Tuesday, December 28, 2004

We had a great surprise today - the whole family was invited to a special New Year's performance at the Baby House! The performers were the toddlers that live there (ranging from 2 - 4 years of age). When we arrived at the Baby House, we quickly went to get the kids from their rooms. Kai was finishing up breakfast and Sierra (who had already finished her breakfast) was on deck to be changed (NOTE: they change them to feed them. They actually strip them down and put yellow and gray clothes on them for their feedings. Then after they're done, they change them back - seems like extra work, but I guess it saves the good clothes from getting messed up).

When Carla went to get Sierra, they actually got Anna ready (Keely and Jason's little girl). Carla was making faces at her while she was getting changed - Anna was laughing up a storm. Then when Carla told them that she was there for Sveta, they put Anna back in the stroller and the waterworks started - luckily Jason and Keely weren't far behind us. Once Sveta (Sierra) was ready, we went to the opposite side of the building for the performance.

Needless to say, it was adorable. The children were all in costumes: Santa, rabbits, a chicken (2005 is the year of the Chicken, so this was a leading role), clowns, an Indian, a bear etc. They did a great job. There was music (someone playing the piano) and an adult Santa that came in to welcome the New Year - throwing fake snow balls all around. The kids had a ball. After they were done performing, they each got a monster chocolate bar and a toy. Before they left to go back to their rooms, Jason/Keely gave them each a Hershey kiss they brought with them - a big hit. All the kids left with chocolate all over their faces and I'm sure they were bouncing off the walls in the afternoon. All the staff put so much time into practicing and making the costumes/decorations - the kids are lucky to have them. It's a bit sad to think this type of performance is usually something parents would attend and videotape at their kid's preschool - but these kids don't have parents. So it's wonderful that the staff does so much to make up for this. It really communicates how much they care for the children here. We had a lot of fun and were glad to be included (and Sierra and Kai were awesome during the entire 1-hour performance).

At the end of the play, the Baby House Director (who we also learned today is the "Head Doctor") made a traditional speech - stating she hoped that all the bad things in our lives would remain in this year and only good things would come next year. It was nice. Les got the entire thing on video tape for both Jim and Carla as well as Jason and Keely. He was a man on a mission to get a good spot for his photo/video shoot. He actually cut across the "stage" (we were in a fairly small room) to get to a spot where no one was in front of him. Assia (interpreter) was laughing - she's gotten used to him taking pictures and video everywhere. Kai and Sierra are lucky to have all his documentation to look back on.

After the show, we had about 15 more minutes to play with them before their naps. They were both in great moods today. Sierra still laughs her head off every time you get near her and Kai is warming up more and more every day. They both smile when they see us coming each day.

For lunch we went back to the Chagala. It takes forever (no exaggeration - about an hour) for the food to come but it's always good and they have CNN in the bar so we get to catch up on the news. Not that it was a good day for news - the Tsunami in Sri Lanka - how awful. Here we are in one of the biggest, happiest moments of our life and not that far away 26,000 people were killed from the Tsunami (caused by an earthquake under the ocean). Needless to say it was a subdued lunch.

Our afternoon visit went well. It's amazing - the kids start getting tired around 330 - 345. Nap time is 4pm. Kai starts sucking his thumb around this point and Sierra wants to be held so she can lay on you. Once we give them back at the end of the visit, they're taken straight to their cribs.

On the way back to the apartment, we went to the Big Market (a 3 story building with all sorts of stores in it). We told Igor we'd only be 30 min to browse around. We'll probably go back another day but didn't want to keep him too long so he could get home to his family (we learned he has 2 boys - one age 11 and one age 5. By the way, we accomplished this in Russian). Our last stop was the Atrium again for groceries.

We're usually so pooped after a day of playing that we don't feel like venturing out for dinner. We usually have a big meal in the middle of the day and that holds us until the next day.

Here are the pics for the day (we've mixed some baby ones with a "tour" of the apartment):


Kai being fed by one of his caregivers (He was eating breakfast when we arrived today. He wouldn't stop staring at us so we ducked out of sight so she could finish feeding him).


One of the murals on the walls in the baby house. There are on most of the walls - very colorful.


We were invited to a "play" today of 2-4 year olds in Baby House#1. Their big holiday here is New Years - they have a Santa (they call it Grandpa), a decorated tree (looks just like our Christmas tree). It's funny - seems very similar to what we do for Christmas but it's all for New Year. By the way - all 4 babies did great - Anna was blowing raspberries the entire time.


Kai enjoying his first play


The performers - check out the Santa on the left - too cute.


The costumes were adorable and those with speaking parts were surprisingly good at remembering their lines. 2005 is the year of the chicken - so he had a big part in the play.

Kai walking on Grandpa Les.



Playing during our afternoon visit

Chew, Chew, Chew!



Carla and Keely freezing on the way back from lunch


This guy insisted that Les and Jason take his picture. He got a kick out of seeing it on the digital display.



Les on top of the jungle gym at the playground (next to our apartment)


The outside of our apartment. We are on the first floor - on the right hand side when going in the building. Jason and Keely are directly across the hall.


The Atrium - our local food store. We seem to end up here every 3 days or so to pick up more juice and water. The store is very nice/clean and has a great selection. We've been able to go by ourselves without an interpreter.



Our Orange Juice - the juice here is awesome. It's 100% juice - no sugar, or artificial anything. It tastes like someone squeezed an orange right into your glass. We can't get enough of it.



Our kitchen in the apartment


Our German washing machine in the apartment - it sounds/feels like an earthquake when the spin cycle is on. It runs for about 60-90 minutes and then we hang out clothes up on the clothes line Les put up. It stretches in and out of 3 rooms.



Our living room in the apartment

The shower room in the apartment (the bathtub is about 3 1/2 feet off the ground - it's a real challenge to get out of it when you have short legs



No explanation needed


The master bedroom - complete with a napping Jim who is fighting off a cold.



The guest bedroom in the apartment - this is Les' bed. There is also another twin bed on the other side of the room.

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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004