Sunday, December 26, 2004

Today was the 2nd day we saw the babies. Igor dropped us off by the back door and we worked our way through to the room where our visitations are (Masha was not there to escort us in so we figured it out on our own). When you walk in the back way - which is like a basement, you pass the industrial laundry facility and kitchen. You then go upstairs to the first floor - the Richardson's visitation is in the little room off of Group #2 (which is where Sierra lives). We go up one more floor to the visitation room off of Group#4 (where Kai lives).

When we got to our visitation room (which is the size of our closet at home except with it's own radiator that keeps the room a balmy 80-something) we saw into Kai's group play room. All of a sudden, he cruised by the door in a fluorescent pink walker and stopped when he saw us. "Mr Serious" stared at us - we thought he recognized us (but what parent wouldn't say that). Masha brought him over and he came to us right away. Before long, Jim had him giggling his head off. Kai really likes to be standing. He's not a floor man. He can roll over from front to back on his own and sits up pretty well but he prefers to be standing.

Carla and Les left Jim with Kai and went down with Masha to get Sierra. She was on the "toilet" - so they said. We asked if they put her on a chamber pot and was told, no, she's too young - they were changing her diaper. She came to Carla right away and was all smiles (as usual). She's cutting her 7th tooth, has a running nose, and serious drooling going on, but you'd never know she felt bad because she never seems cranky - always smiling.

We went back upstairs to meet the boys. We played with all the toys we brought with us - although teething rings are the most popular. Everything goes in the mouth. Kai actually started cutting his first tooth (the bottom left one) today so he was chewing on everything.

When they brought both children to us today they didn't take our daily bag of clothes and diapers. So we changed them ourselves and at the end of the visit gave the babies back with their 5 diapers for the day. Kai's outfit today was a toasty one, but at least it fit. We told his caregiver we would buy some cooler clothes today that fit him. She asked (through Masha) if we were from someplace warm - Masha told her US - Florida (and told her the average temperature this time of year) and she laughed - guess it all made sense then. Here we are bundled up with 3 layers and they are in short little dresses since it's so HOT in the baby houses. And we dress our children as if they're going out to roll in the snow. Oh well, at least they know we're crazy for a reason - ha, ha.

At the end of the visit, one of the caregivers in Kai's group asked Sierra's name. Masha told her "Sveta" and she started laughing. The caregiver said she didn't look like ""a Sveta and explained that Svetlana is a very "pure" Russian name... (you know, like one of those hard core Russian gymnasts we see in the Olympics!) but it's obvious that at least one of Sierra's biological parents was Kazakh.

In between visits, we went to the Chagala Hotel for lunch (serves burgers/pizza) - we're trying to eat Kazakh (e.g., the horse yesterday) but also mix in the familiarity of some American food every few meals. After our lunch, Igor insisted we go see a free outside hockey game behind the "Gold Church" (see pic below). We walked there and watched a Russian team play the Kazakh team (the Russian's were winning 4 to 0). They didn't play with a puck - it looked more like a little pink ball. Also, there were no walls, so we were watching for flying objects coming our way (NOTE: they tell you to get travel insurance for a reason). Igor picked us up back in front of the church and took us back for our 2nd visit (which was changed to 245 - 400pm).

When we got there, Kai was brought to us and Carla stayed to play with him while Jim went to get Sierra. Jim found out that Sierra had a fever so they wouldn't let us visit with her. They held her up from a distance for Jim to see her and she smiled at him. The doctor is suppose to see her tomorrow morning so hopefully we'll get to visit her then. Apparently she was the only one in her group without a cold up to this point, but no it seems like she may have one as well.

We had a great visit with Kai. He was playful in the beginning but then seemed very tired and just wanted to to be held. Jim, Carla, and Les took turns walking him around. He really seems to like being held. We're assuming, given the circumstances, that he (or any of the other babies) don't get the one-on-one attention that they need. We're full of hugs so he's in good shape.

After the afternoon visit, Masha and Igor took us to the "mall" (which is a building with stores that seem more like kiosks - like a flea market) to get some bigger clothes for Kai. We had a hard time finding onesies - apparently that is an American thing - they just put the babies in a tee shirt. We got 2 onesies and 3 outfits for about $30 US - not too shabby. At least we have something that will fit him and is not overly hot (he's wearing a 9-12 month size, whereas Sierra is still in 6-9 months).

We let Masha go after this (she seemed a bit relieved) and had Igor take us to the Atrium so we could pick up a few things at the market. We made it in and out all by ourselves, no translator - proud moment for us. Carla is the resident translator - she always carries the Russian/English dictionary and puts sentences together with different words (not grammatically correct but gets the point across). She practices with Igor (who speaks very little English) - Igor seems to appreciate the effort and it provides him entertainment as she butchers many of the words.

We washed some clothes tonight (figured out the German washing machine yesterday) and hung them up on our clothesline draped throughout the apartment then went to bed early - long day.


These are the double doors we have in the apartment - by the way, when they tell you not to open the door to anyone, don't open the door. Carla opened it tonight (thinking it was Jason across the hall) and a man was trying to pull it open from her. She called Jim and he came to the rescue and told him "Nyet - English" and pulled the door closed. He realized when he came in that he just told the guy - No - I don't speak English" - pretty funny


Here's the key to our apartment lock. Look medieval doesn't it?

Our morning coffee bar (we boil a coffee packet in the tea pot of bottled water - great way to get coffee in a "Tea drinking" country)


"Don't I know you people?"


"Throw me again Daddy."


"I think I may like these strange people."


Sierra's play group. All the babies don't fit in the play pen so they rotate them in from the strollers. We found out today that only about 20% of the children get adopted from the BabyHouse. There were about 10 in this room - it's sad to think of only 2 of them will get homes. I'm just glad our Sierra is one of those 2. Jim says we need to give it a a few years, then come back to get two more! We'll see...


"There's that guy who always flashes light at me."



"Who's that beautiful girl in the mirror?"


Smile - my Dedushka (grandpa) is taken my picture again.


Naked baby, Naked baby


"Hey look Mama, I have toes" -- Kai was fascinated with his feet when we changed him today - he studied them forever. We left them "free" for a while so he could enjoy.


"Cheese - see my new teeth."


Les and Carla are in heaven - Heinz Ketchup in Kazakhstan. It was the real stuff - we did manage to share what was left without asking for another bottle - don't want to stand out or anything. By the way - diet Pepsi here is called "Pepsi Lite" - same for Coke ("Cola light")

Cool beer shot - the Kazakh beer is really good (as you can tell since we keep taking pictures of it)



Jim, Carla and Les at the hockey game behind the Golden church

The ambulance at the hockey game (waiting for someone to get whacked in the head by a stick or little pink ball)


The Golden Church

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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004