   Addendum: I have seen one person yell at a driver in Dobrich. 

5. The pace of life. It is nice and relaxed. People are focused on relationships. I often see neighbors outside talking with each other. I see men working together to help shovel driveways. Addendum: I saw this mainly in the village Lesichovo. 

6. The weather. I absolutely love the winter wonderland here. It has snowed almost every day since we arrived. The snow is very thick on everything. It is like a beautiful postcard wherever I look. I am eager to see how it will look when we come back for trip #2!

7. Haircuts. The men here seem to love very short haircuts. I see it everywhere. They look like soldiers!

8. Bathrooms. Many toilets have two buttons to push. One small button for #1 and one larger button for #2. The toilet paper is also scented with lavender - quite a strong scent, also! And there are trash cans next to the toilet where you are supposed to put the soiled toilet paper versus throwing it in the toilet to flush. 

9. Milk. Since I do not drink tea or coffee, I ask for milk to drink. They do not give me cold milk, but hot milk. I'm not used to it, yet. 

10. Popular fruit. Bananas are a big hit with the children in Bulgaria. The reason for this seems to be that they expire much faster than apples or oranges, so the orphanages do not provide them. This seems funny to me because they are quite inexpensive in the USA. 

11. Say Cabbage! That's the phrase you say before taking pictures in Bulgaria. 

12. Marble and wood. Marble is everywhere here in Bulgaria. It is cheaper than wood, which is strange! But the traditional style in Bulgaria is to work with wood. As such, I have seen beautiful woodworking in various buildings, especially in our lodgings. 

13. Pedestrians. In the states, it is illegal to not let pedestrians pass before you when you are driving. Here in Bulgaria, people rarely stop for them. So when we instinctively stop to allow them to pass, the pedestrians are confused. 

14. Music. The music here sounds like a combination of many cultures. They play the accordion and also the bagpipes. Many of the songs sound Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Russian. 

15. Dairy products. Bulgarian yogurt is quite different from yogurt in the states. It is rich and creamy and delicious. There are so many kinds of cheese in Bulgaria. My favorite kind is yellow cheese. The milk is so tasty. And the ice cream is good, too. I could move here for the dairy products, alone. 

16. Salads. Fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere here. Every menu that I have seen has several salad choices. Tyler has tried the shopska and the shepherd's salads and he likes them both. The shopska salad includes cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, peppers, topped with cow's milk cheese (similar to feta). Then you drizzle vinegar and olive oil over the top and salt. We plan to make this salad a new staple in our family. 

17. Gas stations. They have attendants that pump the gas for you. When it is 0 degrees, this is extra nice!

18. Stoplights. The stoplights here have number countdowns for when the lights will turn green. It's a nice visual when driving here. 

19. Dogs. There are many street dogs here. Most of them are big dogs and they look like they have good souls. 

20. Music videos. Just about every restaurant (and some hotels) have TV's on with music videos playing. Many of these videos are in English, and so many of them are highly sexual in nature. It is hard to avoid seeing things that I would never wish to see. It's a daily frustration. 

21. Showers. Most of the places we have stayed have had bathrooms that are a shower. No curtain rod or bathtub, just a drain in the center of the bathroom and a shower head on the wall. Bizarre!

22. Keyed entry. All but one of our hotels have actual keys to open the rooms. 

23. Memorials. I have seen pieces of paper with a face on them, posted on trees or outside buildings. Maggie says they are memorials of people who has passed away. I am thinking it helps people to remember their loved ones who have passed on. 

24. Spring water. I have seen a few spickets around the country. It taps into fresh spring water and people drive over with their empty water jugs to fill them up. It is thought that the water is especially healthy. I'm not going to chance it with any local water. 

25. Horses. Some people still use horses to get around town. These people are mostly of Roma descent. I saw 
more of them in rural areas of Bulgaria. 

26. Dilapidation. Many homes and factories are dilapidated. It is sad that whatever project or company that began had to close. Maggie says that many Bulgarians are choosing to move away from Bulgaria. Perhaps this is why?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Saying goodbye to Miroslav

Tyler and I woke up early to pack up before breakfast with Maggie. We drove over to the orphanage and Miroslav was outside to greet us before we could walk inside. He had a big smile on his face. 

We went inside the conference room and Maggie asked the big question: Do you want to be adopted? As we had been hoping, he said "Yes!" We were very excited to hear that he will soon be joining our family. 

We next discussed what name he wanted for himself. To our surprise, he doesn't want to keep the name "Miroslav," but opted for Michael Julian Pierce. He said he really likes the name Julian, and we like it, also. We also told him that there are nicknames for Michael, and he liked "Mick" the most. For now we are calling him Michael. 

Next he gave us two gifts:

 
The one on the left makes music when it you fill it up with water and blow into it. The one one the right is an elephant. Aren't they neat? We love them. 

We got his measurements for clothing and then drove over to the photo studio to get visa photos and a family photo taken. 

We had an hour-long wait for the photos, so of course we took Michael for some chocolate cake at the bakery! After we picked up the photos, we drove back to the orphanage and said goodbye to the director. Then we went outside and hugged Michael goodbye. We gave him a letter from each of us, that Maggie translated into Bulgarian. It was hard to say goodbye, but we hope to be back very soon!

 
Interesting way to dry hands. 

 
Baklava from the bakery. 

 
Fried yellow cheese. 

 
Pizza with yellow cheese. 

 
It seems that every backyard has a vineyard up on a trellis. 

 
Hotels on the Black Sea. 

 
Our hotel room tonight. 

 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day 3 with Miroslav

 
The clock tower in старя Добрич. 

 
A boy from Miroslav's orphanage gave this to Tyler today. It was so sweet. So many children here who need families. It is hard on them to see us coming to visit Miroslav when they so desperately want it to be their turn. 

Today was a good day! It started off with the social worker telling us that Miroslav told her that he was 99% certain that he wanted to be adopted by our family. That's the best news I have heard today, for certain! We played games, had target practice with the light switch, and talked about his new name. 

 
French comedy. Interesting cover art. 

Next we went to eat lunch at the restaurant by our hotel. Miroslav said it was his favorite of the three restaurants that we have visited. 

 
Pitka bread that we had for lunch. It was awesome!

 
Spices that you sprinkle on the bread. 

 
Patatnik. We didn't think there was another way to prepare potatoes, but this is a new one! Potatoes that are baked, grated, and then pan-fried in puff pastry. 

 
All the chicken nuggets look like this. They are tasty!

After we ate lunch, we said that we had a surprise for him. The waitress brought out a chocolate cake - that we had purchased for him - with candles on and we sang Happy Birthday to him for all of the birthdays that we have missed. Next we gave him some balloons and an MP3 player with English music on it. He loved it all and was very appreciative. He said "Thank you" many times. 

We went to a target shooting range and shot some pellet guns. Then we went to an arcade and played some ice hockey. Finally, we played some more pool. Miroslav said he didn't want for it to end. We had a great time, and laughed a lot - especially while playing pool. 

We dropped Miro off at the orphanage and then we called Temenuzhka for the last time on the phone. We mailed her a thumb drive with all of the music that we had originally put on her MP3 player - which she had accidentally erased, somehow - and some lev (Bulgarian currency) to purchase some more strawberry jam - which we had bought her when we were there, but they ran out of soon after we left. It was lovely to hear her sweet voice again. 

In a couple of weeks, we will begin Skype sessions with the triplets and each of them will begin taking English lessons by a local English tutor. 

Once we return home, we will begin the paperwork process to help bring the kids home. 

This evening, we ate dinner with Maggie and went over paperwork for the notary tomorrow. We still need Miroslav's new name. He said he didn't want to keep "Miroslav" as a middle name, so he is thinking over some potential names tonight and will have his answer in the morning. 

During dinner, a deaf man came around trying to sell items. He had a card identifying himself as deaf and was doing some sign language with us, which was fun. Maggie was able to also sign with him from learning the signs from the sign language flash cards that we have gone over with each of the triplets. We bought something for each of the five kids back home. It was nice to support someone who needed it and to get some souvenirs. 

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Miroslav and head over to the notary with Maggie, before going out separate ways. Tyler and I are exhausted after two weeks of being "on" all the time. We are going to take a few days to rest up before heading back to the states. This has been such an amazing journey, thus far, and we cannot wait to bring home these three kiddos!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 2 with Miroslav

 
My favorite snack here has been sliced Bulgarian bread, topped with butter, jam, and thinly sliced yellow cheese. So good. 

 

 
Breakfast omelet. 

 
Many of the restaurants have roaring fires in them. It is quite rustic and inviting. 

 
A traditional Bulgarian dress. 

Let me start with this statement: it is amazing what can happen in a day. Yesterday we were confused and nervous and stressed about what Miroslav thought about our family. This morning when we pulled up, he ran right out to meet us and he had this big smile on his face. 

We went inside and started playing games. Miroslav was much more interactive and smiling. It was a huge change from yesterday. The director told Maggie that Miroslav had had negative expectations for our visiting him, but we exceeded his expectations by a lot. One example is how good Tyler are I played pool. He thought he was going to have to teach us, but we taught him! Ha ha. We went over the sign language flash cards and Miro picked them up pretty quickly. Next, Tyler started teaching Miroslav how to juggle. 

 
Tyler is showing Miroslav how to throw a ball behind his back. 

We also played Spot It (such a popular game with all of the kids) and pick-up sticks. Then Tyler broke out the nerf guns. They were a HUGE hit (pun intended) with Miroslav. After that, he asked us if we wanted to see his room. It was well organized and tidy. My boys at home could learn a thing or two from their big brother. 

Next, we went to a pizza place for lunch. Miroslav loves vegetables and his favorite kind is cucumbers. His favorite fruit is orange. His favorite kind of candy is chocolate. 

 
Bulgarian lasagne. We also tried the margarita pizza, which was tasty!

After we finished eating, Tyler and Maggie shared our family's views on dating and appropriate girl and boy relationships at various ages. He listened intently and told us that he wasn't planning to kiss a girl until he was at least 18. There will be some heartbroken girls between now and then! 

We were somewhat nervous about how he would take that instruction for our family. Instead of him being upset at all, he asked us if tomorrow we wanted to see his photo album from his childhood thus far. Um, yes, please! 

He is talking more, smiling more, sharing things with us. It's wonderful. He said that he likes the name "Michael" and he will think on a middle name. The colors that he wants for his quilt are deep red, cobalt blue, and brown. 

 
Miroslav and I each chose this chocolate cake for a treat at a local bakery. It was so sweet that I couldn't finish mine. Miroslav ate all of his, plus drank some coke. Teenagers can pack away the sweets!

After dessert, we went to see a movie called "Balerina" which was dubbed in Bulgarian. It was cute and we all enjoyed it. One embarrassing thing for me was when I sat down in one of the chairs, the seat cushion fell down. I thought that I had broken the chair and I was mortified! But the person working in the theater said that the chairs are old and that it happens all the time. Tyler was able to lock the cushion back in place, so no harm down. Miroslav was concerned about me and didn't seem embarrassed by it at all. 

 
At the movie theater, I found a toilet that you flush with a string. 

After the movie, we headed back to the orphanage. I signed to Miro that I wanted a hug and he gave me a big hug. I am very optimistic about Miroslav committing to be adopted by us after today. We told him that we need his answer by Friday morning. 

Maggie learned that this is Miro's first time to be approached by a family to be adopted. So, I imagine he didn't know what to expect at all!

We also gave him a watch this evening, which Anna selected for him. He seems to like it! We are excited to what tomorrow may bring. Thank you all for your prayers!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 1 with Miroslav

 
Tyler is packing up items for our first day with Miroslav. 

 
They have mketsa that is different in Dobrich, but still delicious. I love the pottery plates here. So pretty!

 
I think I might be taller than the average Bulgarian woman. This is the second time where I cannot see my face in the mirror!

 
I have seen doors just open here in Dobrich. It seems a little strange to me with all the snow outside...but maybe they know something that I don't know. 

We went over to the orphanage to meet Miroslav. First impressions: he is tall and handsome! We went into a room and met the director. Shortly afterwards, a social worker, Rosalina, joined us. She will be with us whenever we are with Miroslav. 

We had a long chat with Miroslav, telling him more about ourselves, our other children, our family schedule, holiday traditions, etc. He seemed to be soaking it all up, but he didn't show much emotion. 

Tyler asked him if he wanted to hear me sing and he said he did. So I sang for them. It was fun to see him smile and lean forward to hear it. I could tell that he liked my singing. 

We played pick-up sticks and Spot It. Then we went to a local Chinese restaurant for lunch, which Miroslav selected. I found it funny that he ordered chicken nuggets and French fries with cheese - what Georgi always ordered - and at a Chinese restaurant! Miroslav had excellent manners at the table and didn't quite finish his meal - so different from Georgi, who ate so much food at every meal. This must mean that Miroslav is being fed well where he lives. I am thankful for that. 

Next we drove over to a bowling alley to see if it was open, which it was not. On the way to play billiards, our car got stuck in the snow! Over the next 20 minutes, there were a few Bulgarians who came over to help. One of them must have called a friend, because someone drove up in a ranger and pulled us out. I was so thankful to them for their help! 

We went to play some pool, which is a fun pastime for Miroslav. On the walk to the building, I was having some trouble walking on the snow. I asked Miroslav to help me and he did. I was impressed by his willingness to help me keep my balance. 

We played three rounds of pool. I think Miroslav had a nice time. He was smiling and would do the fistbump with us whenever he hit a ball in. Tyler helped him to hold the pool cue more correctly, and he took that instruction well. He was already hitting the ball better by the end of the hour. 

We dropped him off at the orphanage and I gave him a hug. I feel good about the day, but we don't know where he stands on being adopted by us at this point. 

With Temenuzhka, I was nervous to meet her because it was our first time adopting a teenager. With Georgi, I knew beforehand that he wanted to be adopted, so I wasn't nervous at all. With Miroslav, I am nervous because he doesn't show much emotion. Partway through the day, the social worker asked him what he thought about us and he said he didn't know yet. I guess time will tell. Until then, I will have faith that all things will work out for the best. 

Addendum: I forgot to mention that when we were leaving the orphanage with Miroslav to go eat lunch, an older boy came over and started talking with us. He had some impressive English skills, also. He said that he told Miroslav that for many years he has been wanting for someone to come and take him away from there. It's so sad how many children here are just waiting to be adopted. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Saying goodbye to Georgi

 
We bought some local honey from the hotel. We were able to sample it every morning. Today we had some with our mektsa (Bulgarian scones).

Today we packed up all of our belongings and checked out from the hotel. It took us a little longer to get to the orphanage. Georgi was waiting for us outside. He was smiling and seemed happy to see us. 

We drove to the photo studio to get some photos taken for his visa and also a family photo that we framed. We printed some of the photos of our time together, too. 

Next we went to the bank and then to a clothing store for some underwear, socks, and a sweatsuit for sports. Additionally we bought him some soap. If he wants to hang on to his clothes, he has to wash them by hand. :(

 
I find this brand name very odd. 

We drove back to the orphanage and Georgi gave me a big hug. It was hard to say goodbye! I look forward to skyping with him soon. Now we are in Dobrich. Tomorrow we will meet Miroslav. We spoke with Temenuzhka on the phone today. She still doesn't want to eat much because she misses us. So sad! We miss her, too! It is amazing how my heart has enlarged to feel love for this two additional kids in our family. Hopefully our visit with Miroslav will go well. 

 
Bathroom. 

 

 
Our hotel room. 

 

 
A shepherd's salad for Tyler for dinner. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 3 with Georgi

 
This morning we had some corn flakes and French toast added to our breakfast. We thought about Temenuzhka when we ate the French toast. It is her favorite! Before we left the hotel, we were able to call Temenuzhka on the phone. Apparently, she hasn't been eating much since we left Lesichovo. We encouraged her to eat and we also said that it is normal to eat less when you are sad. We told her how much we miss her and that we would call again tomorrow. It has been so nice to keep in touch with her these past few days. Unfortunately, we will be unable to talk with Georgi on the phone after we leave here. 

Next, we went to pick up Georgi at the orphanage. We brought him some breakfast as he has been choosing to shower in the morning instead of eating. 

When Georgi was little, he asked his mother if she would take him to church to light a candle. She was very upset that he would ask this and she refused. We decided to take him to a nearby Orthodox church this morning and to light a candle with him. 

The church was beautiful inside. The paintings were vividly painted, there was a beautiful choir singing, and the acoustics were incredible. We got there just in time to see a priest teaching a story from the Bible. The choir would sing intermittently throughout the service. Afterwards, the priest passed out some sacramental bread. I think that Georgi enjoyed being there with us. 

An elderly woman approached us afterwards and asked if we were adopting Georgi. Maggie replied that we were. This older woman said that she had adopted a child - a girl - 37 years ago and that this daughter had been such a blessing in her life. Adoption is such a blessing to both the parents and the child. 

We drove back to the hotel and played games, ate snacks, talked, and repeated! Georgi seems more relaxed than ever and is showing more of his personality. It is clear that no one has taken an interest in him before now and he is so happy around us. 

We went to a restaurant for dinner and once we were in there, he didn't talk much. He started to become emotional, with his eyes tearing up now and then. Maggie thinks he is sad that our time together is almost over. We will miss him!

Georgi was talking about having his own family one day. He said that if he cannot have children, that he would like to adopt. #meltedmyheart

Similar to Lesichovo, bananas are a big hit here in Georgi's orphanage. We purchased over thirty bananas to take back for all of the orphans. Georgi was excited to share them with everyone. It was nice to have a way to bring some joy to the children. I wish that we could provide families for all of them!

We hugged Georgi and said goodbye until tomorrow. Now we are packing up our things to prepare to visit Georgi in the morning and then to drive out to visit with Miroslav on Tuesday. 

Tyler and I both feel like adopting teenagers is very different from adopting younger children. It has been a heartwarming and emotional journey, as we learn about their sad beginnings and to hear how they have longed for their own family for so long. I cannot begin to tell you how blessed we feel to have found these children. They are precious gems to us! I hope that maybe someone following this blog may feel inspired to pray and consider adopting an older child. There is much happiness to be found in this venture. 

 
Since we do not have a fridge, we are keeping items cool on the outside window sill. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 2 with Georgi

Good morning! Today we went downstairs for some breakfast and they brought in quite a feast!

 
Plum jam, local honey, and nesquik chocolate cereal. 

 
Quite a spread!

 
So these are basically the same as my mom's scones that she makes on Christmas morning. They were amazing! We topped them with butter and honey. So good. 

Maggie came to join us and we left to pick up Georgi. We tried to get some visa photos taken, but the shop was closed - which seems odd to have shops closed on Saturday, but this is Bulgaria...

We came back to the hotel and Maggie kept Georgi downstairs in the lobby whilst Tyler and I put together a surprise birthday party for him - to celebrate all the birthdays that we have missed with him. We blew up balloons and had little cakes with some candles on them. He came inside the room and started to become a bit emotional. 

We sang Happy Birthday and then he pretended to blow out the candles - as we couldn't light candles in our room. Then we gave him a gift: a camouflage watch. Maggie asked him if he had ever had such a birthday party before. He said that he had never had any of his birthdays celebrated. So sad. And it explains why his eyes were tearing up when he saw that the balloons and cake for him. 

After we had some cake, we used the balloons for target practice with the nerf guns. We all had a blast! Next we had Maggie translate our family rules for dating and what is appropriate at what age. It's so nice to have Maggie with us! She is wonderful. 

We went to the hotel restaurant for lunch. Once our food arrived, Georgi reminded us that we needed to pray. Maggie asked him if he wanted to pray. Georgi replied that he didn't know the order of what to say. So we mentioned that we open by saying Heavenly Father. Then we thank Him for our blessings. We ask Him for those things that we need. And we close in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Georgi said that he could try. During his prayer, he thanked Heavenly Father for bringing him a mama and a daddy. I felt like I was on sacred ground and couldn't help but become emotional. Georgi is one special boy. 

Georgi ordered chicken nuggets (again) and some cheesecake. He ate until he was completely stuffed. We played uno for a bit and then went to the bowling alley. He bowled for the first time in his life. Maggie said that we will get to experience a lot of first's with him. We played air hockey and then some pool. 

We had purchased some snacks for him to eat during our time with him. One of the cookies, he said, was a favorite of a little boy at the orphanage. This little boy has mental retardation and some of the kids make fun of him. Georgi asked if he could take some of the cookies back to him. He has such a kind heart. 

We learned the reason why Georgi is so skinny. The menu at the orphanage is awful. Every morning he gets ONE piece of bread with either cheese or jam. For lunch he gets boiled cabbage or boiled wheat with two pieces of bread. For dinner, they usually have a broth-based soup. He said that everyone goes to bed hungry. Sometimes they get some fruit as a snack, but the last time that happened, the apples were rotten. 

As for toiletries, he gets a tablespoon of shampoo to clean himself when he showers. No soap. No toothbrush. No deodorant. We took him to the store and bought him some soap, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. They didn't sell any deodorant there. I am eager to bring him home and exceed his expectations in providing better food and toiletries for him. 

Tomorrow is our last full day with Georgi. We will have to say goodbye on Monday. I imagine that will be hard, also. 

There is a sibling set of three kids who are being adopted by a family in Idaho. Georgi is very good friends with them. Some of the other orphans are mean to the sibling set and to Georgi, because they have families committed to adopting them. It is nice that Georgi has some close friends there. One of the kids, named Sasha, has been encouraging Georgi to share things with us and to "not mess this up" with us. So much pressure on these kids, but Sasha truly wants to the best for Georgi. Every day that we have come to the orphanage in Razliv, Sasha has been waiting to get a hug from Maggie and to practice his English with us. 

We have been able to call Temenuzhka everyday since we left Lesichovo. It is wonderful to hear her voice. I miss her more than words can say. I am so blessed to have such incredible children. I love being a mama. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Day 1 with Georgi

 
Our breakfast this morning. Tyler went down to breakfast before me and the server brought out some coffee. Tyler said, "No, milk." So then she brought him some warm milk for the coffee. Ha ha. Eventually we were able to communicate that we do not drink coffee and that we wanted milk.  

Day 1 with Georgi exceeded our expectations. Maggie met us at our hotel near Pravets after breakfast, and we went over to the orphanage. As soon as we drove up, there were about five boys waiting outside. I scanned their faces, looking for my Georgi, but he wasn't out there. 

We got out of the van and were about to head inside to meet the director, until Maggie said, "Here he is! Meet Georgi!" My first thoughts were that he was taller than I expected and also on how handsome he is! I introduced myself to him before we went inside to meet the director. 

The director is a nice lady. She told us that we are getting such a good boy. She said that he is different from the other boys. He does what he is told and is smart. Partway through our conversation, it comes to our attention that Tyler didn't lock the car doors and there may have been some boys getting in and out of the car! So Tyler quickly locked it up and we went over to sign Georgi out. 

We packed up in the car and headed back to our hotel. We did a lot of talking about the other Pierce babies and then Georgi asked if he could share some of his childhood with us, although he said that it wasn't a good story. Most of it we already knew from reading his file, but we learned some new things, also. Georgi said that he has been praying every day for a family for a long time and that every time he would see the social worker that he would ask if there was a family for him. And how excited he was on the day when the social worker said that we had committed to him. Maggie couldn't help but become emotional as she shared that last part with me. We were both tearing up! Georgi hasn't had much love in his life thus far, but that is about to change. 

He said that he was very excited to receive the package that we sent him. When he showed his photo book of our family to the other boys, some of them made fun of my weight. Georgi replied, "What does that matter? She's my mama and not yours!" 

We played uno, Spot It, pick up sticks, and gave him his MP3 player. He figured it out in no time. He also picked up Tyler's iPhone and figured out how to take pictures on it! He clearly loves technology. He said he converted a calculator into a radio! He also showed us some magic tricks with the uno cards. He enjoyed watching Tyler juggle. He is very curious of the items in our hotel room. He noticed my CPAP machine and asked if I needed oxygen. When I explained that I have sleep apnea, he looked worried and asked if it meant that my health was at risk. We assured him that it helps me sleep better and that is all. I was touched by his concern for my well-being. 

We took Georgi to a restaurant in the village for lunch. It was his first time there. He ordered chicken nuggets and French fries. He asked if he could get a milkshake made with ice cream and сок (juice). Then he asked if they sold Melba there. We ordered him some Melba (it was a fruit and ice cream sundae) and he said he has always wanted to have a Melba and now he could try it for the first time. We watched this skinny kid pack away more food than any of us could eat. Maggie said that that meal was probably the best meal of his whole life. 

We have been talking with Georgi about names, as we have to select a full name before the end of our visit with him. Instead of retaining "Georgi" as his middle name, he said her preferred this name that he wrote below: 

 
I absolutely love it, too. ❤️

 
I wonder what "stuffed with trivia" tastes like. 

 
Potato soup. 

 
Chicken in a cheese sauce. 

 
Милка и какао (hot chocolate made with milk).

 
Some kind of sausage with salad. 

 
Potatoes with dill. Most dishes include fresh herbs. 

 
I found this photo hilarious in our rental car. 

The hotel we are staying in is quite lovely. It has been remodeled to reflect an older Bulgarian style. The views outside our window are lovely. We feel very blessed to be staying here. And the restaurant has some nice Bulgarian food, also. 

 
Our bathroom. So nice!

 

 

 

 

 
Our view!

 

 
The restaurant.