Praying for Ansley

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Sound of Music

We had fun at the baby house today, of course! When I entered the room to get her today, she really noticed me and was quite excited as I crossed the room, and then she lifted her arms for me to pick her up! She has noticed me before, and been happy to go with me each day, but today seemed especially like she knew what to do – having me pick her up, etc. (Often she has been in a care workers arms and passed off to me, so this was different all around.) We went to play in the music room and went back, as usual to eat lunch. She ate a really good amount for lunch today, and drank all her tea. Then back to the baby room for more playing, singing and dancing. We had bought a new CD yesterday with Russian songs on it for children, so we were listening to that and Mariya was telling us what each song was about. The baby loves to sway and dance to music and is learning to clap her hands. An activity she finds most amusing.

We had to leave the music room a little early because they were having a meeting there, so we went back to the room where we feed her her meals, which adjoins to the room she is usually kept in. There is a little table in there, and she wanted to sit in a tiny little chair. It was cute. She played with toys on the table for a while, and then it was time for cookie number 2. She ate this one and made slightly less mess than yesterday. She also didn’t get as sleepy – a little quieter perhaps, but not nodding off tired like yesterday! Then it was time to clean up our toys and say good-bye for the day. I went in and the care workers were busy with other children (normally I pass her off to someone). So, I went and put her in the large playpen area they have in that room. I kissed her, and put her down, and walked away, saying “Paka” and waving. (Good-bye.) I wasn’t out the door and she started to really cry! Poor little thing! I went back over and gave her a kiss and left again – and my mom made her way over and said good-bye again too. She wasn’t totally crying when we ultimately left which was good. It’s nice to know she knows me well enough to miss me/us when we leave, but I’ll tell you, seeing her crying and wanting to go back and be with her more and pick her up again… that is hard! So, all in all a great day again.

Sneak peek, her getting every last drop of her tea today... good to the last drop!!
After our visit we went out to lunch with Mariya. The first place was full, so we left and went to a different restaurant. I do not know the name of it, but it was good. They did tell us right away when we got there that they were told they would be losing power, so we had to hurry and order so they could make the food. We didn’t have our food yet when the power went out, but it came shortly after so it must have been prepared when the power went out. Mom and I both tried something beef since we haven’t had any of that really since being here. I even had French fries. The meals were very good and dining by candle-light in the middle of the afternoon was kinda nice! Both Mom and I had some left overs, so we brought them home. I don’t think they do too much to-go here, because their to-go dishes, at least in this place, were like plastic plates with saran wrap over top. Glad nothing was too juicy!!

On the way home we stopped to pick up more prints at the Iceberg of pictures for our album for court. (I have to take pictures of each day I visited her during the bonding period.) I also exchanged more dollars for tenge. You get 120 tenge for every dollar you exchange... it makes you feel pretty rich to have this stack of tenge in your pocket... so many bills!

I’m almost done with the book I’ve been reading – I think I’ll spend my afternoon finishing that up. We’re back home a little earlier than what’s been typical recently, so we have some extra time to read and relax today. It is a gray, dreary day here, although it is above freezing, so I can’t really complain! I didn’t even need a hat today – it’s just not that cold!..... today.

And then… I took a nap.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Wizard of Oz

Today my little girl was wearing ruby slippers! They were so cute on her little feet. This was true, until we realized they were entirely too small and they were hurting her little feet! My first clue of this was when she tried to walk and the way she was turning her feet in and whimpering. Then when we sat down, she sort of tugged at her shoes. So, I took them off her feet – and then she really cried! She loves her footwear and didn’t want them off her feet. So, I crammed her little feet back in the cute shoes. We tried to walk around a little more then, and she was still walking ‘funny’. So, when we sat down again, she was still pulling at her poor little feet. So, I took them off again, and she cried and cried. We hid her shoes and then she was better. She doesn’t like to part with what is ‘hers’ but they were hurting her! It was the first time she had cried and she did for a couple of minutes, but I was able to calm her down ultimately. Most people don’t like a crying baby, but frankly, since it was a first for me to hear her cry, it was music to my ears and she was so snuggly and wanting me then too, that I felt like I could actually comfort her, which was nice! I will be happier when we are in the comforts of my house though so we can actually have a rocking chair, for example, in which to really calm down and snuggle. After all, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

Sneak peek, are you ready for this?? (You knew this was coming, right?)

The other new thing today was that I gave her a teething biscuit. She liked it! At first she took a couple of bites and it was fine – but then, as it is supposed to, it started to get ‘wet’ and ‘sticky’ and ‘gooey’. She ate every last bite, and did seem to enjoy it. It made her sleepy though, and she all but fell asleep towards the end of the biscuit (definitely would have totally fallen asleep, except that I ‘woke her up’). I think this is because she is used to having a 3 p.m. snack and then taking a nap right after snack… I gave her a snack about 1 p.m. and she thought it was naptime afterwards! At least that’s my theory!

We had a wonderful day with her again – a day of a few firsts… Shoes, painful shoes (being a woman, I’m sure this is the first of many pairs of painful shoes she will have to endure in her lifetime…), teething biscuits, crying, sleepy time, lots of snuggle time… and the typical laughs as well. A great day!

In the afternoon, Masha took us to the museum. Very interesting. It was all in Russian and Kazakh so I don’t know a lot of what it said, but even seeing the pictures, and knowing the parts Masha told us about made me feel like I learned something. After that, we went to get some coffee at a coffee house! Ok, so it wasn’t Starbucks - this place actually brought you a menu to order from, but they had lattes, and mocha’s…. AH! At last, a good cup of coffee! My first in three weeks. It was wonderful! From there, we walked home and learned a bit more about where we are going now! It was snowing and a little windy – quite what I expected every day to be like. It was great to walk home and get a good feel for the weather (especially since it wasn’t bitter cold!) There was new snow on the ground, but I have no idea how much… There is always snow – it is hard to tell how much more comes on any given day.

We left home three weeks ago today. Still, I am amazed at how fast the time seems to be going, for the most part. Other parts of me long to be home and with Matthew – but I try not to dwell on that too much. Mom and I will be home with the newest addition to the family before too long! The estimate is still the end of March or so… I am totally enjoying our time here though (without mentioning the obvious drawbacks that come with being here, like missing family.) We are getting a little more adventurous (for Mom and me anyway) each day. I think it is warming up a little too – it’ll be great if it really gets ‘warm’ before we leave – it’ll make it that much nicer to get out and about.

Monday, February 25, 2008


When Mariya arrived to get us today for our visit to the baby house – she had already had a busy morning… She had been to the baby house and then to see the judge already – we had a court date before Mom and I ever set foot out of the apartment today! Next Monday, March 3rd at 11:00 a.m. is our time in court! Yeah! Yippee!! I wonder how nervous I’ll be getting over the next week… I hope I can keep my nerves under control! In addition to her already busy morning, Mariya brought us some ice cream as a special treat! We haven’t had any since we’ve been here – and that was a real treat tonight for dessert!

I tested out my baby carrier today that I brought for the baby. I never used one of those with Matthew – so this was new for both the baby and me! She loved it and was none too happy when I took her out of it. She is all over her cold, and ate a lot for lunch and laughed and laughed all afternoon. It was great!

We did some shopping with Masha in the afternoon. That was a lot of fun – and we got some really neat stuff as souvenirs, but don’t think we’re done yet… not by a long shot, if I know Mom and myself. We also had the all exciting trip to the Iceberg to get some necessities, water being the most essential of the day.

We are watching the movie Bewitched tonight. I have not seen this before, but as a tribute to the movie, here is the sneak peek of the day…

Hhmmmm, I wonder if her name is Samantha??

For those of you keeping track… only 10 months until Christmas!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cheaper by the Dozen

We had grand plans for today! We were going to hit the Iceberg and buy some more groceries. Water, Milk, perhaps even score some more Coke Light! (Even though I still have the 10 I bought on Friday.) Then we were going to venture the other direction and go to a restaurant that has menus in both English and Russian so we might be able to do it by ourselves! We were prepped, we were ready. We did not go.

I got an email from Masha with a ‘warning’. She said it was very windy (which we could tell by listening to the howling outside and watching the big trees bending in the wind!) What clinched it for us though was when she said SHE was staying inside today and not going anywhere, even though that makes her a little stir crazy not to get out. If she wasn’t going to brave the wind and cold enough and was going to stay put, we were too! We are wimps and not about to brave something a local didn’t want to. J So, we will go to the store tomorrow and try the restaurant another time. Maybe spring. I was going to post a picture showing you the weather, but it’s hard to photograph wind…

I don’t think I’ve talked about the markets here. Not the grocery store, that is similar to home in that you shop the isles choosing what you want. But the market is different than what I’ve experienced before. You tell the vendor you want oranges, say. Now, I say I want 4. Or 6. But typically, you would say you want a kilo of oranges. Well not knowing how many that would get me, I prefer to count mine out… but not only do you say that, but they choose them and bag them up for you. We have bought oranges, apples, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, cabbage, bananas, and an immense beet. I should have taken a picture of that! It was huge. No one seems to mind when I order say 4 oranges, it’s just not the local way, typically. I know we do that in a deli, for example, asking for a pound of Ham or a half pound of Provolone cheese, but I’ve never done it with fruits and veggies before. Interesting.

Another interesting thing to me is that they sell eggs in lots of 10. Not a dozen. 10. Also, they sell them, unrefrigerated, in plastic bags… not in cartons. Talk about having to be careful!! It’s not a big deal of course that they are sold here in 10’s and we sell them in 12’s, but it’s interesting (to me!). Why? Why not, I suppose.

Many of you know I love milk. I love lots of milk. Matthew and I drink 3 gallons of milk in a week at home between the two of us. If there is a holiday, or an extra full day at home in a week, it’s even more than that. Now, I am drinking less milk here, but I am drinking some. You should see the cute little cartons of milk that they sell here. I think it is a liter container, and without doing any math using measurements, I’d say Matthew and I would need about 12 of these a week if we drank the same amount here as at home. That’s a lot of containers of milk!

We keep trying to watch some TV but it’s always in Russian… LOL. Actually, there are tidbits on Animal Planet that are in English. Short segments and some promos for upcoming shows. The promos tell you, in English, what show is coming up and when to watch it. Like, Sunday at 9:00. But then, when you watch that show at that time, it is in Russian. I find this interesting. Of course, I know I am in a Russian speaking country, and I know I don’t expect English TV. But, if Russian speaking people are watching it, then they can’t understand the promos telling them to watch it. And for those of us that understand the promos telling us to watch the show, we can’t understand the show. I think that is hilarious.

My bonding period is over!! I get to apply for a court date tomorrow and hope that the process of setting the court date goes quickly. In general terms, court should be some time next week, and assuming a positive outcome in court, there is then another 15 day waiting period. After that waiting period, THE WAIT is then over. The final paperwork is then begun and we start getting the baby a passport and birth certificate, and all the things she will need to come home with us and become a citizen of the US and my legal daughter! So, we’re still looking at returning sometime the end of March – but nothing is more confirmed yet because the court date really sets the ‘tone’ for the rest of the time frame, as far as dates go. While we are awaiting my court date, we will be able to continue visiting the baby every day at the baby house as has been normal. The same will go for after the court date during the 15 day waiting period. So, even in Kazakhstan the waiting continues, but knowing the end is so close (and yet so far!) makes THIS waiting a little easier. The daily visits don’t hurt either…. She is such a cutie. Yup, I’m the proud Mama! Now I'll have two beautiful children!! Here's a sneak peek of younger one...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lost in Translation

I haven’t posted in a couple of days – and there really is no good reason for it. I could say I had a cold/headache and was sleepy and not up to it. I could say I was sick of the computer a little bit and not in the mood to really be on it more than a few quick responses to emails from people who had written me. I could say (at the risk of sounding ungrateful for this marvelous experience) that there really isn’t much new and each day is much the same. All of the above are true. I will say though, that although each day is much the same, we are enjoying ourselves and are not yet bored. I just fear if I write the same thing everyday – it will be ultra boring for those of you trying to read it. Anyway – here I am. We are fine and let’s see what I can talk about today.
This week went quick fast! I can not even believe it is Saturday night! Wow! Monday, we went sightseeing. Tuesday, we went to lunch at Masha’s house. Wednesday, we went shopping for gifts for those here that we need to buy gifts for. I still have more to buy, but we got a really good start! Thursday, we went to the large market where upstairs are small, individual stores. One might sell shoes/boots, one might sell just hats, one sells childrens clothing (which is what we went to buy), and the downstairs has vendors that sell fruit and vegetables, fresh bakery items and sweets, etc. Then on Friday, Mom and I went to the Iceberg for some much needed food. I even requested and got some pictures printed – without Masha there to help. I was proud. (But the guy kinda understood English, so it was more him than me, really.) The other great score of the day was that they finally had Coke Light!! I haven’t had one since the airplane to Almaty almost three weeks ago. That has to be a record!! Actually, they had about 4 on the shelf and as I was contorting my body to reach the 4th one on the very top shelf, some lady came up to me and was speaking Russian of course, and I didn't know what she wanted. I actually thought she wanted that last Coke Light I had just about broken my neck to get. What she actually was asking me is if I wanted more. I didn't understand her. She told me to wait there, at least I thought that's what she said... so I did. A few minutes later, she was back with about 5 Coke Lights in her hand and a 'stock boy' with about 15 in his arms! Poor guy!! So, I took a total of 10... I'll have to ration them out. I would have bought every last one if we weren't walking home, but we had real groceries to buy and other drinks, like Milk too, so I couldn't go totally crazy... :) That was so nice of her, and such a great surprise. I didn't have one today - I'm saving it for tomorrow. And I thought I had nothing to talk about....
Today, the visit to the baby house was our only excursion – it was fairly windy and chilly on the way home from the baby house that we just decided that was enough outside for the day. Tomorrow, we plan to venture out and do something – we just aren’t sure what yet! We atleast plan to go back to the Iceberg for a few more groceries and water tomorrow. It is quite close, but for those of us unaccustomed to walking with out groceries, and shopping for a week at a time and not a day or two, it takes some getting used to! The walk would be a piece of cake if not for the ice on the sidewalks... I've already bitten the dust once, I need not do THAT again!

The baby continues to entertain us every day. She is full of smiles and laughs and continues to babble more and more and louder and louder every day. She is feeling better and has started eating again – although I’ll tell you – she really doesn’t like her soup. I can’t wait until I can start to introduce her to some new foods that are of varying color and variety. I can’t wait to even give her something like Cheerios! She is climbing more and more on the mats in the music room and cruises around trying to walk sometimes. She’s inquisitive, and happy, and knows what she likes, and what she doesn’t. It’s a lot of fun!

When we got to her room yesterday, they had put a bow in her hair! How cute! The problem came when it fell out and this new mommy of a girl had to try to get it back in! I did, but it was backwards! Oh well, she looked cute from behind, anyway!
Here is the sneak peek for today…

The other highlight of my day is when I get to talk to Matthew!! It is so wonderful to hear his voice and hear his stories. He is quite a story teller and the things he tells me stories about cracks me up! Today, I got to hear all about the Dow and it's ups and downs of the day. Quite interesting! He's so smart to know about such things at age 12... probaby has me beat already!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Big Chill

Today was our 10th day of bonding! I can’t believe the 14 day period is almost over. Unreal. It was another great day at the baby house. The baby definitely has a slight cold, but it really only presents in the form of a cough as far as cold symptoms go. Additionally, she is also more content to still sit and play in my lap or on Mom’s lap, rather than crawling all about. The last thing taken as a sign of not being 100% is that she is eating even less than before – but I know that is how I am when I have a cold, I’m not that hungry, so I’m not that worried about her not eating at this point. She gulped down her tea though – quite thirsty! And let me tell you – there was NO denying the fact that she didn’t want her food. No language barrier there. We totally understood. Really. Got it.

She is definitely babbling more and more too. When we first started our visits (way back when!!) she barely murmured any sounds at all during our two hour visits. A couple of days in, she was ‘saying’ little things, like la, ga, da, but again, not much noise at all. Now, she is really starting to find her voice. She let’s us know how she is feeling with sounds (sometimes shrieks of joy, or laughing, sometimes more like a moan or a moan shriek when she ‘isn’t happy’ which might consist simply of her dropping a toy or something that she wants us to pick up.) She is also trying to say some other sounds.. “F” is a big sound for her. She also likes to blow kisses which isn’t talking, but makes a cool noise which she likes hearing over and over. I said ‘fish’ today because there was a picture of one in a book I brought for her, and I swear, repeatedly, she said, Sssshhhh when I would say fish. Now, either that was her way of trying to say fish (no idea if that is possible at this age at this point) OR she is simply saying the SH sound. Either way I’m happy. It’s cute. We hope and pray she continues to be well enough to continue our visits. Of course, I want her to be well, but I also can’t imagine missing a day with her at this point. Making I could just rock her if she’s sick?? I hope so!
OK, she may kill me for this when she is older, but.... Sneak peek...

Yesterday, Mom and I had the pleasure of going to Masha’s house for lunch where her mother, Olga, had prepared a delicious lunch! So many things to choose from and each one better than the last. I am terrible at remembering all the details or names, but I’ll try to describe! We had meat filled dumpling type things (everything was homemade by the way!!) that were just wonderful. She also made a chicken and mushroom dish that was a first for her, but also great! She had made a corn, crab meat and egg salad mixed with mayonnaise. I’ve never had something like this in the states, but it was absolutely delicious. She also had shredded carrots with garlic and those were great too. I love carrots! Lastly, there were marinated tomatoes (from their summer garden) that were full of flavor and spice – yum! So, we were absolutely stuffed, and THEN came dessert. They brought out a dish of chocolate candies and also the prize of the day – a home made cake. I don’t know I can describe it but to say it was just out of this world. As soon as I finished a piece, she gave me another! Wow – I thought I was going to POP! I ate ½ of the second piece and just couldn’t finish the rest. She then sent us home with left over cake that we promply ate today dessert after lunch. We did not eat another thing the rest of the day yesterday, we were THAT full. We had tea for dinner last night. LOL. It was just so nice to have the delicious food as well as the great hospitality and company! It was great to meet Masha’s mom and see where she lives.

Today, after lunch, we did a little shopping. We had about an hour with Masha before she had to go prepare more paperwork, so we did what we could in the time we had! I think it was quite productive – I have to buy gifts for people here, like the caregivers at the Baby house, etc., and we started on getting all that completed. There are many people to buy for!

Now we are just back in the apartment, doing our evening routine. Some dvd’s, puzzles, emails, blog, Mom is cross-stitching at the moment. We had some soup and cheese and crackers for dinner. We bought mustard some time last week to try with the cheese and crackers…. WOW! It’s some HOT mustard, and the label says mild… I can not even begin to imagine what the hot is like. We love it, but we have to be careful or we’ll burn a hole in our nose or something. It certainly adds some flavor and spice – yum!

Oh yeah… did I say it wasn’t cold? Ha! Today was -20 (Celsius I think, but still!!) -20! Good grief. It was cold. You can’t be out of the house or car for more than like 5 feet without needing gloves and a hat and scarf. Luckily my boots I brought are just perfect. Haven’t been cold yet in those and I’ve walked through snow, etc. I’m not sure why the current day weather is always wrong on the weather portion of the blog. For instance it showed the temp as 41 F at one point here today… uh, no. That is not correct. Not even close.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Weeks

We left home two weeks ago today. It some ways, it doesn't seem like we've been gone that long, and in others ways, it seems like eons longer.

Matthew and Dad called this morning, before we were out of bed actually! The first time they called, it took me a few minutes to shake the cobwebs out of my head before I reacted enough to get up and get the phone. Right when I reached it, it stopped ringing. I went back to bed. 40 minutes later, it rang again. Now I realized it must be them and I was quicker (albeit not quick!) to get the phone this time. It was such a great surprise to get a call from them!! (Although, apparently I was the one who picked this time for them to call?!?!) LOL. Matthew was full of all sorts of news and it was just so wonderful to hear his voice and his stories. I enjoyed every minute of it and have replayed the converstaion in my head many times over today. At some point, we decided it was only fair to give Grandma and Grandpa a chance to chat as well, so we ended the conversation and said we'll talk again later this week.

They are having crazy weather in Virginia. Mid-60's Monday, snow (or ice) expected Wedneday and Friday. Gotta love Virginia weather! Let me tell you about the weather in's cold. Well, that didn't take as long as I thought it would. :) Actually, although it is cold, I must admit it is NOTHING like what I feared. Now, it's cold, don't get me wrong, but I thought I would just shake and shiver and clatter my teeth the whole time I was here and that is just not the case. In fact, I'm not wearing my heaviest clothes at all.

We visited the baby today during our normally scheduled time. All the babies in her room have colds and when we got there, they were waiting for the doctor to come upstairs and make sure she was OK for a visit. She actually isn't showing the signs of a cold like the other babies (running nose, etc.) but as the visit progressed we did realize she has a cough. They allowed us to visit with her, but we had to wait in the baby room until lunch time and then feed her in the lunch room (where it is warmer than in other rooms) and then play for slightly less time in the music room today. Also, while in the music room, she had to be wrapped up in a blanket and not get on the floor so she wouldn't get cold. Now, let me just say that keeping a toddler wrapped up and not crawling isn't easy, but for most of the visit, she was actually content to just snuggle - which was fine with me!! It was only towards the end that she wanted to get down and really move around - so it wasn't anywhere near as hard as I was afraid to keep her wrapped up and warm. She obviously was feeling a little out of sorts to sit there, content, for so long without really playing. I hope she doesn't get too bad a cold! Sneak peek...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

From Russia with Love

Or close enough for government work... (We're only about 120 miles from the Russian border and they SPEAK Russian here in Petropavlovsk, so....)

Today is Sunday, so I thought I would catch up a little on some other pictures we’ve taken since we’ve been here. This one picture shows the large water bottles that we buy for drinking water at the Iceberg. You can see many of them here, left behind from others before us, on the porch (which would be quite lovely in a different season.) You saw the windows on the porch yesterday, now see what happens to something left outside on the porch… those bottles are totally frozen. I may have mentioned before, but I find it so interesting that I can get right up next to the window in our living room, which looks out in to the porch, and feel little, if any, cold or even cool air. I know at my house, even WITH my new windows, when you get close to the doors or windows, there is a difference you can feel. Not here. The walls and windows must be so insulated, it is truly incredible.

This next picture shows the cool keys we used to get in to our first apartment! I thought they were really neat looking and fun to use. Unlike at home, you have to turn the keys 2-4 times to get it totally locked or unlocked. (Not like the once, or ½ turn we need at home.) This second apartment has a normal looking key, but again, you turn it 2-3 times to get it totally unlocked. (That tells you the length of the bolt itself… I’d say quite hard to penetrate!)

The next picture is of the first of the two doors that you needed to enter once in the apartment building to GET to your own apartment. The first big, heavy steel door led to a small hallway which leads to your front door. (The picture is taken FROM the apartment, just inside the second front door.) Your actual front door is yet another big, heavy steel door that has a huge lock. The first picture of locks is the first door you enter, the second picture of locks is what you see when you are inside the apartment. It makes it look like there must be rampant crime, but as I said before, there is none that I’ve seen or heard. It certainly makes one feel safe… It makes me think of Crocodile Dundee, the movie... "That's not a lock, THIS is a lock!" Our locks at home are a joke compared to these! I bought a door alarm from Magellan’s before coming that you can wedge under the door in case someone breaks it open (used in hotels by some to feel more safe.) I feel absolutely no need for this whatsoever. If someone has the will and determination to get in these steel doors and locks, we’re done for anyway, so that little alarm isn’t going to do one bit of good. We’d be able to hear someone breaking down those front doors LONG before we’d hear any alarm sound.
This second apartment has one big drawback compared to the first one. Our neighbors are quite loud. When they walk (like elephants, mind you) in their apartment above our living room, our chandelier shakes and rattles and sounds like it will crash down at any minute. (Not to mention the loud thumping of their feet on the ground.) Also, you can hear sound, at least, when they watch TV. Last night, for example, we were watching our movie du jour, and I paused it… yup, you could hear what they were watching… Pirates of the Carribbean! I could hear the music plain as day. Usually they go to be close to when we do, and wake a little earlier than we do. I woke up sometime after 6 a.m. some day this past week to their music above my bedroom… One of the songs that came on was, “Hit the Road Jack” (and don’t you come back no more no more no more no more, Hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back no more.) My sentiments exactly! Leave the apartment already – you’re loud and I’m sleeping. Apparently, I sleep through some of it though because when we got up today, Mom said, “Some party, huh?” I didn’t know what she meant really. I fell asleep about 12:30 but she said their party went on until about 3 a.m. She said it sounded like college kids really having a good time. I heard them when I was reading and in bed, but I totally didn’t hear anything after I fell asleep. To me, it’s not that bad so far… basically they sleep when we do – but it is different than the first apartment, which was VERY quiet.

Mom and I have both finished one novel each since we’ve been here – so if you’re preparing for travel, that might give you a gauge at what to bring if you enjoy reading. We are both reading slow, on purpose, since we were going through our first books so quickly, realizing we each only brought three, and we were only 3-4 days and over half done with one book. This also is NOT the only thing we’ve kept busy with. The computer is slower than we’re accustomed to, so posting and emailing takes longer than I would like. Daily pictures of the precious little girl take time to look at, and download, and name, etc. Catching up on some headlines online definitely takes longer than usual. We’ve done a 500 piece puzzle… well 497, we lost three pieces, somewhere, somehow. We watch at least one movie every night. So, if you like to read and not do this other stuff, you’ll go through a lot more books! As much as we’ve enjoyed them so far, we plan to leave them here so as not to lug them back home! If I like it that much, I’ll just buy it again at home! It just depends on what you like to spend your time doing – there is certainly lots of time to read if you enjoy it.

It is snowing here today. We plan to head out for a walk, at least, in a short while. It seems colder today – but it is hard to tell when you’re inside. It LOOKS colder, I’m sure, because of the snow falling.

We’re trying to keep up with the comments and emails, but if we’ve missed responding to anyone, here is a blanket THANK YOU for keeping in touch! As I’ve said, the dial-up is painfully slow and we mean well in responding, but simply run out of time, or energy, to sit on the computer any longer sometimes. Do know that we appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers and you are all on our minds! We miss you and are grateful for family and friends like you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Today was another great day! We walked to the baby house and visited with the baby. She appears to love her caregivers, but is also very happy when we get there to visit which is certainly nice for my ego. It is definitely a daily routine, playing, then eating, then more playing. But each day, there is slightly different food for her, and she also enjoys slightly different toys each day. Today, Mom pushed her around on the gym mats in the baby room and she really liked that! A baby in motion! She also loves playing with paper - any paper. A tag on a stuffed toy, a piece of paper with her menu on it for the day (given to me so I know what she eats), a map our Interpreter shows us of the city - ANY paper. Sometimes she just crumples it up and carries it in her hand, but most times, she wants to put it in her mouth! Of course!
She does like to hold on to any toy given to her - for dear life. She might have two toys, one in each hand, but she'll try to crawl, or pull to a stand, or even reach for something else, with these two toys already in her hand. Too cute! She still loves playing (and snuggling) with her socks/slippers and any blanket given to her.

She also enjoys peek-a-boo. I'll put the blanket on my head and say, "where's Mommy?" and she'll pull the blanket off my head and laugh. Then she started putting it on her head, and while she is under the blanket, she makes a sound, whether she's asking "Where's the baby" or she's saying "Peek-a-boo" I don't know... but it is just the cutest - whatever that little noise means!! Then she either removes the blanket herself, or I do, and she'll grin or laugh... ah... the cuteness of it all.

Here's your sneak peek for today - her cute little toes and foot!

After lunch today, we went to lunch with our Interpreter. I asked today if I could use her name, and I can, so now I will refer to her as Masha (or Maria). She is just so wonderful and we're thrilled to have her with us every day. She took us to a restaurant - our first real meal out. I got French Meat. I don't know what that is, but it was good. It was beef, with sliced potatoes, and cheese and onions in layers. Quite delicious. Mom got Chicken and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce with mashed potatoes on the side. She ate about half, so she has a whole other meal. I actually got a soda! But they didn't have Coke Light (diet Coke) and said it was only Pepsi Light. Well, crap - I'll survive, but really wanted a Coke Light! Then the waitress came back and they had nothing Light.... So I had a regular Coke. Even that was good. Yum! Soda!

On the walk home we stopped to buy some CD-ROM's so I can back-up all my pictures. Then home for the rest of the day. I took a few pictures of the apartment and outside on the way home which I will post here now. The one of the apartment building shows our porch - a row of windows on the ground floor on the left side of the blue door. The blue door is the entrance to the building and we go up one small flight of stairs and to the left to enter our apt. All apartments have two front doors to enter the apartment - again, I suppose this is for safety? That's our porch off our living room.... check out the windows - totally frosted over. Can't see a thing out porch windows now. LOL.

This is the inside shots of the same windows. There are bars on windows on the first floor everywhere, for safety, although we haven't heard or seen any problem with safety at all.

I'll post more pictures tomorrow - enjoy this taste of Petropavlovsk and the little cutie for now.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Miss Congeniality

Feb. 15, 2008

When we got to the baby house today, they had taken the baby to the hospital. What? Well, it was harmless. She has had a little ‘goo’ in her eyes since we’ve been here (atleast), so they took her in. She was about 20 minutes or so late for our visit, but she was fine. As soon as she got back, it was time for lunch. Today it was borscht, and more potatoes and meat mush, stewed beets, and tea again out of a tea cup. She ate less today than usual, in the three days I’ve been able to feed her. I understand that though since this has been a crazy week and she was taken to the hospital today. But, after lunch, we went to play in the play room. I was afraid she would be tired with the disruption in her schedule, but she was full of energy and happy as could be! She climbed around on the mats and played with her toys. She laughed some more and babbled more than we had heard before today. That was awesome! She’s quiet, but I think she’s starting to open up a little bit. I’m sure in no time she’ll be just as loud as the rest of our family! LOL.

I did take in the clothes I bought yesterday – way too big! I took in the one outfit I had brought from home, a 9 month size, and although it won’t last long, it does fit her now. So, I need to go buy some smaller clothes now at the baby store!

Today started off with a call from Matthew and Dad. That was great! A great way to start the morning! It is so nice to hear news from home and hear their voices!! Then, tonight, my sister called as well!! How exciting! Matthew talked a lot more during his evening call to us than his early morning calls. Regan filled us in on all that the kids had to say about the baby, their new cousin.

Otherwise it was a quiet day. We were home by 2 p.m. and just had a lazy afternoon. We read, and downloaded some pictures, watched some movies, cooked dinner – nothing too extraordinary. Tomorrow is another visit to the baby house! I can’t wait!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Feb. 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Today we went for a visit to the baby house again. It was another great visit where we got to hold, snuggle, play, tickle, laugh and feed the baby. I haven't heard her cry yet (for 10 seconds the very first day)! She is happy and content, so far, all of the time! Her laughter certainly is music to our ears! We are truly enjoying the visits and look forward to the next one as soon as we leave each day. She is more snuggly when we first get there, liking to be held. That lasts a few minutes, but then she likes to get down and play. Today, at the end of the visit, I think she was getting sleepy as she laid down a few times and was just content to do that. We also take a blanket in to sit on every day and she prefers to play with it and snuggle with it to sitting on it! Here is the sneak peek of the day:

We went shopping for clothes for her. The stores here are so interesting. They have a sample on display and then you have to ask if they have it in the right size. The other thing is, sizing is totally different and to test if the pants would fit her, for example, the clerk held them up on the floor as if a baby was standing in them, and sort of asked if that was about right?? Too funny! We bought a few things - a pair of pants which I love, two shirts, some tights, some socks, pj's and a sweater. We'll test out these sizes and go back for more when we know what's right. We'll need to get her a Snow Suit too - we saw a great one but didn't buy it yet. Here, they appear to be two pieces (pants and a coat) rather than the one piece types we have in the U.S. for kids this age. It was certainly an experience! I frankly think a lot of this is too big, but we shall see! You can see from this picture how many shades of pink! the other funny thing is, the socks say "High Quality Socks" on the label. This is funny because 1. it is in English. and 2. I think it is funny that they have to tell you they are high quality. I loved the pants especially - they are thick and lined and just really cute! I will post pics of the clothes for all the women reading along...

Then we went back to the Iceberg for more food and some drinks. We found a roaster chicken that we ate for dinner - it was good! Tasted like chicken... :) So we had the roaster chicken and some frozed green beans and mushrooms for dinner. Very much a home cooked meal. Yum.

To top our Valentine's day off, we had to watch a chick flick. We picked When Harry Met Sally - a classic. We lit our candle to set the mood and enjoyed every minute of it! LOL. Tomorrow is back to the baby house to visit the precious little girl! Yeah!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For Your Eyes Only

Today was bonding day #3. We stayed our full two hours and it was great! She was happy to see us when we got there and she was getting dressed in her 'pretty clothes'. I think they do that when parents are coming to visit. Otherwise, boys and girls wear outfits interchangably regardless of color. So, I saw a boy in a pink outfit today - it's rather funny.
Anyway! We had a great time visiting with her. We played for about 45 minutes and then we went back to her room and I got to feed her lunch. It was soup and for her they put her bread in the soup because they said she doesn't really like to eat bread. (Dad - you'll have to work on this with her...) Then there was some meat mush, it smelled like chicken... and potatoes. She ate about 1/2 of what was on her plate of that. Then there was another 1/2 piece of bread and a cup of tea! Yes, that's right, tea. They give the kids tea. Amazing! And I don't mean a sippy cup, I mean a good old fashioned tea cup. And you should hear this girl slurp it up!! I kept Matthew on a bottle until he was two! LOL. Then, back to the play room! Since she didn't want to eat her bread, she grabbed on to it for dear life, and carried it around for a while... While she played, while she crawled on the floor. Every now and then she'd take a small bite. After a while, it was disintegrating, and when she put it down to pick up a toy, we took it away. She never really missed it.

She liked playing with the stacking cups and although she can't stack them, she could put the smaller ones in the larger ones and quite enjoyed that. She also liked going to my bag and routing through it as any good child likes to do in their mother's stuff.

I was told today she doesn't much like milk... Uh - oh - we'll definitely have to work on THAT! Matthew and I are great milk drinkers (and I do mean American milk...)

She laughed and laughed today. It was just so awesome! She does this really neat thing where she'll lean her forhead in to my head so I can kiss her. She'll do it again and again. So cute.

She loves to play with mom!! Mom really can get her laughing too - she's so much fun.

I'm getting closer to a name, but nothing set yet. Last change to EMAIL me your thoughts/vote. (Of course, you know I may not listen... but speak now (again) or forever hold your peace.)

Here is the sneak peek today of her -

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


As in, full Speed ahead. We are here in Petro and moving forward with gusto now! So many things to do, and PEOPLE to SEE! There is still plenty of down time, but we are full Speed ahead, that is for sure.

Mom and I have been having fun deciding how to post entries during this process in Kaz. No tv. No internet for a few days - it makes one try to get creative.

We have decided that the title of all the entries are going to be movie titles that relate to the days activities in some way. We have come up with many titles, and think we can carry this through. We shall see! Some are great, but may need a little tweaking - but time will tell!!

So, follow along - we're hoping this is fun for all!

Little Women

Today (Monday Feb. 11, 2008) was the day I was shown 3 little girls and had to pick the one to be my daughter! Choosing a child is not easy, and knowing that you can choose and care for only one is hard, but knowing when you've seen and met your daughter is quite an incredible feeling and one I'll not soon forget!

The little girl I chose to proceed in this journey with is a beautiful 16 month old Kazakh girl with lots of spirit, spunk and personality, not to mention her incredible big brown eyes! She'll steal your heart the minute you meet her - as she did mine (and my Mom's!)

The hard part of the day was knowing that after I decided to proceed with her as my daughter, I didn't get to visit her any more that day. I might have had about 5 minutes with her, so although I got to hold her and choose her to be mine, I wanted more time! I've waited a long time for this day, and I wanted more! Leaving was hard, but knowing I got to come back tomorrow made it bearable.

I got medical information on her, and there is nothing even remotely of concern at this point in her life. She has been healthy since she arrived at the baby house 14 months ago and is currently in good health. (And cute too, I may add!)

We left the baby house and headed home. Now comes the task of choosing the name I'd like to give her. I have changed my mind so many times I'm making my own own head spin. I think I'm narrowing down my choices, but just as I decide against a name on my list, seemingly shortening my list, I seem to add a new choice. I am hoping that after the real visits begin it will become clear what her name should be.

The rest of the day was rather uneventful except that we finally were able to speak to family at home! We'd had a hard time with our phone number here and they couldn't connect (because it was the wrong number!) But, at long last, we got it right and Mom and I got to speak to both Dad and Matthew and later, Regan called as well. It was so sweet to be able to speak to everyone, (except Bobby) but I particularly had missed talking to Matthew and loved every second I got to hear his voice! He had just woken up for the day, so he was a bit tired, but it was good to hear his voice, even if a little sleepy. :)

Perfect Strangers

What a day! Today was the first visiting day at the baby house! Our visiting hours are from Noon until 2:00 p.m. each day. We arrived at noon and she had just woken up. She was getting a fresh diaper and a cute little outfit - pink of course! When the caregiver went to put on her cute little red shoes, she kept moving her foot around and basically refusing her shoe. The caregiver put it away and pulled out precious orange, hand-made slipper socks. When the caregiver held it up for her to see if these were acceptable footwear, the baby grabbed it and snuggled it like a blanket or something! It was cute. These were acceptable to her to be placed on her feet. I'm glad to see she likes her footwear, shoes have always been a favorite of mine too!

It was time for me to hold her now! The caregiver passed her off, which was fine for about 5 seconds and then she began to cry. The caregiver took her back and we went and all sat down together for a few minutes. (She cried a total of maybe 10 seconds.) Now it was time for us to go in the other play room so we could play with her - and she was ready to go! In fact, she was now holding on to me for dear life. It was awesome!

They decided it would be too much for her to have the full two hours today, so our visit was only 1 hour long. It was hard to leave, but I was so happy to have had that hour, FINALLY! After maybe 15 minutes, she released her death grip of me, and got off my lap and starting playing with some toys that were there as well as some I brought. I'll tell you, when she likes something, she isn't letting it go - and you'd better not take it from her! :) She's smart as a whip and knows exactly where you are 'hiding' something. She doesn't like it when she can't find it. :) There is a mirror in the room and she quite enjoyed looking at herself in it! She crawled over to the mirror and pulled herself up on it. She was quite proud of herself, as was I!

Her grin is charming and her laugh is contagious!

The hour went by very fast, but I was just so grateful to have had that time and to have had it go so well. When it was time for me to give her back to her other caregiver, she didn't want to at first! But, then when I passed her off, she was fine - so that was good. No more tears! As the title suggests, I believe we are Perfect Strangers, (Perfect for each other, and yet total strangers) but oh what a difference a few days and weeks is going to make! I am not going to post pictures at this time, but I'll give you a small glipse of the precious little baby who is stealing my heart!
Sneak peek for today:

In other news of the day... we switched apartments today. It was late afternoon before we moved in - but we are now here and relaxing quite nicely. There is even a dvd player, so while I am blogging, Mom is watching a DVD she brought on a nice (large) tv in the apartment. Since the tv is in Russian, dvd's are all we've got and we had been watching them on the laptop which was fine, but this is better!

This apartment is considerably larger. I think the main difference is that there are two bedrooms - one with two twin beds and one with a queen bed. The kitchen and bathroom are both larger as well. There is a washing machine in this apartment - yeah! (Although you should see the size of this washer... it won't hold much at one time, that's for sure!) Time for some clean laundry! One funny thing is that there is a chandelier in the living room and it shakes when people upstairs walk/run/jump or whatever it is that they are doing. It sounds more like there is an earthquake, and so far it's charming, but I think that may get a little old. I hope the people upstairs calm down a little! :) Also, the clock in the living room is LOUD, but luckily we won't be sleeping out here in this apartment, so it shouldn't be a big deal. If it is, we'll take the battery out and use something else as a clock. Someone keeps ringing our doorbell too, I do hope that doesn't continue - especially when we're sleeping. That might drive me crazy. We're told not to answer the doors, so I'm not. But, I did walk up to it the last time, and said, in English, Hello? Hello? No one answered and so far they haven't returned, so we shall see!

I did get to send a picture of the baby home for dad and Matthew to see, as well as Bobby and Regan. Therefore, we chatted with Dad and Matthew again as they were waking up. They were excited to get a picture (since I finally figured out how to get one to send via dial-up after a frustrating evening last night where I spent an hour or more and nothing would send!) I'm not sure exactly when we will get to chat with them again - but it was wonderful, of course, to get to share a picture from our first visit with them, so even though we are half a world apart, we are sharing as much as we can with them during this experience.

Thank you all for your prayers, and comments and emails! We are apreciative of all of them! Keep it up. Hopefully now we'll get in to a routine and since we are in our 'final' apartment, we should be pretty settled going forward.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wow - it's COLD in Petropavlovsk

We have made it to our final destination in Kazakhstan!! We arrived in Petropavlovsk on Friday night about 7:30 after two relatively short flights from Almaty. It is C O N S I D E R A B L Y colder here in Petropavlovsk that in Almaty.

We were greeted straight off the plane at the airport by our Interpretor who is just a wonderful young lady. Our driver was wonderful too. He had NO small task getting our ridiculous amount of luggage in his tiny little car (while we waited in the cold outside, me in my nicely insulated Nike Sneakers... NOT!) They took us to the apartment we will be in until Tuesday, when we will then move to a slightly larger apartment closer to the baby house. As soon as we got all our stuff in the apartment, and I changed in to my boots, we left for the Iceberg (local grocery store.) Because she was with us, we did not dawdle, but I can't wait to go back and spend a bit more time looking around. There are definitely brands you recognize by logo, if not by words. I spent 5,538 tenge!!!! (That's only about $40.00). Not bad for a few days worth of food and not having a clue what we were picking, etc.

I will say, expiration dates here mean nothing. I meant to check in the store, but it didn't cross my mind then. (Not sure it would matter, I think it may all be expired.) I just ate a yogurt that had a date on it of Jan. 10. At least it was 2008. The Pepsi light I bought (diet Pepsi at home... ) expired Oct. 10, 2007. Mmmm-mmm flat. At least it's a little caffeine. I have a feeling I'll be drinking less and less while I am here. They were out of my favorite, Coca-cola Light.... Oh well. Flat diet Pepsi will suffice.

They say it was -20 when we were at the airport last night. I believe that was celcius, but nonetheless, it was COLD. My toes were numb in my sneakers before we got to the apartment. The boots saved me and are doing wonders today as well. When we ventured out of the apartment to come to this internet cafe, our glasses immediately fogged up. Useless. We removed them. I have a short coat, so my legs are cold outside, but everything else is very warm. (The chin is difficult to keep warm, but we are learning.)

We should have our first appointments on Monday here and then hopefully head to the main attraction!! With any luck, Monday will be our big Day 1. :)

The flights here from Almaty were interesting. I'll describe them later, but suffice it to say, the planes were exactly as described to me before which was a little daunting when you first see them. We are here safely and soundly though, so no worries! These pilots sure know what they are doing on all this snow and ice. It is amazing in the air, basically as far as the eyes can see is snow, snow, snow and white, white, white and land, land, land. Amazing. If I ever had a thought of Siberia in the past, this is what I had in mind, at least from the air!

The apartment is quite sufficient. Cute little place. Cordless phone. I went to make coffee this a.m. though and you have to light the gas stove with a match. I was terrified. I don't like matches and gas, so I waited until mom got up (TWO HOURS LATER) and made her do it. It was not a big deal at all, but now I know. I'd never done that before, except with a gas grill that practically took me out, so I was a little afraid. This was tame though, so I won't be afraid again and I won't be waiting for her to wake up again before I have my morning (instant) coffee. :) It really isn't that bad. Nescafe.

As I said, Monday should be a busy day. We will be moving to a larger apartment closer to the main attracntion on Tuesday. I don't know the city well enough yet to know where we are in relation to much, but I'd say we are 8 blocks from the Iceberg and 1.5 from the Doner cafe at present. We haven't had much luck with our computer yet, but we're working on that. Mom bought a surge protector and when plugged in the light that should light up that says it is grounded isn't lighting up, so we are afraid to use it. ANYONE who MAY know something about this, please advise! The computer has it's own converter, and we have the adaptor with the surge protector, but again, the surge protector light lights up, but the grounding light does not. DOES THAT MATTER?? It is a Euro-surge if anyway can find out anything, we would greatly appreciate it so we can use our computer at home instead of the cafe if possible. THANKS!

Thanks for all the emails and comments, we sure loved having them to read when we signed on again today. Now that we are here, I hope to make it here often or to be able to use our Laptop, better yet! :) Hopefully it will be more communication.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers, we love them all! WE MADE IT!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

We made it!

We made it as far as Almaty so far! Our flight to Petro is tomorrow afternoon (Friday.) More later - but wanted to post we are here and safe and sound thus far!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Countdown to Travel

WE ARE LEAVING TOMORROW!! Yup, I just got a call and it is confirmed that my visa (and my mom's) is processed and we will be able to make the flights that we have tickets for!! Praise the Lord!!!!! :) It's about time. :)

Now, I am truly in FRANTIC mode as, in some ways, I actually wanted that one more day to finish all these lose ends. I guess I'll be done, but I may not sleep tonight, for many reasons. LOL.

Y'all please keep in touch. I always cherish hearing from everyone - but will cherish it even more when we are 1/2 way around the world and unable to call and chat. For all those who have written or called - I'm sorry it I haven't gotten back to you. I am trying, but it doesn't look like I'll make it for everyone. I'm thinking about everyone and appreciate the well wishes, really!!

If I don't write again before we leave tomorrow night, I will write as soon as possible when we arrive in Petropavlovsk on Thursday. Until then, just pray for us! You know how much I LOVE planes.... and cold weather.... LOL. It's going to be QUITE an adventure!! :)

BY THE WAY - WAY TO GO GIANTS. Let's hush those Patriots UP! Good job! Yippee! That made the delay worth it, to see that game!! Ya-hoo!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Small update

Not much is new since Thursday - still waiting for the final 'verdict', but I do have tickets, at the moment that have us leaving Tuesday night and arriving in Petropavlovsk on Thursday morning (their time, Wednesday night our time.) What will make this change is if we find out on Monday that my visa won't be processed until Tuesday. There is still a chance that it will be processed on Monday, and then my travel agency can pick the visa up, and FedEx it to me with my tickets (for both Mom and myself.) If the Consulate decides it won't prepare the visa on Monday, they have already said they will do it Tuesday. That means our flights will be pushed back and we will leave on Wednesday night and arrive their Friday morning. Crazy!

I have opened up my suitcases again and am trying to decide what I can take out. The problem is, although I have taken many things out... I also put a few in. So, I'll have to see how it ends up - whether I've reduced the weight or added to it! (Knowing me, I'll have added to it!)

That's it for now. I'll know tomorrow, supposedly, when I'm leaving! :)

Today, I get to try to do some last minute things, but I also get to watch the SuperBowl with Matthew! I'm glad I'm here for that - and it will make it all the better if the Patriots lose, but I'm not holding my breath!