Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year (Russian: s novym godam)! We got up this morning to a beautiful sunny , 0 degree F day (first sunny day since we've been in Kazakhstan). Needless to say, it was freezing outside, but balanced out by the sun. Every where you went, people were in such a good mood. We sensed this was the case because it was New Years (their biggest holiday of the year) and also because the sun was out. It's amazing how different the city looks with a little sunshine.

It was very festive everywhere - you just felt the energy everywhere you went (this is the equivalent of our Christmas). The baby house staff was in a great mood. We tried to "blend" by going through the halls saying "S Novym Godam" to everyone we saw - they reciprocated. The Baby House Director even came around to our room and wished us a Happy New Year. Most everyone went home early for the holiday (except for the few that had the "holiday shift" - just like the nurses back home... someone gets stuck with the Christmas shift). You saw caregivers walking around with garland head bands and of course the decorations have been up for a week or more. Grandfather Frost (Russian: ded maros), in a red coat and white beard, brings presents to all good children - sound familiar?

Olga stopped by today and asked if it was ok that Masha and Assia have New Years Day off. We said "sure" and after Olga left they both asked if they could leave early. They're a trip - this is a job for them... and who isn't trying to get out early the day before a holiday. We've been managing fine with limited Russian (and our little dictionary and cheat sheets) and the Baby House staff knows us now so we can get by.

They advised us not to go out roaming around tonight (this was really hard for us since the 5 of us can't seem to stay awake past 9pm!) since everyone on the streets would be drinking for the New Year. So we complied and stayed in. Keely and Jason made a nice dinner of pasta with a meat/cheese plate for appetizers. We brought over vodka and orange juice. It was a lot of fun.

What wasn't so fun was our water going out. When we got home from our afternoon visit, all the water in the building appears to have been turned off. After a mild panic, Carla called Olga who then called the water company. It appears there was a problem with the line that runs to our building. It came back on around 8pm. When Olga called back, she was surprised it was back on (we're writing this post at 730am on 1/1/05 and the water is back off again). Hopefully, we can get it back on or we'll be looking for an alternate water source (at least for the toilet). We've seen pump wells around town (many people don't have plumbing coming into their homes), so we're hoping we can take some water jugs and fill up to use. Go with the flow, right??? We still get to see the babies and let's face it, they don't care that we haven't showered.

Baby House visits

Kai has now become an official fan of the Cheerio. That is all he wanted to play with during the morning visit (the Cheerio container). He was able to grab one and after rotating his fist in his mouth, he was able to feed himself. We were able to get him to crawl all the way across the room for a Cheerio. We had to put it in his mouth for him when he was on all fours. He couldn't balance himself on one arm to get it in his mouth himself.

We did have one mishap this morning. While crawling around, Kai decided to roll over, but did it too close to the wall and we didn't get a hand in front of his head fast enough. He knocked his head on the molding by the floor and screamed.... He was fine - he'll probably have a bruise today but Jim was able to calm him down after a little rocking. Masha looked in the room when it happened and Carla assured her he was ok. We don't want them thinking we're beating him or anything. Hopefully the bruise won't be too bad tomorrow.

Sierra has learned to use her finger on her mouth while blowing raspberries. This was quite the drooling mess but funny to watch. While Kai is working on his athletics, Sierra practices her vocal talents. She jabbered all day. She uses inflection in her voice to make all sorts of sounds, ranging from what sounds like a grunting pig to a high pitched squeal. It's hysterical to watch.

Both children are starting to mimic us. Sometimes it takes a minute. They study what we're doing and then out of the blue a few minutes later, they start doing the same thing.

I'm sure the baby house staff appreciates us teaching them to spit (and I'm sure we'll regret this later but it's funny now).

Here are the pics for the day:


We bought Igor and Masha champaign for New Years. Jason and Keely bought Phillipivich and Assia a bottle as well. Keely brought this wrapping paper so we were able to make them look pretty. The tie at the top was part of a plastic bag (Keely being resourceful)



Igor in the rear view mirror with his New Years decorations. He had a little piece of tree and garland hanging for New Years and a Chicken for 2005 (year of the chicken).


Sierra with a Cheerio stuck to her lip.



So big.... Jim played this game with him for a while, then Kai started raising his hands on his own.

Kai now loves Cheerios. He had quite the snack today.



Sierra laying in Mama's lap chewing on all the toys (a daily activity)

Jim, Carla, Les, Jason, and Keely at the Chalga for lunch.



Today was the first day the sun came out since we're been in Kazakhstan. It was 0 degrees F out but sunny. This is a picture of one of the plants on the way to the baby house.


Gimme that.



Happy girl.

Winding down but not quite asleep - isn't she cute.


Can I have some more Cheerios?

Russian Vodka - our treat for New Years. As you might expect, Vodka is very cheap over here. This bottle set us back about $3.


Keely cooking New Year's eve dinner (she found pasta and sauce at the Atrium)


Keely, Jason, Jim and Carla (and the empty space is for Les) at New Year's Eve dinner at the Richardson's apartment


Censeo's Uralsk office using the borrowed phone line.


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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004