After getting the passport picture done, we went back to the hotel and let Ben explore the room, play with his new toys and of course get all cleaned up and into warm pjs :)
He quickly figured out how the light switches worked and went from one to the next to turn them on and off, how to open the door to the room to escape, and he was constantly taking the room key out of the slot by the door, leaving us in the dark until we could get it away from him.
We had one casualty when he tried banging the drink cup on the light cover and broke it. I discovered he has a fear of vacuum cleaners when they came to clean it up and he crawled into my lap with his hands over his ears. He also does not like elevators (that last part right before it stops), hair dryers, the dryer running, and other similiar noises.
We had a chance to Facetime home again and let everyone there see him. He seemed to enjoy that. He figured out which button on the ipad closes the apps so you could see the background picture, which was of mom and dad with him on trip 1, and in the background is his favorite thing, a car, of course.
That sippy cup he is holding-he still has not learned how to drink out of it.
I gave up and went back to regular open cups which he does fine with.
I decided to start on day 1 getting him used to the stroller, and that was the best decision as we were able to keep him contained and safe when we left the room. He really did not like it at first. He would go stiff as a board when I tried to put him in it, complete with kicking and then trying to sink to the floor but by the second day, when I told him to get in the stroller so we could go eat, he walked over to it, hit it with his car and then calmly sat down and we did not have another issue getting him to get into the stroller after that.
The night went fairly well. He loved the music toys best after the cars. It took him a while to settle down and he was up a few times in the night, often to find the car he misplaced in the dark. Crack of dawn he was up, opening up the curtain to watch the cars go by, turning lights on/off and then to play with his music toys.
Tuesday was a free day.
Breakfast downstairs. It was trial and error trying to figure out what Ben would eat. That first day, all he would eat was a bowl of BG cheese (the kind they put on fries) and I was able to get him to eat some scrambled eggs mushed a bit and mixed with milk, or bread soaked in milk. We went out after breakfast to some of the little shops on the main streets up from the Budapest hotel. Ben did not enjoy shopping and it was very cold outside so we were not gone long. For lunch we found the KFC and mashed potatoes with gravy was a hit. For dinner he had chicken noodle soup with croutons soaked in it back at the hotel. He ate so fast, not stopping to let it cool or even chew. He can't chew even if he wanted to. We face timed with family in the afternoon again, and relaxed the rest of the day. Ben spent much of the day with his thumb in his mouth, quiet and taking it all in.
Nighttime was similar to before, hard to get him to just lay in bed because he was fighting sleep. Anytime he'd wake up and I was still awake, he'd whisper 'mama' and put his car in my face to spin the wheels with him. Took some convincing to get him to stay in bed, not turn the lights on, to keep the curtains closed, etc. We had a corner room on the fourth floor above the front door so there were lots of lights on outside and the trolley thing went by often so it made it harder to get and keep him asleep when he woke up.
Wednesday was another free day and we decided to venture out a little more.
We had been told about a specific place that was nice to get souvenirs from. It was a much longer walk, uphill, than I expected. The snow helped fill in the huge cracks in the sidewalk but after we were halfway there it started melting and that made it very difficult to push him. We found some pretty churches, and after trying to find someone to help us with location of the shop unsuccessfully, we finally found what we were looking for and were able to pick up some traditional things for gifts.
Watching Signing Time
The store right around the corner from the KFC where we were able to find a bunch of girls tights for a great price! There was one lady who spoke pretty good English and was very helpful.
Thursday was the medical and Embassy day.
We had breakfast, picked up the room a little, packed a small bag and then went down to meet our driver. We followed Lillian's driver to the medical appt as this was our driver/interpreter's first pick up trip so he was still learning where to go and what to do. We waited our turn and then went in. They had us sit and did some paperwork. Finally the dr came over, listened to Ben's chest and back while he breathed, took a quick look down his throat, commented that he had recently had chicken pox and then went back to finishing up the paperwork, had me sign it and we were done. They did not weigh him or check him over. We sat in the car during Lillian's turn with her two boys. Ben was getting hungry and I convinced him to eat one of the baby food pouches in the mashed potato bowl I had brought along.
Next we headed to the US Embassy.
I took this picture from the car as we were driving by. You aren't supposed to take pictures, and the guards in front will stop you if you try. There was a protest going on across the street when we arrived. We parked, then walked a couple blocks to the Happy Restaurant. It was very crowded as it was lunchtime and we waited for them to clear a spot. It was strange to hear more English there than I had all week. Ben saw right away that people had food, and started demanding Give Me once again. We made our way back, got settled in and then placed a quick order as we had a short time until we had to be back up at the Embassy for our interview. More mashed pototaoes...he ended up eating two plates of it as well as all the cheese and red/green pepper filling from my meal.
We headed back to the Embassy and started checking in and going through security. Security was not a big deal, no different than what we had been doing going through the airports, though we could not take our phone in. The Thomas family with Gavin arrived at the same time and they were fun to meet! Our boys are the same age and about the same size. The Embassy interview was quick and just explained what to do with the documents we were given, especially upon arriving in the US. We headed back to the car, I realized Ben's wet pullup had leaked and ended up stripping him down to a clean diaper, shirt and coat as we headed back to the hotel for the night.
Boiled rice was a winner for another meal, minus the green stuff, of course :)
Friday was a free day other than dinner plans.
It had already started snowing and sticking to the roads. We made it to the airport fairly quickly and all our stuff was unloaded and left on the side of the road. I couldn't figure out how to get everything into the airport by myself. Someone had to push Ben's stroller, we had a 60+ lb box to carry plus a heavy smaller bag of loose calenders we were bringing back for someone else, in addition to the large suitcase, big duffle bag, the carryon and Jake's backpack. It was all sitting there in the middle of the road and the taxi driver's were getting impatient with me to move it out of the way. I stood there freezing and just wanted to cry. I was exhausted, starting to not feel well, had the pressure to hurry and get checked in and had no clue what to do. I ended up balancing the heaviest box on top of the big suitcase and putting the duffle strap across my shoulder. Jake pushed the stroller and had his backpack, the loose calenders tucked behind Ben in the stroller and the carryon across his back. I had him walk ahead to the sidewalk and wait while I dragged everything a couple feet and stopped to rest. It was slow going and I finally found someone who would help me carry the box inside the door. We found a cart, loaded it up with everything and asked where to checkin. Checkin went fine and we were allowed to check in everything needed without any overweight fees. I used the last of my leva to have the loose calender's wrapped in plastic and they used tape to make a handle so we could carry it easier onto the plane as a carryon.
After the plane was de-iced, we were on our way. Ben was nervous about take off and landing but otherwise did great. Breakfast was a muffin but he would not attempt to eat it. I was able to get a stewardess to find half a cup of milk in first class. That was just enough to soak the muffin and spoon feed it to Ben to eat. The first flight from Sofia to Vienna was a few hours long.
We landed in Vienna and had just enough time to get to our next gate, get through the check in line and then boarding began shortly after. There was no time and I had no money to grab something else for Ben to eat. I was worried about what he would eat on the long flight home. We had the middle three seats on one of the oldest model (though clean!) planes I have been on. It was very cramped, the tvs (when they worked) had no cartoons or anything appropriate to help distract the boys, and the men in the seats around us spent most of the plane ride standing up blocking the aisle, or making numerous trips to the bathroom, ugh. I'm glad they spoke a different language so I wouldn't have to hear their conversation and any bad language. During the 9hr flight, I changed Ben 2x in the tiny plane bathroom and he really did not like that as the changing table .
He ate very little. There was some shrimp pasta with sauce that he would eat (once I took the shrimp out) during the first meal. During the second meal they only had a potato salad he would eat. He was really hungry by that point and getting upset so I gave him mine and J's and the stewardess brought two more meal trays so he could eat the potato salad off of those also. He wouldn't drink any water.
As far as how to keep him enterntained for 9 hours? He made a game out of dropping things on the floor for mom to pick up-not fun for mom! I spread the blanket out on his lap more times than I can count at his request. We spun wheels on the cars, pretended to drive them up and down his arm, head, leg, etc. Tried to color but he was not interested. He kept slouching down in his seat so I had to repeatedly reposition him. Strangely, he never tried to unbuckle himself or to get off the seat. He played with the tv remote thing. I had turned the sound down on his Leapfrog puppy so it was low enough to play with and not bother those around us.
We landed, gathered all our stuff and made our way to the bus that took us to customs where we had to wait through that long line (no cutting in line, they informed me, despite bringing a new citizen into the country, sigh...I was close to tears). Finally it was our turn, I answered their questions and then we were sent to secondary for more questions as they looked over the sealed documents I gave them. Finally done, we gathered our bags, were flagged for a second bag check as we were leaving and then were able to exit.
There was no big welcome home party of people waiting to greet us, so we did not get any pictures of the airport arrival. We had decided to have Grandma stay home with the little ones so they would be happy and ready to see us instead of having to sit in the van for a 3 hour roundtrip. Daddy came with the two biggest sisters and we spotted them in the crowd once we came around the corner. They were holding a special sign all the children worked on while we were gone-with everyone's handprints, and the words "Welcome Home" with every one of our names on it. I bent down and pointed daddy out to Ben. It only took him a second until he recognized him and took off running right into his arms for a hug. So sweet to see. The big sisters seemed very happy to see us, and Ben soon decided to stretch his legs after the long time sitting in the plane while daddy was paying for parking, by taking off running and requiring his sisters to run after to catch him. We loaded up and heading home.
I was starting to have chills on the way home, my throat was hurting and I had a feeling I had a fever. I was falling asleep and was so glad to have hubby there to take over and get us home safely. (Turns out I had a bad case of strep throat that took a week to finally start feeling better with meds).
We were home, finally all together again!
A family of ten :)
What a year it has been...So happy we obeyed and stepped out in faith to welcome another son into our family, an orphan no more! So grateful for God's faithfulnesses each step of the way!