Praying for Ansley

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ready or not?

I'm not sure if I have news to post or not! :) I have been told that what the USCIS Fairfax Office needed to get to the US Embassy here in Kazakhstan has been completed... but I can't confirm that until Monday when I go to the Embassy and hear them say they've received it. Now the truth is, the Fairfax office says they've done it three times... so the US Embassy will certainly hear from me Monday IF they say they still don't have what they need. (The truth is, they had what they needed on Friday as it turns out and we could have left this morning as planned.) Regardless of any of that, the bottom line is we should be all set at the Embassy on Monday here and be able to leave on Tuesday at 4 a.m. - if there are seats available on that flight! Let's pray for seats... that's something I won't know until tomorrow either. If we are on that flight, we'll be picked up on Monday night/Tuesday a.m. about 2:45 a.m. and head to the airport for our 4:05 a.m. flight... What fun. At least we'll be home on the same day we leave - Tuesday afternoon. I hope Maia sleeps at least some on the plane. I know I'll need to and she is so active - walking all over the place! She has made incredible improvements to her walking in the past week - it is truly amazing!
We are doing well. We are ready to come home - we are getting so silly. But Maia is doing so well and overall is so good. (She does test us a little bit though, as any 17+ month old will do!!) She is eating well and very happy. She is sleeping well and plays a lot. She LOVES her bath... so that's fun now. We have a tub the size of a swimming pool in this apartment... so it's fun to let her play around in it.
We're ready for our favorite things... trying to determine when we'll be able to get Starbucks first, or a great big salad, or whatever! We're having fun thinking about it.
I'll try to update again before we leave when I know our travel plans. If all goes well, the Embassy appointment is Monday afternoon and I will know then that we are leaving about 12 hours later.... We'll be ready, that's for sure!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Small glitch?

There is a problem that could cause a delay. Let's hope the American government can get the US Embassy what it needs! All this time and the US is going to hold me up!!! Ever want to scream? The US Embassy doesn't have what it needs for me to leave. Uh... whatever.

It would just be a delay, but WE WANT TO COME HOME. Let's hope it's cleared up by tomorrow. WIthout internet, I won't be able to check email until morning. UGH!

Let's hope it gets worked out. I don't know if I have confidence in that or not... I'm hoping and praying though it gets DONE!

Not sure who dropped what ball where and when, but now is NOT the time to find it out. We want to leave, NOW.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can't Think of a Title....

We made it to Almaty. Maia was great on the plane. We sat near the engine/propellers, so my head is still 'loud' from the 4 hours of loud noise. (The rap music here in the internet cafe isn't helping my head much...)

We are safe and sound - but no phone or internet in the apartment, so we'll be spending some time at the internet cafe to communicate with people at home, people here in Almaty and Masha back in Petropavlovsk.

So far, there is good news. It's looking like we'll be to keep our Sunday tickets!! Maia's passport came today and there's a chance we get to leave as scheduled. WOW! When does that happen? We'll see - but I'm hopeful at the moment. It's been a long day (but fine) so I'm grasping at all straws dangled out in front of me.

We are fine - but ready to be home. So, let's hope Sunday works out!!

Weather here is nice - much warmer than Petropavlovsk, so that's a boost for us too. We're ready for spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Terminal

And we're off! We're headed to Almaty on Wednesday morning. Our time in Petropavlovsk is over. At this moment, I am ready to go. The time here will always be sweetly remembered - but it is time to go. I want to be home with Matthew and let him meet Maia!

We are doing very well with Maia. She has adjusted incredibly well, and I couldn't be happier about that. She walks everywhere now - and can even change direction, mid-stride. She's made incredible strides since we've had her even for 5 days! Amazing progress! yeah. :)

We will be in an apartment in Almaty. I keep hearing the weather there is spring like, so we are very ready for that change in climate! I'm ready for spring and all that goes along with it.

We're still hoping to make our Sunday tickets, but if aren't able to make those tickets, we should be home one week from right now, regardless. We're told we should leave by Tuesday at the lastest, I'm hoping that is true! :)

I want to thank you all again for the sweet comments and emails. It has really been a boost to us - especially as the days go on!!

Until Almaty...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

Maia has now been with us since Thursday, making this the 5th day. It has gone very well, overall. Our noisy neighbors made it a rough night for us on Saturday, but otherwise it’s gone great! I think I personally was affected the most from the lack of sleep on Saturday night and was really quite grumpy on Sunday. I wanted to sleep and even when I tried to nap, the longest was 15 minutes because they were still so noisy and woke me up again! Ugh! That on top of the fact it was Easter and we were here and not home with our family made it a very hard day. It was grey and dreary and cold and we didn’t leave the apartment – it was a hard day. But had nothing to do with Maia! We’re just ready to go home, and it’s obvious I need more than 1.5 hours sleep in 15 minute increments for a night. So, on Sunday night I went to bed early, at 10 pm to try to make up some sleep. I slept until 2:30 and was wide awake. Luckily, I fell back asleep at 3:30 and didn’t wake up again until 7:00 when she woke up, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Maia is now walking pretty much everywhere. It is amazing. She barely used her legs when we met her 6 weeks ago, and now she is taking 20-25 steps at a time!! The last 24 hours even have been an incredible difference! Wow! Matthew – I really wanted you to be able to see this – but I did the next best thing – we videoed her as much as we could trying to walk and then walking…

She eats incredibly well. If it’s a baby food meal, she eats 2-3 jars. If it’s cut up table food, she eats chicken, potatoes, carrots and noodles and loves them all. For breakfast she loves an entire packet of oatmeal, some banana and some cheerios. The drinking is the hardest part – and for me it is very depressing, and admittedly bothers me a great deal. We’ll get there, but it just makes me so sad. Based on what I saw at the baby house, they were given about 2 ounces (maybe it was 3) per meal… the lunch was always tea, I’m not sure what else they gave at times other than lunch. That means with 3 meals and one snack, she was offered about 8 ounces of liquid a day, maybe 12. Based on what I’ve been told, she should be drinking about 3-6 ounces of juice and 24-32 ounces of milk a day. That’s a total of 38 ounces of liquid and she was only ever offered 8 - 12 per day (or so, based on what I saw.) I’d say the first few days of her with us she MIGHT have had 8 ounces a day – and I offered many many many times. She’s just not used to it, and she doesn’t want it.

What this has meant is that getting her to drink is a challenge and I think it bothers me more than it bothers her. Since she is used to so little liquid she doesn’t even know she isn’t getting enough. She is drinking what she’s used to… and not much more, if at all. To her, thirsty is drinking a sip or two… anyway – this bothers me and I just have to work at her drinking more and figuring out how she knows she wants more? That’s hard when she’s used to so little, but we’re doing it little by little, even so far. She has very little output which is another way I know she just isn’t drinking enough. She produces no waste (wetness) and it just breaks my heart. This, by far, has affected me more than anything else! I was so upset about it last night (my cranky night) I just didn’t know how you can make a baby drink… that doesn’t really work… and I was frustrated. Anyway – hopefully it will come in time and perhaps my pediatrician at home will have ideas of how to increase her consumption. (I also can’t go from what’s she used to to the full amount all at once, I’m sure that would shock her system too.) Any other AP’s deal with this problem? How did you solve it?

On to more fun things… she now loves her bath!! Although we don’t have a tub, we stopped up the base of the shower and collected about 1-2 inches of water. As soon as I put my hand in it to show her the water and splash my hand, she was all in to that! We learned she doesn’t like the noise of the shower (we tried to add more water as it was cooling off) and she wasn’t happy about the shower being back on even though it wasn’t getting her wet. The hard part still is rinsing her hair, but I’m not sure there are many kids that like that! At least she likes her bath now – I can’t wait to get her in her tub at home – with bubbles!! That’ll be fun. Matthew loved his bath time when he was little. He would sit for an hour, easily – longer if I’d let him. Maybe she’ll be the same way once we get home.

One funny thing we’ve learned is that since she does not have a crib here in the apartment – when she gets up after her nap, she just gets up and climbs on my bed and plays with stuff in my room. She never cries out and let’s us know she is done with her nap. (This is the second thing that makes me a bit sad because I’m sure she just had to wait in her crib until she was gotten before, and not if she ‘cried out’. So, she just learned not to cry out.) I have also left her sound asleep in my room, and gone in to check on her and found her, sound asleep on my bed, with her blanket and pacifier, so it is definitely well planned. She is as quiet as a church mouse I tell ya, and quite sneaky! I have a lot of baby proofing to do when I get home… I wasn’t quite anticipating a 17-18 month old the minute I walked in… She’ll give me a run for my money from the word go – she is busy! I have a lot to clean up…

The time with her has gone fast and it is already Monday night and we leave Wednesday morning! We have things still to pack and it will be weird to say goodbye to this apartment. It served a purpose during a major time in my life! At the same time, now that we have her, I feel like, why am I still here? Why can’t I just get on the plane and go now? I got what I came for – so come on. It’s only a week or so left and we’ll be home. We do get more home sick as the days pass, that is for sure. I get so excited thinking about Maia meeting Matthew and her Grandpa as soon as we get home, I’m beside myself. Then on the weekend, she’ll get to meet her Uncle Bobby… she got to talk to him on the Skype last night! That was cool. She kept looking at the computer and wondering why it was talking to her. (That was cute!) In time she’ll meet the whole family, but I’m just over the top excited about the first few days home and all the excitement that will bring. Tick tock, tick tock. It can’t come fast enough now.

Let me just put a plug in for Skype. Talk over the internet to anyone, anywhere – it is AWESOME and free. Except we pay for dial-up time here… but that’s the same cost as the internet. If you have a high speed connection, then there is NO cost involved at all. And even my dial up rate here is cheaper than the calling plan in the states to call us here in Kaz. Highly recommended. There is a delay on the dial up side, but that’s a small price to pay. Great! The one thing we didn’t know if it would work over dial-up, and stupidly didn’t try it until now… and it does work… So we could have been talking to people at home much more often – so for those about to travel, it works, and it works on dial up. Enjoy!

Today we went with Masha to the Doner Café. It was great! It had a little play area for kids to play in. Maia sat in a highchair and ate cheerios and then I fed her some baby food. Her first restaurant experience! I gave her some Nan from my lunch and also bits of French fries and some chicken. After we were done eating, we went and played in the play area. There was a toy airplane she could ride in (cost: 50 tenge) and so we tried it out. Let’s hope she does better on the REAL airplanes we are about to travel on! She went down a couple of slides (with help) and played on a swing. She also had a big area to just WALK around in which she took advantage of… she strutted her stuff all over that play area and did a great job. She’ll be running away from me any day now… If we are at a hotel in Almaty, we should have high speed internet connection and surely be back online some. I will say my computer time has decreased since she’s arrived! Partially so that she won’t pull the phone cord out of the wall (it is held in the wall by a pin… any slight movement will pull it right out) and partially because when she’s asleep, I either have slept, or sat here just staring in to space doing nothing and wondering why I’m not asleep.

I went to the Iceberg for the last time today. That was a little sad… I looked around as we were leaving – good memories, that’s for sure.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Object of My Affection

I am TIRED! The funny thing, however, is that Maia slept very well!! She went to be easily and stayed asleep. The reason I am tired is because I couldn’t fall asleep, every time she moved, I looked at her to make sure she was OK. To make sure the blanket wasn’t wrapped around her. To make sure her pacifier was within reach, because she did ‘wake up’ frequently to look for it. To make sure she wasn’t too close to the edge of the mattress because I didn’t want her to fall off. (She couldn’t possibly get hurt, but I didn’t want her to fall off and have it scare her or wake her.) She cried out somewhere around 5 a.m. I tried to just rub her back and soothe her, but that didn’t work. I picked her up and she calmed right down. She didn’t want me to put her back though! The first time I tried, she woke up and cried again. (She had fallen asleep in my arms.) The second time, I lay down with her on my chest and we both sort of fell asleep. I again tried to get her off, but nope! So, I tried the other thing the baby house had told me. Sometimes she just wants a drink. Well, she wasn’t acting like that, but I thought, I’ll try her sippy cup with a little water and see what happens. She lay on her mattress and drank some. Then she started thrashing the cup about and playing with it, so I took it away and she fell asleep! I’ve got to remember the water for next time too!! Whatever the reason she woke up, it was short lived and easy to calm her down. She woke up about 7 a.m. and I don’t know if she played quietly for an hour or if she fell back asleep, but I know that I, indeed, fell back asleep and she then woke me up at 8 a.m. It was a pleasant surprise to have had it go so well.

We got up and had breakfast – she ate Oatmeal and then her first dry Cheerios! She really liked them. She enjoyed her breakfast. I love breakfast, and enjoy it the most as a meal to enjoy with my kids. I can't wait to make her breakfast at home. Especially french toast - a favorite of mine and Matthew's!!

She played for a while and we had a nice morning. In the baby house, she was on a schedule to take two naps from 10-12 and 3-5 and then sleep from 8-7. I know she never slept all the way to noon (at least recently) because we were there by noon everyday and she was never just getting up. In fact, she seemed quite awake. Mom and I thought she could probably do with just one nap after lunch for her age, so I was going to start that today. It was pretty obvious though, about 11:30 she was going to need that nap! So, I fed her a little early and she is now taking her nap. It turns out, she only slept one hour for the early nap, which meant she definitely needed a second nap. I put her to sleep for that nap at 3:00 and she fell asleep at 3:30. She woke up on her own, just about 5:15. I was only going to let her sleep until 5:30 at the latest.

At lunch, I gave her more chicken and tried the cauliflower baby food. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a baby hate something as much as she hated cauliflower! She gagged, twice. The first time, I thought she was ‘acting’ and I didn’t quite catch on… The second time though, I understood! She wasn’t having anything to do with that cauliflower. So, I’ve thrown that away. Instead, she ate the rest of the chicken, peas, and a whole jar of Cherries. She LOVED the peas and Cherries. She basically went immediately to bed after lunch and I didn’t stay in the room with her this time to ‘get’ her to sleep. I did however watch her from the door through a crack until she was asleep since the room is not baby proof. There was no need – she fell asleep quickly. So now – I’m going to take a nap!! I promise I won’t give a blow by blow of every day of her life, but for the first 24 hours, *or so*, I am detailing it all out – if nothing else so I remember it all!!

Well, I never did nap. As soon as I started to get tired enough to sleep she woke up. We went for a walk outside. It wasn’t a long walk but it was so warm outside today that it was great to get out. I took Maia in the baby carrier. She was all bundled up from head to toe and since she was facing forward, I couldn’t see her face. I kept asking Mom how she was reacting. She said she was serious with really wide eyes. She certainly didn’t mind it, and she loves being in the carrier. For me, on the other hand, it was much more difficult than it was when we were in the baby room.

After the outing, we had played, and then had a snack. Banana again and a cookie and milk. She downed it all. Then, the next nap. After nap she was very cheerful and we played some more. She is really walking more and more and will be quite the pro before too long. She wasn’t barely taking any steps when we arrived, so seeing her cross a room at times is amazing. She is very proud of herself too!!

For dinner, she had real food, not baby food. Mom sat with her and helped her when she needed help. She had some shredded roaster chicken, and chunks of carrots and home fries. Man, first of all, you can tell she hasn’t really fed herself before. She loves the freedom to do that. (Although one look around and one can TELL she’s never fed herself before.) She also seems to think we’ll take it away from her, so I’m trying to show her that we won’t. She ate every last carrot, potato and piece of chicken we served her. One funny thing is she bites everything, meaning no matter what size the carrot, or potato, she takes a bite of it, and doesn’t eat the whole thing at once. Hence, the mess. She even bit her Cheerios in half, or maybe thirds!!

Although we only gave her a sponge bath tonight, she feared the whole shebang and wasn’t happy at all. I still think she’ll get used to it eventually.

Then we had fun singing and dancing. No, really! She threw every toy on the floor. She played with her shoes. She sang when their was music and bopped around to the beat. Again, she was quite proud.

That was our first full day together. After all that it was time for bed. She went right to sleep and hopefully will have another wonderful night. I look forward to our second full day together!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Indepedence Day

Wow – this was the perfect day! It was wonderful in every way. Truly better than I even could have imagined!

As the expression goes – Maia Caroline broke out of the baby house today! She is free from there and now has her life to live with me, her big brother Matthew, and the rest of our wonderful family – in the good ‘ole U.S.A. I suppose it is indeed her independence day, the end of mine, however, until she is a little less dependent on me! :) No matter to me – I couldn’t be happier!!

We were at the baby house almost two hours today. There was a celebration for the March 22 holiday which celebrates the beginning of spring, and I ‘think’ it is also the Kazakh New Year. (I need to google this when I get back online to remember for sure.) All of the workers (or most of them, anyway) were preparing for this celebration. They were all dressed up in some very fancy costumes and/or dresses/outfits. Quite different from the normal work attire at the baby house! We waited a little extra time for them to prepare so that we could give the gifts to the room – but we enjoyed the time with Maia and with her ‘friends’ who shared the room she has lived in for so long now. We brought the gifts for the baby house, the stroller and the toys for the room Maia has lived in. We also brought gifts for the Caregivers. I had a little paperwork to sign as well. Then we fed her lunch in the room one last time. She seemed hungry today – and ate fairly well. After lunch though, it was time to get her dressed in her going ‘home’ clothes and get on out of there. It was the first time I had dressed her (which was great in and of itself!) and luckily it didn’t prove to be as difficult as I imagined it would be. (I don’t think I’ve ever put tights on anyone else before, not even Marie or Kate…) We bundled her in her snow suit and headed out of the baby house and for our apartment we call home here in Petropavlovsk (at least for 5 more days).
Going home outfit:

Bundled up and breaking out! First steps outside the baby house:

She was very quiet when we first got in the car. We had to stop at the Iceberg though for a few things, so Maia and I waited in the car with Sasha. It was then that she loosened up a little and started ‘chattering’. She even blew a few kisses at Sasha! It was adorable – but what else would a new mother say??

In the car the first few seconds:
When we got home, we took her out of her snow suit, etc. and showed her around a little bit. She got right down to playing. She crawled around and enjoyed checking things out. At one point she found her bib and got very excited – she figured it was time to eat!! So, we gave her a snack – after all, it was her normal snack time. First, it was time to learn how to use a zippy cup. I gave her some apple juice. She put the cup to her lips but didn’t know how to suck on it. So, I took the no-spill portion out so that she realized what it ‘was’. She got one good sip (and spilled a little). So, I put the no-spill part back in and voila! She was sipping like a champ! She drank all her apple juice and would have had more if I’d let her. I did not – I don’t want to shock her system. She also got a cookie like the ones we gave her in the baby house during our visits.

After snack, we played some more – even playing hide and seek and she totally loved it! I would hide and she would find me! It was a lot of fun. She found every nook and cranny in our apartment. Take a look:

This is what happens when I let Mom watch her for a few minutes:

Just kidding Mom!! Mom is probably already teaching her how to cook...
In all honestly, Maia wanted to go around the whole apartment once and look at everything.

Then I decided to try a nap. It was a little later than normal, and she wasn’t really appearing tired, but I wanted to try. I was afraid that without a crib, and with a lady who has never put her to sleep, in a room she has never been that has a window when she is used to sleeping in a room without a window… that we may have an issue going to sleep! Well, she didn’t seem to understand completely at first, and she didn’t seem too tired. Then it struck me, today they told me at bedtime they give her a pacifier. So, I found one of the ones I brought and gave it to her. Wouldn’t you know, within about 3 minutes, she went to sleep!! I had to wake her after an hour and a half so that she would go to sleep tonight. It was wonderful! We snuggled for a good long time after I woke her up as she roused. Wow – what a snuggle!! She is VERY cuddly.

Then, we had dinner. Well, actually first we had to open the baby food jar… a task I didn’t find easy 12 years ago – and it hasn’t gotten any better. Mom tried. Nope. She tried pounding it. Nope. She tried hot water. Nope. We found a can opener finally and popped the seal. That did it! So, at long last, I was able to feed her. She had her bib on and was ready!! She ate like a CHAMP! More than I’ve seen her eat before I think. In addition to baby food, I also chopped up a bit off banana for her to feed herself. She loved that!! In her sippy cup, she had milk. She liked it.

Then, we tried to get her used to water. She doesn’t like it… so we sat in the bathroom with the shower head and showed it splashing my legs and grandmas hands, etc. She wasn’t too amused, as she sat in my lap gripping me like no tomorrow. Then I got a wash cloth and washed me a bit (to show her what I was doing), and then washed her a bit. That worked OK… but we needed to get her diaper off and really wash her as well as her hair. When we washed her bottom, she was ‘ok’, but her hair when we washed it was a nightmare. She had had it by then! Luckily – it was over and she calmed down quickly. Since I was prepared for her not liking the bath – I knew this was coming! Hopefully in time – she will come to love her bath and time in the water!

We got her dressed in her jammies and brushed her hair. She likes to have her hair brushed! Then Grandma read her a bedtime story which she sat through well enough. Then, we had a little more milk in the sippy cup. We sang a few songs to lull her to sleep a little and then it was time for bed. I gave her her pacifier again and off she went! I sat in the room with her to ensure she fell asleep since there are no sides on the mattress. It took her a little longer to fall asleep tonight, but she did it all the same. No tears. No sadness. Just lots of snuggles and laughs and singing (and she danced!) and fun! We had a very wonderful, blessedly awesome day! Wow – I am truly amazed how perfect it was. Really!
This day was so long in coming. At times it never felt like it would really happen. But it did happen! It does happen! Maia is now sleeping in my bedroom and she is mine! We have a full day with her tomorrow and I’m sure, lots more fun and games and ‘firsts’ for us together as a family.

Everything is still fine here and we are enjoying our time- but at this point, I am ready to go home. I have Maia and I want to be home with Matthew too. So, hopefully the next two weeks will pass at lightning speed…. Now that she is with us – perhaps they will.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Fair Lady

It is OFFICIAL! Maia Caroline is MINE. All mine!

Matthew, Maia and I are now officially a family! Now, Matthew and Maia just need to meet! I can't wait for the sweet meeting - only a couple of weeks away now at most! And she'll meet Grandpa, and Bobby, and Regan, and Joel, and Marie, and Caleb, and Kate, and Ezra... I can't wait until she meets the WHOLE family!

At long last, here are a couple of pictures that shows off her sparkling personality! I have thousands, but for now, I'll leave it at these two. :) Enjoy your first full glipse at my little lady!

I get custody of her tomorrow - the next big step! I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Today we did a little more shopping, but of course! We went to the My Baby store and this time it was open. There are lots of little jars of baby food to choose from. The difference here is, the jars are behind glass and you have to tell the person working what kind you want and how many of each. Nothing here is self serve… I look forward to picking out what I want and touching everything before I buy it! LOL. I’m not sure why I feel the need to look at baby food jars, but… I do. The other difference is they sell Beef and RABBIT baby food, HORSE MEAT baby food, and Beef and TONGUE baby food… we did NOT buy any of these. The picture of the horse on the label is a cute horse kind of ‘prancing’ around… poor little horse! And the rabbit was playing a guitar! I mean – why?? It made us laugh. I know this is a delicacy in many places, and perhaps if I didn’t know I was eating it, it would even be good… but I just can’t get past eating a horse… or tongue, or even rabbit. Yuck. We bought beef, chicken, and turkey. We’re hoping she’ll eat basically table food, but we’ll need to have some jars on hand for airplanes and airports, etc., so we bought a little of everything and will test them out before we leave if we can. Everything is mixed with other things… basically you can’t buy just ‘Apples’. It’s all apples with cherries. Or Peas with Oats. Or Pumpkin with Corn. I wanted individual flavors so I can determine what she does and doesn’t like – but oh well!! I guess she’ll eat when she’s hungry! :)

We went to yet another market today. We got more fruits and veggies. We also saw one of the stalls was a pet store! That was neat. Birds and fish and dog food and cat food. There may be other places like that, but it was the first I’d seen of its kind. We did take a few pictures and video in the market. On the first floor of this market were cuts of fresh meat. There were slabs of meat just there as you walked by waiting for you to choose one. There were sides of beef hanging up. In the grocery store the other day, we saw a WHOLE PIG wrapped up and in the freezer section. I wished I’d had my camera for that one!! I do wonder how meat stays uncontaminated when it sits out in these markets all day. I mean, it wasn’t warm today, but it wasn’t 40 degrees or below either. And in the summer, even if it’s air conditioned (and I don’t think it is, but I’m not sure) it can’t possibly be that cold to keep it ‘safe’ all day. So either we are way too careful in America, or everyone here gets sick a lot? Of course, I don’t know for sure – but I am glad we are here in the winter for this reason, at least! I feel a little better knowing it is fairly cold for things to be sitting out all day. Check out the picture of the ax in the midst of the market, as well as the meat sitting right at the counter side where people walk up, pick a piece and pay – all right there! The last picture is of the fruit and veggie market. You don’t touch anything, even though it is right there in front of you. You tell the person what you want and they pick it out for you.

Today Mom, Masha and I went to the local German restaurant. It was very tasty. I wanted Wiener Schnitzel, but they didn’t have it… So I got Beef Stroganoff. It was very very good. Mom and Masha both got Salmon fixed different ways. They were all delicious! The Salmon didn’t seem very German to me, but it was still yummy!

On Sunday we went to dinner with Catalina and Calin and also with Susan from Austin, TX. We all had a great time at the Slovenian Inn. They have menus in English, so when we arrived, they gave us an English menu. When we asked for more, they told us there is only that one. How funny! So, we shared the menu – no biggie. We were there a good while and had a great time sharing stories and pictures and adventures. One thing I found hysterical was listed under the Appetizers…. The listing was : Butter. Yup, butter! I laughed until I cried – I’ll have a side of butter please. Could I have a fork and knife for my butter? Matthew, this one is for you… from Everybody Loves Raymond... “You know what makes me happy? Buttah. Buttah makes me happy.” Needless to say, we didn’t order the Butter appetizer. **Matthew, I can’t wait to come home and watch that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond with you – it will always remind me of that restaurant and my time here in Petropavlovsk.

It has been snowing here for like 36 hours but not really accumulating. I’ve never seen it snow so long and not have more to show for it. It is still windy today, but not quite as bad as the last couple of days. (**Remember, for whatever reason, the weather link that shows at the top of the blog, for current day temps is never even close to accurate. Like right now it shows 41 degrees F. It’s more like 15, maybe.)

Today is my last day before the decision of the court is final!! That means that tomorrow Maia will be legally mine. The plan is to still take custody of her on Thursday!! What an exciting week this should be! Life is about to change quite a bit in less than 48 hours – and I look forward to every minute of it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some Like It Hot

Today is St. Patrick’s Day – but for all the holidays the Kazakhs celebrate, this is not one of them!! Happy St. Patty’s Day to all you Irish folks out there – go out and celebrate your heritage! I will miss having Corned Beef and Cabbage tonight for dinner…

We tried to go buy baby food this morning with Masha before the visit to Maia. It is a store that sells just baby food and it’s called My Baby. The sign says it opens at 10:00 and it was a little after 11:00 but no one was there. We went and ran one other errand and returned, and still at 11:30, still no one there. LOL. We find it funny that a store is closed when they say it will be open. If this ever happens in the U.S. there is a sign saying why and when (exactly) they’ll be back. Here, nothing. No sign, no reason. We just find that amusing but it is no big deal. We’ll try again tomorrow and we can always get baby food at the Iceberg as well if necessary. We decided to do our errand to the Iceberg instead and got what we needed for a few days before Maia arrives. Specially – two jugs of water that we’d just as soon not have to walk home with, IF we can help it. So today we were lucky to have the car and the ability to stop, so we took advantage of that! Then – on to the baby house!

Today was a Maia day! When we got there, it looked like she had a tear or two on her cheek, but she seemed quite happy. So, I asked if she had been crying and indeed she had. They had put her down for a nap (supposed to be from 10-12) but she just was in her crib crying, they said for over an hour. Finally they got her out and she was in the play pen area when we arrived. Apparently, she wasn’t the only cranky baby there today. From what I could tell, Maia was only a little cranky, but did seem a little tired. It took a little more to entertain her today or to distract her, but it wasn’t impossible. For the most part, she remained happy. She liked to be held a lot today, which was nice for Mommy! After we got there though, a few of the children were wailing – a first for me to hear. Usually it is quite quiet in that room!

She ate some of her lunch and then we went and played. It was a good bit cooler in the play room today since it has so many large windows and it is FREEZING here now (more on the weather later.) So, we did our best to keep her off the tile floor for two reasons. It is filthy, for one. Secondly, it was cooler. She stayed warm the whole time though, so that was good. Her cheeks and hands were toasty. She has been wearing the shoes we bought her each day, and today we brought the coat and snow pants to try on. The coat has a zip out fleece vest, so I zipped it out and let her wear that while we were there. It was cool enough in the room and she liked it! When we left today, I had to put her in the play pen area and she cried… I’ve figured out she cries when I don’t pass her off to a caregiver. (And once or twice she cried when I handed her back to them too… but not usually.) I went back across the room and gave her a hug and kiss and she calmed down a bit – it breaks my heart. Today is DEFINITELY one of my ‘hard’ days. I can tell I am ready for this phase to be over and I know it’s coming. I know Thursday will be here before I know it, but man, the next two days are going to be L.O.N.G. I don’t want to leave her anymore. I don’t want to be there anymore. I want her with me – so today is hard. I know, in the same breath though, walking out of the baby house, no matter how great, will also be hard. It’s where I met her, it’s where I’ve played with her for 5 weeks – and as much as I can’t wait for the next step – I’ll be a little sad that that part is over. A little.

As for the weather, did we say it wasn’t cold? Did we say things were melting and we didn’t need our heavy clothes? Did we pack a full suitcase each on Sunday of all the clothes that we haven’t worn since we’ve been here because we thought we’d be cold? On Sunday, did we head out to meet friends for late lunch/early dinner and FREEZE? Were we warned by Masha that it was -15 degrees C in the morning. It had warmed up to -11 degrees C by the time we were walking in it… That’s a toasty 5 degrees F and then there was the wind. We got to the Restaurant OK, but coming home about 6:30 p.m. was brutal. The wind had picked up and by the time we got home (about a 15 minute walk) my legs were numb. In fact, they were stinging they were so cold where my coat ended and my boots had yet to begin. They were pink as if they were sunburned and STUNG – this lasted once we were inside for a good 15 minutes. The amusing part was we had packed all our heaviest sweaters and socks. I had to get some out last night to get the chill ‘off’.
Walking the streets to the restaurant I’m sure I was a sight! I was wearing my hat and scarf (the new ones I bought here!) but it was so cold, I had the hood up on my coat, and had my scarf tied around the hood at my neck to keep it up and add another layer. My contacts still froze in my eyes and my chin/cheeks were cold, but the legs were the worst. Spring??? I think not!! I don't know what the wind chill was, but it was the coldest I have ever been! Ever!
Today, we went to run our errands, etc. and if you can believe it, it was even colder!This may have been due to the wind and the fact it was snowing. So, the wind blew the snow in your face and when you opened the car door, for example, a dusting of snow entered the car no matter how fast you tried to be. Now, this is what I expected the whole time, so I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but let me just say… I do NOT like cold weather and I am READY for spring… No, make that summer!

Speaking of liking it hot – check out the pepper shaker Mom filled yesterday – a little
too much… LOL.

Now, in case anyone is keeping track… Tomorrow makes six weeks since we left home. We should be home in two weeks, give or take a day or two. We get Maia in 61 hours or so. No Poltergeists have messed with any lights recently.

Note** I know some of you - Jen specifically - are having worse weather this winter in MN than we are here in Petro. I'm sorry to complain when I think you're even colder there now than I am here - but I'm going to whine anyway. This is not weather I am made for... in THESE conditions, if I had to leave my house, I would freeze. It's just too cold and windy.

Friday, March 14, 2008


We got to see my Maia today! We took the new shoes and they fit great! If anything they are a little big, but I’ll deal with that. She was quite proud of her new kicks and walked and walked and walked (with help) and stomped and stomped and stomped around the room to show them off and try them out! The funny part was, she walked with her toes pointed out (like a ballet dancer!) and also walked very 'heavy' and stomped her foot down. She’s still not used to them, and they are clunkier shoes than I’m sure she’s used to really trying to walk in.

The other difference today was they had her dressed in more spring like clothes! She still had her tights on under the outfit, and two pair of socks on top of that… but she had on short sleeves and a plaid set of overalls that were great. It was just so different to actually see her arms, for example. I loved it! Now, to walk down the hallway to the play room, we still had to put on a cardigan – but the music room was warm enough that we could take that off when we got there. You're getting more and more - here is the sneak peek for today, a moment when she decided to play rather than stomp around:

She ate very little lunch. More than on Wednesday, but still very little overall. I’ll feel better when I know what she is eating 24/7. Perhaps she eats well at the other meals? Perhaps she never eats very well? It will be so much easier to know what she has gotten and what she likes and doesn’t like when I’m with her all the time. When I’m feeding her lunch, I feed her what she’ll eat… but if I knew she didn’t eat any other vegetables the rest of the day, I might push those harder, for example. So, very soon I’ll be able to see what see likes and doesn’t and introduce her to something new as well. I can’t wait!

We came home from lunch before heading out with Masha and Sasha for some more shopping. We had a good time, and went a bit out from the center of town. We went to a new place too with freshly baked bread! Yum! We bought a few things there and headed home for the day about 5 or so.

We had something new for dinner tonight! We bought some Salmon at the Iceberg the other day and mom cooked it, with a side of rice (flavored) and a cucumber. It was so good. We’ve eaten a lot of roaster chicken for the meals we eat here in the apartment, and although we both really enjoy them, I was ready for something different – for at least one meal! It was yummy!

OK, I woke up this morning thinking that we were going to make it through the week without losing any light bulbs…. (really, this is what I was thinking when I woke up.) Well, I thought too soon. The bathroom light (which is one fixture with one bulb, which just blew last week, remember?) was out again today. Now, yesterday it was acting up. We would turn on the switch and it wouldn’t come on right away, but maybe 10 seconds later it would decide to come on. Today, it never decided to come on, but we never heard it blow. Oh well, all we knew was it was totally dark in the bathroom again and we needed a light change, again! I felt so bad…
So, when I told Masha, she laughed and said, we call this a Poltergeist. What do you all call it? We laughed and said, yup, that’s what we call it too! So, literally, she called the maintenance man and told him we had a Poltergeist in the bathroom light. When he came, since he speaks only Russian, and I do not, I opened the door, and let him in. Then it’s like awkward and we were like... what do we say? So I just motioned to the bathroom door and shrugged my shoulders like, I have no idea what’s going on… He just laughed and said, Poltergeist. It was hysterical. Anyway, the good news is, we have light again in the bathroom. The even better news is, it is a MUCH brighter bulb than before! Now, let’s wait and see how long it lasts this week! LOL.

I’m too afraid to try my bedside lamp again. It remains unplugged. I supposed the Poltergeist needed somewhere else to visit, so it’s moved in to the bathroom.

Right now we are watching american cartoons that are dubbed in Russian. You can sort of hear the English in the background, but not really enough to make it easy to understand. It still beats Euro News which I am very tired of. (Mom on the other hand enjoys watching the same stories, in Russian, every 30 minutes.) Again, just time for a change of pace, at least for a little while.

Tomorrow is our bonus day to visit Maia. I’m excited we’ll get to see her again. Of course, Sunday will be a day off, but then back for Monday and Wednesday. The plan is still to get her after lunch on Thursday. I’m getting E.X.C.I.T.E.D. (but it is tainted with slight F.E.A.R. until Tuesday is all over and my last recission day has passed!) Oh - Wednesday will be SO SWEET!

On Sunday, we plan to go out to dinner with Susan who arrived this week to meet her son, and with Catalina and Calin who continue bonding with both of their new children. We are looking forward to getting to know Susan better and really spend some time with them all! We have a few days left to live it up before Maia is with us all the time, and I’m sure we won’t head out for dinner, or anything like that. I’m not complaining, but I’ll go visit with my buddies before I no longer can!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Girl, Interrupted

I surprise even myself sometimes. I post, just yesterday about all the things I miss from home (even though we lack for nothing here!) and today, all I can think about is what I am going to miss from here when I return home! I'm not even sure I can say, specifically WHAT I will miss, but I'm going to try!
As I mentioned yesterday, I miss things from home that I don't even like that much - like my bed which is old and lumpy. Yes, I miss it. But I have been sad today knowing that this trip is winding down (still 2-3 weeks to go though) and I will most likely never return here. That makes me very sad!
This has been an incredible experience! I have had the pleasure to meet and spend time with some wonderful people! Masha is the best interpreter there is, that I am sure about. She has made this an experiene like no other I've ever had. She makes sure we have everything we need, and even some things we don't NEED but perhaps want. She always wants to make sure we are OK! Her father, Sasha, is one of the nicest people I know! I can't imagine too many men that I know having to patience to drive us around town every day for weeks on end. It makes Mom and I laugh to think about it actually! We've had the pleasure of meeting Masha's whole family, including her Mom and sister as well. Great, great people!!! They have all truly been a blessing.
We have an awesome lawyer who is in this business because she wants to see children get parents who love them. She works for you, she fights for you, and she is a friend to you. How many lawyers at home are our friends? (Sorry lawyers.... I don't mean any of YOU that are reading, of course...)
The caregivers at the baby house and all the doctors there, even the government officials have all been wonderful. They are all very nice woman and I will miss the opportunity to talk to them on occassion. I will want them to know how Maia is doing, and it's not like I'll be able to pop in and say hello. I will miss what they have to tell me about Maia.
I've met some other wonderful adoptive parents. It is truly a pleasure to share this experience with others who know what I have been through. Who know what it took to get here. Who will know what it takes when we are home to finish what we started. Who know how emotional a time it is here, and I'm sure this is only the beginning. I am so happy to have other parents to share all this with.
I miss my car and my grocery store, but I am going to MISS walking to the Iceberg and shopping at that wonderful, cute little store. I have gotten to know it pretty well. There is a new store, a HUGE store opening next to the Iceberg. I am sad that I'll never get to see what it is and I'll never get to shop in it.
I'm sad that I won't see this city in a season other than Winter. I am thrilled to have experienced it in the winter, because I don't get to experience winters like this in Virginia. I am not a winter person, and yet I wouldn't have this any other way. At the same time, this city would be gorgeous in the spring and summer with grass and flowers. I guess that means I'm sad I'm not staying longer to experience MORE seasons!
I am going to miss TV I don't understand and making up what I think they are saying. Sometimes, that's more entertaining than what is actually on.
I am going to miss the time to relax and have so much time to myself! That will certainly be out the window with a new child at home. But it gives you time to really rest and rejuvenate! Just what I needed! There are times here I wish I had more to do, and in the same breath, I'm glad I have nothing to do at the moment. This too shall end and then I'll wish for a quiet afternoon.
There are million more examples as well....
I don't know why I am always like this. When I leave home, I can't wait to get where I am going. To the beach to visit my parents, to Charleston to visit Regan and her family, to New York or Tennessee on vacation, or wherever. I can't wait to get there! Then, when the time is drawing near to come home, I can not WAIT to get home. As soon as I leave, I either cry my eyes out, or get really sad that I am leaving and won't be back for a while. I'm sad that the trip is over and the experience is behind me. I'm sad that I won't see 'the people' I've left for a while. I don't think it means that I'm never happy, I just think it means, there is no place like home, and yet all these things I've gotten to experience are truly amazing. I am truly grateful and hope I never forget the details.
So, I interrupt my own thoughts to say, yes I miss home, but I already miss Petropavlovsk as well, and I'm not even gone yet! Call me crazy...

In Her Shoes

Today was another shopping day! We are trying to wrap up the loose ends and things on our to-do list before we take custody of Maia full time. Since that is only a week from today, and we need Masha’s help for certain things… we have to get done what we can on the days Masha is available. I wanted some maps of Kazakhstan and Petropavlovsk. I wanted to get things for Maia, not only for now, but for when she’s a little older from Kazakhstan. We got some nesting dolls – of course! We bought Maia some shoes that fit! At least, we HOPE they fit!... Our scientific method to ensure they fit is that we traced her foot on a piece of paper and held it up to the shoes we bought. Now that we are home, I just cut out the foot prints and stuffed them in the shoes we bought. The pieces of paper seem to fit, so hopefully, her feet will as well!! Since I’ve run out of body parts to post… here is your sneak peek for today:

We bought a few souvenirs for ourselves and to give as gifts. Space is limited, so we can’t buy much – but I think we have bought a good variety of items to represent the Russian culture as well as the Kazakh culture we have experienced since we’ve been here.

Tomorrow will be a day we get to visit Maia. Since we’re here in a foreign land to get a baby, and we don’t get to see her every day anymore (which I still don’t understand!), we look forward to the couple hours we do get to spend with her, every other day. One week to go and I’ll have her full time. Finally! No more every other day nonsense. :) Can you tell I’m anxious?? LOL. Actually, this week we luck out, we have been M, W, F, and will get to go Saturday as well! Yeah!! An extra treat – and I can’t wait! We will take her new shoes with us tomorrow to make sure they fit her.

Mom and I are going to pack up the things we don’t need any more while we’re here. Many of the heavy sweaters and turtlenecks, long underwear, wool socks – you know – the stuff we never wore at all!! We figure we can go ahead and pack at least two of our suitcases now and not have to touch them again since it was never cold enough to need some of these things. Also, we can pack up the souvenirs and stuff like that. We certainly don’t want to have to worry about packing too much once we have Maia. I have a feeling based on what I’ve seen of her, she would prevent us from packing rather than helping in any way! :) Might as well get as prepared now as we can, B.M. (Before Maia.)

Please keep Sandi in your thoughts and prayers as she is here in Kazakhstan now and will be going home this weekend... without a baby. What a terrible, hard thing to have to deal with. Even though she is strong and at peace with her decision, it doesn't seem fair for anyone to have to MAKE that decision after traveling this far to meet their baby.
Also, please keep Matt and Suzanne in your thoughts and prayers as they wait so patiently to get to travel to Kazakhstan to meet and bond with their child(ren). Delays are difficult at best, and it’s the things that crop up at the end that make it so hard to wait. Pray for a quick resolution to their situation.

We’ll be back in touch soon – probably tomorrow with news about how well Maia ate and played. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Catch Me If You Can

Maia was her happy self today. She was very verbal and made a lot of ‘constant noise’ while we were there. I swear, I think she believes she is actually talking to us! She also showed her ‘attitude’ a little bit… when she doesn’t get something she wants.. right away, or it doesn’t go her way, she’s lets us know her opinion on the matter. There is no doubt she was meant to be part of our family! She ate very little today – after chowing down the last couple of times we were there. She was wearing a cute outfit – and that is your sneak peek today:
The rest of today has been rather uneventful. Masha was called to duty by the baby house on other matters, so we didn’t do anything with her today and the plan is to go do some more shopping tomorrow. We still have to buy a few things for Maia as well as a few more souvenirs, etc.

We did meet Susan (from Texas) in the baby house today. Her visiting time was up when we arrived for our visiting time, but at least I got to say hello. I look forward to meeting her new baby boy!! We also saw Catalina and Calin and got to share some time with them and little Yulia Alina.

Mom has been the one to do most of the laundry since we’ve been here, for both of us. (She likes it!) But I am doing laundry today and it amazes me how small it is. I’m not complaining… I am so glad we have one!! But, I just washed a pair of jeans, two shirts, and a pair of socks and other ‘garments’ and that’s all that fits! A far cry from my oversized washer at home that washes a good weeks worth of pants and shirts and socks, etc. You also have to change the cycle mid-way so it will spin. Otherwise, it waits until you do. I’m not used to having to check on the laundry mid-cycle. You really would have to do laundry every day here to keep it all clean. I’d have to change my whole way of doing laundry – since I only do it on weekends!! (Of course, that might change for a while too with a new little one coming home soon…) I will say, I would really have to change my ways since there are no dryers here either. It dries fast in the apartments, but I still miss my dryer at home.

So, what do I miss at home? This is way more than 5… but this is a complete list. Some rank higher than others, but in no particular order – besides people… I miss…

1. Real Milk. In a gallon container that you can reclose and not spill when you pour it… which tastes normal.
2. Ice – and LOTS of it.
3. Large glasses. Everything here is very small and I refill it like 3 times when I want a drink. I know we American’s ‘super-size’ everything, but to me, these glasses are like ‘sips’. It’s like having a shot of water, or juice.
4. My own bed. I don’t even really like my own bed… (I need a new mattress)… but I miss it anyway.
5. My car. I want to drive. (Although I’ve heard how high gas prices have gone, yikes!!)
6. Lettuce. I want a big salad when I get home. There is some lettuce here, but it’s different than what we have.
7. TV I can understand.
8. My own bathroom – my shower, my toilet, my own big mirror with lots of light.
9. My rocking chair. My nice, big, comfy ‘lazy-boy’ rocker.
10. Starbucks
11. Non-instant coffee that I make at home with my Flavored Creamers. I’ve totally given up coffee here after the first few weeks. I just can’t handle the instant coffee.
12. Although I’ve had some beef here, I miss a hamburger on the grill, or a steak on the grill, or spare-ribs on the grill, or bbq chicken. I guess what I miss is anything I can grill. I miss shrimp and seafood too. They have fish here, but I haven’t had any. The big fish here is Carp which is not one we eat as much of in the States and is not my favorite. Basically we’ve eaten chicken in the apartment as well as salami or sausages.
13. My yard (green grass!) and my view of the woods and deer. I don’t like when the deer eat my flowers, but I do miss nature and wildlife. I am not a ‘city girl’.
14. I miss walks in the woods with Matthew.
15. I will miss being home for Palm Sunday and Easter. I’ll miss jelly beans. Especially the orange ones.
16. High speed internet.
17. My printer to print any pictures I want at any time rather than having to take them to the store.
18. Having control over the temperature in my house.
19. Bedside lamps that aren’t possessed. Just kidding, only one of them here is possessed... so far.
20. The quiet of my house and street with no neighbors I can hear.
21. Being able to call anyone, anytime and not have it cost me anything.
22. My cell phone.
23. Perfume.
24. Jewelry.
25. Unlimited books. I have so many waiting at home to be read, it’s a shame I don’t have more with me to read them before life changes so drastically that I don’t have time to read them!
26. More movies. We’ve watched the same 15 or so things at least two times each…
27. Money I understand and don’t have to THINK about when I’m spending it.
28. Any clothes I own that I don’t have with me. I’m sick of the things I brought.
29. Shoes. I have worn nothing but my North Face boots since I got here.
30. Warm weather. I’m ready for spring. I’m tired of dirty snow and ice. I’m tired of walking on ice.
31. A clock I can see at night when I wake up. The travel alarm is getting old.
32. My grocery store. I know where everything is, I can get it all in one place, and I don’t have to try to figure out what it is or what is in it.
33. My Christmas Wreath which is still up over my garage… I never got it down before I left!

I’m guessing there are more… but you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying my time here. Petro is great. You can get so much here and we are lacking for very little, if anything. But, when you leave home and what you are used to, or at least when I leave home, and what I am used to, life just isn’t as easy. Everything takes thought. You had to know how long it will take to get here or there. Well, if you don’t know where you are, that is hard to gauge! I am just in a foreign land and it takes energy to just live here because it is so different. I’m sure if I were here to stay, I could adapt just fine ultimately, but since I know it is short term, the mind wanders to those things I am most used to and miss.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Today is Maia’s 17 month birthday! Happy Birthday Maia! :) I met you one month ago today, when you were 16 months old! I look forward to your 18th month birthday... at home!

Today we were busy!! This morning, we met up with Catalina and Calin and went for coffee at the Black Jack café. We don’t usually have to leave the house as early as that, it was almost 10:00 a.m., and it was quite chilly. We're not sure if that's because it was earlier than normal or colder than it has been, but either way, it was nippy! The temperature display said it was -8 degrees Celsius. Yup, chilly! We went to the Black Jack and had some yummy lattes and chatted. It was great to get to talk to them some more and learn more about them! We had a great time.

We got back to the apartment about 1 minute before Masha arrived to take us shopping. Our days are numbered and we still have things to get! First, Masha and Sasha took us to a meat store to choose some sausages. They recommended some with ketchup in them, so we tried those. Also, we bought some salami and Colby and Swiss cheese. Also, we bought what they call bacon, but it is beef and looks more like a piece of ham, so we’ll have to make that and see what it is! It’s not like bacon as we know it or even Canadian bacon – so we’ll get back to you on what it is!

Then we headed to the large flea market to look at many items. First, we were on a mission to find a stroller to give to the baby room where Maia has been staying. Since I asked what they needed/wanted most for that room, they requested a stroller. They only have one (or maybe it’s two) really nice ones in that room and they have about 10 children, so they needed more! Mom and I also thought they needed a new swing, but we really didn’t see many and they are different than in the U.S. so I just wasn’t sure about that. So, we ended up with a stroller and then we went and bought some toys for the room as well. We bought three cute toys for that age range to leave for the room.
This is the stroller for the baby room:

The above are the toys we bought to leave for the babies in the baby room.
THEN, I bought an umbrella stroller that we will have for Maia. This way, we can stroll her around Almaty when we are there, as well as around the airports on our way home. I brought a pouch carrier for her from home, but I can’t imagine carrying her for 24+ hours when we travel home, let alone all over Almaty for a few days. (I thought I might be getting a 7 month old… she’s 17 months old!!)
Here is the picture of Maia's stroller with her snowsuit and coat waiting for her. It looks huge - but it isn't as big as it looks.

We had to get a snow suit for Maia since we’ll be breaking her out of the baby house on Thursday. We ended up with a three piece set… Snowpants with the shoulder straps/bib to keep them up. A winter coat with a zip out vest. It’ll be nice and warm while we are still here in Petropavlovsk and then we can use the appropriate number of layers for the coat when in Almaty, and finally home. We still need to get her boots and a scarf, but we’re getting there! (I brought a hat and mittens from home for her.) We also bought her two more sweaters just to be sure we have enough layers for her once we have her next week. I know we have found it hot here, but she is used to being wrapped up, so we need to make sure we don’t make her cold! Mom liked one of the sweaters, and I liked the other, so I did what any red-blooded American would do. I bought both. For those of you that know us well – you’ll be able to pick in a second which was my fave and which was mom’s. Guesses anyone?

This is entry #1.....
This is entry #2...

I also bought myself a hat and scarf set. They are very nice, very warm and very pretty. I know it won’t be as cold at home as it is here (ever!), but they will last me a long time, and I’ll always be able to remember my trip to Petropavlovsk when I wear them, specifically!

We also found a few stickers that I wanted for my scrapbook. They sell those ‘car stickers’ that say like VB for Virginia Beach, or whatever. Here, they are KZ stickers. I don’t have one on my car, but I had to get one to take home! Also, we bought flag stickers and the symbol of Kazakhstan so I can put them in her scrapbook. Fun!

Then we did our veggie shopping and then our candy shopping in the 'market' section! We also found some Nan which we ate with cheese and salami for lunch when we got home. It was delicious. Anyway – I think today we can truly say we shopped till we dropped! We were all hungry when we headed home and ready for some of that yummy food we had just bought! Then of course, we had to try some of the new candies we had gotten as well. Delish!

Anyway – it was really neat to buy all this stuff for Maia today. I know I had shopped some before since I’ve been here, but today really brought it home! I got pretty emotional (teary) and excited when we were buying her snow suit. For some reason, that made it really REAL! I just can’t wait to buy her some shoes – that’s my all time favorite thing to buy for little girls (and myself!!) We will need to buy some food and that will be exciting too!! It’s getting close, and it’s getting real!!

On a different topic - The big news of the day.... Mom did give up on that puzzle! She has started one I did last week. She DID pack up the other one as if to save it. I told her if she didn’t throw it away, I would when she went to bed. I haven’t yet… but I will. It is NOT going home with us. Dumb puzzle.

Today – Mom and I tried to list the 5 things we each miss most. I haven’t really thought about it (because it makes you miss home all the more!) but it was funny to hear what made up our top 5’s. (Besides people we love, of course!!) I think we’re getting a little sillier the longer we are here. A little slap-happy maybe. We came up with some funny things. What 5 things do YOU ALL think you’d miss MOST if you were away from home and America for 2 months?

Monday, March 10, 2008


Monday’s are supposed to be a downer of a day, aren’t they? Well, I certainly can’t complain – at least not the past few Mondays! I met Maia for the first time on a Monday, four week ago today. My bonding period ended on a Monday, two weeks ago today. One week ago today, we had court and the ruling was in my favor! Today, we got to visit Maia after not being able to on Sunday. So, from where I stand right now, Mondays are looking pretty good to me!

Today I also got to meet Maia’s ‘mother’. Although all the caregivers take care of all the children, certain caregivers are assigned to certain children as ‘theirs’. They are the ones to bathe them, cut their finger nails, etc. while they are at the baby house. She has only worked one other day since I’ve been here, and that was the day I was sick and Mom visited alone. So, I didn't get to meet her until today. We did take some pictures with her and video her playing a few games with Maia. (Like pat-a-cake, but the Russian version.) They had great fun. Maia has seemed close to many of her caregivers, but I definitely saw a bond between Katya (the ‘mother’) and Maia today as well. That was neat. Sneak peek:
This is Masha, Me, Maia and Katya. Not my favorite picture of myself, but I thought it was funny that Maia turned around right when Mom snapped the picture. So, you get a full body sneak peek today. :)

We did get to visit with Catalina and Calin again for a little while while our visiting times overlapped. Maia was quite taken with a toy of Alina’s (Yulia’s), a toy cell phone. At first she didn’t understand that you push the buttons to get it to make noise, but once I showed her how it worked, she understood a little better. I did take the phone, and hold it to my ear, and say “Hello, hello”. Then I held it to Maia’s ear and said, “Hello, hello”. So later when I just said, “Hello” she put the phone up against my ear!! That was cool!! She never put it to her own ear, but that was still cute that she put it to mine. I’m sure she’ll figure out how to really use the phone in no time at all – then she’ll really fit in to the family!!

Catalina was sweet enough to bring a few clothes with her to me for Maia. They really don’t have onesies here (not that we can find anywhere) so she brought some of those for me. They will definitely help me when it’s time for me to clothe Maia full time! (Next week!!) The clothes are very cute – I can’t wait to get home and start buying her some more, or just dress her in the ones I have already purchased in anticipation of her. I think that’s what Mom is most excited about too – besides the obvious family that we miss – to get home and shop for Maia, and the rest of the grandchildren as well!! I’m sure Maia will be well dressed, if Grandma has ANYTHING to do with it, just like all Maia’s cousins, and her brother, Matthew! If Maia turns out to be anything like her cousin Marie, she will love to shop and love to change her clothes… I think I heard that Marie changed her clothes 6 times one day, just because. I may be misremembering the exact number, but you get the idea!

Mom and I went adventuring again yesterday. There was a celebration on Constitution street, which is just pedestrian traffic, for the 8th of March celebration as well as the Beginning of Spring celebration. I believe that holiday is actually on March 22, but I think they combined the festivities into one grand extravaganza. We got to see singers and dancers, street vendors grilling, pony rides, horse and buggy rides, and carnival rides! I’ve never seen carnival rides in the middle of winter with snow on the ground! It didn’t seem to stop anyone though – the rides certainly had riders on them. We enjoyed people watching. Looking at the beautiful coats people wear here, their pretty (warm) hats, boots, and little kids being pulled on little sleds that have ‘backs’ on them so the kids (some of them quite young) can lean back when they are pulled. As you can imagine, strollers don’t work real well here in the winter, with ice packed streets and sidewalks. On the way home, we stopped by the coffee shop again, BlackJack and got another café latte. Ah… not too much longer before I can get a “grande skim extra-hot with whip toffee nut latte”. Matthew I miss you, sweetie, but I miss my Starbucks too!! How sweet it will be…. I think (hope and pray) we’re talking less than 3 weeks until we are home… so the countdown is ON.

The plan at this time is that we will ‘get’ Maia after lunch on Thursday, March 20! She becomes ‘mine’, legally, on Wednesday, March 19! Oh, what a special day! There will be some paperwork to complete however, etc., etc. before we can remove her from the baby house. Hopefully, everything will be able to stay as planned, at this point, and we will be able to have her on Thursday! Wow, how our lives will change in just over one week. I can’t wait!

We have blown 7 light bulbs in a week here. I’ve never had so many light bulbs blow at the same time before. Almost every time we turn on the living room light, (which has five light bulbs), another one bites the dust. Luckily, only the first one of those exploded and fell out. The one last night exploded, but is being held in there by one ‘wire’. I tried to pull it out (like a loose tooth) so that it wouldn’t come crashing down in the night on to the table below, but it took some real pulling, and I didn’t want to get electrocuted, so as it stands, it is dangling in there now, above my head, by a single wire. Also, one of my bedside lights went berserk the other night. It was about 4 a.m. and I was sound asleep with the lights out. I woke to flickering bright lights… When I stirred enough to figure anything out, I realized that my light had come on by itself and was flickering light and then brighter, light, and then brighter, then totally off and then back on again. I turned it off (it’s one of those lights you touch to turn it brighter, or off), and it promptly came back on, in all its flickering glory. I made sure nothing was touching the base, since it’s touch sensitive, and nothing was. Then, I couldn’t decide what to do. How do I get it to stop blinking like a Christmas tree? I turned it off and it didn’t work… then it dawned on me! UNPLUG IT FOOL! So, I did and I went back to bed. It still cracks me up. It was very strange. I plugged it in the next day to see if it was still possessed, and it was, so it remains unplugged. Interesting. I just hope the ghosts don’t attack my other beside lamp, or I’ll have to unplug it as well. If we keep up this pace, we will be sitting in the dark by the end of the week. We’d better buy some more candles – we are down to just half of one left now. (Actually, the cleaning people come on Tuesdays and they will be here tomorrow and change the bulbs for us. We won’t know what to do with all the extra light!!) I’m not sure what they’ll do about the possessed lamp.

And, for those of you wondering. Mom’s puzzle hasn’t any more done than before. It’s the stupidest puzzle ever. It’s impossible to tell what goes where, and the patterns repeat – every third piece is the same size/shape, or so, on one row, etc. So, you may have similar colors and pieces, but nothing really matches. I think she’s given up, but won’t put it away yet… I think she believes she’ll conquer it yet. She was going to take it all apart and start over. I said, WHY? Just throw it away. Then she talked about bringing it home and trying again there sometime. NO WAY. We are not lugging that all the way back home. It’s a piece of crap puzzle and you need to throw it away. I think she’s thinking about it…

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Incredibles

Two posts in one day - can you believe it?
Regan (my sister) sent me new pictures today of her kids, and I just have to share them! They are so cute! I can't wait until we have a picture of her kids and mine all together. All in good time!! For now, here are all four of them: Marie (6.25), Caleb (4.75), Kate (2.75) and Ezra (2 months) ~
Here is cute cute Caleb with his adorable baby brother, Ezra:
Here is darling Kate:

Here is beautiful Marie on her way to a Father/Daughter dance with her very special daddy:

They are so so special - I had to share the pictures with everyone! Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Circle of Friends

Today we got to visit Maia and she was happy. I know it sounds like a broken record to say that over and over, but it is true. She is truly happy – at least so far! She ate really well again at lunch today. Then we went to play in the playroom. She was content to sit and play with some toys and a book. She isn’t overly interested in books, but since we’ve been here, she at least knows to open it and look at what’s inside. Usually only a page at a time, but this is a big change from when we arrived and brought a book and all she wanted to do was hold it. If I took it from her to open the book and show her a page, she would have a small conniption fit – even when I opened it. She wouldn’t really calm down until she had the book back in her hands, and it was closed. So, having her open it occasionally and actual LOOK at a page is a pretty big deal! Your sneak peek today is of her reading the book:
She had on another pair of shoes today – cute again, but even smaller than the last pair! At least these were a soft leather so I don’t think they were as painful. She did however pull on them so we took them off not too long after getting in the music room so she wouldn’t have to worry about them.

We finally got to spend time with Catalina and Calin while they were bonding with their little girl. (For more on their story, visit They have quite a story to tell!!) Our visiting times overlap by an hour, so we will will get to spend time with them every other day on the days we are allowed to visit Maia. It was nice to have other people to talk to as well as other children to watch. Since Maia and Alina (their daughter) are about the same age and in the same group, they already know each other. It’s nice to have friends in a place so very far from home! I’m looking forward to visiting with them more and getting to know them even better.

This morning, on our way to the baby house, we realized it was snowing. We looked at the branches of the trees and saw the strangest looking snow. Almost like it was fake. It wasn’t snowing hard by any means, and you could see each ‘flake’ as it landed on the ground or the trees. Reminded me of something that might be used in theatre or something – looks real from a distance, but looks totally fake up close. It was neat!! Check this out:

The other really neat thing (and the reason we didn’t realize it was snowing at first) is because the sky was a brilliant blue. Check the picture of the trees and branches against the blue sky. Amazing!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A River Runs Through It

Today we got to visit Maia and it was great to see her. Since we were going to go and have her passport picture taken, we waited in the baby room and played there until lunch was ready. Then, today of all days, Maia chose to eat a very good lunch. She ate and ate and ate. When she was finally done eating, we changed her clothes in to something ‘nice’ that I brought for the picture and she was all bundled up in a snow suit, and boots, and a hat – it was hysterical! She couldn’t move. Reminded me of a similar time we had Matthew all bundled up in his snowsuit as a baby. Then, we went to the car and drove to the passport picture place. She was very quiet and serious on the car – no sounds and no real emotion – just pensive and looking out the back window taking it all in. (Since she couldn’t really turn her head to the side, I suppose! LOL.) When we got to the passport place, we undressed her from the snowsuit, etc. and it was time to take her picture. Do you think we could get her to smile?!?!? No way! She was having none of that. The picture cracks me up – very serious – but that’s OK!! At least it is done and we are one step closer to getting her passport done – one step closer to getting home. The people at the passport place were very nice and easy to work with. They kept taking pictures hoping she would smile, but she wouldn’t. Oh well, they tried. It’s fine! We took Maia back to the baby house and had to say goodbye for the day… it is sad, but I won’t complain – it was just great to see her and spend time with her! We’re getting closer each day, and I just have to remember that!

Sneak peek:

Then, we were lucky enough to get to go have lunch at Masha’s house again! Delicious again, of course. Olga, her mom, is an incredible cook. We had borscht, and some more yummy carrots and the salad we had last time, with corn, and crab meat, and mayonnaise, and this time there were apples in it. Just wonderful!! Then we had the best baklava I think I’ve ever had in my entire life. Seriously, the best ever!! Wow! We had some homemade cherry wine which was out of this world, to celebrate my positive outcome in court. We also had the pleasure of meeting Masha’s sister.

Tonight we will be going to watch a music concert with Masha and her family. We are excited to see something local and cultural since we haven’t ventured out too much on our own. Her sister will be performing in the concert.

Tomorrow will be a day without a Maia visit – we will have to find something to amuse ourselves. We have decided what yet. Saturday, it will be back to the baby house to visit Maia – some of our time will overlap with Catalina and Calin and we can’t wait!

It snowed last night so this morning there were a few inches of fresh snow on some of the cleaned off sidewalks. The funny part was, by the time we left the apt. this a.m., it was all warm and melting outside. There are HUGE puddles pooling on the sides of the streets, water running every which way, and of course, the inevitable post holes popping up in the streets here – they say it takes a LONG time for this water to go somewhere as the drains just can’t keep up with all the melting as it swirls around and down the streets like a river. The weather forecast online calls for more snow… so we’ll see! To us, it is just warm outside – and now very, very wet and slushy.

We did lose power last night for the first time, but only for about 30-45 minutes. We lit our candle and got out our tiny flashlights… and just when we were getting used to sitting around in the dark, the power returned. So, we finished watching our movie.

That’s all the news for today – another great day in Petro!