Tuesday, January 4, 2005

It snowed again today - so of course it was cold outside (what's new?). Everyone is still celebrating the holiday around here so the town is very quiet - many businesses are still closed and school doesn't start back until next Monday.

As mentioned on previous pages, our days are very routine. Our days revolve around our 10:15-11:30 and 2:30-4:00 visits each day. We try to wear the kids out on our visits, so we're usually pooped at the end of the day. No big news of the visits today except Sierra laughed the whole time and Kai was content to eat his Cheerios and carefully study the rest of us... this probably sounds familiar by now. Even so, the visits are the highlight of our day and we love spending time together as a family.

Between visits, we had Assia and Masha take us to a little souvenir shop. We plan to buy most of the souvenirs in Almaty (apparently they have the same product but it costs more in Uralsk because of the extra $ to ship it here), but we wanted to have something from Uralsk.

After souvenir shopping, we went to the Dixie Pub for lunch. It was a good lunch but we all overate so we were tired for the afternoon visit. We were ready for a nap about the same time the kids were scheduled for theirs!

As we were writing this, we had a surprise at our door - Sholpan (from Zhas Dauren) came by with a few of her friends. The girls were so nice - they brought us chocolates for New Years, which was awesome. They were near our apartment for another New Years celebration that the caretakers had for them at a local cafe, and they weren't being picked up until 8:00pm. So they spent a couple of hours with us. After looking at our pictures on the computer, we went across the hall and looked at Jason and Keely's pictures and listened to some music.

Keely gave them some Hershey kisses, which were a big hit (they like American chocolate better because it's sweeter). They also really liked Cheese Puffs. While they were getting a taste of American junk food, Jason put in Charlie Brown Christmas and we all watched it. Sholpan speaks good English and one of her friends speaks a little as well... so they could understand some of the movie.

They had to leave at 7:45 pm to catch their bus, but we invited them back for dinner sometime if they could get back in town. They are such nice girls - it was a nice surprise and it says a lot about them that they tracked us down and brought us something for New Years.

Here are some pics from today:


Kai eating his eggs, bacon, and toast... well maybe not.



Daddy tickling Sierra with his hair


Patty Cake


Give Mama a kiss (but don't bite her lip)


I love grabbing Mama's face



Super Kai


Changing time



Have tan... ready for the Florida sun!


Some quality time with dad.



Speed trap near the baby house

Police officers waiting to catch someone - they have been everywhere through the holiday season. Igor (our driver) got stopped the other day. He said they smelled his breath to make sure he hadn't been drinking then sent him on his way - I guess that the Kazak-style breath-a-lizer.



Inside the Atrium mall


The Capital building



Uralsk museum (currently closed)


Golden cat restaurant



Street cleaners - we're used to seeing plows that clean the snow off the street. They go the extra mile here. They actually use the plows, then have people come and shovel every bit of snow off the curbsides.


Carla, Sierra, and Maria (one of Sierra's caregivers)



A beautiful hand painted window outside of Kai's group.


Sierra doing a dance. We're really working with her to strengthen those leg muscles.



"I can see the baby"


"Hi Daddy"



Laying around

Les and Sierra napping (for about 30 seconds)



Meyram, Katya, and Sholpan (from Zhas Dauren) stopped by for a visit


Sholpan and friends (Meyram and Katya) watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special on DVD.


Meyram, Katya, and Sholpan - they were loving the Cheese Balls!

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  A Jim & Carla Creation - 2004